Monday, 20 June 2016

Free RPG Day 2016

As previously announced, I ran Black Feather Blade at Dueling Grounds in Toronto, Ontario for Free RPG Day 2016. Joining me were Heather Bishop and Morgan Clayton, who were part of the original playtest group, to run the NPC groups of Duani and Seldon Esh respectively. If you are running this game at a convention (or otherwise) and can take the opportunity to allow players to run the NPCs, the adventure will be all the better for it.

Black Feather Blade was designed with two Robert E. Howard stories in mind – The Black Stranger (aka The Treasure of Tranicos) and Hills of the Dead. If you are fortunate enough to read both before running the adventure, it will be to your benefit. In The Black Stranger, Conan has to deal with other groups who are after the same treasure as he is. Because each group is roughly balanced, politicking and exploiting events becomes the order of the day. The likely culminating events of Black Feather Blade is an homage to Hills of the Dead.

We only had three other players, but two of them were author Marzio Muscedere (Steel and Fury) and author/artist Elias Scorsone (Wrath of the Frost Queen and Dungeon of the Dragon Master). Marzio also has a new adventure in the works with Purple Duck, Death Slaves of Eternity – look for it this July!

Six PCs entered. Two PCs survived. Spoilers follow. Select text to read.

  • The first PC death was due to the giant dire mole. The mole managed to survive the adventure, much injured, having retreated into its tunnels.
  • For the first time running this adventure, I have seen players explore all six burial mounds.
  • A certain curiously carved silver whistle was found, but the players had the good sense not to blow it.
  • Great use was made of the “sacrifice chain” mechanic. We actually got to the “lover or family member” option because, when his wizard died, Elias decides that he and his elf PC had been lovers. When his elf fell to a swarm of corpse parts, I let him use the accumulated Luck to modify the “roll over” check to see if the elf survived, but sadly Malotoch’s favor was not enough!
  • Once the titular Black Feather Blade was found, there was a three-way combat in the final tomb, with a swarm of corpse parts attacking everyone involved. What fun!

Free RPG Day swag included the Goodman Games preview of DCC Lankhmar and Mutant Crawl Classics, as well as Slügs! for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Without going into spoilers, both scenarios from the Goodman Games release are excellent, and if you did not pick this up you should try to get the pdf when it appears on RPG Now.  I am a fan of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and found Slügs! an amusing read, but I don’t think I would use it much at the table.  It’s a sort of mini-bestiary, containing a bit more goofiness than grit. But then, who knows? Some of the slügs described are potential denizens of ruined Toronto once I get Toronto Crawl Classics up and running….!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Nexus Game Fair

I should have posted this a while back, but things have been busy. Sometimes better late than never.

I had the good fortune to attend the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from May 27th to 30th. 

I had the opportunity to play in several games run by the talented Brendan LaSalle (creator of XCrawl and all-around Goodman Games luminary), as well as Scott Swift of Lesser Gnome Games. In the late hours of Sunday night, I even managed to run a bit of The Arwich Grinder.

It is probably pretty clear from these pictures that photography is not my strong suit. 

In any event, there was some great gaming, a lovely room party with much interesting conversation to be had, and great people to meet, game with, and hang about with. If I am able, I will return again next year.

It should be noted that Brendan LaSalle deserves extra XP for confounding the powerful sonic attack of a walrus-demon with merely his wits, his goodwill, and a pair of earplugs supplied by the hotel. Thanks for putting up with me!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Free RPG Day

I will be running Black Feather Blade, from the 2015 Goodman Games GenCon Program Guide, on Free RPG Day.

Level 1, Dungeon Crawl Classics

June 18th, 2016
Noon until 5 pm
(or the last PC falls)

Duelling Grounds 
1193 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H 1N4

All Materials Supplied!

Up to 10 Players May Participate!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Increasing the Bandwidth

Purple Sorcerer Free Tools pledge drive is underway! Check it out!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Mathom Deadline TODAY

You can still get in on the Mathom by 1 August, but if you want an element in the adventure, today is the deadline. 

Here’s the cool part: I am going to start writing the adventure in June. SO…up to an including 1 June 2016, you may also include in your comments something you would like me to include in said adventure, and I will try to include it. Remember, this is a free project, so don’t be surprised if you don’t end up with 17 patrons just because of the comments. Keep it reasonable…but be inventive.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

A Year Later

A year ago today, I was off doing my own thing - actually, running a game for my older daughter and her friends - when my nephew committed suicide in Wisconsin.

The time you lose doesn't take away the time you had, and I know that he had good years as well as bad. In the end, though, the Wisconsin "justice" system became too much for him to bear. 

He was found guilty for a non-violent felony crime, with no actual evidence, and under circumstances where it is nearly impossible that the prosecution and officers involved did not know that he was being scapegoated.

It is almost impossible to overstate the loss. Not only for my sister and her husband, or for my niece and all of his friends, but for himself, and for the people he might have known.

People get busy. It always seems like there will be more time, or another opportunity to spend time together. But eventually time runs out. We do not always know when that will occur.

Wally, you are missed. You will never be forgotten.

To my readers:

You matter. Your lives matter. You have intrinsic value no matter who you are. The world would be a sorrier place without you in it. Whether or not we have ever met in person, I would be sorry if you were gone. 

The other people in your life - make time for them while you still can.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Dalek Crawl Classics 1: The Hartnell Years (3 of 3)

The final Dalek story with William Hartnell as the Doctor was the sprawling epic, The Daleks’ Masterplan, and its prequel episode, Mission to the Unknown. Although audio, reconstructions, a two-part Target novelization, and (apparently) a graphic novel of this story exist, the story itself still has several missing pieces. Both the story’s length and relative obscurity mean that potentially game-able elements are not going to make it into this entry.

Masterplan Dalek: Init +1; Atk plunger arm +2 melee (1d3) or energy weapon +5 ranged (1d6+3) or flame thrower +2 ranged (1d6 plus catch fire); AC 17; HD 1d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, flame thrower (Ref DC 15 or catch fire, 1d6 damage per round until save succeeds); SV Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +7; AL L.

Black Dalek: Init +3; Atk plunger arm +3 melee (1d4) or energy weapon +6 ranged (1d7+4); AC 19; HD 4d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication; SV Fort +14, Ref +0, Will +9; AL L.

Dalek Supreme: Init +3; Atk plunger arm +4 melee (1d4) or energy weapon +7 ranged (1d8+4); AC 21; HD 6d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication; SV Fort +18, Ref +0, Will +12; AL L.

The Daleks in The Daleks’ Masterplan, like the Daleks in The Chase, have advanced time travel technology. They do not seem to have the same ability to levitate, although the judge may decide that this is simply not seen on-screen (or referred to in the novelizations). They do have a new arm, which is used to clear vegetation in the story, but which would make a devastating weapon – a flame thrower that affects all targets within a 5º arc up to a range of 20’.

Other Critters & Beings


Persuaded to join with the Dalek Alliance by Zephon, Beaus was a tall humanoid wearing an armoured survival suit. He had a dark visor, and apparently breathed chlorine gas, making his features difficult to distinguish. His helmet had an antenna at the top for long-range communication. Should his helmet be breached (8+ damage in a single blow against AC 20 or a Mighty Deed result of 5+ against AC 15), he takes 1d4 damage each round in a standard atmosphere. During this time, he also has a -1d penalty on the dice chain to all rolls.

Beaus: Init +0; Atk buffet +1 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 3d8; hp 16; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP long-range communication, chlorine-dependent; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +5; AL L.


The Master of Celation was a hairless humanoid covered in black spot-like patches. One of the more powerful of the delegates in the Dalek Alliance, Celation goes on to form a Galactic Council with the other survivors of Dalek treachery. While this was certainly a setback for the Daleks at the time, the Time War in new Doctor Who suggests that the Daleks surmounted it.

As an interesting side note, “celation” literally means “concealing pregnancy or delivery” – perhaps the “spots” are actually some form of reproductory organ? If Celation were semi-aquatic, they could be ducts for egg-laying, or they could be areas where the species can reproduce via budding. Very little is known about the species in The Daleks’ Master Plan.

Celation: Init +2; Atk buffet +0 melee (1d3); AC 10; HD 1d8+2; hp 8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +6; AL N.


Little is known of Gearon, a humanoid with an egg-shaped head whose features were hidden by a visor and a silver or black space suit. He arrived in a huge space ship, making it likely that the strength of his people was in their fleet, rather than in individual prowess.

Gearon: Init +0; Atk buffet +0 melee (1d3); AC 15; HD 1d4; hp 4; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP space suit offers +5 to AC and Fort saves (already included in statistics), visor grants immunity to gaze or sight-based attacks; SV Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +4; AL L.


Malpha was a  humanoid creature whose pale skin was covered with a patchwork of dark “veins”.  Like all of the delegates working with the Daleks, very little is known about Malpha or his people.

Malpha: Init +0; Atk buffet +1 melee (1); AC 11; HD 1d4; hp 3; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.


Giant bats found on the planet Desparus, screamers are known for the loud noises that they make when hunting prey. Their screams confuse and immobilize victims who fail a Will save (DC10) for 1d3 rounds. Affected creatures can do nothing but cower, granting the screamers a +2 bonus to attack rolls.

Screamer: Init +6; Atk bite +4 melee (1d5); AC 14; HD 2d8; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP scream; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will -2; AL C.


A sharp-toothed and physically imposing humanoid reminiscent of the Futurekind seen in Utopia and The Sound of Drums, Trantis represented the Outer Galaxies.  Trantis gains a +3 bonus to opposed Strength checks.

Trantis: Init +0; Atk buffet +5 melee (1d3+3) or bite +3 melee (1d5+3); AC 12; HD 4d8+4; hp 24; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP strength; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +8; AL L.

Varga Plant

These mutated plants from the planet Skaro can shoot out thorns as though they were darts. Any creature struck by a thorn must succeed in a DC 24 Fort save or lose 1d3 Personality and 1 Agility per turn. When Personality reaches 0, the creature is transformed into a Varga plant. If the creature has more than a 0 Agility at the time, it is mobile. There is no known natural cure for Varga infection. Even attempts to remove the condition (as a disease) using a cleric’s ability to Lay on Hands, or a neutralize poison or disease spell, are made at -1d on the dice chain.

Varga plants have a dim consciousness whose only instinct is to kill living animals. They seem to prefer humanoid forms to all others for their targets, leading to some speculation they are not natural, but were bred either by the Daleks, or by the Thals or Kaleds during their long war on Skaro. Whatever the truth may be, Daleks imported Varga plants to the planet Kembel for security, and it is quite possible that similar measures were taken on other worlds.

Dalek creatures are not immune to Varga plants, but the thorn darts of the Varga cannot penetrate a Dalek casing, even with a natural “20”. All forms of armor grant an additional +2 bonus against Varga plant attacks, except shields, and a character completely covered in armor with a lowered visor is immune to their darts.

Varga plant: Init -2; Atk slam +0 melee (1d3) or thorn +1 ranged (1 plus infection); AC 9; HD 1d6; MV 20’; Act 1d20; SP infection, armor gets added bonus; SV Fort +1, Ref -2, Will +5; AL C.


Invisible predators which the First Doctor described as “vicious”, Visians are 8-foot tall bipeds with roughly humanoid forms. They were described as “thin, bony, with two long, clawed arms, feet like birds' claws, and a narrow head with a beak” in the novelization. They may have been related in some way to the migratory Krafayis seen in Vincent and the Doctor. Whether or not the Visians are capable of speech is also an open question. Because of their invisibility, any ranged attack made against a Visian has a 50% chance of missing, regardless of the attack roll.

Visian: Init +0; Atk claw +2 melee (1d3) or peck +0 melee (1d5); AC 17; HD 2d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP invisible; SV Fort +1, Ref +7, Will +4; AL C.


A humanoid composed of seaweed-like tendrils, Zephon may well be a plant-animal hybrid. Although it spoke with a human-like voice, and wore a hooded robe, it has no discernable features. A similar creature was imprisoned in the Dauntless Prison in an episode of the unofficial Doctor Who spin-off series, K-9.  

Zephon: Init +0; Atk by weapon +0 melee (by weapon); AC 12; HD 2d4; hp 6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +5; AL L.

The Time Destructor

This Dalek weapon manipulates time, vastly speeding its passage on a scale as large as a planet, or within a scope as limited as a single individual. It was powered by a small amount of taranium, an extremely rare element found on Uranus. The tarranium core was small enough to easily pocket, but represented more than a billion tonnes of processed ore.

Within the Time Destructor’s area of operation, 1d3 years pass per round for the first minute. Thereafter, for each minute, the number of years which pass increase by +1d on the dice chain, until 1d30 years per round is reached. Thereafter, the Time Destructor accelerates to 1d3 centuries per round, continuing up the dice chain each turn until 1d30 centuries pass each round. This is the maximum output of the device.

Most creatures caught within the operational area of the Time Destructor take 1d3 points of permanent ability score damage for each year they are aged. The judge may allow long-lived creatures (such as dragons or elves) or time-sensitive creatures a DC 10 Fort save each round to resist damage caused by the device. A creature which is both long-lived and time-sensitive, which would include Gallifreyan Time Lords, gain a +4 bonus to this save.