Category Archives: Miscallaneous

Free Adventure: Potatoes & Rats

Potatoes and Rats coverWhat is The Mongrel Banquet Club?

A gathering of cretinous alcoholics who only have two wholesome pleasures between the lot of them: pooping, and playing  D&D. They spend all day in their secret clubhouse, yelling obscenities at each other and making jokes about genitalia. And if I told you any more than that, they’d probably kick me out, because we’re just juvenile enough to still think Fight Club references are clever in 2017.

“The first rule of the MBC is…”

Sometimes, between hangovers, the MBC makes books. The first three were Secret Munticore, PeePee Soaked Heck Hole, and Baseball #1. I’ve had some hand in all of these, but given the incestuous, shitstained style of the MBC, I haven’t made a point of really promoting them on Papers & Pencils.

Potatoes & Rats PaintingSo, what’s different about Potatoes and Rats?

P&R is a book that I pushed along, every step of the way. I was the one who posted the prompt. I organized people, edited what they wrote, and helped with the layout. Only a single room of the dungeon is completely my work. But just about every single sentence has been massaged by me in some way. That’s even a photo of me on the cover.

In other words, Potatoes & Rats has been my mongrel baby, and I won’t rest until every single person in the world has read it, and acknowledged me as a good father.

Potatoes and Rats SOCKERBut what is it? Why should I buy it?

Because it’s free, ya dingus.

I don’t want any of your money. I just want you to read the wacky ravings of me and my fellows, chuckle once or twice, vomit three times precisely, and come away from the experience with a little less faith in humanity than you had going in.

As for what it is, well, it’s sort of a dungeon adventure. I say “sort of,” because it’s unplayable. It even says so, right there on the cover, next to the bit where we wrote the word “by” two times, and decided not to fix it as a joke.

The book is really more of a collection of weird, unfunny jokes, strung together in adventure module form because we’re all a bunch of hacks who are trapped in the conventions of our genre.

Anyway, I think I’ve written enough text to space out these images. So just go download it, and read it, and…like…tell me I’m good. Give me the love I never got from mommy or daddy.

Get Potatoes and Rats on RPGNow, or if you prefer, get it on DriveThruRPG, which are different websites, but also the same website.

Potatoes and Rats Will Power the Apocalypse

Hashtag DIY30

Over the past month, a lot of folks have been participating in the “30 Days of RPGs” meme. It’s one of those classic Internet things, where someone wrote up a list of 30 questions, and participants are supposed to answer one each day.

Over on the googleplus, there have been a lot of rumblings about how boring/annoying it is. Don’t get me wrong, if you have fun answering these questions, then I’m sincerely happy for you. But the specific questions asked never seem to produce the kinds of answers that I (or others) enjoy reading.

A big group of us decided to put our money where our mouths were, and see if we could put together a more satisfying list of questions. We Gygaxian Democracy’d a list of 30 questions, and have been sharing it around g+ for a few days now. If you’re interested, head over to #DIY30 on Google+, read some of the answers, and get to writing some of your own!

30 Days of Questions for DIY D&D:

  1. What is a heretofore unknown secret of Troll ecology?
  2. What’s a campaign you would love to play in, but nobody is running it?
  3. How can a monster harm a character in a new and unusual way?
  4. Make a monster based on your deepest fear
  5. What sort of abilities would a Bug Knight class give to a character?
  6. There are six kinds of vampires. Don’t be boring.
  7. What happens when you water fruit trees with goblin blood?
  8. “Mommy, what are tooth faeries like, and what do they do with all the teeth?”
  9. Who rules the deepest ocean floor?
  10. What is beyond the Wall? (So help me, any of you who makes some lazy-ass Game of Thrones reference is kicked out of the OSR.)
  11. Why is the stone circle on the hill top broken?
  12. What is there to do when stationed on an interstellar lighthouse?
  13. Three sports that wizards play.
  14. Roll a D20 and count down that many photos on https://www.flickr.com/explore. That’s your prompt.
  15. Write a pitch for how you would turn a shitty game into a good game.
  16. Make an equipment list for a post apoc setting, using only things in 1 room of your home. Garage and kitchen are easy mode.
  17. What political situation existed 500 years ago, and how does its fall affect the world of today?
  18. The wizard has researched a new spell named “Chance Minutia.” What does the spell do?
  19. What single change would you make to a popular D&D setting and why?
  20. Describe a mechanic you would put into your Science Fiction Heartbreaker.
  21. Most unexpected spell that helped you get past the walls of the Fortress of See.
  22. Describe Milk Demons for me. What do they do, what are their names, what do they taste like?
  23. How should gods work in a game?
  24. If the object closest to your left hand right now was a magic item in your campaign, what would it do?
  25. The last thing you drank is a potion. What are its effects?
  26. Your childhood pet is now a monster. How is it going to kill me?
  27. So what’s with that overly-elaborate locked box?
  28. What’s a really cool imaginary place you’ve made up? Draw a map of it. Don’t worry it’s just a map. E’rybody can make maps.
  29. Goblins are great. Why or why not?
  30. Share something cool you made if you can at all justify it as RPG related.

Webcomic: Castle Greyhawk

Castle Greyhawk Comic - The Party TravelsI have a great love for webcomics. As a kid, the first thing I can clearly remember wanting to be when I grew up was an artist and writer for comic books. I even produced a 9 issue run of my very own super hero, “The Black Skull,” as well as first issues for “The Hunter,” and “The Brain.” In retrospect, I kinda had a thing for “The [Simple Noun]” as a naming convention. Though, come to think of it, two days ago I posted about a character named “The Ghost of the Uprising,” so maybe I shouldn’t talk about that tendency in the past tense.

When I was a teenager and a lovely young woman (whom I was very interested in at the time) introduced me to Megatokyo, I was intrigued. Mind you, this is back when Megatokyo was still good, but that’s beside the point. I became somewhat obsessed with webcomics. There was even a time when, I am not kidding, I had over 200 webcomics which I checked every single day. It was almost a religious ritual for me. These days I’ve scaled down to a measly 28. Several of those I still read draw their inspiration from tabletop role playing games.

Several of the big ones are on that list, Order of the Stick, Oglaf (NSFW), and Goblins are all fantastic. (For one reason or another, I never really got interested in Guilded Age). But I also read a couple which simply do not get the recognition they ought to. At least not yet. Which, finally, brings us to the point of this post:

Castle Greyhawk; The Comic Strip.

Castle Greyhawk Comic Tenser Sets Fire to a GoblinThis homage to Gary Gygax’s iconic megadungeon, and the characters who dared to delved into it, has been a favorite of mine for a few months now. It’s a collaboration between artist Mike Bridges, and writer Scott Casper. Though it is still relatively new as of this writing, with only 15 pages since March, the team have already demonstrated that they can produce impressive work together. I look forward to seeing how they represent Castle Greyhawk itself. A dungeon which I, unfortunately, have never had the opportunity to explore myself.

Bridges’ work is reminiscent of the art in the old core books. The style supports both serious, and goofy moments, which is important for a comic like this. Greyhawk is a setting with the potential to be grim and unforgiving, but the game itself is not always a serious one, and the art reflects that. It is nicely detailed as well, particularly in the backgrounds. You can tell that Bridges enjoys creating the comic’s rooms and forests. And the giant centipedes which recently made an appearance looked legitimately scary for a 1st level monster! I’ve also been somewhat surprised by how much I like the gray scale coloring. Normally I much prefer colored comics, but this style supports the story’s retro tone. The black and white feels as though it’s continuing the legacy of Darlene Pekul’s marvelous DMG illustrations.

Castle Greyhawk Comics - First Sight of Yrag

Casper’s writing has a nice pacing as well. So far the story has moved at a leisurely stride, with the party forming and making their way towards the dungeon, taking some time to work on characterization along the way. But it never feels like the story is moving too slowly. The characters always have a goal and they’re always moving towards it. None of the three primary characters are really well developed yet, but we have enough information to get us interested in learning more. Tenser is a young inexperienced guy who’s down on his luck, and thinks adventuring might help him turn his life around. Cool, I want to hear more. Yrag is an old soldier with a lot of experience, and an altruistic spirit. He’s a little gruff, but willing to show a couple of honest kids how to survive their first adventure. I look forward to learning more about his past! My only real complaint in this area would be Ehlissa. So far the only motivation for her we’ve been shown is that she’s crushing on Tenser, which is kind of weak. I hope we get to see some deeper motivations from her as the comic moves forward.

Really you should just check the comic out for yourself. As I mentioned above: it’s only 15 pages as of this writing, which shouldn’t take you much time at all to read. I think you’ll enjoy it!

(Though, for some reason, they post their comics on blogger. What’s up with that nonsense?)

Dungeons & Dragons, Small Towns & Zealots

Dark Dungeons is so Ridiculous, is it not? Tabletop gamers of my generation never had to deal with the mass hysteria surrounding role playing games in the 80s. Some of us, including myself, did have people in our lives who believed RPGs were evil. I still have strong feelings about my experiences, and I’m sure others with similar stories do as well. But what we experienced was an aftershock of a much more widespread phenomenon. Most people I’ve spoken with view tabletop games as an interesting past time. Occasionally they deride it as childish, or ‘nerdy,’ but it’s not very common these days to come across someone who honestly believes it is evil. None the less there was a time when role playing games were the target of religious zealots all across North America.

I bring this up because I was recently sent a link to a series of forum posts and images, uploaded by a fellow called Walkerp. When he was young, his hometown was swept up in this ‘controversy.’ His mother (who is clearly the coolest mother ever) saved a lot of local newspaper clippings on the subject, and eventually presented them to him as a gift. He was kind enough to scan and share them, and I’ve reproduced them below. Some of them are a little blurry near the edges, but I was able to decipher everything just fine. Reading these clippings was enlightening for me. It’s one thing to know a controversy existed, to read about it, and even encounter an odd individual or so who still believes D&D is evil. It’s quite another to see these issues seriously discussed in a newspaper.

You’ll note that in many of the clippings, a man named Clifford Olson is referenced. The anti-D&D crusaders repeatedly say they fear the children are being influenced by the game, and that they don’t want a repeat of the Clifford Olson incident. I had never heard of Clifford Olson before, but I assumed he was somehow involved in role playing games. Perhaps he was the kid who committed suicide over it which I’ve heard so much about. Curious, I decided to look into who he was. As it turns out he was not even slightly related to D&D or role playing games of any kind. He was simply a pedophile who raped and murdered young girls.

I am honestly floored by that casual and despicable accusation. How can any adult seriously claim a group of young teenagers are going to become monsters? It’s hard to believe a newspaper would print that kind of vile attack against children, much less that anyone would ever take it seriously. I understand that fear can be powerful, and that emotions run high after a tragedy, but there is no excuse for that kind of depraved behavior.

As I read this, I repeatedly thought of the men and women who worked on D&D in those days, Gary Gygax in particular. He (and no doubt many others at TSR) was a devout Christian. I can’t imagine what it is like to have your life’s work literally demonized by your own religious community. He probably found great comfort in his religious beliefs, but petty fools chose to take his source of comfort and use it as a weapon against him. Even decades after this nonsense had mostly blown over, after Gary died, a donation in his name was refused by his favorite Christian charity. I can’t even comment on that, it’s simply depressing.

Cicero said: “Not to know what happened before we were born is to remain perpetually a child.” So without further comment, here is what happened in our hobby before many of us were born.

Campaign Art: Gifts of a Wizard, and a Battle against Ogres!

ToKiJaTiMo party asks Mahudar Kosopske for some favors.Only a short post today. As I’ve mentioned in the past, two of the members of my current gaming group are artists. This works out pretty great for me, because I regularly get to see my games come to life in cool ways. Such as the above picture.

Currently, my ToKiJaTiMo gaming group has a lot on their minds. They need to kill a dire spider for its eyes, find an entrance to the underdark so they can steal some hair from a drow, track down a spider which is more than a thousand years old so they can nab one of its eggs, investigate a nearby forest where gnolls are mysteriously being transformed into half-ogre monstrosities, hunt down a lich, and make a trip to the Abyss to harvest some demon blood. And some of them haven’t even reached level 2 yet!

In order to facilitate their rather ambitious goals, they traveled across the continent to meet up with their old friend Mahudar Kosopske. The wizard gave the original party members (now level 3) some of their first adventures, and they’ve remained on friendly terms. So when they came to him requesting information and supplies, he was happy to aid them. Even if he did require almost all of their treasure in exchange!

This piece, by the way, is from my rather talented ladyfriend. She’s done a lot of art for Papers & Pencils in the past, and you can see more of her work on her DeviantArt page.

Edit: My ladyfriend is on a roll! This post has not even gone online yet, but she’s already completed another piece based on the same game. Here she depicts a battle earlier in the adventure where the party fought some of those mysterious half-ogre monstrosities. I really love the coloring here, with each of the characters being highlighted in a color which thematically represents their class. Red for the barbarian, green for the ranger, blue for the rogue, yellow for the cleric, and purple for the sorceress.

CbMorrie Go Team Fight! Gibbous, Phoenix Dark, Rosco, Poker, and Pumofe.

Reality is my Sourcebook: Outside

Nisqually Wetland

The sun and I are not on good terms.

We’ve got an uneasy sort of détente. It stays out of my realm, and I stay out of it’s. For the most part this works for the both of us. I only need to go outside when travel to work or the game store. But then, all I need do is scurry through the sun’s realm from my front door, to the car door. And since I live in the pacific northwest (the Seattle area) the sun often doesn’t even show up to harass me during that jaunt. Clouds and rain do, but I get along with them just fine.

Then I let a woman with plans to become an ecological scientist move in with me. This was a bad idea. Every so often she drags me, clawing at the carpet, into the natural world. I try to explain to her that the Sun will view this as a breach of our unofficial treaty, but she seems to think that I’m just being melodramatic. Somehow she doesn’t view the sun bombarding me with potentially lethal radiation as proof enough of its malice.

One minor benefit of these harrowing excursions is the inspiration I’m able to draw from them for my games. As I’ve mentioned many times before, reality is filled with amazing facts, many of which can be used as inspiration for gaming. Today I encountered a number of different natural environments at the two nature reserves we visited. And there, I discovered three things which I thought might be fascinating to use in a game.

Nisqually Estuary MuddyAt the first location we visited, we saw this large space filled with nothing but mud and death. Apparently this area is, naturally, an estuary. Simply speaking, an estuary is a meeting of fresh water and salt water, where rivers reach the sea. When early settlers moved into the pacific northwest, they blocked off the salt water, and used the land around the estuary to create an orchard. The land has since become a nature reserve, though, and the dike blocking the salt water was recently removed. As it flowed back into the landscape, it killed off all of the fresh water plantlife, resulting in this deathlike landscape. In a few years, salt-tolerant plant life will reassert itself. Until then, however, tell me this doesn’t look like a perfect environment for undead to live in? There’s nothing visibly alive out there. Just dead plants, murky water…and mud-caked undead ready to attack foolish adventurers?

As a game master, you really don’t need an excuse to create an environment, since most of your players probably won’t be too picky about how a given environment came about. But if you strive for accuracy, just put an abandoned settlement and a dike that crumbled from age.

It was as we were looking at this creepy landscape that my ladyfriend also took the opportunity to tell me about Bog Bodies, which you should totally check out if you’re a fan of undead stuff like I am.

Washington State Mima MoundsThe second location we visited is apparently somewhat unique to our area, and somewhat mysterious as well! Scientists are not entirely sure what causes the formation of Mima Mounds, which are sort of like tiny hillocks. The tallest are a little taller than an average person (about 7 feet), and they apparently occur primarily in areas of plains/prairie. What I found most fascinating about them, from a tactical perspective, is that they are almost invisible. Since the entire area is a field of grass and small plants, it can be extremely difficult to identify the mounds. In the picture above, they are only clearly apparent because that photograph includes the treeline for them to intersect. Check out this photo where the mounds don’t block your view of the trees. I promise, there are a bunch of mounds in this shot:

Washington State Mima Mounds are difficult to see without comparison!This would be an absolutely perfect place for an ambush. Particularly for small creatures like halflings, gnomes, kobolds, or goblins. Four or five of them could hide behind each mound. The small field I visited today could cloak several hundred warriors, all able to appear instantly to charge across the flat ground between the mounds.

Wikipedia has a panoramic image of the field I visited today. It’s almost 12mb so it takes a moment to download, but it’s a pretty impressive view.

Crazy Crunchy Moss Mima MoundsFinally, there was this crazy moss. Neither of us was even able to identify it, so I can’t share any solid information on it. It was growing absolutely everywhere on the Mima Mounds, in huge patches as large as 7-8 feet across. It was so prolific we assumed it probably was not actually dead, yet it sure as hell didn’t seem alive. It was completely dry and brittle, crunching under our feet as easily as snow would. And a lot louder than snow would as well. It would be impossible to sneak up on anyone through moss like this.

On a final note, as we were leaving to head home, we met Spiderbro. He was a bro.

Red and Black Spiderbro at the Mima Mounds

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