Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Commentary On The New Hercules Film Starring The Rock For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

Hmm this might be worth a look in a theater if they were running it on a Saturday afternoon. This looks like a revamp of the old Chris Reeves Hercules movies. Most of the twelve labors is there the CGI look of the piece looks very period. Hercules has had a very storied history in sword and sorcery(sandal) comics over the years from the Marvel Hercules who looked very much like he was done in the Chris Reeves mold to the post apocalyptic goodness of the Dell character. Who also looked like Chris Reeves.
The trailer looks great and many of the encounters with the various monsters that appear in the trailer are found in AS&SH. The question I've always had for using these kind of movies is the question of TPK vs the monster. The monsters that appear in these movies are powerful, unique, and utterly dangerous. Throw one encounter into an adventure and you've got an entire AS&SH adventure. Throw all of them in and you've got an entire campaign. 

Well this movie is based the newer comic book series by Radical comics. I read some of the issues and they are great from an art point of view. Writing wise they're pretty interesting with a few twists on the mythology. Hercules The Thracian Wars Comic Book Cover
Here's the official background of the comic off of their website: 

Nearly 3,200 years ago, a tormented soul walked the Earth as neither man nor god: Hercules, powerful son of the god-king Zeus, and for this he received nothing but suffering. After 12 arduous labors and the loss of his family, this dark, world-weary soul turned his back on the gods, finding solace only in bloody battle. Over the years, he warmed to the company of six similar souls, bonded by their love of fighting and the presence of death – never questioning where they go or who they fight, just how much they will be paid. Now the King of Thrace has hired these mercenaries to turn his men into the greatest army of all time, which means training them to be as bloodthirsty and ruthless as their own reputation. It is time for this band of lost souls to finally have their eyes opened to how far they have fallen – and the narrow, perilous path to their own redemption.

 It remains to be seen just how much of the Hercules legend will be translated over from the comics on to the screen. A balance that surely is a difficult one to begin with and now a with this movie being slotted into the plot line of the comic who knows.
There are many reasons to look into this type of film though for AS&SH, the level of technology, the legend mix, the ideas, and the plot hooks that a DM can borrow. The ideas here are solid ones but since this is a new movie a DM might want to look into the actual mythology and adapt it as they see fit for their own PC's. I'm reserving judgement as far as where this movie might go. I think this one is going to be a wait and see. 

 My own preference as far as movies that really grab the sword and sandal as well as the sword and sorcery vibe for me. The classic Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts has it all over many of the films of today. But then again it might not be far to compare or even breath that title when looking at this film.
So let's wait and see before passing judgement. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Comentary and Actual Play With The Free Old School Adventure - The Hall of the Family From Chubby Monster Games For The Astonishing Swordsmen And Sorcerers Rpg Systems

I've run this old school adventure before but last night my buddy Peter got back home after a long business trip out to California. He got together with friends and family and so wanted a game.. now. So with little preparation I pulled this adventure from the back archives of Drivethrurpg. This adventure is a challenge and well suited for the more populous regions of Hyperborea. 

Grab It Free

The Hall of the Family: A Short Delve...with a medusa!

This short adventure covers the sad story of a family brought to ruin due to a seer's tale and what became of their home after their fall. With Goblins, medusa, golems, satyrs and even minotaurs...ensure your players have a rolliking good time as you crush all their hopes. Download The Hall of the Family today and start adventuring tonight!
The adventure is presented in a system-less fashion using common themes and elements found in any fantasy game. It should be easy for any GM to work this into any campaign.
I  DM'ed this with little free gem before for this group and because it's a free adventure I've heard a few murmers that companies don't put their all into them. That's simply pure hog wash. Josh Mannon has a written a very tight little number here as the PC's found out. The maps are nicely put together and this adventure runs like clock work. 
I didn't get home till almost four am but the players wanted to finish this one once and for all. The game went very well. Finished it but I left a few hanging threads for future adventures. So we'll see where this one get's taken in the coming weeks! Adapting Hall of The Family To AS&SH. 
This adventure is easily adapted into AS&SH because many of the monsters, encounters, and old school sword and sorcery elements are already present within the game! The maps are standard for AS&SH use and the encounters are well balanced. There's enough here for a couple of short games or one very long encounter session such as the night I had! All in all a very nice little download! 
Chubby Monster Games

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slicing Deeper Into the Free Random Sword & Sorcery Adventure Generator For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Grab it Right Over
Frequently when a DM is running other games players will want to know what they've got up their sleeve and sometimes they haven't got a thing! Or their still in the planning stages or they've only got fifteen to twenty five minutes before they're players are to arrive at their playing venue. What can you do to generate an OSR sword and sorcery adventure for your old school retroclone game?
Pray to Crom? Simply grab this free Random Sword and Sorcery Generator and get cracking! 
According to the Blurb : 
Random Sword & Sorcery Adventure Generator is a resource created by Ben Ball. This 8-page PDF document provides the referee with an easy means to generating quick, exciting adventure material in a sword-and-sorcery milieu such as HYPERBOREA.

Because of the set up of the generator, many possibilities exist for the DM to incorporate what's needed on the fly. I suggest doing so for adventures before play and not during. It's a well put together generator for a retroclone sword and sorcery style game.
Recently I've been using this generator in several of my AS&SH campaigns the results have been quite good for continuing the action for prolonged campaign play. The generator providing a prolonged story

line randomly which kept the sword and sorcery game buzzing smoothly.
 The deeper adventure details are something that the DM will have to work out but for broad strokes this generator works quite well to entrench players in the world of Hyperborea. 
The generator can also be used to work out interesting background for NPC's or hirelings who work with the party. Often I've used this tactic to work out 'payment' between PC's and the supposed cannon fodder they've used in AS&SH. 
This tactic gives an NPC a background similar  to a Howard or Lovecraftian character whose secrets are just waiting to plunge the PC's into the middle of a weird adventure. All in all this is one generator that I seem to always return to. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Irrurthia - The Inter dimensional Kraken Kind For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg

Number encountered: 1 
Alignment: Chaotic Evil 
Size: L 
Movement: 40/40
 They swim through the sky and land because they exist in six separate dimensions at once 
Dexterity: 14 
Armor: 7 
Number of attacks: (9 lashX9)
Damage: 1d4 (X9)
Saving Throw: 15 
Experience: 2,200 
Treasure: L
 Morale: 9 
Special : 
* They use their full allotment of attacks on foes
 *Each hit of an arm delivers damage and a curse of horror and depravity to the survivors they will be at -2 on all rolls unless a save vs death is made.
* Any one in contact with one of these horrors for more then an hour will lose one wisdom point per round there after unless the appropriate saving throws is made.
* Gaze causes confusion only the proper saving throws are made. 

* Will soul stripe any spells from wizards or magic users that it kills. 

A horror from beyond the borders of Hyperborea this terror from beyond the stars dwells in the Darkness Between the universes outside of space and time. Within the continuum of the Hyperborea these ancient weapons of terror are summoned by foolish or insane wizards and mages seeking power over their enemies. These ancient horrors were used by the ancients as weapons of mass destruction. They're very presence warps reality and makes time run like wax around them. They shatter men's minds by their very presence and trodden between the spaces of reality as they move across the face of a world. Even if banished they may leave sinister gaps in the dimensional fabric of the local world 
They have nine tentacles and rend anything with mouth ringed suckers which are hooked and barbed as well. Each  hit does 1d4 points of damage per strike as the horror rends flesh and bone. They will not retreat until all opposition is dead. They have very cold and dangerous alien intelligence. They are known to sit just outside of the local space time continuum and wait for the exact moment to strike a local community.  They will drag off children and men of the community to sew confusion and panic. They often attack the strongest targets they can find. Only the strongest blessings from the gods and saints of Hyperborea may banish these horrors. But often times their very presence rends the spaces around them so that the plane prime is open to other horrors from beyond. Such locations are often thought of as cursed or doomed. Colours Out of Space often accompany a summoning of one of these creatures within 1d10 days. They often have doomsday cults who make offerings of artifacts and relics to these horrors.
They are said to be the spawn of Azathoth and one of the Prime Kraken (The Khalk-XU'RU ). They are  created by his foul movements as he rolls in his mad idiotic dreams of nuclear choas, horror, at the center of the universe during the great migrations of the Kalk-Xu.
The Irruthia often feed upon wizards who travel between the dark of the stars and planes. Snatching and stripping the souls of anyone that they can catch for tid bits of magic. They often use spells taken from the minds of wizards to open doors between worlds to destroy.

The artwork is used without permission and is a tribute to Carlton Comics. It is for entertainment purposes only, this is a personal campaign creation and not afficated with North Wind Adventures. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review and Commentary On Exiles Of The Wicked Maze From Fishwife Games A Complete Old School Sword and Sorcery Game

So this past week I've spend my off hours playing around with Exiles of the Wicked Maze From Fish Wife Games and the twisted imagination of Dave Woodrum. This is a fifty nine page old school style solo play adventure game. All  you need is a D20, a couple of pieces of paper, a pencil, and a couple of hours to kill. Then you plunged into the world of the Wicked
The latest watch word in old school and OSR retroclone style games and play are solo adventures. Solo adventures and games have been around since the dawn of the hobby. The whole table top adventure vs solo play book style games came about as a result of the Fighting Fantasy and early efforts of Steve Jackson. There were a ton of titles of these highly collectible books back in the 80's. Exiles of The Wicked Maze echoes some of that design ethos but really this is it's own very exciting game. For solo play the game makes its points early, the writing is pretty solid, and the play runs very smoothly. 

Grab It Right Over

The Drivethru Rpg Blurb :
Exiles Of The Wicked Maze
Created By: Dave Woodrum
Art By: Dan (SMIF) Smith

Welcome prisoner, welcome to your fate below! In just a moment you will be banished for your crimes to the wretched maze that is below. There you shall most likely find yourself a quick and painful death, most likely at the hands of another scoundrel such as yourself or within the jaws of one of the assorted monstrosities that is below. Do not try to escape through this gate, as our guards will slay you on sight.

If you wish to ever leave this exile and see another day as a free citizen of these majestic lands above, there is a test. First, you must find your way to another set of steps that lead up at the end of this great maze. Second, once you find these steps, you must have an amount of treasure upon you that is worth no less than 5,000 of the standard coin of the realm. This will pay your fine, prove your worth to our great, compassionate rulers, and allow you to return to a state of dignity as being one of our citizens.

If you are ready for this challenge, then good luck to you, if you are truly deserving of such luck. If not, then may you suffer a horrible death in the passages of the maze below!

Exiles Of The Wicked Maze is a complete, maze and random chart driven adventure game that features elements of role playing and hack and slash rogue-like games. Best described as being a "hack and slash that you can play by yourself, even when the power is out", this game uses a twenty sided die, a maze map, a character sheet, and series of random roll charts to fuel the adventure and determine outcomes. Its fun, fresh, and has a great deal of replay value. All for roughly the price of a fast food combo meal!

The cover art by Smif whose work seemed to grace every single late 80's and early 90's table top rpg evokes the desperation and hellish conditions of this sword sorcery game. 
Everything about the game screams late night cheesy sword and sorcery films with thundering soundtracks all happening in your imagination. I loved the old  solo modules, Fighting Fantasy books and now this game which plugs right into that vibe. 
Play and replay value is right there in this game. The fact is that game really has the player guessing using their minds in a tight but imaginative fashion. Much of the action is part S&S imagery and the game itself which hearkens back to other solo adventure games of the past. This is a new twist on a very old theme with replay value a must. There is enough here to make me want to have my PC escape the Wicked Maze.
One of my beefs was the fact that the solo fantasy game books back in the Eighties  could never be expanded back into a full fantasy table top rpg campaign themselves. A DM could take and make the elements work but for groups other old school writing and design were needed.
A word to Fish Wife games though, expand upon the themes set in Wicked Maze in other upcoming products. The ideas and value are solid, interesting as well as engaging for further play. Grab this one, and have a great night of adventure solo gaming in the depths of the Wicked Maze. Don't miss this one folks. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

'Sneak Peak At Gary Con' On The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Adventure - 'The Rats In The Walls'

If your one of those lucky folks going to Gary Con then you'll probably get this AS&SH adventure as part of a swag bag. The rest of us will have to wait a wee bit longer to order it.
According to the author, "
Here is a first glimpse of "Rats in the Walls" in print as its own AS&SH module for the first time! I have printed 250 copies of this adventure, each signed and numbered. The first 125 will be included in the Gary Con Gaming Convention platinum swag bags." 

Photo: Here are the first 125 signed and numbered modules, ready for shipping!
It looks like its done in the old school tradition of  other AS&SH adventures probably with the nice maps and crystal clear material. Based partially on the HP Lovecraft novella of the same name this adventure puts a sword and sorcery twist on the material with adventure centered around Hyperborea. Photo: Here are the front and back covers of Rats in the Walls.
 Can't wait for this one! My players are waiting for me to run this but its going to be a bit more time before I get my hands on it. I can't go to GaryCon because of work and family concerns at the moment.

The Rats In The Walls by HP Lovecraft 
If your curious about the original Rats In the Walls below is the radio audio drama from Black Mass. You can also download the original story right over HERE

Thursday, March 13, 2014

'The Beast From The Haunted Cave' Adapted For Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea And Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

After a fatal run with the Snakeriders of the Aradondo(available right HERE ) in which a series of fatal dice rolls caused a total TKP. Two of my players went on vacation out to California and the others wanted a different setting then the Lizard Coast. That was the other night's AS&SH game set upon my post apocalyptic Mars setting and thanks to the Dungeon From A Distant Star was pretty damn cool. Details HERE 

This one require a bit of DYI but boy was it worth it. I turned down the Corman and turned up the Lovecraft.

Trailer For The Beast From The Haunted Cave 
The Beast From The Haunted Cave Movie 

The Beast From The Haunted Cave Adventure Set Up 

Tonight's game was inspired by the cold as well as  a very old and terrible Roger Corman movie. The Beast from the Haunted adapted to AS&SH worked surprisingly well. The adventure takes place deep in the heart of Viking territory and takes place around an abandon Atlantian  gold mine. There have been a series of disappearances of some of the locals and the Viking rangers are very unsure of  tracks that have been seen in the area. 
The mine has only recently been explored by a group of adventurers and their wizard who came across the Mi Go machinery that had been left behind. The beast was part of the original bio genesis guardians of the mine, the Atlantians would later take it over. The mi go mined certain rare earth elements, the gold was only part of a bi product left behind by the Fungus from Yuggoth. The Mi Go had made war with the Atlantian tribes in the area and the Atlantians took over operations after driving off the Mi Go. There were certain sections of the mine which were taboo. This was where the beasts slept in dreamless slumber awaiting the return of their Mi Go masters while alien machinery kept the guardians in a state of suspended animation. The Atlantian operations were wiped out during the Great Death plague that took these ancient tribes from the face of Hyperborea.
The Beasts were their creations part arachnid, part fungus, and created from the essence of certain demons from nameless alien hells.
Now an ancient nearby Viking  village is the target of one of these horrors that has been awakened by foolish adventurers.

Number Encountered : 1d2 
Alignment: Chaotic Evil 
Size :
Large: L 

Movement : 40 
Dexterity: 11 
Armor Class: 2 
Hit Dice: 10 
Number of attacks: 3 claw, claw, bite or special bite (see below)
Damage 1d6, 1d6, 2d6 
Saving throw: 12 
Morale: 9 
Experience: 2,500 
Treasure : Q,R 
  • 13 in 12 spell resistance Vs CA 12 spell casters. For every CA level less then 12, the chance in twenty increases by one (+1). 
  • Surprises on a 3 in 6 chance 
  • Immune to cold attacks but very vulnerable to fire attacks 
  • Regenerates as a troll due to its partial fungal nature 
  • Victims who receive a bite are webbed and infected with young. 
  • Immune to any mind effecting spells and mind control spells as well because of the fungal nature of the beast's intelligence. 
  •  The beast may choose to infect victims with a special bite that only does 1 to two points of damage but the victim must save vs. Death or be paralyzed. The victim will be taken to a nearby underground lair and infected with 1d10 eggs. 
  • Anyone who escapes the beast may be stalked and sent telepathic images of horror and depravity of the beast's past victims.
  • These beasts have terribly evil intelligence and may stalk as well as kill those who slay their kind. These horrors share a telepathic rapture and know what others of their kind know in a 12 kilometer radius.   

The so called Primordial beasts have been used by the Mi Go for millions of years as guardians for their operations upon Hyperborea and thousands of other worlds. They have the characteristics of many creatures but are actually horrors unique to themselves. They make their homes in wide variety of locations but often enjoy cold or inhospitable climates with nearby human settlements. The beasts enjoy feasts on human and near humanoid victims who stumble into their clutches.  They will strike a
These horrors have a bite which places the victim into a near death like state unless save vs. poison is rolled. The victim is given a strange poison that not only keeps them alive and suffering but protects them from the cold. The beasts produces a special webbing that can hold a man sized creature stationary and protected against extreme cold. The beasts feed on their charges and lay 1d10 eggs within the victims who are conscious when the young eat their way out of them. This does 1d4 points of damage per round as the worm like young burst forth from the victim after feeding upon the marrow of the bones of the poor wretches.
 The beasts often hunt down witnesses and other special victims that they single out. The creatures uses their inhuman senses to ceaselessly track their targets. They are able to project into the minds of their victims images of suffering prey and friends that they often take. Those who witness such sights will be at -2 on all rolls as the telepathic horror of these images takes it's toll on the sanity and mind of their charges. Only a save vs wands may lessen the impact of such horrors.
These horrors can live hundreds of years and amass a fortune in artifacts and gold from past victims. They know that rumors of such treasure bring adventurers and fool hardy explorers but these are not the only treasures to be had. 
Many alchemists will pay good gold for samples of the beast's flesh and sections of its webbing. These are made into potions of regeneration and protection from cold. There is a 10% chance of those who use such things taking on certain characteristics of the beast or even becoming one themselves. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Free OSR Dragon's Foot Resource Adventure - The Corrupt Crypt of Ilmater & Adapting It For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Of Hyperborea rpg System

The Corrupt Crypt of Ilmater

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Jesse Muir provides us with an old school crawl that could provide a DM with a mid point campaign adventure for any  retroclone game. 
This is a no frills dungeon crawl done in the old school tradition that can easily be adapted to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
We get locations, a few NPC's, and two brand new monsters in this one and pretty much no background on the adventure, we're given all of the pieces to turn this into a well oiled pulp driven AS&SH game set adventure and nothing more.

Adapting this adventure 

This piece is meant to be a DYI adventure for either first or second edition AD&D with characters of either 4 through 6th level. This means for a game like AS&SH this means lowering the level of encounters back down to 2nd and 3rd level in AS&SH.
The other choice is to use existing monsters from AS&SH which is easily done. The encounters here are academic and while solid are easily adapted to your favorite retroclone game.
The rest of the adventure is easily tuned to your favorite game as well. The stats for the two or three new monsters simply need the 'Dex' adjustments from AS&SH. A bit of background into the world of AS&SH and this one is really to go. 

Using this Old School Adventure 
his is an old school adventure in the purer sense. Meaning simply adapt it as you see fit and use it as a mid campaign PC filler. The adventure easily lends itself to any number of situations and regions in AS&SH but can be made to work in really any retroclone. Because of the nature of the adventure and its monsters this one can fit the horror genre solidly if played right by the DM. The fact is that these ruins make a very nice 'Green Death' plague site that has only recently been exerting its influence upon Hyperborea once again.
A very nice little free download. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Slicing Deeper Into The Refree Manual For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea System

 Today we look into the AS&SH Refree's Manual From Astonishing Swordsmen box set. The Referee's Manual is actually the flavor book for the game and divides itself into a variety of sections including the Bestiary,Treasure,And The Hyperborea Gazetteer. 
 The bottom line here is that the referee's guide is the equivalent of a campaign overview,monster manual, and combination campaign book all in one. Basically this is the book that gives the captial 'H' in Hyperborea 
 If we start to take a look into the Bestiary - We get into not only the deadly fauna and flora of the game but the layout of the monsters as well with more advanced versions of Hyperborea's nastiness. This is a world that's been brought to the edge of extinction and is only now recovering. We get all of the familiar suspects but for Old School gamers there's actually a lack of dragons and certain usual suspects from say the AD&D Monster Manual or the Fiend Folio. 
 The layout of the monsters also includes all of the details that deal with the special treasures left laying around by the extinct peoples of Hyperborea. We get a sense of the high tech Atlantian and Hyperborean peoples but no real details and that is a good thing because it allows the DM to make the Hyperborea setting their own. 
 Curiously there are several AS&SH variation on the usual Lovecraftian and alien monsters of Lovecraft, Howard, and Clark Aston Smith but their suited to the setting on purpose. The writers/designers have done this on purpose to really get into the setting material more and create their own distinctive versions of these monsters. 
 The monster book slides into the treasures and while they are distinctive in an old school sort of way there's enough room for the DM to create their own varieties of these artifacts of yore quite easily and retro fit them into their own version of Hyperborea. 

 The Hypborea Gazeteer is really for me the heart and soul of this old school retro clone and gives a really well done guided tour of the realm of Hyperborea and beyond. This section of the game ties everything together in such a way that it allows the DM to move two or more elements of Hyperborea into a conscious whole of a complete version of their vision of Hyperborea. 
Note that throughout the whole of the referee's manual there are changes to the usual PC classes and these are also reflected in the 'thread of design' that runs through all of the various sections making this a more refined but less ham strung campaign world then say 'Middle Earth' or such other literary examples. All in all Hyperborea's Referee's  Manual gives the DM the tools to create their own version of Hyperborea without out the detailed claptrap of getting in their way for adventure design and more.