Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Colony - Turn 56 - It wasn't a rock...

And now, we're completely caught up (at least until tomorrow).

Start Date: August 21, mid-morning
Start Status: Going doooownnn
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

Faced with a daunting climb down into darkness, the party descends cautiously. Rennard and Zenobe go first, leaving the other three above as a rearguard. The ladder descends about 50 feet, ending in a sizeable mined chamber. Glints of metal in the rough walls catch the faint light of Zenobe's glowing holy symbol, creating sparkling reflections that hint at the reason the miners cut the vertical shaft: silver. Old wooden beams support the low ceiling in this chamber, and there are scuffled footprints crisscrossing the area. There are no signs of digging here, and no tools either.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Colony - Turn 54/55 - Fighting Retreat/Corpse Patrol

These turns are fairly short (again), so I'm going to do another double-header. We're also experiencing some scheduling turbulence in the group, which is why reports have been so sporadic lately. These two turns bring us almost up to date.

Start Date: August 21, mid-morning
Start Status: Pretty sure it's...
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

Now that they have a small group of enemies engaged, the party executes their pre-arranged plan, a fighting retreat toward the entrance to avoid getting cut off or surrounded. The only potential hitch, the approaching kla-krunch, kla-krunch, kla-krunch sounds from the west.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Colony - Turn 52/53 - Commence Action

I doubled these up because turn 52 was very very short (and I am lazy).

Start Date: August 21, mid-morning
Start Status: Move along, nothing to see here
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

Unwilling to deal with the glowing red slime, the party continues their right-handed exploration of the mine. The southeast passage proves to be a dead end, but the east tunnel leads to a small chamber with a pool of foul water surrounded by huge yellow mushrooms at one end. "Leave that for now," says Jinx. "Let's backtrack and keep moving."

The group goes back up the sloped passage, turns right and heads back to the main chamber. They take the right passage (north), which also slopes down. This branches and the right tunnel leads to more red slime. Here, Zenobe notes the slime is covering one of the wooden support columns with no apparent effect. As the group pauses to study the scene, they can also hear a faint and distant kla-klunk, kla-klunk, kla-klunk.

The other fork splits again with more slime to the right. The left branch goes uphill and splits again, but there's no time to investigate. Brigg spots movement in the shadowed left passage, and just has time to warn the others as several miner-things clamber over the mound of boulders and advance!

No one is surprised.

[Round One - Enemy First]

Before the group can react, the creatures rush forward, the first two run past Brigg toward the rest of the party, while two more engage the monk (the fourth appearing from behind the mound of boulders as the others move forward). Brigg kicks one of the passing creatures before the last two attack. [a miss]. Both creatures attempt to pummel Brigg with their fists, and one connects with a glancing blow [Brigg 2 damage]. The remaining creatures both attack the obvious target, Rennard, and one scores a solid hit [Rennard 6 damage].

Rennard shouts, "Brigg, fall back!" as he shifts to form ranks with Jinx, slashing with his sword at one of the creatures. [a miss].

"Aye, Brigg. Fall back!" adds Jinx as he pulls the trigger on his blunderbuss, blasting the nearest foe [5 damage].

"So much for stealth," mutters Smoke, then, louder, "I'm going to cover the rear!" She runs back to the big chamber to the south, sword in one hand, torch in the other. Nothing in sight, so far, but the faint kla-krunch, kla-krunch, kla-krunch sounds a bit louder here.

Zenobe stations himself behind Jinx and Rennard, flail and shield at the ready, but no target presents itself. An idea strikes, and he raises his holy symbol, attempting to turn the creatures in the name of Sarva [yeah, you didn't say you were, but it's come up before and it's the perfect oppportunity]. Nothing happens, and he does not feel the flow of holy power that usually accompanies an attempt. In the fairly dim light, the creatures look dead, their grayish skin is drawn taut over muscle and bone, but there is no foul stench, and he spots crystal growths like those seen before on both the nearest creatures.

Meanwhile, at the front, Brigg retreats from his two foes and finds himself cut off. He positions himself behind the creature Jinx shot and delivers a blow to its back, that does little damage but stuns the creature [1 damage]!

[Round Two - Enemy First]

The two trailing creatures follow Brigg and continue to attack him. One scores a hit [3 damage]. The stunned creature takes no action, but the fourth one attacks the unlucky Rennard again, scoring another hit [4 damage].

Brigg dodges past the stunned creature and pulls his bow, taking position beside Zenobe, who is busy preparing a spell [cure light wounds]. He fires at point blank range at the stunned foe and misses by a wide, wide, WIDE margin [my kingdom for fumble tables].

Zenobe casts his spell on Rennard [7 healing].

Jinx slams his blunderbuss into the stunned creature, scoring a hit [3 damage]. Rennard slashes again at the foe before him but fails to connect.

[Round Three - Enemy First]

One of the creatures in the back ranks yanks its stunned companion aside and steps forward to engage Jinx. The stunned foe staggers back and falls prone behind the three closer creatures. The two nearest miner-things attack with pummeling fists, but neither connects.

Brigg unleashes a bowshot at the stunned creature [with advantage] and scores a hit [5 damage]. The creature twitches a moment, then goes still. A thin stream of blood (?) dribbles from its mouth.

Jinx and Rennard each attack their nearest foes, and Rennard delivers a solid blow [9 damage] that staggers the miner-thing before him. Zenobe continues his waiting game in the back row, and Smoke listens to the kla-krunch, kla-krunch, kla-krunch noises with growing apprehension It sounds like they're coming from the west.

End Date: August 21, mid-morning
End Status: Zombie or not-zombie?
End Location: Silverstream Mine

OOC:

Brigg: 2 damage
Rennard: 3 damage

Meanwhile, back at the White Tulip, Adrienne tells the others she's giving up on the adventuring life. She plans to take a job as a butcher on the docks and will likely move out at the end of the month [character swap in progress].

Saturday, October 28, 2017

PBE Games - Have a Discount

Deadly Blows was the first product I released under the PBE Games label, so it holds a unique place in my heart (and it's caused the death of more than one character). To share the love, I have a special discount running on this product from now until November 3rd. Click this link to pick up Deadly Blows for $0.99, a savings of about 33 percent of the current price of $1.49.

What is Deadly Blows? Put simply, it's a set of critical hit tables that provide colorful and dangerous results for various attack forms. The six tables cover crushing, slashing and piercing weapons as well as biting, clawing and bludgeoning natural attacks. Deadly Blows is system agnostic and includes guidelines for integrating the tables into your favorite RPG. As the name implies, there are some deadly results in these percentile tables, but they're easy to tailor to your table's preferences. Each entry includes a severity rating, a description of the blow and one or more conditions that apply to the target. An included campaign summary sheet makes it easy to link table values to your chosen game's combat system. Use Deadly Blows to elevate the danger level in your next combat scene!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Note: this special offer has expired. Stay tuned for more deals from PBE Games.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Colony - Turn 51 - You Go First!

Start Date: August 21, morning
Start Status: Search and rescue
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

The party waits a while longer before concluding that Smoke may need some help. Brigg, using his magical amulet that enables him to see in the dark, moves ahead of the group as a scout, with Zenobe, Rennard and Jinx forming a loose triangle behind him, using Zenobe's glowing holy symbol and Rennard's sword for light. They follow Smoke's vaguely worded directions – going right. Down the first passage, into the larger junction, then right, down a tunnel that leads to a dead-end filled with heaps of rubble, some with dark veins running through it. Backtrack, then right again. Brigg pauses ahead of the group, listening. "Smoke?" he whispers in response to the faint scrabbling noises.

Monday, October 23, 2017

PBE Games - Dungeons in Blue and Stuff

I've been remiss in keeping up to date with new PBE Games releases since... July. It's been a somewhat slow year for new products due to time constraints, with only 26 products on the list for release in 2017. Here's a summary of what has come out over the last four months.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Colony - Turn 50 - Clanky

Lots of players out on travel for work or vacation over the next couple weeks, so turns are going to be spotty and maybe short.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Daruna - That's a Wrap

I haven't really posted a lot about this campaign, which I've been running since November 2011 for my long-term gaming group. We played this campaign over the course of eight weekend-long gaming sessions. If my math is correct, that comes out to about 28 4-hour sessions. This is campaign is unique for me. Usually, I run very sandboxy games. This time I had something of a plot/story in mind from the start, and, miracle of miracles, it actually worked. What follows is a short not-very-serious summary of everything that happened in the campaign.

Session One

Party members participate in a public tournament that serves as sort of a proving ground for newly minted militiamen and do fairly well. They befriend Pushta, who they would later hire as the captain of their house guards, by saving his life (and losing a match to childhood enemies Vikus, Lat, Rakya and Sudha in the process). They also meet the infamous Sadine! Salar! the Extrodinary! He is a merchant who deals in unique goods.

The match leads to a job, figuring out what's been happening to workers at a local quarry, who have started to go missing. This leads to a Lost Kingdoms complex and the recovery of the first of the Seven Artifacts of the Lost Kingdoms, the Cup of Galibrax. The group slays a croco-thing and befriends Dunatra and Tripur, cousins who join the group as men-at-arms.

Session Two

The Harth family, by way of Captain Selo, hires the party to find out what's happened to two important relatives who were planning to build a villa in the borderlands to the south (a.k.a. "the kids"). The party also hauls some goods to Doy for the shady Bhanda Masa, puppy killer. There is a pirate fight at the village.

The ferry to the southern reaches is out of commission and the villagers tell the group the river spirit Anamika is directing her minions to attack river traffic. A barge from upstream proves this is true, and Orca's rescue of the survivors draws the primordial's wrath. Sula manages to gain Anamika's attention and convinces her the party can solve the problem (apparently someone defiled her shrine). She agrees to give the party a quarter cycle of the moon to return the stolen holy icon.

The party crosses the river safely and visits the village on the far side, which is overly friendly. They find out "the kids" are camped nearby and there are bad things in the woods. At the camp, the party finds the icon (taken by camp guards), fights some corrupt tree spirits and restores the shrine, receiving the favor of Anamika in return.

Back at the camp, they explore the ruins beneath the villa site and rescue the Harth lad from a coffin. After fighting a manticore and a hive of giant bugs, the party finds a strange temple and ends up in a battle across multiple timelines as they try to rescue the woman time-traveling priests plan to use as a sacrifice. They somehow pull this off and end up with the Seal of Scorborax in the process.

Good news, bad news. When they return to the surface, they discover time is broken. Oh, snap.

Session Three

Nityada, one of the three minor gods, appears to the party and tells them, "Yo dudes, go break that thing so time can go again. Head to the volcano and toss it in."

So they do.

Along the way, they get trapped in weird time bubbles, including one where they rescue wounded people from a town about to be flooded by lava, and another featuring a sabertooth tiger. They're also attacked many times by flying creatures who can travel great distances rapidly using a vortex of black wind. The leader of these forces seems to be a bald man who wants the Seal (later identified as Hakesh Lotem, Vizier of Ash-tep, ruler of the Kingdom of Light/Daruna).

After they drop the seal in the volcano (which was not as easy as it sounds), time is restored, and no one but them remembers there were Seven Artifacts of the Lost Kingdoms.

Session Four

Sadine! Salar! has a map and convinces the party there's cool stuff to be had there. The party agrees to go treasure hunting. Along the way, they kill a black lion that was terrorizing the area, but not before it kills Dunatra and Tripur.

The treasure map leads to a tomb/prison that has some nice treasure and the trapped remains of the primordial of undeath. Oops. At least it's not a fungal invasion.

Session Five

Undead invasion. The party takes a trip to visit Anamika but never really gets there, because there are portals sending hideous creatures through that are taking prisoners and dragging them back to the undeath realm. The party fights its way back to their home city Shalish. There's another problem.

Forces of the Kingdom of Light are pushing into Shalish territory. Those That Know say the enemy is looking for a powerful artifact hidden in Traitor's Cavern, which is guarded by the ghosts of traitors (duh).

The party goes, they get past the recurring traitors and eventually find out what's wrong. There's a gateway leading to a primordial plane of fire and something is keeping it open. They go in, negotiate with Chaglar the magma primordial for the Scepter of Eirana, a powerful primordial of healing, exit the realm and seal the portal (the primordial trapped in the scepter was keeping the portal open).

Session Six

Hakesh Lotem (a.k.a Baldy), the vizier of the Kingdom of Light, arrives at Shalish for a parlay (hey, there's rules, you know). He tells them the undeath primordial has reestablished himself in the plane of undeath, and without the balancing power of Eirana, he will destroy the world. Someone has to go to the plane of undeath, kick his butt and use the scepter on him. Guess who?

The party goes to the plane of undeath (assisted by a primordial thing enslaved by Hakesh that transports them using a black vortex). They fight their way to the central fortress and face off against the guardian beast. Now, for the palace!

Session Seven

The party kicks skull butt and the undeath plane starts to fall apart. They find an elf along the way and escape through a rip in space that dumps them into the jungle.

They find a temple complex with a bunch of weird puzzle traps that protect the shield generators guarding a magical shield on top of a pyramid. They defeat the puzzles, get the artifact and discover it's the Shield of Mata, another of the Six Artifacts. They also discover A) that hitting it with Ramone's sword will make both go BOOM and B) Ramone's sword (which they recovered from a haunted crypt in S4) is the Blade of Yolis the Ender of Cycles. Sula uses his cool reverse-time pendant to undo the destruction of these crucial artifacts.

Session Eight

Vikus and his rat-friends, assisted by a ninja, steal the Cup from the royal vault and lead the party on a merry chase to a primordial prison. The party fights their way through and kill Lat, but Vikus and Sudha escape (and Vikus used Rakya as a sacrifice to free the trapped primordials -- two down, two to go). The party ends up outside the Kingdom of Light fort where Bad Things™ are happening. Hakesh has artifacts and knows how to use them.

The party faces Hakesh (who turns into a giant corrupting blob-thing), ninja-girl, Vikus, and Ash-tep himself. The living avatar of Daru proves to be an impostor created by Hakesh (who is one of the few remaining major primordials that remains free). The party manages to destroy the Cup and Vortex during the fighting (I think Lister got them both).

Ninja girl is deadly but eventually falls when Ramone destroys Yup's Mask, which she is wearing. Ramone then destroys the shield and sword next to the Hakesh-thing. This releases Yolis and Mata, who do final cleanup and destroy (or not) Hakesh.

Characters

We used a heavily modified version of D&D 3.5 for this game. It uses a point-buy system, eliminates classes, and has a home-brewed kata system that gives fighters powers. One of the setting features was corrupted magic. Trapping all the primordials in various artifacts upset the balance of the world, so using magic was very risky. Low-level spells were fairly safe, but high-level spells were progressively more dangerous. 

The party:

Ayun - Archer elf who only played in session seven
Orca - Dual-wielding death on a stick
Lister - Magician with a pole arm
Ramone - Master of the passive kata
Sula - Archer priest and healer
Torin - Walking talking suit of armor

The party ended up rich and famous. What follows is the aftermath summary I sent to the players after the final session.

Once the giant figures fade from the sky overhead, the golden wheels begin to spin before they too fade away. You realize that the sounds of battle, loud and obvious during your fight, had also stopped during the confrontation between the primordial powers. Now, you hear them again, but their tenor changes. The clash of arms and shouted commands give way to cries of fear, and of victory. Horns sound, you recognize the call to reform ranks, are swiftly followed by galloping hooves and shouts of surrender. Acting quickly, you run to the main gate and are almost overrun by fleeing Daruna forces. Sula urges you all to display your military badges as you reach the entrance and prevent the guards there from closing it against the approaching Shalish cavalry. The enemy is in complete disarray, and your allies are mopping up. A friendly squad rushes the gate, and it takes a moment to convince them of your identities, but you spot Captain Selo in the distance and hail him. 

It takes hours to bring order to the battlefield. The king and his retinue arrive and establish their headquarters in the fort, and Selo fills you in on what happened. The Daruna forces, bolstered by the many enhanced warriors in their ranks, were winning until, without warning, the powerful fighters all collapsed into heaps of twisted bone and flesh (this accounts for Sudha, the last of Vikus's cronies). Shalish forces rallied and Moha troops, pressed into service by Hakesh, turned on their so-called allies. Daruna forces fled into the woods along the river or surrendered.

Once things settle a bit, you order a squad (RHIP after all) to find Ayun, which they do. He comes to the fort and brings along all your mounts, and together you all meet with the king again. If you said he was delighted, that would be an understatement. He honors you all in front of the troops (even though he glosses over the exact details of what happened because what happened is a bit fuzzy).

Eventually, the prisoners are dealt with (enslaved to rebuild the damage done to Moha and outlying farms for the most part), and a powerful military force stays at the fort (solidifying Shalish's hold on the region). Politically Shalish and Bhavar are now the dominant powers in the area, and the king wastes no time exploiting this. He annexes Moha and its territories, bringing them into the alliance, and appoints an interim governor from the Harth family to manage the reconstruction.

The party returns home and receives a hero's welcome from their staff and families. They're also accorded official honors at the ceremonies held at the palace for those who distinguished themselves in the Battle of Two Rivers. The families of the traitors, Vikus, Lat, Sudha and Rakya are stripped of their possessions and banished from the realm. The king offers the group their choice of the confiscated properties, and you take a beautiful townhouse in the city that complements your villa nicely.

As Lister discovered, the forces of elemental magic no longer suffer from corruption, and there are several 'accidents' in the city as practitioners experiment with their new powers. The words of the Voice of Tamulat come true, as the Shalish military engages in a series of actions that consolidate and expand the borders of Shalish, Bhavar and Moha and push back the forces of Daruna. 

There are also strange happenings beyond the borders. Vishka erupts with great fury, painting the sky black for an entire month, and a wild forest springs up around the fort where the final battle took place. Goba is leveled by an earthquake but remains a haunted place, home to many undead. On the first day of the new year, explosions wrack the Twisted Lands and shadowy shapes streak across the sky, heralding further changes.

By spring, things have settled down. The party takes a trip and revisits Traitor's Cave and the primordial prison. Nothing remains of either site other than a pit in the ground, and you wonder who or what destroyed these old places of power. Sula suggests the major primordials, freed from their bonds, are restoring order to the world and releasing those who are still trapped in Lost Kingdom constructs. It seems a likely enough theory.

After their trip, the party returns to the villa to enjoy the quiet life of wealthy landowners. Their partnership with Sadine! Salar! proves profitable and they go on to live happily ever after.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Colony - Turn 47/48 - Zombies or Not-zombies?

Start Date: August 19, late night
Start Status: Who watches the Watchers?
Start Location: Silverstream Mine

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Smoke, Zenobe
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Xon, Aaron

The Turn

The party manages to wake up and prepare for whatever might happen without alerting the creatures wandering around outside, who still seem unaware of their presence. After 30 minutes or so of aimless wandering, the creatures (there are at least 20), move off along the road to the south in a loose group, traveling at a steady walking pace. "Wonder where they're going?" mutters Brigg as the last of the pack disappears into the woods beyond the clearing.

With the action over, at least for now, the party reverts to two people on watch, one focused on the mine, the other on the road, while the others sleep. There's no further activity for several hours, but as the moon begins to set, the creatures return. The dim moonlight is fading as they move at a good pace toward the mine, but it looks to Jinx and Zenobe like several of them are carrying long, apparently heavy objects. "I think those are bodies," whispers Jinx.

This was the end of turn 47. Very short, but I needed to give the party a chance to respond to events.]

The group debates intercepting the miner-creatures before they enter the tunnel, but facing twenty or more foes with unknown capabilities is not appealing. Reluctantly, they let the creatures return to their lair, taking whatever, or whoever, they were carrying with them.

The next morning, everyone is up early after an uneasy night's rest. They have a plan. First, explore the immediate area inside the mine entrance. Second, backtrack along the road to see if they can figure out where the creatures went. Third, build a barricade across most of the mine entrance to limit the access of the creatures inside.

The party lights torches and lanterns and enters the mine with Smoke and Rennard in the lead. The tunnel extends about 15 feet in, then splits, with another fork visible ahead. The party bears left down a narrow tunnel, that continues 20 feet or so, then rough-cut steps lead down to a fork. Brigg quietly calls a halt and holds a finger to his lips. Everyone stands still and listens. The air is cool and still, but you can all hear the faint but echoing sounds of metal striking stone and shifting, tumbling rock.

"Someone's still digging, somewhere. Where is it coming from?" whispers Rennard.

"Here," says Smoke, pointing ahead and left.

"No, back here," says Brigg, gesturing to the other fork of the main tunnel.

"I don't like that," mutters Zenobe.

The party advances into the fork and Zenobe raises his torch to illuminate the area. The left fork dead ends just beyond a side passage to the right, the right fork opens into an oblong chamber. "Far enough," says Rennard. "Let's check the other passage. We don't want to be too long in here."

The group retreats to the main passage, which opens into a larger chamber past the second branch. The second branch is a wide dog-legged passage that ends in a wider gallery. In each area, the party stops to listen. Each time they hear the same digging noises, but they can't determine the direction. The air in the left and center passages has a dusty smell, but there is faint dampness to the right. The grit-covered floors of each tunnel show many prints made by booted feet, and in the large center room and right gallery there are large rounded prints too. Aside from a few bats hanging from the ceiling, the group sees no signs of life in these tunnels.

Exploration complete, at least for now, the party backtracks to the entrance and heads down the road, moving at a fast pace. With no tracker, the trail is difficult to follow, but Brigg and Jinx think they find a place where it leaves the road. and heads south toward a farmstead. The party's fears are realized when they reach the place. The door to the house is open, the bar broken. There are signs of fighting within and bloodstains on the rough-spun cloth that covers the kitchen table and on the floor. There is no one is here. "They *were* bodies," says Jinx, who is keeping watch outside.

The group performs a hasty search of the area and turns out the cow and horse so they can graze, leaving the barn door to the pasture open. Inside they find indications that five people, two adults and three children, lived here. Rennard closes the farmhouse door before the group heads back to the mine. Along the way, they identify several spots that offer ambush opportunities: a rock outcropping that overlooks the road, a dense stand of trees, and a steep hillside that parallels the road. None are great, but they each offer some cover.

Once the party returns to the mine, they get to work moving rock using the wheelbarrows and tools from the barn and storage room. They heap rocks across the tunnel entrance, leaving a narrow opening in the middle. The irregular rocks are difficult to stack. The walls have sloping sides and end up being about four feet high. The entry is about two feet wide at floor level but widens higher up due to the slope of the walls to either side. There are more rocks available, but without any way to shore up the walls, it's impossible to make them much taller.

It is early afternoon when the party finishes this job, and everyone is dusty and tired from the manual labor. "Should we do a little more exploration before nightfall?" asks Smoke.

End Date: August 20, early afternoon
End Status: Pick and Shovel
End Location: Silverstream Mine


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Colony - Turn 45 - Silverstream Mine

The party latches onto the idea of figuring out what is going on at the Silverstream Mine. Word on the street is that a group of miners were sent to open the place back up and went missing. Mercenaries sent by the owner were attacked when they tried to investigate. There's a rumor that, before the mine was closed years ago, the miners found something strange in the depths.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Colony - Turn 44 - About Town

Start Date: August 17, morning
Start Status:
Start Location:

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Most of the group spends their first day back in town cleaning up, fixing gear, resupplying, and relaxing. It's been a long strange trip. The meat the group smoked on the trail is going bad, so they dispose of that. Several people go to have some of the recovered treasure evaluated.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Colony - Turn 43 - River Rafting

Start Date: August ?+5, noonish
Start Status: What floats in water?
Start Location: Lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Aaron seems to think the party is just a few miles north of the colony now, but no one is really interested in fording the flooded swamp river. The group turns west along its banks, hoping to find a place to ford or a good location to build a raft. They travel over a mile upstream without finding many variations in the terrain – swampy ground, scrubby trees, and rushing river. Worse, the river is curving south, which, if they are where they think they are, leads toward the shadow folk who ambushed them and left a dire warning about what would happen if they return.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Colony - Turn 42 - Coastal Highway

Start Date: August ?+4, early morning
Start Status: Coast ho!
Start Location: Lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

The explorers set out along the flooded river and make good time now that the rain has stopped, reaching the coast shortly before noon. The river they're following pours down a narrow valley into the ocean, spreading a brown stain out into the choppy waters. The heavy forest extends to the coast, which is demarcated by steep slopes leading down to rocky beaches that are just a few yards wide. The elevation offers a good view out over the water, which is sadly lacking in sails. The group catches sight of a small island to the east and another coastline (island or mainland) to the northeast.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Colony - Turn 41 - Sarcophagi

Start Date: August ?+2, near noon
Start Status: A wrap?
Start Location: Mountain ruin, lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Despite resistance from Maarek, who would rather not disturb a grave site, and Xon, who just wants to get out of the ruin and find the way home, the party decides to open the sarcophagi. Before they begin, Aaron copies the drawings on the lids for later reference.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Colony - Turn 39/40 - Holiday Double Header

Guess I've been falling behind on turn reports!

Start Date: August ?+2, morning
Start Status: What's in the box
Start Location: Mountain ruin, lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

After taking some elaborate precautions, using Find Traps and Detect Evil on the chest, and evacuating the room among them, Jinx opens the chest while the others watch from outside the room "Just in case." The result is anticlimactic. The iron latches open with a bit of effort and the lid swings up easily, revealing the chest's contents: a rectangular, leather-wrapped bundle about 8 x 12 x 2 inches in size, three worm-eaten wooden boxes with simple latches, and a bundle of green cloth. "Mendel, Rennard, come check this stuff again, and then I'll take it out of the box. No need to take chances." The cleric and paladin comply and then retreat, having found nothing unusual. Jinx removes the items one at a time. The leather-wrapped bundle proves to be a book with a heavy-duty metal binding that is closed with a complex lock. The cover and back are inscribed with stylized versions of several of the obelisk runes [center and bottom center on the wall panel image]. A quick tug indicates the lock is secured, so Jinx sets it aside.

The three boxes creak and shift as Jinx lifts them out of the chest. "These things are falling apart," he mutters. The first contains a pair of golden goblets encrusted with gems, amethysts on one, garnets on the other. The second box holds nine heavy gold chains with disk-shaped medallions, each inscribed with one of the now-familiar runes. The third box contains two ornate daggers with steel blades. They are almost identical to the dagger found in the lizard cave. Each has nine runes along the blade with one larger than the rest [bottom center and top left runes from the wall panel image].

Finally, Jinx pulls out the cloth bundle. The material has suffered from the effects of time and starts to fall apart as he unfolds the items. There are several cloth panels decorated with abstract embroidered patterns. From their size and shape, the party guesses they were altar covers of some sort, but they don't have any symbols on them. They're in bad enough shape that they'll likely disintegrate if you try to carry them off.

With all the loot cleared out, the others come back in to examine the finds and check the inside of the chest for secret compartments or traps [none found]. Aaron says "The book is magical, as are the daggers."

Mendel says, "We should check the other secret door while my spell for finding traps is still active. Why don't we stow this stuff back in the chest for now and close the doors until we finish exploring?" This practical suggestion meets with general approval and the party quickly repacks the loot and then heads out to explore the next area, heading easy along the big corridor then west in the central shrine to the secret door there.

After checking and searching, Aaron spots the door latch and opens it. Rennard is about to enter the hall beyond when...

You find yourself exiting a cave into a narrow valley that winds away from you. Wild, verdant growth covers every surface and towering trees block most of the sky, but you can see a bright blue sun burning overhead. As you watch, the trees twist and sway in the still air and a thin keening wail fills the air. Shadows flicker along the valley as something passes overhead, and then the vision fades.

"Why are we still here again?" asks Xon, who has edged closer to the portcullis opening.

"Did you see the stuff we found back there?" asks Maarek. "That's worth a lot of money."

"Yeah, but we should take it and go. I have a bad feeling about these visions. It's like someone, or something, is sending us messages."

"We'll check out this area, then see how everyone feels," says Jinx. "Besides, this looks like a bust." He points through the door, which opens into a short, narrow hall leading south. "I'll bet this was a shortcut or escape route for those that lived here."

"We should search it, just in case," says Aaron. The group examines the hallway carefully and finds a door at the south end. Jinx suggestion that this was an escape tunnel or shortcut seems likely.

In the interests of thoroughness, the group returns to the south so-called library rooms and finishes searching this area, uncovering nothing of interest.

"OK, the only place left to search is the area beyond that stone door. Do we want to check it out, or should we take the money and run, so to speak?" says Rennard.

One door left. The party debates leaving it alone, taking their finds and going. In the end, they decide they have time and investigate. After reviewing the stone door, the group realizes it's going to take some effort to open; it's been sealed shut. While the others keep watch, Mendel and Jinx work with pick and spade to break the mortar and loosen the panel. Eventually, they can shake the door and it moves but still won't open. "Stand aside," says Aaron. "This is taking too long." He casts a Knock spell, there is a soft click, and the door swings open, revealing a narrow east-west hall with several side passages.

While the walls in the other areas of the ruin are carved from the native rock, in this area they are lined with pale white marble panels trimmed with black stone. Rennard is about to enter the passage when...

A pool of emerald green water lies before you, surrounded by huge stone obelisks. A human figure in a green robe stands waist-deep in the center of the pool, holding a staff that shimmers and moves as if it is alive. He, she? turns to face you and speaks in a voice that changes pitch and tempo constantly. "Rise or fall. Rise or fall. The cycle continues, ever changing. The question is, will you rise with the victors, or fall with the defeated?"

"That was... ominous," mutters Aaron.

Mendel just shakes his head and gestures to Rennard, who moves inside the door. The area beyond is relatively small. To the south, there are two small 10 x 10 chambers, each with a dais holding a black stone sarcophagus. To the north, a larger room, 15 x 30 feet, with a similar stone sarcophagus in the center.

"OK, let's NOT open those," says Xon. "The last thing we need to do is let loose the ancient spirit that's been sending us visions by opening its grave."

The party spends about 30 minutes searching the area and its contents but avoids touching the sarcophagi. The only things they find are some rotten cloth hangings piled on the floor, mildewed and indecipherable. The sarcophagi lids are thick and have shallow indentations spaced along either side (handles perhaps). The seam between the lid and bottom is almost invisible. They have rusted metal rings along either side that may have held poles used to carry them. They are quite long, close to 8 feet, but only 3 feet wide and tall.

The sarcophagi in the smaller rooms have some writing in an unknown language on a small carved panel on their lid. The one in the larger room has a larger panel with more writing. The script resembles that on the scrolls found in the lizard cave.


Friday, August 25, 2017

The Colony - Turn 38 - Creature Lair

After slaying the floating tentacle monster (which I wager at least some of my readers will recognize), the party regroups, heals up and heads into the thing's lair. They're hoping for loot and want to be sure no more foes remain.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Colony - Turn 37 - Mmm Floaty

Surprised by a weird floating creature in the hall, which manages to snag Rennard in its many tentacles, the party responds with deadly force to the apparent threat.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Colony - Turn 36 - Search and Rescue

Start Date: August ?+2, morning
Start Status: Dungeon delving
Start Location: Mountain Ruin, lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

Xon maintains his watch out in the courtyard while the rest of the group continues exploring the rooms connected to the secret passage. Searching the chamber at the end of the narrow hall uncovers nothing of interest except a small packet of gold leaf. "That has some cash value," says Aaron. The pages and writing supplies are too old to be useful and the rest of the stuff in the chamber is junk.

The group backtracks along the hall, searching for secret doors with Rennard in the lead. As the paladin rounds the final corridor, he is shocked to find the exit blocked by a hideous creature! A pulsing, rippling mass of glistening pink flesh hangs in the air, just beyond the door. A gaping beak protrudes from the side of the thing, and close to a dozen coiling tentacles covered in tiny spines dangle beneath it.

[Surprise!]

Before the group can react, the creature lashes at Rennard with its tentacles and four of the slimy things wrap around his legs, arms, and body [12 damage from spines]. As the creature starts to pull him into the hall, the paladin tries to break free, but finds he cannot move! His sword falls from his nerveless fingers as the creature clutches the helpless Rennard to its body.

A very short turn today, due to the unexpected appearance of a floaty thing.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Colony - Turn 35 - Delving Deeper

Start Date: August ?+1, afternoon
Start Status: Search & Sleep
Start Location: Mountain Ruin

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

After exploring the various shrines and main hallways in the complex, the group decides to do a more thorough search of the area, except for Xon, who refuses to stay in the building and keeps watch in the courtyard. The time-consuming process produces results. Aaron finds a secret door in the large shrine, and Maarek finds another in the south chamber.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Colony - Turn 34 - Whispers in the Dark

Despite the freaky hallucination/vision, the party decides to explore a bit more of the shrine complex.


Start Date: August ?+1, Early afternoon
Start Status: Another Path
Start Location: Mountain ruin

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Colony - Turn 32 - Discoveries

The weather and terrain turn against the party, forcing the group to take to higher ground. As they traverse the hills south of the river, they find a ancient ruin tucked into a narrow valley.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Colony - Turn 31 - A View From Above

Start Date: August ?, Morning
Start Status: Not all who wander are...
Start Location: Lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

After discussing their options during a rest break, the party decides, over Mendel's objections, to backtrack and start following a stream, hoping it will lead them (eventually) to the coast. The clerics also use some of their healing spells to relieve the various wounds people suffered during the short fight.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Colony - Turn 30 - Lost

The main party is definitely, positively, completely unsure of where they are.


Start Date: August ?
Start Status: Which Way?
Start Location: Lost

Adventuring: Rennard, Jinx, Mendel, Aaron, Maarek, Xon
At the Tulip: Adrienne, Brigg, Hagan, Kessel, Smoke, Zenobe

The Turn

After quickly checking their gear and making sure everyone is up and about, the group starts checking out the area. Aaron uses one of his ink vials to take a sample of the bubbling black water and reclaims his map without touching the head. Jinx and Maarek keep watch while Xon, Rennard, and Mendel start exploring the cavern. The place proves to be a circular cave about 100 feet across. There are about a dozen of the tree-like pillars supporting the roof. A single passage leads out of the chamber. Careful searching reveals no secret doors or traps, nor does the party find any footprints or drag marks.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Colony - Turn 28 - Corpse Town

The party is still exploring the countryside, and they've stumbled across an abandoned village.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Colony - Turn 27 - Beach Party

With potentially valuable, but fragile, scrolls in hand and no way to protect them from rough handling, the party decides to make a fast trip back to town.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Colony - Some Items

The party in my PBEM game, The Colony, started at 3rd level, and to my mind, characters that have gained that much experience should have a magic item or two. Here are a few of the starting items from the game. We're using Labyrinth Lord, so most of this still should be easy to translate to other D&Dish systems. I've included the character names with each item  for people reading along with the game.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Colony - Turn 22 - Reports

The party makes it back to civilization with time to spare on their mapping contract. Time to report in and see what the loot is worth.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

PBE Games - Dungeons in Blue Update

It's been a while since I've put out an update on PBE Games products, but that's OK, I've been pretty non-productive during the first few months of the year. Here's a quick look at recent (and not so recent) releases.

Entries and Exits Revisited is a set of 16 quarter-sized tiles, each depicting either a surface entrance or a stairway leading to a new level within the dungeon.

Three new Small Dungeons, geomorphs that can also be used as stand-alone maps, are also available: Small Dungeons #19, Small Dungeons #20, and Small Dungeons #21. You can also pick up all three at a discount in Small Dungeons Map Pack #7.

All geomorphs are ready-to-use PNG-format files compatible with most virtual tabletops. Use them as-is, or combine them into larger maps using your favorite image processing software.

Here are one-third scale previews of some of these packs.

Entries and Exits Revisited

Small Dungeons #20
I hope you'll check out PBE Games's maps and other products and find something that enhances your game. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Colony - Turn 21 - Homeward Bound

The poisoned party members threaten forward progress. The group pauses to reassess their plans outside the dangerous confines of Black Needle Forest. Also, a brief update on those back at the White Tulip in New Kavlin.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Colony - Turn 20 - Forest Parkour

A pleasant lunch turns ugly when tiny spears rain down from the branches overhead. Black Needle Forest has a nasty reputation, so the party errs on the side of caution.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Colony - Turn 19 - March On

After searching around and testing the obelisk, the party continues their mapping expedition.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Colony - Turn 18 - Look, Squirrel!

For reasons that are opaque to the GM, the party has decided to leave the cave complex, leaving several areas unexplored. On to overland exploration.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Colony - Turn 17 - It's a Dirty Job

With the lizard dead, the party turns their attention to looting and further exploration.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Colony - Turn 16 - Look! More Bloody Footprints!

The party descends into the lizard's cave, ready to finish the beast off before it can hurt anyone else (or them).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Colony - Turn 14 - Descent into the Den

The party has accepted a contract from the colony military to explore the area northeast of the colony and produce a map detailing what they find. The first thing they come across is a big ravine strewn with bones.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Colony - Turn 13 - Mapping

The party begins their first outdoor excursion. With a time limit on their contract, they've decided to head out immediately rather than take advantage of the Oakfell foreman's limited hospitality.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Colony - Guns

It may not be apparent yet, but my PBEM game, The Colony, includes black powder weapons. We're using Labyrinth Lord as our core ruleset, but, as usual, I've tweaked a few things. Here's how black powder weapons work.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Colony - Turn 12 - Road Trip

The party switches things up and heads into the great outdoors. They hope to earn some quick cash and, hopefully, determine the fate of Maarek's and Kessel's parents. They, along with several other workers from Oakfell, vanished into the woods several months ago.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Colony - Turn 11 - The Return

A relatively short turn, as the party is approaching their deadline to return to the White Tulip.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Colony - Turn 10 - Peace in the Shade

The group has reached an accord of sorts with the mysterious humanoids they encountered in the old city beneath New Kavlin. Exploration continues in a new direction.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Colony - Turn 9 - Conversations in the Shadows

The party has stumbled upon an encampment of... something. Brigg the monk tries to talk to them, while Smoke warns the other about the possible threat.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Colony - Turn 8 - Creeping

The party continues their explorations in the Old City beneath New Kavlin. Sim, Maarek, and Kessel return to the White Tulip after their excursion outside the city and tell the party what they've learned.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Colony - Turn 7 - Tunnel Crawl

Having secured the permission of their landlord to open the grate in the cellar of the White Tulip, the main party spends some time exploring the tunnels and chambers of the old city. They hope to find whatever is troubling the hostel's owner and guests.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Colony - Turn 6 - Descent

Man, there are a lot of players in this group! Chicken herding at its finest! The party plans and executes its first descent into the so-called old city, the ruins beneath New Kavlin.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Colony - Turn 5 - Breakfast

After encountering a pair of deadly rats in the cellar, various party members seem to think they've solved the problems plaguing the White Tulip. The owner, Mosk, is a bit skeptical about this conclusion.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Colony - Turn 4 - Night Watch

The party has split up for the night, and those staying at the White Tulip plan on patrolling the place all night to see if they can figure out who or what is causing problems for the hostel's owner. They suspect something is either climbing out of the well or sneaking through the bars leading into the Old City beneath New Kavlin.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Colony - Turn 3 - In the Inn

Start Date: July 18, 1027, Evening
Start Status: Dinner at the Spoon
Start Location: The Tipsy Spoon

The Turn

After dinner, the party splits up. A large contingent heads out to find the White Tulip (after the day's scouting, a few people know where it is). Others divide up and start looking for rooms. Before leaving the Spoon, Mendel and Smoke ask the barkeep about the various houses for rent around the city. He suggests they inquire at the Landowner's Partnership, an organization that represents many of the smaller landowners in and around the city. Everyone agrees to meet again at the Spoon tomorrow evening for dinner.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Colony - Turn 2 - Cruisin' the City


Early turns are long and filled with information, but they do lack in the action department. In part, this is people getting their game legs back, but it's also people getting familiar with the setting and figuring out where to go/what to do.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Colony - Turn 1 - Docking Maneuvers

And we're off! The first short turn to kick off the game and get players back in the groove of PBEM gaming.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Colony - New Kavlin

After a long delay, we're finally starting up! If you're wondering what the Colony is, here's the intro post to the campaign. The first turn *should* go out tomorrow, and, as usual, I'll be sharing them here. Theoretically, we'll be doing two turns a week (Monday/Thursday).

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Colony - A Quick Update

Prompted by a comment on my previous Colony post (hi Marcus), here's a quick update on the state of the game.

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Year, New Campaign - The Colony

After The Wilds came to its rather inglorious end, I've been without a regular campaign. I've been toying with this idea for a while, and I just sent the teaser out to my usual crew of players last night. Hopefully, I'll get a few nibbles.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

PBE Games - Wrapping Up 2016

Yeah, I know. New Year's has come and gone, but better late than never. December was a busy month, but I managed to accomplish my goal of getting the last eight Dungeons in Blue Expansion Sets out the door. In total, the twenty-six Expansion sets contain just over 275 geomorphs, and you can get them all at a nice discount in the Expansion A to Z Pack. I also released Labyrinths, a set of thirty-two maze-like tiles that will turn any dungeon into a mapper's nightmare.

Labyrinths Preview

December also saw the release of a new Hexed Places outdoor setting, Denshi Ferry. Like all Hexed Places, this product details encounters, locations and rumors about a classic six-mile hex, in this case, a river border between civilization and the wilderness. Every Hexed Places includes a map of the region, plus details and brief stats for all encounters in a format that's easy to adapt to any OSR-friendly game system.

To round out 2016, I released a new Uncommon Ground texture pack. Corrosion is a grainy texture in various dull hues reminiscent of rust and verdigris. Like all Uncommon Ground products, it includes four color variants of the seamless texture and comes with a liberal personal and commercial license.

Looking ahead, I should have an update to the Dungeons in Blue Master List out in the next week or so. I'll also be updating the pay-what-you-want Tile of the Week Collection with the latest additions Soon (TM). Beyond that, I have a small set of entry and exit geomorphs in the works, as well as a new Hexed Places that will (hopefully) see the light of day this month.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading, and have a healthy and prosperous New Year!