The Voyage of the Flying Circus

The first of two posts today to promote/celebrate the D101’s ZineQuest 2 entry the double zine Grogzilla/Skyraiders of the Floating Realms. This is the short bit of game fiction that starts off Skyraiders with a bang, showcasing the fantastic adventure action of the game and a slight obsession with a certain 70s British comedy show 🙂

Somewhere up in the sky under the New Sun

Bravely the crew of the Flying Circus, brought the skyship around in the sky to avoid the flight of small blue-skinned winged humanoids, known as Zarks, that were bearing down on them.

“They are after the Spam for sure, that Dwarfen tined meat is too delicious for them to resist!” shouted Capt. T’errick Jhoanes in an effort to cheer his terrified crew. He knew that the Zarks being notorious pyromaniacs would fire bursts of flame from their horns at the wooden ship as soon as they were in range, for these s were

Sure enough, the lead Zark fired off a burst of flame and swiftly set the mainsail alight. More explosions of flame hit the bow of the ship where the rest of the navigation gear was situated. “Bugger! Going down, brace yourselves for impact” shouted Capt Jhoanes to his crew, who knew the drill and grabbed on to the nearest thing nailed down to the ship’s deck. With its bow engulfed in flame, The Flying Circus lost its battle with gravity and started to plunge towards a nearby sky island, covered in trees, and no more than ten miles across.

The ship crash-landed on the centre on the wooded sky island. It ploughed through the tree canopy until it came to rest in a glade which seemed to be the start of an ancient paved road. As the crew sounded off, each member stating their condition, either bruised or minor sprains, the Capt jumped off the ship. On a quick look needed a fast repair of the burnt section of the wooden hull. “Right! It looks like everyone’s all right, carpenters start assessing the damage. Rest of you start forming wood gathering parties. No sign of the Zarks, which is good. Hang about what’s that?” He trailed off, his gaze drawn up the paved road into the distance where he saw a magnificent and intact step pyramid a relic from the ancient times before the land broke and floated up into the sky. “Crikey it’s a Vault, perhaps this trip will have a big pay-out after all!” he said rubbing his hands in glee, for such places if undiscovered held the riches from before the land was broken and floated into the sky.

Lost in happy thoughts, he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was his First mate drawing his attention.  “Captain!” the First mate said, pointing in the opposite direction to the pyramid, to the other side of the Glade. There in full black plate, with a helm that completely masked the identity of the wearer, was a warrior armed with sword and shield.  Except Captain Jhoanes knew the identity of the sinister set of black armour.

“You again!” he exclaimed at his old nemesis.

“Yes, I told you it was but a flesh wound” came the echoing voice of the Black Knight.

Next up: An example Skyraiders character. 

Six for Mythras

This morning I’m taking a break from banging on about Skyraiders, to pop back and look at part of Grogzilla.

The Six Travellers is a culture write up for Mythras by the Design Mechanism. It revolves around a group of Travellers, who are searching for lost roads and trade routes. Unlike nomads, they rely upon a network of established  Sanctuaries within city-states with whom they have treaties and established settlements of their own which wax and wane in size depending on the number of wagon trains who are gathered there.

Let’s hear it from one of the members of the culture itself.

The Six Traveller Voice

We are looking. Looking for the Ways, the trade routes that were lost to our ancestors when the world went into the Fall when the Ignorance came out of the shadows.

We are led by our gods who are the Six.

  • Gura the Chief who leads us down the Way of Lions
  • Heresta the Healer who knows the Lavender Way.
  • Julio the Baker, who owns the bountiful Stone the Cow.
  • Iljoy the Magician, Master/Mistress (who can tell) of Mysteries.
  • Gregora the Sword Master who fights with skill and precision against ignorance.
  • Yulpa the Sunchaser who rides faster than the Eastern Wind.

They guide our great covered wagons as they roll across the land, from city to city trading and bringing messengers and passengers as well as goods. You are a rider who has yet to settle down and ride with your family in a wagon. As well as protecting your kin from raiders, you must also investigate reports and rumours of sightings of the Way Stones. These magical stones fell from the heavens after the Fall. Gifts from the gods to help us find the way. Perhaps you will find a Great Way Stone and become one of the heroic Waymasters and Waymistresses, heroes of our people who rule us from the great gatherings of the trains at the yearly camps, and who call us every five years to the great camp at our city of Nexus.

Yulpa the Sunchaser, Mistress of the East Wind

A write up of Yulpa the Sunchaser was an early stretch goal of this campaign that funded. Yulpa is a horse warrior/whisper that most members of the culture are members of purely out of practicality. She’s a good starting point for player characters, hence her inclusion in Grogzilla. The whole Six Traveller culture is loosely formed, so it is easy to drop into an existing game setting. The player characters never need to know its there until they encounter some brightly coloured magically coloured non-player characters who ride around in groups on horses or one of their wagon trains.

So where is this all leading? Well somewhere nasty and unpleasant, probably around Halloween on Kickstarter. Gentlepeople and Wildthings of all ages, may I present…

The Isle of the Dead

In the Kingdom of Tura when monarchs die, they make the final journey to the Isle of the Dead. It is an arduous journey that only royalty may make. The corpse is prepared by the priesthood of Shem and then is taken overland to a secret port, where a boatman takes the body to the Isle and from there it passes through the Door to Eternity into parts unknown.

Only the Brotherhood of Shem knows that something has gone wrong with the delivery of the last King.  Now they must get a group of foreigners together to find out what has happened. Perhaps these chosen ones will get the opportunity to peak through the Door of Eternity and see what is on the other side?

In this adventure, the characters are those foreigners that the Brotherhood gets in, and their outsider status gives them a unique opportunity to learn about the local culture and unravel the mystery. As well as the adventure itself, it will have a full write up the Six Traveller cults, an “What my Wagon Chief told me” Q&A as a quick in-character primer. Overall the Six Travellers are a pre-made set of deities with a culture that is tailor-made as for travelling adventurers.

So the articles in Grogzilla are a way of getting a sneak peek and some immediately gameable content, before the Isle of the Dead kickstarts in Oct/Nov of this year.

If you were wondering what inspired me, it was this rather brooding piece of music by Rachmaninoff which has the painting by Arnold Böcklin which inspired it embedded in the youtube video (see below). This vista had my jaw on the floor thinking “that looks like a good adventure location, I wonder what is going on there?”

 

Adventures in Skyraiders of the Floating Realms

This post is a follow-up post to yesterday’s Skyraiders of the Floating Realms (which will be known as Skyraiders from now on to save my typing fingers :D) which explains how the adventuring format works. This is light of the first adventure stretch goal, The Edge of the World, being funded.

Adventure format in Skyraiders

Player’s Introduction

What the character’s know at the beginning of the adventure and what the Referee should quickly impart.

Referee’s information

This section gives the backstory of the adventure and explains what is going on.

The Adventure

This section is the meat of the write-up. It includes:

The Start

The first encounter where the adventure kicks off. In the Edge of the World, this is a dramatic realisation that the sky realm where the characters have peacefully been living for a couple of months has a magical affliction called the Stone Plague, which turns stone to dust very quickly. Since this is happening at a rapid pace, they better get off the island somehow.

Events

This section has a d100 table, of Events, which the Referee rolls on, crossing off events which are one time only. I realised that I tend to do journey type adventures, not dungeon crawls*, but had become somewhat jaded about the write-up and assumption that they are a series of linked events. So I decided to jazz it up by adding a random element to the order that events in the middle take place.

Here’s the one from Edge of the World

D100 Event
01-20 Ambushed by Zarks!
21-30 A Stone Giant Blocks the Way
31-50 An offer by the Twisted Sisters
60-75 Here Comes the Hard Rain
76-86 This Boat is for Ducks Only
86-90 I’m the King!!
91-00 The Sky Realm is Falling and I want my Mommy.

After the table, I then describe the encounters themselves.
And here’s This Boat is for Ducks only

This Boat is for Ducks Only
As a rule, most sky boats will not accept Ducks, believing old wives tales that they are responsible for the current state of the world and are therefore very very bad luck. The characters come across a sign that says “DUCKS!!! Get of this rock here, 2 gold pounds courtesy fee”. Next to it is a rather rough-looking sky sailor who is helping a duck family (mum and dad + three ducklings) into a small flying boat, more a dingy about three metres long. In the boat is another sky sailor and all the duck’s possessions in travel cases. This pair of Sky Pirates, Ulfy (on the ground) and Rulfy (in the sky boat), have hit upon the idea that they can pick up the ducks such as these, pretend to give them free passage off Askor, and instead chuck them off the boat when they are in the sky. Will the characters work out what they are up to and help the ducks?

 

Sky Pirates HP 12 AV 1d4 (Leather), Damage 1d8, Fight (Cutlass, Crossbow) 45%, Magic 35%, Movement 45%, Senses 55%, Social 35%.

See the creature stats for the Sky Pirates? That’s the new concise stat-block I’m using for Sky Raiders. I had a great realisation a couple of months ago. That the typical D100 stat-block, as you see in OpenQuest for example, is a significant barrier to writing adventures. Because its a big clunky thing where you are effectively rolling up a cut-down or full version of a player character. It’s also challenging to format during layout, and there’s a lot of information that doesn’t get used. So I came up with this format, along with monster creation guidelines that support it, so creating useable creatures isn’t a royal pain in the ass. Its fully explained in Skyraiders Zero Edition.

The events also it’s not an exhaustive list, the Referee can add stuff based upon what the players are doing, or from their inspiration. Also, you don’t have to use all the event’s, and I reckon a good four-hour session by having the Start and End (see below) events, plus three events from the events. Also if you think rolling for event’s is a load of nonsense you can treat it as a linear list, with events turning up in order. But I think there’s a lot of reusability in rolling randomly, and also the order of events can make a big difference of how the adventure plays out.

Note * Although I intend to address how Skyraiders does dungeoneering since Sky Valuts – adventure locations of underground chambers filled with loot are a big part of the setting 🙂

The End

This is the ending of the adventure, and describes the climax with any villains, major and minor, that the characters must overcome to conclude. Because the route that they came here is random, that is a consideration. In the Edge of the World, the fact that they may have previously met Boris the Bad Un, the King of the Sky Realm, or the Twisted Sisters, villainous Sorceresses of the adventure, and they may still be at large is factored into the ending.

Aftermath

For ongoing adventure series, this final section details any rewards and penalties that carry forward, and any adventure opportunities that arise because of the situation.

Skyraiders of the Floating Realms in a Nutshell

Currently funded as part of D101’s ZineQuest2 Two for One Zine Kickstarter along with Grogzilla issue 1. It is a zine sized RPG, which is the first pass of about 40-50 A5 pages tidied up, so it is playable. It’s a Zero Edition, with the full first edition coming this summer as a fully kickstarted game.

It comes in two blended-bits :

  • A colourful and action-packed setting, The Floating Realms.
  • A concise d100 system.

The Floating Realms

I wanted a setting that is immediate, easy to explain and sucks the players in. I know the idea of adventurers travelling from one sky island to the next in a post-apocalyptic setting, in search of adventure and loot gets me going. It has done since I came across Skyrealms of Jorune. There’s lots of weird fun fantasy game juice packed into even the Zero Edition. Peter Frain has pretty much nailed the spirit of the game in his front cover of two adventurers at the prow of a Sky Ship, with the New Sun and the Dead Moon in the background.

The D101-System

At the beginning of the year, I sat down and over two days wrote a 20-page concise D100 system. It’s written from the ground up, not from a SRD, because I wanted to get my idea of what I wanted from a D100 across. If you are familiar with OpenQuest it’s a continuation of many of the ideas I introduced in that game.

Characteristics are still the familiar building blocks, except for Size which I’ve dropped,  randomly rolled. I’ve dropped Size from the usual D100 list of characteristics because I never use in my games. Characteristics as well as being the basis of Hit Points (now Constitution) and being used to work out Bonus Damage, characteristics determine the starting values of skills, usually two relevant characteristics for each skill.

Characters have a previous career, which sets them up for play with a set of skills and three magic spells since everyone on the Floating Realms knows a bit of magic, and a default set of starting equipment. They are then individualised with by allocation of small number points to skills they haven’t already advanced with their career, and players get to pick an additional spell. They advance in free form manner, earning Improvement points that the player can spend on the skills and magic they want, as well as gaining contacts, skills and magic through completing missions for their organisations.

There’s one Skill test system. The skills list is short and concise, even compared to OpenQuest, and the system of simple difficulty modifiers is even more aggressively applied. In any given situation only one difficulty modifier applies from a set range (-40%, -20% , +20%, +40%).  And modifiers from magic trumps mundane situational ones.

Opposed skill tests are now so that only player rolls their skill, which is modified up or down if their opponent is more or less skilled than them. I realised I’ve been doing this instinctively for years since it gives similar results to both sides rolling and takes the pressure off me as Referee.

It has one magic system, one list of spells, and no magic points. Instead, you roll against Magic skill to see if the spell is successful and if you fumble the character can not use it again this gaming session. There’s a shortlist of straightforward and powerful spells in this version of the game.

Combat is straightforward, with characters acting in the order of the skill they are using, from highest to lowest, so characters who are more skilled get act first. There’s still attack rolls, followed by defensive reactions to prevent. Armour has a dice armour value, and weapons do damage ranging from 1d4 to 1d12. There are no hit locations.

I’ve moved the system away from resource management and ditched a lot of fiddly numbers. There are no equipment lists and counting of coins and the magic pointless magic system is another example of this.  If it’s necessary to know the outcome, a simple skill test is applied to resolve the situation. So, for equipment acquisition the Referee either says yes to reasonable requests and moves on or makes the player perform a successful Trade skill test, modified for availability in the character’s current location, to gain the item they are after.

Overall this is a heavily modified version of OpenQuest, to the point that it’s become its own thing. Its been written from the ground up, and I won’t be releasing it under the OGL. If I had to give the system a name, I’d call it the D101-System 😊

 

Skyraiders of the Floating Realms on ZineQuest 2 now!

Ok, this one has moved fast, and already funded, the next stretch goal for this year’s ZineQuest2 on Kickstarter is a little zine sized D100 Fantasy Adventure RPG I’ve been working on called Skyraiders of the Floating Realms.

It’s a maximum gaming fun concise D100 with a punchy immediate fantasy setting, centred on adventurers travelling and exploring the Floating Realms of the title using Sky Ships and other methods.

I explain a bit more in this update.

As I said its already funded, and I’m now funding two quick adventures as final stretch goals.

Here’s the front cover by Peter Frain, which is in grayscale because that’s the rules of ZQ2 (all art should be like an old 80s zine in B&W or grayscale), but if you want it in colour there’s a high tier pledge level which allows you to do that.

Grogzilla now live on ZineQuest 2 on Kickstarter

Now on ZineQuest 2: Grogzilla, briefly seen at Grogmeet 2019 now getting a proper printing. It’s full of fire-breathing three-headed skyscraper-sized giant lizards  (stats for D100, OSR, and Monkey!), articles for Mythras, and a mini-adventure sequel to the Road to Hell (for Swords and Wizardry) amongst other things. And It will grow in page count as we hit stretch goals.  

Also, our other zines for Glorantha and Crypts and Things/OSR games are available in print/pdf as add-ons at a significant discount. 

RIP Terry Jones

So actor/director/comedian/member fo Monty Python Terry Jones died the other day.  To say that the Pythons shows, especially the films were a big influence on British Roleplayers is a massive understatement. He also had a great career post-python as a Historical documentary presenter/maker and his BBC series the Crusades will always stick in my memory as a truthful examination of that period free of the usual propaganda of noble Christian knights fighting a heathen foe in the name of our Lord.

My own tribute, which is in an upcoming OpenQuest book as an example of a Disorganised Religion, was written days before news of his death hit me.

The Flying Circus

Odd, irrelevant, this small disorganised religion flies in the face of convention and order. It emphasises joy of living and travel. Its worshippers can literally learn to fly that allows them to move between the floating land masses of the Flying Realms with ease. The Airship Captains are their guardians and in their flying ships can take worshippers across dangerous sky lanes that are not traversable safely by a solo flyer.

 

Spells: Fly, Golden Tongue, Mischief , Fools Gold.

Guardians:  Airship Captains, Requirement Airsailor 50%+, must own an Airship; Spells: The Crystal Ship.

Beyond Dread Portals Art Preview

Its been a while since I’ve posted anything about Paul Mitchener’s Beyond Dread Portals.

We are currently gearing up for a Kickstarter, tentatively scheduled for April.

As part of the preview art for that Kickstarter, and the Preview Edition that backers of the From the Shroud KS are getting,  I asked Peter Frain of 77 Studios (who did the art for Monkey, the cover for Hunters of Alexandria, and the art for 2nd Edition Barbarians of Lemuria) to do a picture of one of the iconic fashions of the Empire of Ys, the Dandy. Apart from my quick “think Lord Flasheart from Blackadder II” I gave him Paul’s text:

Dandies & High Culture Fashion
When outsiders consider Ysian fashions, the first thing which comes to mind is the Ysian Dandy, with his, or more recently her, brightly coloured trousers, shirt, and complimentary hat. Precisely which colours are “in” varies from season to season, and the truly fashion-conscious manage to subvert it. Others try and fail to go against the trends. One recent subversion is moving away from bright colours to dress entirely in black, which was deliciously shocking at first in fashion circles, but as it spreads is starting to be considered crass. In fact, the style of the dandy only belongs to the High Culture. More typically, both genders wear shirts and trousers. The shirts are still brightly coloured, though more typically just one colour rather than the gaudy combinations of the fashion-conscious. Rich women have another option to them on formal occasions, namely the ball gown, which can be a work of art- though even there, the dandyish fashions are replacing it. Jewellery, when worn, is usually simple, taking the form of brooches for both genders, and earrings for women.

And this is what he came up with (click on images for larger version)

Grogzilla

Missed out on getting a copy of Grogzilla at Grogmeet 2019?

This 36 A5 page zine of D101 Mega Gaming Fun with skyscraper high three-headed firebreathing lizards is now available to preorder (with free pdf)

As well as articles for OpenQuest and Crypts and Things, it also has a sequel to the Road to Hell in the form of Wigan Pigs an adventure for OSR games. Also making their debut in Grogzilla are the Six Traveller culture for Mythras, which is a short taste of things to come in the new year.