Archive for July, 2013

Running My First Pathfinder Game

July 28, 2013

Yesterday I had the opportunity to run my first game using the Pathfinder core rules.  All-in-all it was a success, though I did underestimate how much time it would take the group to get through the dungeon I had prepared.

I used a McGuffan in the form of a stolen chest to lure the PCs to the tomb of an ancient warrior-king.  Therein they fought a number of skeletons, overcame a couple of traps, killed a wight (rather easily, to my disappointment) and then confronted the not-so-dead warrior-king in the form of a slightly beefed up skeletal champion (who, conveniently, also possessed the stolen chest).  The champion was backed up by a couple of bloody skeletons and a couple of burning skeletons.  Two party members where knocked below 0 hit points, but only one died (succumbing to the burning skeleton’s fiery explosions when they were destroyed).

Now that I have a little better idea of how to set up a Pathfinder adventure, and a better idea of how much material the players can clear in a few hours, I’m looking forward to running another session in a few weeks.

That said, Pathfinder still has a lot of clunky moving parts.  I’m not sure I’d want to run a full-time Pathfinder game, unless I could use the Beginner Box rules.  Still, I had fun and so did most of the players (excepting, perhaps, the dead PC’s player 😉 ).

Running Pathfinder

July 24, 2013

So, it looks like I’ll be running my first game of Pathfinder core rules this Saturday.  We recently started a new campaign with rotating GM’s.  I thought I’d jump in while the group is still relatively low level, hoping to avoid some of Pathfinder’s many moving parts (at least until I get more familiar with them).  It’s a short scenario; we should finish it in a single night (unless the gang spends a lot of time screwing around, as we’re wont to do from time to time).  I’ll let you know how it goes.


HeroQuest House Rules

July 23, 2013

I’ve still been ruminating about an ongoing HeroQuest/RPG-ish campaign.  In particular, some house rules that would help facilitate such a game.  With no further ado:

Character Advancement – Naturally, the most important aspect of converting HeroQuest into a campaign is a system for character advancement.  In the standard game, characters advance by accumulating stuff: better weapons and armor, magic items, potions, scrolls, etc.  While loot whoring is retained, most players, I think, would desire a system to improve their character’s abilities as well.

Every quest a character completes (i.e. complete the objectives of the quest) grants 1 experience point.  In addition, as an old school nod, players may spend 1,000 gold to buy 1 experience point for their character.  Completing special objectives may grant additional XP, at the GM’s discretion.

Experience is spent to improve Body and Mind (and possibly add other abilities…we’ll see how it goes).  The cost to improve an ability depends on whether the ability is primary or secondary for that class.  Primary abilities cost Scorex1 XP to increase by 1; secondary abilities cost Scorex2 XP to increase by 1 (excluding ability bonuses from magic items).  Barbarians, dwarves and elves use Body as their primary ability; wizards use Mind as their primary ability.

For example, barbarian base stats are Body 8, Mind 2.  For a barbarian to increase Body from 8 to 9 would cost 8 XP; however, Mind is their secondary ability, so it would cost 4 XP to increase it to 3.  A wizard’s starting abilities are Body 4, Mind 6, so increasing Body by 1 would cost 8 xP and increasing Mind by 1 would cost 6 XP.

Inventory Limit – Characters are limited to carrying a maximum number of items equal to their Body score.  This benefits warrior types somewhat with their higher Body scores, but then they are more gear dependent, as well.

Spell Selection – Wizards select a number of spell cards equal to their Mind score.  Spells may be selected from any of the elemental sets.  At the GM’s discretion, wizards may also be allowed to select elf spells.

This system has the effect of reducing a wizards available spells from 9 to 6.  However, this limitation is somewhat countered by allowing wizards to pick the ‘best’ spells from each elemental set.  Also, wizards get to select their spells before elves, and the advancement system allows them to acquire more spells over time.

Elves select Mind/2 spells, after wizards select their spells.  At the GM’s discretion, elf spells (from the Elf Quest Pack expansion) may or may not be exclusively available to elves.

Monster Toughness – Allowing both character advancement and gear accumulation means the monsters will become increasingly weak by comparison.  The inventory and spell limits compensate for this somewhat at first, but will become increasingly irrelevant as characters progress.

A partial solution is to allow all monsters to negate hits with a roll of a white shield (1/3 chance), instead of a black shield (only 1/6 chance).  It doubles the monster’s chance to negate a hit and standardizes defense rules between heroes and monsters.

Threat Tokens – So, what to do with those black shields then?  To help bolster monsters further, any time a black shield is rolled, the GM collects a Threat token.  Threat tokens are accumulated by the GM and may be saved from quest to quest.  The GM spends Threat tokens on one of the following things:

  • Bolster Monsters – As needed, spend Threat tokens to increase a monster’s attack dice or defense dice.  Each additional dice costs 1 Threat token each, but a monster’s inherent Attack or Defense dice cannot be more than doubled.  Bolstering is a one-time bonus to attack or defense dice; it is not a permanent or lingering bonus to the monster.
  • Reinforcements – On the GM’s turn, spend one (or more) Threat tokens to buy reinforcements, based on the designated random monster for the quest.  Reinforcements start next to an appropriate entry point, as if they’ve just suddenly walked in on the heroes (i.e. from around a corner, through an open door, jumping out of a pit, etc.).  They may move and attack on the turn they come into play.
  • Spellcasting – On the GM’s turn, spend one (or more) Threat tokens to buy back Chaos spells the GM has already cast during the quest.

The costs for buying reinforcements and spells is something that will have to be worked out, and is beyond the scope of this post.

New Classes – Turning HeroQuest into an RPG-ish game implies that, eventually, new classes will be added.  The four existing classes divide 10 points between Body and Mind, with a minimum score of 2.  For these house rules, the primary ability cannot be the lower of the two (if both scores are 5, then the primary ability may be either).  Each class should also have 1 special ability to distinguish it from the other classes, and help define its role in the group.

Characters with spellcasting as a special ability select 1 spell card per point of Mind if Mind is their primary ability; they select Mind/2 spells if Mind is their secondary ability.

Thief Class – So, the first new class to come to mind is a thief or rogue based class:

  • Body 6 (primary)
  • Mind 4
  • Starts with short sword; may not equip 2-handed melee weapons; may not wear plate armor
  • Can move through enemy occupied squares without penalty, but must still end movement in an empty square

Barbarian Rage – The barbarian doesn’t really have a special ability, so I propose the following:

  • On the barbarian’s turn, player may choose to spend any number of Mind points to use as attack dice.  Rage continues until the barbarian no longer “sees” any monsters.  Mind points spent in this manner are not recovered until the end of the quest.  While in rage, the barbarian cannot be knocked unconscious, though if the barbarian’s Mind is 0 when the rage ends, the barbarian immediately falls unconscious.

One nice thing about HeroQuest is that the rules are simple enough to allow for a great deal of tinkering, allowing for just as much complexity as you can stomach.  With that in mind, I’m sure I’ll have more ideas for house rules to share.  Cheers.

HeroQuest + Outdoor Survival Map = Awesome?

July 18, 2013

I’ve recently (as in today) gotten nostalgic over Milton Bradley’s old dungeon-crawl board game HeroQuest.  It was one of the first miniature dungeon-crawl games, and as far as I know, the first to offer quality 25mm miniatures in the game at a reasonable price.  The rules were very simple but allowed a great deal of flexibility and expandability.  Re-reading the rules, it struck me that HQ comes within striking distance of being playable as an actual role-playing game, not just a dungeon-crawler.


And then I had an interesting idea:  what if you combined HQ with the Outdoor Survival Map from the OD&D days of yore to create some kind of quasi RPG campaign world?  Come up with a simple character progression system akin to leveling, expand the HQ Armory a bit, and you could have a simple but quite functional D&D-esque RPG or, alternatively, a free-form HQ campaign where the players choose which quest to do next.  True, it would have a strong combat emphasis, but the rules would be vastly simpler than most combat oriented RPGs of today (such as 4E or Pathfinder).  And the simplicity of the rules allow for easy tinkering so you can add just the right amount of complexity to suit your gaming table.


There’s a wealth of fan-brewed content out there for HQ, plenty of material to adapt to an RPG campaign.  You’d have to come up with some kind of wilderness tiles for outdoor encounters, but affordable options exist (such as this from 4E).  You could probably adapt the original encounter tables from LBBs.  The castles on the Outdoor Survival Map can represent the various HQ dungeons.  Between the official quests, third party and homebrew there are probably enough to fill every castle.

Anyways, something to think about.  Here are the some HQ related links if you’re interested:


Teratic Tome

July 15, 2013


Well, Lulu had a nice discount a couple of weeks ago so I went ahead and ordered the Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler.  It’s an old school style monster manual designed for OSRIC, but shares more than a little resemblance to the 1E AD&D rulebooks of old.  In fact, the look and feel is amazingly close…so close that you could sit the TT right next to the MM on your bookshelf and, absent close inspection, most gamers probably wouldn’t be able to tell that the TT wasn’t part of 1st Edition AD&D.

However, these aren’t your old grognard’s monsters.  The teratoforms contained within have more in common with the monsters from the Fiend Folio than your typical orc or ogre.  More mind-twisting horrors than hack-and-slash brutes.  Fun stuff after slaying your 10,000th goblin, or when killing red dragons is old hat.

Even if you don’t play OSRIC/1E AD&D the monsters should be easy enough to convert to your OSR retroclone of choice.  And if you do still play 1st Edition, it might be a nice addition to your collection, mixing in some new monsters for your game and look right a home sitting next to your old 1E books.

If you’re interested you can order a hardcopy at, or pick up the PDF at (and it’s Pay What You Want, no less).

Pacific Rim

July 12, 2013


Simply awesome.  In my opinion, the first really great action film of the summer.  If you’ve ever been a fan of giant robots beating the crap out of giant monsters, even just a little bit, you must go see this movie.

Actually, if you’ve ever been a fan of anything beating the crap out of anything else (in a movie, of course), even just a little bit, you still must go see this movie.

That is all.

World War Z

July 10, 2013

wwzDespite not hewing to the book very closely, I found it to be a very enjoyable zombie film.  Purists probably won’t like it much, but if it were named anything other than World War Z, most of them would be raving about it.  Anyways, if you like zombie movies, WWZ is one of the better ones.

Lords of Waterdeep

July 7, 2013

lowdpicLast night I had a chance to play WotC’s new eurogame, Lords of Waterdeep and had a great time, finishing our game in about 2 hours.

The object is to score the most Victory Points within 8 rounds of gameplay, a fairly typical eurogame setup.

Each player represents one of the secret lords of waterdeep, represented by a card kept face down until the end of the game.  Lords enact their will through the use of ‘agent’ tokens.  Each round players take turns playing agent tokens on various buildings in the city.  Buildings grant resources which in turn are used to score Victory Points.  Agent tokens, in effect, limit the number of actions you can take each round.

There are a number of basic public buildings, but players may also purchase and own additional buildings drawn from a stack.  Anyone may place an agent on these privately owned buildings, but when an opponent does so the owner of the building gains a small benefit as well.

The primary resources are gold and adventures, of which there are four types (fighters, rogues, wizards and clerics) represented by colored wooden cubes.  Adventurers are ‘spent’ to complete various quests, which grant Victory Points (and sometimes other resources or ongoing benefits).

You can also play intrigue cards to either enhance your position or mess with your opponents.  It seemed that intrigue cards could provide a nice bonus, but rarely were powerful enough to dramatically change the course of the game in a single play.

The rules are well-written and clear; we had very few questions and when a question did come up, we were able to find an answer fairly quickly.  The back of the rule book contains a nice errata section covering various contingencies that could come up during gameplay, a nice touch demonstrating a well-tested game.

All-in-all LoW is a solid euro-style boardgame.  There’s nothing revolutionary here; if you’re a fan of eurogames you’ve probably seen most of the concepts and mechanics in one form or another in other eurogames.  LoW is probably a bit on the light side, as eurogames go.  But the rules are easy to learn, it has solid mechanics and you can finish a game in just an hour or two.

Happy 4th

July 4, 2013


Happy 4th of July to those of you in the States.  May you enjoy good company, good food and good beer. 🙂

I’ve been rather lazy of late.  I wish I could say RL was interfering, but truth is I’ve been sucked into Neverwinter, leveling up the new Alchemy profession (which I finished a couple of days ago).

I received my Reaper’s Bones mini’s the other day as well.  I’d like to post a pic of them arranged together, but there’s a lot of them so I’ll need some time to sort them.  A few of the bigger pieces even require assembly.  But I’ll get to it in the next week or so.


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