Sunday, August 2, 2015

Escape from Grimm Manor: a horror game for Hallowe'en at Coal Creek.

Sample Brawn challenge card.
Coal Creek, the local historical park where I run Gippsland Gamers every Thursday evening has been holding a highly successful Hallowe'en event for years now. This year, they had the idea of running some games in a darkened room, lit only by flickering candles with a suitably spooky sound track, and they asked me for ideas. I spent a while trying to think of the right game, something atmospheric, but simple enough for kids to play it. After spending a lot of time nosing around on BGG, I started to think that all the really atmospheric horror games were quite complex, and all the simple horror games lacked atmosphere...
Which obviously meant I'd have to have a bash at designing my own.

Escape from Grimm Manor is about just that - escaping from a haunted manor after dark. In order to escape, you have to overcome a series of challenges, but the real fun comes from forcing your opponents into challenging situations. It's something like Betrayal at House on the Hill meets Munchkin in game play, although the atmosphere is more like the former and less like the latter. I've been working on developing fairly simple and intuitive rules - you have three sets of dice, one each for Brawn, Brains and Bravery, and you roll these to overcome the challenges. You start with one die in each, but you can gain or lose them as you play. There are also Blessings and Curses which can either help you, or hinder your opponents. So far there has been no playtesting, but I have been working on designs for the cards and player aids.

Sample Bonus card (I'll rename
these 'Blessing')
I'm thinking about getting this properly printed using The Game Crafter, since it'll be played in public and all. Obviously, I'm going to want to playtest thoroughly first to ensure it's good enough to justify the money, but the experience of developing for print has been rewarding and educational so far. I've had to change the way I usually design cards to accommodate things like bleed and safe areas - things which are not such an issue when you are going to cut things out by hand (although cutting out by hand leads to it's own set of issues!).

Stand by for updates, and it goes without saying that if I get this printed by The Game Crafter, I'll be making it available to anyone who wants to order a copy.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Topdog's Tome of Terrible Treassures (Part Three)

Welcome one again to my tome of terrible treassures! Most of the items listed in the previous post are now in use in my local gaming group (we're training up a new DM, and he's not only rather homicidal, but also rather generous with his magic items). So here are a few more of the strangest and most bewildering of magical artefacts...


A fairly boring looking goat horn.

Once per day, you may blow this horn to summon D6 goats.
(One of our members is actually playing as a goat...)


A somewhat grubby looking sock, woven with mystical runes and darned with magical threads.

Anything which this sock is pulled over will become completely silent. (Obviously, this is vital if one also possesses the Trombone of Invisibility)


One must always make time for tea.

At exactly 4 O’Clock each day, this teapot will whistle loudly and fill with excellent, boiling hot tea. It will also summon forth a  number of small biscuits equal to the number of people within 10m.


A set of heart-patterned long underwear of stupendously romantic design.

Once per day, you can make any being within line of sight fall in love with your for 1D6-1 minutes.


A wonderous, yellow arm band, which can be inflated with air through a small valve.

Grants a +2 bonus on swimming checks. (Vitally important as our campaign takes place on levitating islands over a world-spanning ocean... My hippoman priest picked this up at our last session)


A mighty and enchanted cutlass, with the word ‘ARRRR’ intricately picked out in tiny gems on the blade.

Sword, DL: 4.
+1 to attack rolls. Ignores 1 Armour Level.
(What were you expecting to be written on a pirate's favourite sword? This sword has a damage level one higher than normal, boosts your to-hit rolls and ignores a point of armour. Nothing fancy, but it is wielded by the pirate king in a low-level adventure)


It looks like an ordinary mop. It isn’t.

The Mop can be used as a spear, polearm or staff.
DL: 4.
50% chance of destroying an item of armour  on a successful hit.
(The magic mop of the cosmic cleaning lady? I must've been sniffing too much of Epic Mickey's paint thinner that day...)(High-fives to the Wii/Disney fans who got that reference!)


A pair of bronze tusk-caps fitted with ingenious contrivance for breathing fire.

Once every hour, you can cast Fireball at Fire Magic: 2
(Tamus are sort of the equivilent to Dwarves in the world of Harran - except they are Hippos.)


Made by pacifist monks from distant lands, it glows with purity and virtue.

Thrown weapon, Rng. 4/6/8. Blast 2.
Anything caught in the blast drops it’s weapons, and will not attack or perform violent actions for D6 turns (rolled individually)
(I've always loved the Zenade in The Ballad of Halo Jones, especially since it's sound effect is 'OHMMMMMMMMMMMM')


It explodes with red tape and opens a portal to the nether hell of paper work.

Thrown weapon. Rng 4/6/8. Blast 2.
Anything caught in the blast must spend a full turn filling out paperwork before performing any action for the next D6 turns (rolled individually)
(This is an item I got from the Seventh Sanctum random generator... it just had to happen)


A thick, leather volume bearing the name ‘Papers and Paychecks’. It appears to contain a highly complex set of rules for pretending to be something called an ‘office worker’ or ‘university student’ in something called ‘the real world’.
(All hail the silly cartoons in the original AD&D DMG!)


This finely made Monocle pops out when startled.

Precisely one second before anything surprising is about to happen, the monocle pops out.

Well, that seems like enough for one day... there are others, but some of them rely very heavily on Dice Chucker's rule system and I'd have to translate too much for them to be understood by non DC players...