Issue 30, Switching to Guns
Issue 30 of Switching to Guns is all about someone poisoning one of the PCs in this fourth adventure in Ashford Town proper. Poison - it's got such a nasty reputation. And properly deserved. How often has the PC been poisoned IN a dungeon? Regular occurrence! But in town? After a night of drinking? Fun!
Issue 29, Switching to Guns
Issue 29 of Switching to Guns returns to Ashford Town, with the third installment of adventures. I used a similar a dice chart from earlier adventures like the Ranger and Meteor adventures from the Deep Forest Road on this one. Everyone likes a dog story, and a dog that has special powers, so much the better!
Issue 28, Switching to Guns
Issue 28 of Switching to Guns sends the PCs into the Sewers, in the second adventure set in Ashford Town. And every good sewer has a were-rat or two. Gordon came to me after re-reading an old module from the early 2000s by the name of "Thieves in the Forest" by Atlas Games- a good one that I urge you to seek out.
Issue 27, Switching to Guns
Issue 27 of Switching to Guns continues the sets of five adventures from earlier issues (High Bridge Road and Deep Forest Road), this time focusing on Ashford Town proper. The Sea Sprite Tavern has a mystery! They've be burglarized from the INSIDE out! Who'd bust the door OUT to get IN?
I was pretty proud of this one - throwing in an animated wooden statue after watching too much of that Sinbad movie during the late night film festivals.
Captain Hoseason and Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws conspire together to kidnap David Balfour, the true heir to Shaws. Ebenezer pays Hoseason 20 pounds to take David to the Carolinas, to be sold (for Hoseason's profit) as a slave. After Mr. Shuan, the 1st officer, murders the cabin boy in a drunken rage, he has David take on the cabin boy duties.
When Alan Breck Stewart comes aboard, he leads his crew to kill and rob the Highlander. Unfortunately for him, David sides with Alan and they fight off the crew's attack, with Hoseason wounded in the arm by a pistol shot from David in the fight. With 6 crew dead (including the pilot Mr. Shuan), he bargains with Alan and agrees to set him on land.
The ship Covenant wrecks on the shore of the Isle of Mull and Hoseason tries to get the surviving crew to kill Alan but Allen escapes them with the help of the Covenant's 2nd officer Mr. Riach. Hoseason returns to Queensferry and informs Ebenezer that David drowned (only having seen the boy washed overboard and not learning of his survival).
Issue 26, Switching to Guns
Issue 26 of Switching to Guns is all about the black-sheep of the Ashford Valley, Sooton. The town has a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" vibe about it, from the names of the various neighborhoods in town, to the behavior (and perceived behavior) of the inhabitants. Here's where you go for dirty deeds, done dirt cheap, which is a great way to add a bit of the unlawful to an otherwise bucolic vale.
Issue 25, Switching to Guns
Issue 25 of Switching to Guns deals with Tradetown, the Dwarf-hold of Sir Hoel. Demi-humans are the norm here, as opposed to other towns, and the majority of those are Dwarfs and Halflings. It's a rough, frontier town and they like it that way.
I chose Tradetown as the seat of the first (and only) non-human lord in the Valley because it was all about what the Dwarfs like best - gold and precious minerals and beer. I threw in the Halflings for an opposing view of the town and set them up to hold their own.
Issue 24, Switching to Guns
Issue 24 of Switching to Guns is the second issue on the towns of the Ashford Valley, this one specifically on Clifton, the town that everyone from outside the Valley must pass through to enter (and vice-versa).
I wanted one of the towns to be more cosmopolitan, allowing for players to explore the outside world from the Valley if it ever got to that.
Issue 22, Switching to Guns
Issue 22 of Switching to Guns continues information about Ashford, this time focusing on the people. The conflicts between the races, the townies vs. the rural folk, attitudes and differences between the towns and hamlets spread around the Valley.
I liked writing about the differences each town had, adding character that a GM and player can incorporate into their games.
Issue 21, Switching to Guns
Issue 21 of Switching to Guns deals with the gods of the Ashford Valley. I chose a triplet of good gods (father and two children) vs. a single evil god (brother to the main god). Additionally, I added saints to the overall mythology. I liked the symbology of having a "triune" set of gods against a lone evil one.
I also added specific healers that were not directly attached to the priesthoods as a way to add more types of healing to the game. My plan was to include healing potions and draughts as a matter of course, inexpensive for the majority of Valley occupants.
Issue 20, Switching to Guns
Issue 20 of Switching to Guns continues information on the Ashford Valley, with notes on the prevalent technology, common arms and armor used by the inhabitants, everyday machinery and what customary crops and types of brewing that are found in the Valley. I also threw in trade, religion and fashion, plus customs.
I remember wanting to make the Ashford Valley very medieval, very much English in format, almost Tolkien-esque, like the Shire. Many of the points in this issue reflect that.
Equipment: broadsword (STR+d8), dirk (STR+1d4), brace of pistols (2d6), fine French clothes and hat with feather, French Army commission.
Alan Breck Stewart is a Jacobite, involved in the '45 and now on the run from the English authorities. At his first appearance in the story, he's a courier, bringing a load of money to Bonnie Prince Charlie, but his boat is struck by the ship David is a prisoner on. Once aboard, the captain and crew plan to jump him for the money but David tells him their scheme and helps fight off the crew. When the ship is wrecked, he escapes both the crew and the water, and is separated from David for a time. Once reunited, he proves an able and loyal friend, staying with David and guiding him through the Highlands to finally expose Ebenezer Balfour as a kidnapper.
Alan is brash, proud, honorable and loyal to his country, his cause and his friends. He likes fancy dress, keeping his French outfit despite being hunted by the law. His skill with a bagpipe is only surpassed by Robin Oig, a rival, whom he looses a bagpipe challenge to with good grace. He trains David to use the sword but refuses to fight him when David, in his sickness, challenges him, his loyalty to David is so strong he throws away his sword.
Alone on the Isle of Mull, David meets Duncan and they travel together for a time. Duncan, a blind man, is knowledgeable about the island and is a dead-shot with a pistol, shooting "by ear." He threatens David, but is bluffed when David tells him he has a pistol and will blow his brains out if he tries anything. Later, David is told that Duncan is a dangerous man, often believed to be a highwayman.
Issue 16, Switching to Guns
Issue 16 of Switching to Guns is the final adventure along the Deep Forest Road. This one is a treasure hunt - two sages want a meteor that fell to earth. Much like Issue 13, I created a list of possible encounters that the PCs can experience, including a bunch of lost Bugbears, poison ivy, a peddler and his monkey, a clutch of spiders and a (possibly) dangerous fairy circle (of which I am particularly proud).
Now, you may have noticed the "-ash" naming method for Bugbears. With the introduction of Dwarfs to the mix, I add their own naming style, a "-inder" name. The first Dwarf is Linder and many more "-inder" Dwarfs show up in more adventures.
The adventure includes a manor, a mine and a graveyard. Guess what happens next?
In 1751, young David travels to Shaws after the death of his father. His uncle, Ebenezer, tries to kill him because David is the rightful heir to the estate. The attempt fails but then Ebenezer pays a sea captain named Hoseason to kidnap him and take him to the Americas to be sold as a slave. The ship hits a boat carrying Alan Breck Stewart, who the crew plan to murder for his money, and David sides with the stranger. The pair fight off an attack by the crew and the ship wrecks on the shore of the Isle of Mull. David escapes the wreck and travels across Scotland with Alan to get justice against his evil uncle.
David is young and loyal, often naive but sometimes shrewd. Despite having a different political view with Alan, he admires the Highlander greatly and relies upon his friendship, even moreso when he falls ill. Alan trains David to use a sword (increase Fighting to d6 at first advance) during the travels.
For the most part, I'm taking Rangers to be foresters, men who track and hunt in the forests and fight any evil creatures there. I also threw a bunch of different encounters together with the simplest of die mechanics to vary the events the PCs will encounter. I repeat this in following issues but I think it still allows the PCs to explore and find exciting situations that aren't in a "go from A to B" sort of manner.
Issue 12, Switching to Guns
Issue 12 of Switching to Guns returns to the Ashford Valley to start the first of five adventures along the Deep Forest Road. This first adventure includes a feature I really enjoyed adding - Runestones.
Runestones are really neat. In our world, the Vikings (among others) left them from Greece to the New World, filled with runes that proclaimed the mighty deeds of the dead, their families and their journey into the realm of the gods. What a perfect addition to Ashford Valley.
It includes a bunch more Freeholds around the city, minor and major, as well as places the Fae congregate. I liked including the two chimerical spots, too - the Chinatown Gate is especially good, in my opinion. And what city part doesn't need it's very own Questing Beast?
My group at the time, the Corvis Monkey Troupe, encountered a variety of creatures, allies and friends over the course of the adventure. I especially liked the inclusion of a giant Space Dragon, Ro-Kar the Magnificient, who attempts to crush the PCs' space ship.
Ro-Kar was more a plot device than an actual stat-ed creature, as any damage he did was massive to the point of squishing the PC attacked. I had a scene in mind very similar to the Sea Serpent scene in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And it was pretty fun to run.
I start with one of the Bugbears from last issue (assuming at least one survived) and present the PCs with a reason the Bugbears went after the Elves' tree - their own lair was taken by (ta da!) The Necromancer.
The PCs are introduced to the beginning of the threat The Necromancer represents, though there was a brief mention in Issue 6 about this (... and an unsigned letter, telling him to disrupt trade along the High Bridge Road).
I try my hand at drawing an elven tree and I think it works OK. I decided to use Bugbears as the main villains because Orcs are too often used. This actually is the start of a Bugbear-centric view of humanoids in the Ashford Valley. Sure, I use Orcs in one or two issues, but the majority of time, I'm using Bugbears as the main goblinoid creature.
In later issues, it'll become obvious that I rarely, if ever, mention the treasure found in the adventure. I figure the GM can easily fill that bit of information in, taking into account what the PCs will need in their future.
I break from my usual lack-of-treasure to include a +1 dagger that allows it's owner to avoid the effects of magical mazes. I think it's a pretty cool magic item, not just a normal +1 dagger, but one with a name and an actual use besides fighting. I think most magic items should be that unique.
The bandits have a tower hideout in the forest and this is a standard assault the keep situation. I haven't really put much of a twist in this one at all (except possibly climbing the tower wall to catch the bandits unawares), allowing that most of the bandits are still alive from their encounter with the PCs in Issue 5.
I am pretty proud of the old tower sketch, even though I can't do a decent circle to save my life.
I started with a standard bandit scenario, because that's pretty simple. I think that it's necessary to have twists in adventures, things that cause trouble for the players beyond just fighting the baddies, so I added a charmed elf to the bandits and another set of elves looking for their friend.
This gives the GM an opportunity to make things a little less certain, less "we're fighting bandits" and more of a chance to roleplay and create friends and enemies for the PCs.
Issue 4, Switching to Guns
Issue 4 of Switching to Guns is the first appearance of my Ashford Valley setting for Labyrinth Lord. I had some minor mistakes when I started it - I set the populations too low (originally 350 in Ashford Town and 100 in each of the other towns). I've updated that to be 3500 in Ashford Town and 1000 in each of the other towns, plus about 10,000 through the rest of the valley. Since I didn't put a scale on the map, I'd figure the valley would be large enough to hold this many, plus the humanoid tribes in the area.
The Ashford Valley has gotten pretty big, with over 50 posts just on my blog alone. Re-publishing the 'zine here will add at least that many, plus whatever more info I'll be adding over the next years. Unfortunately, the chat game that I wrote about in this issue didn't take off, unlike my writing on it. I hope to run it at some point with one of my game groups but for now I'm satisfied with writing about it.
Issue 3, Switching to Guns
Issue 3 of Switching to Guns modifies a rules set available online for incorporating Kung Fu action into Savage Worlds. I'll admit I made some more stuff up for it but haven't had the opportunity to actually test it out and see whether it improves the game or bogs in down, slowing down the combat. Maybe with one of my game groups I'll have the chance - rest assured, that I will post about it if I do (and let me know if you've had the opportunity, too).
I've been watching Road Number One on Netflix instant watch. It's a Korean love-triangle war drama set during the Korean War. The filming is very good and the vids have subtitles. So far it's pretty good.
Issue 2, Switching to Guns
Issue 2 of Switching to Guns deals with some Savage Worlds PCs I made up for a reboot of FGU's Psi World. I love the setting and have all the books. I ran the game for years, and, I'm proud to say, it was the gateway for one of my friend's first experience into gaming.
I discovered The Borderlands blog recently (after reading a post over at Dragonsfoot) that lead me to a post about Traits and Tokens for PCs in D&D (you can get the image here and create your own PDF). Unfortunately, the blog seems to be on hiatus since 2009 but here's hoping Steve brings it back. It's got good stuff.
I had learned a lot of things writing my first 'zine and brought a lot of that into Switching to Guns. First, I improved the layout to aid in publishing and didn't worry about publishing dates all that much, focusing on throwing them out whenever I had the opportunity (which, as I was still in my second grad school, wasn't as often as I'd've liked). Second, I was more focused on subject matter, and that actually improved during the course of the publishing. There are only a few issues that are not based on a Labyrinth Lord setting I developed (specifically Issues 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 17 and 18). And finally, I tried to build a sandbox setting with many short adventures thrown in, ones that could be used in whole or part.
Issue 1 (tied with Issue 11) is all about a Fae Portland using Changeling the Dreaming. I went to my 1st grad school down in Portland and have a real warmth and happiness about the town. So, I did some research, marked up an old Powell's Walking Tour map and created some compelling places.
I hope that you enjoy reading these 'zines and I'll keep posting them until I get to the current ones I'm working on.