Category Archives: Maps

Tell Us What You Want!

I’ve been chatting to Bob of Figment Factory — who created our HeroGridz tiles — about doing a second set of sewer tiles. I want to reach out to you to find out what you’d like to see added, what themes you’d like covered and your general thoughts on the new line. Drop a comment here or hit us up on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We’d love to hear from you.

We’ve also made it easier to collect HeroGridz tiles. Now you can buy individually printed tiles from One Bookshelf sites. Need an extra T-Junction? Just buy what you need, without having to buy another core set. We’ll be adding straight sections and junction/entrance tiles later in the month.

You can also check out our 1 inch tile line, I’d love to put more sets of those out if there’s much interest.

Flaming Centipedes of Doom!

Adventure, adventure and more adventure. That’s what we have for you today. Fight a flaming centipede on behalf of the Dragon King, challenge the forces of the Abyss on behalf of humanity or build your own epic encounters. All this and more in today’s epic post.

Inspired in Japan
Last week we met with a nasty goblin, and the week before that we fought an oni. This week we have Dragon Kings, singing gold fish and flaming giant centipedes.

My Lord Bag of Rice is a story about a brave samurai who faces off with a giant centipede to save the kingdom of the Dragon King. As a reward, he gets an ever–full bag of rice and earns the title “My Lord Bag of Rice”.

Scene 1, a bridge over a narrow lake, much like Lake Biwa, the original setting for the story. Across the bridge lies an imperial sea dragon, who is looking for a way to rid his kingdom of a giant centipede that invades his lands nightly, killing his children. If the party attacks the dragon, he fights them for a few rounds before extoling them for their great bravery and asking them to join him.

Worm! I shall step over thee!

Scene 2, under the waters of the lake. The dragon invites the party to his underwater palace. As they follow him down, the waters part magically for them, keeping them nice and dry (and saving them from Swim checks). If you need some mechanics for this, you could have the dragon give them a pearl to swallow that surrounds them in a bubble and acts as if he had cast Water Breathing on them for 24 hours.

While in his palace, the Dragon King throws a banquet for the party, with all kinds of fishy creatures serving magnificent dishes or providing entertainment. This needs some thought, because you want to paint the right picture and create a sense of awe and mystery. It’s also going to be a very different game if you have a druid in your party; if you do, this is their chance to really shine.

By the way, if you need some water tiles for this scene, check out our Sea Tiles on Drive Thru RPG.

Scene 3, evening in the underwater palace. The Dragon King alerts the party about the coming centipede, which can be clearly seen coming down the mountain because of its flaming eyes and glowing legs. To keep things simple, use a CR appropriate centipede and keep the fire aspect of it purely cosmetic—this is fantasy, after all.
Pick a map that gives the party some time to rain down missiles on the monster, while it uses its 40 foot speed to come on like a freight train of flailing legs.

For treasure, an appropriately themed and scaled Cornucopia of Plenty could work well at the right level. Otherwise, you could easily make up the treasure quota with bags of rice, a nice bell and bolts of silk.

Treasure!

This adventure has two big monsters, so make sure that the CR of the centipede is the higher of the two. Also, how is this centipede making his way to the Dragon Kings palace? Centipedes don’t swim or breathe underwater right? This is a good opportunity to set up a recurring villain, someone who can cast a few spells to make things happen. This villain doesn’t even need to show themselves yet, giving you a seed for your next big, Japan themed adventure.

Avernos Unearthed
Humans—that self-serving race who do more damage in their short lives than all the minions of the Abyss could in a lifetime of elves. Yet there is some hope, however slim, that this chosen race may realize their place at the head of the coming battle. Pray they do, before it is too late.

Avernos Wiki

Rising Phoenix News
Last week’s post mysteriously disappeared into the netherwebs. We’re blaming it on a kobito ninja server invasion, although it probably has something to do with the auto post not running properly (or that’s what the kobito ninjas want us to think). As a result, you get two posts from me this week, happy reading!

Campaign Journal
Since I’ve been writing a bunch of Pathfinder encounters—four this month—I thought I’d share a little about my creative process. Encounters make up the heart of an adventure, so building great encounters is worth the effort.

First I get a concept. This usually comes from a map or monster that I really like. Specially, I look for an interesting twist that will make for a fun and memorable encounter. Maybe the party has to fight off some orcs, but the orcs are actually fleeing from an owl bear. Maybe that owl bear is a druid trapped in that form because of a failed spell. Maybe the party all get turned into owl bears and get to rampage through the orc camp! Whatever happens, it’ll be better than just fighting a bunch of orcs.

I’ll then calculate APL and set up the encounter. At this stage the concept may change a little. I might find that an owl bear is too challenging for my 1st level solo player, or that I need an orc chieftain to fill out the ranks. Maybe I’ll even have a little wiggle room for a small trap or another monster that will spice up the mix. Maybe that owl bear has a goblin “rider” hanging on for dear life.

Next I’ll set out the encounter in point form, something like this:

  • Orc party (6x orcs) appear up ahead on the forest path. They rush the PCs.
  • Orcs try to get past party, fighting if they must.
  • Five minute breather for party to recoup. If not hit hard, scrap this.
  • Raging owl bear storms down forest path. Screaming goblin (Knuckle ‘Ed, lvl 1 warrior) clutches at its back.
  • Perception checks to notice medallion around owl bears neck.
  • Fight with owl bear. More perception checks to notice medallion.
  • If defeated, PCs find medallion (transmogrifies to an owl bear). Owl bear is actually Gunther Firth (level 4 druid).

The last thing is just to flesh things out. Build NPCs, stat out the traps, decide what treasure will be up for grabs and so on. Rinse and repeat for all the encounters that make up your adventure.

Have fun.

That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales

Superheroes - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

The Goblin of Adachigahara

Four contestants. Four adventure proposals. Only four winners…

RPG Superstar 2015

As RPG Superstar enters its final round, it may be easy to dismiss the prize of the contest, since all four contestants are essentially winning it. The prize—a chance to write an adventure proposal for Paizo—is kind of like the round 5 submission. But there’s so much more at stake here—the contest isn’t called RPG Superstar for nothing—with each contestant having grown a fan base since the beginning of round 1. And that counts for a lot. Who will be the next Gygax?

So, who’s your favourite?

Avernos Unearthed
It is said that there exists a place on the very edge of vision, hidden in the shadow of shadows, where man is not welcome and where weird, twisted things live. None venture there by design, and those who enter unwittingly struggle in vain to escape. This is Feoni, land of the fey.

Avernos Wiki

Campaign Journal
Game mastering takes effort, practice and dedication. Recently I’ve been reading the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide and thinking a lot about how I GM. Part of GMing is prep, but a whole other part is what you do at the table, which encompasses so many things: rules knowledge, social skills, time management, voice acting—the list goes on. Of all these variables, rules knowledge is probably the easiest to tackle during prep time and between sessions.

Last week I took a practice exam for DCI Rules Advisor, which might not have anything to do with roleplaying, but did get me thinking even more about rules. Things can get confusing, but usually it all comes down to common sense and an understanding of how the rules are written. What keywords are important for the game and how do they work? In Pathfinder we have checks and actions, with so much coming from the interactions of those two. Can you make an attack roll (it’s a kind of check) during a move action? No. Why? Well that all comes down to understanding those keywords and what they mean and how they work.

So if in doubt, go back to the basics, especially those keywords.

Rising Phoenix News

We’ve slashed our tile prices for this week only. Save big on Print-on-Demand and PDF titles until March 27th. Get em now!

Inspired in Japan
Last week we battled an oni in Kyoto. This week we come face to face with The Goblin of Adachigahara.

In the story, a lost monk comes to the home of an old lady, who is actually a human-eating goblin*. She doesn’t invite him in at first, but finally lets him sit by her fire and feeds him. When her fire dies down she tells him not to look into the back room of the house, then goes out to gather firewood. When the priest gives in to his curiosity, he finds the grizzly remains of all her past victims. Making a run for it, he is chased through the night by a very angry—and probably hungry—geriatric goblin.

*In Japanese folklore, oni and goblin can be used interchangably, so the term goblin is used lightly here.

This tale could easily be turned into a thrilling, roleplay heavy, horror encounter.

Scene 1, the PCs are travelling at night. Perhaps they failed a navigation check or were given a missleading map. Force them to roll against the cold and fatigue, then offer them a shining light in the distance. On closer investigation they find the run-down home of an old woman who isn’t overly eager to let them in.

Scene 2, the delapidated hut. The old woman eventually lets the party in, offering them some rice and stoking up the fire. She’s friendly enough, but mostly she’s polite, and that offers interesting leverage—sure, you can go and collect the wood, but you’ll offend your host. For this scene a good knowledge of Japanese ettiquete makes all the difference between a good session and a great session, and you’ll want to give your players some prep too, so they can play along. The scene ends when the old lady tells the party not to go into the back room, then goes out to collect firewood. This the time to start building the suspense, which means it’s a perfect time for those Knowledge(local) rolls and the howling wind to pick up.

A lot will depend on how the players feel about their situation starting out. They might expect that the old woman will have a mission for them, that the cottage is really a safe place to be and that, after all, she’s just a little old lady. You want to lull them into a sense of peace. One option for this is the cold, but the party could also be hiding from monsters or just need a place to get those eight hours of rest.

Scene 3. The PCs will either stay around the fire, leave, or explore the house. All three options will probably lead to a confrontation with the goblin. So what kind of stats are we looking at here? I’d probably make her human and stat her as an NPC with ranks in commoner. With a reputation as a “goblin”, this little old lady cannibal is so much scarier than a real goblin. But really, she could be anything, whatever fits best with your campaign.

Once you’ve figured out who or what she is, the rest is fairly simple—the party needs to deal with her and get out of there. The cottage gives you a lot to play with; you could have traps, haunts, undead servants, prisoners that need freeing, rats, whatever fits with your idea of her hut.

For more inspiration, read up on Adachigahara, a sci-fi version of the story, and about the grusome Onibaba.

That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

A GMs Gift

March 4th was GMs day, so don’t forget to buy something nice for the GM in your life at the Drive Thru RPG GMs Day Sale. This post is dedicated to GMs everywhere, you lords and ladies rock! Secretly all of our posts are aimed at GMs, but nobody knows that, shhh.

This week is also our first post in the new time slot and we have loads of stuff for you, so let’s dive right in.

Avernos Unearthed
As promised, this week we venture into the Veiled Lands, the mysterious home of the elves.

Next week we’ll go beyond the Veil and into a whole other world, the fae lands.

Avernos Wiki

Campaign Journal
For my Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign I made my own Daily Bugle template in Word (docx 863kb).
You’re free to share it, just provide a link to this post by way of credit if you do. It helps me to keep doing what I love to do.

I use the Bugle to do “in character” session reports, which have been a great way to keep everyone informed and excited for the next session.

Rising Phoenix News
Yarr, ’tis swell ta be a buccanneer on the high sea, where every day be talk like a pirate day. Our new Sea Tiles let you create vast oceans and rivers on the tabletop. I made them to use with maps I already had in my collection, and I know you’ll find them useful too.

Raft vs Fire Elemental
Miniatures and raft model not included.

Sea Tiles

Inspired in Japan
The Ogre of Rashomon is a great little tale about a samurai and his battle against the menace of Kyoto, a fearsome oni. It would make for a good adventure.

Scene 1, the PCs are asked to investigate a string of murders at the Rashomon gate in town. They discover that all the murders happened at night, the only time the oni comes out, and so they wait for night fall.

Scene 2, before the Rashomon gate, during the darkest hours of night. The group is surprised by the oni, who attacks them after using magic like invisibility or darkness. Before the oni is killed, he uses magic to escape into the night. The heroes find his arm lying on the ground.

Scene 3, after finding no trail of the oni, several weeks pass before an old lady visits the party. Really the oni in disguise (disguise self), she attacks the party again, seeking to make off with her arm. If she escapes then you’ve got a very interesting recurring villian who might be all sorts of trouble for the party. That arm could even become a much sought after artifact, causing even more headaches as various daimyo send their ninja to claim the appendage.

If you’re playing Pathfinder, then both the fire yai and kuwa oni from Bestiary 3 would work, giving you a CR 15 and a CR 4 option, although I like the fire yai more, since he more closely fits the story.

The Books of Faces
I love the Internet, especially the way I can quickly test the strength of a concept. The Book of Faces hasn’t had the response I was hoping for, but that’s okay, because it has been a great chance to learn. As such, I’ve decided to pull the Book of Faces section from future posts.

I’d like to thank you for your interest in the project. Choose Your Own Adventure and Fighting Fantasy books were a big part of my youth, and I’ve really enjoyed writing my own adventure for you. Rest assured that the adventure will continue, and you can still play on the Facebook page, but it won’t be a regular weekly feature here from now on. This will give me a chance to work on the book and relaunch it later in a much more polished form.

That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales


Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

RPGSS 2015 – Round 4 Voting

Voting for round 4 of RPG Superstar began this week, with voting open until March 2nd. Are you planning to play through any of the encounters?

RPG Superstar 2015

Avernos Unearthed
I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes of Avernos, planning out the next phase of posts that will tie everything together nicely. In the coming months we’ll be digging even deeper into the elves for a bit before we briefly look at humans, then on to my favourite race, the dwarves.

Today’s entry is about the Great Betrayal, mentioned last week in the entry on elves. This pivitol moment in the history of Avernos needed its own section, enjoy.

Next week we’ll venture into the mysterious Veiled Lands, don’t miss it.

The Books of Faces
We have more adventure than you can fling a prune scone at. Make your move.

Vote for your next move on the Facebook page or stay updated at the Adventure Chronicle. Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

Campaign Journal
Last weeks game of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying was the third session in our campaign, with guest player Brent — from Comics League International — joining us to play the role of the mystical Dr. Strange. To kick things off, Thor, Black Widow and Dr. Strange went after Armadillo, who was rampaging through the streets of New York. The fight went from the street, through the City Bank and into a comic book store, where the heroes discovered old comics about the mysterious Sentry, last seen voluntarily locked up on the Raft.

Next up was a hunt for Mjolnir, Thor’s mighty hammer, lost during the fall of the Avengers Mansion. In a battle with the Wrecker and Bulldozer, Strange revealed his secret identity as Loki, when Thor — having found the hammer — summoned it, only to have Strange/Loki throw up an extra-dimensional portal in its path. Thor and Loki took their battle to the frozen wastes of Jotunheim, where Thor, wielding the Wrecker’s crowbar, brought the beat-down Loki deserved. In the final moments of the battle, Loki played his ace, sending the Casket of Ancient Winters through a third portal to Earth. Oh, that Loki.

The neat thing about having a villain amongst the players is that it’s so unexpected. It isn’t easy to pull off well though, because you’re essentially betraying the trust of the players, who expect every other player to be part of the team. Here are some factors I think play a part in setting up a good double-cross scenario:

  1. Experience: Both Brent and I have played in at least one session where a PC turned on the party. Brent is also a very capable GM, so I knew I could trust him to deliver an awesome story instead of a nasty TPK.
  2. Group Size: For various reasons we ended up with two players, Thor against Loki, which ment that Thor’s player could have felt very isolated if he wasn’t such a great player. I wouldn’t recommend the double-cross for small tables for this very reason.
  3. Guest Stars: Brent has to take a four hour long round trip train ride to play with us, so we knew this would probably be a one shot for him. He could be the bad guy without affecting the existing group dynamic.
  4. Rewards: One of my players wanted to play Loki, but we just couldn’t figure out how to give her that chance without the fued between Thor and Loki derailing the game. With Loki defeated, and probably stripped of his powers and turned into Kid Loki, it makes much more sense for Loki to be a playable option.

Have you ever set up a player vs player double-cross in your own sessions? I’d love to hear about it.

Rising Phoenix News
Ahoy there me matey! Next month we set sail across vast oceans with Sea Tiles, our next set of game tiles. They’re perfect for expanding the sea and ship maps in your collection and they’re coming soon to Drive Thru RPG.

Sea Tiles

Avernos and the Book of Faces has been taking up most of our time, but we’ve also started work on a mini campaign setting for Pathfinder, which is off with the play testers now.

Inspired in Japan
I was introduced to Go, not in Japan, but while LARPing in South Africa. It’s a facinating game which originated in China and is very popular in Japan, even today. It’s easy to learn. The guy who taught me described Go as “takes minutes to learn, a lifetime to master”. I love the complexity that arises from its simple rules.

I wonder if they’ll have a Go mini game in Shadowrun: Hong Kong?

You can learn how to play Go on Wikipedia, which has a bunch of other insightful links.

That’s all from me until next Thursday.
Tell Thrilling Tales


Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

RPGSS2015 – Round 4

Voting for round 3 of RPG Superstar 2015 is now over, with 8 contestants left to bust out an encounter for round 4.

RPG Superstar 2015

Did you have any personal monster favourites? I really liked the Geomaw and the Stonevine Stalker, although I think the Stonevine Stalker needed a lot more to make it stand out. Just think about the Womping-Willow from Harry Potter, or Old Man Willow from The Lord of the Rings and Rockbiter from The NeverEnding Story film. They were all interesting in their way, but none of them were show stealers. Nazguls and Dementors, now those were monsters.

Avernos Unearthed
This week the Elves take their place in Avernos. Misunderstood, mistrusted and feared, this reclusive race fights an invisible war with a dark evil.

Read more about the Elves.

The Books of Faces
We’ve set off down the road and into an ancient forest, where we come to a set of stone steps. Read the adventure and make your choice on the Facebook page.

A blow by blow account of the quest is always available at the Adventure Chronicle.

Campaign Journal
Our current Marvel Heroic RP Game is about to kick off it’s third session, with the heroes going in search of Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir. Hopefully a few of the escaped inmates of the Raft will end up back behind bars too. It’s going to be epic.

And while we’re on the topic of comics, my buddy Brent over at Comics League International invited me to recorded a podcast with him about the heroes in a half-shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You can take a listen on his site or iTunes.

Rising Phoenix News
Here are some more pictures and a video of our Maze Tiles. I’m really proud with the Print-On-Demand version of the tiles, they look amazing. The tiles fit perfectly with other inch grid maps, which was one of our critical criteria for quality control. This means you can expand on your existing collection of maps and tiles with this set for even more adventure options.

Maze Tiles Detail 1

Maze Tiles - Detail 2

Inspired in Japan
One of the weird things I collect is tenugui, or Japanese hand towels. Here are a couple of modern ones I found on Amazon.

That’s all from me until next Thursday.
Tell Thrilling Tales


Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Hottest New Book
Ninth World Guidebook
Ninth World Guidebook

RPGSS2015 – Round 3 Voting

Voting for round 3 of RPG Superstar 2015 has begun. Go check out those monsters.

RPG Superstar 2015

Avernos Unearthed & The Book of Faces
Due to a Japanese national holiday, these sections will return next week.

Campaign Journal
My first game of Call of Cthulhu didn’t happen, probably because of a big event that sucked up the player pool. Never the less, dice were rolled and demons fought, so happiness all around. Instead of CoC we played the Legend of Drizzt D&D Adventure Boardgame, which will soon be joined by a new release for the series, the Temple of Elemental Evil, scheduled for release on April 30th. I’m pretty stocked for that!

Drizzt Vs Owl Bear
Photo by AndyC

Also, if you want to play Call of Cthulhu and you only have two interested people, check out Monophobia, A Fear of Solitude. We might give this a try sometime soon.

Rising Phoenix News
Maze Tiles are a simple and effective solution for building a moving, shifting maze. Complete with levers and gears, these tiles work well as a clockwork dungeon, a gnome’s warren or artificers puzzle.

Maze Tiles

The set includes 4 tiles with unique designs on each face, giving you a total of 8 options to build your mazes with. Available as a PDF download and as Print on Demand.

Inspired in Japan
The ninja create perhaps the most evocative of images; that of the skilled, invisible assassin. But what does it really take to be a ninja? Getting whacked a lot, that’s what.

That’s all from me until next Thursday.
Tell Thrilling Tales


Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Hottest New Book
Ninth World Guidebook
Ninth World Guidebook

Super Sale

This week through till July 1st we’re running a 10% or more off sale. Click on the links below to grab your copy now:

Claustrophobia Beta
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=937fb19456

Claustrophobia! Role-playing game logo.

 

Lunatic Labyrinth
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=93f4b3c2d7

Lunatic Labyrinth

 

Pewter Tankard Tavern
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=94054b8e4c

Pewter Tankard Tavern

Trouble in the Tavern

The local tavern isn’t just a drinking hole, or a place to hear far fetched tales. It’s a home, a meeting place for a group of adventurers who share a common bond, who’ve built their trust in each other through countless battles and exhilarating adventures. While not every adventure starts in the tavern, the best ones always end there, with arguments over loot put to rest when the barman taps a keg.

Click to get the Tavern on Drive Thru RPG.
Click to get the Tavern on Drive Thru RPG.

The Pewter Tankard Tavern Map is an inch grid map, perfect for use with most fantasy role-playing miniatures. This PDF contains 3 versions of the same A4 map and several ideas for including it in your fantasy RPG campaign.

 

Old School RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Taverns and Trade Dress

I’m back, and with the Japanese festival of the dead (ooh, spooky) I’ve had some time to sort through my collection of cool and bring you some geekness (geekiness?).

Firstly, I don’t think I’ve done a proper introduction of the Claustrophobia! logo on the blog, so here it is:

Claustrophobia! Role-Playing Game

 

Neat huh? I think the logo really gives you an idea of what the game is about and gave me a chance to practice my Photoshop technique. I’ve been working on more art too and talking to a proper artist who will hopefully grace our humble game’s pages with his L33t skillz.

Lastly, I’ve got a small preview for you…

PewterTankardSmall

The Pewter Tankard Tavern is not new to many of you, as it appeared in the Sentinels Watching series here on the blog awhile back. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an 11″ x 8″ grid map, perfect for printing on A4 paper and sets out a typical tavern scene. I’ve since updated the map and polished it up to what you see before you. The PDF, which includes a list of adventure hooks, should be available from Drive Thru RPG in the next few days.

And, as always, my minions (me) are churning out the goodness here at Phoenix HQ, but I always have time for a chat, so why not drop a comment below.

Till later
Rodney