Having looked at the sequel Hax Monster steps back to discuss Hotline Miami.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,



This review contains spoilers of Hotline Miami throughout. If you haven’t played it yet, all you need to know is that it earns a solid recommendation from me. However, I want to be free in pointing out the beauty of the game’s story and the way it transfers it. It’s cheap, runs on any PC and is short, so there are no excuses: play it and then come back. For the used interpretation of the plot of this game I have used something Rami ‘vlambeer’ Ismail’ wrote on the internet on this game. 
 
One wonderful ability that I share with any creator of any written text, work of art or intellectual work in general is that I know at least one thing about you. I don’t know if your name is Victor or Josh (although it would be funny if that happened to be the case), if you like your eggs soft- or hard-boiled or whether or not you just elected for US president the most unsuitable person for governance since emperor Nero, but I do know that you are reading my text. And since I know this text will most likely only be seen on the Sword and Torch Inn website, I know at the very least that you are using either a PC, tablet device or smartphone to view my work. I know you are using an internet browser as well. This might seem obvious, but the beautiful thing is that I can use that to my advantage. 
 
I can use the limitations of the medium that is used to transfer what I have created more effectively. Post-modernistic art tended to do something like this quite often: reminding the audience, reader or viewer of a work that they are viewing or reading something to take them out of the experience on purpose. Another example is the last song of Slipknots ‘All Hope Is Gone’ record, which purposefully starts breaking up in a way that sounds as if the CD is scratched to pieces. Video games offer beautiful possibilities in this area, since the person enjoying the work directly interacts with it and is therefore more immersed than Atlantis after a major sewer clogging. Perhaps the most beautiful example of a game using this for its narrative is Hotline Miami, without a colon, since the second one wasn’t called Hotline: Stoke On Trent or something. Although I do notice I keep making typing mistakes, writing it as ‘Hoeline Miami’, which could either be an escort service or a company selling farming equipment over the phone. 

 
Anyway, Hotline Miami is a high-paced psychedelic over-the-top top-down violent fighting game where your answering machine cryptically instructs you to go to various locations in 1980’s Miami and slaughter armed dudes. Every level starts with you getting out of bed in your messy apartment, walking over to the phone and receiving a message that, in convoluted terms, tells you to go somewhere and take care of business. Then, you proceed to do so and as soon as you leave the building, blood clinging to your shoes, the game cuts to a shop, bar or pizza place and lets you do a mundane, every-day activity, such as buying a drink or ordering pizza. This applies to nearly every chapter, with the only interruptions being dream sequences where a horse, rooster and owl speak to you in respectively a soothing, authorative and resentful tone. 
 
Describing the gameplay on paper doesn’t really allow me to describe its depth, not surprising for a two-dimensional medium, so don’t judge too early if the mechanics I’m about to walk you through sound extremely standard and boring. You move around the level from a top-down perspective and can punch enemies to knock them on the floor. Once they are down you can perform a finishing move of one brief second. You can also pick up melee weapons which all are instant kills and can be thrown. Some weapons, like knives, are also lethal when flung at the enemy. Others merely knock them down. There are also guns, which have only one clip that can’t be reloaded. Finally, you can knock people down by throwing doors in their face and there are windows that your foes can see through. That’s it, really. One level mixes things up with metal detectors that alert everyone if you walk through them with a gun but, on paper, the gameplay is run of the mill at its finest. But ‘seemingly simple’ doesn’t mean ‘bad’. One can easily mock a Barett Newman painting as something a household painter and decorator could make within three minutes, until you find yourself in the Museum of Modern Art, five centimetres away from it, and find yourself inexplicably drawn in.


The simple gameplay is what allows the game to convey its message. The reason for this is that H:M’s gameplay has something in common with Guitar hero, and not only the fact that you obliterate small, brightly-coloured objects with satisfying sound as a result. Like Guitar Hero, you can only play Warmthread Las Vegas by not thinking about it. If you consciously try to aim your attacks and estimate the size of your ambiguous hitbox, you will end up with more metal in your head than Punished ‘Venom’ Snake. This partially has to do with the behaviour of the AI in that it is impossible to get NPC’s to behave consistently. Because of this, you can’t rely on a plan when it comes to luring enemies or predicting their path. Planning, therefore, is a no-go. The key is to completely trust your intuition and get into a certain flow and, all of a sudden, everything works out. You will manage to somehow throw a club in someone’s face while sprinting through a door, finishing the two enemies you door-slammed in the process, grab the gun of one of them, shoot an incoming attack dog and then shoot the first guy you club-faced before he can get up, all in under four seconds. 

But it is more trance-inducing than visiting a pop-art exhibition while on LSD, also thanks to the game’s superbly hypnotizing 80’s synthesizer soundtrack. Then, however, the moment the last lifeless body thumps to the ground, you immediately come down from your killing spree. Then the game does something that seems arbitrary but is actually very important: it forces you to walk back to your car at the start of the level with all the damage, blood and broken glass still lying around. Meanwhile, the funky synthesizer tunes are replaced with one eerie consistent tone. You are confronted with your wrongdoing and all of it hits extra hard because the game didn’t give you time to think about it during the fight. 


 
As I mentioned earlier, after each of these fights you go to a normal place and do a normal thing and this offers a frame of reference against which the massacres still stay extreme and horrifying. If Call of Duty or modern day television taught us anything it’s that horrifying violence can easily be the norm if it is all you show (Listen to Tool’s song ‘Vicarious’ or Meshuggah’s ‘Obzen’ if you want to know what I mean), so cleverly Hotline Miami gives us something to contrast that. But these scenes also serve to show how your character becomes more and more nutty as time goes on. First, subtle clues interrupt the mundanity of these little slices of daily life, but before you realize it you’ll be talking to walking corpses that may or may not have been killed by you a few levels ago and that is the point after which there is no return from Bonkersburg. 
 
As the insanity piles up and the pixel blood keeps flowing, you are confronted by the three animals in the dream sequences with your wrongdoing. But nothing changes. It’s still: another day, another answer machine, another massacre, another news story that the NRA can spin to promote gun usage. Finally, you reach the boss of all the dudes that you bested thusfar. As you walk in, he says he expected you. Then you shoot him, smoke a cigarette, end of story. Anticlimactic, isn’t it?

But wait! There’s more!

As a short first credit roll finishes, time is reversed and we find ourselves around the time of the earlier levels we played. Now, however, the player character is a tough-looking biker, his head obscured by a helmet. Then some more missions follow as we play as this unknown character who, maybe because of his sound-isolating helmet, is no blind slave to the answering machine. He commits his massacres on his own accord to find the source behind the murder-messages. After all, this was the 1980’s, where internet trolling did not exist yet and someone sending you homicidal messages on a regular basis was actually a thing people took seriously!


The biker levels are a bit more annoying than the previous ones, since the biker can’t pick up weapons or guns or throw things. All he uses is one meat cleaver and three throwing knives that you can pick up after use. My beef with this is that this goes against the spirit of the game’s supersonic intuitive gameplay that was the strength of the previous half. You can’t improvise much and now have to plan every knife throw because some situations can only be resolved with a ranged weapon. 
 
But as soon as you overcome all that you can come to the haunting conclusion of the messages and that is where the tricks of using your art form artfully I mentioned earlier. Because the mind-boggling thing is that the person sending you those answer messages and telling you to kill is the same person that tells you to kill in Call of Duty or Battlefield. Is he a boring, stern military commander? Not at all: the person telling you to kill is, as in any game, the game’s developer. The biker’s quest leads us to a shabby basement where we find two figures, looking like the developers of the game. The biker then asks them if they think this is some kind of sick game, sending out massacre-encouragements across the city. And the brilliant reply is: Don’t you think this is a game? You ARE playing a game right now, aren’t you? Are you having fun? With this subtle but groundshaking bit of fourth-wall-breaking everything falls into place and the banality of a game’s developer essentially making you kill on command becomes painfully clear. With this, Hennes Maurits brings beautiful criticism towards violence in video games and, considering the trance it brings you in it its most violent moments, the manner in which people perceive or deal with violence.


The game has three big gaping flaws. The first is the mask system. Throughout all of your genocide runs you wear an animal mask and all of them, except for the starting one, give you gameplay bonuses that vary from silenced guns to lethal door smashes. However, there is one that rules them all, which is the one that makes your fists kill enemies instantaneously and makes finishing moves instant as well. The latter might seem pointless, since finishing someone only takes one second, but the pace is higher than that of a Dragonforce song on fast-forward and that means that finishers can be the difference between life and death, and not only the life or death of the downed NPC. 

The second big gaping flaw is the hospital level. At one point as we still play as the first character, we are arrested and end up in hospital. There, we have to sneak out without being spotted by doctors or the police holding us there. I normally wouldn’t mind an attempt to mix gameplay styles up and it is better to have us leave the hospital without resorting to cutscene, but the problem is that Heisslinien Hamburg has controls and visuals only really suitable for over-the-top violent massacring gameplay and not for sneaky stealth sections. It would have been better if this sequence had been nothing more than the player walking through a corridor without there being a chance of getting caught. One little detail I liked was that, during this chapter, moving too fast or too much causes your character to get a headache which is conveyed through visuals and audio in a way that brings across the feeling of a suddenly rising headache quite well. I like that we feel some vulnerability for the first time in the game because that raises the steaks and reminds us of the slight bit of humanity left in our mute, faceless, nameless protagonist. 

Then there is the final flaw and never has such a minor flaw had such horrible implications as in this case. The problem is that the beautiful conversation with the ‘developers’ I mentioned earlier has dialogue trees, which is for the very first time in the entire game. There seems to be no reason for it and there is no real choice involved beyond what the characters are going to say next. The horrible thing is that the grand, revolutionary twist in which the developers draw the attention of the player to the fact that he is merely playing a game doesn’t come up if you pick the wrong dialogue choice. And that is how a dialogue tree can uproot your entire game in under two seconds. 

 
Videogames are a beautiful art form and, with their interactivity, can do things that no other medium can pull off. The problem is that the greatest works of gaming art created, such as Killer7, Hotline Miami or Spec Ops: The Line are buried under the endless pile of Call of Duty’s Battlefields and League of Legends’s. Funnily enough, Hotline: Miami was itself buried by its sequel. For more information on that, read my review of that game. It suffices to say that there was no need for a sequel and that the sequel only goes through the same motions as the predecessor to ring a few more pennies. It introduced nothing except poor gameplay design, bugs and a bloated, inefficiently designed story. And thus the story was concluded of probably the best indie game I ever played. Let’s enjoy it now before they release a movie, book, tea towel and maybe also a constipation aid bearing its name to earn even more money!


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Beasts Of Silverstein: The Lesser Meowl: Familiars, Companions and Pests

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , ,



First of let me say as a Dungeon Master the internet is a wonderful source of inspiration and general sillyness. One particular piece of amusement I encounter was the concept of the Meowl which was a series of pictures of owls with cat heads and vice versa, with the Owl Bear been one of my favourite fantasy creatures I was instantly attracted to the idea and my mind whirred with possibilities of how these creatures could inhabit the setting I'm working on The Free lands of Silverstein.


After a bit of trial and error I've finished the draft of the smallest of Meowls; the Lesser Meowl these small Meowls were the first to be created and generally used as familiars or pets amongst the wizard community.  

Lesser Meowl
CR 1/2
XP 200
CN Tiny Magic Beast
Init +3; Senses: Superior Low-Light Vision, Dark Vision 30ft, Scent; Perception +9
DEFENSE
AC 15, touch 15 , flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +2 size)
Hp 6 (1d10)
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +1
OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Melee 2 talons +6 (1d4–2), Bite +6 (1d3–2)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
STATISTICS
Str 6, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 8Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 10
Feats Weapon FinesseSkills Acrobatics +4, Fly +11, Perception +9, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +4 Perception, +4 Stealth

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Superior Low-Light Vision (Ex)

A meowl can see three times as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of shadowy illumination. It retains the ability to distinguish colour and detail under these conditions.
Familiar
The master of a Meowl familiar gains a +3 bonus on Perception checks.
ECOLOGY
Environment temperate and hot plains or urban
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (3–12)
Treasure Carried: none, Lair: 50gp to 100gp value in small gems or items scattered across several nests. 
 
Lesser Meowls typically weigh 5–15 pounds when fully grown and make their nests in high sheltered areas where they can remain hidden or have good vantage over the local area. Their patterns and body shapes often resemble the smallest breeds of owl such as the Elf Owl, Pygmy Owl and Little Owl.

Meowls in Silverstein

Initially bred as an minor project by an ambitious group of young wizards who wished to investigate why many man made magical species suffer from extreme aggression or insanity. The group was wise enough to start small having learned from the various recorded instances of creations turning on their creators and after several initial tests it seemed the combination of cat and owl would not only give them the comparison they desired but also additional chances of success due to a similarity in behaviours and prey preference.

Combining the speed and agility of the owl with the curiosity and intelligence of house-cats, the Meowl is a efficient hunter preferring to prowl nocturnally though if required can adapt to be active during the day also.

While they have avoid the insanity of similar creatures such as Owl Bears they have a tendency to be capricious as a species with personality varying between breed and individuals alike. Their somewhat moody temperaments has often had comparisons made to that of Griffins and some scholars are now beginning to believe that the process that created Meowls could of occurred on a larger natural scale in the development of Griffins.

They also have a intense predator instinct with a need to hunt which if they are not given a distraction or alternative outlet they will fall back upon which can be devastating on local rodent and bird populations (or anything tiny size and below really, Meowls will try anything at least once).
Meowls often crave a varied diet and occasionally horde food in times of plenty which results in them killing more than they can eat and false accusations of hunting for sport, they also will gift kills to another they see as close to them or they wish to mate with.

After startling success Meowls became popular as familiars and pets for those magically inclined much like falcons and hawks amongst the nobility While excellent (if somewhat narcissistic or sarcastic) familiars complications of keeping these animals as pets includes the combination of fur-and-small-animal-skeletons frequently regurgitated in place of hairballs, general difficulty in training and obedience and the fact that a larger Meowl breed if pushed can significantly injure a human.
It was no wonder that some Meowls either escaped or were abandoned retreating into the surrounding cities and countrysides where they adapted and flourished, after it was discovered they could breed true with other Meowls and both regular owls and cats (Resulting in a child of the mothers species).

The effect they have had on the landscape is telling and feral Meowls are considered a major problem in some areas, occasionally they will form packs known as Intrigues which will raid farmsteads for food often killing poultry and water fowl. One particular infamous group almost caused the collapse of a treaty with a fey court after slaying 30 of its smaller members and the truce was only held after a group of adventurers hunted down and slew the band including a Meowl that had achieved a mutation similar to a dire animal.

The Meowl mates frequently and enthusiastically though thankfully in small litters of no more than 4, pairing seasonally. Competition for natural resources and groups ranging from various tiny fey and druids to pelt hunters organising hunts against them has caused their numbers to fluctuate in recent decades but overall they are here to stay.
 


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Peasants To Principality: Introduction To World Building Part 2 Bottom Up Design.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , ,



Greeting and Salutations, following up on the previous post regarding approaches to world building today in this post I will be giving a similar brief overview of the Bottom Up Design. In the future I hope to write an example of these concepts put into practice as I create my own setting for a upcoming campaign I will be running.

Bottom Up Design: The Basic Concept

Bottom Up Design explained in its simplest form is this: Beginning at the initial element required expand outwards designing each addition element that will be required or interacted with.
As the astute amongst you may realise this is not quite the opposite of Top Down Design and in fact has more in common with ad libbing in its method (though some would argue that ad libbing is Bottom Up Design in its most pure form), when used as a design tool it allows a setting to grow organically as additional elements and details are added as needed.

An example of this in practice using our space setting from before would have our designer beginning with an element typically a location: Determining the first element that the campaign will require is the location the party will begin our designer creates a space station, its inhabitants, visitors and services, any adventures that occur upon the space station, then space ships (if not provided by the game system), the local solar system, locations that the party will be required to visit within the locals system etc.


This simple example above shows the narrow focus of Bottom Up Design and how already established designed elements are returned to and built upon with additional details as newer elements are introduced.
While it does traditionally focus only on elements the players will interactive with Bottom Up Design can be used to develop highly detailed if narrowly focused settings in advanced.

Advantages And Disadvantages

The main advantages of the Bottom Up Design method are:
  • Focused approach aids in building detailed locations, characters and set pieces.
  • Reduced initial book keeping requirements due to no unnecessary details or locations.
  • Easy to add new elements as required. This can also help settings feel less artificial in design due to their organic growth and naturally works well with ad libbing.
  • Typically faster and less work intensive than Top Down Design.
  • Setting locations can be used for play while the overall setting continues to be expanded.
  • Best used to create individual locations, adventures and set pieces or in campaigns which are focused in a single area or region.
The main disadvantages of the Bottom Up Design method are:
  • Due to its narrow focus players can more easily move beyond the developed setting, this can force a Dungeon Master to ad lib on the spot or heavily guided or 'rail road'' the party to remain within the settings confines.
  • Designing can become stuttered or even halted if an particular element becomes difficult to work upon. 
  • As the setting organically grows it can be difficult to keep elements consistent and requires good note taking and book keeping as the game progresses.
  • When used to design expansive areas it can be more time consuming than Top Down Design. 

I hope this little article series has helped with understanding Top Down and Bottom Up Design, the next aim of this series is to take these methods and to create a setting using them.


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Peasants To Principality: Introduction To World Building Part 1 Top Down Design.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , , ,




Greetings and salutations, over the years as a Dungeon Master and Amateur Writer I have observed many new people to the hobby of roleplaying feeling they are ready to move beyond the beginners prewritten adventures ask just how to begin designing an adventure or a setting of their own.
While there are many methods available the effectiveness of which depending exactly what the Dungeon Master desires I will be creating a small series of short articles and videos focusing on Top Down and Bottom Up design with later examples of their use as I create my own world setting.

These two design methods are very similar and simple in concept  and focus more on the order of how things are created than the method of creation but each has its own advantages and disadvantages and in practice are bested used in combination than relying on either of them entirely.


Basic Overview Video

Top Down Design: The Basic Principle

Top Down Design explained in its simplest form is this: Beginning at the highest level design each element moving a step lower each time.
In practice for example: a space setting a designer may begin at a galactic level deciding upon how many solar systems are within the galaxy, what empires if any span this galaxy.

Of course this is a very simple example that does not go into fine detail or down to the bottom level but its easy to observe the premise.

This can also be used on a smaller scale so if you wished to design a city for example:
  1.  Design or take an existing city map that has no features listed on it.
  2.  Decide upon any locations of districts within the city and their basic properties.
  3. Focus next on its government, laws and associated bodies of power such as the guard or the military including key figures.
  4. Flesh out each district in turn in regards to businesses, problems and key figures. 

Advantages And Disadvantages


The main advantages of using the Top Down Design approach are:
  • Builds the overall setting in moderate detail allowing for play to move between areas or begin in different locations with more ease.
  • Results in expansive notes regarding key locations, figures or laws even if they are footnotes or just names aiding further development and bookkeeping.
  • Easier to keep design choices within the world consistent.  
  • Leaves room for later expansion as new locations can be added to existing areas where the setting has not been fleshed out.
  • Best used for creating settings that are intended to be used for long campaigns, repeatedly or across different locations and games that involve expansive travel such as Rogue Trader. 
The main disadvantages of using the Top Down Design approach are:
  •  Requires advanced preparation before play begins and depending on scope of setting can be very time consuming. Especially if the level of detailed required for each area is unknown which can result in necessary areas been devoid of fine details when required.
  • Lends itself to a encyclopaedic nature of world building which can result in far too much time been spent on unnecessary work in areas players will never encounter. This can also make it difficult for those unfamiliar with the setting to use it in their own games or create adventures for the setting due to amount of lore that dungeon masters need to be familiar with.

I hope this little article has helped with beginning understanding Top Down Design, in our next article we'll be taking a look at Bottom Up Design.


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Update: New KAMB adventure coming and Youtube Channel updates

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , ,



Greetings and Salutations.

First of all I wish to apologise to the slow update this month, the events of the last few weeks have been hectic for myself and its left me with little time to get into the mindset to really sit down properly.

However in more positive news I've almost completed another short Kobolds Ate My Baby Adventure which should be posted later this month, also with the complete slow down of news and progress on Chapter Master I'll be trying to take a look at a 22 year old unreleased game by DerrickMoore from 12bayforums:

Here is a game from 1994 I'm accidently releasing because I no longer have a computer that can run this un-released game.

It's the story of a half-company of Dark Angels sent to kill the heretic Nokar, a traitorous Imperial Commander.

 I really want some screenshots of the game, since I have no art from this game at all in my portfolio and it's one of the most important (to me) games I've ever made. (this game is 22 years old, and I beleave that I have the only copy and that if I dont get some screenshots, this art and story will be lost forever.)

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rk0r2348g1i873x/AABOUA59pV99TCxUOVC5Dgxda?dl=0

so? can anyone run this, and get me some screenshots? anyone with the patience to, will be rewarded with the awesome full motion video Space Marine movie that plays in between levels.

there are 5 levels, Space-Orks, then Cultists, then Tyranids.... The graphics, well, think 1990s, 640x480 and only 256 colors in the whole game 

Meanwhile  I've also been updating the Youtube Channel regularly and have several Lets Play series complete including:

McPixel 



Missing Translation


Last Word


Finally due to Youtubes own growing problems I have been creating a back up of my shorter videos over at Daily Motion.



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Haxmonster Finds Himself Shuffling Aimlessly As He Explores Dead Island

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,



I find myself trapped on a beautiful island, haunted by a terrible disease. Almost everyone has been infected and those that are, are unaware of the fact that they have become monsters. The authorities have sealed off the island to prevent the illness from spreading, for a breakout would surely be the end of the world. Barricading doors and windows offers no salvation, as the sheer size of the infestation lets it break down any obstacle. The only ones unaffected are the numerous zombies that roam the island. All others have been contaminated with the horrible plague that is the Australian accent. Be honest, I haven’t fallen victim to it as well, have I, mate?


Oh, what fun it would be to actually play Dead Island if it had really been about surviving the apocalypse of the bad accents. Unfortunately, until that game really comes out, we’ll have to make do with boring old zombie apocalypse and the game surely follows the standard undead survival scenario with dedication. It’s a four-player online co-operative game that, like a child trying to build a few sandcastles at once, is spread out across multiple sandboxes. The combat forms the core of the game and is mostly melee focussed and very much stat-based, not unlike the vast majority of MMORPG’s. The story keeps the cliché combo up by continuously alternating between the most common end goals in a zombie scenario, such as defending your home base, escaping the infected area or inventing a cure. So, as you can tell, with the possible exception of Left for Dead no zombie game is as formulaic as this one.

That doesn’t take away that Dead Island is certainly quite fun and is put together quite competently. Like in most zombie games most of your time is spent looking at a standing corpse while either shooting it or trying to smash it’s brains in and in this case we find a clear preference for the latter. Luckily, I can report that cutting through zombie flesh with big stodgy meat cleavers in this game is pretty satisfying, akin to popping bubble wrap with a pneumatic hammer. The fact that slicing a cleaver through an undead’s throat has a punchy feel to it and creates an orgy of blood and severed limbs might sound like an irrelevant detail, but I’ll say the same thing as I said in my Symphony of the Night review: it is the thing you will be doing for the vast majority of your playtime, so if turning enemies into Swiss cheese comes with some visceral joy then that, like the Swiss flag, is a big plus. 


That said, not every weapon is equally engaging to use. Machetes and knives pack a suitable punch, but batons often seem to hit way harder than their size suggests, which makes them feel like they have an invisible brick taped to their end. Mallets are very awkward to use. They have a thing in common with penises in that they are always a bit shorter than their owner likes to think they are. This led to many situations where I flung a sledgehammer a few centimetres before my target’s face as if I only intended to smash his nose off to make an impromptu Lord Voldemort replica. The game’s melee system also reminded me of that of Ride to Hell: Retribution and when that name comes up, that’s not a very good sign. The resemblance between the two games is that the kick attack is extremely overpowered as it knocks enemies down, can’t be interrupted, interrupts most enemy attacks and deals damage as well. Since the time they require to get back up again is usually enough to die of old age you won’t have problems dispatching most hordes this way, which turns a lot of the game into a ‘disabled kicking simulator’, which doesn’t pose a very meaty challenge.

The guns very clearly take a back seat, with no more than about five guns in the entire game. Ammunition is very scarce, so you won’t be shooting any other enemies than humans since they all use guns and therefore drop bullets. This causes the situation where all encounters with human enemies are firefights and all fights with the undead are melee-focussed. It’s a shame that this separates both combat styles. You can’t mow down zombies with your one or two guns because of a lack of bullets and you can’t beat marauding survivors to bits with a paddle because of an excess of bullets, in your guts to be precise. On the other hand, the game offers you a choice of four playable characters and this at least provides situations where the gun-focussed character is at an advantage, which at least gives the character system some use. 

 
To elaborate on the character system; the other three survivors specialize in knives, blunt weapons and throwing weapons. As I mentioned, blunt weapons are useless since you can’t estimate your range and the throwing weapons expert has his issues as well. He specializes in throwing regular melee weapons at the enemy and since you can’t carry more than twelve weapons or so at a time you can’t fend off more than half the walkers in an average horde. The other half will then have ample opportunity to select the tastiest part of your buttocks for consumption while you are busy looking at the floor to collect all those weapons again. So essentially, your choice is limited to guns or knives, with the deciding factor being whether you want an edge in the first half of the game, when zombies are the primary enemy, or if you want a lead in the second part, when there are more guns lying around than in an average Texan shopping mall. However, I played through the entire game with the gun specialist and noticed no drawbacks when I broke out the fisticuffs, so it can all be safely disregarded.

Beyond their questionable gameplay differences an attempt was made to give all four characters basic personalities, which are very evenly spread out across the spectrum of selfishness. These identities are almost solely conveyed through cutscenes which come across as a little weird when you play the game on your own. After all, they always involve all four characters even if they aren’t all present in gameplay. I like that the leads clearly differ a bit from each other as far as personality is concerned, but the problem remains that they influence the story perhaps even less than I as a reviewer influence the course of the gaming industry. Although a lot of events lead to bickering between the two more selfish and the two less selfish characters, they always decide to just go along with whatever other people suggest. They never make a decision that alters the course of the story. 
 
Also, their dialogues are more corny than the state of Iowa and entirely one-dimensional. Mister blunt weapons specialist has a problem in particular in that, in cutscenes, he always gestures as if he is receiving electroshock-therapy even though he maintains the tone of voice he could use to ask missus blunt weapons specialist to pass the salt. But what ultimately kills characters for me in Dead Island, beyond zombies I mean, is the horrible facial animation. Characters could be shooting the walking corpse of a former loved one, could be bleeding to death or could be sobbingly telling the story of a former comrade who sacrificed himself for them, they always maintain this dozy look in their eyes that suggests they are coming off anaesthetics. This, combined with the corny, exaggerated Australian accent, kills the game’s many attempts at making me feel sad for the struggling and suffering of the robots pretending to be human characters.

Dead Island: where the NPCs have less facial expressions than the zombies.

I’d better warn you that some very light spoilers are around the bend. Now that I’ve given it some thought, a lot of the story involves the four leads being led around by the nose by a large variation of secondary characters; a problem that also frustrated me in Grand Theft Auto V. For instance, on one occasion the game shifts to an entirely different mini-sandbox because of that one character who we ask to transport us to the ultimate goal of the game says: ‘I can’t take you there, but there’s this other place that’s totally not where you want to go, shall we just pop over there?’ And even without a reply from the protagonists that just happens then. At another point in the game we spend four missions just to please one other character so that he will let us through to our goal, but when we are almost done with that we get a radio call from another character, saying that we don’t need to help him and that there’s another route to where we need to be, rendering the past hour of gameplay pointless. 
 
For completeness’s sake I should probably elaborate on the fact that Dead Island is an online co-op game. I only joined a four-player game on one occasion and then I noticed that Dead Island shares a problem with Trove in that there is a difference between playing with someone else and playing alongside someone else. It doesn’t do the co-op much good that, like Trove, Dead Island is in the latter category. Besides reviving each other and exchanging items there is very little player-to-player interaction which means that, most of the time, all four players are simply all bashing heads in without interacting with each other. No characters or abilities exist solely to buff other players or offer some kind of supporting role. But as much as that damages the co-op experience, I like that it works this way because it allows the game to stand up to scrutiny when you play by yourself. You never really need others, so this gives the game some versatility. It can be co-op if you want it to be, but that doesn’t have to be the case.


Dead Island was developed by a studio called ‘Techland’, but it’s not quite an example of unparalleled technical prowess. Graphics-wise it looks a bit like the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games. Everything looks like it’s shrink-wrapped in plastic and that there are very little small details. Some textures, like those on the big rocks that mark the end of the mini-sandboxes, are extremely blurry. Furthermore, the game makes very temperamental use of invisible walls. Often you can just shimmy your way through a lot of alleged obstacles, but not everywhere and sometimes such a barrier seems really artificial and unnecessary. Using the map to avoid the invisible walls is impossible since the only map is a satellite photograph which shows nothing since the world is filled with more vegetation than a three days old forgotten cheese sandwich.

Silverain here just to expand a little further on the technical aspects of the game, it is very poorly optimised and even computers that have far beyond the capabilities to run the game will experience slow down and the occasional sluggishness as it demands far more CPU power than it really should require. Case in point my own play through with Haxmonster (See Below) was forced short as the Dead Island would often cause my CPU to overheat.

So the game really discourages exploration and prefers that you just drive everywhere in a car. Cars make you nigh invincible since the zombies apparently never played GTA when they were still alive and can’t figure out that they can simply pull the car door open and pull me out. Of course they can damage cars but I got through the entire game without one car ever being destroyed.


You might get the impression that Dead Island is quite an easy game with the overpowered kick attack and indestructible cars and you would be completely right to deduce that. I could finish most of the game with only Silverain tagging along or just by myself. I am not even sure if ‘insultingly easy’ covers it. Zombies usually move very slowly, can’t open doors or climb ladders and, worst of all, there are next to no consequences when you die. You respawn mere meters from your death with all damage you did to zombies still remaining. All you lose is a percentage of money and using money is very much optional. You can pay money to repair or upgrade weapons but if you just complete enough quests, and you will since that’s the only activity in the game, you are constantly loaded down with better weapons to replace the broken ones. Speaking of optional, fighting zombies in it’s entirety is optional as well. Often you can just run past all zombie hordes and close a door behind you, which they can’t open, and you are safe for ever. 

 If you want to see Dead Island in action you can see me and Hax Monster roam the first few areas here.
 
But in conclusion I think it’s safe to say that Dead Island is fairly amusing, provided you skip a lot of it’s repetitive, dull sidequests. The central gameplay mechanic, the melee combat, is satisfying and I don’t really feel like anything important is missing from the formula. Running a zombie over or smashing is head in is a simple kind of pleasure, but it’s undeniably fun. So, if you still enjoy zombies at this point, disregard most of the previous things I mentioned and pick it up! 
 
Hang on a minute!

I think I’ve just realized something. As the opening paragraph of this review revealed I believe that zombie games as a genre are more dead than the walking corpses the genre is based around, but just maybe the developers of Dead Island feel the same way. Fighting zombies is optional; they are merely an occupational hazard that you can run past. The biggest enemies are usually humans. In the third act there is even an entire section where the game turns into Far Cry 2, and we find ourselves running through jungle slums wielding an AK-47, fighting a war between two small militant faction leaders with weird accents. Can we still call that a zombie game?

Suddenly it all makes sense! Time to submit it to the ultimate zombie-game test. I kept count of the amount of times Dead Island uses the word ‘zombie’, which one would expect to be quite a high amount since it depicts a zombie apocalypse. The final count, however, is around…
Three.
Maybe it’s about accents after all. Gud on ya, ded ayland!


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Kobolds Ate My Baby Adventure: Trick & Treat Troubles.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , ,



With Halloween Approaching trick or treaters will soon be knocking at our doors demanding candy in exchanged for not toilet papering our houses, some Dungeon Masters attempt to run horror games and sessions I personally find that while the occasional knock may scare the life out of the players at the right moment more often than not it spoils the flow of the game.

So instead I tend to play something a little lighter, something like Zombies!!!, All Flesh Must Be Eaten or as in this case Kobolds Ate My Baby.
If you are unfamiliar with Kobolds Ate My Baby, KAMB is considered one of the earliest "Beer and Pretzels game" which is any of a class of tabletop games that are light on rules and strategy, feature a high amount of randomness and a light often humorous theme.


In Kobolds Ate My Baby you play the aforementioned kobold under the ruler ship of King Torg (All Hail King Torg) Lord Of The Chicken Bone Throne who requires the players to go out to the nearby human town and bring back the freshest, human babies you can find (along with whatever else his taste buds desire that day) or risk been thrown into the cook pot themselves.

Games often last little more than hour and can be easily picked up with fresh characters, in fact death and chaos is common place with it been fully expected that players will die at least a few times, as those who don't throw themselves headlong into danger and excitement risk incurring the wrath of Vor the big red angry god who HATES cowards.

So in the spirit of Halloween I have design a short one shot adventure for KAMB where our clueless little fuzzballs encounter Halloween for the first time and must gather candy tribute for the glory of King Torg (All Hail King Torg). While Kobolds Ate My Baby in Colour was used to design the encounters the adventure can easily be adapted for earlier editions or for the Home Brew Kobolds Ate My Baby (TG Edition) which is designed for play by post.
Finally thanks must be given to Labyrinthian over at the Labyrinth for designing the map used for this adventure and making available for free.

For clarification like many publications by WOTC's or 3rd party writers italic paragraphs will sections to be read out to the players with alterations if needed while regular text is information for the Dungeon Master.

Kobolds Ate My Baby Adventure: Trick & Treat Troubles


This short adventure is design for between 4 to 6 Kobolds and should take approximately a hour and a half to complete depending on how much trouble and chaos occurs.
This adventure contains several customised items and rule variants which will be listed at the end of the area descriptions

The following paragraph should be read just before or during character creation.

Things have been quiet in the Grand Larder Cellar of King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) but tonight the humans nearby have been seen giving tributes of sweets to various monsters visiting their homes. King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) feels that it is only fitting that tribute be collected in his name and you.. yes you have been sent out with your comrades to one of the nearby villages to gather it. 
Oh and whoever brings back the least tribute best bring back something for dinner unless they want to risk been in the pot.

During this adventure the Kobolds will have the advantage that at first the humans within the town will believe they are trick or treaters and gain the benefits similar to the Winning Smile Edge.

However should any kobold act in a manner that causes the humans to attack (such as eat a cat in front of a little old lady) then every undisguised kobold (those not in costume) will lose this benefit to the affected human. In this case Kobolds with Winning Smile can use this edge to continue to fool the Humans into believing they are a innocent trick or treaters.

Once play is ready to begin read the following.

Gear in hand your motley group departs from the run down manor in which the Grand Larder Cellar resides seen off by the long forks of King Torgs (All Hail King Torg!) Royal Guard The Royale Wid Cheez. As you approach Stickston surprisingly all in one piece a commotion up ahead catches your attention as a group of thin spindly humans seem to be dangling a rather large imp upside down. Taking its brown bag from its hands they drop the imp as you near, giving you a dirty look while they suck on their smoke sticks before walking past you up the path from were you came. 
It seems without tribute to steal you were of no interest to them. 

The Kobolds now enter the map as a group, this can be done randomly though I recommend beginning at the path next to house 1 and each Kobold is capable of moving up to five squares.
With the exception of houses 1, 7 and 8 all doors to the houses are located on the South facing wall of each house, House 1 door is located on the East path facing side of the building and 7 and 8's are located on the north of the building respectively.

Locations:


House 1: Farm House "Witch" 
Occupants: 1 Old Human (Woman), 1 Cat
Loot: 4 Cooking Utensils, Kitchen Knife, a bowl containing 12 candy, Sack of Potatoes, Big Cook Pot.

Ahead of you a small human child with an impressively big witches hat and black dress with a pair of equally small zombies knocks at the spider web covered door of the old house, the door opening with a creak the small group roars as a elderly looking witch (with equally impressive hat) begins to hand out a small piece of candy placing it it into the tribute bags (or pumpkin in the small witches case) each of them is holding. Seemingly satisfied the little witch and her minions move on and the door closes.

While your candy hungry kobolds might be wanting to ambush and steal from the Trick or Treaters, this scene is to introduce the Kobolds into the concept of trick or treating so it might be for the best if the Tricker or Treaters escape harm (for now).

Kobolds approaching the house will see that it looks like most human dwellings though seemingly thick spider webs like its walls and that a pair of hollow carved pumpkins sit either side of the door.
 
If any of the Kobolds are interested of taking a look inside the house there is a solitary window which shutters are ajar on the south side of the house, however the window is a little high for the average kobold so Sport rolls or something to stand on (like another kobold) will be needed. 

If the kobold in question gets around that problem the old black cat Grumpo is currently resting on the windowsill and will happily take a swing at anyone disturbing his nap but behind him the entire bowl of candy is sat on a table beside the window.
The old woman is sitting in a rocking chair by the firepit on the other side of the room reading a book with her and is unlikely to notice any commotion unless its very obvious.

Trick Or Treating  

Any kobold who turns up to a house, knocks and shouts trick or treating, All Hail King Torg or generally roars will be given candy.

The first kobold at a house gets two pieces of candy, any further "trick or treaters" not in a different costume or disguise only gets one due to "copying costumes". If they turn up in a group then randomly roll to see who gets the bonus candy (usually those with the highest luck, Winning Smile or pushing to the front will find themselves at a advantage.)

If the kobolds are clever (or greedy) they might be able to get further candy from an already visited house by getting a new costume/disguise but there is only so much candy to be handed out.

As candy is so small they will usually be able to hold two in each paw, after that additional candy melts in their grubby mitts getting their paws all sticky and unpleasant so finding something to put the candy in is vital. 

1a: Backyard
Loot: Washing Line with a sheet, and some very large bloomers hanging on it, an old bucket with a few pegs.

Just a few items for the kobolds to start creating costumes from and the bucket can be held in one hand as used as a Tribute Bag.

House 2: Baby Sitters 
Occupants: 2 Teenages (Kids: Good), 1 Baby!
Loot: A bowl containing 10 candy, Cooking Utensil, Hoodie, kid's clothes, backpack, Baby!

This Human dwelling walls are painted bright and various small colourful paper chains hanging
from its roof along the building, while there are several windows around the building all the shutters are closed but the sound of giggling can be heard within. A large looking tomb stone and a pumpkin carved with a massive jagged mouth sit by the door.

When/if the kobolds knock on this door:

The door opens and behind it stands a tall, scrawny red faced human looking down at you, a waft of hot air drifting out catches your nose and the scent is unmistakable there is a delicious baby somewhere within!  

At this point if the kobolds don't immediately attack they are most likely planning their heist and trying to figure out how to get around the human.

The simplest ways to do this are:
  • Attempt to sneak past him (2 Dice Sneak Roll) when his back is turned to collect the candy bowl, which may cause issues if all the kobolds do this at once.
  • Get the ladder from area 6 and go down the chimney suffering a little bit of fall damage. 
  • Break open one of the window shutters and climb in but this may be noisy.
Once inside the House 2 is very simple been only a main room which consists of a kitchen/dining room with plenty of places to hide and a pair of doors leading to bedrooms, one of which contains the other babysitter and the other in which the baby in a pumpkin costume (which may confuse our poor kobolds as it smells like baby but looks like vegetable) lays in its cot.

House 3: Farm House "Halloween Party"
Occupants: 1 Townies, 1 Elf (Adventurer), 5 kids
Loot: A bowl containing 11 candy, a large bowl of Punch (2 handed,), several plates of crisps, cold sausage and cheese on a stick (enough for 2 fillers), Red Table Cloth.

A red clothed table covered plates of snacks sits outside this rather well kept dwelling, it seems the humans here know how to give tribute in style with drinks and fine cheeses. A pair of werewolves, flesh golum and two zombies from seem to taking part in various contests while observed by two humans, one of which is wearing a pair of obviously fake elf ears and holding a bowl of candy.. really who would pretend to be a elf?

The kobolds are welcome to help themselves to the snacks though may get strange looks if they begin pouring them into their tribute bags, the couple won't turn hostile towards the kobolds unless they do anything very wrong like attacking the children. 

3a: Party Games

Pin The Wings On The Fairy: You could use a Extraneous roll here to determine success but if you have a spare piece of paper handy draw a quick outline of a person on the paper and place it on the floor or on the table. Give the Player a pen (lid on), tell him to close his eyes and attempt to put the point of the pen in the middle of the fairies back whilst guided by his fellow kobolds.
If he succeeds he gets a candy or a skeleton mask (1 Armour)
Anyone caught cheating take a Kobold Horrible Death Cheque.  


Piñata: At 2 people must take part and up to four can try at once, if not enough kobolds are available of the kids will join in instead.

Note the following is easier if you have a grid for yourself with details and one for the players to see.


Player Grid

DM Grid

  1. Randomly determine which corner each Kobold begins in but do not tell them, they are blindfolded remember. The arrows represent their starting direction.
  2. Decide in which of the four centre squares the Piñata is located, it has 8 Hits and Agility 2.
  3. Each turn a Kobold can perform 3 actions which can be from any of the following:
    1. Move one square.
    2. Turn 90 degrees.
    3. Attack
  4. Anyone wishing to use a Wacking Stick (4 Dam) will need to Heft it.
  5. Continue until someone is horribly injured or the Piñata is destroyed.
  6. The  Piñata contains 15 candy for kobolds to grab.
Bobbing for apples: 3 Dice Wrassle Rolls to grab an apple serious failure may result in drowning. 

House 4: Weavers House
Occupants: 1 Dirt Merchant, 1 Old Human, 1 Bird.
Loot:  A bowl containing 6 candy, cook pot of oxtail soup (1 hit), wooden ladle, a massive stack of baskets, bowls and hampers.

This humble dwelling has a small sign with pictures of various baskets hanging above its door and from a nearby open window the warm of a fire and the smell of something wonderful cooking teases you.

Any particular scrawny or injured looking kobolds will be fussed over by the couple and ushered into the house to receive a bowl of soup, of course a kobold may assume the worse and be expected to be put into the soup.

House 5: Tavern 
Occupants: 1 Innkeeper, 1 Wench, 2 Veteran, 1 Old Human.
Loot: A dozen packets of peanuts, Grog & Beer on Tap, 4 bottles of random booze, mugs (2 Dam), Beer Mats. 

The kobolds won't get any candy here as the locals just want a quiet night, any attempts at trick or treating will result in several metal disks (coins) been shoved into the kobolds hands or if they are insistent (mostly by pointing) they may get a packet of nuts. A enterprising kobold may be able to collect enough dregs of drinks to make a dirty pint (treat as grog) but if they really want loot without a fight they are going to have to Steal it from the bar or Sneak into the Beer Cellar (3 Dice Sneak Check).

Beer Cellar
Occupants: 1 Giant Rat
Loot: Several empty Kegs, Several huge kegs of grog, 8 Strong Booze (+1 on roll when rolling to see what it is), 4 cheese wheels, 4 legs of mutton, a whole dried pork (Heft), A chest full of metal disks.
 
With luck the kobolds have snuck (or murdered) their way into the Beer Cellar, they are can collect the bottles of good booze easily but if they attempt to take the cheese wheels the rat will attack.

House 6: Empty House 
Occupants: 4 Giant Rats
Loot: Ladder, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Colander, 1 Dead Human (adult, partly eaten), 2 Pumpkins. Cleaver. Sack of Feathers, Golden Syrup.

Description outside:

A trio of (rather tall) goblins are knocking angry at the door but there seems to be no reply, taking what appears to be toilet roll from their tribute bags they begin to dance around the dwelling hurling the rolls over the roof watching them unroll. A poor throw cause a roll to land on the hat of the Scarecrow of the adjoining vegetable patch and the sound of nervous clucking can be heard from the chicken coop.

If the kobolds approach the trick or treaters they are offered a toilet roll to join in, otherwise the three soon grow bored and walk off. If the kobold attack the trick or treaters use the Kids (Bad) stats and they have loot of 4 candy each.

6a: Vegetable Patch And Chicken Coop 
Occupants: 5 Chickens
Loot: Enough Root Vegetables for 2 fillers, 2 Pumpkins, Toilet Paper, a Scarecrow, Chicken.

Getting inside the area is easy enough as the gate is unlocked but if for any reason the Kobolds wish to climb the fence than a 2 Dice Sports Check is required. Likewise the Chicken Coop is easy to enter but a unwary kobold may end up pecked to death.
The scarecrow takes a 1 Dice Heft Check to carry or can be stripped for a cloth sack, straw hat and chequered shirt.   

Any one examining the dwelling closer will notice the side door in the garden is slightly open and the house could be entered that way.

The house is pitch black inside but your keen senses let you see clearly, the smell of death hangs in the air like the necromancer Nodknows old socks and the sound of gnawing can be heard.

If the Kobolds actually enter:

A pool of dried blood and what seems to be a partly eaten human adult lays next to what you think is a swivel chair, from the darkness the beady eyes of several large rats (or snacks as you like to think of them) gaze with hateful hunger.

If the Kobolds want to loot the house they will have to deal with the hungry rats first, also anyone trying to stand on the swivel chair takes not 1 but 2 Kobold Horrible Death Cheques

House 7: Herbalist 
Occupants: 1 Mage
Loot: Hooded Robes, 5 Random Spell Pages, Pumpkin Pie (heals 2 hit), Poker, Booze, A Sack Of Spices.

This small human dwelling is ill kept even by kobold standards and you live in a hole in the ground. The weeds are Kobold-high and the paint is peeling from the walls, it seems there used to be a window but its shutters have been nailed shut and a faded picture of a pestle and mortar is painted upon it. A note is hooked upon the door with human scribbles all over it and a arrow pointing behind the house. 

The Herbalist is quite disliked in Stickston generally rude, cruel and foul tempered, its likely that if the Kobolds don't finish him off tonight the villagers will in the next few days after they learn about the note.

The note reads "Those looking for candy, go around the back and get what is coming to you." leading any would be trick or treaters to his angry dog Bruno.
Whilst been a mage the Kobolds will have the advantage while attempting to break in that the Herbalist is asleep unless their banging wakes him up, at which point he answers the door to yell at those who disturb him. 

7a: Big Dog 

Occupants: Big Dog, Kid (Good)
Loot: Hollow Pumpkin (actually plastic), 13 Pieces Of Candy, Large Joint Of Meat, Spiked Collar (1 Armour)
 
Turning the corner you hear a growl and the rattle of chain, before you is the biggest dog you've ever seen (admittedly the only dog you've ever seen but its still big) with short black fur and long sharp teeth almost rivalling your own.  A long metal chain running from its spiked collar is attached to a pole nearby by which sits a large joint of meat, at its feet candy is spilling out across the ground from a dropped pumpkin. The small witch you saw earlier is leaning back trapped against the wall of the dwelling just inches from the dogs snapping maw.

Bruno the dog is a bad dog, like his owner he is foul tempered and hates children and gets into fights regularly, even Animal Chum won't help here.

Bruno:
8B 6E 4E 6R / 2 AGL / Wrassle / Bite 2 Dam / 2 VP
Should any poor Kobold with the In Heat Boogie be Wrassled by Bruno they must instantly make a Kobold Horrible Death Check.

Of course the kobolds could try and simply sneak past Bruno and steal his joint of meat but they should remember Vor HATES cowards but those brave (and surviving) Kobolds who rid the world of this bad dog will find themselves rewarded with a hug, a kiss on the cheek, candy and a bonus epilogue if they survive the adventure.
After Bruno is dealt with the girl flees (after fore mentioned hugs) abandoning her candy, if any particular Kobold was active in defending her she also gives them her Impressive Witch Hat (2 Armour)  

House 8: Blacksmith 
Occupants: 1 Horse
Loot: Possible Weapons, Foodbag, Human Size Large Hammer (Heft), Horseshoes (1 Dam), Rope, Leather Straps, Bucket, Broomstick and Nails.

While mostly made of stone, this building barely seems like a dwelling compared to the house across the road, most of the building is a open workshop filled with metal and tools and even at night there is a smell of soot and heat wafting from inside. Beside the building a horse is tied up, a large foodbag hooked around its head and a nearby well. 

More items for your Kobolds to get crafty with, while most of the items here are far too big for a kobold to even consider using succeeding on a 3 Dice Extraneous Roll will allow them to find a Long Dagger that they can use as a Sword (2 Dam).

Removing the feedbag from the horse is another issue, unless the kobold in question has Animal Chum they can expect to be stepped on.

Horse 
12B 4E 2E 5R / 2 AGL / Bash / Kick 2 Dam* / 5 VP
* Anyone stood behind the horse can be struck with a mighty wallop for double damage and sent flying.

Heading Home

Once your Kobolds feel that they have collected enough tribute (or caused enough destruction) once they reach the edge of the map they can be considered to have escaped, once all the Kobolds have escaped (or died) there is one last encounter. 

Scurrying away with your (hopefully) mighty haul you begin the long walk home, thankfully like your trip to Stickston it is uneventful apart from a fortunate (and tasty) snack of crickets. Pushing open the large creaking doors of the ruined manor that sits atop the Grand Larder Cellar of King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) you all feel a angry growl rising from your throat at the sight of three familiar thin spindly human sucking on smoke sticks in the great hall. Spotting you enter the largest of the group laughs gesturing at your loot, they intend to steal your hard earned tribute!

If your group has been behaving at the Hamlet throughout the session this is the chance for their monstrous side to emerge or in the case of those angry evil little Kobolds one final chance for a blood bath.

Drunk Yobbos x 3
4B 4E 6E 4R / 1 AGL / Bully / Fist 1 Dam / 1 VP 

If your group is rather battered and you don't like the idea of possibly ending on a Total Party Kill (while anticlimactic rather fitting for Kobolds) feel free for the commotion to attract the attention of King Torgs (All Hail King Torg!) Royal Guard The Royale Wid Cheez who overwhelm the drunks carrying them away to the cook pot kicking and screaming.

Now that is left is to counting up the individual bonus victory points (VP):
For every 2 Candy returned gain 1 VP.
For food items gain VP equal to amount of Hits the items restores.
If a Baby was brought back and the Kobold responsible is automatically safe from the cook pot and gains a mighty 8 VP.

If the kobolds have any items they wish to attempt to cook they can try now though anyone with less than 5 VP at the end of the game ends up in the cook pot as part of the Tribute meal.
Those with more than 5 VP but less than 10 VP take part in the celebration feast at their usual tables but with first dibs on the various lesser snacks that come, finally those with more than 10 VP are granted a seat at the grand table of King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) and able to sample the delights crafted by King Torgs (All Hail King Torg!) personal cook the Iron Chef himself.  

Finally a little epilogue

Tales of adventure that night spread throughout the warren further fuelled by the hats and costumes you proudly wear, many give you snacks to hear your story of the night and life is easy for a time eventually King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) appoints you his Official Tribute Gatherers for each yearly tribute. 

Bonus epilogue for saving the girl from Bruno:

Time passes and while you've gotten older and more scarred you've kept your Impressive Witch Hat as a mark of your station of Official Tribute Gatherer taking good care of the trophy over the years. Unexpectedly you find yourself escorted into the presence of King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) by the royal guard, by the mighty Lord Of The Chicken Bone Throne stands a tall human Witch whose eyes light up upon seeing you. With a mighty voice his Largeness commands "You are to be chief minion of the troops sent to this Witch."
  

I hope you've all enjoyed this little adventure, please leave comments below and I think I may just leave a few of my own with any further details I decide upon when reviewing this adventure.

For further information on Kobolds Ate My Baby and All Flesh Must Be Eaten see the links below:


Kobolds Ate My Baby - Wikipedia 
Kobolds Ate My Baby - Scribd 3rd Edition
Kobolds Ate My Baby - Deluxx Edition Review
9th Level Games

All Flesh Must Be Eaten - Wikipedia
All Flesh Must Be Eaten - Review


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Kickstarter Curiosities 2: Dice and Tower Special.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , ,



Greetings and Salutations all, some of you may remember my previous post on Kickstarter Curiosities and the various interesting tabletop games and Dungeon Master aids. Well today we'll be looking at some of the best dice, carry cases and dice towers currently looking for backing but before we start I want to say thank you to my friend over at Buzy Bobbins for her help with this post.

The first Kickstarter we are going to look at is Hrothgar's Hoard: The Paladin's Keep a heavy duty transport dice tower and tray:

video

Hrothgars Hoard have already met their $5,000 goal for this project with just over 50 backers but with 16 days to go there still room to back this project. I will confess that this is one of the more expensive project I've seen with a person needing to back $95 to receive the full tray and tower system or backing either $25 for a Dice Box, $45 for a tray with no lid and $75 for a tray with a lid.

Finally there is an additional $20 charge if you wish to have any of the following patterns (or one you own the copyright for) engraved:




The next Kickstarter on our list is Polyhedral Dice Coin, Attention Span Games has teamed up with Tailspin Games to produce the Tailespinner:

video

Low budget videos aside I personally love the look and the function of the Tailespinner however with only 18 days remaining and $866 pledged of the $6,000 goal it is unlikely this attempt at funding the Dice Coins will succeed. With that said a single coin of either a D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 or D20 (no D100 yet) available is $15 with the various early bird options available or $20 standard.

For those of you curious about the stretch goals the current goals are:

6K: Base Goal
14K: Stretch 1: Free Pin for all Backers. Pin Add on available.
21K: Leather Pouch add on available.
37K: Free Coin Tube with Hand engraved KS exclusive Thank You on it.
50K: Free Exclusive KS Backer Tailspinner to all backers that ordered at least one coin. Additional available as add ons.

Specialty Perks:

Both the big and small batch perks allow you to work with our designer to design the center section of a coin in your choice of the probabilities we are producing. If you already have a logo or design you would like to use, we can put that in there. Simple color is allowed. And if you get either of these perks, we will have access to the die for a year before they get discarded. So if at a later point, you want more, we can work to make that happen.

Current Add Ons:
Any of the coins can be added on to any backing for $20. Just let us know which coin you want and we will get notes added in.



Watch case setup for your Tailspinner. Add $18 to your pledge and we will send you your Tailspinner in a pocket watch casing.


If you take anything away from todays post then let it be the Scroll and Codex: Dice Tower and Rolling Tray by Elderwood Academy, this Kickstarter is a piece of art in my opinion and their site hold a few other special pieces worth checking out.

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A bespoke, leather-bound scroll case that transforms into a dice tower with a scroll that unrolls into a rolling tray, the Scroll and Codex kickstarter has won over many fans with $85,201 pledged of $5,000 goal and still 19 days to go. This is one of the most successful Kickstarters I've seen in a while and I highly recommend a look, the only real drawback I've seen so far is that the materials and design available depend on your level of pledge so for those of you eager for a complete Scroll and Codex the beginning pledge is £90 for the Cherry wood with Celtic designs.

 


Last but not least is the Ninja Dice Kickstarter by Zero Origin Design a designer team from Thailand & co partner in Australia. These Aluminium Alloy dice use various different kinds of Shuriken aka throwing starts to represent each number and are rather well designed even with my personal aversion to metal dice (as they have of habit of scratching surfaces).

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With 41 days still remaining the Ninja Dice have plenty of time to reach the desired $5,500 goal from their current total of $1,230, however I am quite sceptical at the possibility of success. The early pledges initially offered first $17 then $19 for 2 Ninja dice with the choice of finish (I rather like the black and green myself), that has now risen to $20 for all remaining backers which is rather expensive for just two dice.



I certainly hope that all these Kickstarters caught your eye as much as they did mine, if you decide to back any of them or know of any other Kickstarters that have inspired your interest please feel free to leave a message in the comments.


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