Tuesday, May 27, 2014

TableToys: Tablet Edition

Tony T on the OSR Google+ community asked if anyone knew of RPG-related apps/games he might want to install on his new Nexus 7. Why, yes, Tony. Yes, I do. So many that I thought it might actually be dickish to hijack your thread with my gratuitous commenting, so I wrote this post instead. All of these apps are free, unless specifically stated to be otherwise.

1.) Old School Monsters Database: I'm still amazed that someone took the time to put this together for free. It's an easy-to-use, indexed reference of over 450 OGL D&D monsters. You can even sort them by level, and the terrain type that they're likely to be encountered in. Totally boss, and infinitely useable by the DM at the table. My only gripe is that the interface isn't entirely intuitive, since most of the good commands are located on the "menu" dots at the bottom instead of on-screen. Still, that's easy to get used to.
Honorable mentions: The creator, Appbrewers, also has an Old School Spells database and Old School RPG Tables that are equally nifty. I just find myself using the monster app a LOT more often for on-the-fly encounters.

2.) NameGenerator: This app by TofferJ is my second-most used utility. It gives you up to 100 names at a time (first and last) from a variety of languages/nationalities, including Ancient Greek. It's a real lifesaver when you're scrambling for something to call that random fishmonger NPC who the players have suddenly taken an interest in.

3.) Crawler's Companion: This one's primarily for running sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics, but it also has a fun, tactile dice-roller that includes all of those goofy dice like d5's and d7's that DCC uses. It also lets you do batch-rolling when you need to quickly "roll all of the dice." Plus, the Criticals and Fumbles are pretty brutal for those times when you want a Natural 20 to be truly memorable for your players.
The only thing I don't like about this app is that it only runs in portrait mode. Still, that's a minor quibble for so much free goodness.

4.) NPC Generator: This is my go-to quick and dirty NPC creator. The names it comes up with are terrible/laughable, but it's great for quick stats and a general feel for random fishmonger personalities. The biggest downside is that it doesn't seem to have an option for saving the character for later. That's why I also use...

5.) NPC: This is the generator that you go to when you want details. Like, including the kitchen sink. More importantly, this is the generator that will actually let you save the random NPC's as text files for you to look up later. The names this thing comes up with are almost as bad as the other app above, but that's what the NameGenerator is for, n'est ce pas?

6.) Custom Soundboard: If you like to use audio effects at the game table, then this is the one to get the job done. I tried a few paid soundboard apps, but this free one is the least fiddly that I've found. It lets you custom build many completely different boards that you can just swipe through at your convenience. It's ad-supported, but the banners are small, located at the bottom of the screen, and unobtrusive.

7.) Gurk and Gurk II: Crushing li'l 8-bit, turn-based dungeon-crawl games that remind me a bit of the original Final Fantasy games. Gurk is free, but Gurk II will cost you a whopping 99 cents. As I write this, I see that they've created a third installment in the series, so I already know how I'll be spending my railway commute this summer.

8.) Quadropus Rampage: The best free Rogue-like game. Notice the period at the end of that sentence. It's an underwater dungeon-delve that pits your tennis-racquet-wielding quadropus against a mad god!

9. The Bard's Tale: Cost - $1.99  Effin' hilarious, even though I hate bards really a lot. I can't totally hate this one, though, because he's voiced by Cary Elwes, a.k.a. The Dread Pirate Roberts himself!

10.) Knights of Pen and Paper: Cost - $4.99 Another cute, 8-bitty throwback that actually attempts to poke fun at the gaming group themselves, as opposed to the characters they're playing. This one has more of a railroady storyline than Gurk's.

So, what apps and games do you fine folks recommend?

Monday, May 26, 2014

An Infinite Sandbox


If it hasn't already been made readily apparent on this blog, I am what you might call a fan of Zak S.
Others were exposed to the best and most exciting aspects of our hobby by the now extremely defunct Grognardia, but I was a late-bloomer, and Zak's blog was my gateway drug. Though my blog-roll has grown over the years, Zak is always #1 on the must-read list.

One of the (many) cool community projects that Zak has helped put together is the Google+ crowdsourced hexcrawl called The Hexenbracken. That was followed by The Kraal. Both are image-mapped html documents that allow you to click on any hex to be taken to its keyed information, as well as any links it might have to other hexes. Both are great, and both have been sitting on my computer, awaiting their day in the sun for quite some time.

After a while, I realized that the maps work just fine, but I wasn't using them because the descriptions from the community weren't quite going to do it for me. Some were a little more gonzo than my current campaign setting, and others weren't quite gonzo enough. They just weren't the right overall flavor. It's true that I could have hacked them to suit my own tastes, but I'm more of a "start from square one" kind of guy.

If any of you have that same issue, here's a free hexcrawl map that's ready to be keyed by you with whatever your diseased minds desire. If you want to use it as-is, then you'll need to download both the html file as well as the "Region 2-2" png image. The hard part of image-mapping the individual hexes to their corresponding key numbers has already been done for you. All you have to do is open up the html file with your favorite text editor or WYSIWYG to give a different title to the map, and add descriptions to the hexes. If you're a Luddite (in which case, how did you find this blog?), I suppose you could always print it out and key it by hand as well.

Here's the real beauty of this, though. I'm lazy, so I built this sucker for re-useability. If you want to, you can create completely different maps using Hexographer, and, as long as they're the same overall dimensions, you can use my template to turn any of them into a linked image-map instantly. Just change the name of the image source from my "Region 2-2" to the name of your Hexographer map image.
Basically, the hexes will all still be in the same spots, even if you've replaced the mountains in hex 19.13 with grasslands, or snowy hills or whatever. As long as it's all still 00.00 through 19.14, you should be good to go.

Here are the dimensions to use in Hexographer:
Width: 20 hexes
Height: 15 hexes
Hex Width: 46 px
Hex Height: 38 px
Your final image should come out to about 694 x 589 pixels.

If you wind up doing anything with this, leave me a comment so I know how it turned out.

Happy Hexcrawling!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

393,792 Free Images for Your Campaign

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released hundreds of thousands of searchable images into the public domain for the best possible reason - because they felt like it. They're only available for non-commercial use, but that's perfect for home-brewers like our OSR community.  I, for one, am delighted at this turn of events.

Here are a few samples that I pulled up without half trying:

Okay, OKAY! I'll buy some candy for your kid's stupid school!


Nude Monster-Fighting = Metal-as-Fuck

This is (apparently) what happens when you ask someone who has a surplus of porcelain what a manticore should look like:

And this is what happens when you search for images of prostitutes (strictly for game purposes, of course)
The only thing more "D&D city encounter" than a hooker is a hooker who chills with 7-headed beasts

I could keep going like this all day, but I'll just not instead.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hireling Traits, and Shameless Theft

Telecanter, as usual, had a really great idea.
I, as usual, didn't learn about it until long after the fact. I'm a little slow sometimes.

Nevertheless, I was very drawn to Telecanter's handling of the situation. There are a ton of Hireling Generators out there on the web, and static tables printed up in books. None of them have ever really done it for me, though. Sooner or later, you're going to run through all of the interesting traits on those charts, and all that's left is the boring dreck. That's especially true in Old-School games, wherein hireling death-rates border on genocide.

"Congratulations, Grand-Wizard Eloatia. You've just hired a beet farmer with fungal growth under his toenails to carry your most priceless treasures through the Underdark."


Instead, Mr. T outlined very broad categories of traits that hirelings can have, with the rest left up to the DM's diseased imagination when rolling the NPC up. That way, your players never have to encounter the same bastion of the unwashed masses twice.

I'm with you, but also quite lazy, so I made an Abulafia page to randomly generate these poor,  hapless hirelings for me on the fly when I need them. The only major change I made to the original tables was to include transgendered and cross-dressing people to the gender chart, because why wouldn't I?

I now share this blatantly ripped-off resource with all of you.

Click here to start the funsies: Hireling Traits generator.