Category Archives: tabletop RPGs

Keys in the Wizard’s Lockbox, Lot #2

1: foot-long patinated bronze key with a bow shaped like a buckler; stem is a thin almost-cylinder resembling a C in cross-section; no visible bit, but sophisticated patterns etched on the inside face of the stem (opens the lost mausoleum/armory of Casserak Thousand-Blades; stem will wrap around the handle of any non-artifact melee weapon pressed to it and grant proficiency/attunement to the wielder)

2: pure silver key in a bottle of holy water sealed with the mark of the Soporites (locks the outside door of any structure and traps incorporeal undead inside until the key is destroyed)

3: black iron key, bow wound about with a red ribbon (key to the nearest Forgeron Ranger safehouse, supposedly stocked with wilderness exploration gear and maps of Widowmaker Wood)

4: plain white ceramic key, jagged microspines all up and down stem (unlocks a breathing hole in a Vigilarium Institute alpine isolation cell; whatever’s contained inside might be able to communicate or escape through such a hole)

5: shortsword-sized polished steel key with spikes on the bow and a thick piece of scrap iron crudely welded to the bit, blocking usage (opens the collar restraining Klorthakturym, dragon prizefighter, in his lair-cell in the Grand Coliseum of Septuagryx)

6: ornate and unusually heavy electrum key found chained to an object or person with at least three different locks (opens the decadent boudoirs of the Winkindrege Club, a society of libertines who are always hiring guides for their dungeon safaris)

7: entirely unremarkable iron key, aura of transmutation (jailbird’s muddlekey; if added to a keyring, adds 1d10 keys to the ring and regularly swaps the shapes of all keys on the ring; any attempt to use a key on the ring requires 1d10 minutes of trial and error as the keys actively swap their shapes to confound usage)

8: wetly shiny pitch black key no bigger than a matchstick (slides effortlessly and painlessly into the pupil of a humanoid eye; once inserted, the subject perfectly recalls what they saw within the past month and may only speak the truth for as long as the key remains)

9: wide, stubby brass key (opens three locked chapters and some of the hollow inclusions in the Puzzlebook of Varsaimies, a holy relic of the wandering tinkers of the Wastes)

10: granite pestle, chipped in a manner that suggests a bit, engraved with a Dwarven word meaning “unstoppable” (gatecrasher key; as an action, hold the key in hand and speak the command word to turn it into a battering ram weighing >100lbs)

11: gray soapstone key; gathers lint if kept in a pocket or pack (very small mimic; if attached to a key ring, sprouts legs and drags it away while you rest. Can be placated by feeding it lint and raisins, but is shy and will not eat if observed.)

12: perfectly translucent key; pliable like firm clay at the tip (placing the key in a lock instantly shrinks the user and places them inside the hollow body of the key, from wherein they can press outward to manipulate the shape of the key’s exterior [does not confer knowledge of the internal components of most locks, skill checks still required]; once the correct shape has been attained or the user wills it, the user returns to their usual size and prior position outside the key. The hollow inside the key has a universally breathable atmosphere that lasts for ten minutes.)

13: bone key; porous lattice covers bow (locks any door or aperture that will take a key, crumbles upon removal from the lock; traps the aperture with either a sinewy snare or a flurry of bone shards [user’s choice] that activates when the aperture is next tried)

14: wrought-iron key inlaid with colorful enamel with a twisted stem and intricate many-toothed wards (key to the Edgecliff Racer, whose toothed treads, aerodynamic sails, and draft-manticores make it a vehicle to be reckoned with)

15: nickel key with a bow in the shape of a banner engraved with a crest, with a pointed tip (if stabbed through a map of the territory matching the crest on the banner and turned, causes a social disruption: if unlocked, the area becomes easy to enter or leave amidst sudden mass greed and collapsing notions of privacy; if locked, the area becomes very difficult to enter or leave as law enforcement or other armed agents impose curfews and lockdowns. The effects last for one day and one night.)

16: decorative key no longer than a human pinkie finger (unlocks a previously-hidden compartment in a trinket or other object sentimental to a party member)

17: sandstone key; flat, pommel-like bow is etched with a clothlike pattern (inserting the key and pressing it flush to a section of the Wall of Stories in the Chikochka Caverns opens a secret passage to the Monastery of Storytellers)

18: key made of troll flesh; warm to the touch, squirms and farts (feed it to any bridge troll for riddle-free safe passage, or return it to Novice Fleshmage Melglaf for a reward in gold pieces)

19: crumb-sized rhodium key (opens the observatory inside the snowglobe on the desk of Kyrie Oprananovis, Master Librarian of the Zenith Spire)

20: tachylite ring, hot to the touch, containing 1d12 mossy pumice keys (if flung into the air over the ocean, the keyring breaks apart and distributes the keys over a 1d20-mile radius; a brand-new island rises from the sea where each key landed. Each island has a 1d10×100-foot radius and a one-in-six chance to be actively volcanic)

Look for more installments of Keys in the Wizard’s Lockbox in the future.  -ð

Keys in the Wizard’s Lockbox, Lot #1

1: brass key, many spokes radiating from a solid core with a twist handle (allows the playing of the Cyclian Resonator)

2: long, thin lead key to a warded lock (opens the “Volatile Components” cabinet of the wizard’s alchemy table)

3: matte black skeleton key engraved with various diacritics and punctuation marks (opens any one small lock once, as long as the user swears while jamming the key in with excessive force)

4: mummified rabbit’s foot on a loop of chain (pawprint unlocks a back room of Lollygag’s Gambling House)

5: silver key charm on a gold necklace (placing the necklace on the statue of the first queen of Sistrel-Kath opens the way to her mirror-hall mausoleum)

6: copper key with green patina, bow in the shape of a smiling mask (if placed under a pillow and slept on, opens the way to the dreams of Lisivilla, the Tarnish Artist)

7: egg-beater handle turns numerous bits and blades (key to the ironworks subsystem of the Liberator Rig, a massive traveling contraption-monger)

8: silver hat pin with thin grooves and a large, disc-shaped head featuring the silhouette of a human (deactivates and lays open one of the simulacra in Pygmalion’s Garden)

9: a key carved from quartz with a thin strip of linen bearing a sixty-syllable word wrapped around the stem (key and word needed to reopen the Learning Church of the Panoptic in case of lockdown)

10: knapped flint key (melts any metal lock owned or overseen by the Doctiloquence Initiative; reusable until the Initiative’s vault of cursed items is breached)

11: key smoothly transitions from hematite to wood to lacquered horn (symbol of the Adaptive Legislature; upon display, grants access to their debate sessions and advanced transmutation practicums)

12: pitted and rusted iron warding key (bow unscrews and pulls out to reveal map to Parcel Brigade lockbox/dead drop location)

13: broken basalt key (if frozen in a block of ice, the ice around the key will reform the missing half; shattering the block produces the key. Key matches one gibbet in the Gelid Estacade.)

14: ring of many colorful ceramic keys (each to one of a network of safe houses on different planes, all accessible from a planar gate in the City of Spires)

15: resin key with insect inclusions (key to the lac treehouse of Eriack Shilaj; turn clockwise for the Candymaker aspect [sociable], counterclockwise for the Matchmaker aspect [sulfrous])

16: ornate, lacy key made of sugar (provides the next spoken password as long as the taste remains on the tongue)

17: very heavy key of an unknown metal, occasionally sheds flakes of dried blood (opens the House of Dispossession, where the Tailors harvest the genetic curse of the fiend-blooded)

18: blank key, slightly greasy, stamped with “DO NOT COPY” (hidden compartment contains a single monofilament blowgun dart; inside of key stamped with “RETURN TO SENDER”)

19: human molar tooth, blackened with age (opens the screaming skull lock of the Carrion Aerie; the skull is missing plenty of other teeth.)

20: two-foot diameter iron ring inscribed with a 20-simplex graph, a pin at each vertex (unseals the Ur-Tome, which is currently in use as a bludgeoning weapon by the fire giant Slumbering Thurnor)

 

Look for more installments of Keys in the Wizard’s Lockbox in the future.  -ð

The D&D v3.5 Books I Can’t Bear To Part With (Years After Switching to 5e)

There’s a degree of irony to the fact that the Old School Renaissance is producing some of the best and hottest artwork, modules, and GM resources in the tabletop roleplaying game industry right now–isn’t “old school” by definition staid and played out?  As with all gaming communities, there’s a component of tabletop RPG culture that is grounded in nostalgia; the best OSR content is like a classic car that’s been retooled with all-new parts, parts that have emerged from thirty to forty years of deep thought, experimentation, and winnowing on the topic of game mechanics.  The folks behind that movement might have grown up on AD&D or the white box, but me and mine, we grew up on version 3.0 or 3.5.

Continue reading The D&D v3.5 Books I Can’t Bear To Part With (Years After Switching to 5e)

State of the Game : April 2018

My group of five player characters recently arrived back on the world of Kryn after a mission took them to one of the planet’s four orbital moons. They returned by means of a warp gate built by the Technoss, a civilization that died out millennia ago, and ended up in one of their surviving data sanctuaries miles beneath the metropolitan sprawl of The Capital. It was here they learned how the Technoss blended magic and lost technology to create database and computer structures utilizing Metea, an organic plasmid substance that can store and transmit information in the form of thought-energy.

Continue reading State of the Game : April 2018

Elevator Interview: Sean Billson of Timeless Caverns

Here at BloodLetterPress, we’re all about supporting other designers and creatives like us in their kickass projects. One of the ways we do that is by interviewing these creators in the hopes that readers gain a deeper understanding of the ideas and the feelings that forged their work. But it’s also 2018, and we know that ain’t nobody got time to read a 3k word in-depth interview.

So here’s our solution; if someone can do an “elevator pitch” of a product, it’s also possible to do a carefully-curated interview in a similar time restriction; in this case, you can read this interview in the same amount of time it takes to get from the ground floor to the top floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in their super-fast elevator.

Our subject is Sean Billson of Timeless Caverns production studio. They are the lead designer for Fuel Priest, a game that was just successfully funded on Kickstarter! We gave them five hard-hitting questions about their game to inspire and excite new fans, and to spotlight more local creators in our community.

Continue reading Elevator Interview: Sean Billson of Timeless Caverns

Going Around: Fragments of Our Finest Selves

Roleplaying games.  For some of us at BLP, they’re our bread and butter (I’m one of those lucky jerks who gets to play them as part of my day job).  For some of us, they’re a recent discovery.  Psychodrama, the performative act of becoming someone else in mind, and sometimes in body, is an ancient one that galvanized culture and led to most forms of art and entertainment in the present day.  Roleplaying games connect us to aspects of other people and ourselves, and helps open our eyes to new perspectives.  This week’s Going Around poses this prompt to our team of contributors: Tell us about an RPG character (tabletop or otherwise) who has stuck with you after the game is done.

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Jokers & Journeys: The Tarot Expansion

To play Jokers & Journeys with Tarot cards, use the pip cards as usual. A Royal Family becomes that much more difficult to score; a Blackjack is played with the Page of each suit and its corresponding 10 (you can call it a “reversed reading” if you want to). The Major Arcana are as follows:

Continue reading Jokers & Journeys: The Tarot Expansion

Meet The Locals: Premade Characters for Stars Fall Up

Hi All,

BLP had an amazing time running our game Stars Fall Up with folks who attended Jiffycon this past weekend! A huge thanks to all who showed up and hung out with us. Seeing people be excited about the game makes us 1020% more excited about it as well, and personally speaking, it makes me want to keep making supplements for the game.

So here’s our first offering. Below you’ll find six pre-generated character that we used at Jiffycon for our SFU session. They’re totally free to use and remix however you feel like, so go nuts. The character templates are purposely vague to allow for a great amount of customization from players, while not having to fret over coming up ideas for backgrounds and #tags.

Continue reading Meet The Locals: Premade Characters for Stars Fall Up

Books In The Wizard’s Library, Volume 3

Even More Books in the Wizard’s Library (some translated into Common by the Society for a Vernacular Zenith)

1: From Many, One, by Jenth Cooper (memoir of an awakened flesh golem, in Old Common)

2: An Ethnobotany of the Gleaming Swamp, by Ecalsis Wide-Eyes (in Sylvan, but trails off into pictographs and asemic writing at the end of each chapter; excellent botanical illustrations)

3: A Beginner’s Guide to Cobblecraft, by Ricki Hobnail (instructions on the creation and enchantment of magical footwear)

4: People of the Rune: a Study of the Ilumians, by J.F. Shmatz (iffy scholarship, but words glow blue and float off the page, so it ought to be worth something, right?)

5: An Anatomical Atlas of the Purple Worm, by Alysha Wroughtiron (includes a 10:1 scale foldout [8 feet long] with several layers of cross-section)

6: Where We Flock Together: A Living History of the Good Partridge Tavern, by Toastmaster Groth Jarlson (includes partridge-based recipes; book will hunt partridges by itself if removed from library)

7: The Definitive Museum of Fatespinner Textiles, by Lord Huecorro Sartor (one incorporated textile is poisonous on contact)

8: Shieldcraft, by Ulgurk Ulrich (book has been used as the key to a cipher; covered in scrawled notes, nearly illegible)

9: The Nopos Manifesto, by Orlog Siegetongue (made of cut-up bits of other books, preaches novelty and originality as the highest virtues of art; heated debate over this text distracted from several high-profile heists by its author)

10: The Monarchist’s Cookbook, no author (anti-insurrectionist explosives assembly manual)

11: Popular Folk Songs of the Asedia Lowlands, by Picadilly Stout (notation for mandolin, hand drum, and reed flute)

12: Grand Evocations of the Ancient Pistians (beautiful fake; curses thieves in 1d4 minutes, or explodes on anyone who opens it)

13: Interviews with Those Guarded by Unicorns, by Wasseli Fillamentra (constructed of cotton, wool, and other gently-harvested fibers, written with walnut ink).

14: Filvire Spangrov: A Life, A Death, An Unlife, by Dictus Abraxis (biography of lich by the detective who killed it)

15: Sentimentalism: An Ethical History of Charm Spells, by Rev. Lorelai Craishin (includes section on recreational use)

16: The Wizard’s Guide to Obtaining Free Labor, by The Great & Terrible Progadrius (hollowed out, pages glued together with dried blood; hollow contains copy of The Case for Lizardfolk Self-Determination by Genko of the Poison Fen)

17: The Theoretical Sixth Spellbook of Ivonne Dalehelm, transcribed by Fasaal Ibn-Ezesh (exists only when thought about)

18: We Love Macreedis Serpret, by his twenty-six homunculi (Serpret made this and other copies but keeps the original)

19: Sonnets by Glarthrek (flyleaf informs reader that opening book summons invisible horrors that attack if book is not finished in one sitting)

20: The Tome of the True Gourmand, by Gastrique, the Sultan of Spice (most recipes call for extremely exotic/expensive ingredients; careful perusal provides permanent +2 bonus to Profession (chef) or related skill)

 

Look for more installments of Books in the Wizard’s Library in the future.  -ð