Friday, July 31, 2020

TOTM background music - free to use

I doubt this'll get much action, but ... who knows ...?

A good portion of the music on TOTM is written and performed by me. There's no reason I can think of not to share it with anyone who might enjoy using it for background music in their own live games or podcasts. If you do publish any created work using this, please credit Tale of the Manticore in your shownotes or some other way.

If this link gets over 100 hits, I'll post up another one.

Shownotes for Episode 11

Theme Enchiridion
Welcome 148 Barovian Castle
Previously On Scott Buckley Legionnaire
Part 1 Odin
Dramatis RPG SOUNDS “Realization”
Part 2 Odin and RPG SOUNDS “The Boss is Here”
Some FX:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

THE STORY SO FAR Chapters 0-10

(This full text will be shortly released as audio - just posting this here for folks who prefer to read.)

(0) The story opens with an introduction to its first main characters, Kagan the fighter, Umura the magic user, Soli the dwarf and Gyrios the cleric. They begin the tale as prisoners of some goblin slavers and are being forced marched to some point of sale. On the way, the group is attacked by a young ogre, who kills or drives off the goblin captors. Although the ogre kills 2 of the prisoners, the rest of the group manages to survive when Aradine, a thief, slips her bonds and – before taking off into the woods alone - leaves behind a dagger with which they cut themselves free.

(1) The party tries to put some distance between themselves and the ogre. Before they get too far, they are attacked by 3 giant spiders, but luck is on their side and they kill all of the spiders before any of them are poisoned. The party presses on and, just before nightfall, discovers a river.

(2) From the river, they spot and then investigate a ruined tower. Soli discovers a secret trap door concealed under a pile of rotting lumber.

(3) Under the trap door is a passage leading under the ruined tower. The party follows it and discovers a pair of goblins and a human wizard. A battle ensues in which Kagan is magically blinded and nearly killed & in which Umura falls under the thrall of the enemy wizard and tries to murder Gyrios. But the group manages to prevail.

(4) Next, the party investigates a room under the tower and tends to their wounds. Their investigation is interrupted by a knocking from behind a very small door set into the stone wall. Upon opening the door, the party finds none other than the girl who had abandoned them to fend for themselves with the ogre. Her name, is Aradine. Gyrios convinces the party to release her and to take her into their custody until they can all safely escape the dangers of the forest. Unbeknownst to the party, their presence has been detected. The master of the house is aware of their presence.

(5) Next, we met Raphinfel, the Adored. He has been using the ruined tower in the Kingswood as a secret laboratory. Raphinfel has the spell ESP, which allows him to magically read the thoughts of others, even through stones, and so he has learned what the party is done so far. He decides to leave them a nasty surprise, and then escape. To this end, he speaks to his “angels”, warning them that the time has come to defend against approaching demons.
Meanwhile, the party has discovered Dermund’s humble living quarters. Umura finds Dermund’s spellbook concealed under his study desk. The party searches beyond the first room, and finds a storage room with another trapdoor.

(6) The party next finds a root cellar. But there is a second set of stairs leading down from the root cellar and deeper into the earth to a destroyed laboratory. They hear some disturbing sounds and Soli seems especially anxious to move forward. The source of the noises turns out to be a trio of Raphinfel’s Angels, zombie-like creatures who attack the party on sight.

(7) Soli falls in battle with the Angels. Their maker has fled already fled, leaving no real clues as to his identity. The party spends the night in the dungeon, mourning the loss of their friend and licking their wounds.

(8) The four survivors depart the underground laboratory and, using a rough map that Kagan found on one of the dead goblins, make their way out of the forest. The trek goes smoothly until they run into a group of giant rats. Aradine narrowly escapes the encounter with her life, but the party finally manages to reach the road. Following the road, they reach the outskirts of the Township of Burke.

(9) The next day, the party is summoned from their inn to speak with Marlock, the Sherriff of Burke and Aradine is introduced under a false name, to the surprise of both Kagan and Gyrios. Marlock explained that Burke’s up-and-comer status is being threatened by recent goblin raids, and questions the party about their recent experiences. Kagan cuts a deal, trading the map he found for a tentative job offer as a guide. The rest of the party signs on as well. The party is outfitted with some basic equipment and Aradine comes came clean about her criminal past. Later, the party returns to the inn and runs into a man they know to be from the laboratory.

(10) The party tries to get the jump on the man later that evening, but when Kagan breaks down the door to his room, he is long gone. Somehow, it seems, he knew they were coming. The next morning, the party joins the Scouting Expedition led by the gruff Captain Tor. The expedition makes their way up the South Road and then follows the goblin map, moving west into the Kingswood. When they determine that they have reached the spot indicated on the map, they search the area. One of the men discovers the body of a giant wolf with its head missing.

Voice Actors:
John Lopez and Jake Hendrix
Christine Oosterhof

Fellow Podcasters:
Jared at IDRDM
Abel Enzo at The Iron Realm
Ian at Roll to Save
Austin at The Ironbound Chest
The Microphones and Monsters Crew
Che Webster of Roll Play Rescue

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Shownotes for Episode 10

Wow... I can't believe I'm already at double digits... episode 10 is out!

Ep10 Shownotes

Theme Enchiridion
Welcome 148 Barovian Castle
Previously On Scott Buckley Legionnaire
Part 1 Odin
Dramatis RPG SOUNDS “Realization”
Part 2 Scott Buckley – Filaments
Some FX:
Tin Whistle

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

On the Unexpected Benefits of Solo RP

If I could, I would join a D&D table - a meetup or something (I don't actually know anyone in real life who games) - and play real D&D with real people. I miss it dearly, all the more since I brought RP back into my life through TOTM. But... during COVID, it's just a no-go. My craptastic wifi prevents me from joining a virtual table.

That said, solo RP has been a lot of fun. It does give me the feeling that I'm 'in a game' and I know this because I have started fearing for my characters. I've grown attached to them in a way I did not expect and if I lose (any more of) them, I'll feel a sincere sense of loss.

In my case, solo RP's big flaw is that it unspools incredibly slowly. My game 'happens' at the speed I can type. That's how it plays out, too: I type like a madman (I tell my partner I was busy smashing keys) and edit out the million errors later. When I need to roll a die, I stop typing, roll the die, and go back to typing. That's gameplay.

Despite this limitation, there are some unexpected benefits to solo gaming I would never have considered. Here are five of them:

-No rules-lawyers. As all the players and the DM, I always agree with my rulings, even when, in retrospect, they were bad calls.
-No egos. No look-at-me players sacrificing the story for the spotlight. No hurt feelings. No one feels like they are being picked on by the DM or the other players. It's the rarest of things: a table of perfect harmony with a single intention to experience a great story.
-Storytelling tricks: with solo RP, I can use dramatic irony, flashbacks and even total away-from-player POV shifts. These tricks, stolen from movies and novels, work great for me. They would probably struggle to work at a real table.
-No schedule management: that problem of what to do when Flaky Todd, who plays your cleric, can't show up for the Wednesday game yet again...? I don't have that problem.
-The slowness can be a benefit, too. Moving at a speed bottlenecked by my ability to type X words per minute, plus the added delays caused by needing to record and produce the show, actually gives me dozens - if not hundreds - of moments to think about the story during my everyday activities. Listening & relistening to mixes of the show acts almost like a study session - forcing me to 'learn' the show's details, which I think translates into a sense of interconnectivity in later writing. There is a drawback here I should mention, to be fair: having time to think about the show has, on many occasions made me overthink the show. I'm confident that things are going a certain way, and begin to imagine how the story will shape up, and then an errant die roll changes everything.

Alright, I'm gonna sign off here. Was intending on keeping it short this time round!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Map of the Township of Burke

Shownotes for Episode 9

Theme Enchiridion
Welcome 148 Barovian Castle
BTL Scott Buckley Legionnaire
Part 1 Scott Buckley – Filaments
Part 2 'It's In The Fog' by Darren Curtis
Some FX:

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Updated character sheets...including Raphinfel's

Race: Human
Class: THIEF
Level: 1
Next level at episode: 14
Str: 11
Int: 9
Wis: 10
Dex: 14
Con: 9
Cha: 15
Lck: 15
Max Hp: 4
AC: 8

Age: 18
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 105
Hair: Auburn
Eyes: Bright Green

Languages: Common

Weapon: Short sword, dagger
Inventory: rags, silver candelabra (50gp), goblin belt pouch

Race: Human
Level: 1
Next level at episode: 12
Str: 13
Int: 9
Wis: 11
Dex: 11
Con: 12
Cha: 13
Lck: 14
Max Hp: 8
AC: 9

Age: 20
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 190
Hair: Short wavy brown
Eyes: Brown
Other: Usually has a beard

Languages: Common

Weapon: Hand Axe
Inventory: rags, goblin belt pouch, garnet ring (72gp), a dozen candles, 20cp, 2sp, 8 gp

Race: Human
Level: 1
Next level at episode: 11
Str: 8
Int: 17
Wis: 8
Dex: 9
Con: 13
Cha: 7
Lck: 10
Max Hp: 5
AC: 9

Age: 36
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 128
Hair: straight brown to shoulder
Eyes: brown
Other: Tattoos on 10% of body from neck down

Languages: Common, Elvish, some Goblin

Spells: Charm Person

Weapon: Silver dagger
Inventory: rags, 3 flasks of lamp oil, tinderbox, shoulderbag, waterskin, goblin beltpouch, hooded lantern, quill and inkpot, ‘snakeskin’ book, Dermund’s spellbook

Race: Human
Level: 1
Next level at episode: 11
Str: 12
Int: 11
Wis: 14
Dex: 13
Con: 14
Cha: 8
Lck: 14
Max Hp: 7
AC: 8

Age: 24
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 170
Hair: Wavy brown to shoulder
Eyes: hazel

Languages: Common

Weapon: club
Inventory: rags, waterskin, good quality belt and pouch, 4 flasks oil, Good traveling boots, goblin language book, 1gp

Race: Human
Level: 3
Next level at episode: 17
Str: 7
Int: 16
Wis: 14
Dex: 10
Con: 8
Cha: 14
Lck: 10
Max Hp: 7
AC: 9

Age: 48
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 150
Hair: bald
Eyes: light blue

Languages: Common, Goblin, (Empty slot/May learn one more)

Weapon: none
Inventory: TBD

7 Hot Takes on the Original Drizzt Trilogy

Just halfway through the second book of the Homeland-Exile-Sojourn Trilogy now and I have mixed feelings about them. I read them as a teenager, of course. I liked them at the time, although I preferred other official D&D books and characters more. Something about Drizzt is and was unappealing to me. I get that he is a true 'Outsider' character and that a lot of people who played D&D (especially back in the day when it was social death to do so) could relate to this idea of being alone, even among your own people. So what kept me from really relating to this empowered, yet alienated hero?

Here are 7 hot takes on the series so far. The good and the bad.

1. In the character of Drizzt, we get a version of us that we would wish to be. When the books were first published, most of the readers were geeks, nerds and losers (think: Stranger Things). They felt alienated and alone - like Drizzt. Unlike Drizzt, they also felt weak, uncoordinated, ugly... and Drizzt is wish-fulfillment to these readers. He's graceful, strong, handsome, etc.

2. R.A Salvatore is very good at describing combat. He chooses words that let me see the action, but he never gets bogged down in the fine detail. If the art is in hiding the art, he's very very good at this.

3. The books are comic books in prose. This is neither good nor bad. Mind Flayers attack with a "Fwoop!" sound. The story is action heavy. The characters are as flat as cardboard, for the most part.

4. Speaking of characters, some are too over the top for me to maintain suspension of disbelief. If Matron Malice had a moustache, she would twist it. There's a character named Jarlaxle in book 2. He's a deadly mercenary. He does this foppish flourish with his floppy hat that makes me want to throw the book across the room and shout "No! Bad!"

5. The character of Belwar Dissengulp (this is such a great name for a deep gnome) has a tag line - or verbal tick. It is slightly overused (like a comic book character, say) but it is very well conceived. "Magga cammera" is smart, and it works. His title of "Burrow Warden" is likewise, a wonderful idea.

6. Also from book Two, Exile.... and this complaint is similar to the Jarlaxle one. There's a rogue wizard who lives in the Underdark in a portable tower or something. Fine, fine, I'm with you. He's a bit nutty and chaotic. Still with you. He speaks in a heavy German accent. You lost me.

7. Ultimately the books don't fully satisfy. It's not the occasional over-the-top characters; I can live with those and edit them out of my mind's eye. I think my big problem is Drizzt: he's too powerful. From the start, he is an unbeatable fighting machine. There are zero times in the story so far when I felt he might really be in trouble. I guess that brings us back to the comic book. Superman, Thor - all the other folks who wear underpants on the outside - they can't be beaten. Maybe that's why I always preferred the semi-hero to the superhero. I'll take Spiderman over Superman any day. Better yet, give me Luke Skywalker. A hero's journey is so much better when the character doesn't begin at the destination.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Random Wandering Monster Table for Episode 8

In Episode 8, the party encounters giant rats, but it could have been one of several other discoveries/monsters. Here's the table I used.

1 Evidence of Raphinfel’s passage
2 5-9 Giant Rats
3 3-6 Kobolds
4 3-6 Giant Spiders
5 2 Sprites
6 5-9 Giant Centipedes
7 3-6 wolves
8 3-6 stirges
9 1-4 Gnolls
10 Abandoned Hut – small chance of treasure inside

In a very early episode, I complained that the wandering monster tables in Basic D&D made no sense. I now realize that they are for dungeon crawls only and that the Expert rules contains the outdoor encounter frequency chances. Not really well organized, is it? My ruling was to make one check a day. Expert rules stipulates one per day and one per night, so I got it wrong, but ... it's no biggie. Rulings, not rules, right? That's the OSR way. I might switch to the official ruling or keep my own in the future - time will tell.

Episode 8 Shownotes

Theme Enchiridion
Welcome 148 Barovian Castle
BTL Scott Buckley Legionnaire
Part 1 & 2 Odin
Combat RPG SOUNDS “The Boss is Here”
Part 3 Bensound Ofelia’s Dream
Some FX: