Leaving on a jet plane . . .

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to write this post. This is me in 5 minutes. Even as I type, I should be packing and making hotel reservations. Still, I can’t resist leaving a few words for my fans and friends. I am going to Morocco and Greece for the summer. This will be a great way for me to change my mind set. People who have never left the country cannot imagine how insulated their thinking becomes. It is simply impossible to understand what a different culture feels like until you experience it. Just the smells of the Greek countryside, with its abundance of basil and oregano bushes, and its olive covered hills, is something that changes you. I am grateful for the many decades of multiculturalism I have been exposed to. I believe it reflects well on my fiction. It has taught me to look at the world with different eyes. It reminds me, even now, that the world is a much bigger place than TV or the Internet has the capacity to show. Without the Greek isles, I would certainly never have become a naturist. Dropped into a world where attitudes toward nudity are radically different, it is amazing how quickly your own attitude changes. Walking amongst ancient ruins, I have been awestruck and humbled by the very true fantasy that is human history. Of course, Morocco, with its ultra-conservative Islamic yet heavily influenced liberal European culture, is a thing to experience first hand, a clash of French, Spanish, Arabic and Berber peoples trying to make sense of the world they live in. The bazaars are a labyrinth of handmade treasures that would not look out of place in Medieval times, except when you run across the guy selling computer chips. Naturally, the beaches are crowded with fully dressed men and women casually strolling the sands. Yes, I have lived extremes, and that is pure mana for a writer. Going on a trip is not without risks, however, so if something happens to me, if I don’t come back with a post sometime by July, you’ll know I am a goner. If you are reading this and this is the case, please do me a favor and publish my damn book. Like the caveman at Lascaux and the pharaohs of Egypt, I’d hate to have lived and go unremembered. So in case you don’t know me, my name is Nick Alimonos. I’ll leave you with this . . .

Quest for the Talismans: Story Spaces

UPDATED: 10/08/2015

I’m a bit torn here. My RPG board game is immensely popular with whoever plays it. On more than one occasion people have told me, “You need to market this!” But I haven’t even a clue how to market a board game and with the countless other board games already selling in comic shops (which I assume nobody plays) it seems a greater challenge than publishing. I suppose my game will exist solely for the enjoyment of friends and family. Still, it’s nice to know that in this age of computer games, console games and cell phone games, middle school kids (like my nephew and his friends) can still have a fun time throwing dice around and using their imaginations.

Firstly, this is the board I am currently using. You can have one printed up at Kinko’s or make your own. Just e-mail me at alimonosbooks@gmail.com for the high def file.

Now that I have switched over to WordPress, I can offer the complete QUEST FOR THE TALISMANS BOARD GAME for free as a downloadable PDF file!

Quest for the Talismans 5.0

Quest for the Talismans: Monsters!

I love monsters!

What’s a great role playing board game without monsters? And the more the merrier! My fondest memories from the early days of D&D is how much I loved my Monster Manual; it was a dusty old book from the seventies given to me by a cook at my father’s restaurant. The brittle, yellowed pages only added to that sense of mystique about the game. I used to gaze long and hard at the flat, black & white sketches and fantasize about the day when my character, Sir Marek the Brave, might have to battle them. Of course, the artwork looks pathetic by today’s standards, and any search for monster art on deviantArt will almost certainly garner superior work. But keep in mind this was the eighties and the Internet was a thing undreamed of.

What I like about the monster system in Quest for the Talismans is its simplicity. You only have to know a few numbers, so it’s easy to make your own monster from your imagination or from images you find around the Web. I collect miniatures used for gaming at hobby shops. To encourage players to think creatively, some monsters include action rolls, because hacking and slashing at a creature until it drops dead is just plain boring, not to mention unrealistic. As a writer, I have always had a hard time imagining a knight stabbing a dragon to death. But what if the knight could climb on the dragon’s back? Reach for its head to drive his magic sword through the dragon’s brain? Now the whole battle seems more feasible, but there are no mechanics in D&D to set that in motion. I suppose there are players who imagine just such a scenario, but the dice doesn’t account for how difficult it must be to jump on a moving monster’s backside.

Now that I have switched over to WordPress, I can offer the complete QUEST FOR THE TALISMANS BOARD GAME for free as a downloadable PDF file!

Quest for the Talismans 5.0

Quest for the Talismans: Characters!

Want to be a pirate? A ninja? A princess? How about a pirate ninja princess? It doesn’t really matter. Anything you can imagine, you can be. Anything you can think of, you can do. This is what I love about tabletop gaming. You don’t have to worry about developers (you are the developer!) or copyright infringement either. Over the years, my friends and I have role played everything from demons storming the gates of Heaven (we chose heavy metal band names for our demons) to Marvel Superheroes to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Tabletop RPG’s takes what I love about fiction and turns it into a game.

The characters in QFTT started out simply enough, a generic lot including a knight, a rogue, a prince and a princess. The fun part came from all of the outlandish ideas we came up with for what they could do. This is where skills come into play. Once, my nephew, using the pirate, wanted to hijack another character and sell him as a slave in town. I figured, why not? On Deadliest Warrior, I learned about a ninja weapon I had never heard of before: the black egg. Basically, the ninja fills a duck egg with broken glass, seals it up with black paint, and throws it in the face of his enemies to blind them. Wow. Guess what special new weapon my ninja got for our next gaming session? This is just to give you an idea of what infinite possibilities means and why I miss tabletop gaming so much.

The character system I have devised improves on D&D in a number of ways. 1) There are less numbers, so the game is easier to play and teach. Superfluous or redundant stats got the ax. Do we really need Wisdom and Intelligence? Dexterity and Reflex? 2) The numbers make more sense. I could never wrap my head around a knight fighting a dragon. How exactly does a six foot human take down a three hundred foot animal? And how does a shield or a helmet help defend against a foot the size of an oak tree? In QFTT, things work differently. When fighting a giant, you have to get the hell out of the way or get crushed, which is why AGILITY matters more when tackling giants. 3) The skill system enables players to do whatever they can imagine—so even though there is less complexity, there is also more possibility.

Now that I have switched over to WordPress, I can offer the complete QUEST FOR THE TALISMANS BOARD GAME for free as a downloadable PDF file!

Quest for the Talismans 5.0

Quest for the Talismans: FREE to Play Tabletop RPG

UPDATED: 7/12/2014


THE STORY SO FAR . . . Once each century, when the moons are aligned, Stachte the Dragon awakes from his lair, loosing devastation upon the land of Three Towns. Homes are burned to cinders. People are snatched and devoured by the dozens. Terror reins for a decade until the dragon is appeased and returns to hibernation. At the end of it, little remains of the great architectural works of Three Towns, but the people endure with their economies in tatters and their loved ones gone. Now, as the time of the dragon again draws nigh, Queen Isadora of Saint Beauteous Castle calls for heroes. Champions arrive from all over Three Towns and beyond. To this audience of heroes the Queen relates the legend of the five talismans: Hidden in the ruins of five ancient kingdoms lay the golden talismans, forged by wizards long ago to give men the power to battle dragons. After given maps to the locations of these ruins, the courageous few take an oath in the Queen’s court to seek the talismans and slay Stachte, and by doing so, save Three Towns from the eternal cycle of ruin and reconstruction. 

OBJECT: Collect the golden talismans and slay the dragon. Once all five talismans are off the Board, the game goes into Dragon Mode where players vie to slay the dragon. Whoever kills the dragon wins the game.
SETUP: Players choose a character to play and monsters to guard the talismans. The game changes significantly depending on which characters and monsters are selected: the Knight, for instance, is peerless in Battle, but the Rogue can use her skills to more easily take possession of the talismans; skeletons are quickly defeated, but to kill a giant may require purchase of a greater weapon or healing potions. Use the Character Compendiumand Sir Marek’s Guide to Monsters to keep track of what each can do.
! Spaces: These are the wild cards of the Board. At setup, players decide what ! spaces do. For a quick game, the ! space can be a monster guarding a diamond or a magic item. For more elaborate adventures, players can build dungeons (using dungeon tiles) replete with monsters (using monster pieces) and treasure (using item cards).
D Spaces: Once monster pieces are placed on each of the five D Spaces, they cannot be removed unless killed. Use weak monsters, like skeletons, for quick games. For more elaborate character building adventures, giants or constructs can be used. After killing the monster on the D Space, the player attains the talisman.
Once setup is complete, players roll a d6 (a six sided dice) to determine who goes first. The player with the higher number makes the first move; the player with the lowest number goes last. All characters begin their quest from Saint Beauteous Castle.
Ø  Each player takes turns rolling movement dice (if walking, roll a d6). 
Ø  Players can move in any direction on their turn but cannot change directions during their turn i.e. no zigzagging.
Ø  Players may choose not to move on their turn. This is called camping. Each turn camping, a player gains 1 Health. Players may camp to form a team. Once in a team, one player rolls for all characters in the team to move.
Ø  When entering or passing through a D or dungeon space, the space is not counted.
Ø  It is not necessary to roll an exact number to land on a T (Town Space), an M (Monster Lair) or move into a D (Dungeon Space).
Ø  Players may choose to make an attack of opportunity against players passing through their space (see Battle). 
? Spaces: Otherwise known as Story Spaces, landing on these spaces can be good or bad, depending on the dice roll (d100) and corresponding number from the Story Space list.
M Spaces: These are Monster Lair Spaces. When a character lands on this space, the opposing players take turns, or vote, on which monster appears on that space. If the monster is killed, a new monster is selected for subsequent encounters. If, however, the monster kills the character, it remains on the space to threaten any other player who lands there. If the player chooses not to engage battle, he may attempt to flee by rolling a 3 or 6. If the flee succeeds, player rolls to move again and the monster remains on the Board. If the flee fails, the monster gains one free attack (see Battle).
Warp Spaces: These spaces transport the player anywhere based on a d6 roll (optional).
T Spaces: There are three towns in the land: Saint Beauteous Castle, Graton Town and Shemselinihar. In towns, player characters can:
§  Return to full health.
§  Purchase items.
§  Bank valuables (including talismans and ruples); once banked, a player cannot lose them unless the town is robbed or destroyed.
§  Remain in town: Earn 1 ruple for every skipped turn.
§  Play Petankh: See Rules in Town Section.
BATTLE (MELEE): Battleoccurs when a character meets a monster on an M or D Space, or when two characters cross spaces and wish to fight. In melee, initiative rolls are made with a d6; the player with the higher number makes the first attack. Attacks are made with the d20 (20 sided dice). If the roll equals or exceeds the target’s ARMOR, the hit succeeds, and HEALTH points are taken equal to the attacker’s damage. Use the health bar on the character sheet to keep track of HEALTH.   
Ø  The player with the least items, talismans or ruples, or any player that is dead, rolls dice for monsters.
Ø  If a battle is going badly, a player may flee by rolling 3 or 6; each failed attempt incurs a free attack.  
Ø  When a player kills another player’s character, he confiscates the other’s ruples and talismans (but not items).
Ø  When a monster is killed, the player is rewarded with ruples equal to the HEALTH of the monster; for * multiply by 2, for ** by 3 and for *** by 4.
Ø  Instead of simply attacking, a player can opt to make a Directed Attack or an Action Roll (see Advanced Battle).

BATTLE (RANGED): Certain weapons allow for ranged attacks. On the Board, a ranged attack can be made: if the target is within range, a clear shot (nothing in the way), and a straight shot (no shooting around corners). Ranged attacks can be made while moving or standing still. When a character moves into the range of another, the one standing wins initiative, even if not their turn. Two values are listed for range, the first for the game Board and the second for dungeons. Ranged attacks cannot be made in melee (on the same space). Only if a monster’s lair is discovered can a monster be attacked by a ranged weapon, after which the character moves to the M-Space on their next turn. 

DEATH: If a character dies, the player’s piece is moved to the death space and all items remain on the space where death occurred. If dying on an M Space, the monster must be killed to retrieve the lost items. Dead players miss each turn until rolling 3 or 6. Once returning to life, called resurrection, the player may restart from any town. He may also switch character types, which is called reincarnation. But death isn’t allbad: dead players choose which monsters appear on M-Spaces, and, if a player fails to kill the monster on the M-Space, a dead player can take control of the monster, moving it across the Board to hunt other players! Note that monsters cannot obtain items or be healed, and, if landing on any T-Spaces, are killed on sight.

DRAGON MODE: Once the talismans are collected, the game goes into Dragon Mode, and Stachte is unleashed onto the Board. Each time players use their turn, the dragon turns a town to ashes. After that, the town cannot be further used, and all stored objects, except for talismans, are destroyed. Roll a d6 to determine which town the dragon visits:
1-2. Saint Beauteous Castle                3-4. Graton Town                   5-6. Shemselinihar
In Dragon Mode, players seek out the dragon’s lair: the D-Space furthest from where the last talisman was found. Players may lose talismans if robbed or killed along the way. If players try to avoid the dragon, it will fly to the player with the most talismans (no roll is made). Using the talismans greatly enhances the player characters’ scores, making them powerful enough to battle the dragon. A player does not need all talismans (or more talismans than another player) to face the dragon. If a character is killed by the dragon, all their talismans return to their locations and Dragon Mode is stopped. If the dragon is killed, the player wins the game and can level up his character for subsequent games (see Level Up rules).
THE FIVE TALISMANS: Once a talisman is won, the player chooses which of the five power items to receive (below). If an item is already taken by another player, it cannot be chosen. Note that these powers only activate during battle with the dragon.
  1. Helm of the Immortals: Resist 3 damage per round  
  2. Aegis Shield: Resist 3 damage per round 
  3. Orb of Oblivion: Make attacks with a d30 (if you can get one) or d20 + d10                   
  4. STEELSONG (Sword): DMG 10 
  5. Boots of Hermes: gain 2 attacks per round with any weapon
§  On a 3 or 6, adult dragon breathes fire dealing 10 damage to all ina 15’ x 20’ coneRoll Agility vs. d20 for 5 damage
§  At will, an adult dragon can tail BASH enemies for 8 damage
§  Resist 3 damage, immune to fire, charm andpoison
§  Player cannot flee.
   Combat Action:Climb OnAgility/Difficulty 16 (free attack)

Ruples: This is the monetary system of the game as represented by different color gems, used for purchasing items in towns. (If you don’t have gems, you can use your own denominations.) 
Square cut gems: 1 ruple         
Round gems: 5 ruples
Tear shaped gems: 10 ruples   
Color diamonds: 30 ruples                 
Clear diamonds: 100 ruples
Mounts & Transportation Items
Monsters always attack whatever creature hit them last. Players may choose either to attack the character or their mount.
Horse: HEALTH 8, ARMOR 10, Dmg: Nil, MOVEMENT 2d6, FLEE 3, 6
Price: 15 ruples / Available any town
Unicorn: HEALTH 10, ARMOR 10, Horn 3, MOVEMENT 2d8*, FLEE 3, 4, 6
*Unicorn can use warp (roll d6)
Price: 30 ruples / Available at Saint Beauteous Castle
Pegasus: HEALTH 10, ARMOR 10, Hoof 1/1, MOVEMENT 2d12, FLEE 3, 4, 6
*Pegasus can fly over spaces, evading M-Spaces or other players’ pieces.
Price: 50 ruples / Available at Saint Beauteous Castle
Hippogriff: HEALTH 12, ARMOR 10, Claw 3*, MOVEMENT 2d12**, FLEE 3, 4, 6
*By passing an enemy space, the hippogriff can make a swoop attack dealing 6 dmg.
**War Griffon can fly over spaces, evading M-Spaces or other players’ pieces.
Price: 75 ruples / Available at Graton Town
Gladius: dmg 2                      
Price: 4r
Longsword: dmg 3                
Price: 8r
Bastard Sword: dmg 4           
Price: 16r
Claymore: dmg 5                   
Price: 16r                                
Special: Can’t use with shield
Zweihander: dmg 6                
Price: 32r                                
Special: Can’t use with shield
Spear: dmg 2*/range 1/d6      
Price: 8r                                  
Class: *3 with Warrior, Ninja, Amazon
Special: Melee or ranged use
Mace: dmg 3                          
Price: 16r
Warhammer: dmg 4               
Price: 16r                                
Special: -2 initiative
Battleax: dmg 5                     
Price: 16r                                
Special: Lose initiative
Longbow: range 2/6               
Price: 10 ruples                       
Crossbow: range 3/6              
Price: 15 ruples                       
Arrows: dmg 3*                     
Price: 1r (each)                       
Special: *4 with Rogue, Ninja, Amazon
Shuriken: dmg 1/range 1        
Class: Ninja                
Price: 1r (each)
Obsidian Dagger: dmg 2        
Price: 8r (each)
Adamantine Dagger: dmg 3  
Price: 16r (each)
Bo of the Dragon: dmg 3/3    
Class: Monk
Price: 32r
Flintlock Pistol: dmg 8*         
Class: Pirate
Price: 16r                                
Special: *One shot per battle
Armor is calculated using a base score of 8. Bonuses are added from items (such as a helmet) or skills (such as Speed which adds +2) or class bonuses (the monk adds his AGILITY bonus to his ARMOR). For example, a character with chainmail +1, a helmet + 1 and a kite shield +2 has an ARMOR of 12 (8 +1 +1 +2). If a better item is purchased, subtract the old bonus before adding the new bonus. Bonuses do not stack for same type items.

Chainmail: +1                         
Price: 8r                                  
Special: Stackable with cuirass
Leather +1                              
Price: 8r                                  
Special: Stackable with cuirass / +2 if worn by Pirate
Mithril Cuirass: +3                 
Price: 32r                                
Special: Negates Speedskill
Roc Plumed Helmet: +1        
Price: 8r
Mithril Helm: +2                    
Price: 16r
Buckler +1                             
Price: 8r
Kite shield +2                        
Price: 16r                                
Special: Negates Speedskill
Hoplon shield +3                   
Price: 32r                                
Special: Negates Speedskill
Obsidian Armlets +2              
Price: 16r
Adamantine Armlets +3        
Price: 32r
Food: Regain health on your next turn           Price: 2r
Healing potion: Regain full health in battle   Price: 5r (max carry: 4)
Antivenom (cures poison and venom)           Price: 1r