My blog's evilness ==

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fight On! #5 & my AD&D alignment spread

Skimming through Fight On activated my somewhat dormant AD&D-cortex (hindbrain? ganglia?) - totally tangential - but I figured out the percentage breakdown of alignments in my AD&D universe.

So anyway! Had a chance to look through Fight On #5 - not yet to read the adventures in-depth, but man it looks good. Standout to me so far has been an article called "Dungeon Motivations" (by Paul Vermeren, with acknowledged shout-outs). The title suggests perhaps some musing on the ever-rich question WHY DO DUNGEONS EXIST?

No no. Better. 100 answers to the ever-droll question WHY IS MY CHARACTER GOING INTO A DUNGEON ANYWAY? Having been flustered by this question before (is this not something that the player should have already come to terms with?) I think the table is Totally Brilliant! answers provided by d100...some shining examples include:
20 Was double-dog dared to enter the dungeon
and the old double whammy of:
69 Seeks to disprove the existence of the Hollow Earth.
70 Feels a need to do what everyone else is doing.
Though there are plenty more 'conventional' results...and some pretty far out ones also...

And I can't possibly reproduce any of the effects of the Table of Fables (by an author called Age of Fables) - they are too good to extract and view in isolation. I'm a table fan, admittedly. This one is wonderful for generating strange magical effects (I'm a strange-magical-effects fan too.)

Seven Kings Mountains by Judd Karlman (methinks this is his site)is a pretty amazing setting, Dwarf-centric! Yargh! A discreet area with history, and the prime artefact of history - war! It looks like a great place to start an adventure and could open up in a million directions for longer campaigns.

David Bowman's Delver's Delve column shows several different methods toward giving beginning characters a 'fighting chance' - several different ways to 'cheat death' in the interest of keeping a game going without fudging harsh rolls or coddling fiat. I've used some of these techniques before, passed on some before, but just plain never thought of many of them, and it is really interesting to see all of them examined side-by-side.

There's a lot more. The reactions above were induced by about a grand total of 9 or 10 pages - less than 1/8th of the issue. I'll probably post more reaction later - the whole thing is pretty

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Holy shit

Friday, May 22, 2009

T&T Solo Combat Matrix

The matrices in Tunnels and Trolls solo modules served many different uses. Common were Spell Matrices, cross-indexing your paragraph number with the spell you wished to use would yield a result. The matrices were used to add some variability to an otherwise rigidly serial format. And in the case of magic, writing down explicit choices to use specific spells seemed a signal that their use was crucial to proceed (or a temptation to doom oneself!)

As the 'golden age' of Tunnels and Trolls solo module publishing matured, the matrices were applied to more aspects of game play. I've been thinking a lot about solo module writing in general and I'm starting to mess around with more matrices.

One way that solo-module play suffers as compared to GM-player(s) sessions is that the negotiation of Saving Roll levels (for anything, but specifically here) for combat tricks/actions/maneuvers is impossible. So I was thinking about a matrix of combat manoeuvres, yielding a Saving Roll level and stat, to allow for more combat flexibility. It's not the kind of thing that is necessary, but it can lead to breaking a stalemate, creating an opportunity for escape, bypassing armor, etc...

Following is a table giving a rough idea, where the columns are 3 creatures (instead of the paragraph in which that creature is to be found...)
MoveSkeletonWolfRock TrollEffect
Desperate Stab(DX)badokbadRoll 1/2 damage and apply it, bypassing armor.
Stunning Bash(ST)goodbadok(good party!)
Trip(DX)ok bad bad Flee or foe at 1/2 CBT next round
Disarm(DX)ok no ok ??
Riposte(ST)ok no ok Deal damage to foe equal to its CBT
Feint(DX)ok no ok Foe at 1/2 CBT next round
Fighting Retreat(IQ)ok bad ok ??
Flee! Flee!(??speed??)ok bad ok ??

Early hashed implementation.
good = level 1 SR
ok = level 2 SR
bad = level 4 SR
no = SR cannot be made.
something I'll be working on some more - along with trying to get my head wrapped around the process of writing solo module in the first place...ugh

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FLGS: The Griffon Bookstore (1)

A while back I tracked down and contacted the propriators of the book and game store that really molded my gaming (and reading) future and asked a few questions, which they were kind enough to answer. The Griffon has been the 'go-to' place for gaming in South Bend Indiana for more than 30 years now and I cannot help but wish that it was not 7-8 hours away from me now (oh, to browse the used-book shelves...)
It's taken me too long to get this posted, and I plan to do some follow up questions too. Thank you Ken and Sarah for taking the time to respond, and thank you also for all the years of providing a welcoming environment!

When did you open The Griffon?

Why did you? It's obvious that the early seventies saw a sort of phenomenal growth of the gaming-market - but it seems the case that small business book stores/game stores are often opened more out of the proprietor(s) interest in the subject itself than making money off it.

Sarah and I were both teachers and the job market at that time especially for Russian language was very soft so we saved up for two years by working various minimum wage jobs to open the Griffon. Yes, we wanted to carry items that we were familiar with and that included both books and games although we thought then that the games would play the minor role.

Was it more 'game-oriented' at the start? I have only vague memories of the original location. Was there as much of a selection of books at the first location? Did either of you run RPGs there? I remember (again vaguely) a pretty large area dedicated to gaming tables there. Mostly miniatures?

For the first 5 years books dominated both sales and square footage of space by a 80 to 20 margin. By the time we were in our 10th year the balance was 50/50 and after 20 years the pendulum had swung to 75% games and 25% books mostly due to the appearance of the book superstores such as Crown, Borders and Barnes & Noble. Today, even though we devote 40% of our square footage to books, it still only accounts for about 15% of our yearly sales. We stay with that mix however because it provides the academic atmosphere we prefer in a gaming store rather than the comic book look.

Ken, I remember interrupting a pretty involved strategy/wargame you were involved with on the second floor of the Colfax store. What kinds of rules have you played, or if that is too inclusive, perhaps a better question would be - what rules do you prefer to play under?

The game you are referring to was Empires in Arms, produced by Avalon Hill. Now out of print. We play more games that involve less setup time and can be finished in one evening of play. Usually no more than 5 hours. That eliminates quite a few of the longer game systems. We particularly enjoy being able to play three 90-minute games in one setting rather than one long game.

What years did you put on conventions? I seem to remember two of them. What are the event count/attendance figures? - if that information is handy (or a ballpark...)

We ran Griffcon for 5 years and the attendance by the end was 300 people over a two day period. We also helped stage the Michiana Valley Wargamers conventions at IUSB for 4 years and the attendance there was about 200 for a two-day convention. We stopped running them because of the constraints due to increased rental prices, fewer people willing to run games, and little profit for a lot of work.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Character's Ultimate Fate (when player stops showing up. 2d4.
Stat modifiers applied to player's next character
if they return.))
2Wanders into the hills one summer afternoon. Eaten by a giant spider. -1 IQ.
3Finds a cursed ring of invisibility and winks out of existence when it is put on. -1 LK.
4-6Retires and fades into obscurity.
7Converts to a religion and is exalted on comfortable passing. +1 LK.
8Becomes Lord of the Spider Hills. +1 CH (son/daughter of said lord...)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek

to boldly rant where no ranter has ranted before...
I'll not spoil a thing.
You know how some movies grow on you over time?
I believe this one will shrink on me over time.
Kirk, out.


J.R.R Tolkien Everything (up to publication of Silmarillion)
Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars, Tarzan
Robert E. Howard Conan
Fritz Leiber Fafred and Grey Mouser
Fred Saberhagen Empire of the East, The Books of Swords

Harvard Lampoon Bored of the Rings
Douglas Adams Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy
Various Thieves' World
Michael Moorcock Elric Saga, Chronicles of Corum
H.P. Lovecraft Everything

George R. R. Martin Song of Ice and Fire series
Jack Vance Lyonesse Trilogy
Gene Wolf Book of the New Sun, The Knight
Brian Aldiss Halyconia Trilogy

I read The Lord of the Rings over and over and over again when I was a kid. I'd estimate that there's easily 6 cover-to-cover-to-cover-to-cover-to-cover-to-cover reads before I was 15. Then there were the times I felt like re-reading Moria, Bombadil, Helm's Deep, Fangorn, etc etc etc.
Saberhagen's Empire of the East (collected trilogy of novels) and then his Books of Swords (even the early Lost Swords) - which I read just after finishing the first Shanarra trilogy, thank ye gads! - really blew my mind. I was able to decouple from an absolutely Tolkien-centric universe.
Enter the Multiverse! The Crawling Chaos! Etc. Then I really stopped reading fantasy for a long time. All of the books mentioned had a bearing on my game-play - though many histories, philosophies, and other non-fictions (Machiavelli, Loren Eisley, John McPhee) here go unmentioned. And a boatload of sci-fi and other fictions (Murakami, Borges, Margaret Atwood, Stanislaw Lem, Phillip K. Dick, Bester, Bear, Benford, Brin, Brunner, Niven & Pournelle, etc etc etc)

I don't remember who tipped me off to Game of Thrones, but I do remember that it was late summer of 2003. It was the first thing that I'd read in years that really just made me want to play RPGs.
Other readings had inspired some writing, brain-storming development sessions, but as I continued that series, I just kept getting more and more steam up to play a damn game. So I went to the FLGS (Collectables, Etc.) and played some 3rd. Didn't 'do it' for me, but whatever.

Since then, Aldiss and Gene Wolf and Mr. Vance have each had a huge impact.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This exhortation after a 1/2 month of no-blog...nevertheless - Knockspell is accepting articles for upcoming issue. This issue is without theme, and the magazine itself will accept submissions for any and or all of the OOP's and their attendant clones, now freed from their nutrient bath vats.
This is the relevant thread at the ODDBOARD.
I think that it's safe to assume that most of we who read these RPG blogs enjoy DM/GM/Referee -ing, and so probably have some corner of the game that we have and/or do love obsessively and craft wonderous subsystems, lists, tables, lyrical elucidations, etc - or have designed some interesting set pieces, spells, items, traps, monsters, etc, or suites of these in dungeon levels, sub-levels, upper workses...

How many POD fanzine style things are going right now?
Fight On!
Green Devil Face (someday I'll write a trap worth a delver's weight...)
(is Wilderlands of High Fantasy doing a subscription service?)

Here's my 2 ideas for fanzines
Towns, Villages, Cities - like the Catalyst Citybook Series. I like my settlements, but in general, I like other people's more often. Large settlements especially - I've NEVER invented one - just cribbed things from EVERY fantasy town/city I've encountered.

FRICKIN' TABLES!!!! Like the Ready Ref Sheets - all kinds of tables - all kinds of dice - matrixes! All kinds of subjects - maybe grouped in categories of purpose - or just one category: FRICKIN' TABLES!!!! Or maybe 3 subjects per issue...I dunno...I'd get it.

And I'm still waiting for the Earthwide Sandbox Adventure Megazine (ESAM - a world with no oceans...better draw a big lake every once in a while...)

If I could grok working with PDFs and such...ugh...