My blog's evilness ==

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Friday, July 31, 2009

Emotional Actual Human Beings vs the Internet

Actual Humans win again!

I sometimes forget, while looking at words and pictures on my computer, that there's people out there, behind the whole thing - actual real people. And the thing about such creatures is that they are rational, analytical, measured individuals - every last one. I myself am one such person, though I am generating this post through a php script which supplies my tone, cadence and general demeanour.

People are sometimes passionate, emotional, messy, loud, abrasive, etc. People love and hate things, are ambivalent, fearful, joyous, oblivious, enlightened, etc. Easy to forget when things are humming along smoothly - you're thinking about games, talking to other people about games and game minutae, it's cool - you disappear into the wonders that we're all building and sharing - you develop lingering internet-crushes on so-and-so.php, who elucidates angles you hadn't considered, reminds you why you love gaming, get excited about developments, (insert gushy-fanboy-love-topic-here), etc.

Several events in the last few months (and others in the last few years that I've not seen first hand but dredged up through unceasing labor (assisted, of course, by this curse of life eternal)) really make it clear though - people get hemmed the fuck up!

I love gaming, I always have and can only assume that I always will. I also love discussion, discourse - that's what the internet is for! (aside from youtube and, uh, maybe this site). For me anyway. I have more or less always gamed in a vacuum, had few actual opportunities to play since I was 15 or 16, and never *NEVER NEVER NEVER* imagined that I'd be able to read and talk to so many fascinating people - originators, obsessives, inventors, etc - It just seems like such a waste of time (this is resource management) to dwell on negatives and divisions.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

just curious...

would you have a harder time playing a game where the DM rolled all of the dice for your character, or one in which you did not have access to your character's stat scores and game mechanic information?

EDIT: Let me clarify. Sorry. Hasty initial post.
1. You can look at your character sheet, but the DM rolls dice as required to resolve your character's actions and such (to-hits, saving rolls, etc) OR
2. You never see your character sheet, but roll for your own character's actions.

Fundamentalist Fatbeard Splintercells Unite!

wtf! come on already!
in a post dealing with the subject -
how to defend one's interests
in a constructive way
in a hostile environment
when you shouldn't even have to justify your interests in the first place
perhaps apply judo toward bridge-building...

some wonderful things were said about 'economy' on a thread at Vin's Trollbridge a few days ago (somewhere in page two). Feel free to find offence in the thread and focus obsessively on that instead.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dark Static Demon

Dark Static Demon
MV 9" AC 4 HD 3 Attack 1(1d8+special)
SA metal armor provides no protection, on hit save vs Hold Person(d4 rounds)

From a far removed plane (4 planes removed, for those who desire Contact), a place of high energies, strange states of matter, and esoteric sentiences, comes the Dark Static Demon - among the easier of its denizens to summon. Though called a 'demon', they are not thought to be evil. They appear as a 4' tall cloud-like mass of writhing strands or cords - one of these cords can strike out swiftly to attack, and this attack ignores the presence of metal armors. The summoner will have effortless mental contact with the demon up to 100' away, and it will obey commands with intelligence, but will never itself communicate. Illusion and invisibility are meaningless to these creatures, and they are unaffected by mind-influence spells. Dark Static Demons cannot be maintained away from their home plane for longer than d6x10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Berserker Stone (unknown quantity, assumed very large)
In the 7th Aeon, two conflicting kings warred over inconsequential matters, and fired arcing cannonades of these stones into the ranks of each-others standing forces. Composed of a chalky soft stone, they cleave easily, and from that break springs a warrior fully equipped, with no interests but attacking all others not cut from the same stone. The warrior (or the organic and inorganic remains thereof) will persist for d3 days. If found in great quantity, the GM might wish to roll percentile to see how many of the stones still retain their enchantment.

Pegarine Folio (unique)
This spellbook is known to have an enduring enchantment upon it which bars it from being opened and read by those of inadequate abilities. In the four-hundred years since it was discovered, it has been owned by six and used by five. There are eight pages, upon which any spell may be written. Any spell in this book can be memorized by the reader, regardless of different or conflicting realm or school of magic, class or alignment difference. (T&T SR Level(20-opener's level) on CH, DX & LK) (D&D I 15 W 15 D 16 C 15 required to use, and Save vs Wand on initial opening attempt)

Spool of Prison String (unique)
This thin string that unwinds from this spool can be used in two ways.
1. A single loop joined around one individual being will prevent it making any voluntary movement.
2. A thread tracked out on the ground around an area will confine those enclosed to that area, but only those present when the loop is joined (i.e. others may enter and leave as they wish). Consider that it has no ceiling for aerial purposes, but maintains its form beyond the atmosphere. Spells and powers of teleportation within the area are foiled, though those able to travel to other dimensions and planes may thusly escape.

In either application, the string cannot be touched or otherwise targeted by actions of those effected.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

AD&D Soothsayer

The Soothsayer

Soothsayers are a sub-class of magic user, though they have some qualities of illusionists and clerics also. To be a soothsayer, a character must have a minimum intelligence of 12, wisdom of 9, dexterity of 11, and a charisma of 9 or more. Soothsayers do not gain bonuses to earned experience by dint of high ability scores. Soothsayers can be of any alignment, and may or may not be affiliated with a religious organization, cult, or church, but should not be considered as necessarily representative of this organization as the cleric generally is.

Soothsayers gain levels and follow the spell schedule of the illusionist. Hit dice are d6. Soothsayers can wear no armor heavier than leather and cannot use a shield. They may arm themselves as per illusionists, and choose one other weapon to be allowed to use. Soothsayers attack and save as clerics.

They may use magic items available to magic users, illusionists, and clerics (though some deities/religious organizations might disallow the functions of clerical items for a particular Soothsayer whose alignment, outlook or purpose is antithetical).

Soothsayers are more inclined toward information gathering and influence than acts of grandiose magic. They are more likely found as fortune tellers, hermetic seers, advisors, adventurers, iconoclasts and zealots or charlatans and mountebancs than leaders of a flock, crusaders or academic thaumaturges. Some cultivate an aura of mystery about themselves, others use their abilities in the service of others.

The particular methods of soothsayers allow them to cast Read Magic 1 time a day for each level they have attained. Additionally, soothsayers may cast the reversed form of any spell currently memorized, where such reversed forms exist.
Spells available to soothsayers
--Level OneLevel TwoLevel ThreeLevel Four
1Change SelfAuguryBlinkCharm Monster
2Charm PersonDetect CharmClairaudienceConfusion
3CommandESPClairvoyanceCure Serious Wounds
4Comprehend LanguagesFind TrapsIllusionary ScriptDetect Lie
5Cure Light WoundsForgetSpectral ForceDivination
6Detect EvilHold PersonNon-detectionEmotion
7Detect IllusionHypnotic PatternRemove CurseExorcise
8Detect MagicSpeak with AnimalsSlowPhantasmal Killer
9HypnotismImp. Phantasmal ForceSpeak with DeadPolymorph Self
10IdentifyKnow AlignmentSuggestionWizard Eye
11Phantasmal ForceLocate ObjectTonguesPlane Shift
12Audible GlammerMisdirectionDispel MagicContact Other Plane

--Level FiveLevel SixLevel Seven
1AtonementFind the PathAstral Spell
3CommuneInvisible StalkerCacodemon
4Speak with MonstersLegend LoreInstant Summons
5FeeblemindMass SuggestionMind Blank
6Magic JarReinacarnationTrap the Soul
7MazeRepulsionMass Charm
8Polymorph OtherSpiritwrackHeal
10True SeeingWord of RecallAlter Reality

Life w/o net

Man! No internet! After the first few days I got used to it, and started reading books again. Made me feel like I could quit smoking! And confined to localhost, managed to dribble assortments and some gaming things that I'll have to prettify and put up eventually...
But now, to absorb the last few weeks of OSReality.
Thanks for keeping the camp clear, everything appears to be in order...
Oh yeah - BOOKS! Vance The Last Castle and the Dying Earth quartet (finally), and Blackwater, the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill. (general conclusion: we're fucked (unless 'we' are committed right-wing crusaders with deep links into the military-industrial complex)). Of course, this book in particular got me to thinking on matters of D&D endgame...
Now to jump back into the PBP may take a few days for some emails to get sent out of here, but I do have the next few days off...
Glad to see the S&W quick-start (though I feel compelled to steer clear of it until Nico and I have the E&S project done) and the Three Headed Monster is pretty exciting too. Glad that BHP has softened up a little.
Pretty glad that I was gone while the Tweet episode flared too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

gone for a few weeks at worst

lost internet connection and it looks like it'll be a minute before I'm back.
Take care.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Identity and Rolemaster "Classic"

Classic refers to the first version of the game.

1. 'Universal' game material. Supplements to add-in to other systems to give a greater amount of detail. Arms/Claw Law for combat, Spell Law for magic, and then Character Law for character development. I wonder how many people used these products in their D&D games...I'm sure the critical hit tables were fused into games in various ways if nothing else...

2. With the "main-points" of RPGs covered, this then is a system of its own, internally coherent. Iron Crown stopped printing information about converting Rolemaster data to the number-scales of other games, and began packaging the books together as a stand-alone system.

3. Middle Earth. Pre-MERP - Iron Crown got a license to publish works detailing settings in Middle Earth. What a coup! With time, a spin-off game is developed, 'Rolemaster-lite' (*heh*) in the form of MERP (along with other products). Rolemaster itself continues to be supplemented by Companion products, and also a campaign setting called Shadow World. New character classes are introduced, spell lists after spell lists are elucidated, the effects of unique herbs with strange names are detailed, more skills, more skills, more options...

4. Tolkien License revoked. Bummer. Can no longer publish the stats of the Steward of Gondor...Good thing they'd been thorough while the license held. One thing you can say about Rolemaster - thorough! They'd already detailed Moria, the Woses, the Court of Ardor, etcetera.

5. A continuation of #3 above. The numbered general supplements come to number seven. Companions are produced for each realm of magic, for two 'new' realms of magic, for alchemy, and for spell-users in general. Three compendiums of creatures and treasures. A companion book for character talents and skills, for warriors and arms-use in general, for war, for sea, castles, for constructs, golems and autoamta (I'm bouncing around the editions at this point...Rolemaster is still being published). The Shadow World setting never did much for me - but detailed settings have always been thought-experiments for me, I've never run a game with much of a mind to remaining true to a setting...but I liked reading Greyhawk, Earthdawn - Shadow World never jumped out and pulled me in.

Here's the thing. I tend toward 'low-powered' gaming. Limited information, limited scope. With the amount of detail in this game, I found it difficult to put on the blinders, and focus only on the aspects of the game that supported a low-powered campaign. If the characters were playing dumb grunts in the middle of nowhere (trust me, they weren't...), I was nevertheless aware that there were world-spanning organizations - there was magic that would allow amazing feats of communication and co-ordination - and this was distracting. (The fault here I lay at my own feet).

Yes, I'm going to have to go through the numbered companions next.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rolemaster vs Tunnels & Trolls

T&T wins again!

But really, this is more on Rolemaster.
I apologize that my writings here tend to be somewhat meandering.

One thing about Rolemaster I always found interesting was that it was something of a toolbox right from the get-go. It was acknowledged in the books that there was so much being presented that most referees would want to not-include everything (sort of reverse house-ruling...sort of). Then, once the Companion books started coming out and the options proliferated, this observation took on new weight - for example, there were three or four systems presented to deal with initiative in combat, and you really couldn't use ALL four of them.

When it come to kit-bashing, house-ruling, etc, the idea of building complexity to a desired level from a simple foundation has great merit. My early experiences with Rolemaster, however, may have really developed in me a tendency toward the opposite - to begin with complexity and pare it down to desired level of simplicity. Or rather, to begin with comprehensiveness and reduce reduce reduce.

Both approaches have their pros and cons. I feel that I am at odds with general OSR-ness when my yang side of overdevelop-then-reduce comes out. Oh well. Different strokes for different orcs.

Now, I have a hard time imagining two RPGs farther from each-other on the dirt-simple <-> over-blowed-out number line than T&T and Rolemaster - the two games that have had the most telling influences on my 'gaming philosophy'. (This may have produced a certain schizophrenic
tendency in my gaming...I refer to the orcs mentioned above). In the privacy of my notebooks and hard drive, I still attempt to write over-arching structures, comprehensive systems, exhaustive lists, rational categorizations and such - but in play, I am coming more and more to appreciate beginning with simplicity, and generally staying there.

I think though, that there's a lot of grey-area between the two extremes. And I think also that I will not be able to stop this series until I've plucked the various gems out of Rolemaster to put them here on display.

Oh yeah - the Castles & Ruins supplement for Rolemaster is magnificent!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Crude PDFS

I posted a link to some small PDF files that I've made and thought I should offer an explanation.
They're beside the top post of this page.

First off, a set of tables for hex-occupant generation. I went through Holmes D&D and extracted those creatures listed with treasure types, put in a dash of personal bias, and made tables for lair generation. Each table is rolled with 2 20-siders. There's two tables, the first contains races, the second, monsters.

The second is a list of the spells I've recently been posting here. Yay! More spells!

Anyway - coming to understand how easy PDFs are - albeit, crude ones.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Belskod's Bubbuckle

A brass belt buckle with a simple setting supporting a tourmaline. This gemstone can be depressed
twice a day, whereupon the wearer is surrounded by an invisible barrier. Within the barrier the temperature, air quality and purity, pressure, etc are maintained - environmental conditions inimical to continuance of life do not pass. The barrier makes the wearer immune to airborne poisons and diseases, improves the wearer's armor class by 1, does not interfere with the manipulation of objects and will persist for up to 4 hours.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Further researches of Ghanto Manuscript...

Curse of Cowardice
Casting Time 1 minute
Duration 1 day/level

Target gets initial saving throw. If failed, target must save vs spells to enter melee, or to undertake other actions that call for an excessive bravery.

Curse of Hiltbite
Casting Time 1 minute
Duration 1 day/level

Target gets initial saving throw. If failed, target takes 1 damage each round for each hand holding a weapon.

Enduring Symbol
Casting Time 1 hour

After casting this spell, caster places gold ingots or bars on the symbol, of a worth no less than 14,000 coins, which suffuses into the pre-existing symbol and vanishes. The symbol from then on must be dispelled twice in one hour to be removed.

Liquefy Metal
Casting Time 1 minute
Duration 10 seconds/level
Range 5'/level

The caster can effect one non-magical object composed of metal (1 pound/level). If the item is heavier than the caster can effect, the spell fails. If the metal object is held or worn, a save vs spells is allowed. Otherwise, the metal becomes a liquid without changing temperature. If not contained it will spill to the floor. At the end of the spell's duration, the metal returns to its natural hardness.
(*should probably allow normal metal things a save too...)

Rolemaster and Alignment

Fortuitous Bandwagoneering!

Rolemaster, at first, had little to say about alignment. The book dedicated to character development actually has no use of the word in it! Regular Garden of Eden...

Evil showed up in Spell Law, where there were lists of spells that were supposed to be available to evil magicians, clerics, and mentalists. Spell Law provided the game's 'take' on Good vs Evil - which was essentially a small blurb that left it up to the Referee to decide what the terms meant in their game-world! How about that!

Enter the Companion products (of course!). Early companions were essentially fan-projects - optional rules and sub-systems submitted from players across the world - of course someone out there would submit their version of alignment for Rolemaster. It was inevitable.

Now, the latest version of Rolemaster has two pages dedicated to it, with three tables occupying one of them. It gives a variety of binary pairs (good vs evil, law/government vs anarchy/rebels/opposing government, law/principle vs opportunism, religion vs atheism/other religion, free enterprise vs cartel/guild/monopoly/socialism, asceticism vs hedonism, altruism vs egoism, spiritual vs materialist, metaphorical vs literalistic). This table, while interesting, is a simplification of an earlier table, which contains 'Personality Traits' set up in the same fashion (as pairs of extreme traits). A character was to roll on this table. Lets say this roll is 58 (yes, I rolled!). 58 gives us "Valorous, Brave, Bold, Audacious vs Timid, Cowardly, Craven".

OK. We roll again to determine where the character stands in this abstract scale (where low rolls are closer to the Valorous, Brave, etc end, and high rolls cleave to the Timid, Cowardly and Craven heights) - and get 50!. Really (again - I rolled!) How appropriate. So this particular character stands exactly midway between Valor and Timidity, as Brave and as Cowardly as the average Josef.

How about a roll on the alignment table? 71 - this will determine the character's alignment on the scale of "Metaphorical vs Literalism". OK - 32 puts him much closer to the metaphorical than the literal. A man, then, of average bravery, prone to metaphorical interpretations and understanding of the self and world.

Alignment? Apparently this character does not acknowledge a struggle between universal good and evil. Nor is the importance of individuality defined - or the value of whatever groups he associates with. Granted, with different rolls on the table, a closer approximation of AD&D alignment could have happened. And dispensing with the die-rolls altogether would simply that further...

I didn't grow-up gaming with this approach, though - it's AD&D alignment that has that honor. Honor? Anyway - ZZARCHOV has posted his approach, and it is similar to mine (though I do use Neutrality - in fact, variations on Neutrality comprise 75% of alignments). The important part is that alignment defines the positions an individual takes on the issues of self/group and selfish/altruistic - in a purely social sense. This is where I prefer alignment - as definitions of relations of self/group and then relations of groups to other groups. At this point I would have a hard time demanding that a player choose an alignment (unless the class dictated it). Alignment is something I use generally just to generate conflicts between individuals and groups.

Let's populate hex #5437 with two dwarf tribes, both Neutral Good. What stories are there in this hex? Two Dwarf tribes co-exist because of similar temperaments and mine high quality iron ores, etc. Great. Sounds like a decent place to rest and recuperate while wandering the wilds.

Why are there two Dwarf tribes fighting over in hex #7853? Because one was randomly generated Chaotic Evil and the other Neutral Good. So an antagonistic relationship between them is not hard to imagine here, the details of which could be left to development until such a time as the area is entered: which tribe is encountered first? How do they cast their differences with the other tribe?

These kinds of things could be modelled anyway you wanted - give each hex a Conflict score or something... the point of this ramble has become pretty much lost to me. Oh yeah - just that alignment has become shorthand for hex map filling, city populace factions, etc. I kind of cringe when players try to bring alignment into play...

Now. Universal powers in unending struggle...There's a wonderful thread on OD&D that is probably what got me hooked on the boards.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Epées & Sorcellerie

REPOST - To simplify matters, please email me at address shown to the right if you are interested in looking over this rough - any help is appreciated!

I've put up a rough PDF of character creation and combat for the translation of Epées & Sorcellerie and I am hoping that someone could read it and tell me if there's howling errors I am missing or if there some aspects of the game are not explained very well. The quick start version of the rules are close to finished state. It's a good game, not a strict cloning of OD&D - more a variation (and a good one!) with the author's imprint on it. This is something I miss in reading games more often than not - the author's personality, and is something I'm really nervous about preserving (though it is less an issue in the 'quick start' version we're getting together). At some point I''ll pore over Grognardia to link to the review James gave it. Anyway - these two sections total about 16 pages - if anyone could look them over, and tell me what's wrong or not right enough, I'd appreciate it!

In Clarification of Rolemaster

Well, strictly speaking, Andreas, they could populate empty spell lists from scratch, so it wasn't so much spell invention as it was stitching together pre-existing spells to form new groups. The class was called an an Arcanist - it was actually in Rolemaster Companion II methinks (maybe III). What they did present in the first Companion was 'Arcane' magic, a new uber-realm of magic which allowed its practitioners to learn lists from any realm (called an Archmage). At first, Arcane magic was an escape route from the division of magic into discrete realms. Later versions of the game changed Arcane magic into 'just another realm', with it's own professions and their base lists, etc. The Arcanist, then, was a spell-user of the arcane realm that could build lists of spells from all of the pre-existing spells.

Lucky guys!

Ok. Godsdamn* this spell system! I love it - but whew! Too much! Anyway, non spell-using characters had to choose a realm of magic, even the grunts, sages and swashbucklers. This decision could have some in-game consequences for them, but was largely superfluous. Spell-using classes had their realm (or realms) pre-determined. Here was the first clash - the Monk. By-the-book, a Monk is a semi-spell user of the Essence realm ('essence' is a term analagous to 'ambient magic', 'the force', it's practitioners those who learned formulae and methods to coerce specific effects into being). Early on, a player wanted to make a Monk, and saw them as belonging squarely in the Mentalism camp (mentalism: remember the magical field of the Essence? Yes. Well, it is uneven. Living beings form nodes in this field, and Mentalist casters tap this personal allotment of magic). I agreed. These realm divisions are semantic, or at best/worst, settling elements - and so in my game, the Monks were Mentalists.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Praise of Rolemaster

Spell suites.

1. Spell Lists
Rolemaster magic is love/hate, but one thing that stuck from its spell system was the mechanical exposition of increasing spell effects at greater levels. Where AD&D used spell name and then Improved spell name, this was more obvious. AD&D also had a lot of spells in which increased caster level provided better results. Again - nothing new in a revolutionary sense, it was really just the exposition. Spells were presented in lists of levels, with (usually) 23 elements - these lists being a few related spell effects stretched and stepped out. Oh yeah - when a character 'learns a spell', they really learn 3-5 spells...yeesh - OK, I am trying not to explain the magic system wholesale here - the important point is that it got me thinking about scaling spells of similar effect (and has since contributed to my desire to dismiss spell levels entirely).

2. Lists of Spell Lists
There was a body of common spell-craft, but each class (profession in Rolemasterese) that could cast spells had 6 lists of spells (base lists in Rolmasterish) that were generally considered unavailable to other professions.

Reading through Kellri's Greyhawk Spells got me thinking about this - particularly the grouping of the 'named' spells from Greyhawk. I am assuming that at least some of the lists of named spells came from the actual negotiation of the originial players and Gygax, and not so much 'after the fact' padding put in by TSR (I may be wrong) - but the lists are generally themed. The spell inventors weren't trying to make toolkit magic, they were creating spells that fit their characters (though not without utility). (Link to Kellri if you need it - read the CDD's, and everything else too!)

X. An early publication after Rolemaster caught on was the Rolemaster Companion I. This contained a new profession that could build his spell lists from scratch. Oh yeah, and a new realm of magic that basically allowed you to ignore the division of magic into three 'realms'. Have I not mentioned the 3 realms of magic yet? Good! It's a fine concept, an evocative organization tool,
but as soon as they could, they published a supplement that included a way to 'unify' the divergent realms. Rolemaster had a vast profusion of ideas and options, simultaneously publishing ways to simplify and complicate...I feel like Rolemaster is a great game for NPCs.