My blog's evilness ==

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Monday, February 28, 2011

February reading vs buy my stuff dammit!

In lieu of gold stars on a chart magnetated to the refrigerator, here's a list of the books I read in the month of February. Way less than my banner month of January - probably won't be able to match that pace again for a while (started a class for medical coding certification - so most of my upcoming reading will be dense and somewhat medical... ugh)...

1. Huon of the Horn, Andre Norton
2. Lyonesse, Jack Vance (2nd read)
3. The Green Pearl, Jack Vance (2nd read)
4. Madouc, Jack Vance (2nd read)

The first time I read the Lyonesse trilogy, I was putting my collection together, and so there were long gaps between the readings (a year between Green Pearl and Madouc for example). So this time I read them back to back to back. That helped. I loved them the first time through, and now I love them even more. Cannot help but have some idle brain cycles turning on the idea of writing up the setting for game purposes. Particularly interested in Murgen's Edict...

And I listed a couple more items on the On Ebay page, so right now I've got Verbosh, Rolemaster Creatures & Treasures III, World of Greyhawk boxed set, & Original Bottle City (SE).

Tunnels & Trolls positive vibes

It is unfortunate IMO that most of the T&T related writing that I have done on my blog has been occupied with the Shipman/Outlaw Press BS. It's been pointed out that perhaps broadcasting as far and wide as possible, while potentially warning people away, might have the side effect of being free advertising for him - and I can see how that might be the case.

So there are resources on the web for T&T fans, and for the subset of those who want to buy things that won't make them feel like they need to take a shower afterwards there's always the quaint Flying Buffalo website. I've got the link to the Trollbridge inspired Lulu storefront to the right, and here's another:
It's a good one. A fantastic collection of resources and articles managed by the esteemed Dekh (that's a trollish name BTW)

While I'm here, let me put this picture up:
(I like this lion face better. *smiley*)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

School of Hard Knocks: Upperclassmen

PT 1
In 1995 Rolemaster became the RMSS, Rolemaster Standard System. The biggest deal about this revision of the game, as far as the skill subsystem goes, was to make the skill categories meaningful in a mechanical sense. For the simplicity of explanation, in the earlier version of the game, you would get a +5 bonus per rank you had developed in a skill. (Again, I am keeping it simple. There were skills that gave you +1 per rank, variable bonuses per rank, etc... but most of them were of the +5/rank variety - up until diminishing returns kicked in at rank 10... jeesh!)

Anyway - RMSS brought the skill bonus per rank down to +3, AND!, allowed the development of SKILL CATREGORY ranks (a +2 bonus/rank to all skills in that category).
OK - so now development strategies are in place for both broad and specific areas - a warrior can develop skill with all one handed edged weapons in general and also focus on a short sword, rapier, whatever.

I liked this solution. Of course, I wasn't really playing at that time, just reading... So this is a big division point among RM players. Some people prefer the old way. Admittedly, each has it's merits and flaws, and everybody is gonna like what they like, etc.

So when I came back into gaming (2006? 2007, somewhere in there), I picked up the then current incarnation of Rolemaster, and was pleasantly surprised to find this change. I got a couple of my friends to agree to play (gamers both, but no exposure to Rolemaster. As Mr. Burns would say from behind his bony fingers cathedralled...)I'm afraid that I'm going to have to go on a petty tangent here. After examining the beautiful and effective art shown above (Monty, that is), I have to admit that the cover art for the School of Hard Knocks is WAY up on my list of least favorite RPG art. The cover art for most of the recent RMFRP (Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing) ain't my thing, but this book in particular... ugh. I hope I have not offended the legions of appreciators who are certainly out there. It's actually the one game book cover that a non-gamer friend of mine saw and just started laughing at, and I had to join in. Anyway, big deal Kate - lots of good books have dumb covers!

The School of Hard Knocks was published for the RMFRP system. Specific skill and categorical development are ensconced. Another level of organization is introduced - Skill Groups (sets of associated skill categories). Groups cannot have ranks developed, but other modifications can be applied to the skill categories in a skill group.
(Fighters get +10 to the Armor Group. This means that the 3 skill categories in the Armor Group (light, medium, and heavy) get that +10.)

At this point there are:
12 Skill Groups,
55 Skill categories (note: not all categories are members of groups, or are groups of one...), and
242 Skills at an absolute bare minimum

Excessive? Insane perhaps? This game has shown a pair simultaneously evolving trends applied to the same subject: simplify by adding complexity. It very well could melt brains.

So, OK, I still haven't got to the book itself. I'll post a pic of it now and write about the book itself later because I have to work in the morning. It's the expression on the front of the head of the lion-faced guy holding a stick. Also his choice of attire (Mos Eisley Public Elementary #4)... enjoy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

internetettiqute question

Is it gauche to pimp one's gaming related Ebay offerings on their gaming blog?
I thank you in advance for your candid views.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Breaking news: Shipman is still an asshole

He's got a new store online! Still selling things produced by other people that do not want him to sell their things. Still selling things produced by people that have repeatedly told him not to sell their things. Still doing the same things that he always does.

Please - if you know how to send electric impulses through the internet to fry people's brains, send some his way.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Freshman Year in the School of Hard Knocks

(been wanting to write about this book forever, we'll see how this goes)

If you are aware of Rolemaster, then you probably know that it is a very skill-heavy game. Characters are defined by class & race, sure, but from the start (and only ever moreso as Rolemaster evolved over the years) these details of the character had the most relevance in terms of what skills a character could acquire, how quickly, and at what cost.

In the early days skills were broken down into 5 categories. These categories were organizational only, taxonomic (i.e. they had no 'crunch' in the game). Here then are the first five and the number of skills each encompassed: Maneuvering in Armor (4), Weapon Skills (6), General Skills (7), Magical Skills (5), and Special Skills (6). For the reputation that RM has, it really started out with a pretty small set of rather mundane skills.Of interest, right there in the first edition of Character Law, is section 14.11 WEAPON SKILLS FOR SIMILAR WEAPONS in the OPTIONAL RULES part of the book.
It makes sense, right? That developing some skill in the use and application of the broadsword might also mean that, should a sword of another variety be used, the broadsword experience might be applicable to it...

Again - Makes sense, right? Well, the seeds of future bloat are there from the start. (The next optional rule applies the same principle to the riding of similar mounts...)

So - Character Law goes through a revision. I do not have a copy of this one handy,
but here is where the skills start to really take off. At this point ICE begins to publish Rolemaster Companion books. These books have new classes, new spell lists, and optional rules to try out for virtually every aspect of game play. And from the first, more skills are explained.

By the time the second Companion arrives there are now more 160 skills listed, divided into 16 categories. Rolemaster Companion II really broke the flood gates - presenting optional rules for similar skills (harkening back to the early optional rule dealing with similar weapons), rules for complementary skills (using two skills in conjunction to resolve an action), and very importantly section 7.0 COMPLETE SKILL DESCRIPTIONS. Now I could see how to apply the Administration skill, the Herding skill, and the Sense Reality Warp skill among (many, many, many, too many) others.

If I had a scanner, I would love to show you 11.3 SIMILAR SKILLS TABLE, which is divided into those skills in the same category, and those in different ones. A character might apply 1/8 of their skill bonus in "star-gazing" toward attempts at "time sense", 1/4 of their biochemistry skill to poison perception, 1/4 of their skating skill bonus to any dancing attempts... man it got thick.

Optional Rule 4.3 in the Rolemaster Companion 2 gives some methods to limit the quantity of skills available to the characters. So there is now an optional rule to reduce the potential headache. The section begins "While it may seem that the number of skills now available are perhaps too great to easily handle..." (!)

I will end this part here and resume later. This was the state of Rolemaster during its big heyday (i.e. when it still had the Tolkien license and produced many magnificent Middle-Earth supplements). That state lasted for some several years, and constantly more skills appeared, more applications of those skills, more ways to relate them to each-other, more, more, more, more!

The next big change in the game (RMSS - SS = Standard System) I'll get to later. It was another organizational change, which also served to remedy some of the intensely over-wrought similar skill trees and such.

And eventually, I promise I'll get to the magnum opus - the School of Hard Knocks itself. Lovely book.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

best of blogs 2010

Here's a list I compiled while reading blogs last year. By no means comprehensive (frex: I just dug into the Metal Earth this year - holy shit! And I can't really link to every damn post over at Old Guard Accouterments or Mule Abides in good conscience... just go read those blogs from beginning to end!) - but all of these links struck me at the time of reading to be worth retaining for various reasons. Readers, please enjoy - Authors, please write more!


more along...

3 temples

Temple of the Fire God
Priests wear luminous robes of silver and silk threads - at least two will be in the chapel at all times of day and night, occupied by devotions to the Fire God. It lives in a glass case behind the altar. Some priests are devoted to keeping the god placated that fire does not scourge the earth - other priests continue logical lines of progress from the introduction of fire and seek to spread 'civilization' - druids acknowledge and respect the power of the Fire God.

It is a powerful elemental being with an intelligence totally alien to the Prime Material Plane - it should be considered neutral. It has been bound in its glass prison for 300 years (though it itself marks no measure of time) and bestows powers on clerics (and druids, sorcerers, etc as applicable) without imposing stringent lifestyle and alignment restrictions on those who make contact with it - it is the priesthood that has grown for 4 or 5 generations that imposes rules. These include:

1st & 2nd level: 1 week devotion per month
3rd & 4th level: 1 week devotion per season
5th & 6th level: 1 week devotion per year

Order of the Fire's Light: loremasters, technicians
Order of the Blazing Flame: clerics, paladins

Healing spells granted by fire god leave scars
Turning undead manifests as a wave of heat and flame that does not harm the living.

Temple of Asanu
Priests are clad in red and black. Asanu is a powerful demon lord, the cult around it is a mystery religion, wherein murder is a common act of devotion. The priests are slavers, and they are bankers. The temple is often a safe house for assassins and contains an avatar of the deity - behind the altar is a fountain of a viscous brown poisonous fluid. Asanu can sense and speak through it, cast spells and powers through it, and cause it to attack like a 12 HD water weird (with poisonous bite, -3 to save).

Clerics of Asanu cannot use edged/pointed weapons, with the exception of a sacramental knife (d3 damage). They are expected to use this knife one time per level each year to take the life an good-aligned being - consigning them to become manes demons in Asanu's realm, or undead servants of the priesthood.

Healing spells cost x2 normal
Controlled and created undead at option of priesthood

Temple of the Thing in the Lake
The priests are garbed in blue and black. They are charged with keeping their god pacified. It is to be considered a neutral creature of alien intelligence. The powers the clerics (druids, sorcerers, etc) derive are real, though they seem to be only a side-effect of interaction with the being.

Service to the temple takes the form of a rigorous regimen of fasting and meditative trance. In this way, a cleric establishes their connection to the deity and also keeps it distracted, that it not stir from the depths.

1st & 2nd level: 1 day a week
3rd & 4th level: 3 days a month
5th & 6th level: 1 week a season
7th & 8th level: 1 month a year

Clerics may gain their spells through an hour's meditation, using water from the lake as a focus. This can be accomplished at lakeside, or using a translucent or transparent bottle of lake water. The holy water fount in the temple draws from the lake.

Undead destroyed in turning become normal water

Friday, February 18, 2011

125 'professions'

Book Maker
Candle Maker
Con Man
Fortune Teller
Gem Cutter
Lay Healer
Lay Priest
Leather Craftsman
Metal Smith
Net Maker
Paper Maker
Weapon Smith
Wood Crafter

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

5 more weird rooms

1.Walls of force form a tunnel through a larger room, filled with hideous demons that batter against the invisible barrier, desperate to consume the PCs. The demons are illusionary.

2.A hole in one wall (4' deep, 5' wide) emits a permanent gust of wind (as cast by 10th level magic user, i.e. 50% extinguish protected flames, 10' wide, 100' long. If this is in a small enclosed room, it will be filled with air turbulence)

3. A magical goat is staked to a post in front of the other way out. Missiles fired in (or into) this room vanish into thin air. If the goat is attacked, it breaks its tether and engages in melee (AC -1 HD 2 hp 10 A 1 D 5-8 attacks as 6 HD creature). If it is given food, it will let them pass. It will not try to stop anyone. However, it will bray loudly once they have passed. If it is untied from the post, it will attack the un-tier that round and then vanish. If the goat damaged the un-tier, a random magic ring is left behind.

4. 6 skeletons stand in an inward facing circle. In the center of the circle is a large cube of iron. This cube hums and pulses slowly with a faint green glow. The skeletons last command was to stare at the box. They do not attack unless attacked. They will follow the cube if it is moved, though it could be very heavy.

5. Two humanoid faces are carved into opposite walls facing each-other. Anything the PCs say in this room will be repeated by the faces - one will repeat the words in Dwarvish, the other in an unknown, sibilant language.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This was some ideas I was having for an AD&D environment, the player character options. All humans were of Monster Manual Men entry stock (bandit, berserker, etc...)

Apparently demi-humans cannot be single-classed and humans can multi-class. The score after the class is EXP required to level. Thieves only show up as a multi-class option. Clerics are not to be found, their spells likely split between druids and magic users.

Fighter/Thief 3250
Fighter/Assassin 3500

Fighter/Thief 3250
Fighter/Assassin 3500
Magic User/Thief 3750
Druid/Fighter 4000 (half elf only)
Fighter/Magic User 4500

Fighter/Thief 3250
Fighter/Assassin 3500
Illusionist/Thief 3500
Illusionist/Assassin 3750
Fighter/Illusionist 4250

Assassin 1500
Druid 2000
Fighter 2000
Ranger 2250
Magic User 2500
Fighter/Thief 3250
Druid/Thief 3250
Fighter/Assassin 3500
Magic User/Thief 3750
Illusionist/Assassin 3750
Druid/Fighter 4000
Druid/Illusionist 4250
Druid/Magic User 4500

3 locations

Planes and Planets
is a small plane floating in the astral seas. It is a perfect disc, 1000 miles from edge to edge. Ambient light equivalent to terrestrial twilight pervades the place, and the air has a slight haze, keeping maximum visibilty to 300'. X-Ray and Ultrvision do not function in Borlus. It is ruled by the powerful demon lord Agsa (HD 11+3(hp ) AC -4 MV 15"/15"), who pays little attention to his domain, so long as his manes preserves and citadel are undisturbed. Agsa is a powerful mage (magic user level 15) and has invented many powerful variations of spells (changing Monster Summons spells into Agsa's Summons spells, Agsa's Poisoned Web, etc...). Agsa can sometimes be convinced (or coerced) into teaching magi these spells in a painful instantaneous method that will replace the original spell and decrease constitution by one point.

Haarlusk is a tidally locked planet, the bright side scorched and desolate, the dark side a ice and rock waste with little to no atmosphere. The habitable areas of the planed form a ring running along the tropics of the transition zone. The weather is chaotic and often very violent. The sentients of Haarlusk are generally of three varieties: 1) insectoids under the surface of the bright side, 2) reptilians on the brightside surface, and 3) cold elemental creatures in the tropic of the transition zone, with no need of breathing.

Petchko 7 is a colony ship, long stranded but still functional, in deep space. It has been occupied by the demon Kalabus (HD 7 (hp ) AC 1 MV 9"), and he spreads cursed teleportation scrolls among many worlds. Kalabus has reprogramed the Petchko 7 to provide a suitable deathtrap for those unfortunates brought to it. Clerics and druids will not have access to spells higher than 4th level from their deities, short of gates or other direct contact. When those telepoted in are too dangerous or powerful, Kalabus may apologize and offer to teleport them home if they will then disseminate three scrolls of cursed teleportation where they go. There is only a 30% chance that they will be returned to their plane of origin, though, as Kalabus prefers his traps to be widely spread.

(yes, I am just kinda data dumping these days.)

5 weird rooms

1.Permanent Magic mouth (cast by 14th level MU) laughs maniacally and gibbers nonsense as long as any living thing is in the room. There are skeletal remains bound to the walls by iron manacles.

2.A large statue of a man lies face down on the ground. It appears to be made of a brassy metal. It sounds hollow. There is a trapdoor in its chest.

3.Small pedestal with ivory statuette (ox pulling plow though field of bones) surrounded by a shallow pool of murky brown fluid. When seen, it sends a telepathic message to those seeing it, communicating that it will accept donations of food thrown into the pool. Only food can pass the surface of the pool. This statuette will teleport back to the pedestal after not being on it for one hour.

4.Fires cannot be started in this room, and flames brought into it are extinguished.

5.Esoteric observatory. There is an ornate brass telescope affixed to the floor in the center of the room and the ceiling is a scene of the night sky. There is an occasional breeze in the room also, of indeterminate origin. Those using the telescope to examine the 'ceiling' may (70%) glimpse strange luminous forms flitting from star to star, or (30%) see a nearby planet, of arid red deserts. The ceiling itself is not there: treat it as gate (transit time 5 hours @ 12" move) to the red planet for fliers, levitators, etc. Movement cannot take figures in horizontal directions beyond the dimensions of this room (i.e. a 30'x'30' tunnel to Qar'bexen that takes 5 hours to traverse)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Things I like to remember:
Villages, Settlements, Encampments

1. Many villages will have dogs, or early warning analogue animals. Consider an elven predilection of giant eagles (!), gnolls w/hyenadon (!). Approaching a random village could result in being attacked, killing one of their dogs considered a crime – at least a fine.

2. The current ‘mood’ of villagers can change the tenor of approach drastically. Are they hostile because they are harried by bandits and assume the worst of wandering adventurers? Are they in the middle of some twee celebration because the crop was good? There are stories of powers moving disguised though times of festival, if not all of the time.

3. On the subject of disguise, think about things that can polymorph. Some wizards, many demons and devils. Magic ogres, maybe powerful dragons (I’m not so much a fan of that). What do you want the odds to be in a population of 500, that there’s d12 dopplegangers or d6 ogre magi or something?

4. On the subject of disguise again (I know, a tangent…), how about the invisibles? Not so many of those. Nevertheless, let the sprites go invisible, and again with the magic ogres…

5. I like villages at a headcount of 100-500 (d6x100, 6 is 1), which is to say populations of that size. Nomadic cultures produce independent populations based on a dispersion percentage. Same with merchants. These tend to be much smaller on average, but the potential for truly huge hordes exists also.

6. I have always sucked at role-playing settlements, I prefer to make it more gamey. Rolling a d6 to determine how many internal divisions there are in a group if necessary. These divisions can be used to determine the temperament of the group as a whole. If they are balkanized (roll of 6) and antagonistic in general, the community will ‘feel’ different than if they are all ‘of one mind’ (roll of 1). The number of divisions could be used for patrol size, alignment division, kinda a lot of things on the fly.

7. I tend to think of village economies as being largely centered around one resource or feature for convenience. All villages will have some provision for water. D6, 6 is 1 yields an agricultural bump. Treat 6 as whatever you want, to increase the presence of resources, 5 for very developed locations.
A. <200 Agriculture
B. 200 Fortification
C. 250 Raw Material (wood, stone)
D. 300 Goods/Production/Manufacture
E. 350 Trade Route/Temple/Cultural Importance
F. 400 Agriculture & Fortification + one of C, D, or E
G. 450 Agriculture & Fortification + two of C, D, or E
H. 500 Agriculture & Fortification + C, D, and E

8. I like the idea that maybe 1 in 10 random villages are “class sanctuaries”. Instead of multiplying by 100, the die thrown for population is multiplied by a number keyed to the class in question.
A. X10 10-50 Clerics (potentially Cultist/Pilgrim, Paladin, Ranger, Assassin, Monk)
B. X10 10-50 Druids (potentially Cultist/Pilgrim, Berserker, examples of any other basic class, certainly animals)
C. X10 10-50 Fighters (potentially Bandit/Brigand, Berserker, Merchant)
D. X5 5-25 Magic Users (potentially anything!)
E. X5 5-25 Thieves (potentially Bandit/Brigand, Merchant, Assassin)
I like the idea – generates cleric temple & druid wyrd spots, wizard covens, thief gangs, strongpoints of arms. Could be used for quick & dirty level advancement, contacts, etc.