My blog's evilness ==

This site is certified 38% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010? Why not!

One time I made a New Year's Resolution that I actually was able to keep. This was several New Yearses ago, but it was a resolution I was able to maintain for a long time: to whit, to read books constantly. It wasn't a huge stretch (as I'd given up TV and always had read a lot anyway), but it does stand as an actual resolution that I was able to actually implement - Hoorah!

One key to the successful resolution (indeed, just about any personal decision or goal) that I've found true in my own case is this - KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! The more people that know about it, the harder it becomes to keep. Makes for a pretty boring blog entry though... so I'll try to come up with my public gaming-related resolutions for shits & giggles...

1. Finish the translation of Epées & Sorcellerie by Nicolas Dessaux into human-readable english. A really wonderful game that languishes in a pseudo-english Babelfish form - Nico has continued to produce some fantastic output (Searchers of the Unknown being among my favorite games of 2009), but I'd still love for E&S to be appreciated by a wider audience.

2. Pimp Tunnels and Trolls. The Outlaw Press Fiasco really seemed to galvanize a number of us T&T fans to mush our brains together and get material out. I've got a T&T game scheduled at a local convention in February - maybe some of those folks will be interested in continuing to game with it...

3. The no-brainer resolution: to get an actual group of actual people to actually sit down and play some damn games this year! Pretty much all of my gaming in 2009 was via Internet. I'm glad - it's been a gods-send to play again at all - but the table-top's a'callin'

4. I gotta get some Zocchi dice. 4 real.

5. Massive dungeon and hexmap drawing. Another no-brainer, already spending a lot of free-time doing this.

6. Finishing my submissions for OSRIC's Dangerous Dungeons supplement by February.

7. Get myself (my hook/crook) out to the NTRPG convention.

Is that enough for now? I think so.

2009 was a pretty awesome year, and I have you of the blogosphere and forumlands to thank for that. Looking forward to seeing Swords & Wizardry on game store shelves, Planet Algol on my own shelves, and I will make one prediction (with my fingers crossed): World of Thool revival - the ruined domes shake, the winds shift in the sandy wastes, the pools of slime bubble and ooze back to life (I've just mutated a third arm so that I have more fingers to cross...)

2010's gonna be good! Happy new year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Step away from the computer...

I'll be offline for a week, so I thought I'd offer all you RPG wackos my hopes that you enjoy (or endure if you're like me) the holidays. Take care!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Keep On Fightin' On!

Looks like the new issue of Fight On! has been taken off simmer and served up.
If you are looking to get it and save 10%, you can enter HUMBUG at checkout. This issue's dedicated to M. A. R. Barker and looks to have quite a bit of Tekumel content to it. (It also has some spells I penned - hence, my obligatory shilling)

Go Git It!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fates worse than death

When I started getting back into gaming (say 2004), I went in head-first with my collection of Rolemaster books clutched tightly. Managed to convince a couple of my friends who'd never played to give it a shot, and honestly, it went pretty well for a couple of sessions - in that we were having fun.

The PC's came from a town on a lake. In the middle of the lake was a ancient magical gate which was held closed by three arcane brotherhoods, as it had in past times been used as a passage for horrible demons of the Void.

Ooops! Go figure - the first session began with something going wrong with the gate! One of the brotherhoods had become corrupted, and the town could no longer be guaranteed safe - and so, the PC's were given the task (by the non-corrupted Orders) of securing a tower in the wilderness nearby - in case the unthinkable happened, and control was totally lost.

As far as the 'story' goes, it is secondary to this post, sorry. The long and short of it is this: they go and get to the tower and explore the weirdness of it, and find that some of the local denizens have claimed it (Gratar - nasty toad-men). In battling against the Gratar, one of the PCs (a big trollish fighting machine of a character) receives a fluke critical hit from a far inferior opponent. The result of this hit is a broken leg. The other characters help him back to the tower after the combat is ended, but this was to be the last session we played.

Conclusion: broken legs are worse than death.

I admit that I waffle on the simulationist/gamist axis - but find myself more and more sympathetic to the gamist side when it comes to things like this. Two months of (game) time spend knitting bones is kinda a drag (assuming no MacGuffin Inc. Super Healing Wands are available...). I love the detail of systems like Rolemaster, but that night, when the percentiles came up with a broken bone, you could feel the 'fun' rush out of the room. I would have honestly rather had the roll come up double zero and present some hideous insta-death effect - there. Done. The character's dead. End of story.

Obviously there's a couple of 'solutions' here - use something other than Rolemaster, fudge the healing rules, ignore the 'unfun' effects, etc... but the general conclusion I've come to is that lingering game-mechanic effects of realistic wounds are kinda a drag.

I'm playing in a game of 1st edition Tunnels and Trolls right now, and two of my companions have recently lost appendages to horrible noxious slime attack. Sucks, yes. But it was handled really well in the sense of - OK - cauterize the wounds, get a fake foot and a hook to replace the lost hand, AND KEEP PLAYING! No weeks or months of convalescence - No "realistic" save vs. blood loss and shock, etc. This is the way to do it in my opinion. Facts are still facts (in the logic of the game) - Drugan's got a wooden foot and Melanthios has a hook instead of a hand - but these facts do not import a bundle of realistic assumptions that would detract from getting down to the playing of a game.

I like that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Solo Playtest 7

from 6D(Timeshadows)

Help Kragn
As you rush to the fore, you suddenly realize that something is wrong. Make a L1 SR on LK (oof! rolled 1,2 - fail).
As you turn away, the now invisible merchant manages to sink his knife deep into your back... the scavengers of the hills will feed well tonight!

Sorry about the bad roll there... (especially after the dalay) I'll get some more sections up for play pretty soon - thanks!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trollbridge storefront on Lulu

Not good at announcements...So, instead, I'll just blather on about things as per usual.

I've started a Lulu Group storefront in order to make fan product material for Tunnels & Trolls available. I've started it, but it is not mine alone. I don't know how to explain exactly how this came about, as it was more-or-less an emotional reaction to the recent Outlaw Press fiasco, followed by some further research.* But the result is that members of Vin's Trollbridge will always have an outlet for material they produce,** and there's such a wide variety of ever-changing (and persistent) AWESOME there... members of the Bridge, along with other authors that produce T&T material on Lulu.

There's debate about whether this venue is the best choice out of all the options around, and it may be that the store front is torn down and rebuilt somewhere else someday - as it is a grassroots venture, there's not telling what will happen... but for now, this can serve as a waypoint for distribution. I don't expect that there will be a whole lot available before the beginning of next year - but there are two very good free PDF solo adventures available right now (by Trollbridger jongjungbu), and more may trickling up. We are also gathering our resources and planning some regular periodical publications.

So, yeah, not good at announcements. Thanks for reading!

* I will try to provide summary for those interested. It is with mixed feelings, because Outlaw Press has been the biggest 'market-presence' for Tunnels and Trolls for a while, arguably the most meaningful one... so this episode has produced both anger at the responsible party and the fear of watching a house of cards we've visited crumble... so anyway -

- Someone gets on RPGnet questioning the art attribution on a product put out by Outlaw Press. Starts here.
- That thread continues to grow, wherein a WHOLE LOT of the art comes under scrutiny. Some of the artists take note and post also, claiming that they had no idea their art was being used. Last page as of (Dec. 2)
- When I say a WHOLE LOT, I mean a WHOLE DAMN LOT - like almost everything! I spent a week watching this thing grow and grow, the revelations become more and more damning... ugh - court of public opinion, etc, etc - I've never submitted anything to Outlaw Press because I disliked the copyright policy - and never had anything of mine stolen by him (that I know of!), so I have no dog in the race.
- There's more hijinx (to be vanilla) that Outlaw has pulled over the last few years, and I'd like to reserve this space for a future edit of a hyperlink list.
- While this is going on, other people who've felt that Outlaw Press had taken liberties with their material came forward and talked about it - and research on the boards and such showed that they'd often brought these issues up at the times they occurred... much gnashing of fangs, pulling of forelocks, etc. The event becomes a kind of a wake up call...

** I dread words like 'always' and 'never'. The assumptions here are 1.) as long as lulu's around 2.) as long as the Trollbridge stands 3.) as long as the internet holds up and 4.) as long as we all can keep our gentleman's agreement to never utter the name of That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named (that's Hastur, btw...).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Solo Playtest 6 (Timeshadows)

From 5C (Timeshadows)

Assess henchmen
Round One: Use the same stats for the caravan guards as your henchmen (Con 20, 3+10, 3 armor)

Melee in front of the wagon:
- Garweot gets 16
- Front guard gets 21
-> Garweot takes 5 damage, 3 taken by armor, so damaged for 2 points (Con 18)

Melee behind the wagon:
- Kragn gets 17
- Rear guard gets 26
-> Kragn takes 9, reduced by 3, for 6 damage (Con 14)

(bad rolls for your henchies! sorry!)


In the moments you take to see how the combat fares, the merchant bends and breaks the medallion in half. As you turn your attention back to him, you see him disappear!

Do you...
A) Attack the last position you saw the merchant in
B) Investigate where the merchant disappeared from
C) Join the melee before the wagon
D) Join the melee behind the wagon
E) Ignore everything else, begin to loot the wagon.
X) Something else

Solo Playtest 6 (Palmer)

From 5B(Palmer)

I waste him with my crossbow!
What's the gp value on that medallion?

The distance between the two of you is small, and he's a sitting duck - you get +3 to the marksmanship roll (L1 SR on DX (rolled 9, +3, in short, a hit!))

The merchant falls over feathered, his face relaxing to serene repose.
As you quickly grab the medallion and feel it's considerable weight, you estimate a two to three hundred gold piece value.

The tough life of the Temp Gamer! If you pass your next TPS evaluation, it'd be great to have you continue -

Do you...
A) Leap into the combat in front of the wagon
B) Leap into the combat behind the wagon
C) Assess how your henchmen fare
D) Ignore them and begin to pillage the wagon
E) Examine the medallion closer
X) Something else

Friday, November 27, 2009

Impromptu solo playtest: 5

From 4X (Timeshadows):

"Circle around trying to see what the merchant is up to, wary of a ranged weapon, such as a crossbow, prodd, or gun.
If I can see him I observe before riding on him. Perhaps his daughter is hidden away in a secret compartment of the wagon?"

As you round the wagon, you see the merchant crouched on the ground, holding a silvery medallion with both of his hands - you see much fear in his eyes, which only increases when he looks up and sees you.

Do you...
A) Demand his surrender
B) Launch an attack at him
C) Take a moment to assess how your henchmen fare
X) Something else

Thursday, November 26, 2009

St. Andre podcast

Allow the dulcet tones of Ken St. Andre to work their charms while you wallow in the haze of post-feast (a friend of mine coined a term a while back, that may be applicable here (among other circumstances... ugh... love it!), that being the term "Engorgeous")

Anyway - the podcast is (sadly) brief and over the telephone, but good nonetheless. One point touched on is that Ken had little interest in miniatures gaming - beyond general interest in gaming. Every once in a while I remember this detail, and each time it seems to contribute to a slowly building something way in the mid-back of my mind...

Ken is such a nice guy. Take a minute (maybe 10...) to listen!

BREAKING NEWS: Engorgeous is defined at! I'd argue for some other interpretations - I'll take that up with them I guess...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Solo Playtest 4

from 3A (Timeshadows)

"Garweot and Kragn, I think the caravan leader is too concerned and alert for the lot of us to approach without encountering organised resistance from the mercenary guards; they've got a lot riding on this.
"Hide as well out of sight as possible until the first third of the train has passed, then attack, dividing them in two. I will shore up the rear and drive them to you, slaying any who resist.
"We may even ransom the merchant if we take him alive. Who knows, perhaps there are princesses disguised as riders, or even hidden in those large woven baskets atop the Karakaras' backs.
"What say you?"

The brigands' eyes light with greed, and seem emboldened and eager, and with this new focus, evince signs of cunning verve.

Roll d6 and divide by two to determine how many other guards the merchant has hired. (rolled a 4, so there's 2 guards and the merchant present)

L1 SR on LK (passed)
You and your new lackeys leap out of hiding - taking them completely by surprise! The merchant is the first to recognize the situation, and with what little time available to him, jumps to the ground on the other side of the wagon.

Do you...
A) Pursue the merchant
B) Join your lackeys in combat against the other guards
X) Something else

There's been a lot of weird things going on with Tunnels and Trolls recently which has kept me pretty captivated and on the edge of the seat. An end (?) result of recent events seems to imply the following scenario, which I, among others, find particularly mind-bending...

That a clone of a game could be made and allowed to titled the same as the original. Huh?

Weird. How could this be?

I have a feeling that a "weird bomb" just exploded nearby, and after a weird and emotional period of anger and recrimination among elder trolls, we are those fortunate enough to be alive on Day One... like Childhood's End or something - maybe Saberhagen's Empire of the East, caught in the Ardneh Wave - or that psi-emanation from Traveller:New Era just passed through...

Anyway, I anticipate a real flood of fan support for this wonderful game, along with greater PDF resources from Flying Buffalo - and as I watch the continuing unfolding of this weirdness, I can't help but think that a great deal of good will come of this. I readily admit that I feel somewhat inadequate to project or try to predict all the different ways this could develop, I do not see how it could be detrimental to this great game.

While the Trollgod sits mighty dominion in his Hall, we tunnelers have been busy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Impromptu solo playtest: 3

from 2X (Timeshadows)

X: I hope to enlist them to help me seize the caravan goods and personnel, and establish a more meaningful operation from the keep. I will, of course, fight dirty with any of them who do not recognise my authority in this matter. :)

Round 1:

L1 SR(rolled 11) on CH(10) succeeds first round! Garweot and Kragn the brigands are now a part of your party. Each is CON:20 Combat:3+10 Armor:3 hits taken

Springing on them totally unaware, they offer no resistance, and you suspect them prone to surrender... but once they understand your plan, seem eager. And well rested.

Do you...
A) Have a plan in mind? (I suspect you might ;))
B) Secure your horse out of sight and wait in the brigand's cleft to ambush the wagon?

Delvers of the Unknown

Oh man. Another minimal variant which strikes REAL close to home for me, a condensed T&T. As it's two pages long, it may not be for the absolute purist... an unfortunate loss...

Friday, November 20, 2009

neat link for modern apocalyptic prophecy intersection

Though we live in a post-ironic era, I do enjoy the occasional moment of obtuse synchronicity. With the amount of brain energy I've spend thinking about high-level play, this post was too good... sorry, just the title...

Impromptu solo playtest: 2

from 1B (Christian)

The merchant is a tough nut to crack. Make a L1 SR on CHR. (I rolled for you and rolled poorly (a 4 on 2d6) - sorry...) So, you make some faltering attempts at conversation, but he insists you remain silent and watch the hilltops - "Just keep your eyes open..."

Do you
A) Keep your eyes to the hilltops
B) Insist the merchant explain himself or the situation better
C) Strike up a (quiet) conversation with another of the guards
D) Scout ahead
E) Keep a cursory watch and try to get an eye into the merchant's cargo
X) Something else

from 1D (Timeshadows)

Reaching the top of the next rise of the road, you survey the area. The hills here 'ruled' from Toor's Hall are regarded lawless, the current lord of the castle given to excesses of drink. Make a L1 SR on IQ. (I rolled for you and got 8, so you succeed). Goblins? No - but you have the advantage what appears to be two likely brigands dozing in a cleft of rock, safe from casual observation.

Do you
A) Return to gather other guards
B) Dismount and attack them
X) Something else

neat link for listgeek intersection

Dungeons & Kobalds show with the list

neat link for codegeek intersection

Troll and Flame takes early lead with practices of "Agile" software development and DM minimalism.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Impromptu solo playtest: 1

You hired on at the Mercenaries Guild a duty to guard a merchant's wagon en route to the Hall of Toor, an old castle mouldering in barren rocky hills. The journey is brief – the whole time the merchant is nervous and wary.

Do you
A) act the professional
B) engage the merchant in conversation
C) surreptitiously examine the merchant's goods

(or do something else since this is ostensibly playtesting?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Continuing discomfort with new shoes...

The weirdness of Outlaw Press keeps baffling me every time I think about it, and I never
do unless it is imposed on me to do so.

Monday, November 16, 2009

November - month of the real world

I've really not been in game form of late.

I decided that November would be the month that I quit smoking. Sometimes I can get on a really productive OCD jag compiling a table, or spitting out rough ideas into lists to flesh out later... but sustained effort right now? Doesn't look like it's happening much... not while my brain & body adjust to this new state (i.e. not constantly over-saturated with nicotine).

But, one good thing has been dungeon drawing. It definitely fills time. I got one of those big pads of graph paper (RHODIA brand) and taken to drawing a variety of dungeon levels and playing with ideas to connect them (teleporting rooms & such - been really enjoying 'random access' models of dungeon layout). If I ever get a scanner I'll post some examples up, or better yet, put the disparate pieces together at some point into a cohesive unit...

Wait - that takes sustained effort doesn't it? Might be a while... butin the meantime, I am breathing better!

A friend of mine made an observation about quitting smoking that I thought was very insightful. When she quit, she said that she became more honest - the practice of smoking regularly is predicated on an ability to deny the damage one is doing to one's self... something else to look forward to.

Sorry - this has little to do with RPGs. Oh well - there's only 67,000,000 other RPG blogs out there or something...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Open Letter to the Lincoln Middle School D&D Club

Dear LMS D&D Club -
My family will be migrating into the Lincoln Middle School feeder zone in the near future, and I would like to get my characters into the game before I arrive if I may - so here they are (get ready!):

ZALIFOS: pointy hat wizard
KETHREKHIR: mighty fighter with motorized mechanical horse
QUABB: hobbit and quasit hybrid (quasbit) thief

Assuming the Club DM's run these characters like they should be, they should be well apportioned with wealth and magic items by the time I get there - thanks in advance, they're cool!

When I do get there, ZALIFOS will cast a spell he learned that will teleport the characters to my campaign setting - WORLD OF KLUSTOR - and I'll keep the DM position until graduation.

Can't wait!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Get 'em while they're hot

because they're new, not illegal. These are, of course, PDFs of the Flying buffalo solo modules for Tunnels and Trolls. After a sudden surge in psychic emanations focused on Arizona, Mr. Loomis is making a lot of classic T&T material available - he must be rewarded!

I don't like to try to tell people to go buy things - so, sorry. But I'm just really happy to see some really awesome solo modules be made available.

Friday, November 6, 2009

10 rumors about abandoned villages

It is said that...
1. the village was struck by the Ghoul Plague 3 generations ago
2. the wells and springs there ran dry under a druid's curse
3. hordes of gnolls and orcs pass close there in the summer and autumn
4. a green dragon settled nearby and caused a swamp to overgrow the place
5. brigands enslaved the villagers they did not slay and rule there now
6. a Pixie shee can be found there when they want it to be
7. the villagers were slain by their guard dogs, who have taken their places
8. the villagers fell under the sway of a dark priest, who led them on an exodus
9. the village was razed by starving mercenaries twenty years ago
10. the village was claimed by a Giant Chieftan and the inhabitants fled

web tourism: abandoned settlements

How tall a tower? and courses of stone

...or what about giving a newly created party of PCs a home, having them design the floor plan, plant it in a village near the town, facing a common green ("OK,I buy a goat"!) - a basement hideout on the street of knives, a small tower mouldering in the wilds inherited... sort of an instant, beginning investment in the campaign locale.

Villagers trying to convince wandering PC's to go eradicate an outboiling of goblins is one thing - when those goblins are threatening the PC's stuff (Not the goat! Spare the goat!), it could be something different... maybe...

How about a home loan? By DMG, 500 gp to build a two-story stone building, 120' of outside walls... take about 12 weeks (handwaved for starting PCs) and they automatically have a 'home base' built largely to their specs. Weird. Who's got the deed to the land? Who issued it?

Could be an interesting way to build a continuity toward endgame. Some people would knee-jerk hate to have a house imposed upon their characters though, I'd bet... just not the kind of thing they feel like thinking about (eh, leave that to the mapper...)

The problem I'm having with the stronghold-style endgame is coming from (I think) looking at it in a vacuum. High level characters would ostensibly develop after a long course of low and mid levels, in the course of which, the laws of the land (and some notion of the NPCs who are the effectors and beneficiaries of those laws) would have been created/established. So then, through organic play, a fighter attracting followers would have to...

1. Stalk far into unclaimed wilderness and stake a claim, or
2. Be granted land from a ruler, judge, etc, or possession over a stronghold already built.
3. Claim possession of a pre-existing castle and be prepared to defend it
4. or any number of other scenarios, depending on the particulars of the campaign

Hmmm. Unfortunately, I think that my lack of experience running/DM'ing high level characters is kickin' in. My first game of Tunnels and Trolls lasted a long time (playing with 2-4 of my buddies for 3-4 years), and I can remember 3 of the characters, all of which essentially just retired (one building a flying skyship-thingee and seeing the world, another disappearing into the shanty slums of Wydgess to rule the thieves, and another who searched the world for an isolated forest to build an elaborate arborial mansion (a la Burrough's Tarzan) - oh yeah, he had a diamond fist. Wonder where he got that... ;)

So out of that set, I got two floorplans (flyingship, treeborne mansion), and then we pretty much stopped playing. So this is when I was 12 or 13 or somesuch. How would it go now?

>>> this reminds me that there's a really awesome solo adventure written for T&T by one of the fellows (jongjungbu) at the Trollbridge that models barony play - it's a very well put together PDF product, and a unique solo adventure. Link to PDF

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

journal of 13th level MU

Now lets assume that my goblin raids have been successful, suffering only minor losses. Vented some of the surliness out of them - I have to assume that they themselves pillaged the pillage, so - not much wealthier as a unfortunate side-effect of humanoid soldiers led by their own kind.
Next time, send a devil serjeant - something they fear...

Have decided that my tower no longer befits my station. Lellik, my henchman, scouted by griffon's back a suitable site, and I surveyed it myself through conveyance - isolated, natural defences, the wall can encompass a spring there... it looks good. Lellik has contracted with dwarf craftsmen of far-off Hendhall. 100 weeks, they say - 2 years...

Enough time to fill this tower with horrors enough to become legend!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So THAT'S why everybody don't run PBEM games!

Cuz that's a lot of work!

I've had to put the overlord game/experiment on a back burner after a month of game-time has passed - it's a shame because some neat things were going down, and I think that it's a viable medium - provided the GM has done enough prep. I don't think I did nearly enough of that - but more importantly, the scale was too large* and too small**.

* Most of the players were geographically separated by many miles from each-other, so there was little direct interaction - though that did allow for some widely divergent 'cultures' being generated in relative isolation.

** The granularity of 'powerful NPCs' is wonky - particularly in the two Free Cities. Councilmembers, Guild leaders, Tyrants, Lord Protectors, etc - a detailed city would itself be an interesting setting for the machinations of the 'overlords' that called it home.

The whole thing is something worth trying again - but I just can't sustain it for the time being. Too much going on in real life and too-many open ended gaming projects lying around needing attention - it is something I want to return to after I've cleared the deck a bit and can give more attention to. I'll collect the details in the near future and post them up - there was some really amazing stuff being created by the players.

In the meantime, I have this large tribe of goblins (95 of them, +10 leaders & assistants that fight like orcs!!!) living in caves nearby. I've put them in my thrall and I'd like to send some of them to raid your villages tonight - a band of 40 + 4 leaders. What forces are present there to defend?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

further evidence of fuddy-duddery

...on my part.

So, on a whim (a cheap whim) I picked up a book of monsters produced somewhere in the 3e glut.
Reading through it, just to mine for ideas, I come across this statement in the description of a minor demigoddess - "...if her avatar is somehow imprisoned...her father Enkili will be pissed off at anyone responsible." (italics mine)

"Pissed off"? Really? Did I just read that in a game book?

Haven't been able to get this off my mind for days now. I'm not a delicate reader, I don't care about bad language (if this really even is considered 'bad language' - I use it all the time w/o thinking twice) - but the rest of the tone of the book is grim, modern nihilism, full of fallen races, curses, doom, etc - pissed off stuck out like a sore thumb.

I suppose this is what I get for random purchasing random 3rd era stuff...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

link contribution to the hivemind

These are both very good posts that have managed to put into words things I've been far too inarticulate to articulate (see!) myself - about preferences/differences in the issue of what a character is, or at least, the assumptions that go into creating a character.

joethelawyer & bxblackrazor

Thanks - very good reads both!

Monday, October 19, 2009

sap (not siege, nor plant)

I haven't quite hit a year on this web world of RPGs - getting close...and *whew* are my arms sore! (cue rimshot... ugh...).

Been a while since there's been a dramatic, emotional geek-storm of rage/indignation/etc that took down more than a few outposts of reason - thank the gods. Things have been kinda quiet recently - and not in a "a little too quiet" sense. Calm. Not uneventful, just not fevered, slathering, frenzied, etc. (with the notable exception of this abomination over at the Swords & Wizardry forum) How ugly!

All of the gaming I am doing these days is via the internet. Still trying to get a group together in person (got 2 to agree in principle, a 3rd (a newb) we believe we can coerce) - but yeah - for the last 10 months I've been gaming more than I have in the last 15 years - all on the internet, with varying degrees of "success" (sorry Alexis!) - but mostly good experiences. Getting back into game shape, hopefully.

I got on the net when my band broke up. Pretty bleary & miserable time in my life, which was quickly assuaged by the environment I found here on this net - so much creativity and energy, enthusiasm, experience - A thriving and expansive subculture which I identified with.

But the internet is still weird. No visual clues/body language/etc. I feel lucky to have become acquainted with so very many interesting people, to make friendships and find communities - There's only a couple of good varieties of groupthink IMO, and a bunch of RPG'ers riffing off of each-other is one of them.

So thanks, ya'll. If my computer went kaput tomorrow, I would still feel awfully enriched by the last near-year in a way I wouldn't have anticipated. After I make my first million, I'll hold a convention and get plane tickets for everyone! ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AD&D early magic items

Another long table - didn't want to post it here. So here's the ubiquitous PDF.

This one is two-hundred elements, each a magic item that is worth less than 1000 experience points as per the DMG (using some items from UA also). Made it for myself to use - I don't like placing magic items personally, rather let chance decide - but hate fudging a roll of 17 on Miscellaneous Magic Table I...or the folding boat...

While on the subject - I have never understood the experience point reward for magic items. The only thing I can think of is that it was a method to ramp characters up from low levels. XP for gold? I'm OK with that (particularly with carousing, spell research, etc...) - but the magic item providing experience still sort of bugs me on some level. Particularly this: as the power of the magic item increases, so does the experience reward. Then, when you get those items that are the top of the heap (artifacts & relics) - THERE'S NO EXPERIENCE REWARD!

Have always been tempted to reinterpret the experience reward for magic items as a minimum required experience to use the item. This makes a little more sense to me - that one cannot even use a Staff of Power (an extreme example - experience point value: 12,000) until 3rd level. This would mean that a fighter couldn't use a +1 sword until they'd got some 400 experience under their belt the hard way.

Tempting...tempting...but I think that recrafting the tables to suit my campaign is better than imposing arbitrary limitations on what characters can do. Am I learning to say yes?

Maybe. Kinda.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Early Dungeon features

I use the term features to mean things that aren't necessarily harmful, nor necessarily an object or a location, but possibly any of the above. I like early dungeon whimsy for the sake of object lesson. New players should be exposed to some safe-ish examples or strange things early on - learn that they can waste time, learn to not make too many real-world assumptions about the game environment, establish that sometimes weird things are just there - not there just to help or harm them. Perhaps this was established by my beginning to play in B1 rather than B2 (though the latter has some wyrd too). Such as it is, here are some things I like to present to early players -

1. The door that will not be opened. Put it in the first or second room. It defies logic, lock-picks, brute force, fireballs, acids - every ingenuity the delvers can contrive. Perhaps different sounds can be heard behind it with each listening. It is not an illusion - it is a real actual door that cannot be opened. (Unless you want to supply a key or a trigger somewhere else in the dungeon or it from the other side and it's a gate to Glerwodd's Taproom...)

2. The invisible wall, the wall of force. Love it! The invisible bridge across a bottomless pit (...well, probably bottomless...) Totally hokey - for the win! People walking into invisible walls (a la Time Bandits) always been a favorite of mine. But this is not about the Schadenfreude of DMing - these features can be used to further develop the point that limitations of actions are not always obvious and that seemingly insurmountable problems may have solutions that require different methods of searching.

3. The ringing payphone. Yeah - even in a dungeon it presents the same quandry as it does in real life (unless one of the PCs is under a Geas to answer it). And with the knowledge that there's a telephone, the players may want to make calls with it. Maybe you can give Dispater or Orcus' phone number scrawled in a matchbook to a player the next time the alehouse is dull...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Wanted to get to GenCon this year, but couldn't. Would have been my first time at that one, and with the Swords & Wizardry win, I'm sure it would have been a memorable event.

I've been to exactly three RPG conventions, all before the age of 18. These were all smaller scale conventions (2 Griffcons in South Bend Indiana and another in nearby Fort Wayne whose name I cannot remember). My memory of the first convention is very dim - I believe that my older brother took me, which would have put me in the 9-10 age range. I do remember, a few Apple ][ computers set up with a dungeon program running. I was amazed by this.

At the second convention, with a little experience under my belt, I signed up to run a total, from-scratch, homebrew (from scratch meaning largely cribbed from a variety of other games). The slots filled and I was excited. On the big day, I waited 1/2 hour, one player showed up - we agreed to go look for a pick-up game instead. Bummer. I'm sure that this is for the better - whatever that game was (all I can remember are some hit location charts from Twilight 2000...), I'm sure it was nothing that needed to be inflicted on anyone at that point.

A few good things happened that day though...

1. Napoleonics! The only time I've had the opportunity to play straight-up miniatures - it was a blast! Whatever the rules being used (I have no idea) they were easy to pick up. The physicality of miniatures and landscaped tabletop allows for less rules - there's not a rule for line of sight, weapon range, etc - there's a tape measure! Empirical! I did not win the scenario I played, but I loved the whole experience, and have always wanted to play more.

2. Got in a game of Fringeworthy. Fortunately, the GM knew the rules well enough that I just had to say what my character did and roll dice (the system is one I would not have to want to run - though the setting/premise is pretty awesome). My friend Donn (a cartoonist and general genius) was running it, and I was awed*.

3. Watching a game of Paranoia after the homebrew wash-out. What a f'in hoot that game was when it first came out! I like games that can throw seriousness into a sea of silly and see what floats. I ended up playing a lot of Paranoia with my buddies - stretched it all kinds of ways and had gonzo-goodtimes.

Then there was a weird quiet one in Fort Wayne. It was quiet, held in a dusty warehouse space. I signed up to play D&D. Turns out that the DM was this guy I went to high school with and didn't much like. We were tasked with chasing some goblins out of a keep. We strode up to it in full daylight (having agreed among ourselves that goblins don't like daylight, so sure - why not?)and stormed the gate. The action couldn't have taken more than 20-30 minutes - we died pathetically under arrows and spears, nets and oil. I ended up liking the DM fella more after that - we were asking for it...

So now I'm getting ready to run a couple of games at a convention the gaming club at Univerity of Kentucky gaming group this February. Want t keep it 'abstract' (I have no miniatures - stay off the battle mat - I like RQ-style 'ranks'...) Looking forward to it - a Swords & Wizardry game and a Tunnels & Trolls game. These are totally new games to the people in the gaming club - yay! Toying around with ideas for what to run - a variation on City of Terrors for the T&T game I think, and I'm inclined to run Chgowiz's quick-start for S&W - and distribute copies to the players afterwards.

Maybe I'll get a chance to play some of these new-fangled games there - it seems a sad certainty that there'll be no fatbeards with musketeer figurines there...

* this has made me think of something.
There's a lot of examples of games that I liked when I was younger, but could never run - out of intimidation. It was a 'write-what-you-know' kinda thing - with fantasy, absurd dystopia, cthulhu spooky, apocalytic mutationry - I felt like I "got it" enough to run it well. It was mostly make-believe.

Traveller, Aftermath, Twilight 2000 - loved reading them, but couldn't bring myself to run them. Note the military/technical theme here. My math has never progressed past simple geometry - my unit-conversion skillz == 3/0...If only I'd thought at the time that it was OK to take the system into my rush-clutch and take it to some far endzone - but at the time, looking at the tables and skills, megacredits and kilometer ranges - too intimidated to even try.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ramble(Isn't it really just about the ref sheets?)

More and more I think it is. Game books without much authorial voice (i.e. most every game book published these days, i.e. game materials by committee and such) are not fun to read. Sometimes the stars are right and I can get into well written setting and stuff - but most of the the time, meh. I do in various ways enjoy reading T&T, Paranoia, Gygax - but for book use, it's the lists and the tables I'm after. I've had one experience with a DM aid - a ref screen for AD&D. Loved it. Handy.

I'm really glad to see that the 'DIY ethic' has caught hold with so many other people of and near my generation - not something I see much of in my day-to-day local life.

Isn't it really just about the ref sheets? Pre-prep organization work, tweaking frequencies on random tables... not just that - it's really about sitting down and playing. Or pacing, as you see fit...

Ramble much? yug.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

now that that's off my chest

some more AD&D class rambling...
On a logical level thieves, assassins and monks make more sense to me as sub-classes of fighter -
paladins and rangers as subclasses of cleric and druid respectively. But I don't like the division of magic into divine/arcane, so I think that the cleric & magic user should be merged into one class, with a few permutation subclasses:
Magic User (learns magic user & cleric spells)
- Illusionist (learns magic user & illusionist spells)
- Druid (learns magic user & druid spells)
and heretical though it is (they can cast spells after all...)
- Paladin
- Ranger

This is, mind you, just logical ordering

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Breaking AD&D character classes to itty bitty bits

Why not? It's the kind of question one usually asks after the fact.

So one night a while back I made a table whose elements in a few hours went beyond d100 range, but stayed far shy of d1000. I stopped somewhere in the 150-160 number, listing out discreet elements of the AD&D character classes. An heretical idea had seized me - instead of picking a class, players make 2-5 rolls on this table, and these elements would define the class. Magic user that can disguise like assassin? Cross your fingers and roll! With the right five rolls, the generated class could conceivably fight like fighter, spell like a cleric AND a magic user, sneak like thief, and get druid level powers (as their career of near assured success continued).

So yeah, the table got huge. Throw'd in race-specific stuff, spell-like powers, magic resistance, starting wealth and magic items, etc... I started getting bored. And then I started trying to write it up as a table. Too many elements for d144 (d12 tens, d12 ones)... oh, I should edit it down... I think I got tired.

There's recurring board-debate on such pressing issues of class-as-mechanically-immutable-archetype vs. 'why caint my wizard wear a sword?', etc, etc. My response would be to have 2-5 rolls made on some refined version of this sprawling, half-baked list, to see exactly which classes have their turfs (turves?) tread upon.

I largely forgot about it, and then found it today while cleaning up. Enjoy. It's just a list...
fiddly fiddly fiddly!

  1. +1 to hit with blunt weapons
  2. +1 to hit, +1 damage with one melee weapon
  3. +2 damage with one melee weapon
  4. +1 damage with missile weapons
  5. Gain use of weapon not normally allowed (or +1 to hit with 1 weapon if weapon use unrestricted)
  6. +1 to hit with missile weapons
  7. +1 dexterity reaction/attacking adjustment
  8. +1 to hit with one melee weapon
  9. Turn undead as cleric of same level
  10. +1 constitution hit point adjustment, +10% system shock/resurrection survival
  11. +1 to hit with spears/polearms
  12. Disarm at +2
  13. +1 damage with one melee weapon
  14. Turn undead as cleric of level/3
  15. Turn undead as cleric of level/2
  16. Has d3 doses of poison and +2 on saves vs poison
  17. Has d6 doses of poison
  18. +2 to hit with one melee weapon
  19. Backstab as thief (if already a thief, may use assassination table when appropriate)
  20. Infravision (30', or +30' if already has infravision)
  21. +1 dexterity defensive adjustment
  22. +1 wisdom magic attack adjustment
  23. +1 to hit with on type of melee weapon (axes, swords, polearms, etc)
  24. All saving throws at +1
  25. All saving throws at +2
  26. Immune to disease
  27. Immune to poison
  28. Immune to petrification
  29. “Lay on hands” as a paladin
  30. Surprise as a ranger
  31. Dodge missiles as a monk (if a monk, saving roll at +2)
  32. Track as a ranger at half listed chances (if a ranger, add 5% to chances)
  33. Track as a ranger (if a ranger, add 10% to chances)
  34. Open lock and find/remove traps as thief of same level (if a thief or monk, add 10% to chances)
  35. Read languages as a thief (if a thief/assassin/monk, add 10% to chance)
  36. May use assassination table at ½ listed chance (if assassin, improve chance by 5%)
  37. Disguise as assassin (if an assassin, reduce chance of detection by ½)
  38. Infravision (60' or +60' if already has infravision)
  39. +1 to hit against one type of creature
  40. AC improved by 4 when fighting one type of creature
  41. +1 to hit and AC improved by 2 when fighting one type of creature
  42. Secret concealed door detection as elf
  43. Surprise as elf
  44. +1 (+5%) to reaction rolls
  45. +2 (+10%) to reaction rolls
  46. +2 to hit with thrown weapons
  47. +1 to hit, +1 damage with thrown weapons
  48. Knows 1 additional language per 4 points of intelligence
  49. +1 to hit with melee weapons
  50. Half chance of getting lost
  51. +10% improvement to climb walls*
  52. Herbal lore allows location and preparation of minor toxins and physicks
  53. +d4 hit points
  54. +2 hit points
  55. +d6 hit points
  56. +4 hit points
  57. Internal clock allows unerring sense of passage of time
  58. Earth detections as a dwarf (if already a dwarf, improve all chances by 10%)
  59. Earth detections as a gnome (if already a gnome, improve all chances by 10%)
  60. Reduce final price of weapons purchased by ½
  61. Reduce final price of armor purchased by ½
  62. Reduce final price of animals, equipment and supplies by ½
  63. Improve initiative by 1
  64. Does barehand damage as a monk of level-2 (if already a monk, +1 to hit barehand)
  65. Does barehand damage as a monk of level-1 (if already a monk, +1 to hit barehand)
  66. Does barehand damage as a monk of own level (if already a monk, +1 to hit barehand)
  67. +1 to hit with missile weapons, may extend range of missiles by 25%
  68. Improve AC of armor worn by 1
  69. May use a shield against 1 more attack than normal.
  70. Natural Horseman
  71. Outdoorsman
  72. Encumbrance penalties halved
  73. May use a shield as a off-hand weapon (treat as a club)
  74. +10% pick-pockets*
  75. Add open hand attack damage to a successful hit with a melee weapon
  76. +5% Move Silently and Hide in Shadows*
  77. +10% Move Silently*
  78. +10% Hide in Shadows*
  79. Re-roll any fumble. If second roll hits, no damage is done, but fumble is ignored.
  80. Heal at x2 normal rate
  81. +10% Hear Noise*
  82. No off-hand penalty applied while using two weapons
  83. +1 on saves against any source of heat/fire or cold
  84. +2 on saves against any source of cold
  85. +3 on saves against any source of cold
  86. +2 on saves against any source of heat/fire
  87. +3 on saves against any source of heat/fire
  88. +2 on saves against any source of heat/fire or cold
  89. +2 on saves against any source of electricity
  90. +3 on saves against any source of electricity
  91. +2 on saves vs poison
  92. +1 on save vs poison per 5 constitution
  93. Decrease chance of surprise by 1 and gain +4 to hit against surprised opponents
  94. Number of henchmen x1.5, loyalty base +10%
  95. Regenerate 1 hit point per minute unless killed (must be inactive to regenerate)
  96. +1 to strength damage adjustment
  97. Shields used reduce armor class by 2 steps
  98. Blunt weapon and impact damage (including falls) to character are halved
  99. If reduced to half or less hit points, to hit and damage at +1
  100. If reduced to half or less hit points, AC improved by 1
  101. AC improved by 1 against 1 attacker/round
  102. AC improved by 2 against 1 attacker/round
  103. AC improved by 1 against up to 2 attackers/round
  104. Photographic Memory
  105. Unaffected by mind-influencing spells
  106. +1 damage per level against one type of creature
  107. +1 damage per 3 levels against one class of creature
  108. Invisible to scrying
  109. Knows one 1st level magic user or illusionist spell, and gains 1 1st level spell per day
  110. Knows two 1st level magic user or illusionist spells, and gains 1 1st level spell per day
  111. Knows one 2nd level magic user or illusionist spell, and gains 1 2nd level spell per day
  112. May cast spells as a cleric (if cleric, one additional spell/day)
  113. May cast spells as a cleric of ½ level (if cleric, one additional spell/day )
  114. May cast spells as a druid (if druid, one additional spell/day)
  115. May cast spells as a druid of ½ level (if druid, one additional spell/day)
  116. May learn and cast spells as a magic user (if magic user, may retain memory of one spell cast/day)
  117. May learn and cast spells as a magic user of ½ level (if magic user, may retain memory of one spell cast/day)
  118. Has Magic Resistance equal to charisma + (level x 2)
  119. Has Magic Resistance equal to wisdom + (level x 2)
  120. Saves versus spells, rods, staves and wands at +1
  121. Saves versus spells, rods, staves and wands at +1 per 6 points of wisdom
  122. Saves versus spells, rods, staves and wands at +2
  123. Saves versus spells, rods, staves and wands at +1 per 4 points of wisdom
  124. Saves versus magic user and illusionist spells at +4
  125. 50% magic resistance vs spells and powers of creatures from other planes
  126. Saves versus cleric and druid spells at +4
  127. May learn spells from one other class
  128. May learn spells from two other classes
  129. Sixth sense – cannot be surprised
  130. Saves vs spells, rods, staves, and wands at +1. Saves versus spells cast by character at -1
  131. Operates as a thief (if already a thief, +5% to all skills)O
  132. perates as a thief at ½ level
  133. May cast Remove Curse 1/day
  134. May cast Dispel Magic 1/day
  135. May cast Animal Friendship 1/day
  136. Ethereal Sight for 2d10 minutes, 1/day
  137. Saves against spells cast by this character are at -1 **
  138. Saves against spells cast by this character are at -2 **
  139. Magic Resistance of those targeted by character's spells is halved **
  140. Magic Resistance of those targeted by character's spells is ignored **
  141. May save vs death at +1/level to ignore spell disruption effects **
  142. Spells cast have double area of effect/number of targets when applicable **
  143. Touch range spells have range 5', ranged spells add 50' to range **
  144. Self range spells have range touch, touch range spells have range 5' and ranged spells add 50' to range **
  145. Duration of spells cast is doubled when applicable **
  146. If magic user/illusionist, may wear leather armor. If druid, may wear chain. If other, improve AC by 1
  147. Has d3 potions
  148. Has a scroll
  149. Has a magic sword
  150. Has a miscellaneous magic weapon
  151. Has a magic wand
  152. Has a magic staff
  153. Has a magic rod
  154. Has a magic ring
  155. Has a miscellaneous magic item
  156. Has magic armor or shield
  157. Double starting gold
  158. Begins the game with d3 henchmen (up to maximum)
  159. Begins the game with d6 henchmen (up to maximum)
  160. Begins the game with 2d6 henchmen (up to maximum)

!EDIT! Ugh! A PDF! Improved? I dunno, but even a little longer...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spell casting foiled

1. Spell fails, memory of it is retained
2. Spell fails
3. Spell fails, memory of it replaced with other known spell, determined randomly
4. Spell fails
5. Spell fails, 50% chance it replaces spell written on a scroll in possession
6. Spell fails

Friday, September 25, 2009

drop of water in ocean vs drop of water in wildfire

Haven't posted in a while because I wanted to wait until I had the overlord thing 'in full swing'. Well - I wouldn't say it's in full swing, but it is starting (after some fits and starts, butting up against the edge of my disorganized & accident-prone nature). What's that about battle plans surviving first contact? Oh yeah, that they don't!

I was thinking I'd start it after I got a group of people playing at the table, but this has proved a stumbling point. The gamer club at the state university here is pretty 4e centric when it comes to RPGs, with a couple of Rifts enthusiasts(!). Three prospective players responded to a flier I put up, but they've all washed out. Hrumph.

Nevertheless, the coffee shop down the street makes a room available to reserve, for free(!) so my thinking is just to start an open with a couple of my friends and toss around a couple more fliers...

OSRIC supplement development is big news. E&S continues (glacially). Seems the S&W megadungeon is pretty back-burnered. Trying to set-up this overlord game has really made clear to me how thin I'm spreading myself - but once it finds its legs, I think it will largely 'run itself'.

But the thing I came here to get off my chest is this: play Tunnels & Trolls! It's a great great game that deserves more love! No - more [b]use[/b]!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dreaming of D&D

Savage Swords talks about dreaming of games - this has been happening to me a lot recently. A lot. I recently reacquired the 1e DMG, and poring over it like I used to do when I was 12. A lot of the setup for the overlord side of the game I'm getting together is coming from the DMG - it's sinking into the subconscious. Last night I dreamt of tables - and like there's not enough in the book (can there ever be enough? uh...yeah, probably so...anyway) - like there weren't enough in the book as is, I found a cache of tables I'd never seen before - somewhere in the random encounter by dungeon level area, which was a sort of uber-table.

This was a dream, remember, and it was vague. I was totally psyched - it was the table to end all tables! I think I was generating a dungeon. And, of course, I can't remember what it was about. I remember rolling on it and generating some information and being really excited, feeling like a thorny problem that had existed for years was solved by this discovery - but yeah, in the waking world, I have no idea what the table was. Ugh. Oh well. Perhaps it'll bubble back up out of the subconscious at some point (like while I'm trapped at work, or fixing dinner or something). Perhaps it will appear in the next Fight On! - stranger things have happened.

Makes me think of something I used to do when I ran games pretty regularly. Provide dreams. When the characters slept, (and when I remembered) there was a chance they'd have a dream (the chance was 10% + Int + Wis I believe...)). So I had about a dozen index cards with some content of some generally random dream-things that had no bearing or symbolic relevance to the characters - of course, I did not tell them that - they were free to 'read into it' as much or as little as they wanted to. There were also 1 or 2 cards for each character that DID contain a clue or a message that was relevant to their character, though couched in obscure terms and such. I'd draw a card at random if they had a dream, and give it to them to keep. Sometimes they'd latch on to something that was suggestive of import and really try to suss it out - and this gave birth to some interesting play!

Dream On!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

3 conclusions I've come to (randomly)

Tekumel is not a game because of its wilderness rules. is the real home of Chainmail on the web.
Stop picking on Jeff Reints, he’s the most level-headed swine, after all.

Offered with no supporting arguments and a large can of ad hominem just waiting
to crack open.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

setting info 2

Link to Google Doc PDF of more information warping together, and still a few more threads to stitch in, in sort of general-overview mode.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Setting Info

A timeline
Some history-lite
Cursory geography
A crude map (WIP!)

Still in the 'setup' phase. Players are submitting ideas and information, so it is still a work in progress. I'm trying my damnest to keep kinda quiet about what this looks like under the hood, and it's difficult because there's really cool things happening in here. Emergent patterns and such. Once the first turn starts, I'll have to start posting the words of the town criers, border edicts and travellers' stories...

One thing is certain, which seems to be much a truism in human internet-based text gaming - the initial plan never survives!

    <*> I thought I'd get a couple of people, maybe a slow trickle. Nope!
    <*> I was gonna randomly assign players to NPCs I already had in place. It immediately became apparent that that would not be the case across-the-board.
    I am not complaining about this - the stuff being submitted is making the setting so much more interesting - so many ideas I would have never come up with. And here's where the 'emergent behavior' thing got really freaky (as in cool). Different players unaware of each other coming up with character and 'kingdom' ideas independantly, that work together very well...different hooks that seem easily related to each-other...etc

One thing that has remained pretty consistent is a sort of 'omni-game' approach. Players are using different systems for game detail of their characters as they see fit. I'm sticking to 1e AD&D as a 'lingua franca', and using it for a lot of the implementation details on my side of things, but there's 2e-isms, some T&T-isms,
and some other stuff from I don't know where!

In real world, I went to the college youngins game club this evening for their first meeting of the semester, and met with three guys that responsed to the flier I put up in a few places last week (like outside the game club's meeting room on campus for one!). One of them was somewhat aware of internet OSR stuff, they all seemed at least somewhat interested (I kinda half-assed pitched Swords & Wizardry/OSRIC aka "Old D&D" - I've never been much of a salesman...but), we're supposed to get together next week to start. In Search of the Unknown.

Quasqueton aside, they're gonna be walking into an amazing environment. Thank you overlords! I can't wait to get the internet ball rolling, so that the players can see what's going on too.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Who gets the flu on their birthday?

Me, that's who!
Feeling more human today, but still good for little but aching and sleeping.
Should be back in fighting shape tomorrow...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shortlist of NPCS includes

  • Archdruid, the Steward of Earthways
  • Captain of Derros Castle, Claimant to Yrkaen Throne
  • Dwarf Lord of Agakan
  • Lord of Karnhekel, High Priest and Marshall General of the People, Claimant to the Yrkaen Throne
  • High Priest of Turus Yrkae
  • King of the Kobalds
  • Mariner Guildcaptain of Blackpearl
  • Mariner Guildcaptain of Lardos
  • Mariner Guildcaptain of Tsen
  • Priest of Iliks, the Young God
  • Scholar Erdua of Irikhold
  • Lord Steward of the Great Hall, Claimant to Yrkaen Throne
  • The Demi-urge of the Nameless City, a powerful wizard
  • The Golem Hanos, a powerful mage
  • The Lady Regent, the Honourable Dame of Blackpearl
  • The Wild Priest
  • Thieves' Guildmaster of Blackpearl
  • Thieves' Guildmaster of Lardos
  • Thieves' Guildmaster of Tsen

Overlord! Hie the Hence!

Have to close the home office front desk of overlord processing for the time being.
Probably just out-to-lunch though...

Got 6. This is gonna be real interesting! They've begun to graft things into the setting (they are unaware of any of the setting details I have - the double blind aspect of this (though imperfect) is neat-o...) Will post more on this later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Open Call for Overlords!

I've managed to get a few people interested in some at-table gaming, and they seem initially into Swords & Wizardry, which I'm sure will be cast through a Holmes Basic lens to some extent at first.
It is entirely possible that it will mutate into T&T or something else at some point.

So the starting point is on a large, isolated island with six 'kingdoms' separated by wilderness - this wilderness (of course) dotted with ancient ruins, bandits and other baddies, and such. I am hoping that I can talk some of you online persons to run NPCs in this environment (this has been refered to as Evil Overlord somewhere on the webnet - I have lost the bookmark - it's a good read though). The gist is that these online characters are higher-level characters instead of NPCs run by the GM - so the 'background' (of the tabletop game) is formed by agencies other than just the DM's addled pate.

If you're interested, email me at Your character and the disposition of your resources will be randomly generated. And thank you!

EDIT: Here's a link to the page that introduced this idea to me

And a 'testimonial' from someone who implemented it

PS: the "Evil" part of Evil Overlord is tongue-in-cheek - there's no evil requirement. (for the sqeamish - there's no evil prohibition either...)

Monday, August 24, 2009

my brain hexed

Your BrainHex Class is Socialiser.

Your BrainHex Class Your BrainHex Sub-Class is Socialiser-Achiever.

You like hanging around with people you trust and helping people as well as collecting anything you can collect or doing everything you possibly can.

According to your results, there are few play experiences that you strongly dislike.

Learn more about your classes and exceptions at

Your scores for each of the classes in this test were as follows:

Socialiser: 16
Achiever: 15
Seeker: 15
Survivor: 13
Mastermind: 11
Conqueror: 9
Daredevil: 6

Go to to learn more about this player model, and the neurobiological research behind it.

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does daredevil 6 == wussy?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Instant Endgame

I've been kicking an idea around for a while now - or better, a bunch of ideas have been kicking me around, I'm finally getting fed up with it. I started up a free forum some time ago, thinking to myself that it would be good to start running a bunch of play-by-post games there.
Have not yet started any, though I've populated and emptied, populated and emptied it a few times with different setting info and introductions and whatnot.

Never stuck - so I never opened it up for perusal or membership.

I've been running a 'sandbox' style PBP game at Vin's Trollbridge for a while now (roughly 6 months) and enjoying the hell out of it - first time I've been able to run T&T in too many years. Been dwarfing it up in noisms' Warhammer FRP for just as long. So I think that I've become somewhat accustomed to the peculiarities of online play.

So - what to do with the forum space I set aside for running games? I still don't know exactly, but my thoughts on the matter are turning ever more frequently to 3 ideas.

1. An Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1e, mostly BtB, no UA) game with this premise: Characters are loaded on a boat at the behest of some Lord or King, who sends them to clear a wild island, to make it safe for further colonization.

2. A fantasy wargame. Rest assured, I do not intend to implement the 'game' presented in Galloway's Fantasy Wargaming book...(has anyone actually played this?) - no, I've been thinking instead that it would be interesting to have the players take on name-level roles, to determine their retainers and forces, fortifications and incomes and such, and play something more in the spirit of play-by-mail - where players have default orders, issue orders for their realm, and also decide on actions for their character as appropriate. Have no idea what game system to use for this - tempted to use Tunnels and Trolls, as it is the game I have the easiest time adapting to suit any purpose, but Rolemaster or AD&D could be serviceable also...with a dash of Diplomacy...

3. The Wizards War. Legends of many worlds tell of a time that wizards of great power came to conflict and brought wrack and ruin to each-other, wrought artifacts of awesome power, etc, etc, etc - 2 & 3 could really be the same game...

I dunno. I like the idea of refereeing a game where players are not necessarily co-operative, and maybe play-by-email is more conducive to this style, so that orders sent in remain private, and only published results offer information on the game-state.

Any interest, suggestions, thoughts, ideas, etc, are appreciated.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fear, Rage, and Command

Continuing from prior post, three more tables (d10) to generate variations or details on such effects.
1Cringing - can take no action except self defence at -1 penalty
2Terrorized - can take no action
3Overwhelmed - takes no action, pays strict attention to source. Will surrender.
4Scared - runs away at double move rate
5Desperation - 50% runs away (as FEAR(4)), otherwise goes berserk.
6Dread - 50% fall unconscious, otherwise fall to floor and can be commanded.
7Doomed - hopelessly attempts to attack source at -4.
8Tormented - can take no actions. Experiences hellish hallucinations, will hate source.
9Demoralized - retains will and self control, but all actions at -1
10Panicked - Drops all held items and runs away at double normal move rate

1Fumes and simmers in private madness. -1 to all attacks, +1 to damage
2Focused - Attacks current or nearest opponent at +1
3Distracted - Attacks current of nearest opponent at -1
4Writhes with bestial spasms - attacks random target in reach (friend or foe)
5Attacks current or nearest opponent +1 to hit and damage
6Tantrum - 50% Tries to break whatever is held, otherwise throws it at source
7Lured - Charges at source to attack.
8Bully - Spits on corpses, kills helpless victims - attacks weakest targets.
9Self Abuse - smash head on wall, jump through windows, etc. Does not make attacks unless in doing so will certainly harm self. 50% suicide if option available.
10Fit - rage directed at inanimate objects only, but gets +1 damage against anyone trying to stop them.

1Begrudging - will obey, but try to subvert if intelligent (and possible), and any actions pertaining to command at -1. Retains memory
2As COMMAND(1), but will not retain memory of the experience
3Listless - obeys command, at -1 to any actions performed pertaining to it. Will not try to subvert.
4Obeys command, though may try to subvert. Retains memory of experience
5Considers command in own best interest and will obey. Retains memory of experience
6Obeys command. Will not retain memory, unless source desires that they do.
7Obeys command. At +1 to any actions undertaken to fulfill the command. Will retain memory only if source desires.
8Obeys the command without thought, the effect will last twice normal duration
9Obeys unquestioningly, +1 to any actions undertaken to fulfil the command. Will resent the source afterwards.
10Obeys enthusiastically, +2 to any actions undertaken to fulfil the command. Will offer services if applicable

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Influence Effect Tables (sys-neutral-ish)

Been digging through my unkempt piles of gaming-notes, map, etc, looking for several tables I made a long time ago and managed to keep because of their utility. Made them after thinking about the different ways to interpret some pseudo-common in-game terms (awe, charm, confusion, fear, command, and rage). Well - found 'em! Many of these terms are used as spell names, or have some delineation in your rulebook of choice, but these tables largely ignore those (edit: I slipped into vague D&D-isms...oh well). Some of the effects allow for secondary conditions (one can perhaps issue commands to one who is awed - or they may be so overcome as to go unconscious). Hope you enjoy! Now I'll never have to look for them again!

1Overwhelmed - stops everything, pays attention only to source of awe. Can be commandedEnthralled - pays attention only to source of awe. Open to suggestionTakes no action except self-defence
2Cowers and grovels in abject submission. Can be commandedOffers source object or service of valueContinues prior or current action at 1/2 effectiveness
3Shamed - develops aversion to source and seeks distance from it above all else. Friendship - Wants to help source. Retains free-will. Open to suggestionTakes no action
4Transcendent - feels that source has improved target in some ineffable way and is totally grateful. Can be charmed.Tolerant - will not instigate or assist actions against the sourceWander random direction at half normal move
5Pious - target believes source to be divine and to be adored. Can be charmed and commandedEnthusiastic - as CHARM(3), but all actions undertaken at the source's behest are at +1Wander random direction at normal move
6Dread - knees buckle, bowels loose, held items are dropped. Unable to take any action. If saving roll failed by large amount, consider a heart attackToady - takes no actions but complimenting source. No detail is too mundane to receive copious praise. -1 to all actions undertaken on behalf of source (too distracted)Wander random direction at double normal move
7Antithetic Conversion - as AWE(5), but target's alignment/outlook is reversed. Target believes that this change is for the better and is grateful that the source instigated the change. Can be commanded.Protective - Will defend and protect source to best of ability. Open to suggestion.Drop all held items. 50% chance target continues to divest itself of possessions beyond what is in-hand
8Epiphany - as AWE(4), but target gains experience points (1d6 per level times 100) from the experience.Respectful - as CHARM(4), but is inclined to to follow suggestions from source that coincide with own interestsContinues prior or current action at -d4 penalty to actions
9Revulsion - as AWE(3), but source becomes the center of lingering psychosisInfatuation - obsessive interest in source. May be romantic/sexual/possessive. Open to suggestionCannot remember anything. May defend self at -1.
10Fervor - target has no will of own but to serve and glorify the source. Very emotional and irrational. Can be commanded.Henchman - wants to serve source as a henchman. May be commandedStruck mute, seized by twitching spasms. Out of touch with reality. May be awed

Will continue with the others later

Monday, August 10, 2009

Troll Talk (unsolicited)

The only game I'm running these days is Tunnels and Trolls, and this is over the internet.

I don't write much about T&T, though, don't tinker or tweak much, having settled on a comfortably loose set of house-rules and guidelines early on. This is something that's come up at Vin's Trollbridge before (among other places) - that it's hard to get too worked up about different approaches, modes of play, etc (of course, in this way it probably helps that T&T never approached the kind of dissemination that D&D did - the pool of opinions never got too cloudy...)

It also never suffered from differences between editions (up until fairly recently anyway). It is a game that promotes a 'ruling-over-rule' approach, demands that the GM exercise personal judgement for determining how difficult a character's action may be to perform (which seems to be a big chicken-bone-in-the-sandwich for many players of games of more recent invention). No list of monsters, no list of magic items, very little in the way of 'implied setting' in this sense.

Tunnels and Trolls is a game that I don't write about very much, because it's a kind of a perfect specimen in my opinion (and the opinions of at least a few others)!

Of course, like any RPG that sees a lot of service in home games and longer campaigns and such, there were a lot of spells added to it, common items and monsters, standard practices for special cases and conditions - but at no point did I ever feel like I had to make up something to account for a deficiency in the rules, a kludge of a subsystem - nor that I had to outright exclude or ignore some part of the rules as presented as being too far out, or just 'that's not the way I'd do it'.

Rumours are in the air that a chaotic 8th edition is in the works. My hopes are that it is a variation on the 'perfection' of the 5th edition - since something being 'more perfect' is only meaningful in an Orwellian sense...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lovely post from fightingfantasist

FightingFantasist: Cracking Open The God-Isle

(another successful deflection of the internet!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

pregenerated spellbooks

Added a link to a PDF of pregenerated spellbooks for 1e AD&D Magic Users. There are 6 spellbooks for each point of intelligence, making a d6 easy to determine which is found or available. Kellri's got this stuff in spades, but here's another for the sake of wheel reinvention...also put up some tables to help generate some NPC details if you need to determine an elf's class, or an assassin's race, or a fighter's alignment...

Funniest thing I've read in 2000 years

The Tao of D&D: The Council of Passaic

alignment table re-do

I like this better.
01-16Neutral Evil58-69Lawful Neutral
17-24Lawful Evil70-76Chaotic Good
25-31Chaotic Evil77-84Lawful Good
32-43Chaotic Neutral85-00Neutral Good
44-57True Neutral

Think I'll lay off the alignment for a while.

Monday, August 3, 2009

yet more alignment

Here's a quote from Gygax in Strategic Review. At this point, the system of alignments is beginning to move from the Original D&D (Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic) into that presented in Homes Basic (Lawful Good/Evil, Neutral, Chaotic Good/Evil).

Considering mythical and mythos gods in light of this system, most of the benign ones will tend towards the chaotic/good, and chaotic/evil will typify those gods which were inimical towards humanity. Some few would be completely chaotic, having no predisposition towards either good or evil — REH’s Crom perhaps falls into this category.

I find this interesting on 2 points.
  • Allowing one and two term definitions of alignment to co-exist, and
  • stating that evil is 'inimical towards humanity', placing the interests of humanity as the objective standard (which is probably the safest approach, maybe the only approach...)

Holmes alignment is the one I've felt most comfortable with. Not too esoteric, but of finer resolution. Continuing to use Lawful and Chaotic as independent terms does not seem a serious complication, and one that allows the existence of objective Law and objective Chaos, in the realm of deities and such.

And to maintain the humanocentric interpretation of alignment, the last paragraph of this article says:
As a final note, most of humanity falls into the lawful category, and most of lawful humanity lies near the line between good and evil. With proper leadership the majority will be prone towards lawful/good. Few humans are chaotic, and very few are chaotic and evil.

Perhaps to reinterpret the 1e AD&D alignment, removing the neutrality of each of its variations (and get rid of True, same as adding it implicitly)...nah.

This is the alignment table I use for random determination
d%1e AD&DHolmes Basic
01-05Lawful EvilLawful Evil
06-15Chaotic EvilChaotic Evil
16-20Neutral EvilNeutral (evil tendencies)
21-35Chaotic NeutralNeutral
36-55True NeutralNeutral
56-80Lawful NeutralNeutral
81-85Neutral GoodNeutral (good tendencies)
86-95Chaotic GoodChaotic Good
96-00Lawful GoodLawful Good

So 60-70% of the aligned population falls into neutral territory, with a greater chance of lawful ethos where applicable. Boring? Realistic? Not sure. Somewhat comfortable though.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How about 13 alignments?

(This is a total ramble. Sorry - it's saturday.)

I've never been able to implement the use of alignment into a game I ran that I thought was satisfying.

Really, I dislike the following ideas as much as I dislike virtually all ideas about handling alignment - except that one which advises willfull exclusion of it.

You can view the 9 axis AD&D alignment (LE-CE-NE-CN-TN-LN-NG-CG-LG) as a 2D array (like the picture on the page). Now sparsely populate the third dimension with doubles of the bases (LL-CC-NN-EE-GG) - say that these are the most exaggerated, atavistic or monolithic interpretations of these ideas...Neutral Neutral seems like True Neutral...UGH - at least there's 13 elements, which might scare prospective DM's off due to superstition and folklore, and those who skip from level 12 to level 14...


OK. Get rid of the conceit of 'common tongue' instead (maybe allow other less-inclusive ones like Tradespeak, Scholarspeak, Mercenarese, etc (thieves and druids do it, right?)). How about getting rid of all other languages as automatic to the character at creation - only the alignment language stays, so generally people can speak best to those'of like mind'...allow them to be learned as any other...

Eh. In a world without races, that could be cool.

Here's my personal binary favorite: PC and monster.

The concept is really fundamental to the game of D&D - in the sense that it's in the original rules, was there from the start (is it still there now?). Maybe, just maybe, my dissatisfaction with it is a shortcoming of my own. I've always hated using it while playing. I've always felt like players who make a big deal about their character's alignment have some kind of agenda to their play ('always' isn't the best word - maybe 'usually felt that'...anyway). I've always appreciated those games that don't even bother with alignment in the rules. There are, of course, good guys and bad guys in those games (PCs and monsters).

Nevertheless, I've always felt compelled to use it, or at least include it in setting and design for fantasy games, in some way just a cut above token inclusion. Take the swords and magic items that possess intelligence, ego, alignment. Opinions, outlooks, etc - these are elements of sentience - morality, ethics, what is right, what is wrong - you know the rap...

Seems likely that the anti-paladin was an invention very early in the history of the dissemination of the original game. Where's the evil anti-ranger, who hunts the edges of civilization, culling the sheep who stray too far from the village? (well, that role is filled nicely by wolves and monsters I guess...) As a class, I guess that's an assassin...

The endgame of OD&D vs say BECMI (hope I got the order right, BEMCI?). Wargaming vs at-home campaigns. Gross definitions vs fine definitions. Good Guys vs Bad Guys. Team players vs. Individualists. I'm not a big fan of 'epic' style games - so the identification of universal powers of such-and-such alignment always rubbed me wrong.

But, dammit! As a DM, I want to know if some NPC king in question is neutral, good, or evil! (Basically just so I can figure out which of them are fighting...) I still use it in design a lot. For that matter, I want to know if some prospective henchman is Chaotic Evil or Lawful Neutral. I end up writing small programs to automate NPC generation, with the idea that it'll help to populate villages and such (*herm* ok, i do it cuz it's fun) - but within these lists, inevitably, I segregate the NPC into groups of common alignment, to begin to piece together story-hooks and relations between groups...

Assuming you've made it this far, I'll apologize again.

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.