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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coming Soon to the Tavern - Video Blog Posts (Ack!)

I really have enjoyed Christian's video blog posts when he puts them up. It's probably because it's Christian doing them that they are so entertaining and mine will stink worse then my cat's litter box (which truthfully, doesn't stink much at all thanks to Feline Pine litter, but I digress). In any case, I've been toying with the idea of the occasional video post for a while now. Never discussed it with anyone, not even the future Mrs. Tenkar.

So, who tells me today that I should be doing some video blog posts? The future Mrs. Tenkar. The mind reading is just a little scary, but I also think she wants to get some more use out of her Sony Bloggie mini-cam.

So, figure yourselves given "fair warning". It's probably still a while away. I promise to keep them short when they are done - Christian's are always nice and short. Not sure if I can review a RPG in under a minute, but if it can be done, I'll find a way ;)

The Red Headed Step-Children of AD&D - Races

There were certain races that few, if any, chose in the campaigns I ran or played in during my AD&D years.

Gnomes - these misunderstood little buggers were often seen as a cross between Dwarves and Halflings, but lacking in the redeeming qualities of either. Which is really a shame, because, if I recall correctly (my AD&D books are back home and AD&D 2e often clouds my memories) Gnomes could multi-class as Illusionists / Thieves. This is a combo that literally feeds both sides of the combination - the sum certainly is more then the total of the part. Never saw a player play one, myself included. I don't think we ever got past the issue of gnomes as being sissified dwarves.

Half-elves - what could trey do that their elven parent couldn't? Multi-class as a Cleric up to 5th level, not get the elven bonuses to swords and bow, only minimally resistant to sleep and charm - oh, and if memory serves, they could be a low level ranger. Ah, but they could be a Druid to level 15 (class max). So if you were going to be a Druid, maybe it was a no brainer.

Half-orc - unless you were going to be an Assassin (already a red headed step-child) there was no reason to be a half orc. Want 4 levels of cleric with a piss poor wisdom and half expo for the rest of the campaign? Play a Half-orc Fighter / Cleric! It offered very little, and if role-played correctly, even less.

Free OSR RPG - Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Game

Spellcraft & Swordplay has been around for a few years.  It's an OSR style game that takes OD&D back to it's Chainmail roots - you resolve combat using 2D6, not a D20.  It's extremely familiar in feel, and yet foreign at the same time.  There are more changes then that, of course (spell casting for one), but that is the core.

Elf Lair Games has released Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Game for free on RPGNow.  It covers the first 3 levels of character advancement, so it is less a quick start and more of a starter book for the full Spellcraft & Sorcery Rules.

If you ever wanted to check the Spellcraft & Swordplay system out before, or if you've never heard of it before, here's your chance to take it for a ride for free.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Red Headed Step-Children of AD&D - Unearthed Arcana Classes

I remember when Unearthed Arcana was released for AD&D. It was a huge expansion of the core rules. Weapon Specializations for the fighter class and sub classes, new spells (some of which added to the Illusionists repertoire as I recall - I think my fav was Phantom Armor), new races and new classes.

The Thief-Acrobat reminding me a bit of the original AD&D Bard class, as it was a class that broke the established rules just by it's very existence. It splits off the main Thief class in the middling levels and goes off on a branch of it's own - kinda like a "prestige class" for those in the 3x state of mind. A Thief-Acrobat had some amazing abilities to move around, but his thieving abilities were stalled. I don't recall anyone in any of the groups I played in choosing one.

Cavalier - The "knight" as one thinks of it in romantic literature, this class and the Cavalier-Paladin were pretty impossible to run as written from a "role playing" standpoint. The thing is, the role playing restrictions and hinderances were there to balance the gameplay bonuses and powers. That never happened in games I played in. Maybe because it was our High School years, these powerhouses were unbalanced as all heck.

The Barbarian - fun as all hell to play as a player - D12 HD, super DEX and Con bonuses, xp for destroying magic items (and a horrible XP chart, so you need all those XP) wont adventure with Arcane Casters - played properly one barbarian could destroy a party from within. Two? We killed a campaign the third session in.

Hmmm, next I'll have to hit upon the races.

There Be Dragons in Walmart!

I was in Walmart this afternoon, buying the usual non-necessities that one finds there when I stumbled across this incense burner -

$10 for the Tower with Dragon incense burner.  They also had a tower w/o dragon and a 5 headed hydra. (dog not included - but she insisted on being part of the picture).

Of course, that doesn't explain the rest of the money we spent, but this is just damn cool.  Gonna give it a try later tonight.

Gaming Memories

I spent many a summer in my High School years playing AD&D with my friends in the country. Actually, we spent many a weekend playing back then also. Twelve hours straight? Done that. Twenty four hours over a day and a half? Been there. When we could game revolved around my time at the family house in the Poconos - I don't think they gamed if I wasn't there, and I was the only DM in the group.

Playing at home in NYC was different. In many ways, I was the catalyst, as my folks were nice enough to allow us to use the basement, the backyard and even the dining room table at will, but I was not the only GM in the group, and the group played more then just AD&D. It was also larger. In the Poconos, it was usually a group of four. In NYC, we could hit ten easy during my high school and early college years.

The group in the Poconos didn't last long past High School - job opportunities were slim back then away from the city (and probably still are). Two in the group joined the military shortly after High School, and the other went away to college. But I still had my New York group for years afterwards. Colleges and jobs were in relative abundance in the metro area - no one left home.

I still see some of the parents of my childhood friends on occasion when I'm up in the Poconos, but I never see the old gaming friends. They've all moved on.

I really need to get the old gaming group from NYC up here to the Poconos for some gaming. That would be perfect. ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Start of a Mini-Cation

I've been breaking my vacation time into single days to get work done around the house on some long weekends.  This time, it's going to be a bit different.  This three day weekend the future Mrs. Tenkar, myself and her dachshund are heading to the Poconos.

This is a rarity for us, as my son is staying behind to do some of his auxiliary work.

Actually, we haven't had an opportunity like this since last August.  Date weekend!  Oh, and needless to say, but a great chance to catch up on some of my RPG reading ;)

The Red Headed Step-Children of AD&D - Classes

The original Player's Handbook had a handful of classes that did not fit in well with the default setting assumed by the rules.

Assassin - evil by nature, it really didn't work with parties that generally had at least one Paladin or Ranger. Every campaign I played in had at least one Paladin or Ranger in the party.

Bard - start as a Fighter, then dual class to Thief and finally dual class again to Bard, this broke just about every rule in the book. Over powered by some standards, it's probably the worst version of the Bard in the game. Then again, the Bard class from issue 56 of the Dragon was single classed and overpowered.

Monk - very weak to start, powerful at higher levels, the Eastern Style monk didn't really fit into the setting (I know they tried to fit it into the Scarlet Brotherhood but it still didn't feel right to me).

Illusionist - an underpowered Magic-User. It could work in a campaign that was heavy on role play, but since expo relied upon combat, an Illusionist made for a poor substitute.

Druid - many of a Druid's abilities and spells relied upon being outside. The default setting of the Dungeon negated much of his usefulness.

As a side note, except for the obvious LotR reference, why does the Ranger have access to Magic-User spells and ESP devices?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beyond Politics and Political Affiliations

Yeah, I know I am against political posts on RPG blogs, but this post is neither right or left, republican or democrat, conservative or liberal - this is just a wee post about a disturbing trend.

Western society as a whole, and our governments in general, have been up in arms when Arab countries were shutting down cell phone service and access to social media sites during "The Arab Spring". Their whole line was "that is not how democracies would do things".

The recent shutting down of cellular service at certain BART stations in the San Francisco area due to protests at said stations was the same thing. Surprising for such a liberal, forward thinking city. Britain has been talking about controlling social media during future social unrest.

Governments fear social media. Probably for good reason. The thing is, once you give up a right, you rarely get it back.

You would think that with 15 years in law enforcement I would embrace tools that have the potential to make my job easier, but everyone I've spoken to in my profession about this incident is very disturbed by it. Thankfully, there wasn't a repeat of the shutdown during the most recent BART protests. Still, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I'll get back to gaming with my next post. I promise ;)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hardware Upgrade in Progress (and another week without gaming)

I've moved from a PC / MacMini shared peripherals setup to an iMac that I'll be dual booting with windows. Haven't gotten around to BootCamping windows just yet. Still trying to get Apple to give me my free upgrade to Lion. Sigh.

Enough tech talk. I noticed something over the weekend. My son's core group of friends at the age of 18 closely mirror my core group of friends from that age (and with whom I remain friends with to this day). For us, it was AD&D and other RPG's that helped forge the bond. For this generation, it seems to be the XBox 360. Still, I have hope for them yet. They enjoy games like Fable and Oblivion and Fallout on the 360 - surely they may one day graduate to "true" RPGs ;)

It looks like the sometimes weekly OD&D chat game is on indefinite hold. I may need to find a game to fill the gap. It's a noticeable gap, as its the only game I've been playing in recently. A well.


The Secret Fire - It's a Band, Baby!

I was just goofing around with some google searches and it appears that there is / was an indie rock band named The Secret Fire. They have a myspace page and everything. Of course, they haven't logged into it since June of 2010. It must be that "myspace thing". Everything goes to myspace to die.

Anyhow, I was thinking that I really like the way that The Secret Fire handles multi classing, or whatever you want to call it in TSF. That means it must not be balanced, because as we know, multi classing in AD&D was balanced to the point that the MC'ed character was generally underpowered once the rest of the party started hitting their stride... generally about 6th or 7th level for them. Reduced level with the permanent XP split for the MC was their burden for life.

Then again, even with TSF, certain MC options are better then others, and certain primary classes work better then others, for in truth, in TSF, it isn't so much multi classing as it is adding a secondary class. You don't get all the class abilities from the second class, and what you do get is watered down from the full version.

Rainy Couple of Days in NYC

It's been a rainy couple of days in NYC. I'm not complaining, as it has kept the temperatures cooler, but it's been disrupting my ability to watch the kittens in my yard. Yep, a momma cat had kittens recently and had been moving them from yard to yard before settling on mine. Those kittens are adorable. Old enough to run around and get in trouble, one of the four has already been adopted by a neighbor (the first to start eating dried food, but I think they all are now). One orange tabby and two calicos are the three that are left.

My son wants a german Shepard, but seems receptive to getting a kitten instead. At 18 and making rumbles of joining the military, I think I'd rather he pick a kitten ;)

The rain has also prevented me from enjoying the yard to read my recent gaming acquisitions, but then again, the heat prior to the rain was also preventing me from enjoying the yard.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Late Night Gaming Thoughts Are Like the Wind

As I lay in bed last nite, my mind was drifting back and forth between The Secret Fire and Adventurer Conqueror King. I am quite sure that my semi-conscious faculties were melding the the two into some sort of unholy conglomerate (then again, I've been consciously thinking of doing the same) when I thought of a dice resolution system for spell casting that must have also been stealing from the upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics - as it's the only OSRish game I know that requires a dice roll for every casting of a spell.

With the exception of the knowledge that the outcome of the casting was decided by a roll of 2D6, all else is obscured by the mists of sleep. Seemed damn good and intuitive when I thought of it, that much I can remember. Details? Nope.

I used to keep a voice recorder next to my bed for such times. It appears I must do so again.

Do You Like Peanut Butter in Your Chocolate?

The Secret Fire is, from my POV, a game you will either like a lot or really dislike. It's an OSR game with pieces of FATE, BRP, possibly 4e (don't know 4e well enough to guess) and I'm sure concepts and ideas from other media / games mixed in. Maybe it's more Rocky Road ice cream then a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but it's definitely a game that draws on more then one prior source or inspiration.

Some folks may like it. I do, I think it works pretty well - or at least reads pretty well. I've noticed comments from others on some of the gaming forums that TSF has activated folks gag reflex. The idea of mixing old with new is a non-starter, sight unseen.

It's not a perfect game by any means. I, for one, don't feel comfortable using descriptor's instead of numbers. I also don't like nuts in my Rocky Road, but it is one of my favorite ice cream flavors. The whole overpowers the individual parts. Besides, I tend to leave the the nuts in the bowl. ;)

How to you feel about mixing old and new?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sometimes It's Good to be King (Adventurer Conqueror King System)

The Adventurer Conqueror King System play test document was recently updated.  I've no idea what the particular changes were (it's probably in the forum), but I'm looking at this with fresh eyes (and eagerly awaiting my printed copy to arrive).

Things I've noticed this time (but but may or may not have noticed before):
- High Int is just as good for Wizards as High Wis is for Clerics.  I've been using that as a house rule for ages and I'm happy to see it here.
- I didn't miss this the first time, but I am happy to see a game that gives options to demi-humans as far as classes go without giving them human classes.  Dwarves can be Dwarven fighters or Dwarven Craftpriests and Elves can be Spellswords or Nightblades.
-Thief skills are rolled on a D20, not percentile based.  Apples and oranges for some, but I like the D20 roll high method.
-Bard class is included.  Yay!
-Character inheritance: for when your PC is dead and you planned ahead to replace him.  Leave him a good amount of starting cash.
-Domain Rules - I really need to read these through.  Damn interesting.

K, all for now.

Digging Out in Order to Dig In

I told my fiancee that the goal of this weekend was to throw out at least 4 mid size garbage bags of "stuff".  I have way too much stuff, and I find that when she's helping me I'm more apt to trash something that thin "I maybe able to find a use for this whatchamicallit".  She keeps me honest.  Three bags of trash and a bag or so of recycling so far.

I draw the line on RPGs.  They get boxed. Very few get trashed.  Some of my 3.x glut will probably get dumped, Mayfair Chill got trashed (Pacesetter version will be kept tho), lots of old computer games found their way into the recycling bin - like i said earlier, I have way too much stuff if I want to share space with the woman i love.

My PC / Mac Mini set up is moving up to an iMac which I will bootcamp with Win7 Ultimate.  Again, making the best use of the available space (she's getting the Mac Mini - the old PC will get recycled).  Oh, and I cut that last strip of molding I needed to buy.  I'll nail it in as my son and a few of his friends have a barbecue in the rain.  What can I say?  They're 18 ;)