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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tonight, the Saturday Nighters Will Seek "The Temple of Zoko" (Far Away Land)


Tonight my Saturday Night group will be taking their first stab at Far Away Land. We'll be using nothing more than the FAL Quick Start Rules and A7 - Temple of Zoko. Both are available at PWYW pricing and print out amazingly well in booklet format (three cheers for the new laser printer.)

We'll follow this up with a session recap tomorrow. In the meantime I'm very excited, as Temple of Zoko makes for a fine sandbox to kick things off with.

Morath Ogre - A Creature for Swords & Wizardry and White Star


Morath Ogres are bred to be walking watchtowers, allowing watchmen an extended view of an otherwise visually obstructed urban environment. Their hands are wrapped in hide and leather while their arms are extra long, serving as a second set of legs and offering a steadier ride for the watchman stationed above. Their mouths are covered by what is effectively a barred mouth brace. Morath Ogres with unwrapped hands and unbraced mouths have been known to snatch random creatures and pop them quickly into their mouths for a meal. Their are especially found of sentient "teenaged" or pubescent creatures, as the raging hormones add to the flavor of the meal.

Morath Ogres stand 12 to 14 feet tall at their shoulders and are believed to be a crossbreed of standard ogres and cloud giants, but they have the intelligence of neither. To cut down on their innate aggression, all male Morath Ogres that are not used for breeding are gelded as early as possible. Morath Ogres do not like heavy rain, as it causes the leather wrap around their hands to constrict which imparts pain on them that they rarely feel. They have been known to panic and lash out in prolonged, heavy rains.

The watchman stationed on a Morarth Ogre lights a green lantern on his tower post from dusk to dawn. This light allows the populace to know that a watchman is nearby.

Morath Ogres are fairly common in the more populate cities of low tech worlds.

For use with White Star (discount link) and Swords and Wizardry White Box (free download link)

Morath Ogre

ARMOR CLASS   1 [18]
HIT DICE   8+1
TOTAL HIT BONUS   +8
ATTACKS   Fists (2d6 +2) 
SAVING THROW 10 (save bonus due to thick skin)
SPECIAL - none
MOVEMENT 12
HDE/XP 8/1,100

Prepping for NTRPG Con - Printing the Far Away Land Quickstart Booklets


North Texas RPG Con kicks off in less than 2 weeks and like others, I have found it is time to get ready. I'll be running a session of Far Away Land off the grid, probably in the hotel bar. Time and day still need to be nailed down.

I just installed my Brother Laser Printer and it does an excellent job printing in booklet form. I'll have about 8 copies or so of the quickstart for my players to refer to during the game.

All I need now is a long arm stapler and I could start publishing zines...

Nope ;)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jim Magnusson's Morath Ogre


I asked +Jim Magnusson to come up with something with a "law enforcement" theme to it. Damn did Jim do good!

I'll stat this out tomorrow for Swords & Wizardry and White Star - yes, I see it fitting well in both :)

Experience Points - Does Gold Still Have the Same Weight as the Early Days of Gaming?

Back in the early days, when the "Dungeons" part of D&D defined much of the gameplay, giving expo primarily based on Gold Piece value made sense. Even if you think it doesn't make sense, it's understandable - it was an easy short cut that kept things simple. And just think of the difficulty in removing that heavy hoard of coin.

Later, when "the wilderness" was initially introduced, much was hand waved and adventuring was still primarily in dungeon environments. Conducting home invasions of dungeon denizens was still the primary source of income and expo.

At some point the "sandbox" became a thing, even if it wasn't called such at the time. Exploration and the wilderness came to the forefront but the method of awarding expo did not change. At 10 gold coins to the pound, how did anyone travel with money? (gems, of course)

Sandbox play damn near requires a rethinking of the method to award expo. Do you give points for each 6 mile hex explored? Double the xp from monster kills? Gold and the like is much rarer in the wilds.

By it's very nature, sci-fi roleplaying is very sandboxie - no one plays scifi on a single world, they want the universe. Can credits in lieu of gold really be sufficient as a source of expo? Doesn't this hamper the viability of a Space Marine themed campaign, where killing xenomorphs doesn't lead to the recovery of credits?

What, if any, alternate methods of xp awarding do you use? Do you change methods depending on the type of adventure? Is gold = XP an OSR sacred cow?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stirring Sh!t and Taking Names

Apparently I stir shit. Maybe +Tim Shorts didn't call it such exactly, but I got his meaning ;)

Settings or Rules or Both and Why Not, Another Giveaway - enter for the giveaway - it's good shit.

Innovation: settings, rules, or... what? - give +Joseph Bloch a piece of your mind

If stirring shit means driving conversation, I've done did good :)

I'll be (along with my wife Rachel) at NTRPG Con in less than 2 weeks. I've already agreed to have my hair cut that Tuesday and shave before flying that Wednesday. I will not be "scruffy." If you see me, feel free to say "hi!" I don't bite and may even buy youra beer ;)

How Big a Role Does Alignment Play in Your Campaign? Is it Even Needed?

Assuming your system of choice includes alignment in anywhere from three to nine flavors, how big a role does alignment play in your campaign?

Back in my High School years, I used to plot that out on a grid for each PC, much like the DMG suggested. What a fucking waste of time. With the exception of any Paladins in the party, the average PC could at best be defined as Chaotic Selfish. Paladins were Lawful Stupid, Deaf and Blind.

These days I mostly hand wave it "So, you take the Orc hostage, put him tied up in a mining cart, pour oil on him, light him and send him screaming and flaming down the tracks? Neutral Good you say you are? You gave him a choice: talk and live or stay silent and burn and the choice was his? This would have been fair game on 24 with Jack Baur? Sigh. Lets move on to the mobile flaming orc."

Do we need alignment? Is good and evil a matter of perspective? Should alignment be kept but redefined?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where Should the Innovation in the OSR Be - Rules or Settings?

+Michael S made some good points at The Tavern earlier today and it made me think - where should
the innovation in the OSR be - rules or settings?

Mike specific brought up Empire of the Petal Throne and Blackmoor.

EPT's strength is not it's ruleset, which is basically OD&D with some houserules, but it's setting. Deep and alien and multilayered while still slightly familiar.

Blackmoor brought us the first published adventure. Common now, it was a first for the fledgling hobby.

So, where should the OSR innovate?

I think it should be with the settings, using house rules to make it unique where necessary. I have enough generic fantasy settings to last me a lifetime. We need more Spears of the Dawn and Arrows of Indra (both complete games where the innovation is the setting) and less reworks of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms - been there, have it, don't need a pale imitation.

From my own perspective, I'm working on a series of Pocket Settings for White Star. I want a fun hook for each, but I don't expect them to truly innovate on their own. 8 pages doesn't give one much room to innovate. But I have been given peeks and "elevator pitches" of what some others have in store for their White Star settings, and some may just hit the "new and not seen before" level.

I see sci-fi as a less trod and overworked field to plant than fantasy when it comes to RPGs. Hopefully White Star achieves it's goal as a toolbox for others to truly innovate. Time will tell.

What say you? Rules or settings and why?


Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - 830 Eastern

Pull up a chair, grab a beer and join us for the weekly chat :)

How Big a Role Do Ability Modifiers Play in Your Game?

How big a role do ability Modifiers play in your game. I ask, because the White Box range is -1, +1 where it even exists. 3d6 in order isn't a big deal in such an setting. AD&D has a range (mostly) of -4 to +4 and I see where the 4d6 drop the lowest and arrange as you will came into play, as ability modifiers greatly effect what a character can do well (or not.)

Do you prefer the lower spread of ability modifiers, the larger spread or somewhere in between?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kickstarter - The Zine Vault (White Boxed sized Boxes for your Zines)


I have too many zines. This isn't a bad thing (and I've got a few I need to review) but finding the ones I have is often similar to an Easter Egg Hunt - they are squirreled away between game books on my shelves and other places.

Earlier tonight +Tim Shorts pointed me towards The Zine Vault Kickstarter. My first response was "why would I need this?" After thinking for a minute it became "how the fuck have I survived without this?"


So yeah, I'll be getting 8 boxes, which if I can track down all of my zines probably still won't be enough. It should cut down on the Easter Egg Hunt tho'.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Rant - Comparing What is To What You Might Have Done But Didn't Do is Just so Much Bull....

I hate when someone says: "I had the same idea 5 years ago, but back then I thought it was lame. Or I was lazy. Or uninspired. Now someone else has done it and it's hot as shit on a stick. But I thought of it first so this thing NOW is a pale imitation of this thing THEN that never was."

It's like comparing apples to... the thinking of an apple. Well, I mean thinking about an apple. Until it is an apple it doesn't exist. Thoughts are fleeting and for the most part private.

It's the person claiming credit for a screenplay of a box office smash that was never submitted but he had the idea first but never showed anyone.

Someone else striking gold on a claim that you investigated but you never bothered to claim and being bitter about it is just... sad.






Petty Gods: Revised and Expanded is Here - Free in PDF and at Cost in Print


I have seen Petty Gods, and it is good. Really. I got my advance copy of the PDF last night and holy shit it rocks.

396 pages cover to cover. I want this in hard cover for my bookshelf ;)

It's available in three ways:

First - Free Petty Gods PDF. As in "air" and "freedom" and all that jazz. Ignore what RPGNow says about there being a watermark - there ain't none. Believe me, I checked.

Second - At Cost Petty Gods in Premium Soft Cover - $13.22 - Did I mention the PDF has 396 pages cover to cover? Huge book.

Third - At Cost Petty Gods in Casewrap Hardback - $22.47 - no idea what the heck "casewrap" means, but it must be good.

While your at Lulu, you may as well add the Old School Adventures™ Accessory CC1: Creature Compendium for $7.99. An excellent value and it's keeper than paying for shipping twice ;)

Or find some more goodies at Lulu. Buy 4 and get the one of lowest cost for free. Code: TRGE15

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Looking for Advice From the Tavern's Patrons on a Laser Printer Potential Purchase

As I get closer to refining the whole Pocket Settings concept for White Star, I'm realizing that my current ink jet is not quite up to spec. I'm running through ink way to fast, including color which I don't actually use. I think there is some sort of magical drain on the color ink cartridges.

Anyhow, with the pocket settings currently being worked on, I'm considering sending print "ash can" copies to some of the higher end supporters of my Patreon as well as giving away a copy or two of each one when completed here on the blog.

So, I need a better printer. I'm looking at the Brother DCPL2540DW Wireless Compact Laser Printer on Amazon for $139. The price is right and the reviews look good, but I'd like to get opinions of others.

I'm listening, so comment away :)

Resources - Found an Excellent Resource for Detailing Star Systems (and most anything else for all RPG Genres)


Donjon. I'm sure I've heard it mentioned before, perhaps whispered of in side alleys, but this shit is the real shit. You can drill down and detail the planet itself.

If you share the "random seed", all someone has to do is input that seed on the proper page to pull up the same thing on their end. Pretty snazzy.

I do so like the Random Tavern Generator. Is anyone surprised?

Oh, and the star systems are plotted on the map - now to detail some of them.


Resource - Found an Excellent Resource for Blank Numbered Hex Maps (and other goodies)

I was trying to find a usable and numbered hex map to start working on the sector map for "Tales of the Ratcatcher" for my upcoming White Star Campaign. Finally found it at The Isomage's House. Map generation of all types, and if you do Traveller, they'll map it out in Traveller format. Damn sweet stuff.

Of course, I just need a blank map to work on, so I got that (resize to 80% if you want it to fit on a single 8 1/2 x 11 sheet.)


White Star - Pocket Settings - Tales of the Ratcatcher - New Ship - Ratcatcher

Art by Shaman's Stockart
The Ratcatcher is a modified troop transport ship. As originally designed, the bottom half of the ship can detach from the upper part, allowing the lower part of the ship to land and disembark troops while the main half remains in orbit. 18 high speed entry capsules (9 per side) would allow for space paratroopers to descent directly from the edge of the atmosphere.

As currently modified, the troop transport section is now a pressurized cargo hold for the transport of goods. Black market and restricted items are often stored in the high speed entry capsules, allowing for quick removal of illicit goods before the authorities are close enough to detect them.

It got the name Ratcatcher from it's previous Captain (and current owner), who in addition to being a legitimate merchant (and occasional black marketer) was known to take on Bounty Hunter contracts. As such, one of the 8 staterooms in the upper part of the ship is modified for gravity enhancement of up to 5 times standard, a very effective way to help ensure control of one's temporary guest.

These days the Ratcatcher is leased to a party of traders and explorers - with the option to buy if they can raise sufficient funds.

It is much like a medium transport from the core White Star rules, except as noted above. When the two halves are disengaged, the upper half has a movement of 9.


We'll be Kicking off a White Star Campaign in Two Weeks - Now I Need to Prep

Art by Shaman's Stockart

Next Saturday night I'll be putting the Far Away Land Quick Start rules through some testing before bringing them to North Texas RPG Con. I'll be running a different adventure than the one in the Quick Start.

The following Saturday I'll be kicking off a White Star Campaign. After talking with my group, I'm thinking "Tales of the Ratcatcher" (subject to change depending on player pushback ;) borrowing inspiration from Firefly, some classic LBB Traveller and using Stars Without Number to help with the sandboxing. Yes, the plan is some smuggling, plot seeds, sandboxing and more.

Looks like I'll be working on two pocket settings concurrently ;)