Well, WotC IS trying to constantly milk their customers by making books obsolete while still trying to claim compatibility. Heck, they still haven't released their VTT and I've let my Insider Subscriber status lapse a long time ago.
Still, nothing beats Activision's plans for Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 3. Lets see, if you want to play on an XBox 360 or a PS3, you have to pay to subscribe to their networks AND Activision wants you to cough up a monthly fee to them too. I'm not even counting the 60 bucks for the game iteself.
Two years ago today I started blogging. I actually reserved TenkarsTavern on Blogspot a year earlier, but the posting didn't start until May 31st, 2009.
Two whole years. I remember when getting 20 hits in a day to my site was a highlight. Heck, my early templates had a bug in the comments HTML - which is why no one ever commented ;)
Now its two years later. I'm still enjoying the whole blogging thing. Even with the OSR blog schism at happened a while back I find the OSR corner of the RPG hobby to be the most vibrant. I love it here, and plan on being here for the long haul.
If I'm lucky, I'll still be enjoying this in another 20 years. ;)
On Friday I shopped and prepped for my son's birthday party.
Saturday was the day of the party. Went better then I could have ever hoped. My fiancee's family and my family met for the first time. No hiccups ;) The kid racked up the gifts and I met some of his friends. They seem level headed and cool. One even asked me how my son ever found himself such an amazing family (this is as I was driving them all home). Left me speechless ;)
Sunday was "bum around the yard and enjoy the sun" day. Which I did very well with, as my left shoulder (and it's newly resident sunburn) will attest to.
Today was my son's actual birthday. Took him shopping (and driving - the lad loves to drive). Small ice cream cake after dinner, so he got to celebrate twice.
Didn't do ANY wallpapering or painting. I really need to get cracking. It's getting hot these days too. Damn it!
I'll be reading more Raggi and Zak tonight (as I have been during my free time this weekend). Vornheim REALLY works much better in dead tree then it does in PDF. Some of those charts tho' are way too f'n small in font size! Grrrrrrrrr!
I've been thinking quite a bit the past few days about Dwarves and Halflings in LotFP's Weird Fantasy Ruleset. Deluxe rules or Grindhouse Edition, it doesn't matter which... these class races are hosed.
D&D is an offensive game. He that brings the most damage to the table tends to win.
Dwarves will average one extra hit point per level over a fighter. By level 9 that's 9 extra hit points, at the cost of +9 to THAC0, or whatever the kids call it these days. The Dwarf can't hit for shit, but he might be able to take an extra blow. Maybe. Oh, and he can press and do something else too. The Elf can do the same, and can cast spells.
Halflings are even more hosed. 1 less hit point on average then a fighter will gain each level, but he saves great. So, zero offensive value, moderate "Polish Minesweeper" value. Or just use a specialist, as the spec will actually brings useful skills to the table (and possible backstab damage too).
When James says he play tested these rules, and moved his game from BFRP to WF, I can't see how he had anyone playing a Dwarf or a Halfling at the time. Which is irksome, as I've been enjoying my read thru of the rules, even more so this time around then with the Deluxe Edition (which was good too, but this trip has been even better).
edit: can't comment on my own blog... i love blogger... here is my comment -
stuart, let me put it another way:
Fighters bring combat ability to the table
Clerics, MUs and Elves bring magic to the table
Specialists bring a boatload of useful skills to the table
Dwarves bring an extra HP per level
Halflings bring better saves then the other classes.
I'm not talking optimizing, I'm talking about bringing something to the party. The party is more then the individuals, that I know. But if you aren't helping the party, you are a hinderance.
Fighting, magic and skills vs HP and saves.
I know halflings were an afterthought (James said so when Deluxe was released). As for Dwarves...
k, read that wrong. yes, extra HP is nice, but next to worthless if you can't hit. Which is why you are house ruling some combat adds as he gains level.
now, if you gave the halfling half the skill points of the specialist, that might balance out too ;)
My son dragged me kicking and screaming into watching the Flashpoint TV series on Netflix. It details the activities and actions of the Strategic Response Unit. The city is unnamed so far, but I'm pretty sure Toronto is where it is set.
As far as a SWAT type unit, this one has all the toys. It also has personalities and an ongoing background story even tho' each episode wraps up fairly neatly - kinda like a good gaming session with a nice background thread.
Now, my son would watch 3 or 4 episodes a nite if he could, but my limit is one or two. Each episode is a fairly realistic roller-coaster ride.
I could see this making a good sourcebook for a modern era GURPS campaign, or even adapted to a sci-fi ruleset. Not sure I could make this work for a fantasy game, but if it did, it would be with Rune Quest or some other skill based ruleset.
Damn, i really have to put some thought into this. It could be fun.
I extended my holiday weekend by taking today off. I had to. We are celebrating my son's 18th birthday tomorrow and I have lots of stuff to prepare. You only turn 18 once.
I'm hoping it is also a weekend I can get some things done, both around the house and gaming wise. Matt, over at Mythmere's Blog is still looking for articles for the next Knock Spell. You have until June 15th. Get cracking. I may work on a second article (the Bard class is already submitted).
Alright, time to start cleaning for the 2 dozen peeps my son invited ;)
Vornheim bills itself as "the complete city kit". I think the keyword here is "kit". When you buy a "build your own computer kit", the expectation is somewhere between "some assembly required" and "shit, I need some experience and skills to build this shit". Vornheim is a "kit". It is not the City of Waterdeep Boxed set. It is mostly of the "some assembly required" level, but parts may leave you going "shit - do I not understand the instructions or do I just lack the skills?"
First things first. Do NOT purchase the PDF with any expectation of printing yourself a full copy. With the black borders on nearly every page, your ink cost will probably surpass the price of buying your own hardcopy.
Zak S. from DnD With Pornstars writes and does the art. Zak and James Raggi did the graphics design.
As a plus, the PDF mirrors the book. As a minus, the PDF mirrors the book. Let me guess... "WTF?!?"
Here's my issues with the layout:
First, the black page borders that I mentioned above. That should have been ditched in the PDF version. It looks pretty cool in the book, but for those that want to print out their PDF - they're screwed.
Second, page 5 of the PDF, is a map that is displayed sideways. While rotating a book is never a big deal, rotating my monitor is. Why not change the orientation in the PDF? I can enlarge a PDF page a lot easier then rotating my 28" screen. Oh, and the map is confusing as all hell, but... its a decent piece of art. This may become a reoccurring theme.
Most of the book is a font size of 9 - readable in the print version, very nice on the screen. Mother of God! but they went with a 6.5 font for some of their charts. What were they thinking? Maybe it's because I've hit the big 40 and then some, but the print version of these charts is close to unreadable for me. I don't need glasses for reading or close work, but I would never be able to use the charts with the 6.5 font at my gaming table without killing the PCs to vent my frustration. Which is a shame, as I can read them fine (still small tho') on my screen, which I won't have with me at a game. Or I can read them with my iPad and just zoom and scroll. Simple idea... if it needs an excessively small font size to fit, use more pages, edit the text... do anything but make me go blind. Still, when I can read them they are useful, intriguing and original. Maybe I'll cut / paste to Pages or Office and print the ones I need. I shouldn't have to is the point I'm trying to make.
Here's the plusses on the presentation:
Excellent artwork. Not your normal artwork, it's about as twisted as Zak's blog, but it works in this case. Vornheim is far from normal and that is reflected in the art.
I'm a sucker for flow charts in gaming books. Don't ask me why, it must have been high school science. Zak has some sweet ones.
You can print out the "Roll a D4" Charts that are on the inside book cover, especially nice if you didnt get the preorder bonus from LotFP.
Alright, that was more bitching then praise, but it was also more about the wrapping then the meat of Vornheim. I'll dig deeper in the next part of the review
I barely stepped out of the elevator at work when I was informed our cleaner had passed away. He was discovered this morning, at work, in a room only the cleaners had access to. He apparently had a heart attack last evening.
That whole spiel of "live each day as if it were your last, because someday it will be", it means what it says. We do not choose how we will die, but you can choose how you will live.
Alright, less depressing shit in tonight's posting :)
Time to move on to the meat of the review. The rules. If you have the LotFP Weird Fantasy Deluxe Edition, you've seen much of this before, but the presentation is much better.
Character generation is 3d6 in order. If the character modifiers and up to less then zero, you get to ditch the character. Yes, very old school. There is one thing to keep in mind - stat modifiers are very important in WF. With only fighters increasing in combat ability and the extreme rarity of magic items in the default setting, having good stats can make a huge increase in your character's survivability. It doesn't mean your character has less viability necessarily, as the rules are fairly lethal in the first place.
We have 4 human character classes, which are pretty much the 4 core classes of the OSR. Then we have the classic demi-human classes: Dwarf, Elf and Halfling. I'll discuss the human classes first.
Fighters are the only ones that increase in combat. They have the best HD after the Dwarf and have access to combat maneuvers. In current gaming parlance, they are the party's tanks. They get access to the combat maneuvers Press and Defensive Fighting.
Clerics are the party's healers. Many spells are changed from the norm you might expect, but I'll be covering that at a later point.
Magic-users are those that deal with forces that man is not meant to know with. Again, many spells have changed from what you know.
The biggest change from the baseline is the Specialist. More then a thief, his skills and abilities revolve around a D6. If you want to experiment with adding classes to Weird Fantasy, the Specialist is the base to work from.
Dwarves have the best HD in the game. They do NOT increase in combat ability but they do get access to the Fighter's Combat Abilities.
Elves are sort of a Fighter / MU combination. Better HD size then a magic-user, spells like a MU, combat maneuvers like a Fighter but w/o the Fighter's increase in to-hit.
Halflings are the "Saving Throw Specialists". I don't know what else to say about them. Maybe the party can use them "Polish Mine Detectors" (not tying to be offensive here). They seem pretty useless. Come to think of it, Dwarves seem pretty useless too.
I understand why James does away with an increase in combat abilities for all but fighters, but it does make the Dwarf and Halfling Racial classes pretty worthless, especially if you only have a party of 4-6. So I'd personally remove them from the players choices and leave them as NPCs, or you risk handicapping the party in an already pretty lethal game.
So ends the second part of the LotFP Weird Fantasy RPG Grindhouse Edition.
Next Tuesday, May 31st, will make two years of blogging for me (I actually started the blog 3 years ago, but never posted until 2009). It's amazing how fast time passes. I'm also surprised that I found the time to start blogging the day after my son's 16th birthday. Following the math, he turns 18 this holiday weekend. Busy times but fun times.
Last year I spent $10 for google to allow me to use my own domain name. They handled it all on their end, one of the easiest transactions I've ever placed on the internet. Goggle/Blogger hosts my blog, but you don't need to add "blogspot" to the web address. Well worth 10 bucks a year.
Hopefully I've learned how to keep things interesting and entertaining. That being said, I'm still learning. Please, forgive the post that land flat. I'm sure there are many ;)
Now I need to think of something for the 2 year anniversary post... and the 1k post is sneaking up too.
The Chronicles of Amherth is a campaign setting for Labyrinth Lord. The adventure Atarin's Delve is included as a part of the package.
So, what exactly do you get for your five bucks? In The Chronicles of Amerth, we get a setting based on (but greatly fleshing out) the Duchy of Valnwall that is included in the Labyrinth Lord core rulebook. I'd have to dig my LL book out to see just how close it hues to the original, but I suspect it's fairly close.
There's a twist on the magic using classes (that the GM is free to ignore) in that there is the addition of "Latent" magic. We are also given a chapter on Gods and Demi-Gods and another on the world history.
I like the use of a detailed Adventurer's Guild. It makes things a bit easier then using the usual tavern scene (not that I have anything against taverns) to give the PCs an adventure hook.
The Known World section details the continents of Amalor and Herth and the rest of the world. There is enough given to help the GM flesh out the world without block him into too much of a corner. Still, plenty (really - lots and lots) of plot hooks for each major location to make this the sandbox you want it to be.
Flora and Fauna gives us some useful flora for the PCs to use, or misuse. It also give us over 40 new monsters, which is a nice addition to the LL monster list.
Magical Treasures adds over 20 items to the LL's list of magic items.
We round things out with the continental maps.
Oh, and then there is the free adventure included in the mix.
Apparently the earlier Snapple Real-Facts are retired but can still be found online. I particularly like real fact #1.
A Goldfish's attention span is 3 seconds.
Think about that for a second... actually, make that 3 seconds. Boom, it's gone. On to the next thing.
So, if we made out next OSR styled landshark based on the Goldfish, you'd have a terror that is easily distracted (and would be a real pretty gold-orange color but I digress). Land-Goldie if you will. And if you over feed it, it dies. Throw some more peasants in it's way. Wait, that's a Chivalry & Sorcery move. Yes, I am trying really hard to wade thru the 2nd edition, but I seem to have the attention fan of a goldfish.
Yes, this will be multi part - it has to be - there's too much for my normal "Mini-Review". ;)
In any case, this part will be about the presentation.
I've had the PDFs of the WF GH Edition for a while now as they were included with my preorder (awesome way to do business James - print and free PDF as a package deal gives instant gratification as well as the joy of a package to open later). I wanted to wait until I had the hard copies in my hand before I started any kind of review... so lets start.
The box art for the GH Edition is the same as was used in the Deluxe Edition, which is fine - its the art I think of when I imagine the Weird Fantasy RPG. Why fix what isn't broken.
It includes 3 books: Rules & Magic, Referee and Tutorial. Also included are some character sheets and a set of RPG dice. Oh, and a sheet with the OGL (I wondered where that was... heh)
Rules and Magic is what it says it is, the rules of the game. Cover art is very striking.
My issue isn't with the art, its with the use of the art when its the used as "Header Art", or whatever you want to call it. Basically, repetitive art that takes up about 20% of a page for no other reason then it's there. I like my rulebook pages to be as uncluttered as possible. That's why I HATE books that have artwork or other designs behind the written pages or around the edges. James isn't guilty of neither of those (Kudo's to James). I just find header art to be a waste of space and paper. Pet peeve of mine. Feel free to ignore it ;)
The cover to the Tutorial is less shocking then i think it was intended to be. Still good tho'.
The cover to the Referee book is Mullen. "Nuff said!
The books are bound, not stapled. My books have some very thin glue residue on the top edges of the pages. No big deal, but if it was thicker, you'd have to be careful the first time flipping thru so as to not risk damaging the pages. Stapled books tend to not have the lifespan of bound books (the paper breaks around the staples and then the pages fall out) but they do allow for laying flat on a table, which you can't do with this edition. Then again, this edition should put up with a lot more abuse at the gaming table.
The character sheets are top notch. I can see why James has questioned his need for a GM screen - these sheets cover 90% of what you need (spells need to be listed separately by the player).
The included dice are small but useable by most. My fiancée would never be able to use them, but then she couldn't read the dice included in the T&T 7.x Boxed Set Editions either. Box size determines the size of what will actually fit in said box.
As for the PDF versions, they are perfect replicas of the print versions. Well done James. If I had a complaint about the Deluxe Edition of Weird Fantasy, it's that the PDFs seem like an after thought. This time around, they are a selling point.
Alright, since I didn't see any suddenly unoccupied moving vehicles when we were out driving prior to, during and after the 6pm kick-off time, I think it is safe to assume that the kook was just that... a kook.
Doomsayers have shown up fairly frequently as background figures in RPG sessions I ran during college, probably because NYC is full of them. The trick would be to have one of these loons actually be right, but for all the wrong reasons. Of course, it would be up the the PCs to save the world.
The major problem with an adventure like this, is that it doesn't work well commercially (or even given away for free). Any adventure that can bring the campaign to a complete and utter end if the PCs fail has to be tailored to the PCs AND the campaign. I'd hate to see my game come to an awkward stop due to a generic end of the world adventure.
Time for me to do some reading and write some checks to pay off some bills. I was hoping a rapture-like experience would have done away with those responsibilities ;)
It looks like the battery in my Macbook is kaput. The Macbook is less then 2 years old and only used on vacations and weekend getaways (this ain't no vacation either). Needless to say I'm a wee bit disappointed. It's not like the power source its attached with anything stronger then some magnetism.
Assuming I'm still here after 6PM EST I've got some reviews I want to get to tonight, such as this one:
From the blurb (review later - God willing ;)
The End of Days... is just the beginning.
The year is 2644. Humanity has cast off religion and migrated to the stars. With science as the new savior, mankind believed himself to be creating new Edens in the far flung heavens.
But God kept His promise. The day of Rapture came.
Those who walked the Earth with a righteous spirit and pure soul were taken into the loving arms of the Lord. Those who skulked with the devil, ignoring God's divine laws, have been cast aside to face the horrors awaiting all sinners. As promised, the Earth burned. The clouds evap orated. The rule of man, of reason and science, came to an end.
But that was on Earth.
And not all of Mankind was on Earth.
These far flung few who remain, forgotten by God, or perhaps given a second chance, now face a future where good and evil have come into sharp relief; where science has proven to be a false idol, yet one that is vital for survival.
With communications between colonies severed, no one knows for sure what has befallen humanity. The isolated pockets of human colonists are returning to the old ways - political squabbling, superstition and factional infighting are on the rise. As a tide of distrust rises among the survivors, unexplainable horrors are emerging.
The legions of Satan are real...
And they are coming for you.
Praise for Rapture: The End of Days
"This is the most clever, original setting concept I've seen since Day After Ragnarok. Someone really needs to make a film of this, right now."
- Greg Stanyer
"I like this book. It feels very much like a theological sci-fi horror, so it achieves everything it sets out to... The system for "Extras" is one of the most interesting ways I've seen to reward players for followers while making them both incredibly useful and expendable."
- Erathoniel Woodenbow (Featured Reviewer)
Unique rule system that throws your heroes into the tension and fear of sci-fi thrillers.
Mimic the dark claustrophobic grittiness of films like Alien and Event Horizon, where players are hunted down one by one.
Or pitch your heroes into mass battles against hoards aliens or undead with fast and fun mass combat mechanics. Put the life and death decisions squarely in your players trembling hands.
Paranoia and politics. Passion and puzzlement. Rapid character development and an open-ended approach to character backgrounds. You'll have interesting heroes alive and kicking in no time at all.
Fear and Madness mechanics that truly reflect the growing terror and insanity of the best thrillers.
Unique 'experience the sweet release of death' rules simulate way sci-fi thrillers cut through the cast of heroes until only a lucky few are left standing: as your heroes are killed off - and they will be - their friends will quickly step in, tougher and more desperate to survive than before.
A complete universe of terror...
A finely crafted blend of hard science fiction and authentic theological mysticism made real.
A beautifully realized future history, where science has thrust mankind into the stars... but where God is all too real.
The Rapture has come. But, despite the evidence, not everyone believes. Theological struggles, once through dead and buried, are emerging... along with the sinister forces of hell.
Rules for on-the-fly technology innovation.
Details of colonial nations, corporations and smaller powers scattered through Human Occupied space.
Descriptions of the foes of man, both natural and supernatural.
An extensive list of dark miracles and natural creature powers to allow the game master to create almost any being to torment the players.
Or create your own worlds of mayhem!
Alien horrors, zombie outbreaks, deadly unknowns from beyond time and space...
For the game master...
Tips, tricks and advice on running top-notch game sessions
A slew of cunningly deadly adventure seeds to get games up and running fast
Deep-indexing lets you get to the rules quickly, without breaking the tension of the game.
117 pages of awesome design and artwork
Deep-linking for easy cross-referencing.
iPad friendly. Looks great as a single or double-page spread!
Well, we escaped the thundershowers yesterday, but the rain is back in force today. I really am tired of it. NYC is NOT Seattle. If I wanted rain 7 days a week I'd move west.
Still, I'm holding out hope that tomorrow may actually be nice. Maybe a good day to catch up on reading in the park (I have a sandbox setting for Labyrinth Lord I'd like to review) and maybe some solo gaming (not in the park - I'd look way too weird).
I've been flipping thru the LotFP WF Grindhouse rules, and I do like this presentation better then the first go round. I do think the books could have been shorter by removing some of the repetitive art from the top of certain pages, but what annoys me in a minor way may be another's selling point.
I haven't given Vornheim a proper look in actually book format yet. The PDF turned me off, as it seemed cluttered and busy and a really unpleasant to navigate in PDF. I suspect it works better in dead tree. At least, I hope so ;)
I need to delay that Rapture thing for another 40 or 50 years of no one minds much. Tomorrow is very inconvenient. I have a vet appointment in the morning for the fiancée's dog. She's overdue on her shots.
Where Heroes Fear To Tread is not a new release, but it is new to RPGNow. Its a short (and free) scenario for Chivalry & Sorcery Light, but as the game stats are all relegated to the back of the module, it can be treated as systemless and therefore usable with just about any system.
Were the GM to use this adventure in his own setting, he might have to make a few changes in the background of the adventure, as the default is (of course) flavored by Chivalry & Sorcery. Peasants aren't D&D peasants - they are dirt poor.
It's a basic delivery mission / ransoming of some NPCs, but the tweaks and surprises keep it fresh. My main issue is that a main scene has very little for the PCs to do, but that might be more a C&S issue then anything else. It's easy enough to change.
Did I mention its free?
From the blurb:
A short adventure set in Marakush, usable with C&S from 3rd edition onwards.
Are to Players brave enough to rescue a group of Pilgrims kidnapped by a band of Orcs, now hiding within the dark confines of Darken Forest.
Just a heads of that the 4th part of the Mage: The Awakening - Demo hit the virtual shelves at OneBookShelf today. If you are already running with the first 3 parts, this is a no brainer. Heck, it's free, so it should be a no brainer even if you run another Storyteller game or even Dresden - free stuff to borrow and steal is always a good deal.
From the blurb:
Siren's Song Welcome to the fourth installment of Gloria Mundi, the demo chronicle for Mage: The Awakening. In this story, the characters begin their own investigation of the Vice-spirits and discover that one of them, at least, has carved out a niche for itself in the Fallen World. They find out how subtle and poisonous the influence of these spirits can be, and, hopefully, they learn that diplomacy can be just as effective a tool for banishing the spirits as brute force and magical prowess.
Along the way, the characters also discover that even in a city with Puritanical roots, the pleasures of the flesh make for popular pastimes. The rich and jaded take these pastimes to extremes… and the spirit of Lust is soaking up their carnal excesses
Yes, I'm bitching about the weather... again. Yes, I should be happy it's not snow. I don't care. NYC had spotty rain on Saturday night, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, a crapload today, looks to be more tomorrow (and I get to play with firearms in possible thunder showers... sigh) and even Friday.
Maybe this means the holiday weekend will be nice. It better be, I have 2 dozen coming over for the kid's 18th b-day!
Last nite was the first session of the online, chat based, Tunnels & Trolls game being run by Scott over at the blog HUGE RUINED PILE. It's in my blog list to the left (links are a PITA with the iPad). Scott has a nice write up of last night's session, so I won't bore you with a retread. Suffice to say it was a most excellent gaming session.
My son, he who is to shortly turn 18, stopped at my desk three times to comment:
"I thought you said you were playing a game? All I see is chat. You call this a game?"
Three times. I actually think he is interested. Fantasy Grounds he understood as a game interface, and he dismissed it as boring. Entirely chat based he found intriguing enough to stop at least 3 times to read the chat and comment about the game (or lack there of).
I think I may be able to draw him to the Darkside ;)
Is it Vol. II, No.1 as the cover states, or is it Vol. I No. 7 as the inside front cover says? It's the 7th issue, regardless of numbering.
The editorial tells us that readership has increased 300% since the first issue. Not bad for a new gaming magazine.
On to the articles...
What to Do When the Dog Eats Your Dice - alternate methods of random generation: chits, deck of cards, numbered straws, spinners, calculators (high end ones back then i would think), the second hand of a watch (not to sure about this method myself), phone book and blindfold, and a few ridiculous methods (counting flying birds, pulling out chest hairs, jumping beans). There is an interesting chart to use 2D6 to generate results like a D20, reproduced below:
WITH TWO STANDARD DICE (D6)
The following table is from FIGHT IN THE SKIES. The column
on the left is percentages and numbers needed to get them, while the
figures on the right are the actual probabilities. (I.E., if there is a 10%
chance of an encounter, a roll of “9” indicates that it occurs. The actual
percentage chance of rolling a “9” with two standard dice is 11.1% .)
5% 11 5.6%
10% 9 11.1%
15% 6 13.9%
20% 7,12 19.4%
25% 4,7 25.0%
30% 7,8 30.6%
35% 2,4,5,6 36.1%
40% 5,6,8 38.9%
45% 6,7,8 44.4%
50% 4, 5, 6, 7 50.0%
55% 5,6,7,8 55.6%
60% 3,5,6,7,8 61.6%
65% 4,5,6,7,8 63.9%
70% 3,4,5,6,7,8 69.4%
75% all except 2,3,4,10 75.0%
80% all except 2,4,10 80.6%
85% all except 3, 11, 12 86.1%
90% all except 9 88.9%
95% all except 11 94.4%
Gary Gygax on D&D: Origins of the Game - A short article on how Chainmail evolved with Dave Arneson's help into D&D.
Our Featured Creature of the Months is The Prowler. Never heard of it. Nice Erol Otus artwork tho'.
The 7th installment of Gnome Cache - fiction that requires you to read 7 issues in a row. Bad idea.
Hmm, fairly light issue as far as OD&D gaming goes.
I updated a post (caught a typo) from last thursday and blogger has re-dated it with today's date. Apparently Blogger is still having issues. Joy of joys.
I guess it's an easy way to keep the appearance of fresh posts, but it can screw things up if there is a necessary progression one must follow while reading the posts (which wasn't really the situation in this case). Still, it's annoying.
As I mentioned earlier, Fight On! 13 is going to have a Tunnels & Trolls theme going for it, assuming they get enough quality articles to do so. The Trollgod himself, Ken St. Andre has given word to Trollhallaians (heh) to do their part, and I'm just passing that word on to the readers of this blog.
If you have something to submit, it does not go to Trollgod, but to the editor of Fight On! at iggyunlaut AT gmail DOT com. I hope I have that right, if not, I'm sure someone will be quick to correct me.
Gamer ADD is a horrible curse. Really. It stops more games from happening then it ever helps start.
I've got my Tunnels & Trolls. I'll be starting in a weekly online campaign next week. I'll be playing, which is good, as I'm probably too distracted to run a game as I planned because...
Swords & Wizardry is occupying my thoughts. I'm close to finishing off the Bard class I've been working on and should be able to hit the deadline like a radio DJ hitting the post right before the singer hits their first note. Which is good because...
OpenQuest / Runequest is also sneaking it's way back. I really enjoyed the original RQ2 - the setting material was many colors of awesome. Mongoose is putting out some really good setting material these days for their RQ2. Which makes me sad, as I only have so much free time these days. I must allocate my time better.
The Gathering of Fools (my old gaming group) will be happening in early June. I'll get to distract them with some Tunnels & Trolls goodness I've been gathering for them. I've also been asked to bring a copy of Parsely #1: Action Castle to actually (unheard of at these gatherings) play a session of. Good to know at least one member of my old group reads this blog on occasions ;)
Finally my Finish package finished it's journey from Finland... 20 days... the Fins are slacking these days ;)
I was very pleasantly surprised with the contents of my package: LotFP Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition Boxed Set? Check Vornheim: The Complete City? Check Vornheim: Insert / Map Thingie? Check Extra Copy LotFP Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition Rules and Magic Book? Holy Shit!
Yep, James threw in an extra copy of the LotFP WF GE rulebook. Major awesome!
I don't know if that was a Penbrooktonshire Gardening Society bonus or not, but the Gathering of Fools now has another gift for the pot.
On a side note, I sent Matt a corrected file for Knock Spell #6. Hopefully it finds him ;)
Well, I sent off my take on the Bard for Swords & Wizardry last night - we will see if Matt has a place for it in Knock Spell #6. If he doesn't, I'll post it up here.
I had a blast working on it, even with all the things i wound up NOT using (like the turning table for Charm / Changing Crowd Reactions), additional languages spoken (I figured being given a chance to READ almost anything was better balanced), new spells / songs (would have added major length to the submission - they can always be added later), instruments (and a bonus to use them) - this stuff was cut not because it wasn't useful, but because it wasn't needed. Short and sweet.
So, what next?
The TrollGod informed the members of Trollhalla that Fight On! #13 is going to be dedicated to Ken St. Andre, for all his work on RPGs (Go Tunnels & Trolls!). Maybe I can work on a T&T submission to Fight On!
I'm trying to put the finishing touches on my S&W Bard - dropping some ideas for now (like using the Cleric Turning Table for charming) but I may add options later. Simpler is better, and I need to get this done this weekend and get it sent off to Matt.
Ah well, in any case, I have dirt under my nails from gardening, paint all over my hands from - you guessed it - painting and I'm trying to post with my feline daughter sitting on my mouse and purring incessantly. I guess I'll give Blogger a few more hours before I post anything worthwhile.
Still, I feel a bit like Christian today - gardening AND home improvements and it's not even 4:30. I just need to squeeze in some gaming and it's a trifecta ;)
Well, I'm really hesitant to post the next part of my Building a Better Bard, as it is written down in random notes that I collect, prune and purge as I post them to the blog. With Blogger having some "issues" recently, I'd hate to post something and then have it disappear (like yesterday's post did for a bit ... but now, its back).
So I'm gonna round out the Bard in Pages, then copy it over to Blogger. Crap, I really should use that nice Print to PDF Button on these posts to save everything. That would make way too much sense ;)
I'm kinda happy I was too busy to post much the last few days... I think some of my fellow bloggers can relate to this man:
I was all set for the first session of a new Tunnels & Trolls Campaign (via Google chat) that a couple of fellow bloggers are involved in when the GM had to cancel for real life issues. Alright, I wasn't all set as I hadn't even bought weapons for my Wizard and I barely made it home in time, but I was close to being set ;)
It was all for the best. I need to flesh out my Wizzie and allergies have been kicking my ass this week. I doubt I would have made it to the planned end of the session at midnite. I was lights out last nite at 1015, which was probably for the best.
Still, I am psyched. I miss the C&C via FG2 campaign that is currently on indefinite hiatus. This should be a blast when it gets up and running.
Yes, our bard needs some skills to go along with his non-offensive song list. Originally, I wanted to use the Charisma Score's determination of the number of henchmen / followers to directly correspond to the number of uses of his various skills / powers, but that strays a bit far from S&W's way of doing things.
Lets see: From the thief, we will give him Hear Noise, Read Languages and Delicate Tasks (Pick Pocket Only) as a thief of equal level.
From the Fighter: Bard Sub-Class in NOD Issue #1 (it's an awesome publication and the first issue is free, so grab a copy for yourself) we are going to borrow Inspiration, Legend Lore, Fascinate and Heroism. Really, why reinvent the wheel when the wheel is pretty damn good?
Weapons: All but two-handed melee Armor: Chain Mail, Ring Mail, Leather (no shield) Attack: As Cleric Save: As Thief
Curse of Crosskey is a Labyrinth Lord (with the AEC) adventure for character levels 3-4. As with most of the adventures that fall under the general banner of the OSR, you should be able to use this with S&W, C&C, OSRIC or any of the other D&D / OGL based rulesets. Good, that's out of the way.
Take off the cover, OGL and title / contents page and it comes in at 11 pages for $1.99. Not a bad return on your investment, but if you want to get a real return on your cash you will need to invest time and effort. This is a sandbox style adventure that starts with the ::SPOILER ALERT!!!:: players getting shipwrecked on a mysterious and magically infused island. So yes, the plot hook is very specific: your party is forced into survivor / explorer mode. As you need to put them in that situation, how you set things up is very important, thus your investment of time and effort.
There is a lot that is hinted at in this adventure that can be fleshed out by the GM... heck, it probably needs to be fleshed out. Especially the ideas to conclude / continue the adventure. In many ways, I feel this is less a sandbox adventure as it is a sandbox micro-setting.
Three new magic items and two new monsters round things out.
From the blurb:
The Western Star, sailing on a clear sea, is suddenly caught in a mysterious storm appearing out of the blue. Skies darken as fierce wind and driving rain lash at the ship, sending it crashing upon the shore of Crosskey Island. Those fortunate souls that survive must find rescue before their supply of food and water run out. Some of the passengers seem to have plans of their own. Will the "Curse of Crosskey" finally be revealed?
I'm working fast and furiously on the Bard for S&W with the hopes of getting something complete enough to submit to the next Knock Spell. The cutoff is May 15th, so I've got 5 days to go. Knowing me, that is better then having 15 days to go, as I'd probably let that clock run down to 5 days before getting myself moving.
Need to work on class abilities and the expo charts next, then tie it all into one neat package.
Part of my love of Bards probably goes back to the Spellsinger series of books by Alan Dean Foster. It wasn't the best fantasy series, but for me, it defined that "Bardic Moment". Bards are cool. Bards also need spells.
My son turns 18 at the end of the month. Amazing how time flies. I remember sitting down and helping him with math homework in elementary school. Now he wants an Emergency Medical Technician Course for his birthday. Basic math to EMT... overnite it seems.
When I was 18 I lived to game. If we were off for a week from school, we probably gamed each and every day. Dungeon Magazine was gold when it first came out, as I devoured adventures as a GM like they were going out of style.
Work? As little as possible. School? Grades came easy for me. College was a vehicle for more gaming, work was there to buy more gaming books.
I had little focus, no idea what I wanted to make of my life.
My son has found his focus. Grades may not come as easy for him as they did for me, but he's about 10 years ahead of me at that age. I didn't find my focus until my late 20's.
Can ya tell I'm proud? Of course, I still need to turn him into a gamer like his old man ;)
Looking at the Bard, I see him with weapon training a bit better then the thief, so we will give him the Cleric / Druid / Monk combat chart.
As for Saving Throw, he will save as per the Thief / M-U table.
His Prime Attribute will be Charisma. To make it more relevant, we will give him an extra 1st level spell / song for a Charisma of 15 or better.
As for spells / songs, we will raid the spell lists of the M-U, Cleric and Druid. He will gain spells / songs at a slower rate then the main casting classes: at Bard - 1 : 1st level spells, Bard - 4: 2nd level spells, Bard - 7: 3rd level spells and finally at Bard - 10: 4th level spells. Spell progression table and spell lists are being tweaked (and probably hard to format on my iPad, so they will need to wait at least until tonight).
I want to make using an instrument beneficial to the Bard, so I am thinking using a two handed instrument while casting a spell / song adds 2 levels to the caster's effective level (but it also means no weapon in hand while casting).
Ah, the cover to The Dragon #6 - again, a little fan-artish, but still better then the hippy dragon from the first issue.
Reading the early Dragon issues, you would think that games like Metamorphosis Alpha or The Petal Throne were going to be the long term keepers. They seem to have just as many articles, and with less crunch, more fluff - in many ways giving more value then the D&D articles. As I'm focused on the D&D articles, that means I'm skipping on some major parts, like the in-depth Legions of the Petal Throne Painting Guide by M.A.R. Barker himself. I didn't know anyone really cared that much about painting the military figures for an RPG.
There were ads for both OGRE and Monters! Monsters! (a T&T variant). Kinda warms my heart.
Then we have an article on Determination of Psionic Abilities that were introduced Eldritch Wizardry. I didn't realize that there weren't any rules to determine such in EW. I may need to reread that.
Hmmm, an article on morale in D&D. Way too chart-ish for me use, but the hobby was in love of huge charts back in the day, so it is a sign of the times.
The Featured Creature was the Death Angel. Nearly impossible to permanently defeat, I don't recall these creatures making any of the MMs in AD&D.
The ad for the D&D Geomorphic Dungeons is interesting - no wonder I never liked to leave empty space on the graph paper when I mapped dungeons out in high school - TSR didn't like empty space either!
You enjoy your sci-fi, but you also have a hankering for horror. Maybe your Delta Green campaign just didn't have heavy enough weapons for your taste. Well, someone put your Cthulhu in my Traveller, and the combo is awesome!
I really enjoying working my way thru the Chthonian Stars Core Setting for Traveller. It's not a mash-up I would have thought up on my own, but its a very good match. The books is full of short fiction, which normally I can't stand, but in this case it is very evocative of the setting and a good tool to engage the reader.
It scales down the default Traveller setting to just our (now fully colonized) solar system, and I think the change in scale works very well in making the horror more immediate.
Character generation is changed a bit from regular (Mongoose) Traveller, as many careers have been adjusted to the new setting. New space ships, which makes sense, as they are made for traversing the solar system.
We are given three short adventures, which is nice, but I would have appreciated a page or two of adventure seeds. Maybe I missed them, as flipping thru a PDF does have disadvantages over print.
Overall, I'm very excited by the Chthonian Stars Core Setting. I might find a use for my Traveller core rulebook now. If nothing else, the setting book deserves a second read thru.
From the Blurb:
2159 AD. It is a good time to be alive. The nations of the world still exist, but they have become more civilized, and we have expanded into the rest of our solar system. But, alas, it is not to be our time. Something approaches, a thing on an orbit from far away. Seemingly a large shard of dark matter, this object is known in obscure prophecy as the Chthonian Star. It is awakening things long thought lost or dead, things that have slumbered awaiting its return. The Unified World Council sends out special teams of sanctioned Wardens, whose job it is to ascertain the new threats to human life, to learn everything they can about them, and fight them wherever they are found.
Chthonian Stars is an original Lovecraftian horror setting for Traveller.
This Core Setting Book:
Provides a detailed exploration of our fully colonized solar system, only a few hundred years in the future.
Introduces exciting new optional character design rules, including advantages and disadvantages, as well as career half-terms.
Introduces new rules for fear and madness, as well as optional rules for character survivability.
Brings to life many familiar Lovecraftian horrors for Traveller, as well as a host of new and original ones.
Details more than a dozen new spaceships.
Includes three ready-to-run adventures, to get groups running quickly.
From the award-winning team that brought you CthulhuTech.
Geordieracer cost me about 90 minutes of sleep this morning. I was foolish enough to check my phone for emails as I stumbled to the bathroom, and I caught his comments on the Bard I'm looking to write up. Using a variation of the Cleric's turning table to affect the Bard's reaction from others is a nice twist.
S&W doesn't have a Morale Rating for monsters and NPCs, but I'd suggest a successful check against the table will encourage hirelings / henchmen to hold out just a little bit longer. A "D" result may make them even stronger in their resolve, but you would still have to roll, and a "1" would still be a failure.
Same chart could be used to swing the natives more in your favor IF they can understand the Bard. It could also be used to see if the Bard makes a little coin as the party stays at the local inn.
See what you did to me Geordiracer? My precious sleep was stolen from me so I could think about THIS! heh...
Thanks GR, it was a great seed to get me thinking. Keep 'em coming.
(BTW, that's Roman Numerals in the title - its a "two", not an "eleven" ;)
Well, actually, it's more like building "A" bard for S&W in the first place. NOD #1 has a Bardish class (closer to a Skald in my vision of things) built upon the fighter class as a base.
For my vision of the Bard, I'd build it upon the thief. Thief HD, weapons, combat chart, armor restrictions (I'd add chain mail to the mix). I need to go thru the S&W spell lists to figure which are appropriate for my vision of the class. Pick Pockets is the only thief skill I see it keeping.
Then I need to define a charming ability, lore, inspire bonus... the little things that make a "bard" a "Bard".
I've been hooked on bards since issue 56 of the Dragon (that version is a little too powerful for my taste these days).
The great thing about RPGs in general is that they thrive on ideas. As a GM, I can find ideas from almost any source, but it's pretty cool when I can find them for free. Now, the magazine I'll be highlighting are in PDF form and are NOT OSR - but two are for Pathfinder (so much of it is easy enough to mine) and the other is from Mongoose (which means it is simply full of stuff). Besides, just because you dig the OSR doesn't mean it's an exclusive relationship. You are allowed to see other games. really. I won't tell.
So, let's move on to the mags:
Highlight of Pathways issue #3? The article that list the items from #30 Intelligent Magic Items - All I need is a one or two sentence description to drop these into S&W or T&T, and that's what we are given. Perfect. Worth the price of admission Rite there (bad pun).
Game Geek issue #17 - Not up to the standards of Pathways (much closer to fanzine then magazine), the article on mounts and warhorses should be pretty portable. The rest? Ehh
Signs & Portents #91- the grandaddy of the 3, it also has the most to offer. How about a 13 page adventure for RuneQuest II? Suitable for use with OpenQuest or conversion to the OSR rules of your choice. Saweet! Or some hooks for Traveller (about as old school as you can go) and even an adventure. Maybe some enchanted tree offerings for your game? It's here and more. Heck, there's even some EarthDawn stuff inside. Talk about flashbacks.
As I was lying in bed last nite, in that weird not-quite-asleep state (I was waiting for my son to come home from his 4 hr Auxiliary Police shift) when the thought for a damn good blog post occurred to me. I really liked it. I know I did, because working it out in my head helped keep me awake.
Of course, it has totally escaped me now. I can remember thinking about it, but I can no longer remember what "it" is. Or was. Whatever. Sigh.
When I started this series of posts, I optimistically thought I would be doing something on the order of 5 posts a week on The Dragon. Reality, I think, will put it at 3 a week or so. So be it. Focusing on the D&D stuff contained within. Now, on to The Dragon Issue #5.
First things first - this is a cool cover. More like fan art than professional, but very Swords & Sorcery-ish. No hippy dragon either.
Lets see, what do we start with? A seven page article / thesis on Witches in D&D titled: Witchcraft Supplement for D&D. Unknown author as apparently he (we know from previous issues women don't play D&D) failed to attach his name to his submission. Like many of the early D&D articles, they don't follow a standard format. What? You say you want an example? Okay:
Witchcraft, including those spells which resemble Clerical or wizard spells,
will not effect Djinn, Efreet, or Clerics of any alignment. These 3 character types
are immune to witchcraft.
All witches (except for a Priestess) have saving throws equal to warlocks.
For your saving throws against witchcraft, treat all witch magic as a “spell” on
the Saving Throw Matrix.
A good witch may normally perform 7 spells per day from the following
table. There is, however, a 4% chance that any good (Lawful) witch encountered
is ancient, thereby qualifying her as a Priestess. A Priestess may use the ten ordinary
spells daily, and once each week may employ one of her own, more powerful
spells. (Be sure to check every good witch encountered for category.)
Yep, I think I'll pass too.
Hey, look at that. Two short Metamorphosis Alpha articles from James Ward. I forgot the man could write quality (sorry, I'm still bitter about Crusader Magazine).
Featured Creature - The Anhkheng: I don't know who named the silly thing, but the art is by Erol Otis, and it still resonates 35 years later. Amazing stuff. Oh, there's some stats and a paragraph of fluff. Sorry, I'm still looking at the art.
Yes, the abundance of fiction is still annoying me.
Wizard Research Rules - it includes a nice random magic weapon table. Look at that - True Ring Making - I think I'll make one for my Hobbit... I mean my "Halfling".
Which of course leads us to the famous article - Gandalf Was Only a Fifth Level Magic-User. I've seen this discussed on the 'net since I first found out about the 'net. Interesting read.
Damn it! Thrity-two pages isn't so long when u take out the ads and fiction and non-D&D stuff...
The above were my introduction to the World of Darkness.
My first purchase was Werewolf. I picked it up at the Complete Strategist in NYC while killing time for the bus to the Poconos. My God, but I read that thing cover to cover on the 3 hr ride. I was hooked by the fluff. It was that good.
My next purchase was Vampire. It was good, but not great. I tried to get my gaming group into the ideas of playing in the World of Darkness, but there were no bites.
Then I found Mage. This spoke to me. I could see the stories playing out in my head. Pure awesome. I bought some sourcebooks. The group had no interest. In the end, I lost my interest.
I do have a decent sized collection of 1st edition Storyteller System game books. Haven't looked at them in over 15 years. There they sit. Gathering dust. Like some sort of undead creature, just waiting for the moment someone breathes life back into them. They've waited all this time, they can wait longer. Time has passed them by, at least from my perspective. If I wanted to play a modern day mage, I'll be pulling out the Dresden Files...
I know Matt is looking for submissions for the next Knock Spell. I'm toying with the idea of building a Swords & Wizardry Complete Bard class. I'm still bouncing between a skald or minstrel base for it. I've been partial in the past to the Bard from issue 56 of the Dragon, but I think that it would have to be toned down a bit to even use as a base.
If I start to build it, I'll post the process as it goes. It's quite possible even if I do complete it, I'll still miss the deadline. Life, both personal and work, has recently gotten very busy.
If anyone is willing to give you a 3 part demo of their game - grab it! Heck, that's 3-6 gaming sessions for free - if it doesn't hook you by then, it ain't for your group! Alright, maybe you need a rule book to go with it, but I'm sure a good GM will find some steal-able ideas for the system of their choice.
A Nest of Vipers Welcome to the third installment of Gloria Mundi, the demo chronicle for Mage: The Awakening. The players might well have been wondering about the other mages in the Boston area and what response they might have to the power that Adam has unleashed. How do mages govern themselves? Do the characters have to fear repercussions for their roles in this drama? The characters are about to find the answers to these questions, and they might well wish they had remained ignorant.
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The Minotaur for Old-School Essentials
*Requirements:* Minimum STR 9, Minimum CON 9
*Prime Requisite:* STR and CON
*Hit Dice:* 1d10
*Maximum Level:* 8
*Armor:* Leather, including shield...