Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Draconic Archeologist: Rounding Up the Monsters - Strategic Review #3

Strategic Review Issue 3 clocks in at 8 pages, but it doesn't take us longer then page 2 to find some D&D goodies.  Here we get the first looks at:

   The Yeti - Ehhh
   The Shambling Mound - Iconic D&D baddie
   The Leprechaun - another ehhh
   The Shrieker - the wandering monster magnet
   The Ghost - time to grow old
   Naga - describes Guardian, Water and Spirit Nagas
   The Wind Walker - ethereal, immune to weapon weapon damage
   The Piercer - caverns were never the same again
   The Lurker Above - your living death from above trap

Next up is the Monster Reference Table Addition, Hostile and Benign Creatures - its a joke list including Weregamers (Wererommels, Weregandalfs and the such), Grifferees, Hippygriffs - you get the idea.  Pretty much filler, but was probably entraining to those with wargaming roots.

Bunch of wargaming articles, listing of small press publishers / fanzine (SASE and / or a few cents) and listing of DMs and Gaming Clubs.

James Ward has an article on Deserted Cities of Mars, drawing on the John Carter of Mars series.  It includes some charts for generating Martian architecture, but I  don't think they have much rip-able value for most OSR games.  Still, more value in this article then recent issues of Crusader.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Happened to the Homebrewing...

In answer to Christian's question about my hobby of Home brewing beer, I haven't done ANYTHING this winter season.  It's a shame too, as I was hoping to try out a raspberry flavor brew this time around.

Short reason:  I've been busy.

Long reason:  I've had added responsibilities at work, changed offices (twice), was taking the kid to Auxiliary Police training in the evening fall to early winter, some positive life experiences (but major time sinks), do it yourself to hold down the cost renovations (talk about time sink) - and general lack of space for my beer to ferment in, as the closet I used last year is being deconstructed (nice word) so it can be replaced by a closet with modern sensibilities and depth.


Soon it will be too warm to brew in NYC, unless I can clear out a pat of the basement that may stay fairly cool until late June.  This may be a brewing season that passes me by.

As for the savings vs. buying commercial bottle beer... if you drink Bud or Coors by the case, home brewing will not save you money.  If you drink primarily Microbrews, home brewing will probably cost less.

Still, thinking about the whole process made me think about how similar home brewing beer is to home brewing an rpg setting, but that's for a whole 'nother post.

I'm Allergic to Work

Not really. Seasonal allergies are being one heck of a drag on me. I'm even more dopey then my usual lovable self.

Have no fear, vacation is here. Mostly a stay-cation / renovate-cation I'll still find time to get as few days away in the country with my sidekick - my kitty Ashley.

I have so much stuff I want to get done on my vacation I'd have to give up sleep in the hopes of accomplishing 75%. Still, I'll do what I can. I need to get some gaming in, even if it's just some Tunnels & Trolls solos.

I hope to paint the ceilings and moldings, and start dismantling the old closet. It will make me feel like I've accomplished something ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mini Review: DA1 Dark Journey (Castles & Crusades)

Sometimes going back to the basics is fun.  With Dark Journey, the Troll Lords do what they do best - a classic dungeon crawl.

It is kinda classic:  3 levels, a maze, traps (no save vs die shit that I noticed), classic low level adversaries, level appropriate rewards - the stuff you want in a low level or introductory adventure.  In this case, for levels 1-4.  You'll need to supply your own hook,

I wonder how long before we get a Fantasy Grounds 2 conversion?  hint... nudge... poke!

There is enough adventure here to last 2 or 3 sessions worth of gameplay, which is pretty good value for your money IMO.

From the blurb:

Its a dungeon crawl in every sense of the word. There is little back story, allowing the CK to plunge into the dungeon almost immediately. Its filled with adventure, danger and glory.   
Dark Journey is a dungeon adventure cast in the classic mold. Here the CK is able to present the players a network of inter-connecting halls, rooms, chambers, cellars and more. A wizard's old hold, it offers libraries guarded by strange monsters, laboratories, cellars, trapped chambers and more; here lies the wizard's forgotten wealth, his magic, his money, his artifacts. But the adventurer must be wary for wizard's do not idly set treasures down but that they are trapped or protected by guards and wards and monsters summoned from dark places.

The Draconic Archeologist - Picking Apart Strategic Review #2

Strategic Review #2 clocks in at a whopping 8 pages. Still, there are some interesting things for D&D players (once we hit The Dragon, the amount of relevant gaming material should increase exponentially).

We are given an example of D&D combat, to help explain the system for players that don't have Chainmail in their gaming background. Heck, it confused things for me after reading it. I'm just glad the OSR has represented the rules in a user friendly fashion.

Later, we are presented the Ranger Class. My point of reference is AD&D 1e, the system I cut my gaming teeth on. So, from what I see, much is like the AD&D class: 2HD at 1st level, 10HD max, crap load of random followers at high levels, magic user and cleric (later druid) spells at higher levels... the one thing that stuck out was experience. Rangers don't get extra expo for a high prime stat, but they earn 4 points for every 3 earned thru 8th level. That's a 33% bonus! At level 8 that no longer get that bonus, but the damage is done. They get an extra HD from the start AND extra expo. Oh, and the article refers to them as a week class until level 8. They are a strong class with high survivability right out of the gate.

Can't forget the nicely illustrated article on pole arms, one of gaming's most misunderstood weapons in the early years, at least if you didn't have a wargaming background.

That's all for now. Next, some iconic D&D monsters see first light.

Thursday Morning Musings

If we all moved to e-books, there would be no more paper cuts.

How would you burn an e-book?

Will Goodman's upcoming 3x / OSR hybrid be playable without the odd sided dice? (compared to our hobby's usual odd sided dice)

I still have my original Gamma World 1e dice... the ones made out of a stale waxy substance. They were hardly in good shape when I first got them, and I think they've become rounder and more deformed as years have passed - without me even using them. I'm just amazed I still have them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Saw the Button, and It Was Good...

Yep, I've joined the ranks of the OSR Button Brigade, for easy printing or saving to PDF of various and sundry posts.

Now if I only had stuff worth printing or saving ;)

Giving Groo a New Look

My first issue of Groo was the second issue published by Pacific Comics back in the early days of Indie Comics (early 80s). I'm not sure if I made the connection to Mad Magazine, but Sergio's art is fairly distinctive. It was a sword bearing fantasy comic, and I wanted it. Of course, it was also at the same newsstand that would sell a 16 year old porno mags, and I wasn't quite sure I wouldn't flag as under age if I bought a High Society with a Groo. Separate trips on separate days solved that issue ;)

Anyhow, Groo was the one comic I stuck with even when I wasn't collecting comics. It was funny, fantasy, filled with hidden treasures in Sergio's artwork... it was a pleasure to read and collect. Somehow, I packed it all away. Now, I am unpacking it again.

Having reread the first 4 issues, I do have a question. I remember Groo having an INT score somewhere south of being feebleminded. In the early issues, he actually looks like he lacks wisdom more then intelligence. Did he get dumbed down as the series progressed, or has my memory dumbed him down?

In any case, 28 years later, its just as funny as when i first read them. Just like OD&D, AD&D, T&T and the like, it stands the test of time

The Draconic Archeologist: Sifting the Remains of The Strategic Review Issue 1

You have to start somewhere, and what better place then the beginning. The first issue The Strategic Review clocked in at a mere 6 pages. Despite the small size and the large amount of space allocated to war-gaming, there is a nice amount of stuff of high interest to players of Dungeons & Dragons.

Under the Creature Feature tag, we are introduced to the iconic D&D adversary: The Mind Flayer. Pretty cool, huh? Your Saving Throw is based upon distance and the defenders intelligence. Watch yourself, you may just get Mind Blasted ;)

Two and a half pages are devoted to EGG's Solo Dungeon Adventure Charts. These seem to be the same chart (or very similar) to the ones I enjoyed in the 1e DMG. They were a fun way to randomly design a dungeon and a less fun way to try to solo D&D. Of note is these charts are copyright EGG, not Tactical Studies Rules.

One of the items advertised by TSR on the last page is 3 sets of prints (5 prints per set) of art from the original boxed D&D set. I don't think I've heard of these before, let seen any for sale. Anyone have any further info on these?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Draconic Archeologist: Picking Through the Dragon's Bones - Prelude

Everyone offered some good ideas, and I think what I'm going with steals from your thoughts, which were then put in a blender and this is what I got.

The Draconic Archeologist, because I'll be exploring the old Dragons as they relate to our hobby (and the OSR corner).  I'll be picking through the Dragon's bones because the magazine is dead.  No, WotC's online version does not count.  They are good bones.  Valuable and and full of history.  Hopefully I'll be able to treat them right.

I'll be starting with The Strategic Review,  as it is definitely the prelude to The Dragon and it's a treasure trove of stuff that later made it into the OD&D Supplements.  If I have time after hitting the pub, I'll post tonight.  Otherwise, it will wait till tomorrow.

Tip Toeing Through the Tulips, At Least Until the Neighborhood Kids Pick 'em All

Why should Christian have all the fun? Heh

- Posted from my iPhone

edit: improved picture quality

Looking For Some Reader Input

For the soon to start series of posts about Dragon Magazine (and The Strategic Review) I'm trying to decide on a post title. So far I'm considering:

The Dragon Flagon

Delving With the Dragon

Picking Apart The Dragon's Carcass

If anyone would like to add their own ideas to the mix, or would like to cast their vote for one of the above, drop a note in the comments below.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Look at What the Cat Dragon

Yeah, the title is a piss poor play on words, but whatever ;)

In any case, I just realized I have a Dragon Magazine Archive that I recently found the missing CD for.  I was damn close to buying another Archive last summer on Ebay, as I was missing the first disc from my set, but cleaning prior to renovations revealed the missing disc.

I'm going to be dropping the PDFs onto my iPad and reading them in order.  I don't plan on doing a play by play review of the issues, but I will try to highlight the bits and pieces I think are of most value to those of us that enjoy OSR related gaming.

Yes, I'll still be reading stuff to review.  Yes, I still need to complete The Synapse challenge.  Yes, I'm still renovating the house.  No, I haven't logged into a MMORPG (Rift) in about 2 weeks.  No idea when I'll be getting my Fantasy Grounds Tunnels & Trolls game up and running.  Time will tell.

Beginning to Feel Like the Office Menicant

Let's see: I've moved my desk twice since October, and will probably being doing so again in 3 weeks. Oh, and another possible move in the late Spring. Joy of joys. I need to know my long term spot before I hang anything on the walls.

Which brings me to Groo: The Wanderer (it's where I learned of the word "Mendicant"). Somewhere packed away in boxes is a nearly complete collection of Groo. Damn but that was a classic series of goodness. I actually tried to role-play Groo back in the early days of AD&D 2e, but I could never hit the note of idiot and good deeds by luck.

Crap, now I want to dig them out of storage. I'm supposed to be putting stuff INTO storage at the moment.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just Call Me... The Godfather

Yep, my niece was baptized today, and I officially became a Godfather.  Pretty cool stuff.

My brother in law was also a gamer throughout high school and college, although he stopped gaming with AD&D 1e and the original Traveller.  Still,  he has all of his old gaming books proudly displayed on his bookshelves and frequently rereads his Traveller collection.  Traveller:  The New Era is apparently an evil thing (I did a decent job escaping that myself back in the day).

Hey, maybe when my goddaughter gets a bit older, we can baptize her into the RPG gaming club ;)

Sunday Morning Musings

Why is it then whenever you misplace a D4, you always find it later when you step on it barefoot?

Why does the AD&D 2e series of "Complete Handbooks" seem gratuitous and incomplete at the same time?  Why the heck did Halflings and Gnomes have to share a book?  Short stature discrimination?  Seems like Gnomes have been getting the shaft for over 20 years...

Has anyone seen "Your Highness" yet?  Is it as bad as I fear?  Better then I could hope?  At the very least, better then the Dungeons & Dragons movie?

I have a local bodega that states on it's awning: "Open 25 HRS".  Did they actually find a way to squeeze an extra hour into the day?  Can I buy into that?

Okay, enough musing for this morning :)
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