Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review - Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition Boxed Set (LotFP) - Part The Third

Yep, back to the long ass review of Weird Fantasy - Grindhouse Edition (I never know if Gindhouse is one word or two... ah well).

On the Magic part of the rules, and magical it is.  If what James did to many of the classes irks me (and it does), what he did with the spells and magic excites me.

Let me start with my one pet peeve on this section, just so I can get it out of the way - the frickin' header art is annoying, repetitious and a waste of about a quarter of each page.  There, I've said it.  I feel much better now that that is off my chest.

As for the spell lists themselves, they are trimmed and tweaked.  D&D mainstays are removed (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Raise Dead, Resurrect, Wish - etc) which certainly lowers the power level to some extent (and in no way prevents the GM from placing such spells and powers in the hands of NPC adversaries) and makes magic a bit more subtle then in other OSR style games, but it is the tweaks James places in other spells that really sets the tone.

I'm going to use Animate Dead as an example of what James has done with the flavor text and spell descriptions:       This spell energizes the faint memories of life that cling to the bodies and skeletons of people, allowing them to move and act in a gross mockery of their former existence. Because the entities inhabiting these bodies are chosen by the caster, these undead are under his total control. However, the faint memories of life retained by the bodies struggle with the invaders, and this conflict makes them destructive. They will always interpret any instructions in the most violent and destructive manner possible. They will also prefer to attack those they knew in life, no matter their former relationship with the person in question.

The bodies remain animated until they are destroyed. One hit die worth of undead per level of the caster may be created per casting. The caster assigns one or two Hit Dice per undead as desired. Each special ability desired for the undead by the caster increases the Hit Dice “cost” of undead by one (except energy drain, which increases it by two) without increasing their actual Hit Dice. Only mindless undead are created by this spell, and they must be commanded verbally.

That description is many types of awesome, both from flavor and the rule tweaking perspective.  If you take nothing else from the WF ruleset, please liberally steal from the spell section.  It has many hidden gems.

The Summon spell must be mentioned on it's own.  This lowly 1st level Magic-User spell takes up nearly 10 pages.  Not so lowly after all, is it?  Remember, Weird Fantasy doesn't have a Monster Manual or listing, so the Summons sell gives you a series of charts to find out what manner of creature the PC has summonsed from beyond.  Heck, you even need to see if the caster survives that casting.  Excellent work up of this spell.  My hat's off to James.

Next up - The Referee Book

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Ain't a Young Pup Anymore

Spent a 12+ hr day in full patrol uniform for the first time in over 7 years. There is a certain simplicity to not having to work out the day's wardrobe ;)

That being said, 12 hrs is a long day in full battle regalia (as my captain is fond of calling it). My feet and hips are long out of practice.

I'm 15 years away from the last time I GM'ed. I'm hoping the next game I run is less painful...

- Posted from my iPhone

Blogger Has Become a Serious PITA These Days

I like Blogger, really I do. It's much easier for the novice to use then Wordpress IMHO, but that strength is also its weakness these days.

Last weekend I had to use my google-fu to find HTML code that Blogger had apparently dropped willie-nillie from my blog, thereby preventing me from commenting on my own blog posts.

Last nite I was informed by Greg (he of the Errant RPG, Synapse and many others) that no one was able to comment on my latest posts. Blogger was at it again. Now I have my comments set to pop out, which seems to be working for now, but it is far from my ideal solution.

Maybe Google should get their shit together before rolling out updates to Blogger that are all buggered up, or is that just too much to ask?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

LotFP's Weird Fantasy - Why I'll Never Run It

I'll get back to the review of Weird Fantasy,either tonight or over the weekend, but the thought has occurred to me more then once that I would never DM / GM / CK / ABC / 123 - I would never run a game of Weird Fantasy, except MAYBE as a one off at a convention or something.

It's not that it isn't well written. It's not that it isn't evocative. It's not that certain parts aren't pretty damn awesome - I think the Specialist Rocks!, I love many of the changes to the spell disruptions, the Referee book deserves a review post of it's very own - My issue is this is not the type of game I'd enjoy running as is. Heck, I'm not sure if I'd enjoy playing it, as is. Which is a shame, as it's pretty darn good as a total package.

I'd want my players to strive to be heroes. I'd expect Dwarves, Elves, Clerics and Specialists to improve in combat ability (maybe not as fast as the older rules, but advance none the less). I'd want combat to be exciting, without risking a TPK each time the players jump in a fray. For me, it strays to far from it's roots for me to feel completely comfortable.

That doesn't mean it won't work for you. I actually think it would work best for a group that doesn't have itself rooted in the OSR and all the baggage that it brings. Keeping things simple makes this a good choice to introduce new players to roleplaying, or to bring a group over to the D&D corner that has played RPGs with non-TSR rooted rules.

I read on another blog (which I can't seem to find at the moment) that Weird Fantasy might work better if played as a Call of Chtulhu game, where combat is avoided and knowledge is deadly. It makes sense, but I don't think it would lead to campaign play. More likely one shots and the like.

Just some less then random thoughts on the matter.

And Here I Thought "Detect Lie" Was Just a D&D Spell

I consider myself very luck to be on a mailing list of a retired NYPD Sergeant that forwards police and law enforcement related articles on a daily basis.  This arrived yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to read it until today.  Notice the chance of success - maybe a similar ratio should be applied to the Detect Lie D&D spell ;)

Homeland security deploys mind-reading hardwareNail the perp while he thinks of the crime
By Nick Farrell — Tuesday, May 31st, 2011; 6:24 pm ‘Tech Eye.Net’

COMMENT:  This is not a joke.  There are at least four articles written on this Homeland Security program that have been posted on the internet. – Mike

The US Department of Homeland Security has begun field testing new technology which it thinks can identify people who intend tocommit a terrorist act, just by looking at them.

According to the magazine Nature, which we get for the spot the Schroedinger's cat competition, the US spooks have been conducting tests ofFuture Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) in the past few months at an undisclosed location in the northeast of the US.

The gear apparently uses remote sensors to measure physiological properties, such as heart rate and eye movement.

It has been in development since 2008 and it apparently can tell your intent to cause harm.

It is all based on a form of witchdoctor psychology called behavioral science. These boffins have the cunning theory that someone with mal intent may act strangely, show mannerisms out of the norm, or experience extreme physiological reactions based on the extent, time, and consequences of the event.

Homeland Security's FAST technology design so that coppers can basically arrest anyone who looks them funny. So no change there then.

The DHS claimed the machine was accurate 70 percent of the time the other 30 percent will probably get out of Guantanamo Bay in a couple of years.

However some boffins think the gear will give shedloads of false positives.

Tom Ormerod, a psychologist in the Investigative Expertise Unit at Lancaster University, told Nature that even having an iris scan or fingerprint read at immigration is enough to raise the heart rate of most legitimate travelers.

In short, coming into Los Angeles Airport would turn Mother Theresa into a screaming psychopath, it does not mean that you are going to act on your impulses.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons - Daggerdale Computer Game in Hand

Yep, spent 15 bucks absolutely nothing for Amazon to send me a copy of the Daggerdale PC game. I must have had some unknown promotion running to get it for free.

I've read it is buggy as hell but that the multiplayer (max 4 peeps) was fun. I'll know more tomorrow when I install the sucker. Early work day tomorrow so I'm posting this from bed ;)

The Trollish Taproom - Latest Tunnels & Trolls Acquisitions

I received my latest Ebay purchase in the mail yesterday. It was the Corgi Editions of the T&T 5e Rules and the double adventure of Gamesmen of Kasar and Mistywood. The rulebook is in mint condition and the double adventure is slightly used. I had them both already, but my copy of the Corgi rulebook was water damaged but useable.

I like the Corgi Edition of the rules one heck of a lot. The size is perfect for bedtime reading or tossing in a bag. The double adventures have a stripped down version of the T&T rules, but as they cover characters up to level 10, one could easily run a GM game or other solos just using the rules in one of the double adventures.

We didn't have the weekly online T&T game last night, which is probably just as well... this past weekend was busy as heck. Next week I'll an an update.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And Here You Thought WotC Was Trying to Milk Their Customers

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.

Hey, its a Wall Street Journal Story!

Tenkar's Tavern - Two Years of Blogging

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. ;)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend Wrap Up - Or - Why I had a Great Weekend and Accomplished Crap

I had an excellent four day weekend.

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!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Of Dwarves and Hobbits and Weird Fantasy

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 ;)

Beer, Sun and Vornheim

After yesterday's awesome birthday party for my son, I'm enjoying the beautiful weather in my backyard with a beer, iPad and Vornheim in hand.

Zak has some hilarious charts. I'll have to post my second part of the Vornheim review soon, as well as part three of the Weird Fantasy review.

In the meantime: beer, sun and reading ;)
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