Saturday, June 30, 2012

DCC RPG Appendix N Kickstarter is an Amazing RPG Value - Ending Soon!

As I write this, the Appendix N Kickstarter for the DCC RPG has less then 40 hours to go and an extra stretch goal after reaching what was thought to be it's final stretch goal. Yes, it's getting that much support.

Still, I think I should break down what you get with your pledge, as Brave Halfling is giving the best value on the gaming dollar around. Even if you don't play the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG but one of the OSR clones, I'd still tell you to jump on board.  The deal is just that good.

Get some friends on board at the price becomes less than the price of a pizza pie ;)

I'm going to start with a pledge of $20, as this gets you a single copy (signed and numbered) of all the stretch goals in print in addition to PDF where applicable:

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1: “The Ruins of Ramat

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #1a: “The Witch of Wydfield” (No PDF Ever for this one)

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #2: “The Crumbling Tower.”

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #3: “Danger in the Sulyndri Forrest.”

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #4: “The Revenge of Abudakar.”

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #5: “Perplexing Disappearances in Brambury.”

Appendix N Adventure Toolkit #6: "The Old Isle Campaign Setting." This product will include a 11" x 17" color campaign map, a digest Player's and Referee's Guide.

Appendix N Adventures Game Box.

DAGGER RPG: A Referee Screen for Quick and Simple Role Playing with Young Children (when the final goal is hit)

All the above comes with with a $20 pledge.  An amazing value.

A pledge of $30 ($31if you want a contributor credit in an upcoming adventure) get's you TWO print copies of the above Appendix N Adventure Toolkits AND the first 8 Appendix N Adventure Options pdfs.

A pledge of $50 gives you 3 copies of the above Appendix N Adventure Toolkits AND the first 8 Appendix N Adventure Options pdfs.  ($51 gives you the opportunity to design and name a monster, npc or location (500 words or less) in an Appendix N Module with full contributor credit listed on the title page)

A pledge of $100 gives you 5 copies the above Appendix N Adventure Toolkits AND the first 8 Appendix N Adventure Options pdfs. ($101 gives youthe opportunity to design and name a major monster, npc or location (1000 words or less) in an Appendix N Module with full contributor credit listed on the title page! - I'm in at this level)

There higher pledge levels, but I think you get the idea ;)

I'm in at the 5 print copies level of $101.  I will be giving away at least 2 copies every month of the Appendix N Adventure Toolkits (1-6) as I receive them via different contests on this blog. My way to give back to the DCC and OSR community.

Expanding the Party With Hirelings in the DCC RPG

I told you we needed to hire some Cannon-Fodder!
One thing many of the "Old School" style games seem to stress, or at least empathize to some extent, is the use of hirelings and retainers. They help to round out a group, fill in roles that the party is weak in and give the PCs access to some "cannon fodder". Sometimes more targets means less risk to the PCs.

The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG makes mention of the same, but puts a twist on it I haven't seen in other systems. Here, you basic retainer might not want to explore the dangerous world out there and is just looking for some coin to line his pockets or feed his family. They might not want to leave the basic area their are recruited in - one or two adventures and then it's back to toiling in the fields.

Here's the bit on recruiting that I found interesting: (page 310)

For every 100 residents of a town or village, 1 man—not necessarily able-bodied—is willing to risk his life as an adventurer’s helper. Areas of famine or hardship, where there are no other opportunities, may produce more prospective retainers; bustling centers of trade, with many competing chances at wealth, may produce fewer.
Most RPGs assume that centers of wealth lead to a large pool to pull from. In DCC, you're getting your retainers, your hirelings mostly from the poor and desperate. It's an interesting change of perspective, and one I happen to like.

Of course, the 1st level PCs in my party don't have enough coin to pay a retainer a silver a day for very long, as they are barely better than dirt poor themselves, but as they level (we'll see come August) retainers may just become part of the party.

It will be interesting to see how disposable (or not) they become for the party, although I suspect it will follow the usual RPG format of what is effectively a multi-stage funnel - the long term survivors more from "cannon fodder" to valuable resource.

(can you tell I'm back on my DCC reading kick? ;)

How Far Can You Go in the DCC RPG in a Day?

I've never been totally satisfied with the rates of travel in OSR games.  They always seem to assume straight roads, perfect passage, no distractions and little worry about where the part ends up at the end of the day. Sleep in a filed, just of the road, at an inn - none of it seems to be included in how far the party can travel. It irks me to no end.

Then we come across the following passage in the DCC RPG rulebook. I happen to think it is simply the best write up of travel in a medieval fantasy setting that I've seen so far: (page 307)
Low-level heroes, bereft of wealth, travel on foot or as passengers in farmers’ carts and caravans. As they advance in name and station, they may acquire donkeys, ponies, or even great steeds to carry them. Here are a couple important points to remember
First, travel is dangerous. When a man goes beyond the reach of his lord’s cavalry and sheriff, he is on his own. Even in “civilized” lands, brigands accost wayfarers. The knights of neighboring duchies may harass mercenaries. And of course there are monsters. 
Second, travel is rarely direct. Especially at lower levels when characters are paying passengers on caravans, there is business to conduct other than the PCs’. The caravan makes stops wherever it can sell or acquire goods. There may be other passengers with destinations involving religious pilgrimages, visiting relatives, or special errands. There are places to avoid: dangerous aboriginal tribes, barons charging egregious taxes, and regions superstitiously labeled as “haunted.” 
Third, travel is not easy. A city may have a few cobblestone streets, and a great kingdom may have a paved King’s Road. Otherwise, travelers mostly follow muddy roads, tracked lanes, footpaths, and dry stream beds. A day’s travel may end several hours shy of nightfall, “wasting” good travel time simply because the next inn is too far to reach before dark.
Why is it that much of the "flavor rules" in the DCC RPG apply so well to other RPGs in the OSR?

As an aside, the players in my initial DCC RPG Arc, who suffered through a game that was probably a weird AD&D / DCC RPG hybrid as I defaulted to AD&D rules when I had the smallest doubt, are still basically penniless. Well, maybe not "dirt poor", but they are still pretty poor none the less.

Which of course leads to a whole 'nother blog post topic - when mundane items become like magic in the DCC RPG. With luck I'll get to that later today ;)

The Beginnings of a Free Mongoose Traveller Campaign - The Pirates of Drinax

Traveller - Why pay for cover art? ;)
Secrets of the Ancients was the first free Mongoose Traveller campaign (it's linked on the left side of this blog under free Resources) and now the second set of free Mongoose Traveller campaign material is being released.

Here's the blurb:

In The Pirates of Drinax, the players play a band of adventures who are entrusted by the King of Drinax with a letter of marque, permitting them to prey on 'illegal' trade within the borders of the vanished kingdom. The King hopes that this piracy will give him the leverage he needs to restore Drinax to its former glory, and intends for the characters to win back all the planets lost over the last two centuries – but the King's plans are just the starting point for this campaign.  
Once the characters have their letter and their ship, it's up to the players for what to do next. Will they stay loyal to their patron and help restore Drinax? Will they turn rogue and create their own kingdom? Will they be heroes or monsters, pirates or privateers? Will they make their fortune amid the pitiless stars, or will the cold depths of the Trojan Reach be their grave? 
To run this campaign, you need a copy of the Traveller Main Rulebook and Alien Module 1: Aslan. 
Not bad for free. 

Interesting RPG Kickstarters I Have to Pass On

There is a crap load of RPG related Kickstarters and Indigogo project out there (not saying any of it is crap mind you). I love getting more gaming goodness, but ever I have to draw the line somewhere.

First up is Rappan Athuk.  I have the boxed set of this somewhere and the follow up to it. To get the new HC version on Kickstarter costs $100, which is expensive for something I already own (kinda) and will probably never use.  Heck, i have 2 mega dungeons I want to use in my ACKS campaign and my players haven't gotten anywhere near them. If you want to get the (nearly) full list of stretch goal goodies, you need to pledge at $250 for the signed copy. Out of my range. It broke the RPG record for dollars pledged, but then was passed by the following project...

Traveller5 broke Rappan Athuk's record, which means it now hold the record for dollars pledged for an RPG over at Kickstarter. $50 bucks gets you the 600 page tome on DC, $100 bucks gets it to you in HC (plus some extra goodies). I bought the T5 beta on CD years ago, and apparently I'm entitled to the final CD being offered in this Kickstarter. I'm not looking for another 600 page game, especially when I still have my LBBs and the Mongoose Traveller rules in both HC and pocket edition. Too much Traveller, too little time (and I still don't know how compatible Mongoose Traveller and T5 will be).

Both of these are ending soon, so if you are going to jump in, the time is growing short.

Friday, June 29, 2012

DCC RPG - Dirty Mighty Deeds of Arms, Done Dirt Cheap

I never realized how many options there were under The Mighty Deeds of Arms.  It's a real, tangible boon for the warriors in the party, and allows for many combat maneuvers one would expect from a Swords & Sorcery type game (which covers a large part of Appendix N).

The warrior needs to successfully hit AND score a 3 or better on the Deeds Dice Roll (the die starts as a D4  D3 and increases as the warrior levels). There is little reason to NOT try to achieve a Mighty Deed.

What kind of deeds are available to the warrior?  It depends on the situation and the surroundings of the combat in question.  The DCC RPG rule book gives some examples, but they are far from all inclusive. (page 89)

 There is no limit to the types of Deeds that a warrior can
perform. Any situation-appropriate specialized attack
should be encouraged. To help provide some general
framework for understanding the concept behind Mighty
Deeds of Arms, we have provided seven general categories
below. These are merely suggestions to give a sense of possibility
and scale.  The guidelines that follow should help the judge
decide which benefits to apply to a high deed die roll.
Creative players will certainly come up with new Deeds.
Encourage and allow this.

Blinding Attacks - with it's own chart, with the actual effect depending on how high the Deeds Roll is (is this included in the Crawler Companion app?  If not, it's a good fit)

Blinding Attacks - again, with a chart (BTW, these charts only o up to 7+ - The guys at Spinal Tap would be greatly disappointed)

Disarming Attacks -  fairly self explanatory.

Precision Shots - this isn't just for missile weapons

Rallying Maneuvers - mostly used to rally NPCs, but can benefit allies too.

Defensive Maneuvers - sometimes the best defense is a bonus to defense.  Maybe even for the who party.

Weapon-Specific Deeds - certain weapons have their own default deed. If the warrior doesn't declare a specific deed, the default weapon deed is considered to be in effect.

Signature Deed - a warrior can set his own default style of deed.  It can be a combination of the previous deeds, or his own type.

I think some Deed Tables need to be added to the default list of seven. I may need to brainstorm some (after I do the writing I'm already committed to).

The Grumpy Dwarf Remarks on Mike Mearls Latest D&D Next Interview (Part One)

Nothing pisses off a Grumpy Dwarf more than a blog post that screws up the font, the colors and all that other shit.  So, I'm going to try using yet a different browser today.  Lets see if it fucks up yet again, shall we?

Oh, this is Mike Mearls' latest interview.  Mike can talk.  Have I mentioned that before?  Yes?  Well, I'm going to state it again.  He's like the Everready Bunny.

On June 15th, we conducted an interview over Skype with Mike Mearls, head of Research & Design of D&D at Wizards of the Coast. Also during that day, Mike was participating in an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit, (Mike is a multi-tasking madman!) so some of the answers make reference to that. This interview has been transcribed, paraphrased, and edited by us from the call (so it's just the meat I suppose). We chose to mainly focus on the process of playtesting and design for D&D Next for this interview.

Critical Hits: How is the AMA on Reddit going?

Mike Mearls: It doesn’t matter how many questions I answer- more stuff just keeps showing up (which shows a lot of interest in D&D Next.  No matter how much I may biatch about 5e, I'm glad to see Mike is swamped with questions). It’s funny, I think most of the answers have boiled down to “yes, we’re giving the Fighter maneuvers, we just haven’t gotten to it yet.” Which fits the playtest feedback too, where I think 80% of the surveys said they wanted it too (which seems awfully huge, as I doubt 80% of playtesters played fighters to any extent.  Then again, most of the playtesters are probably current 4e players, and they are accustomed to front loaded options). Even players of older editions are saying that. It’s just funny to see it (is 3x older?  probably.  I suspect the further one goes back in edition preference, the lower the numbers of people that want to be loaded down with upfront power and options.  then again {yet again} when you aren't increasing the fighter's chance to hit, he needs something to show that he is progressing in levels. I think that is the main reason folks what more options and maneuvers for fighters - they simply don't get better otherwise in D&D Next) .

CH: Let’s talk about some of the new rules, like Advantage/Disadvantage (this should be interesting). When the survey responses come in, is most of the feedback focused on those new rules, or is more about the older rules that have been brought forward?

MM: It’s a mix, yeah. One of the things we did with the playtester base was to set the framework based on the questions we asked. The first thing we want to look at is the new mechanics: Advantage, action economy (i'm sure someone will define this, but it just seems like a strange phrase to me), and so on because it’s a change from what D&D has been doing the past few editions. We’re mainly taking the temperature of the room, asking “do you like this or not?” Then deciding where we want to go from there.

Healing has been one area that’s been getting tons of attention (that shouldn't be a surprise). It’s funny, if you went back to the days of 2nd edition and gave those players the D&D Next document exactly as it is now, I think people would be like “woah, there’s so much healing, I have these hit dice I can spend.” (the result would be "whoa, there's too much healing - we'll never die now!"  but i was 19 or so when 2e came out, and we were still Monte Haul back in the day, so it would have been fun for a few months.  Then we would have moved on to WFRP or Traveller)  But now that they’ve played 4th edition (this one sentence should tell you the edition segment that will have the most influence on D&D Next - and it ain't the old farts in the OSR), they’re just like “there’s not enough healing in this game.” It’s one of those things that has changed. It’s interesting to get people’s perception of what D&D “is” and see that it has changed over time (not so much changed as there are now multiple opinions out there.  that's what you get when you change editions and rule sets faster than folks change cars).

The really interesting thing is that preferred edition plays some role in it, but it’s nowhere as big of an effect as you’d think (I'd like to see a percentage of 4e self identifying players in the 5e playtest.  I'm going to guess it's around 80%.  Who wants in on the over / under?). Like, everyone loves at-will spells (because nearly everyone is a 4e player Mike.  who do you think signed up in droves for the playtest?), it’s one of the most positive things. Even players who played OD&D or 1st edition, it’s not like they’re 90% (75% maybe?  it's a weird number for mike to pull out) against it. There’s still some shifts, but it’s overall positive among all those groups. It’s interesting to see what’s new to different people too.

CH: All the surveys I’ve seen have asked how long have you played D&D. You’re saying the differences haven’t been that pronounced?

MM: Yeah. To give you an example, we have a lot of people who say they want the Fighter to have more options. It’s the most pronounced among players who have played 3rd and 4th, but you still see more than half the players who played 2nd or 1st saying that as well (again, without an increase in THAC0, how else will a fighter improve in combat?  more options or maneuvers is the only way.  Self fulfilling prophecy)  . I think it’s because even though 1st edition didn’t have that, they know what they want to play (yes - a fighter that gets better as they level). So a player who plays a newer edition with a simple Fighter says “if I wanted that, I could play AD&D” (Exactly Mike - you hit the nail on the fucking head! This is the very reason trying to appease all players of all editions will fail.  All of the previous editions are still in print in one form of another and will be FOREVER because of the OGJ.  Well, maybe not 4e in that case but 3x and prior) but in this context of playing a newer edition, I want that thing, so just go ahead and give it to me.

Doing the AMA today has shown that- I don’t want to call the questions boring, but a lot of them have been the same. Like “why is the Fighter boring?” (because 4e players expect every class to be equally good at everything, and fighters don't have the "flash" of clerics and wizards) OK, we’re going to add maneuvers to answer that, so I’ll move on. Then the other question is “if we’re already playing an edition of D&D we like, why should we switch?” (didn't I already answer this?) What it comes down to is that those editions have a very specific flavor (sure, it's flavor from the RULES.  If I want to show 4e players what a 0e game was like, D&D Next may get me to the parking lot of the ballpark.  Swords & Wizardry White Box Edition will not only get me in the ballpark, but put me on the ball field. Did I mention it's free? Mike, in using DND 5e to recreate the "feel" of earlier editions, you neglect to acknowledge that you are competing with OGL / OSR rule sets that are extremely faithful to the source material and are available for free in PDF. You remember what PDFs are, right? Those are the things WotC removed from RPGNow on short notice, and left many of us without access to our legitimate purchases. Now I now why you don't like PDFs. It's not the piracy, its the competition ;) In Next, if we do it right, you’ll be able to make your own edition of D&D, and maybe in a way you weren’t able to before, just because it’s more than house rules (wait, WotC makes optional rules, they are legit.  A DM or RPG group make optional rules, and the are illegitimate?).

And thus ends Part One of the interview.  This is too long to do as a single piece, and my comments are longer than is usual.  Damn you Moe T! 

heh ;)

This has been The Grumpy Dwarf

Prepping My RPG Vacation Package

I'm on vacation next week and I'm putting together my RPG Reading Package for the days I'll be in the Poconos. My expectation is to get a decent amount of reading (and writing) in, especially in the mornings and nights

So far, I'm bringing the Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG Rulebook and Free RPG Day Adventures, The One War and Cosmic Patrol Quick Starts and possibly my ACKS Rulebook.

I'll also be bringing my iPad and my Kindle Fire for reading the other DCC adventures I have in PDF (still waiting on DCCs 68 + 69 to arrive in dead tree).

Hopefully I'll remember to bring Feltothraxis along for the ride (I left he behind last time I went away - for shame).

Oh, and a set of funny dice, as I may try to put my wife through a "short funnel" of sorts with a sheet of newbs - this is a possibility only, it depends on how the week goes. Wait, there's that card based RPG I picked up a few months ago - that might entice her.

Shit, where am I going to put the clothes for the trip?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Playing By Their Own Set of Rules - Monsters in the DCC RPG

Important monsters are, for the most part in the DCC RPG, meant to be unique.  In a way, it's much like LotFP's Weird Fantasy.  Weird Fantasy also expects the monstrous to be strange and unique.  DCC is different, as there is an expectation that "mundane monsters" exist in addition to the more unique ones that operate under their own set of rules.

It would seem to me that the unwritten DCC RPG rule for monsters is "unique Big Bad Baddie, others optional" (it may be written, but I haven't found it yet).

Look at the following passage from the DCC RPG rulebook (page 383) to see what I mean:

Monsters don't play by the rules. 
Why should they? Conan never knew what manner of foul
beast he would face or whether his sword would overcome
its sorcery. He feared no creature of flesh, but was justifiably
terrified by the supernatural. Monsters and magic are
not bound by the same laws that govern mortals. The creatures
that follow demonstrate examples of this fact; and you
should heed it in your own creature and encounter designs.
Spellcasters in particular, whether human or monstrous in
nature, should have powers that are unavailable to the players.
This does not mean fully defined spells of the same sort
learned by the characters. This means a unique power of
some kind that would provide a plot hook, leading the player
characters to seek out the wizard character and attempt to enlist
his services, either as a an ally, hireling, or hostage. On the
next page is a table of inspiration, but note that these powers
should not be spells. The NPC should be able to use these
powers with predictability and accuracy in a way that player
characters cannot. It is left up to you to flesh out these ideas,
which can apply to any wizard, sorcerer, shaman, witch, warlock,
acolyte, priest, cult leader, or other such figure.

Monsters don't need to play by the same rules as the PCs. In some ways, having the players realize that the BBEG / BBEM is not playing by the same set of rules that they are makes them even more apprehensive, more nervous, as they can't assume it's abilities or the limits thereof.

Something else that I can (and should) port over to my ACKS campaign ;)

The Great RPG Divide - Character Mortality

Alright, maybe one of many divides, but it is certainly near the top of the list.

Character Mortality - boon or bane?

When I played (and DM'ed) AD&D back in the 80's and 90's, it was never assumed your character was going to make name level. Your PC lived in the now, acquisitions of magic and power was done with the thought of increasing one's chance of survival.

I wasn't a "Killer DM". I didn't keep a count of the PCs that I killed because I weren't looking to kill them. I figured the dice and the players' own decisions would take care of that for me, and they often did.

3x was the first time I saw players planning out their advancement 5, 10, even 15 levels in advance. It wasn't something I could comprehend, as just surviving to the next level was carrot enough for me. Was it the more complicated characters that 3x embodies that led to people assuming their characters were nigh immortal? Was the risk of character death significantly lowered starting with 3x? Was it the advent of computers assisting player record keeping that led to programs that allowed such planning to tae place?

4e just compounded the issue in my mind. 4e PCs don't seem to risk death. They certainly don't fear it, and it seems everybody knows exactly what their character is going to look like at any possible level int their future.

Maybe this is why I found the DCC RPG "Funnel" so refreshing- PCs died at a 50% casualty rate and the only complaint was that more didn't die ;) The 1st level party had 2 PCs that stared death in the face and managed to survive. It was refreshing.

I run my ACKS campaign in a "let the dice fall as they may" fashion. Haven't killed anyone yet but it's not for lack of trying ;)

I'm I wrong for looking at character mortality as one of the great dividing lines between "Old School" and "New School", especially among D&D in it's various editions and it's OGL offspring?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Grumpy Dwarf Look at Mike Mearls Latest Interview (He's Mr. Media!)

YES!!! Another PR Bag of Poop from Mike, this time at Examiner.com.  You can read the unadulterated Poop Here!.  Join me, The Grumpy Dwarf, as we follow Mike in his latest interview...
I had the opportunity to catch up with Mike Mearls, senior manager of Dungeons & Dragons research and development. Mike and I last worked together years ago on AEG's d20 supplement, Relics. In this interview he gives an update on the playtest and the surprising places we might see old and new versions of D&D.
Michael Tresca (MT): How's the playtest going so far?
Mike Mearls (MM): So far, it has gone very well and the response to the first playtest survey has been overwhelming. People seem happy so far (at least 60%, but that's a whole nother conversation), but ready to see more options added to the system.
MT: The public playtest has generated quite a bit of press. ("See Mike?  It worked!) Have you seen this reflected at all in consumption of Dungeons & Dragons content (online site traffic, product purchases, etc.)?
MM: We’ve definitely seen a surge of interest in D&D across the board (I'm willing to guess that sales are not part of that "board".  who is going to buy D&D 4e shit when 5e is around the corner?). The playtest has been a great way to spark interest. A good chunk of the people responding to the playtest survey are former D&D players (how many are pathfinder players?  are they really "former"?), so the word is definitely getting out there.
MT: The publication of the collectible Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books generated a lot of excitement (that aren't for sale yet, and i don't think they are "published yet). Given that D&D Next will be compatible with older editions (WTF?!?  Wasn't this rumor beaten and killed months ago?  it will NOT be compatible with OLDER editions), can we expect reprints of older editions?
MM: We aren’t announcing any specifics right now, but we do plan to bring back more fan favorite content throughout the year. (Wait, Mike didn't address an obviously very wrong compatibility statement?  For shame Mike.  For Shame!)
MT: In a similar vein, Wizards withdrew completely from the online marketplace. Any chance D&D will return to PDF publishing of older editions with the new release?
MM: I don’t have any information on that at this time, but we’re always exploring our options (Which means, our lawyers still don't understand how this internet thing works).
MT: Thanks for extending the playtest to support online play (that initially was our lawyers again not understanding this internet thing). Are you seeing a shift towards more online play of D&D?
MM: We haven’t tried to gather specific information on that, but I think it makes sense given how digital media and the Internet have evolved (but again, dont ask us about PDFs or God forbid, our Virtual Table Top) It’s much easier to get a game going if you don’t have to worry about driving to someone’s house or finishing up early because of time constraints. We’ve tried to focus our design efforts on making adventures about an hour long (which again seems like a waste to me, but 2 1/2 to 3 hrs seems to work fine, so what the fuck do I know?)knowing that shorter sessions become more viable if people are able to just meet online to play. (I wouldn't get together for a one hour session, in person or online - too much work for too little in return)
MT: What's been the most surprising feedback you've received so far from the playtest group?
MM: The level of positive feedback about the core system so far has been exciting. We aimed for simple, fast game-play with this system. My initial sense was that 3e and 4e left people wanting more complexity. (not surprising) Most of the feedback we’re seeing is centered on character options, however, rather than system detail. That was surprising, but in a good way.
MT: How are the races and classes shaping up? Any of the non-traditional core archetypes that were introduced in later editions likely to make an early appearance?
MM: We’re sticking to the meat and potatoes of classes and races right now. (i'll give mike credit, this was the best decision they could have made)
MT: Will we see a new introductory boxed set?
MM: I can’t talk about specific products (because it's too early in the game to even know), but in my ideal world there’s a game called D&D that you find in stores. It’s simple enough that you can just start playing, but deep enough that you feel that the next layer of stuff adds to it, rather than replaces it like going from a starter set to a Player’s Handbook has traditionally done.
MT: Fantasy Flight Games has led a shift towards creating detailed boxed sets of accessories supporting their role-playing games. Can we expect deluxe editions of D&D Next?
MM: We’re so focused on playtesting right now that we don’t really know what the final product will look like yet. If accessories are a part of it, I just know that I’d want them to be things that bring the game to life in ways that people are still talking about and using years down the line (if they go the Warhammer FRP route i'm not touching it - over priced and too system specific).
MT: Will we ever see D&D Next on toy store shelves again like they were in the 80s? Or even in bookstores…if there are any left?
MM: I don’t have any information on where/how D&D Next will be available yet (but if we go with a boxed set, the hopeful answer is yes - if there are any toy stores or bookstores left when we release D&D Next), but in recent years we’ve had a great relationship with hobby/game stores. They provide a great resource for local customers who are looking to purchase our games, get more information about them, and even take part in in-store play programs.
MT: What can we expect next from the playtest?
MM: We’re going over the playtest feedback right now to focus on areas that need some attention. You can expect to see revisions to the classes, mainly fighter but the cleric and rogue are getting some tweaks. We also have new drafts of the armor system in the works (was there anything strange with armor in the current playtest?  it it going to absorb damage in the next one).
MT: Anything else you'd like to add?
MM: Without the playtesting feedback we’ve received, we wouldn’t be in a position to improve the game and make D&D something that everyone wants to play (I think you should be happy with "a majority of D&D players want to play"). The feedback has been a huge help so far, so for those of you who are currently playtesting and giving us feedback, thanks! And if you’re not playtesting yet, it’s not too late to get involved. Just go to dndnext.com(and maybe they won't fuck up the release of the playtest materials this time around)

The Screen, The Hangout and the PDF

I have this habit when I run games online - I want the adventure I'm using in print.

Doesn't matter if I wrote it, if it's in PDF format, hard copy I picked up at the game store, whatever the case may be.  I want it in print so i can refer to it while it sits on my desk in front of my monitor.  Alas, this past Monday, that was not to be.

Why? Because my printer was being temperamental, and for some inane reason decided it didn't want to print the first two pages of The Attack of the Frawgs.  I'm not talking cover and contents pages, I'm talking the first two pages of the actual adventure.

To I slid my Google Chrome to the left side of my monitor, put Attack of the Frawgs on the rights side, opened up Hangout in G+ and hoped for the best.  I figured I'd revert to the printed pages after I got past those few pages.

Surprise, I didn't.  Ran it from the PDF and the printed map.  And I liked it.  I really liked it.

It meant I didn't spend too much time looking down at my desk but instead I was looking at the screen. Taling to players, look at the screen.  Reading the flavor text and combat stats?  Look at the screen.

Worked much better than I expected.

Of course, it does help that I have a 27" screen ;)

DCC RPG- Do You Feel Lucky, Punk? Well, Do Ya?

I had two players drop below zero HP in Monday night's DCC session. The rules called for a luck check to determine if the PC actually was alive if not healed within a round, which was the case with one of the two.

I didn't recall reading about luck checks in the rulebook, and the index is non-existent in the book, so I made it a DC 15 throw, and the PC rolled a 14 +1 = 15. Yay, he lived!

Problem is checking the DCC forums it appears luck checks are a "roll under" mechanism, which goes against the grain of the rest of the checks, which are roll over. Not very intuitive. It also means the PC might have died if I had known the proper rule. Ah well.

I also defaulted to my ingrained AD&D knowledge if I couldn't remember a specific rule, as I felt pacing was more important than rules accuracy. That being said, I should have a bit tighter rules knowledge for the July DCC Arc I'll be running.

Supposedly the 2e of the DCC rules stomps out the typos and errata. Here's hoping the DCC RPG PDF is updated shortly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Winners of Some DCC Adventures (and some other neat prizes) Are...

Twenty-seven entries.  Holy shit!  You folks are awesome.  Just in case you didn't know that already ;)

This means I get to break out my thirty sider.  Woot!

Now if I only had a way to have a drum roll play in the background.  Screw it, you'll have to imagine it yourselves.

First up is Sailors on the Starless Sea.  Goodman Games gave me the PDF code, and I'm giving it to - the 10th entry!  The Iron Goat - Congrats!

Next up is Perils of the Sunken City, courtesy of Purple Sorcerer Games.  And I roll a fumble!  Natural 1! Tim Shorts - Congrats!

Last of the DCC adventures, but not last of the prizes Attack of the Frawgs courtesy of Think Skull Adventures.  Its a 24, which means ApisFurioso!  Congrats again!

K, the last 2 prizes I get to award based on the quality of the entry.  Okay, that was the game plan, but you fuckers all made some excellent, descriptive, imaginative entries. So I'm going to have to go the random route for these prizes too, as I can't afford to give them to everyone... heh

These are the Toys for the Sandbox Bundles.  You may chose any 1 of the first 3 bundles if you win this prize.

Grabbing my trusty D30 again (he thought he was done for the night).

17 and 26

Which means Chuck Thorin and Craig Brasco!  Congrats lads!

I need the winners to email me at trubluniteATgmailDOTcom.

The winners of the adventures will be given codes to DL the product at rpgnow.com

The winners of the Toys For the Sandbox bundles need to indicate the bundle they want and need to provide me with their email they use at rpgnow.com so I can but the bundles for their account.

Awesome works folks.  You have given the community 27 stated out NPCs with personality.  Very nicely done :)

DCC RPG Session Recap (kinda) - Attack of the Frawgs

Last night was the second session of the June UA-LC.com DCC RPG Arc. Way too long a title.

In any case, the Funnel survivors of the previous week were promoted to 1st level. They left their hovels for a larger town, to regale the locals in their acts of previous heroism. Being adventurers now, adventure found them.

I don't want to give much of the plot away, so I'm just going to give certain highlights.

We got the torture issue out of the way in the first scene after the tavern. The party encountered an obviously deranged man, and after subduing him and listening to his rants about demons for all of...10 seconds maybe... one of the party's mages decided to apply "dagger pressure" to the crazy's hands with little cuts. Yep, first scene. Talk about not waiting... heh

As I mentioned elsewhere, I boosted most the the monsters HP to make things a bit more challenging for a party of 1st level PCs. That includes the beaver-bears (not their real name, but I couldn't pronounce their real name so it's close enough ;) If I had opted to go with a party of 4 PCs and not 8, I probably would have left it as is, or close to it.

Roasted crab and frawg were the results of some of the encounters - if only the PCs were into seafood of sorts.

The PCs defeated the beasties in a big battle at the end, but realized afterwards that they missed stopping an event, and were missing an item that was part of a set. Not that they told the town folks their doubts - they sold what few valuables they found, partook in some free beer, and were probably thinking about their quickest way out of town. The situation they are leaving behind may require more adventurers in the end.

I liked the ending myself. Having the PCs with some real doubts about what they accomplished is awesome. I need to sneak something similar into my ACKS sandbox ;)

DCC RPG "White Box" - How Would You Put One Together?

No, I'm not working on a DCC RPG "White Box" Edition, and I doubt there is one on the works. That doesn't mean there isn't a market for one.

DCC is fairly rules heavy and extremely chart heavy, which can certainly be intimidating for new players to the game, let alone someone new to the hobby. That being said, in play I suspect it is fairly friendly to new players so long as they don't get caught up in the rules, because the DCC RPG vibe is a blast. The question then becomes, how do you keep the DCC vibe in a stripped down version aimed at recruiting new players?

Off the top of my head?

- Top out the "White Box" at third level - progression beyond that would move over to the full DCC RPG. This allows a major cutting of the amount of included spell charts, while still allowing for weeks / months of play.

- Drop Patrons. While they add a nice dimension, and added complexity works against the "White Box" goals of simplifying things for the new players.

- Core four classes only. Leave out the demihumans as PCs.

This is more of a recreational brainstorming exercise at the moment, but I'd certainly appreciate your thoughts, ideas and input on the matter :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Frawg! It's What's For Dinner!

None of the Frawgs My Players Faced Had
Guns, But it Would Have been Awesome!
Ran Attack of the Frawgs tonight for a party of four players with 2 PCs each.  This was my first time running a DCC session with "level" - last session was the funnel.

A few observations (recap will come hopefully tomorrow):

- The adventure played out in 3 hrs, pretty much on the mark.  Nice sweet spot.  Last week's funnel from the DCC RPG Core Book ran in about 2 1/2.  If this trend continues, DCC RPG will make for a very comfortable weeknight game, as it can wrap up at a decent time of night.

- I really need to tighten up on the rules for DCC.  I glossed over much of the PC stuff as I figured I could fill in the holes with my AD&D default knowledge, but there are twists and turns in DCC that I missed going through the book.  Guess I'll be studying on vacation ;)

- When 1st level PCs are still scrounging together their silvers, they are very vulnerable in combat.  2 dropped in the final battle (and made their luck rolls - which I defaulted to 15 as I couldnt find the default)

- PC magic is fuckin' powerful - and dangerous - and at a cost.  I love it, must learn it better from the DM side

- Shit!  Now I wanna play as a player at some point too!  I wanna funnel! I wanna cast spells that may cause my sex to change, my hair to grow or have me smell like poo!

- We had no thieves in the party - 4 warriors, 2 wizards, 1 cleric and a dwarf.  I'm interested in seeing how luck plays out for rogues

After the Funnel, There Will be Frawgs!

I've decide to go with Attack of the Frawgs for tonight's DCC RPG session for a few reasons.

1 - I just read it and reviewed it - it is fresh in my mind.

2 - It just released, therefore it is unlikely that any of my players have snagged a copy yet.

3 - It's outdoor-ish, and I want to see how that plays out in DCC.

4 - It doesn't appear to be too long in length, which is good for a 3 hr slot.

5 - I happen to like it ;)

Win a Free Barrowmaze II PDF at the Discourse & Dragons Blog!

Greg G over at the Discourse & Dragons Blog is running a spell design contest for a free PDF copy of Barrowmaze II. I thought BMI was great and I'm looking forward to dropping it onto my party, or them into it ;)

So, go to this post at the Discourse & Dragons blog and enter to win a copy of BMII.

(and don't forget to enter the contest to win some DCC RPG loot and some sandbox adventures at this very blog - link above the posts)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mini Review - Attack of the Frawgs (DCC RPG)

It appears like Joseph Goodman found his lightning in a bottle with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Not only is the core rulebook a tome of much awesomeness, but the adventures from both Goodman Games and the Third Part Publishers have been strong right out of the starting box.  Attack of the Frawgs from Thick Skull Adventures is no exception.

Surprisingly, this is no dungeon crawl.  It is man versus beasts in the Wilds around Dead Goblin Lake.  Yep, Attack of the Frawgs is primarily an outdoor, or dare I say it, wilderness adventure. I had assumed both by nature of the name - Dungeon Crawl Classics - and the first few adventures from Goodman Games that dungeons were going to be the be all.  Thankfully, they are not.  There is a place for wilderness adventures in the DCC realm of adventures, but they are plotted out similarly to dungeon adventures in the DCC system. I suppose this makes sense, as experience is earned by "encounter", not by enemies felled or gold found. I do like the DCC experience system, but that's a topic for another post.

The adventure itself looks to be a fun one.  I like the idea of townsfolk rising up to protect their own against evil invading their lands and lively hood.  I'm also pleasantly pleased with how well the wilderness adventure appears to plot out.  I'm very tempted to run this in tomorrow night's game with my party of newly levels 1st level PCs.  I guess I'll figure that out before game time ;)

The cover art is great, the interior art is fine and the maps are very serviceable.  The maps aren't like those in the various DCC Adventures from Goodman Games, but they are easy on the eyes and following them is a breeze (as great as some of the Goodman maps are, I think I get distracted at times by all the shinnies and following them can sometimes be confusing - not complaining - I love them - just sayin').

Attack of the Frawgs is an excellent addition to the DCC assortment of adventures.

From the blurb:

When creatures prey on the innocent, the meek must become the hunters!

Panic is mounting in the isolated settlement of Sagewood! Frightened villagers speak in hushed tones of “walking frogs the size of men” peering at them from within the woods. And now, a severely wounded local trapper has barely managed to return from Dead Goblin Lake; the fate of his partner known only to the foul creatures that so savagely attacked them.

In a small village without heroes, the townsfolk look desperately towards each other for salvation from this terror. Those who face the creatures will almost certainly pay with their lives...

Are you brave enough to risk it all?

Attack of the Frawgs is a Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game adventure designed for 8-14 0-level characters or can be easily adapted for use with 1st-level characters.

You are Attacked By an Ist Wielding the Power of Ism

There is nothing that drives sane adventures to run screaming for their lives and sanity like the appearance of an "Ist".

Sadly, you can't avoid the Ists.  They are everywhere, and if you are not one of them, they will attempt to use their "Ism" power to make you appear to be an "Ist" of their opposite alignment.  If successful, the "Scarlet I" appears on the victim's forehead, forever marking them as False Ists.

False Ists do not have the power to mark others, but become the frequent targets of others Ists. Short of killing the Ist that marked the False Ist, the only way out from under the curse is a Remove Curse spell cast by a high level Priest of Reasoned Thought.  The priesthood is constantly under attack by all sorts of Ists, and it is a rare priest that survives long enough to attain the power to remove this type of curse.

ACKS Stats For the Average Ist

% in Liar - 100%
Dungeon Enc: 1-4 (Often Appear in Mated Pairs)
Wilderness Enc: 1-10 (Referred to as a Swarm)
Alignment: Varies, but always extreme
Movement: 30' - If you start running upon sight of an Ist, you should be able to escape
Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 8 (but gets to heal using DnD Next HD Rules)
Attacks: 1
Damage: Special (As detailed above, with collateral damage to reputation)
Save: T12
Morale: +1 (+1 per additional Ist in group)
Treasure Type: Nil
XP: 10,000 (which is the reason adventurers are foolish enough to engage an Ism on sight)

Note the following special conditions:

Special Power: Selective Deafness
Immunities: Reason, Charm Person, Sleep, Paralysis, Petrification
Weakness: Illusions

Short Session Summary - Orcs? Check! Torture? Check!

I have an ongoing joke.  Alright, less a joke perhaps and more of an interesting observation.  Every RPG session has an incident that either involves torture, fire or both in which the party are the instigators.  Actually, maybe not every session, as I don't think it happened in last Mondays DCC RPG Funnel, but if so, that would probably be the first time this year for a game I've either run or played in.

Last night in the weekly ACKS campaign I run, there wasn't even foreplay (maybe the wrong word to attach to torture, especial with the winds that are blowing through the RPG social media corner, but whatever) before heads were lopped.  Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

After the party finished shaking the village down they had arrived in 2 sessions ago for funds to pay for a "removed curse" on the poor villagers, the party made their way to the ferry to get them across the river.  Passage can get expensive when the party includes mounts and pack bearers (note to self - pack bearers are wilderness targets too).  Shortly after they crossed the river, they encountered an old man being chased by orcs.

Three sleep spells later (as the orcs were spread out) there were five sleeping orcs.  The old man was debriefed and than four ors were summarily dispatched.  Wait, let me rephrase that for accuracy.  Their heads were removed from their sleeping bodies and placed in front of the still sleeping leader of this small orcish squad.  The party's NightBlade named Vesper (a thief / magic-user combo class that leans towards assassin) made sure the leader was lying on his stomach and then got on the orc's back before waking him with a knife to the throat.

Besides the "overkill" in more ways than one, seeing my men's heads placed in front of me when I awake with a knife to my throat wouldn't leave me with thoughts of a long, productive life ahead of me.  I made a moral check (with a bonus to it for his killed men) for the orc leader when the party started asking him questions.  He answer in fairly accurate yet vague riddles.  Vesper "The Beheader" promptly removed an orcish ear.

The Jack Bauer method of interrogation is not the most effective. The orc refused to talk.  More accurately, he refused to answer questions, but he had no problem voicing his opinion.  At which point the party's magic-user cast Charm Person and made an instant friend - who almost immediately asked if he could kill Vesper.

So, literally in the first encounter we had fulfilled my expectations. Another tally mark in the torture column. No one got around to using fire this time around, but we were one hell of a distracted group, starting the session with a social media debriefing, two guests dropping into the session (one a regular player that couldnt make full session and Josh, the lead programmer for Table Top Forge). Not much was accomplished story-wise, but it was certainly a full session.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Prizes for the DCC RPG Contest! Perils of the Sunken City & Attack of the Frawgs!

There are some very generous 3rd Party publishers for the DCC RPG :)

Purple Sorcerer Games has been kind enough to add a PDF copy of Perils of the Sunken City to the current DCC contest.  Purple Sorcerer are also the folks that are doing the DCC Crawler's Companion Kickstarter to make an Android and a iOS app for tablets.  I'm a supporter of the Kickstarter and the app is nearly a must have for the DCC RPG.  I play with it every night just to see the random table results ;)

Heres the quick blurb on Perils of the Sunken City:

Attack of the Frawgs is by Thick Skull Adventures.  It quite literally released today. I don't even have a copy myself yet, but we're giving one away.

Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance! 
The massive crumbling ruins of the swamp-ravaged Sunken City await! The way is filled with peril, but those who survive will be ready to face even more dangerous fare!

Heres the quick blurb on Attack of the Frawgs! (I'll review this in the next day or two)

When creatures prey on the innocent, the meek must become the hunters!

Panic is mounting in the isolated settlement of Sagewood! Frightened villagers speak in hushed tones of “walking frogs the size of men” peering at them from within the woods. And now, a severely wounded local trapper has barely managed to return from Dead Goblin Lake; the fate of his partner known only to the foul creatures that so savagely attacked them.

In a small village without heroes, the townsfolk look desperately towards each other for salvation from this terror. Those who face the creatures will almost certainly pay with their lives...

Are you brave enough to risk it all?

Attack of the Frawgs is a Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game adventure designed for 8-14 0-level characters or can be easily adapted for use with 1st-level characters.

The Importance of Definitions

I was struck last night by something one of my friends said when we were hanging out last night.

"You know, it wasn't until recently that I figured out what OSR meant, and I've been reading your blog for nearly 3 years. Now that I know what it means, I realize it defines the type of gamer i am."

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees , or visa-versa.

OSR - Old School Renaissance, Old School Revival, Oh Shit! Run! - it referes to Old School Gaming. I post about it constantly, but I fear there are times we assume knowledge that isn't necessarily there for all of our readers.

As I say in the training classes I give at work - if you have a question, ask! I don't bite.  Most of my fellow bloggers don't bite. So ask.

And if someone asks you a legitimate question, don't respond with "I'm not your fucking research assistant!  Look it up yourself!" You're not helping. Your just an asshole. The world has enough assholes already.  BTW, the only Gaslight I know of is in Call of Chtuhlu and in my house (it was built in 105 and the old cas light fixtures are still in place in many rooms i disconnected from the gas line just so you know)

Sorry, got sidetracked there by the remains of a G+ conversation from earlier today.

Anyhow, just like an RPG usually has a glossary of useful definitions, so should our RPG hobby.

Heck, it might already be out there, but if it is, we need to make sure we point people to it.  If it isn't, we owe it to ourselves to make sure there is a readily accessible one. Constantly changing, constantly being updated, constantly helping those who might otherwise be afraid to ask.

Besides, it may just help the new 5e players that are coming back to gaming from any prior edition.  That whole Hit Die definition reworks is going to be one confusing smack down ;)

Win a Free PDF Copy of One of Three Different DCC RPG Adventures

Yep, I'm giving away a free copy of DCC #67 - Sailors on the Starless Sea.  (edit - due to the generosity of certain 3rd party DCC RPG Publishers, we are adding Perils of the Sunken City AND Attack of the Frawgs! to the prize pool! - read more about these excellent prizes here)

Joe Goodman was generous enough to send me a coupon for DCC #67 at RPGNow, but I had already purchased a PDF copy from there.  I asked if I could forward the copy on to one of my blog readers, and he said yes. (in the off chance that the code is linked to my account specifically, I'll purchase it as a gift for your account using the code at my account - should work the same in the end).

What do you need to do to win such wondrous prizes?

It's fairly simple.

Generate a Zero Level character for the DCC RPG.  What, you don't have a copy of the rules?  No problem at all.  Just got to the Purple Sorcerer's website and they'll generate 4 characters for you!  How easy is that? (remember, you just need 1, so pick the one you like the most and run with it)

Now all you need to do is name your character, post the stats, occupation, starting equipment and "lucky roll" - and 2 to 3 sentences of background, motivation, random info - whatever you want to post about your Zero level "noob" as a comment to this post.

Tuesday, June 26th at around 6 pm eastern time I'll close the door on entries and randomly pick 3 winners later on that night (why tuesday?  because I may be running it monday night for my players that signed up via the UA-LC).  Three main prizes - Three main winners. I will add two bundles from the Toys For the Sandbox series of releases.  These two winners will be by my choice, not random.  So, make me laugh, make an amazing write up, make poor stats into something memorable - whatever.
The bundles choices will be from the first three, so 1-5, 6-10 or 11-15.

You may enter as many times as you may like, but only one entry will count towards winning one of the three main adventures = Sailors on the Starless Sea, Perils of the Sunken City and Attack of the Frawg.

Good luck to all :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Got Some Game Time in With My Old Gaming Group Tonight

Yep, after dinner and beers and such we go in about 2 hrs of play - playing pool that is ;)

We try to get together multiple times a year, but a "Gathering of Fools" HAS to happen in June. Our friend Paul, who we lost on 9-11 when the Towers fell, had his birthday in June.  We gather in his memory.  Usually, we do it on a weekend, but most of us being 40ish and married with kids doesn't lend itself to easy scheduling.

Still, tonight was an excellent time.  Lots of catching up, joking around, heck - even got my last wedding present (thanks Dave ;)

It's nice to know that even if we don't get the chance to game (although that may be changing with G+ Hangouts - logistics of scheduling is the issue as always) this little blog helps keep them connected to the gaming world. Makes me feel or warm inside - or that may be the booze from earlier ;)

Oh, BTW, keep an eye out tomorrow for a contest post. It should be fun (and rewarding to whoever wins of course ;)

Weather as Campaign Dressing

Lower Manhattan just had one hell of a thunderstorm cell roll through as I was getting my overpriced lunch, and the thought came to me - I pretty much leave weather out of my campaigns unless it's part of the plot or theme. I don't really put rain / snow / wind / heat waves and the like into the game as window / campaign dressing.

That might be a failure on my point, but I suspect if I added it now, the players would suspect the weather to be a plot device that it isn't. Actually, maybe that would be fun anyway, as some of them see plots devices in the dark that I never planted in the first place.

What about you?

Do you use weather in your campaigns as part of the back drop, as a plot device, or not at all?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DCC Free RPG Day 2012 Adventure(s) - First Impressions and Other Thoughts

I've been flipping through the Free RPG Day 2012 Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Free Adventures tonight, and I find myself wantig to make a few observations.

First, presentation as always is awesome.  The art just works.  I constantly find myself thinking of WFRP 1e when I look at the art in the various DCC products because they seem to share the same "feel".  Trust me, its a very good thing, at least in my eyes.

Michael Curtis' adventure - The Undulating Corruption is a 5th level outdoor, or wilderness adventure. For some reason I hadn't thought of using wilderness adventures with the DCC ruleset, probably because the adventures I've read so far basically plop you at the beginning of a dungeon.  This one is a nice change.  It requires the hook of a party wizard suffering from corruption, but if  you have a 5th level wizard in DCC that isn't suffering from corruption, something is definitely wrong.

The second adventure is from the tireless Harley Stroh - The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust.  Guess what?  This adventure is a city adventure.  Now, it also has basement, so technically you could say it's also a dungeon adventure, but that might be stretching things just a tad ;)  BTW, the map for this adventure is yet another one I'd like to get a print of.  Why do I feel that Joseph isn't hearing my pleas?  I might have to start posting on the DCC forum to make sure I'm heard :)

Talking about maps, there is a partially started map in the center of the booklet that is part of the Adventure Design contest.  Just over 4 months to submit entries (10/31/12) I might actually take a stab at this.  After I make about a dozen copies of the map and see how many variations of it I can crank out - and then work from the one I like the best.

Free Swords & Wizardry Variant - Renegade

Let me say this straight out - I doubt I'd run Renegade (which is the free, stripped down version of Corruption), but my God, this is full of nuggets to borrow and steal from.

It's not fancy - single column text.  The amazing thing is this PDF is bookmarked and hyperlinked in part. There are RPG products out there that scream to have their PDFs bookmarked, and here we have a free PDF that went that extra step.  Kudos.

What is worth stealing?

The Animal Companions section - but I'll be stealing from this to help flesh out my NPCs in my ACKS campaign - don't tell my players ;)

The adventure creation section starts out merely okay, but then hits full throttle with the Rooms, Caverns, Furnishings and Accessories table - people pay for random tables like the ones included to help them flesh out dungeons, so if you needs some table look no further.  Remember, the price is right.

Tricks & Traps, Wilderness Encounters (using 3d12!), Climate & Terrain, Government Types - the list of tables and lists goes on and on.  Why bother rolling?  Just us it for inspiration.

Decent monster and magic sections are also included.

Really, raid Renegade for what you need in the OSR game you are currently playing.  Even the classes have interesting tweaks (not that I'd run them as is, and if I wasn't going to run them as is, I'll keep the classes I have ;) that you may want to borrow pieces of.

Definitely worth a (free) look ;)

My Free RPG Day Loot

I did my Free RPG Game shopping the same way as I did last year - shopping online at Noble Knight Games.

The Dungeon Crawl Classics Free RPG Day release has a level 3 and a level 5 adventure.  If I keep running DCC RPG as a flexible campaign for 2 to 3 sessions a month via the UA-LC, I'll have a nice collection of adventures to fall back upon.

Only War is part of the Warhammer 40k Roleplay series of games. I played Dark Heresy a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and I've picked up the other games in the series and they all ready pretty well.  Production qualities lok top notch.

Cosmic Patrol is a game I own in PDF, and i like the concept but had trouble groking it - maybe I'll run the quick start at some point.

The dice tower is pretty cool.  It's great for the secret DM die rolls when I'm at my desk running a game via G+ Hangout, as it needs very little space.  Very glad I grabbed this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Grumpy Dwarf Chops Away at Mike Mearls Q&A on Reddit (Part 2)

Yep, The Grumpy Dwarf here, back with part 2 of Mike Mearls' endless Reddit Q&A.  There's more after this post, as a Dwarf can only do so much in one (or it it two now?) sittings ;)

Answer 5 (of the answers I'm picking - skipping a few)

We're looking at a set of maneuvers that characters can dip into to gain more concrete options in fights, along with options that you can use to push yourself beyond your limits for an action or two per encounter (encounter powers make their return - 4e players, this is for you - enjoying the crumbs?).

We're strongly considering adding a free attack if someone breaks away from a melee (isn't this an "Attack of Opportunity?  I never even realized they removed it). The playtest feedback has been a little soured on letting people move around without consequence. (ya think?) However, the rule would be much simpler than attacks of opportunity - likely it'll be that if you start your turn in someone's reach, they get an attack on you if you try to leave their reach using an action to withdraw. (so you can run by or run through them without consequence?  i so much prefer Theatre of the Mind)

Answer 6

I think that as the game takes shape, the breadth of mechanical options for DMs will make this game stand out as the next step in D&D's progression (time will tell).

This is the first time that we're building D&D from the bottom up to account for house rules and expansion. The simple rules we've shown off so far are about as complex as we want the core (so this is the OSR or 0e game they are trying to emulate? because if it is, they got it wrong). I want the game to be easy to understand not just from the POV of learning how to play, but also in terms of understanding how all the parts work together.

Once you understand that, you can much more easily house rule, add rules modules, tinker with things, and otherwise make the game yours. Really, our goal isn't to make everyone happy by making a game (now there's a surprise). It's to make a range of options that any individual DM can modify and reconfigure to make the specific type of D&D they always wanted and that no other edition was able to exactly deliver. (but i get to do that with a handful of house rules to ACKS - they are going to do an OSR style game better with the current base rule set?)

Of course, some people will be perfectly happy with an older edition. (yep) If that game is perfect for them, I'm not going to try to force them to buy into Next or leave the game they love. (but we'd love for you to check it out and buy a copy - just in case ;)

In some ways, this is a shift back to independence, back to the 0e feel, but with a really welcoming starting point for people who have never played D&D before. (0e "rewritten", such as S&W White Box is pretty simple to understand and is fairly welcoming)

Answer 7 (re: 4e)

As I mentioned above, we're working right now on a maneuver system for fighters and other characters (is this a feats deal?). In addition, we're looking at alternate magic systems for casters other than the wizard and cleric.

Also, we're 100% committed to taking the same approach to balancing the math behind the game (do we really need the game to be so closely balanced?  doesn't that take some of the soul from the game?) and improving upon the 4e tools for encounter, NPC/monster, and adventure design (sweet!  recipes for perfectly balanced encounters! sigh).

 Answer 8

For caster supremacy, the key lies in attacking it from both ends. We can do a lot by reining in the most abusive spells and making it harder for casters to chain things together in abusive combos (if this is anything like the combo that mike talked about it one of his posts, i saw nothing wrong with the combo - it was smart play - and the saves required should have made it a rarely successful occurrence). The other end is making sure that we make an honest comparison of the casters to the non-casters.

For instance, if a wizard can turn invisible we have to be cool with rogues having an almost entirely assured chance of success to hide or sneak up on people (how is this unbalanced?  the game was like this up to at least 3.5e, and it played fine). It's unbalanced if the guy who is supposed to be stealthy has a real chance of failure, while the wizard's magic has 100% chance of success of turning someone invisible (skills have no limit to use - spells have a limited number of castings - therein lies the balance) .

For skills, we definitely will have them in some form to give people pointers to the non-combat stuff they are good at. Right now, classes give skills as appropriate but most of your skills come form your background. Backgrounds are not linked to class, so a fighter can choose the criminal background to become stealthy or good at picking locks (so what is a thief / rogue good at anyway?  or are we going to give spells to all the classes to?).

The key discussion we're having right now with skills boils down to this - does a skill make you better than you otherwise would be at something, or does it make you strictly good at it?

Making you better would be a +3 bonus, which is then stacked on top of an ability modifier. So, a Wis 9 rogue (ahem) would be better at finding traps, but still only at +2 (wouldn't INT be just as useful for finding taps if not more so?).

The second path removes abilities from the equation. The rogue would just have +5 to find traps. You'd use either an ability mod or your skill, rather than stacking them. (which makes ability mods relatively useless outside of combat)

We've been arguing back and forth on which path works better. Neither has emerged as a clear front runner.

Thats the end of Part 2 - more tomorrow night

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