Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is the Worst RPG Product You Ever Bought?

This may be a tough one, or maybe not if you bought some FFE products during the D20 glut of games. I bought my FFE products as part of an eBay package deal at like 3 bucks on the book - so the stinkers stank less due to the cheap buy in.

No, my all time winner of "Worst RPG Product I Ever Bought" is also the only one I ever returned and demanded a cash refund on - Monster Coliseum for Avalon Hill's RuneQuest 3 game. Oh my fucking God - this turd was expensive back in 85/86, when all my income came from a $8 a day off the books job. What can I say? I was 18 and in college ;)

The great thing is, I got my money back (although it may have been store credit) and I saw that box remain on the store's shelves until it moved locations a few years later.

I don't recall what I was hoping to find when I opened the box, but it obviously wasn't what I expected. There was nothing to use in it for my novice RQ3 campaign.

So, what's your worst RPG purchase?

Which Rule Was Your "Most Misunderstood Rule" in Your Early Days of Roleplaying?

For me, the most misunderstood rule in my early days of roleplaying was Hit Dice or HD in AD&D. Here's why:

When my parents got me my AD&D books for my birthday way back when, I was given the Player's Handbook, the Dungeon Master's Guide and a set of dice. Notice something missing? Yep, the Monster Manual.

Not having the Monster Manual wasn't that big a deal - you had monster sumaries in the back of the DMG. Everything was listed, including HD. Not knowing what HD actually was, I assumed it meant Hit Points for Denizens or something. So, Orcs had 1 HD or 1 Hit Point. Ogres had 4+1, which was a silly way to saw 5 Hit Points, but who was I to argue.

Yes, those early days had monsters that were quite the pushover.

So, what rule or rules were your most misunderstood rules back in your early days of gaming?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Which RPG Do You Wish You Owned But Never Have?

We've discussed the 2nd RPG you've ever owned and the RPG you own but have never played (and truly wish you did) and now we have the next question: Which RPG do you wish you owned but never have?

For me, that's Space Opera (it would have been tied with Empire of the Petal Throne, but I snagged a copy on eBay recently).

See, back in my early days of gaming, complicated systems never upset me (I avoid them like the plague these days tho'). I always wanted to get and play Space Opera. Heck, I'm not even sure why - it just seemed to be that really great game (based upon reviews from people in my extended gaming circle in my High School and College days) that I haven't even physically held, let alone played a session of. Just heard the stories, and they were awesome.

I see it's available in RPGNow in PDF, but apparently the scans are really poor.

Damn, now that I've thought on it, I may have to troll eBay for a copy at some point.

Felicia Day Announces International Table Top Day for March 30, 2013!

March 30th is International Table Top Day.

So it is written, so it shall be done.

Kinda cool, actually. I'll need to get a new board game ready for the family.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grab Those Dragons While You Can...

Expect them, and I assume Polyhedron and Ares to go "Poof!" sooner than later.

I listen to the birdies when they talk, and the current word is that they will soon be gone from archive.org.

Maybe WotC will upload them to DnD Classics... or not. If they do, they should use the scans that are currently up, as they are sharp and clean. Hell, the work is already done on them.

Which Game Have You Owned and Most Wanted to Play, But Never Did?"

I owe this question to +Ted Collins : "Which game have you owned and most wanted to play, but never did?"

For me, the answer is easy enough: Call of Cthulhu. The reasons, however, are multiple.

My groups always wanted to play in a campaign style game - CoC always seemed most suited to one shots and short story arcs.

PCs are pretty much domed from the start. I don't mind that kind of play, but my High School and College groups wanted to kick ass or die trying. CoC kinda kills you if you try - always.

I never felt confident in my ability to pull off the feeling of dread and horror that CoC requires, and no one else was game to try.

So, here I am, nearly 30 years later, and I still haven't played a session. Got as far as making characters - twice even!

So, "Which game have you owned and most wanted to play, but never did?"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ever Make Your Adventuring Party a "Franchise"?

I'm not even sure where this came from, but the idea of an adventuring party being a "franchise" of a larger group / adventuring company / corporation just occurred to me.

There would be backing from the parent company, but the franchise would have to follow certain rules, especially dealing with image. A certain percentage of earnings would have to be kicked back to the parent company.

Hmmm, a "no torturing or indiscriminate burning of adversaries" clause would do wonders with my gaming group, but somehow I expect they would lose their franchise license fairly quickly with that clause alone ;)

Anyone ever use something similar to a "franchise license" with their adventuring parties in their campaign?

Mini Review - AFS Magazine Issue #2

Not that I ever got around to reviewing AFS #1(my bad) which was nice, but AFS #2 ($6.00) shows a maturing of the format. Gone are the single sided pages - now we have double sided pages. The page count jumps from 38 (I think - not numbered) to 44 (numbered). Also, the front and back covers are now printed on heavier paper - you can feel the difference (and it should be able to survive normal reading abuse now).

There's an article by Rob Kuntz to start things off. Interesting article on some early gaming history. Still, another "Old School Cred" article, and I've already read one by Rob in Gygax recently (and other places prior). Enjoyable none the less.

The next piece is a short story. Didn't read it. I'm not much of a reader of short fiction. Hey, at least I'm honest ;)  BTW, different typset from the previous article, so you get a real feeling of an 70s / 80s print only zine.

Cliff Warrens of the Corvid Bird Men - and adventure for characters level 2-4.complete with hand drawn map - not a work of art but serviceable. It's a short adventure, more of an extended encounter in length. If nothing else, it introduces a new monster, but if you only have 2 hours or so to play, this may very well fill your needs.

This is followed by 2 new monsters: The Zombastadon and Leiber Ghuls.

Next up is The Big Table of Semi-mundane Items (100) - I love me some random tables. The font here is small - small enough that my now aging eyes find it slightly hard to read. Well worth the effort to read and use tho'.

We get a new class for AS&SH, the Cryomancer written by Jeff Talanian himself. Complete with it's own spell list, this sizable article is probably considered semi-official for AS&SH. Pretty damn cool. I may need to pull AS&SH off my shelf and give it a fuller reading. So much to read, so little time to do so.

Another article from Rob Kuntz, this time a Mythos Monster from the Lake Geneva Original Campaign. See, this is how you establish your old school cred, by giving us old school stuff to game with ;)

The Big Table of Minor Magic Items is thankfully at a readable font size. Did I already mention I love random tables?

The Templar Class is next in line. I'm guessing it's for B/X . Possibly a very powerful class, but with a 1 in 20 chance of nearly self destructing whenever using it's divine intervention power. I don't think I'd use the class as written.

Overall, a very satisfying issue. I'm looking forward to Issue #3 of AFS already.

What is the SECOND RPG You Owned?

Most of us started with D&D / AD&D in one of it's various flavors, although I have seen a significant number that started with other RPGs, which is pretty cool.

This is not a question asking about the RPG that was your gateway into the hobby.

Instead, it's a question about the game that you were drawn to AFTER being introduced to the hobby.

For me, that game was Gamma World. It's not the second RPG that I played (that might have been Gangbusters), but it was the second RPG that I owned and the first one that I bought with my own money. It was also my introduction to the World of TSR "Waxy Dice". What memories. ;)

So, what is the second RPG that you owned?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Classic Dragon, Polyhedron, Ares Magazines (Others) Available for Free Download

Now, I have no idea about the legality of the uploaded works at the following link, but I do know about the quality of the articles in these out of print - alright, defunct - periodicals. Overall, extremely high quality. Get them here. (I assume the legality is a "gray" area on many of these titles)

Hey, look, Omni Magazine is there too. As is Cracked! Awesome!

(Edit: Also The General and The Space Gamer!)

A Kickstarter With 2 Hrs to Go - Realm Works: Streamlined RPG Campaign Tools

I tried The Keep back in the day, but it never seemed to reach it's potential. Realm Works seems to know it's potential.

The stretch goals are interesting - at $165k it includes The Razor Coast (amongst previous stretch goals that have been met).

I'm in on this one.

From the blurb:

Realm Works takes campaign management for tabletop RPGs to the next level, making it faster and easier to prepare for games, and greatly enhancing the actual game experience. You can use Realm Works with any RPGs you play — it’s “game system neutral” and can be used no matter what type of campaign you run.  GMs can create, manage, and share their world using a single tool, rather than trying to cobble things together with multiple, disconnected applications.  Realm Works was built by GMs and players for GMs and players.

What Makes Realm Works Unique

Unlike many software Kickstarters, initial Realm Works development is nearly complete. We've been evolving Realm Works for over three years and will be releasing it in July, 2013. Numerous features are already in place, as we demonstrate in the video, but there are many more we want to include in the initial release.  Your support of this Kickstarter will allow us to accelerate our current development efforts so we can pack more features into the product in time for its public release.

Our mission with Realm Works is to streamline and improve the tabletop role-playing experience for both GMs and players by empowering GMs to create, manage, and share any world they can imagine. We're doing this in four ways:

First, provide tools for GMs to efficiently create and assemble materials for their games in a way that's simple to manage, organize, and search.

Second, let GMs reveal content to players as it's uncovered during play, without introducing extra work for the GM.

Third, enable GMs to share their creations and smoothly integrate the work of others into their own material, weaving it all together into their campaign.

Finally, provide a community repository where additional material can be obtained and easily integrated with any other content you have, including the GM's own creations, letting GMs build their games from whatever sources they find compelling or interesting.

Finally Got to Use Roll20 Last Night...

Yep, after a 3 week delay, we finally got around to playing our first session using the Roll20 interface. It went amazingly well, all things considered.

What, pray tell, are those things to be considered?

Mainly my internet dropping. I wondered why everyone was so suddenly quite, and it took a good 10 to15 seconds of me yapping away to realize "shit! I stil have a wireless connection, but no internet connection - WTF?".

Things I learned.

Hangout via phone works surprisingly well, but not if you are the one that is going to be running the game. Oh, and motion sickness is a problem for those watching you run around the house as you look to get your 4g wireless hub hooked up.

The 4g wireless hub allowed for connecting my home computer to the internet, but wouldn't allow me to use voice, which kinda makes running a Hangout game impossible. Although it was pointed out to me that the message saying my mic was turned off by default could have been over ridden.

At which point I went back to using the phone and was about 30 seconds from calling the game when suddenly my desktop had an internet connection again.

All in all I think we lost about a half an hour of game time from my internet fiasco. I am so switching over to Fios in the next month or two.

Oh yeah - Roll20. Fog of War worked great, the dice roller was aces and the ability to show players a handout was awesome (not that I think that they appreciated my handout showing a tavern patron). Once we get some more macros set up for everyone, I expect gameplay will smooth out even more.

Do You Own Those Funky DCC RPG Dice?

It's kinda funny. When it was revealed that the (then) upcoming DCC RPG used these funky sided dice - d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24 and d30 I got all bent out of shape. Why should some new fangled game require me to buy dice that I did not have? I had hundreds of dice, and they were all of the standard weirdness, or so I thought.

When I went through the bulk of my old dice collection, I found I apparently had a set of dice that included all but the d7 (the d7 is an ugly piece of dice poo, and I've yet to see it as part of a dice set). This is in addition to the set I bought when the DCC RPG was released.

So, even though I was initially resistant to the extra dice used by the DCC RPG, I actually owned a set of "weird" polyhedrons before it was in vogue.

Go figure.

Do you own a set (or more) of "DCC RPG Dice"? Did you own them before or after the game was announced? How deep does you dice collecting habit go anyway?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Margret Weis Productions Gets Firefly License for RPGs

This announcement came out yesterday, but I'm apparently a day late and a dollar short.

In any case, this is great news. Firefly was a most awesome Sci-Fi series (short as it was) and MWP seems to do some very good treatments with their licensed products. I say seems, because I don't really own any of the Cortex powered games, but I have heard good things of them.

I guess this is one I'll be buying.

From the actual press release:

Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to Develop 
Firefly RPG Products

MWP To Develop All-New Series of Pick-Up-And-Play Games set in the ‘Verse.

WILLIAMS BAY, WI, February 22, 2013 – Margaret Weis Productions is thrilled to announce a 
partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to publish tabletop role-playing products 
based on Joss Whedon’s fan-favorite television series, Firefly. Initial releases are expected as early 
as spring of 2013 with print and digital releases based on MWP’s award-winning Cortex system.

The adventures of Captain Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity continue to attract new fans a 
decade after the television series first aired. Fresh from recent success, MWP’s own crew of 
seasoned designers and creators of licensed role-playing games, stand ready to develop an all-new 
series of pick-up-and-play games and game supplements. Based on much-loved characters, stories, 
and locations, every Firefly RPG product will be designed to be accessible, authentic, and as 
innovative as fans have come to expect from MWP.

"This project is a dream come true for me. I have been such a long-time fan of Firefly!" says MWP 
President Margaret Weis. "I look forward to working with my crew to take us all back out into the 

“This partnership is another way that we can give back to the Firefly fans,” said Jeffrey Godsick, 
President of Fox Consumer Products. “Firefly followers have shown continuous loyalty to the 
franchise and we want to give them quality products in return.”

About Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.

Margaret Weis Productions (MWP) is an award-winning publisher of tabletop roleplaying games. 
Their most recent successful licensed games include those derived from the worlds of Marvel, 
Dragonlance, Leverage, Smallville and Supernatural. Based in Wisconsin, MWP has been bringing 
games to fans since 2005. Leading MWP is New York Times Bestselling author Margaret Weis. She’s 
a tireless supporter of fandom and gamers with a vision for her company to bring high-quality games 
to both long-time gamers and newcomers alike.

About Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products:

A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets 
properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Television and 
Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth 
Century Fox Television, one of the top suppliers of primetime entertainment programming to the 
broadcast networks.

Today's Plethora of Gaming Goodness!

I went shopping with the wife for bathroom wallpaper and came back to find the following waiting for me:

Spears of the Dawn - Scheduled to ship in March, this Kickstarter shipped in February. A month early. WTF? Kevin Crawford, you are making all of the other RPG Kickstarter projects look bad. Does this mean that "three months late" is no longer the new "on time"?

Anomalous Subsurface Environment 1- I also have ASE 2-3 in print. When I decide to take a step away from Rappan Athuk for a more gonzo megadungeon, this is where I'll be taking the party.

AFS Magazine #2 - I enjoyed #1. I expect I'll enjoy #2 too ;)

Wizards, Mutants, Lazer Pistols 1, 2 and 3 - In for a penny, in for a pound. I've flipped through #1, and it looks like fun. I'll review these and AFS in the coming weeks.

Psychedelic Fantasies Modules #1 and 2 - Damn it! #1, Beneath the Ruins appears in WMLP #1. Still, it was cheap enough, and the cover has the map on the inside and is not attached to the module, which is cool. At least #2, Within the Radiant Dome, looks to be new

Gygax Magazine Issue #1 Released on RPGNow

Yep, Gygax Magazine Issue #1 has been released on RPGNow for $4.99.

I have the print copy, and it has it's really good and really ambivalent parts to it. It is a first issue, so it may be experiencing growing pains. Or maybe we'll continue to get lets of articles proving "Old School " Cred.

Eh, at $4.99 you can judge for yourself. The cover certainly rocks!

From the blurb:

The premiere issue of Gygax magazine - the quarterly adventure gaming magazine.

Contents for issue #1:

The cosmology of role-playing games by James Carpio

Still playing after all these years by Tim Kask

Leomund's Secure Shelter by Len Lakofka

The ecology of the banshee by Ronald Corn

Bridging Generations by Luke Gygax

Gaming with a virtual tabletop by Nevin P. Jones

Keeping magic magical by Dennis Sustare

Playing it the science fiction way by James M. Ward

DMing for your toddler by Cory Doctorow

Great power for ICONS by Steve Kenson

The future of tabletop gaming by Ethan Gilsdorf

The Gygax family storyteller by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.

Talents off the frontline by Dennis Detwiller

D&D past, now, and Next by Michael Tresca

Gnatdamp: A sanctuary in the swamp by Michael Curtis

Magical miscellany - new items for AGE by Randall Hurlburt

An AGE of great inventions by Rodrigo Garcia Carmona

Scaling combat feats for Pathfinder by Marc Radle


Marvin the Mage by Jim Wampler

What's New with Phil & Dixie by Phil Foglio

Order of the Stick by Rich Burlew

Friday, February 22, 2013

Boxed Set or Hardcover Book?

I got my start in the RPG hobby with the AD&D 1e hardbacks. My first venture into the world of D&D Boxed Sets was a Moldvay Basic Set that I bought for $3 at a store that sold remainders and overstocks. I guess they were clearing out the old Basic for the new Basic.

The first "White Box" D&D like game was the Castles & Crusades White Box, followed a few years later by the S&W White Box (and later the D&D OCE White Box and Delving Deeper's White Box). The thing is, boxed game sets didn't excite me as a teen / young adult - they annoyed me.

They annoyed me because I was horrible at returning stuff to their proper box - I had (still have to some extent) "peanut butter in my chocolate" syndrome. I'd open up the boxed set for Birthright and find Runequest stuff.

Hardcovers and even most softcovers had the advantage of their title on the spine - I could pull something off my shelf and know exactly what I actually had.

As a middle aged 40-something adult, I appreciate boxed sets much more these days, as they look very nice displayed on a shelf, but for practical purposes I think I prefer hardcovers. They are just easier to use and reference in actual play.

How about you? Boxed sets? Hardcovers? Something else?

Free RPG Day = Worldwide D&D Game Day?

It appears that Free RPG Day, the once a year event where folks converge on the FLGS for free loot is coinciding with a Worldwide D&D Game Day.

Yep, they are both on June 15th this year.

I would assume that WotC knows when Free RPG Day is, as I believe they support it every year. So, I'm thinking this is not so much an attempt to hijack the day from the other publishers as much as an attempt to get some extra push on their Worldwide D&D Game Days, as I suspect attendance is suffering with the announcement that D&D (4e) is dead, long live D&D (Next).

Still, timing is everything and this is certainly interesting. If nothing else, it may lead to slimmer Free RPG Day pickings at locations that run Worldwide D&D Game Day events. It might be a good time to get to your loot locations early this year ;)

(burnedfx - thanks for the heads up)

Five Finalists for the Three Castles RPG Design Award Have Been Announced

The five finalists for the Three Castles RPG Design Award are:

Adventurer Conqueror King System
by: Alexander Macris

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
by: Jeffrey Talanian

by: Greg Gillespie

Cavemaster RPG
by: Jeff Dee

by: Joseph Goodman

With the exception of Cavemaster (which I never heard of before) I own the list, and these are all strong choices. Four out of five are game systems and the fifth is probably the strongest megadungeon released in 2012 (yes, I'm talking about you Barrowmaze.

You can read the original thread at the NTRPGCon forums here.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free RPG of the Week - DAGGER (OSR)

DAGGER is an OSR RPG that relies on the use of another OSR RPG (your choice really) to be fully used. At it's core, it's a series of instructions on how to simplify OSR gaming to bring children into the game - kids from 5 and up.

It's only 8 pages, and that includes the cover and the OGL, but it's simplicity is where it shines. So simple, I know of someone who is already working on hacking it into a drinking game for adults ;)

It's free, it works and it may just open up a new world of imagination to your kids (or with the future hack, adults too :)

From the blurb:

DAGGER is a simple, fast and fantastic tool for classic, old-school role-play gaming with Kids!

DAGGER is designed to introduce kids 5 years and over to classic-style fantasy role-playing. It is compatible with most old-school fantasy role-playing game systems. It is played with one adult acting as the Referee and from 2 to 10 kids playing the parts of adventuring heroes.

This supplement uses  common, core mechanics found in most old-school fantasy role-playing games. However, these core mechanics are reduced to only the most basic elements necessary for play. This effectively simplifies the game so that players as young as 5 years can easily grasp the basic concepts. The rules presented here are supplementary (i.e. they are not all-encompassing) and it is assumed that the Referee already possesses a general knowledge of some form of classic fantasy role-playing. Any aspect of play not covered in these rules should be handled by the Referee, “filling in the gaps” as necessary with his own rulings, or rules from another classic fantasy system. This is a practice that is expected and encouraged.

Included in this Free Product (all are easily printed):

All of the Standard Dagger Rules
Recommended Spell Listing
Classic Monster Reference
Character Sheet

Butt Kicking for Goodness! Wait For It...

So, it looks like the Ogre Kickstarter won't even be arriving on the shores of the US until late July - at best:


Updated Schedule -- Not Before July, I’m Afraid
Update #74 · Feb. 21, 2013 · 2 comments

The factory has opened -- we had a long talk today. We know that quite a few of you might be unhappy to hear of this timeline, but we wanted to share exactly what steps are left.

Then there's a crapload of interim steps

Delivery to Austin -- late July

We know that this may have been unpleasant to hear (and for us to share!), but we hope that you might be able to be big-hearted and gracious -- even though you have every right to be upset.

We grossly underestimated how long a project of this size would take – we’re really sorry about that. It’s been a learning process -- even the factory has never handled a game this big (and has had to make new machinery!).

The good news is that there aren’t many things left that can go wrong (trays and the drop test are the two biggest). We’re about 98% finished for in-house production, and 30% finished for manufacturing.

Good things come to those who wait, and we know that you’ve waited very, very patiently. We’re confident that Ogre will be very good, when it arrives.

So yeah, it's going to be very late at best.

King For a Day

King for a Day books have left NJ.

The wait is nearly over

Magicians: A Language Learning RPG

A very interesting breakdown of hidden costs of a Kickstarter

Book Update
Update #32 · Feb. 20, 2013 · 35 comments
Hello everyone,

I've got some big news that is a mixed bag but this update is mainly to let you know of a big change to the physical book. I'll hit you with the bad news straight off and I'll follow up with some explanations for those who would like one. As we neared the end of the kickstarter project I promised to both up the page count from 120 pages to 180 pages and make the book a hardcover instead of a softcover, this wasn't a stretch goal or anything, I simply believed it possible due to all the support Magicians was receiving. As it turns out, the page count will actually be 212 pages but I will not be able to afford to send out hardcovers, it's going to end up being a softcover 212-page book instead.

The reason for this is, in short, an $11,430 dollar tax hit. I know this is extremely disappointing news for everyone, this was really something I wanted but it all comes down to not having the funds. That said, the book will still be great quality and be an awesome thing to own, it will just be a perfect bound book instead of a case bound one.

The change will not affect the timeline, and I should be able to start shipping books out in about a month as I've send the final PDF out to the printer, they've told me 3 weeks to receive all the books but there needs to be a proof before then so maybe a bit longer. The only thing left to add to the final PDF is the audio, which I'm just now getting started on and I'll try to have it out to you real soon.

The longer explanation:

As you probably all know, I live in South Korea and am Canadian. Because of this I wouldn't normally be able to create or run a project on kickstarter but I have a good friend in New Jersey that offered to be the middle man for the endeavor and to let me use their account for the whole operation.

It's also tax season and since the kickstarter money came in in 2012 taxes are owed on the kickstarter money as well. I'd set aside about $6000 for taxes after talking with my friend, figuring around 20-25% for taxes. Unfortunately, I just got finished sending $11,430 to the states to cover tax costs. The kickstarter amount was large enough to both bump my friend into a new bracket and to kill any and all of his deductibles.

Here's the cost breakdown of the kickstarter as a whole:

Total from the kickstarter: $34,056

After 10% deducted by kickstarter and Amazon payments, and after pledges that didn't go through are subtracted we ended up with something a bit shy of $30,500 but we'll round up.

Cost of editing and layout: $2515

Cost of artwork: $6000 (all the stretch goals, over 200 pieces of artwork)

Cost of shirts: $500

Cost of beads: $1,200

Cost of coins: $1,200

Cost of pouches: $150

Website: $900

Taxes: $11,430

A total of $23,895 in costs.

A few more hundred dollars for currency exchanges, sending fees, plus packing expenses, etc. and I've got less than $6500 dollars left to cover both the buying of the books and the shipment of them. Even a very conservative estimate for shipment eats most, if not all, of that money. And so there's no way I can afford to go for the hardcover option. I'll already be delving into my school savings to pay for it all, will be taking a semester off school to work and try to make that money back up so I can get back to school in September.

Once again, you have my sincere apologies, I know ignorance isn't much of a defense; I'd have run an entirely different kickstarter if I'd known 40% of the project's money would end up in other people's pockets. I hope you all still feel that there is value in your pledges, everything else is unaffected and I'm working on building the final multimedia PDF with audio capabilities as we speak. I'll try to have it out to you all as soon as I can.

Maps - Hand Drawn or Mapping Program?

I've noticed that the big mappers online draw freehand (and they do an awesome job with it - +matt jackson , +Dyson Logos and the rest).

Me, I can't draw for shit. Heck, I can't even draw a straight line, as my Saturday Night group can attest to.

I've dabbled with many of the computer mapping programs - Dunjieni (SP?), Campaign Cartographer, Hexographer and the like - I still suck ;)

How do you do your maps (with that voodoo that you do)? Freehand, pen to paper, drawing program, mapping program, find already completed maps and make your adventure conform?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dice - By the Set or By the Bucket - What Memories Do They Hold?

I still remember my first dice set. I got it for my birthday many moons ago, along with the AD&D 1e Player's Handbook and the DM's Guide. Solid dice of different colors with rounded edges. Red d4, black 6d, white d8, blue d12 and a brown d20 (with the numbers from 0-9 twice - so i colored them in with green and orange crayons for Hi and Lo). No d10 was included.

My next set was a gem set. Crappy rounded edges and scars from the molding process.

My third set was from my boxed set of Gamma World - you know the ones - waxy, irregular, barely able to read the numbers. Made my percentile set included with Top Secret (these dice actually gained stress fractures) seem like high quality.

Now I own so many dice I'd be hard pressed to tell you the history of 5% of them, if that much. The d10's that came with the different Pacesetter games, the dice that never came with my Paranoia Boxed Set, the 3d6 that came with my boxed Traveller Starter Set. I don't recall the dice that came with my AH Runequest 3e boxed set, but I know there were some. I think.

Dice hold memories, not just of their rolls, but of their time of acquisition.

Now I own hundreds of dice. Some bought by the pound. Some picked out by hand as a youth.

What are your dice stories?

Updated OSRIC PDF Available for Free Download

+Stuart Marshall has updated the OSRIC PDF file.

You can grab a copy for free via the Knights N Knaves website.

Actually, while you are there, check out the Dangerous Dungeons thread(s) here and here at the KnK's forums. I need to see if I have anything I can contribute to the project.

Somehow I Missed Yesterday's Release of the Unearthed Arcana Premium Reprint

Is it just me, or does this cover look pretty uninviting?

Yep, I dropped the ball on this one. Yesterday, February 19th was the release of the Premium 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Unearthed Arcana (at least that's how Amazon calls it).

I picked up the core 3 AD&D reprints, so why did this fly under my radar (I'm sure I mentioned it months ago when it was announced)? Probably because the mixed reviews it had at the time it was released and the poor feedback I've read over the years.

Me? I still use Weapon Specialization and the new spells, but forget about the new classes and races. Talk about unbalancing. Hmmm, interesting referring to "new classes and races" in a book 28 years old ;)

Anyhow, it's a $49.99 suggested retail. No mention on whether or nor part of the proceeds get donated to the Gygax Memorial Fund - but then I don't think we know how much the first 3 books raised for the fund either. Amazon has it for $31.44 with free shipping. Not a bad deal, if only I needed it.

I don't.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Comparing OD&D to it's Nearest Clones - S&W Whitebox and Delving Deeper - Part IV: Weapons & Combat

Well, with the soon (alright, November) release of the "Deluxe" Reprinting of the Original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed set, this might all be moot, right? Because we're all going to be shelling out $150 for a new reprint of a cloned game. Well, actually, I might be one of the many suckers myself, but whatever ;)

So, when it comes to the Original and it's two main clones, how close is the combat system amongst them all?

Weapon (and armor) costs between OD&D and the Swords & Wizardry White Box are nearly identical across the board, which is kind of surprises me. I mean, sure, they changed up the order of the items, but except for things like the spear, the prices are the same. Delving Deeper changes up the prices to the point where you can't even figure out if there was a forumla they used - little rhyme or reason. Sure, it's a minor thing, but something that stands out none the less.

Damage for all weapons in the OD&D WB is 1d6, no matter the type or size. Of course, I can't actually find that rule, but I know it well. Damage in DD is also 1d6, no matter the weapon. Damage in S&W WB is 1d6, or + or -1 depending on the weapon. So, some diversity, but still based on the 1d6 concept for all weapons.

As for Attack Matrixes, things get a little complicated.

OD&D WB, a 1st level Fighting-Man needs an 18 to hit AC 2. Actually, that applies to 1st level Clerics and Magic-Users too. Every 3 levels (starting at 4th) a Fighting-Man moves up a step on the Combat Matrix (every 4 levels for Clerics and every 5 for Magic-Users). Each step on the Combat Matrix is an improvement of 2 to 3 points to the chance to hit. Phew!

DD starts Fighters with an 18 for AC 2, but Clerics and Magic-Users start at 19. Fighters improve by + 1 every other level or every level, Clerics are similar but slower and Magic-Users every other level get + 1.

S&W WB starts everyone at a 17 to hit AC 2 (there's also an acceding AC option, but we'll avoid that for now). Otherwise, the breakdown of the combat charts are similar to DD. Not exact, but similar.

So, snapshots:

A Fighting-Man (Fighter) 1st Level against AC 2 needs: OD&D 18 / DD 18 / S&W WB 17

A Fighting Man (Fighter) 5th Level against AC 2 needs: OD&D 15 / DD 15 / S&W WB 14

A Fighting Man (Fighter) 10th Level against AC2 needs: OD&D 10 / DD 11 / S&W WB 11

Interesting how S&W WB starts out with the better attack chance, and winds up tied for the worst

Basic Fantasy RPG - $4.62 on Amazon

Huge hat tip to +Christopher Helton for the heads up on this:

Amazon has the prefect bound version of the Basic Fantasy RPG for $4.62. Free shipping for prime members or part of a qualifying order over $25.

You could outfit a group of 6 for less than 30 bucks.

Reprint or Originals? Where Will Your Money Go?

With WotC reprinting the Original Dungeons & Dragons Boxed Set (in a real wooden box, not just a wood-grained finish) the question seems to be (at least for those interested in the material being reprinted):

Buy a used version of the original, at a higher price -


Buy a new version of the original, at a high price (but no where near as high as the original) -


Buy and own both -


Settle on a cloned version.

I guess all the above is a valid answer too, as I have the originals and the clones, all in nice white boxes.

Lord knows i don't need this latest cash grab by WotC, especially with the new cover art (what were they thinking?). Not saying I won't pick it up, but I certainly don't need it.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons Premium Reprint - In a Real Wooden Box

Thanks to +Jason Paul McCartan for bringing this to my attention.

WotC has decided to go with a "premium" reprint of the 3 LBBs and the four supplements (from the site - a mere $149.99 with a release date of November 19, 2013):

A premium, deluxe edition of the Original D&D "White Box"!

The original Dungeons & Dragons boxed set was published by TSR, Inc. in 1974 and was the very first roleplaying game, introducing concepts that have persisted throughout later editions. It included three small rules booklets in a white box.

This deluxe, premium reprint of the original "White Box" features new packaging and includes the following seven booklets:

Volume 1: Men & Magic
Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure
Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures
Supplement I: Greyhawk
Supplement II: Blackmoor
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry
Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes
Each booklet features new cover art but is otherwise a faithful reproduction of the original, including original interior art.

Carousing the Compiled Compilation of Fight On!

When it was announced that Fight On! was ceasing publication, I realized that most of my copies of Fight On! were in PDF, not print. Which isn't all that big a surprise, as the PDF price was much cheaper than the printed price, even with the famous Lulu Coupons.

Well, the 4 issue compilations make that less of a done deal. The PDFs generally run $4.99 each and print is $9.99 (plus tax and shipping). The compilations are 4 issues in print for 20 bucks - half the single issue prices and the same as PDF. So, I picked up the compilations of 1-4 and 5-8. These suckers are as thick as some of my old college textbooks.

My goal, now that I have these 2 tomes, is to cover an issue a week or so on the blog - starting with issue 1 and moving onward to issue 8. Hopefully by then issues 9-12 will have their own tome ;)

With print on demand publishing, these issues will never truly be out of print. I'll highlight the good, the bad and the downright ugly (which admittedly, can still be pretty good). Thankfully, Fight On! #1 was fairly short, so I should have that post up by the end of the week.

(link to the lulu page with the compilations + 4 {1-4} and +8 {5-8})

Stray Thoughts After Three Weeks of Not Running a Game

This weekend was the third straight session that was cancelled. The first was cancelled in advance, as I knew I wouldn't be around. The second was cancelled due to - well, cancellations. This past Saturday was cancelled by me with half the group running late and myself recovering from a stomach virus.

Three weeks of inaction. Not good when you are prone to the Gamers' version of ADD ;)

I'm currently staring at my copy of Jaws of the Six Serpents - a Swords & Sorcery title that uses the PDQ System. Before my full return into active gaming (and fully embracing the OSR), the PDQ System was one of the RPG systems I was giving a good and hard look at.  Actually, Questers of the Middle Realms was the game that got me thinking about PDQ, but I would have had to have made the game serious, and not sure how well that conversion would have gone.

I've also got my The Golden Age of Classic Traveller on CD-Rom sitting on my desk. I always come back to Traveller when I think of running a SciFi RPG. At which point I recall that there is no expo gain in Traveller - you will not get better at doing, just what you own - and I put aside such silly thoughts. That being said, my X-plorers Boxed sets are sitting to my left - but that is the opposite of Traveller in terms of crunch, and leaves me unfulfilled. Maybe Stars Without Number...

Never got my Tunnels & Trolls session off the ground last week either.

Now Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is tempting me. Damn it! Maybe I'll just borrow a few rules for some NPCs and such...

Drinking Quest 3 - A Trilogy is Completed (Indiegogo)

Drinking Quest 3, the follow up to Drinking Quests 1 & 2, is raising funds over on Indiegogo.

Now, I already have DQ 1 & 2, and even had a chance to play DQ1 via G+ Hangouts with Jason, the creator - needless to say, the game rocks!

The great thing about the Drinking Quest games is that they are all stand alone and do not require you to play through them in a certain order. Alright, that and drinking. Gaming and drinking is always a good combo.

So, how do I show my support?

I'm in this one for all three copies - DQ 1, 2 & 3. Why, when I already have 1 & 2? Because I'd like to be able to give a copy or two away on the blog, that's why.

It's just that good.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mini Review - Curse of the Weaver Queen (OSR Adventure)

I have had limited exposure to products from EldritchEnt. For those keeping score at home, Lich Dungeon (Level One) was my initial foray into the realm of EE products, and it was less than satisfactory. So, it was with not a small bit of trepidation that I decided to give Curse of the Weaver Queen a peek. It did help that it was written by Time Kask, whose interview by Grognard Games I've been enjoying.

Let me get the usual EldritchEnt criticism out of the way first: I find their alternate game stats annoying and unintuitive. I understand why they've chosen to go with them but that doesn't mean I need to agree with their decision. My second issue is the complete stat block and description of each creature both in their encounter AND as a recap in a monster section. Why? It's annoying in PDF format but I'd feel cheated by the fluffing of the page count if I was buying this in print.

Alright, now that I've gotten that stuff out of the way, Curse of the Weaver Queen isn't a bad adventure.

I like the mechanics suggested for dealing with swarm type attacks. Are they "by the book" or realistic? Probably not, but they look like they should work and definitely would make swarm type attacks playable. I may steal this bit or rework it just a bit for my own campaign.

The adventure itself is actually interesting. I don't mean that as a slight, just an observation. I guess I wasn't expecting much, and this exceeded that. Treasure isn't given in gold and silver pieces - wait, actually, it is, but it's value is occasionally given as something along the lines of "worth the value of a fine blooded stallion and a finely crafted suit of armor, complete with shield and helm". Which when you think of it, is an awesome way to value treasure.

No obscure math riddles either. Sorry, more Lich Dungeon flashbacks.

If this was written using one of the "usual" OSR stat blocks, I'd recommend it. If you can get past the annoying need to translate everything into a "D&D" type format it's a decent adventure. I just find the "Eldritch Language Standard Terminology" annoying. It's a personal prejudice I guess.

From the blurb:

The lunar goddess Arianhrod presides over the great wheel of life. But centuries ago, some saw the Wheel as a Web: a spider's web. And so began the Cult, and so it has festered, hidden, malignant... waiting.

Now they come scuttling out of the dunes at night, silent and deadly. Only a very lucky few have survived the ravaging horde. The bugs. The huge spiders. The Gatherers, taking what is man's and returning to their lair.

That area of the dunes is strange. You'll see. You can find it easily. And with luck, you may live to tell the tale.

Curse of the Weaver Queen uses a generic language compatible with any set of fantasy Rolepleying rules. It is a stand-alone adventure and will easily drop into any existing campaign.

Mini Review - Menagerie of the Ice Lord (LL Adventure)

She might have a cavity...

+Dylan Hartwell was kind enough to forward me a copy of his latest adventure, Menagerie of the Ice Lord, a low level adventure for Labyrinth Lord. Color me impressed, but Dylan seems to get better with each product.

The first half of MotIL is the adventure. No need to save the world, it's purely an investigate and loot type of mission, which I find refreshing. The fact that the varied assortment of creatures have a well thought out reason for being where they are? Icing on the cake.

It's nearly 100 rooms over 5 floors (alright, 6 floors if you count the 2 rooms on the last floor). Heck, this is practically a megadungeon in design. I'd love to put a party through this, as I suspect it will play out well.

I do have one problem with the adventure part - there is a magic item (actually, more than a dozen of the same type) that if they fall into the hands of the PCs can have long term unbalancing effects. Sure, it's easy enough to change the item, the effect or even the number found (if they are found - secret doors and the like) but I really don't like having to do so. Snall gripe, but it's there none the lesd.

The second half of MotIL consists of new monsters - 30 to be exact. It's like a low level Fiend Folio of sorts, and each is accompanied by artwork. This is something that you can use now and in the future.

The printed copy also comes with a laminated sheet of graph paper, so you can use dry erase markers and map if you would like, It also includes a folded map of all 5 (6) floors of Castle Denator (the location of the adventure) and on the back of that is a blank character sheet.

All that for $3.99 in print ($2.99 in PDF).

If you have to make a choice between Print and PDF, go for the print copy. You'll be amazed by what Dylan crams into an envelope for $3.99

I'm dying to see what Dylan comes up with next. I guess I can't ask for another brewery, so maybe a tavern based adventure ;)

Kickstarters That Make Me Ask: "Why?" - Busty Barbarian Bimbos (RPG)

Sometimes there's an RPG product in the works that makes you think. No, not in an enlightened way. It makes you think: "What the fuck were they smoking to think that this is in remotely good taste?" Then, thinking further, you realize "ah, so this is meant to be the opposite of good taste." Which doesn't mean it won't suck, but does mean it is more likely to suck than not.

Busty Barbarian Bimbos is one of those games. It also happens to be a Kickstarter project that has nearly funded. I'm guessing bad taste sells. Where are the legions of feminists aghast at this Kickstarter project whose four main attributes spell out SLUT (Slap, Legs, Uhm and Tits)?

Somehow I suspect Macho Women With Guns pulled off the campy flavor a bit better than Busty Barbarian Bimbos will.

That all being said, the price point on this project is sweet - you get a printed softcover copy for $15 shipped.

I wonder if it includes any real life samples ;)

edit: there is an earlier version of the PDF available for free from their site. It looks well laid out and the system is simple and intuitive. Obviously haven't read the whole thing yet, but at first glance I am pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Points About Chain Mail (and lots of other D&D relevant videos)

A hat tip to +Claytonian JP for bringing this series of videos to my attention. My wife is now absorbing through audio osmosis interesting facts about torches, bows, cloaks (she wants one now), bullets and chain mail armor. Me? I'm getting some ideas to add to my games.

This series of videos is many layers of awesome!

I'm now a subscriber ;)

Jeff Dee to do the Cover Art for the Army Ants RPG Kickstarter!

Awesome news! Jeff Dee is doing the new Army Ants RPG cover (you can find the Army Ants Kickstarter here).

Mike Desing has more info on his blog The Splintered Realm, but I'm going to quote a piece of it here:

"All-time great RPG artist Jeff Dee has agreed to create a new full-color cover for the Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants Legacy Edition RPG. Old School Fans (including me) rejoice! Jeff’s art created a sense for me of what RPGs should look like, and to have his art gracing the cover of my ultimate RPG rulebook is simply beyond awesome. However, the coolness doesn’t stop there. I’ve also adjusted the stretch goals to accommodate this great news."

Traveling Without "True" Roads - How Do You Handle Traveling in Your Fantasy Campaigns?

Probably the biggest thing I "handwave" in my fantasy campaigns is travelling, because even the rules that seem to handle it, don't generally handle it so well. They seem to assume there will be "paved" and maintained roads, kinda like the Romans built. That, or there will be forced marches like an army, with the front clearing a pathway for that which follows - the genre is built on wargaming after all.

The problem is, without roads like that, you get muddy tracks that suck in cart wheels and risk breaking the legs of galloping horses.

Heck, I've driven on poorly maintained, partially washed out dirt roads in the Poconos and I can't imagine making any kind of actual time with a horse and cart.

Many paths are actually animal trails, and these obviously wont work for carts and may not work with a riden horse.

Of course, any well travelled paths / roads will have those that prey on those that travel them.

Which of course brings me back to the beginning - how do you handle overland travel?

Masters of Fantasy - TSR: The Fantasy Factory - A Docu-Promo For TSR (1997)

I'm willing to give credit where credit is due - I found this link thanks to ENworld.

It's a nice little piece put together by the Sci-Fi network.

I find it interesting that Lorraine Williams is dressed in black with a mostly black background, so you can't clearly see how "Jabba the Hut" like she is.

There is nothing hard hitting here, but it an interesting view of the hobby from 16 years ago and quite entertaining. 23 minutes, so just long enough.

Damn, I own the bad CGI DVD they keep showing pieces off...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quick First Impressions of Empire of the Petal Throne

1 - It reminds me of DragonQuest (SPI) and other RPGs that were put out by primarily Wargaming companies, as it has numbered sections and subsections.

Example: Hit Dice, Combat and Damage Dice is #700, Hit dice Follows at #710, Combat follows at #720 and Use of Weapons ans Weapon Types follows at 721 (as it falls under Combat)

2 - Boobies. The art has boobies with nipples and such, but comes off looking like "artsy" art, not "fantasy" art. So, this isn't you Succubus from the MM type art ;)

3 - More on the art- It's vert "atmospheric" in a non-fantasy way. I'd compare it loosely to the art in Spears of the Dawn, which is African in type and not standard fantasy.

4 - The maps are individually priced at 5 bucks a pop - more than half the $27.50 asking price of the game box itself. Heck, the rule book alone was $12, which was more than the OD&D Boxed set.

5 - I'm going to need to find a way to ignore all this fancy language shit - if I had trouble learning a real second language in college, it certainly isnt happening in an RPG.

6 - At first glance it looks to be better organized and edited than the OD&D Boxed Set, but I'll see if that holds up with closer reading.

New Revised OSRIC SRD - and it's Free (of course)

I think I've mentioned that I've been running an AD&D 1e / OSRIC campaign set it Rappan Athuk at least a handful of times. Why OSRIC? Because I can find my AD&D 1e rules in half the time. It really is a well laid out resource. I have the full sized softcover, the pocket sized softcover for reference at the table and the Player's Guide (in case I actually get to be a player at some point).

Now there is a revised OSRIC PDF. Updated 2nd Edition. How dare they put it out for free ;)

I love the OSR :)

(Big thank you to The Crazy GM for bringing this to my attention)

Friday Afternoon Double feature at The Tavern - Dredd and Prometheus

So, when you are on vacation AND sick as a dog, what is one to do?

Watch DVD's of course!

So, I settled into bed with the dog and the cat and watched some movies this afternoon.

The first movie up was the new Dredd. Now, I remember the pretty campy movie with Stallone from back in the day (and the "You can do eet!" guy), which was fun if horribly stupid. The new one (in which I have absolutely no idea who the actors were) was surprisingly good for what it was - a slow motion bloody gorefest. I tried to reconcile it with the on 2000ADs I used to buy on newsprint back in the day, but I'm so far removed from that I couldn't tell you how well it kept to the Dread mythos. Still, a damn fine thrill ride.

Next up was Prometheus. It was - not bad, but not all that great either. Plot spoiler, but I still don't understand why the android infected the Ben Afleck (Charlie Halloway) look alike. Yeah, it's like Aliens with the serial numbers scratched off, until the last scene where they put the serial numbers back on. Which makes sense, as it's the same universe, but I found stuff to be both confusing (again, why the  infection? to bring back a bio agent to earth? if so, why the acceptance of the doc after she aborts her ill conceived aberration?) and predicable at times (I know I've watched too many movies when I can say the lines of a new movies before the character does

I mean, Judge Dread left me all hyped at the end, and I'm sick as a dog. Prometheus left me still feeling ill.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Does Anyone Use Real Life Illnesses / Viruses in Their Campaign?

As I sit here, waiting for my next "call to nature", it occurs to me that the only times I've seen illness / viruses / flus and the like in an RPG campaign, it been as part of a plot hook.

I don't ever recall an adventuring party getting sidelined by dysentery, a flu, the norovirus (love ya dude, but you are more than welcome to take your leave now) or any such run of the mill illness.

All of which leaves me to believe that there must be a series of unpublished spells that take care of such issues. Maybe the magic-user has a "Sterile Cleaning" spell for his workshop or clothes. Perhaps clerics have the "Cure Minor Aliment" spell to get rid of the the of the mill flu or viral infection, and a "Cure Major Aliment" spell for pneumonia and the like. Because really, you need something a bit more flexible than Purify Food and Water.

If there were magical cures and / or preventions, it would all make sense. Maybe I need to put my party up against a group of norovirus infected adversaries and watch the fun that follows...

Things that cross your mind while on a "liquid diet". I can't see myself fighting orcs or slaying dragons in this state ;)

Empire of the Petal Throne - New in Wrap Unboxing (TSR 1975)

So, over the weekend I snagged a new, still in wrap (torn wrap) copy of Empire of the Petal Throne on eBay. It was supposed to arrive tomorrow or Saturday, but it came a day early. I'm not complaining, as it helps me feel better about the fact that I've been fighting the Norovirus since just after last night's post. Yep, its been one hell of a night / day.

Anyhow, enough about me. You want the pics. I don't blame you. Onward to the show...

(hopefully a bit better than Geraldo and Al Capone's Vault ;)

Well packed in it's shipping box.
It's like unwrapping a Christmas Present

The wrap is certainly torn, but it's all there. $30 price tag.

The wrap has been removed. The box has a slight crush on
the top side, but the colors are still remarkably vibrant.
And the Box is now opened.  The map actually makes
slight cracking sounds as I unfolded it.

Lookie! A second map!

And a third map!
There are actually 2 sets of this 4 page spread of Reference Sheets.
The cover of the rules book. The lower right hand corner
of the book isn't crushed - that's part of the cover
paper not sticking to the inside of the box.
Spiral bound. Nice! I wondered about the discoloration
on the right side of the page, so I turned the page...

It was a glob of misplaced ink during the printing process.
And there you have it. Haven't looked at it all that closely. Nausea and frequent trips to the bathroom are known to disrupt the best laid plans of mice and men. Figures I'd get sick on my vacations :(

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

There Are Some Current Sales on "Horror" Type RPG Stuff at RPGNow (LotFP and Goblinoid Games)

Real quick, as my intestinal fortitude is less it's usual state. The family is fighting off one hell of a stomach bug this week - I guess I picked the right week for vacation - sigh...

+James Raggi is running a sale Death Love Doom to help celebrate Valentine's Day. Yep, only James would put this particular piece on sale this week ;) You can read my original review here. James has it on sale for 99 cents in PDF through Sunday. Not too shabby.

Goblinoid Games is running a $2 sale on Rotworld through the end of February. This ties in to the latest season of the Walking Dead premiering this month. At 2 bucks I may need to snag a copy and review it. Be warned - Rotworld is a built in coupon link, so it drops it in your cart at the $2 price.

Comparing OD&D to it's Nearest Clones - S&W Whitebox and Delving Deeper - Part III: The Classes (Demihumans)

Now we peek at the demihumans:

(as I have all of these in PDF, I'll be copying the relevant parts and making comments from there)

Original Dungeons & Dragons

Dwarves:  Dwarves may opt only for the fighting class, and they may never progress beyond the 6th level (Myrmidon). Their advantages are: 1) they have a high level of magic resistance, and they thus add four levels when rolling saving throws (a 6th level dwarf equals a 10th level human);2) they are the only characters able to fully employ the +3 Magic War Hammer (explained in Volume II); 3) they note slanting passages, traps, shifting walls and new construction in underground settings; and 4) they are able to speak the languages of Gnomes, Kobolds and Goblins in addition to the usual tongues

Elves (these folks get tricky): Elves can begin as either Fighting-Men or Magic-Users and freely switch class whenever they choose, from adventure to adventure, but not during the course of a single game. Thus, they gain the benefits of both classes and may use both weaponry and spells. They may use magic armor and still act as Magic-Users. However, they may not progress beyond 4th level Fighting-Man (Hero) nor 8th level Magic-User (Warlock). Elves are more able to note secret and hidden doors. They also gain the advantages noted in the CHAINMAIL rules (I guess if you don't have the Chainmail rules you're crap outa luck for those advantages)when fighting certain fantastic creatures. Finally, Elves are able to speak the languages of Orcs, Hobgoblins, and Gnolls in addition to their own (Elvish) and the other usual tongues.

Halflings: Should any player wish to be one (I guess Raggi wasn't far off in making them a "throw away" class - heck, ACKS leaves the race out altogether), he will be limited to the Fighting-Men class as a halfling. Halflings cannot progress beyond the 4th level (Hero), but they will have magic-resistance equal to dwarves (add four levels for saving throws), and they will have deadly accuracy with missiles as detailed in CHAINMAIL.

Other Character Types: There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to play as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to the top, i.e., a player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as let us say, a "young" one and progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined by the campaign referee. (this goes far in showing just how "open" OD&D was meant to be)

Delving Deeper

Dwarves: Dwarfs are as fighters excepting that they are the only characters able to employ the +3 war hammer to its full potential. They are adept at evading large, clumsy enemies and suffer only half damage from such foes as giants and ogres (i'm guessing this comes from a later supplement or Chainmail?). Moreover, a dwarf makes all saving throws at four levels higher than his actual level (I would have read the original as applying only to magic attacks and spells, but I can see the justification for this way of reading it). He is, however, limited to the 6th level of advancement.

Dwarfs are expert miners and able to note any new construction, shifting walls, slopes, falling slabs, false floors and the like in dungeon stonework. They are also able to discern noises on a roll of 5-6 (on a six-sided die) when listening at doors.

Additionally, dwarfs are able to speak the language of gnomes, goblins and kobolds, in addition to the Common tongue and their own language.

Elves: Elves begin as either fighters or magic-users, but can change class between adventures as often as desired. An elf becomes dual-classed when he changes class for the first time, and may thereafter use both the weaponry of a fighter and the spells of a magic-user simultaneously.

The dual-classed character must maintain separate experience point totals for each of his classes, with all earned experience going toward his currently active class. He uses the more favorable game statistics of both classes during play, but cannot act as a magic-user while wearing non-magical armor.

Elves deal +1 hit point of damage when employing magic weapons and are able to move and fire a bow without penalty when on foot. They are nearly invisible in their gray-green cloaks, and can move almost silently. Additionally, they are able to locate secrets doors on a roll of 3-6 on a six-sided die when actively searching, or on a roll of 5-6 when merely passing by. They also discern noises on a roll of 5-6 when listening at doors and are immune to the paralyzing touch of ghouls.

They are, however, limited to 4th level as fighters and to 8th level as magic-users.

Elves are able to speak the languages of gnolls, hobgoblins, and orcs, as well as their own language, their alignment tongue, and Common.

Halflings: Halflings can choose to be fighters, but are limited to the 4th level. They have deadly accuracy with missiles, adding +1 to attack rolls, and discern noises on a roll of 5-6 on a six-sided die when listening at doors. Despite his diminutive stature, a halfling is highly resilient and makes all saving throws at four levels higher than his actual level. (at least there isn't a comment saying "should a player wish to be one")

Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox

The Dwarf: Dwarves tend to grow up in underground cities. As such, Dwarves easily take note of certain features of stonework: sloping corridors, moving walls, and traps made of stone (in particular: falling blocks, rigged ceilings, and tiny slits designed to release arrows, darts, or poison gas). There are no established rules or die roll for making use of these abilities; exactly what the Dwarf does or does not perceive is for the Referee to decide.

Dwarven Race Abilities

Character Advancement: The only character class available to Dwarves is that of the Fighter, and they are typically allowed to advance only as high as 6th level.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Like human Fighters, Dwarves have been trained in warfare and have no restrictions on the weapons or armor they may use.

Fighting Giants: Giants, ogres, and similar giant-type creatures such as trolls are not good at fighting dwarves, and only inflict half the normal damage against them. (i'm guessing this comes from a later supplement or Chainmail?)

Keen Detection: Dwarves are good at spotting traps, slanting passages, and construction while underground.

Saving Throw: Dwarves do not use magic and, as such, are somewhat immune to its effects; they receive a +4 bonus on saving throws vs. magic (whether or not the alternate “Saving Throw Matrix” is used). (see, I would interpret the save bonus this way too)

Languages: For campaigns that give each race its own dialect, Dwarves should be able to speak with gnomes, goblins, orcs, and kobolds.

The Elf: The Referee can interpret Elves in many different ways. Are they faerie-folk of Irish legend, the Vanir of Norse mythology, or perhaps something more akin to the Elves of Tolkien’s imagination?

As a baseline, most Elves are associated with magic as well as being skilled with the sword and bow. The Elven adventurer may choose, on any given day—perhaps when the moon rises—whether to use the capabilities of the Fighter or Magic-user. As a result, the Elf has two alternate advancement paths (experience points, hit dice, saving throws, “to-hit” bonuses, etc.) depending upon whether he donned steel that day or summoned up the power to cast spells.

Elves must use a spell book to prepare spells, just as a Magic-user. Spells disappear from his casting capability once they are cast, until prepared again.

Elven Race Abilities

Character Advancement: Elves may use either the Fighter or Magic-user class advancement charts, to be announced at the start of an adventure. They are typically allowed to progress only to 4th level as Fighters and 8th as Magicusers.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions: When an Elf adventures as a Magic-user, the character has the same weapon and armor limitations as a Magic-user. The exception to this would be magic armor, which may still be worn even when the Elf is acting as a Magic-user.

Hereditary Foes: Elves gain an extra +1 (“to-hit” or to damage) when fighting goblins, orcs, intelligent undead, and lycanthropes. Elves are also immune to paralysis caused by undead such as ghouls.

Keen Detection: Elves are good at spotting hidden and concealed doors (1-4 on a d6 when searching, 1-2 on a d6 if just passing by).

Languages: For campaigns that give each race its own dialect, Elves should be able to speak with gnolls, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins.

The Halfling:  Halflings are short, often stout, and live in shires, rustic communities that are usually remote from those of larger folk. A few of them have a mildly adventurous spirit, enough to venture forth for a while at least, exploring the world beyond the farms and fields of the local shire.

Halfling Race Abilities

Character Advancement: The only character class available to Halflings is that of the Fighter, and they are typically allowed to advance only as high as 4th level.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Like human Fighters, the Halfling has no weapon or armor restrictions.

Fighting Giants: Giants, ogres, and similar giant-type creatures such as trolls are not good at fighting small creatures such as halflings and dwarves, and only inflict half the normal damage against them.

Deadly Accuracy with Missiles: Halflings receive a +2 “to-hit” when firing missile weapons in combat.

Near Invisibility: When not engaged in combat, Halflings can be quite stealthy, making themselves hard to spot and moving in almost total silence.

Saving Throw: Halflings are somewhat immune to magic, and receive +4 on saving throws vs. magic (even if the “Saving Throw Matrix” is used).

Languages: For campaigns that give each race its own dialect, Halflings should be able to speak with creatures that fit the style of the Referee’s campaign.

Both Delving Deeper and Swords & Wizardry Whitebox flesh out the races with combat abilities "kinda" detailed in Chainmail. I know the Elves Secret Door Detection is iconic, I just dont see it in book 1 of OD&D (it could be there and I just dont see it). Interesting how DD goes for the low roll and S&W WB goes for the low roll.

I'd have to say that S&W WhiteBox is the better organized of the three so far, although DD does a decent job of explaining things and keeping it short.

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