Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Was Reminded Today by One of my "Old Players" What "Old School" Gaming Really Was...

One of the core players from my "Old Group" sent an email to the group earlier today, and although Tony won't be able to be a regular in the soon to be "reincarnated" (remember the Druid spell with the random roll for new race?) group, he did a fine job in reminding us that what we played wasn't just D&D / AD&D, but lots of other stuff.

I think that kind of gets forgotten with the focus the OSR has on D&D and it's various incarnations.

Tony, I hope you don't mind me sharing your letter, but it spells things out better than I ever could:

So the band is getting back to together?  I wish I had the time to join you guys. 
I agree with Bry about going old school but back in the day we played a lot more than just TSR. 
Some of the other games I can recall.
Traveller by Game Designers' Workshop.  This was my first rpg.  The books were inexpensive and small so was great for a kid around 10 to afford and read the whole thing.  I was always saving up for next book. I played with my cousins often.  not sure if we ever played but Paul joined out group at least a few times.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  - the one with the dwarf slayer on the cover.  Was this also GDW (Games Workshop lad)? I am not sure.  I recall as very large group playing this at Erik's house.  was fun.
Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game -  I have no idea who published this (Palladium Books - the same fine folks that brought us RIFTS later on).  (of course I could look it up and also look up Warhammer but I am lazy). Erik was our main DM and was great but for this game Dave was sometimes the DM and that was cool for a different perspective and tons of fun too.
Rifts (role-playing game) - had a lot of fun playing this.  I never understood the rules even though I read many of the books. great classes and stuff and fun.  glad I wasn't the DM because I had no idea what was going in terms of the combat. I would just roll whatever Erik told me to roll. (Dave ran this more than me BY FAR)
Star Frontiers  - this was TSR. Was a great sci fi fun for a change of pace.  I enjoyed more than traveller/ 
Stormbringer -  again I don't know who published this one (Chaosium - yes, Erik is a big enough geek to know these all off hand) .  I really enjoyed it   probably casue I enjoyed the books a lot.  for some reason I really liked the runs on armour for this game (among other things) if I recall correctly if you were hit then you rolled to see how much damage your armor absorbed .  something like that.  so there was always a change to get a lucky shot on a heavy armour dude and do a lot of damage if you l had light armour and got hit there was a chance to avoid getting killed. I may have this all wrong since it was a long time ago.

to a lesser extent there was also runequest, rolemaster, middle earth rpg, call of cthulhul (don't think we played this but I played with my cousins and Paul), Villains and Vigilantes.
I am sure I am missing many others and there were also a ton of board games. 
Anyway - enjoy - whatever system you wind up using.

Yep, I'm glad I'll be getting the "band back together" with some old and some newer members, but the band none the less ;)

Time to Pick a System for the Sunday Morning Game With the Old Group (OSR of Course)

Sunday morning is about to sneak up, and I think I've gotten my hold out to finally step away from his stand of "it must be published by TSR or WotC or it isn't legit". Trust me, it wasn't easy ;)

So, the three choices I'll be presenting them are:

AD&D 1e / OSRIC - probably the closest to how we played back in our High School / College days, but with a crapload of house rules I'v gained in the intervening years. Problem is, half the group no longer has access to their 1e books and I suspect the other half no longer remember what's in their 1e books ;)

Basic Fantasy RPG - close enough to the AD&D rules with some modern sensibilities. They can get a new print copy of the rules from Amazon for less than 5 bucks. I could run Morgansfort as is with the minor conversions needed for the other systems on this short list.

Swords & Wizardry - I'd run with the core rules, but allow the players if they wanted, to grab a class from the Complete rules if they desired. Most streamlined set of rules on the list, and may be the best to bring back gamers who haven't played in 16 years nearly to the week (I think our last game was March 2nd, 1997, assuming that was a Sunday - after 16 years, I know the day of the week, as we always games on Sundays, but I can't be sure the day of the month - it was the first weekend of March).

At least all of the options are available in PDF

There you have it - the three choices I will present. I'm interested in hearing your ideas on this. I'm leaning towards S&W, but that might be because with the recent Kickstarter package that arrived, it's my new shiny :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

F' Me - I Somehow Missed That the Sine Nomine PDFs Are 25% Off

I have no idea how I missed this. Well, yes I do, as there is a shitload of stuff on sale for the RPGNow GM's sale.

The most recent product put out by Sine Nomine is Spears of the Dawn (one of the best run Kickstarters I've supported, if not "the' best). Normally 10 bucks, it's $7.49 for the next 4 days. It an African themed fantasy RPG and very well done. I should be in a twice a month campaign as a player (go figure), so I'll let you know how it plays in real life, but it's on sale now.

Red Tide (campaign sourcebook and sandbox toolkit) can be had for $5.99 in PDF. I liked this enough to grab it in hardcover. Tables and setting. Good stuff.

Stars Without Number: Free Edition is still free. If you grab nothing else, grab this. It's probably the best OSR styled Sci-Fi ruleset out there. Remember, 25% off of free is still free ;)

Putting Another Kickstarter to Bed - King For a Day (Fantasy Sandbox)

This actually came the same day I got my Swords & Wizardry Kickstarter package. We already know who won that battle ;)

In any case, King For a Day is a "systemless sandbox campaign" that actually looks pretty cool. I say "actually", because the longer this one dragged on, the less enthused I was about it. Actually having it in hand has added some "enthuse" :)

Hey, at least I get to remove it from the "Overdue Kickstarters List".

I just realized that maps aren't included with the print version. What folder is my PDF sitting in anyway?


Some DCC RPG Highlights (and others) to Look At During the RPGNow GM's Sale Event

As I type this, there's just over 4 1/2 days left to the RPGNow DM's Sale Event.

Today, I'm focusing on the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, or DCC RPG for short.

First up is the DCC RPG itself in PDF for $14.06. Sure it's a weird price, but 25% off will do that to you. Even with it's use of funkier dice than the usual funky dice most RPGs use, I've only heard positive feedback about the DCC RPG game. I've run a few sessions myself, and they were a blast. If you do get the game (or already own it) make sure you grab Purple Sorcerer's free iOS and Android app for you phone or tablet. It is an amazing tool for an awesome game.

Purple Duck Games had put their 3 current DCC RPG releases on sale for below silly prices. At these price points, you could buy them and easily convert them to the OSR ruleset of your choice. AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror is a mere $1.34, AL 2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God is $1.58 and AL3: Through the Cotillion of Hours is $1.71. You can get all 3 for less than 5 bucks. If that's not a steal, I don't know what is.

What else strikes one's fancy?

Legend (formerly MRQ2) can be had for 75 cents. I don't think you can buy a candy bar for that price these days.

Savage Worlds Deluxe for $7.49. One day I'll play a second session of this. And look - the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game is also $7.49. Yet another game I own that I've yet to play.

I need to know if anyone has actually used the Mythic Game Master Emulator. I own it (and the full Mythic game) but have never used it. Intriguing.  Hell, at $5.21 but it and let me know how to use it ;)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Sneak Peek of the Mazes & Perils "Expanded Edition"

+Vincent Florio was nice enough to forward me a sneak peek of some of the layout and such of the Mazes & Perils Core Rules "Expanded Edition". Vince and I have a bit of a history, which can basically be summed up as "screaming at each other without listening until we actually listened", which is to say that it's much easier to converse with others when you remove the extra noise.

We converse much better these days, thank you very much :)

Anyhow, as I was saying, Vince has allowed me a sneak peek at the forthcoming Mazes & Perils Core Rules "Expanded Edition". Would that abbreviate to M&PCREE?

The layout is MUCH improved (I can't speak about the content itself, as all I have access to is bits and pieces sent to me). Dare I say it, it looks like a professional layout.

Looking at the sample monster page, it strikes me that S&W doesn't have Treasure Type listed with the monsters in Monstrosities. Was this a Holmes Edition addition? (for those not in the know, M&P is sort of a Holmes Basic retroclone). Hmm, while I'm at it, it appears the monster heading font might be a bit too bubbly - the "G" looks more like a blobby "O", but maybe that is just me.

Nice choice for the art for the Monster Section art header page.

Damn, I should have asked Vince what the price was going to be for this puppy and what extras the "Expanded Edition" was going to have that the regular free edition did not (assuming that the "Expanded Edition" is not going to be free, but God knows I could be wrong).

Anyhow, interesting soon to be addition to the OSR palette. Please don't ask me if we need more additions to the OSR ruleset list of choices - I'm one of those that believes you can't have enough. What I really should do one day is make myself a Franken-Game from all of the OSR rulesets that are freely available (no houserules - just published rules) and see what I can come up with ;)

Edge of Space on the Back of My Cat

+matt jackson was kind enough to send me a copy of his RPG Sci-Fi mini rules, Edge of Space, in print. Heck, he even threw in an adventure, Incident at Intrepid Station.

I was trying to figure out how to show the approximate size of these, and then it struck me. Ashley, my wonderful cat, loves to spend time in front of my computer screen as I surf the net and write my blog posts. Mt desk top is here bed. Might as well put her to work. The above pic is the above two items on Ashley's back ;)

I love the size of these. I love the format. My wife thinks they're "cute", and who am I to argue? They are cute.

Matt, much thanks for sending these my way. They are purr-fect ;)

A Look at Bill Webb's XP Method From MCMLXXV

When I got my Swords & Wizardry Complete Kickstarter package yesterday, it included a mismatched copy of Bill Webb's MCMLXXV low level adventure for S & W. Bill included 2 1/2 pages of his "Old School Primer" at the beginning to show how the game was played "back in the day". It's a very quick and interesting read. The one thing that truly stuck out for me was how Bill awards expo.

Now, for those of you that aren't used to "Old School Gaming", let me point out that the much, if not most of your expo comes from gold found and recovered, not from killing monsters. That Ogre may be worth 120 expo, but the treasure he carries or guards will likely be the bulk of the expo gained from that encounter.

Bill twists the expo for killing even tighter, awarding just 1 XP per HP for creature killed (x2 or x3 depending on special abilities). Even the strongest Ogre is worth only 33 XP and the avg Ogre is worth about 20 or so. In this case alone, that's a loss of about 83% of the combat expo.

As Bill states, this changes the game's focus from a combat game to one of avoidance and trickery. Why risk life and limb if you can get the vast majority of your expo with thievery and not skill of arms?

At some point I may experiment with Bill's method, just to see how it plays out "in real life play" for myself. It won't be with my current group, and certainly not the current campaign in Rappan Athuk. I think they'd be very upset to see their combat expo suddenly dry up , and I wouldn't blame them ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More GM's Day Sale Highlights - AS&SH, 30 Things, FGU and More

There's still 6 1/2 days left in RPGNow's GM's Day sale, so I figured I'd highlight a few spot on choices:

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - I own the boxed set and the PDF. There is just a huge amount of OSR gaming goodness inside this package. I doubt I'll ever use it as is (as I have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF to ever run it all), but I'm certainly mining it for ideas. $7.50

30 Things Can Happen - (from the blurb) - Never be at a loss again with these thirty tables of random Medieval Fantasy events and findings in urban, rural, and underground locations. Each thirty entry table is divided into three ten entry categories, some with additional sub-options, making for nearly one thousand random results including the fun and fantastical. Use these pages to help flesh out locations during prep or to perk up a flagging game session. This invaluable resource is system-free and ready to help with any fantasy roleplaying game. $3.37

Fantasy Games Unlimited - With nearly an unlimited number of classic RPGs. Aftermath, Bushido, Villans and Vigilantes, Space Opera (need to pick this one up myself), MERC (I have the game somewhere), Bunnies and Burrows (just because), Swordbearer (another where I have the boxed set) - the list goes on. Damn, I can do a lot of classic shopping here.

Mongoose - Traveller, Judge Dredd, Stormbringer, Legend, Hawkmoon, Hammers Slammers - screw it, the list is too damn long. Nearly 500 items on sale.

My Swords & Wizardry Kickstarter Package Arrived Today (and boy are my arms tired ;)

Holy crap but that was a heavy package!

Rappan Athuk comes in at 490+ pages, Monstrosities (the new S&W monster book) comes in at 550+ pages and S&W Complete comes in at 130+ pages. Not to mention two adventures, the DM Screen, 2 copies of the coloring book, graph paper, dice and a pencil. Oh, and a 2nd copy of the S&W Complete rulebook that I grabbed as a gift. There is a ton of gaming goodness here.

I like that Monstrosities continues with the "each monster gets a story hook" idea that I first saw Frog God use with Tome of Horrors Complete. One monster per page, each with art, is fine by me.

A Kickstarter Putting Peanut Butter in Your Chocolate - Torment: Tides of Numenera

It looks like one of the best things Monte Cook ever did for himself was to walk away from D&D Next.


Well, his Numenera RPG Kickstarter was  a stellar success, and now the licensing of the IP to the fine folks behind the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter (mind you, these are two Kickstarters that haven't been completed yet) has begotten Torment: Tides of Numenera. Yep, sort of a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment. BTW, Planescape was a Monte thing to a large extent. So yeah, full circle and all that.

The Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter went live yesterday. They are asking for $900,000. As I type this, they are over $847,000 $855,000. They didnt even need to offer all of the carrots that the Pathfinder MMO did and are set to hit goal in 24 hours.


I'm not Kicking in to this one although I am happy that Monte should be making a nice bit of change from this. December 2014 is the estimated ship date. I'll wait for it to release, thank you very much. Unless, of course, they start offering some "phat loot" in the stretch goals ;)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Got My Basic Fantasy RPG Loot From Amazon Today

Just in time to kick off a new campaign I received this package in the mail:

Talk about timing ;)

I'm thinking of using Morgansfort to kick off the new campaign, whether we use BFRPG or AD&D 1e / OSRIC or something else.

Just think, I got all 4 for $15.64 and free shipping from Amazon.

Impossible price to beat, and they are free in PDF from the Basic Fantasy RPG site.

The "Old" Group is Still Talking D&D - With a Possible Session This Sunday Morning!?!

I know the saying is "Strike while the iron is hot" but I never expected my "Old" gaming group to start tossing around the idea of actually getting a session running "this Sunday morning". I'm not sure how serious the idea is, but there's been over 2 dozen emails passed back and forth this afternoon so far, and more as I'm typing this.

It seems like the ever changing rules / patches / updates in the world of MMOs have pushed the frustration factor high enough to bring them back to comforting ground level.

Of course, there is still the issue of game system - I'm pushing either for OSRIC / AD&D 1e or BFRPG with a handful of houserules in either case.

Thankfully I'm all caught up on game prep for my Saturday night game. Sunday morning is going to be a rush job if they can't decide on a system soon. Although I'm not even sure all are up for a Sunday morning game this weekend.

Thankfully, the wife will be at her yoga class most of the morning ;)

I Stand Corrected - ENWorld is Super Fast Now

Apparently ENWorld's speed (or lack there of) will no longer be the butt of jokes - it is lightning fast now. I'm not just talking the main page but the forums too.

Colour me impressed (yep, used the Queen's English there)

I guess the ENWorld Kickstarter did do it's job.

Now my remaining complaint is the lack of "Old School" activity in their forums, but maybe that will come with the exposure Old School gaming is getting with the WotC reprints and PDF releases.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Winners of The Grand Original Map Contest Are...

It took us a bit of time to judge this contest, but as +Mark Hassman and +Dyson Logos will tell you, judging is hard when all of the entries are good or better. It isn't easy choosing winners from amongst an abundance of strong entries, but the deed is now done.

The winners of an original Dyson map are as follows:


Beneath the Windowless Tower by John


Bone Blade by Viz


River's Bend Poets Inn by Mark Chance


Mellified Men by Ian Coakley
[entered as monster but very cool Environment]

So, if your name is above, you are soon to be the proud owner of an original +Dyson Logos map. I'll need you to forward me your snail mail address.

If your name is not above AND you entered the Grand Original Map Contest, all is not lost. I have a $5 credit at RPGNow with your name on it. As I said above, all of the entries were strong, so you are all winners in my eyes. Of course, some were bigger winners, but such is life ;)

Email me your relevant info (snail mail or RPGNow e-mail as stated above) at erikATtrubluniteDOTnet and we'll get those prizes out to ya ;)

Hexographer / Dungeongrapher (and more) 30% Off Through March 6th For GM's Day

You probably won't see this sale mentioned in many places, but here's the skinny - everything at Inkwell Ideas Online Store is 30% off with the code: March4 from now through March 6th.

Need mapping software? It's there.

Need to design your own Coat of Arms? There's software for it.

Want your own set of Dungeonmorph Dice?

I believe even the Monster Stock Art is 30& off.

I have everything I mentioned but the Coat of Arms software. Might have to snag that before the sale ends.

Do You Consider Yourself Primarily a GM or a Player

I'm fairly certain I've asked this question around this time last year, but as my readership has grown (and the opportunities to play online have greatly increased with apps like Roll20) I figure GM's Day 2013 is as good a time to ask the question as any.

For myself, I primarily see myself as a GM. It doesn't mean i don't get nervous as all hell before every game session, even with folks that I consider "my friends" (although one-shot pick up style games up that anxiety level). It's just that I seem to be more geared towards the GM's side of the screen.

I do enjoy playing, but I find myself too easily distracted by "down time", especially with Hangout Style gaming, where I can surf the web when I'm not the focus. Being the GM makes in game web surfing much more difficult ;)

So, what do you see yourself primarily as: GM or Player?

GM's Day Sale is Going on For the Next Week at RPGNow

Yep, RPGNow / OneBookShelf is running it's yearly GM's Day Sale.

If it's on sale, it's at least 25% off.

I'll need to take a deeper look over the next few days, but there are some highlights amongst the publishers:

Goblinoid Games has most (not all) of it's stuff on sale, including Rotworld and Starships and Spacemen (both old and new editions).

Chaosium has what appears to be it's whole PDF library on sale including Basic Roleplaying and CoC

Eldritch Enterprises has it's full catalogue on sale. Curse of the Weaver Queen isnt a bad deal for less than 6 bucks.

Goodman Games has all of the DCC adventures for sale, as well as the DCC RPG for $14.05 in PDF. Not bad for a 480 page PDF ;)

more later...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Damn Cool Kickstarter - Dungeon Deck: Quests Expansion

I need to thank +Tim Shorts for bringing this to my attention, much like he did the Tavern Cards. Tim, I expect you will keep us properly notified of all other card based aids for our OSR gaming (Tim, you should request a commission at some point ;)

Wait, +Tim Shorts , I did send you to look at Drinking Quest I hope...

In any case, Dungeon Deck: Quests Expansion looks like a really handy way to quickly generate (or use for inspiration) a quick and short dungeon. For those times the gang is all ready to play and you have absolutely nothing prepared. Give yourself a minute with this deck and BAMN!, you have something.

I'm in for the starter deck and the two expansions. Luckily my wife does not read my blog...

From the blurb:


The Dungeon Deck: Quests is a way to create an adventure for one night's gaming (for any fantasy tabletop RPG) in 30 seconds. It has been in print since 2009 in the current format, and we have two expansion decks which we have had printed in a very low number by another printer. We're not as happy with the quality on those, and since we are sold out of them, we're asking for your help to print these two expansions in the better quality format.

Inside the Dungeon Deck, there are seven numbered sub-decks: (in order) Lure, Entrance, Atmosphere, Setting, Map, Challenge, and Reward. The DM pulls one card from each ahead of time, and lays them out, creating the adventure. The only things left to do are decide where the challenge(s) and reward are located (either by a random roll or by choice), and determine the exact challenge. For instance, if the "Orcs" card is pulled, what would be a challenge for a party of five 5th level characters would be deadly for three 1st level characters.

Mike Mearls Latest Legends & Lore Column - Where Less is More (Maybe)

It's been a while since I turned my sights on D&D Next. Really, what was the point? The game to "Rule Them All" had set itself up to fail, trying to be all to everyone. It wanted to cover the desires of the OD&D Grognards right thru 4e. In that madness lies failure.

Then we had this week's Legends & Lore Column - early as it as pointed out elsewhere. Mike tells us that after the core rules, the emphasis will be on story, not mechanics. Fluff, not crunch. This is a complete turn around from the 3e days.

Let's look at Mike's post (original post is here):

It might be strange for the guy in charge of D&D R&D to say this, but here it goes: After the core rules for the game are done, we really want to stop adding so much stuff to the mechanics of the game and shift our emphasis to story (emphasis mine).

D&D is a shared language. The rules serve to make it easier to talk about the game and make stuff happen. They take abstract concepts and give them clear meaning. When we say "5th-level wizard," we know what you can do and how you do it. (well, we did up through 3x - 4e significantly changed the language) We know that because we play D&D. Someone who never played the game would be utterly lost. (again, 4e is a different game with different assumptions than it's predecessors) 

A language works best when everyone who uses it can communicate efficiently. If I described my character as a "prime tier ensign," that doesn't mean anything to you. Could you guess what my character wears, what sort of weapon he might wield, and what special abilities he uses? Any answer you give is a pure guess. (sure - but again, 4e describes a manner of play that is unfamiliar to those that played earlier editions)

For that reason, in building classes, character options, and everything else in the game, we need to stick to things that make sense and resonate with you. That's why we've adopted things like specialties and backgrounds as tools to organize game rules. Rapid Shot and Precise Shot are abstract things that aren't really clear. You can only understand them by knowing what they are. They don't stand on their own in a meaningful way. Describing your fighter as an archer, though, makes sense to anyone. Your character uses a bow. That's self-evident from the word archer. There are still details to study, but the general idea evokes a key fantasy archetype. (So far I'm following)

The trick is that the list of things that resonate is shorter than an unbound list. It's a challenge, but it's one worth tackling. Realistically, I'm willing to bet that most people didn't start playing D&D because they wanted to take Rapid Shot. You probably wanted to play an archer, or a sneaky thief, and so on (I started with D&D because my friends played it and I loved the Lord of the Rings - classes and skills we the least of my concerns - I wanted to share in the excitement of my favorite fantasy stories). The most resonant elements arise from outside the game, in the myths and stories that we're all exposed to. (Gee, just what I was talking about)

The other side to this coin is that with a much-reduced emphasis on turning out new rules mechanics (who would have expected this from WotC?), the material we make receives more playtesting, development, and care. If you want to make an archer option, it has to be a good option. You don't get a second chance at it.

So, that's the general philosophy on expanding the rules of the game.

So basically, less is more. Which may very well mean D&D Next has to live or die on it's own strengths, not by emulating previous versions of D&D. It's an interesting trip this D&D Next has travelled to get where it is now, and with over a year before release, I suspect there will be even more twists and turns between now and then.

Makes you wonder if the release of the previous versions, both in print and in PDF, have as much to do with a "we aren't going to convert many of the grognards, so we may as well embrace them" as it is a cash grab during the lean year and a half left before the new edition releases.

Yeah, I know Grumpy normally handles the D&D Next posts, but I figured I could handle this one. Maybe Next time ;)

My "Old" Group is Talking About Gaming Again - So Why Did They Have to Mention 4E?

My old gaming group (and still close knit group of friends) has started shaking the tree regarding "playing D&D again". Now the core of the group is still based in NYC, but we have others in Texas and Washington State that were added during the MMORPG years.

As a gaming group, we broke up due to the usual commitments - work, family, the complicated lives that adults live, but we transitioned to MMORPGs as it allowed us to game from home and get the most out of our limited free time. I remember waking up at 430 on a Sunday morning to play the original Everquest until about 1030 / 1100, when family commitments would start to come into play).

Many systems were tried, and now we are largely fragmented - heck, I hardly play MMORPGs these days myself.

So I was surprised to get emails inquiring about me running a D&D game for them via G+ Hangouts. I suggested OSRIC or BFRPG (damn cheap on Amazon) - they responded with either AD&D 1e or the new fangled D&D Essentials. Yes, they've been out of the loop for a while. They want to play "real D&D, like it was 25 years ago" and somehow the clones don't make that connection (despite me putting copies in many of their hands over the years - from C&C to OSRIC and others in between) but 4e Essentials did in their mind.

Amazing the power of "The Brand".

Needless to say, I put my foot down on the "4e Idea" ;)

Time will tell if this idea takes root. If it does, I'll be running a second campaign on Friday nights. I'll need to smooth things over with the Wife Goddess ahead of time... heh
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