Saturday, September 7, 2013

What is the "Worst" Kickstarter / Indiegogo Project That You Supported?

I know I need to do an updated "Overdue Kickstarters" post (the post is a bit overdue itself) but I figured, in the meantime, I'd ask you, my fine readers, about the worst Kickstarter you supported.

Worst, BTW, is for you to define.

For me, there are a lot of contenders, but only one true wearer of the crown. Quite simply, Axes & Anvils. Worst of the worst. The RPG industry equivalent of Attack From Planet 9, if not in final quality (we don't know yet) but certainly in execution. I've enjoyed on some sick level the sheer amount of horse shit that went into Nystul avoiding responsibility for the project and any sort of accounting for the monies raised.

There you have it. My worst of the worst Kickstarters. What's yours?

What is Your "Go To" Non OSR / D&D Ruleset?

I ask this question, because although I own a crapload of RPG systems, I run OSR / AD&D / DCC pretty much exclusively these days.

I'm tempted to run an OpenQuest 2 game for a few sessions when it ships (I supported the Indiegogo).

Still, all that being said, I'm open to other systems, so long as the crunch isn't much. And yes, I know about Savage Worlds, just have trouble wrapping my head around it at times (love the Solomon Kane RPG tho', go figure).

So, any thoughts or ideas?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mini Review - The Haunting of Larvik Island (DCC RPG Adventure)

I've been running a DCC RPG campaign since the start of the summer. My herd of cats will be finishing up (I hope) Doom of the Savage Kings tomorrow night and I need to decide on some options for the party to head to next.. Larvik Island is a strong possibility.

Last fall I ran Attack of the Frawgs, the first DCC RPG release from Thick Skull (aka +Stephen Newton ) and my players had a blast with it. Just as importantly, I did too. The Haunting of Larvik Island looks to kick that experience up a notch.

Here's the players' intro:
For centuries the legendary exploits of the mighty warlord Larvik have inspired storytellers and adventurers. Despite his glory, Larvik’s fortunes were lost in the war between his sons following his death. What remains of his legacy is a dangerous island bearing his name and the legend of its treasure accessible only once every 35 years. 
That time is at hand! Will your party be stout enough to explore the island, defeat both natural beasts and lost souls, and decipher the mysterious markers Larvik left behind? Will you uncover the lost caverns before time runs out and the secret is hidden for another generation, or will you merely become another footnote in the history of the many who have fallen never to return chasing the legend of Larvik Island?
Yep, Larvik has an excellent DCC feel to it and can handle 1st to 2nd level characters, which is good, as it's quite possible that some of the PC's may hit level 2 before the end of the adventure.

New magic items, new diseases (did we have old ones?) and some interesting background pieces add value to the adventure.

My guess is about 2 evenings of play from Larvik for the average gaming group and probably 3 nights for mine - as I said earlier, it's like trying to herd cats with them sometimes...

There is a nice selection of wilderness and cavern locations and maps. The player handouts are spot on (and will work well in a VTT like Roll20 and the like). The maps will suffice for online gaming, but I do appreciate when publishers like +Purple Duck Games add unkeyed maps for online play, and wish other PDF publishers would follow suit (hint hint ;)

If I have a critique, its the addition of the slight watermarking on the pages to make them appear like aged paper on the corner. While it doesn't interfere with reading AT ALL, it will use more ink than is needed to print this out - and I print out all adventures before I run them (I dont print out the handouts, as Roll20 handles that awesomely).

All in all an excellent addition to the DCC RPG collection of adventures. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we'll have some session reports to add to the mix - assuming my group heads off in this direction - damn cats!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What is Your Most Disliked RPG Setting?

This is the opposite question of last night's topic, but I think it's just as valid:

     Which of the RPG settings that you've played in / run / read did you like the least?

For me, it's Council of Wyrms. I read this, so it as a power gamer's heaven (and a DM's nightmare) and promptly put it on the bottom of my gaming pile. Shit, I haven't cracked the box open since then.

Did ANYONE actually play this?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What is Your Favorite Fantasy RPG Setting?

I made my argument for Greyhawk here. It was an easy choice for me, but I readily admit there are other strong choices:

Glorantha, Harn, Forgotten Realms, Birthright, Ravenloft, Whatever the world in Palladium Fantasy is called, Middle Earth, Spelljamer - they all had their own magic.

Favorite world I've never played in or run a game in? The Wilderlands.

Greyhawk was my first, and therefore my first love, if you will.

So, what's your favorite fantasy RPG setting? Is there a setting you want to play in but never have?

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day Four - Give Me the World

Day Four is "Favorite Game World".

This really is a no brainer - the answer is "The World of Greyhawk". And not one of the boxed sets either, but the original folio.

Back in my High School years, the group I ran decided they wanted to take over the Wild Coast when they hit name level. We didn't have much in the way of rules for running battles and campaigns on the scale of major wars, so I had to scratch some rules out by hand. I wish I could find those rules now. I'm sure they sucked, but 17 and willing to take a chance and say "here ya go - lets do some strategic battles with these rules and random tables I just wrote up" impresses the 46 year old me ;)

They did conquer much of the Wild Coast, but they were never able to hold it. Greyhawk to the north didn't look kindly on a new a powerful southern neighbor, and the Pomarj certainly didn't like the happenings to their north.

Besides, it wasn't called "The Wild Coast" for nothing.

Good times :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review - Five Ancient Kingdoms - Men & Mettle (Part 2 of ?)

There a lot in this little booklet of Men & Mettle. Enough to make you think about ways to borrow or steal for other OSR style games. Which is good, because the OSR works best when you you create the RPG equivalent of a Mongrelman to your own desires ;)

Hit Die and Hero Points for example. Heroes get Hit Points, but monsters and most NPCs just get Hit Die. One Hit Die equals one Hit of damage from a PC. If a player takes a hit, each Hit Die of damage is equal to 1d6 of HP loss, Kinda speeds up combat, which is probably already sped up by the focused use of D6s to resolve everything. Yeah, it takes a few readings to get the whole thing down, at least it did for me. YMMV.

Encumbrance and Movement is less about counting pounds of weight (although there is some of that) and more about bulk and ease of movement (or lack there of). Interesting way to handle it, especially for someone that generally hand waves this shit with most of the games I run. I tend to rely on common sense, and this seems to be much like common sense.

Experience Points and Level Advance should feel familiar initially - kill things and take their stuff, but there is more - taking damage and surviving, visiting strange lands, finding and messing around with artifacts and keeping to your alignment and motivation. Then there are "milestones" - events that are so important, so striking, they immediately advance the character to the next level. Of course, this is discussed in Book 3, and we are just about halfway through Book 1 ;)

Combat is the next part, and I expect that will need a post all it's own. It's different than what I am accustomed to, but it seems to work - and at the same time, it confuses the hell out of me. I expect I'll need to run a mock combat or two to full grok it - which I will do for the next post in the series.

Five Ancient Kingdoms is certainly an interesting read...

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day Three - Playing With Gods

I wasn't always partial to Clerics. The fighter type classes and magic-users were my "go to" classes back in my high school and college years. Heck, I even had the stats (thanks to Unearthed Arcana) to roll a fighter that dual classed with illusionist - it made for very believable Phantom Plate armor castings ;)

These days tho, clerics tend to be my go to class if a) I'm playing and not DM'ing and b) I'm not picking a class to fill perceived party gaps.

I like clerics (especially dwarven ones when the rules or the DM allow) as they are damn versatile. I can get my hands dirty in combat, with AC and HP that should help with survivability. A decent attack chart, decent damage weapons, undead blasting and of course spell casting.

What isn't there to like? ;)

(just don't ask me to be a "healbot" - okay? heh)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Review - Adventures Dark and Deep - Part the First - New Classes and Old (AD&D "What If?")

If Champions of Zed is OD&D as it may have been if it wasn't rushed out the door without proper editing and consultation between the two diverse playtest groups being run by Gygax and Arneson, the Adventures Dark and Deep is a possible AD&D 2e if it retained the Gygaxian flavor that was lost in the actual 2e release.

ADD is, if nothing else, a clone of AD&D 1e with lots of new options and classes. It reads much like 1e to me just more user friendly, which is a compliment. ADD cleans up much of what was broken in Unearthed Arcana (sometimes known as AD&D 1.5) and fixes it.

Much of the draw of Adventures Dark and Deep are the new character classes, which can be easily dropped into any AD&D 1e / OSRIC campaign with little effort. I've always felt an affinity to Bards, and +Joseph Bloch has an excellent version included. The Jester subclass reminds me of the old NPC class from Dragon Magazine - I remember my sister playing one.

Cavaliers and Paladins are again class / subclass. Not the way I would run it, but the precedence is there from UA.

Mystic is a new subclass of Cleric. An unarmored cleric (but not of the fighting Monk type) this is the mystic of legend. "The mystic must live a life of self-denial and poverty". At best an NPC class with my group - as none will ever be able to keep this vow ;)

Savants are a new subclass of Magic-user Mage. Their spell list is a bit of a cross over of mage and cleric geared around information finding and the like.

Thief-Acrobats are back as a split from the regular thief class at 6th level. I didn't like the class split in UA and my opinion hasn't changed. I still feel it should start as it's own class at level 1, but Joseph is following Gary's probable intentions. I just happen to think Gary was wrong on this account.

Mountebanks are another subclass of thief trained as con men with some minor magic casting ability. I like it. I like it a lot.

Of course you have the normal list of classes from AD&D - less Assassins and Monks. No real loss losing the assassin class, but I do feel the absence of the classic monk. Sure, it wasn't really a European flavored class in the classic sense, but it helped define AD&D for me.

Joe introduces a skill system, which I'll get to with my next post in the series. I think the next review post will be the next part of the Five Ancient Kingdoms series of posts.


30 Day D&D Challenge - Day Two - I Like the Short Ones

The old SNL song comes to mind about "Short People", but I've always been partial to Dwarves and Halflings. Alright, not ALWAYS. Back in my early days I played humans almost without exception.

These days, however, I prefer Dwarves and Halflings. Both come with built in roleplay possibilities, and there is little that more versatile than a dwarven cleric (asuuming the ruleset supports it). Viable frontline fighter and decent diving caster and undead destroyer.

Look at that - two days in a row ;)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

First Look - Champions of Zed - An OD&D "What If"

Champions of Zed is a Kickstarter that I truly thought would never reach completion, so I stopped reading the infrequent updates for the most part. Which was foolish, apparently, as the finalized PDF was linked in the last update and even the previous update. Huzzah!

Was it worth the wait? Too early to tell at this point. In many ways, it hews close to the 3LBBs, but in others it goes far astray. I've been picking my way through the PDF in an admittedly haphazard fashion, hit the combat section and I stalled with some major head scratching.

In any case, Champions of Zed is Original Dungeons & Dragons as it "might have been":
To the extent possible, that is what Champions of ZED is. Champions of ZED aims to be very, very close in fact and spirit to the original three game booklets published in 1974, the earlier, recently recovered draft known as Beyond This Point be Dragons (aka the “Dalluhn Manuscript”), related materials directly from the two authors, and relevant portions of the Medieval Miniatures rules of 1971. The overriding goal has been to harmonize the collaborative genius of these two men, minimize the post publication input of others, and reset to zero the worlds greatest fantasy game, as only an inquisitive and careful editor can. Nevertheless the purpose for creating Champions of ZED is not simply to please a limited group of game Grognards interested in historical what-ifs. Rather Champions of ZED is designed to serve as a pathway to a different and neglected style of collective world building and open, exploratory gaming, or as it is often called, “Sandbox” play.
That's one hell of a goal, and it's going to take me a while to determine how many of those posts it actually hit. It's strange, in many ways I feel like I'm reading one of those classic Marvel Comic "What If"s I used to enjoy back in the early 80s. Familiar yet strange.

I give huge props to Daniel Boggs for including the following text:
Any number of print or electronic copies of this supplement, in whole or in part, may be freely made by any purchaser for their own fair use and for the temporary use of any players participating in a Champions of ZED game with the purchaser or for the temporary use of students being educated by the purchaser. Copies may also be made for review purposes. 
No copies may be made for sale or open distribution without the express written consent of D.H. Boggs.
It may be a while before I get to review this properly, as I still need to finish Five Ancient Kingdoms and Whitehack first.

Gygax Magazine Issue #2 in Hand - Deja Vu All Over Again!

Listen Cat! You are too young to remember Dragon Magazine. I don't care how old you are in cat years either...
I reviewed Gygax #2 last week based on the PDF version. Now that I have the print version in hand, I want to make some further observations:

- this sucker feels like a Dragon Magazine from the mid 80's. I fully expect the cover to pull away from the staples after a few more flips thru the mag.

- I used to read Dragon as much for the ads as I did the articles. While I have no problem skipping the ads in the PDF version, I want to read the ads in the print version. I found myself looking for an ad for the Dragon Bones Electronic Dice Roller and Cyborg Commando.

- City-State of the Sea Kings - It's just a small ad but I'm so in. See, those damn ads work.

Again, issue #2 of Gygax is a marked improvement over the first issue's "hey! I'm cool! Let me tell you why!" self congratulatory back slapping. There were parts of the first issue that were really good - I just got turned off by all the "look at me" bs.

The Digital Orc Line-up is Back in Print (LL / OSR)

Mmmmm... beer!
+Dylan Hartwell , AKA the Digital Orc has just done a second print run of some of his more popular titles: The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz: Extra Stout Edition, Menagerie of the Ice Lord and Verloren. I have them all and enjoyed each of them, but needless to say The Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz: Extra Stout Edition was my favorite. It reminds me that I need to get everything together for some home brewing this fall.

Of course, everything above and more is available at the Digital Orc storefront on RPGNow in PDF.

Now, I know a bunch of folks are going to Con on the Cob in the Akron area of Ohio in October, and by a bunch I mean "more than two".  Dylan himself will be running some Labyrinth Lord slots. Looks like the OSR will have some representation - very cool.

Wish I could go myself, but my next scheduled vacation isn't until Thanksgiving week. Ah well.

30 Day D&D Challenge - Day One - Making the Undead Deaderer and Such ;)

I don't normally do these "blog challenges", as most times I have way too many post ideas bouncing around my head to pay attention to yet more distractions, but this one seems like fun. So, I'm going to play along :)

I got started playing D&D (technically AD&D) back in my Junior High School days - late 1979 or early 1980 - 7th grade in any case.

My friend Kenny was introduced to AD&D at his school, and being best of buds decided he needed to share it with me. So, one afternoon after school, we sat down and he put me through a dungeon. My character's name was Cyrus (named after Cyrus Vance perhaps) and he was a human fighter. Really, for you first character, especially while playing one on one, is there any other character to choose?

I remember that I killed a bunch of skeletons and recovered a + 1 sword. The rest is kinda fuzzy, but that's because I both knew nothing about what I was playing and was so engrossed in the game on so many levels (story / first person persona / mapping / new fangled dice/ etc) that it was like an information overload. All that didn't matter, as I was hooked.

After the adventure was complete, Kenny had to call a classmate to see if I had leveled (of course I did - you had to bite the carrot to be fully hooked). You see, Kenny only had the Dungeon Master's Guide - limited resources and funds back in those days.

By the following summer, my parents got me the DMG, Plater's Handbook and a set of dice to start me on my own way into the depths of D&D.
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