Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jeff Dee's Latest Art Kickstarter to Recreate His Art from the Fiend Folio

The above piece is a signed 8 1/2 x 11 print from an earlier Jeff Dee art Kickstarter. I actually make a point of NOT looking at his Kickstarters these days, as I'd be supporting just about every one and I have no place to display the art I currently have.

All of which boils down to this - the current Kickstarter for Jeff Dee to recreate his art from the classic Fiend Folio is down to about 8 hrs or so. Looks like I'm "kicking in". The Fiend Folio was my first monster manual AND the first AD&D book I bought myself (second RPG product I bought with my own money after the gray boxed Gamma World).

Here's the basic list of what Jeff is recreating:

Dead Giant (p. 6)
Aarakocra (p. 8)
Aaracocra Closeup (p. 8)
Giant Two-Headed Troll (p. 90)
Cyclops (p. 103)
Dragon (p. 106)
Knotwork Carving (p. 107)

and here are the stretch goals:

The portraits for fourteen creatures in the original Fiend Folio book were left blank. Every set of seven postcard prints - and every set of seven signed 8 1/2" x 11" prints - will ALSO include prints of brand new drawings of these overlooked creatures when backing reaches the following levels:

UNLOCKED! $1700: Astral Searcher (p. 13)
UNLOCKED! $1900: Devil Dog (p. 26)
UNLOCKED! $2100: Dune Stalker (p. 30)
UNLOCKED! $2300: Goldbug (p. 46)
UNLOCKED! $2500: Imorph (p. 52)
UNLOCKED! $2700: Magnesium Spirit (p. 62)
UNLOCKED! $2900: Nilbog (p. 67)
UNLOCKED! $3100: Poltergeist (p. 73)
UNLOCKED! $3300: Protein Polymorph (p. 73)
UNLOCKED! $3500: Sheet Ghoul (p. 76)
UNLOCKED! $3700: Symbiotic Jelly (p. 85)
$3900: Urchin (p. 92) (actually unlocked)
$4100: Vision (p. 93)
$4300: Whipweed (p. 94) AND: Every backer who pledges $5 or more will ALSO receive a signed, postcard-sized print of my re-creation of this drawing from Dragon magazine #49:

I guess I'll go in for the post casd sized and stretch goals.

Games From the Basement - Murphy's Rules (Space Gamer Magazine Cartoon Strip)

Ever wonder if anyone kept track of all of the broken and / or absurd rules in the various RPG and war game rulebooks? Someone did, and they were presented as Murphy's Rules in the pages of Space Gamer Magazine. Murphy's Rules is a collection of said strips.

Little bits like "Children are listed as Nuisance Creatures in The Fantasy trip" and "The map scale of a hex in TSR's Gamma World is given as Roughly 43.7 Kilometers - this unusual value converts neatly to the useful amount of 27.3 miles" and even the "Car Wars Compendium has all the rules for swimming except one: the actual skill necessary to do it.

It's a trip through RPG Nostalgia Land to read about games and their rules quirks, at least for me. Shame there isn't a current version going on...

What is the "Sweet Spot" For Dungeon Size?

I've been knocking out some random mini-dungeon maps, and it got me thinking as to what the ideal size of a dungeon was. Not so much as in levels, but rooms and encounters (not every encounter need be with monsters or adversaries either).

I suppose it depends on how many sessions the adventure should last - one, few, some, many or a whole campaign.

How many encounters does your group "encounter" in a usual session?

How many sessions can your party last in the same dungeon adventure before getting antsy (this is probably very group specific, as some are one and done, some can spend years exploring Rappan Athuk and most probably fall somewhere in the middle)?

Does it help if the "dungeon theme" changes as your group explores different levels? Would that "keep it fresh"?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mapping By Numbers - Wherein I Crawl Before I Can Walk

I remember as a kid, I wanted to draw comics. I had no talent for it whatsoever, but my mom bought me tracing paper, and I spent many a weekend tracing panels from Green Lantern and The Justice League (among others). At some point, I got good enough to draw free hand, but it really wasn't drawing. I was tracing from memory. I never took it beyond that point, which is a damn shame.

I look at the maps drawn by the likes of +Dyson Logos and +matt jackson and I see art, not just cool gaming maps. Visions put to paper.

Me, I'm mapping by the numbers right now and probably won't get much beyond that, but I'm comfortable with that. I need the training wheels of graph paper, and if I moved to a larger canvass even with the graph, I'd probably frustrate the shit outa myself before completing the first map.

The thing is, I find mapping, even with training wheels, to be strangely therapeutic. It relaxes me in general, and my mind in particular. Just the act of doing is rewarding - getting a usable map for my campaigns is bonus.

The only question is, do I make these mini maps "geomorphic" in nature, even if only some of them. These two just happened to match up fairly well. Were I to drop in a staircase, it would be on the left map, far right at the intersection.

Yeah, these things seem to have a mind of their own...

Tales of the Fallen Empire in Hand (DCC RPG setting book)

I love it when a Kickstarter arrives at my door :)

Tales From the Fallen Empire is for the DCC RPG (and the first true setting for the game).

That being said, lets see - I could put Thieve's World (layering in Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad) in the Fallen Empire setting, reskin for S&W / Crypts & Things and throw in the mini maps I've been scratching out.

Shit, I've got years worth of gaming here.

Amazing how much I enjoy the accessories (adventures, settings and zines) for the DCC RPG and I just don't enjoy the proliferation of tables in the DCC RPG. Swords & Wizardry is just easier to run without referring back to the rules (although I'd gladly play in either)

As a side note, my only initial complaint with Tales of the Fallen Empire is negated by the fact that I don't pan to use it with DCC - I can't read the spell charts without a magnifier. Shit, my eyes are bad but those tables are horrid. Good thing I can covert those spells to S&W without too much trouble ;)

Nice Mention on the Latest "Roll For Initiative" Podcast Episode

+Vincent Florio and the others at Roll for Initiative gave a nice shout out to the OSR Superstar Competition and this here blog on the latest episode. Now, if I had actually thought about proper promotion of events like this, I would have reached out to Vince weeks in advance, but I never expected this to be all that newsworthy.

Yes, I am well known for underestimating stuff in advance ;)

Most of my favorite RPG podcasts have been slow to update this week - to the point I was actually listening to terrestrial radio on my commute to and from work. Damn depressing - heh.

Forgot to Mention What the Top Vote Getter of the OSR Superstar Competition Gets

As the judges are digging through all of the entries, I thought I should mention the extra bundle that lands in the hands of the number one vote getter of the first round:

Crypts & Things + its two adventures (Blood of the Dragon + Tomb of the Necromancers) as a PDF bundle with thanks to +Newt Newport and d101 games.

I've been sending out copies of Dagger at a snails pace via email but should get through a large number tonight.

The beat goes on ;)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Amateur Night at The Tavern - "Five Rooms, No View"

I really am not good at naming these damn maps, but I did squeeze in five rooms.

I figure marking the secret door on the side that the door is "not" secret makes sense, and would work if one needed to use this with a Virtual Table Top (VTT) like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

I didn't add any extra details like coffins or altars or the like, as I'm going to take the night to try and figure out exactly what is going on.

Damn. I should be taking this little booklet to work with me to play with during my lunch hour.

Search the OSR at "OSR Search"

Need to search the many blogs that make up the OSR? You need go no further than OSR Search.

It really is a nifty tool to search for posts from blogs that are OSR heavy.

Did I just say "nifty?"

Seriously, OSR Search is an often overlooked resource.

I probably should put up a permanent link to it, shouldn't I?

Barrowmaze article over at The Escapist

It never hurts when the OSR gets a bit more exposure.

The Escapist has an article up today on Barrowmaze and our very own +Greg Gillespie .

It's a decent read and a nice synopsis of what the OSR is.

You can read it here.

(lunch is almost over and I need to return to the world of the working ;)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amateur Night at The Tavern - "Some Guy's Crypt"

I'm not really a mapmaker. Really, I'm not. It's just that the damn kit that +Peter Regan sent me makes me want to draw maps. The small sized paper is a plus for me, as it allows for me to experiment.

My thatching still needs lots of work.

Lets see - two hallways, two rooms, two coffins, one statue, one dais, one single door, one double door and one secret door. Not too shabby for "Some Guy's Crypt" ;)

Quantum - The New Holder of the "Worst RPG Kickstarter" Crown - based on Kickstarters supported by the Tavern

Sure, Far West is by far the most overdue Kickstarter on my list, but I'll give Gareth a pass for legit health reason this time around.

And yes, Dwimmermount has become the poster child of "how not to run a Kickstarter for someone else".

Myth & Magic is certainly the one most likely to ship via imaginary packing slips.

Nystul is still in a world of his own.

But Quantum? Quantum holds a special place in my Kickstarter heart.
Update #82 Sep 29 2013 
Problems and Resolutions

The past nearly two months have been awful. I've struggled mightily to get the final art pieces in, even going so far as to seek additional art help for Hugo with no positive results. I've hesitated to discuss art struggles as my own writing and design struggles have been significant, but I feel all struggling aspects of this game now need to be discussed, not just my own. At this point, I may have to release the book missing some of the monster art and without a poster map. I seriously hope this doesn't happen, but I can't wait for the art any longer. 
Financially, I reached the wall where continuing to work on this game without a paycheck is not possible. I then had to spend time looking for, finding, and then accepting a new part-time job. It's not exactly the sort of job I want to shout to the roof tops, but it pays the bills. It also takes a great deal of time away from what I want to be working on (the game), but after the "busy period" I'm in right now at work ends in a few weeks, things to will settle back down to where I can crush the remaining chapters. 
Colleen is the bright spot in these last two months. She's banging out some amazing layout work despite working a full time job. Her work is amazing and I think you'll be equally impressed. 
My goal right now is to have the entire game out of my meddlesome hands by Turkey Day with the final book, at minimum, released as a PDF by the New Year and well on its way through the printing process with our overseas printers.
We are very close to being done and have unfortunately been very close for a while now. 
I'm back to frequent updates again and I'm sorry for the lack of updates. 
See the date above? September 29, 2013. Nearly 5 months ago. I'm glad Josh returned to something that he considers "frequent updates" or it might have been 6 months since his last update.

Yes Josh, I'll drink my next beer with a toast for you. Amazing job not doing your job without even giving us a stroke job.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Map Doodle - Putting the New Mapping Kit to a Quick Test

Yep. Shit works.

Perfect size for desk doodling at work.

Heck, even Ashley appreciates the sample of my work, even if I can't draw doors for shit ;)

Peter has some stuff up at RPGNow and in dead tree at Squarehex.co.uk

Five Mapping Kits have Arrived from Across the Pond!

+Peter Regan , the Mad Mapper that Maps at Midnight! (not really, but it sounds really cool) shipped a box of mapping awesomeness that was waiting for me when I arrived home from work.
Peter's store is at Squarehex.co.uk

Peter has donated 4 bundles to the 4 finalists of the OSR Superstar Competition and also forwarded me a review copy. Let me just say I'm inspired to start mapping right away, but the size of the pads makes it something I could toy with during my lunch hour.

Each bundle contains the following:
A5 Hex pad (7mm hexes) with Super Hex
A7 Hex pad (7mm hexes) (lunch time sized)
A7 Pad of Geomorphic Intent (7mm grid) (lunch time sized)
Little Hexes mini-campaign setting (a mini sandbox campaign with a fold out map - I need to review this on it's own)
Pocket Guide to Dungeon Geomorphs
7mm plastic card ruler
Hex symbol card
Dungeon symbol card
Dungeon symbol fridge magnet (already stuck to the metal cabinet near my desk)
A7 polyfile wallet
Staedtler black fineliner pen
Papermate mechanical pencil

Any Ever "Split the Stat Bonuses" for Strength and Dexterity?

Strength gives a bonus "to hit" and "to damage".

Dexterity gives a bonus to "AC" and reaction / initiative.

Have you ever split those bonuses, so instead of a Str Bonus of + 3, instead the player has to choose between bonus to hit and / or damage. So, + hit and no bonus to damage or + 2 hit and + 1 damage.

It might need a slight reworking of the spread of the bonus itself. Just an idle thought that occurred to me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

How Important Are Ability Scores?

Sure, much of this depends on the OSR rules of choice, and whether the adjustment spread is -1 to + 1, -3 to + 3, -4 to + 4 or some variation of the preceding. In truth though, what meaning do those adjustments have in the long run?

So long as your character survives, those bonus and penalties have much less meaning as one's character progresses through the levels.

When I was in High School, those numbers were the be all and know all - those old "goldenrods" had ability scores that seemed, in retrospect, to grow on their own. In reality, they were erased and replaced with frequency. I guess, in the long run, it's good that my focus was on DMing.

One of the things that the DCC RPG gets amazingly right, even though it goes against all of my gaming instincts, is the "character funnel". The characters that survive the funnel have special meaning, no matter their actual stats. It's an amazing thing. Yep, I'm a firm believer that the "character funnel" should be liberally borrowed into every other OSR ruleset.

I'm less concerned about ability scores these days. Failure often leads to more exciting stories than success, and no, I'm not talking about "storytelling games". I just think there is as much to be found in the average game session when success comes despite failure.

Still, i think thieving abilities are largely irrelevant at lower levels, but that's a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother day.

Talking About "Players' Maps"...

I have no idea if this map was the players' map of a homegrown dungeon, a module or something from Dungeon magazine.

I do like the idea that they made notations for the areas to check more thoroughly when there is no where else to go. Apparently they also found the well down.

At least it wasn't one of those dungeons where I filled in every block of the hex paper with dungeon. Because I have those ;)

Games From the Basement - Dark Folk (Mayfair Games)

Back in my early days of gaming, production quality equaled legitimacy on my eyes. Therefore, Mayfair Games "Role Aids" line was in and Judges Guild was out. Very foolish cutting out Judges Guild like that, but I was a teen with limited funds. There was no internet with a quick way to find a review on the next great gaming product - appearance was everything, at least for me.

Dark Folk isn't a bad product at all, although it is a bit inconsistent in quality if memory serves right (the Troll adventure "is designed for a party of 6 to 8 characters of 5th to 8th level of ability with at least three magic items specifically designed to neutralize Trolls - emphasis mine).

Come to think of it, I'm not sure if I used any of the included adventures, but the background fluff and sub races were pretty cool. I may just steal some of this for the current campaign.

How Important Are Included Player Maps to You as a DM?

I do pretty much all of my DMing these days via Hangouts / Roll20. I grab a screenshot of the map, upload it, enable Fog of War and it's ready to go.

Except that 19 out of 20 products don't include a player version of the map. Which means secret doors, traps and the like are often marked on the map, which takes some exceptional use of FoW to keep those from being exposed too early, and in some circumstances, there is not much one can do to keep the secrets secret.

A few publishers (Purple Duck is one) do provide players maps for use in VTT sessions, which is awesome for folks like me.

Would player maps make running your game sessions easier?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mini Review - Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad Issue #1 Winter 2014 (DCC RPG Fanzine)

My first thought?

This Zine goes to 11!

Not because I think Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad is a comedy, but because it cranks the DCC RPG up to 11. It knows no bounds or maybe it pushes boundaries. Whatever it does, it does it damn well.

Actually, what is does is Swords & Sorcery as a theme to the proverbial "T", especially for an urban environment. You most certainly do not need the DCC RPG to make the most of Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, although the wacky DCC dice will certainly help with the tables. The tables are insane, use funky dice and look to be a blast in actual play. I did mention I love tables that work in session, right? Because much of these do.

Shit! I'm thinking that Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad layered atop the classic Thieves' World boxed set running with Crypts & Things (but stealing liberally from AS&SH) would be like the most awesome RPG Urban Sandbox ever run by a mere mortal.

Then I remember I don't have the time! Grrrr!

Metal Gods of Ur-Habad is PWYW. This means you can try before you buy, but you will buy.

Trust me.

You will buy ;)

Tavern Winelist - Tøøthstejnn The Red, The Grimy Wyvern Wine-Hall Cabernet Franc

Woot! is one of those "deal a day" sites. They are also a bunch of geeks.

I've never bought one of their wine selections until today (and this deal has a 5 day span to run) but with the gaming theme (and the fact that I generally like cabernet wines) I had to give this a shot.
Fuel for the Fire...of Imagination! 
Hours of adventure await you and your party in the Grimy Wyvern Wine-Hall.  In every darkly purpled shadow lurks an intriguing character. 
The freebooting mercenary Blackpepper....the alluring temptress-witch Dcherryi...the cutthroat half-elf assassin twins Ceedarr and Van'Illa... 
This richly flavored source material brings a complex, multilayered world of fantasy to life, one sip at a time. The only limit is your imagination - and your bladder.
4 bottles for 50 bucks. It may be a gamble, but if nothing else I'll have some cool bottles to display ;)

Time to Get Myself Out of the Way - Judges Now Have Access to the OSR Superstar Entries

When I thought up the idea of having all of the entries on a single document with identifiers redacted, I never thought we'd have over 330 entries. I also didn't expect the interesting bit of turmoil going on at my real life job, with big bosses being replaced and others waiting for the axe to fall or transfers to be announced - it's made for a really long work week and has left me less free time at home to put together the master document.

The judges were picked not just because they know RPGs, but because I felt they were honest and could do the job without bias. I still feel that way. Therefore, I've given them direct access to the entries via the email account. What we lose in anonymity, we make up for in time - without this we'd have lost a week at least in the process of getting the entries judged. I think it is a very good solution to get the dice rolling again.

This does mean that I can now move what little free time I have to sending all of the entrants their free PDF copies of Dagger, the RPG for Kids. I'll start sending those emails out tonight in the order the entries were received. It will take a little time, but at least we've addressed the largest blockage - me ;)
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