Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Millenium Con

Miniature war-gaming is an old man's hobby, judging by average age at this years (my first) Millennium Con. Had great fun will go again next year.
Hordes of the Things, over looking my hero


Great use for old CD-ROM

Klingons - A Call to Arms

Broke enemies line (and paid for it) 

Consistently outmaneuvered british and raked them


My poor little ship

That is a lot of Battle Mech, all for sale...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Quick, Grab Some Wonderful Weirdness from the Heart of Texas

I of course reference the Slumbering Ursine Dunes Kickstarter. Straight outta Hill Cantons! San Antonio area home campaign.

I, upped my pledge to "The Brad" level (The Full Brads had already sold out) after they, The Hydra Collective LLC, a newly-formed worker-owned company that aims to serve as a publishing vehicle for the DIY/Old School(ish) side of the rpg hobby, were nice enough to acquiesce to my overbearing demands and post the point crawl map preview cause I was working on point crawl of my own.

 


The Kickstarter has already blown past funding and several stretch goals. Funding now, you are guaranteed plenty of bonus loot. But, don't dither, delay, or dally, project is now in last couple days.

Btw congratulations to the whole crew. Some of whom I know. Which you may think influences my support their Kickstarter. But, I know lots of people and I'm not blathering on about all their Kickstarters. Besides Hydra Collective are a bunch of drunken louts, .

There are previews of the complete text are posted in various updates like this one describing the 5th Stretch Goal. Check out this side view, an unrelated work by one of the projects artists. Wow! It's like Old School version of Richard Scarry.


Damn, I knew this project was gonna be cool and haven't been following it too closely (busy playing games). But looking over things to write this up. I'm getting really excited about this KS. And impatient to get my grubby paws on this. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter Loot

Woot!

In my mail box I spy Cthulhu stamped package from Goodman Games. All good omens. Forgetting what it may be for I'm totally stoked to find a Warden Red Security bracelet in side.  Metamorphosis Alpha pin and custom MA themed dice.

All great quality. Two sparkly tranparenty (but still readable unlike many translucent dice) purple/blue, one swirly green, one swirly black all with MA logos. and Two nice yellow Radation Sign dice.

A Captain band would have been nice. Only five of those were produced! Security is one of the better looking bands. I like med red on white best. But who wants to save lives when they option to be the thuggish enforcer of authoritarianism. :)

Just noticed security emblem is all seeing eye.


The Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter.



Respect my Authoritah!


Monday, September 29, 2014

AD&D Dungeon Master Guide's Glossary


While waiting (and waiting) for my roll20 fellow adventurers to open a door, any door. I perused a pristine print of the the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. Three things stood out.

1. I forget how neat this book is.
2. I don't think I've ever really read the glossary A-Z.
3. Reading the glossary from A-Z I'm reminded how much vocabulary and words I learned as a 14year kid reading DMG and other game books. E.g. what i.e., e.g., and et al mean. Many more lost to time. Although, I specifically remember looking up "knoll" in a paper dictionary...

On to the glossary entries that piqued my interest...

Ability Scores -- Numerical ratings ranging from 3-18 for a character's strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, and charisma.
First entry. Simple. Should be part of every newb's introduction to character.

Alignment -- A general description of a character's behavioral and ethical tendencies named by a combination of Law, Neutrality, or Chaos with Good, Neutrality, or Evil.
Take note of  words"general" and "tendencies". People put way too much stock and effort into AND ARGUMENTS over alignment. Was never a fan of five fold path. Less hateful of Law/Chaos with side of Neutrality OD&D style alignments.

Campaign -- General term referring to one DM's adventures as a whole rather than individually. An ongoing series of games based upon a created milieu. 
Milieu -- An unique game setting embodying numerous possible variables in its creation, i.e. the "world" in which adventures take place.
Rarely are these definitions used today. What we call campaign (settings) Gygax (at least in this glossary) named milieus. A word I much prefer.

Experience -- The reward (expressed in points or x.p.) for slaying monsters, winning treasure, and playing the character role. The more experience a character has, the better his or her fighting ability, saving throws, etc.
In some ways, for me, AD&D is Hack&Slash. "If it moves kill it", and "whoring for xp" are integral parts of D&D. Still missed opportunity to have said "overcoming monsters"

Henchman -- A low-level non-player character whose loyalty is to one member of the party rather than the party itself. 
Hireling -- A non-player character hired to accompany a party on an adventure, or employed for some other temporary purpose. 
Hip Points -- The number of points of damage a creature can sustain before death (or optionally, coma), reflecting the creature's physical endurance, fighting experience, skill, or luck.
Ah, meaning of hp. How much time has been wasted arguing over this? When definition has been right there all along.  Coma option is interesting, some threat of death (which is critical) but maybe not perma-death. Although, I've done something like this and options are to not let player play for a while (seriously unfun) or bring them back (really not much of a "threat")

Holy/Unholy Water -- Water which has been specially prepared by a cleric. Useful as a weapon against undead or to slow the effects of poison.
Wait, what!? Slow poison? When, how was that feature lost? Or, has it always been buried here, largely unnoticed and forgotten.

Magic -- Anything which cannot be explained b y the science of the milieu. Any weapon....
Yeah body! Magic is how my fucking red dragon got into into this room and it's also what he eats. Now quit stalling and roll your save vs magical fucking dragon breath.

Persona -- The role or identity of the character the player is portraying.
Hmmm, much better term than character.

Philter -- A magical draught or potion
Another word Gary taught me, draught too, probably potion for that matter.

Polymorph -- The physical alteration by magical means of the shape of a creature.
Is this a made up word, or just archaic, obscure? Various spell checkers don't like it. Same with Scrying?

Trap -- Any of several mechanical or magical devices which may be triggered by adventurers, usually causing damage to one or more of them. Examples are pits, pits with spikes, poison needle traps on treasure chests, etc.
Contrast with...
Trick -- Any device or machination which is more likely to be solved by wits rather than force. Tricks do not necessarily involve physical harm to the characters; examples are rooms which rotate or descend to confuse mappers, statues which perform random actions, slanting passageways which take the party unknowingly to a deeper level, etc
And also http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/p/trick-trap-index.html


Death Magic, Mezzodaemon!?, Nycadaemon!? Monty Haul and many others are also defined. So is Random Generation. Man was there a time when people didn't know what that meant?


Friday, September 26, 2014

S3M Diaspora Ends, Fantasy Effing Vietnam Begins

Finished up running 4th session of Diaspora Fate.  Some quick thoughts.


  • Confirmed, I don't really like "indie" cooperative story telling. I want to play (run) a game not a thespian circle jerk.
  • I much prefer FUDGE over Fate.  Fate adds aspects and forces the cooperative story telling aspects.  FUDGE by itself is nice rules lite, generic system featuring bell curve mechanics.
  • Games you don't like can still be fun given right group of people.  Inverse is also true.  Which is to say rules matter, but not as much as people.



By FFV I mean, of course, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Fantasy Flights version which I picked up boxless and cheap from EBay and haven't touched since...



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DM Makes All the Rolls.

Tldr; to instill wonder, roleplaying, and fear into current Ravenloft game I'm hiding most rolls and mechanics from players. Also, secretly tracking their hit-points.


For awhile, 5+years, my game mastering has leaned towards "players' make the rolls" and "DM rolls in the open", don't necessarily hide monster hp, etc. Some of the game systems I've been interested in supported that, and it was kind of a "thing" in the blogo. The DM rolls in open was to combat/prove no DM fudging and to push "game with consequences" over "railroad with same ending no matter what happens".  Player's making rolls was a "fun" thing. Rolling dice is fun, keep players engaged/active at the table. Player's should have agency (not sure how much rolling own dice provides that).  One system, or several, or houserule (I forget) even had players making defense/save rolls vs static monster/trap attacks.

For similar awhile, I've been largely dissatisfied with my DMing and games, jumping from one to the nest. All seem to devolve into mechanics and spending majority of game time in combat . I've never been supreme roleplayer. Still I remember, DMing long ago 10+years (I've been doing this for 30+years) lots of description of environment, scene, of NPC, monsters, combat, everything. Player curiosity, engagement, attention and really getting "into" the scene/world/game. Spending most time exploring and discovering "the world"

I don't believe it's just nostalgia.  Remembering back, I use to hide my rolls, hide mechanics of monsters, and proactively "deceiving" players as to mechanics (such as randomly rolling dice and appear to be looking something up, describing monsters in terms players wouldn't recognize since the characters wouldn't either). The, perhaps unconscious, mechanical cues were unreliable. Players had to listen to description and engage through their characters to "figure stuff out".

For the D&D 5th edition I6 Ravenloft I recently started, I was struggling with how to put fear into players. Thinking that the root cause of fear is ignorance and unknown. I decided to experiment with (secretly) tracking player's hit points. Damage taken, healing, all of it. Players will never be quite sure how close to death they are. They'll have some idea, conveyed "in game". 5ed rules say first 50% hitpoints aren't physical, in that range tell players they are "fine, maybe little tired". The last 50% I divided into thirds. "Hurt", "seriously injured", "near death" are the general terms I'll use if they ask. Instead of "wolf savages your leg for 5hit points" I'll say (assuming 50% or less hp) "wolf savages your leg". Minor difference, but one I believe will have strong psychological impact. If only for me.

Deciding to hide HP (which I've never done before) is what got me thinking about this blogs topic and how I used to run games. I'm now determined to run Ravenloft in my old style, with most mechanics hidden from players. To take term from Software Development, I'm wondering if "Players roll the dice" is an anti-pattern. Rolling dice, being pulled from their suspension of disbelief and forced to apply mechanics is not how players should be engaged. They should be rapt, actively listening to the scene the other players, including DM, are spinning. Formulating how their character will respond.

I've "outlawed" meta-talk, and strongly encourage incharacter conversations/planning.

  - Hiding and varying monster hit points abilities.
  - Pre-recording AC and keep hit rolls secret instead of asking does 17 hit?
  - Don't reveal save targets, AC, or DC, asking player for their total roll instead.
  - Rolling some saves and checks for players, so they don't know if they have failed or not.
  - Deceive the player, inform the Character. What I mean by this is making, the possibly unconscious, out-of-character cues unreliable. Forcing players to think and investigate through their character.

Maybe this isn't revelatory and is what all good DMs do.  Maybe this isn't what I've been "missing". Although, I hope so. I used to have a lot more fun running games.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Deadly Falls

Most the D&D I run leans towards gritty and harsh. Dirty, ignorant, diseased. More Flesh+Blood and Dragon Slayer less high fantasy. In this type of world falling is deadly and injuries debilitate you. I've always house-ruled falling damage. Here is a version for 5ed D&D.

Falling
Feet DC   Damage is cumlative
10    5   1d6
20   10   3d6
30   15   6d6
40   20   10d6
50   25   15d6
60+  30   0hp and dying, 1 failed death save

Falling inflicts an Injury unless character passes a Constitution or Dexterity (player's choice) save with DC equal to 1/2 distance fallen (max 30).

Injury
When injured your maximum hit points are temporarily reduced to your current hit points (or 1 if current hit points are 0). And you suffer disadvantage on all physical (Strength, Constitution, Dexterity) attacks, saves and tasks.

Recuperation (from rulebook): After 3 days full rest DC15 Constitution check to remove one effect (injury) preventing regaining hp. Some spells (such as Greater Restoration) can also remove an injury.


If falling wasn't deadly, wizards would craft
infinite jump spells. Nobody wants that!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

RPG (every 10 or so) days

It's a thing -> http://autocratik.com/media/img/rpg-a-day.jpg
But, I can't be arsed to write 31 individual blog posts. You get them in several mass ramblings!

22nd - Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

80% of my RPGs are from Ebay, Half Price Books and used sections at game stores. 


23rd - Coolest looking RPG product / book


24th - Most Complicated RPG Owned

FFG Warhammer. So many fiddly bits, I can't be arsed to figure it out and no one knows it to teach me.


25th - Favorite RPG no one else wants to play

Rolemaster


26th - Coolest character sheet


27th - Game you'd like to see a new / improved edition of

FGU - Space Opera


28th - Scariest Game you've played

Aliens


29th - Most memorable encounter


30th - Rarest RPG Owned

who cares


31st - Favorite RPG of all time

Swords and Wizardry. Old school in one book, formatted and laid out nicely, and heavily supported.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

S3M Next Up, Hard Sci-Fi FATE / Diaspora


Last Sunday we finished the first of my S3M (Six Systems in Six Months), Dungeon Crawl Classics running the published module "The People of the Pit". Started with 0-level funnel and after several deaths the characters and still lost deep underground. The characters got pressed into service by the Moleman King. (to save his daughter, Princess Binky, from the pit of tentacles. Gifted with crab carapace armor and mushroom stalk spears they descended into the pit. After slow start (and a few lost companions) they cleared out the tentacle cultists and located the "people of the pit's" lair. Interrupted sacrifice and saved Binky, which made the tentacles "angry". After ripping the EHP in half they smashed up everything. Once dust settled and players climbed out of the pit, they were greeted not with the familiar rolling hills of home, oh no that is not the DCC way. Instead they peered across the alien, mushroom dotted vista of the Perilous Purple Planet! [Adventure TBC when I get my paws on that kickstarter.




Next session I'll be running Diaspora this Thursday at Dragon's Lair, one five! FLGS, Austin is game blessed.

Diaspora is Hard Sci-Fi (mostly, they have FTL gates connecting worlds) and based on FATE which in turn a version of Fudge (one of my favorites from way back, search this blog for a look). It is much, much more of a narrative, cooperative story telling game than I normally play. One of S3M goals is to stretch gaming horizons, mine included.
"Diaspora is a role-playing game that uses the FATE system to deliver a hard science-fiction framework for adventure, where you build the setting on top of the basic, gritty axioms of the universe: everything is bigger than you are. You will pilot spacecraft driven by fusion torches that light the night sky towards rifts in the fabric of space that shift you between a small number of lost worlds, each with thousands of years of history."

One of the interesting things about Diaspora (and FATE in general) is shared character creation. Diaspora takes this a step further and has mini-game for creating the campaign setting. 5-6 or so interlinked worlds. The history, cultures, and connections created are then used to guide characters history and backstories.

Diaspora has large amount of Traveller influence and I'm really looking forward to it.


Friday, August 22, 2014

5ed Inspiration is the Carrot, How about a Stick?

Inspiration is a 5th edition D&D mechanic to "reward" roleplaying. [You may lose inspiration to have advantage (roll d20 twice take best result)].  I loath roleplaying rewards. They inhibit actual roleplaying and have everyone instead doing all sorts of unintended consequences just to get the reward. Getting even farther out of character and into meta-game land.

Roleplaying is it's own reward.

Chasing after mechanical effects is not roleplaying. It's forcing this bland stereotype "ideal" into every situation until one is rewarded with inspiration. Then they forget about any RP until they've used that inspiration and need to "earn" it again.


I (suspect) not every table devolves into that. But that is the social pressures this rule pushes people towards. Why do that? If people like to roleplay, they'll do it. Given an environment that is conducive and not punishing to RP and it will occur, naturally. I'm personally not much of a voice/acting type roleplayer. But, I do strongly like to be "lost in them moment" to "live in the fantasy world" and not meta-game or break the fourth wall. All these things are conducive to roleplaying. Whereas yelling across table you're at 3 hitpoints and need healing, or mentioning in every other sentence cause you're CE you steal from party or kill baby orcs, or whatever other infantile idea you have of what "evil" means. [ranty aside cause I'm in ranty mood: real evil would make the game so dark and distasteful, few would enjoy playing it].

Punishment (negative reinforcement if you want to pretend to be PC) is far less prone to unintended consequences than reward systems and seems more effective in my experience. Or, possibly, I'm just a dick.

The Furies

Players (not characters) earn a Fury token every time they:

 - directly mention a game stat; Hit Points Alignment, Ability Score, class ability Spell slots, levels, XP, etc
 - cheezily attempt to circumvent above by saying shit like "I feel like I'm at 1/2 my regular health"
 - other actions deemed by Referee or Player as "meta-gaming" or "breaking the fourth wall" (perhaps only repeated occurrence after 1st warning & explanation)

Exceptions for direct responses to Referees questions, explicit rules questions/clarifications.

Unlike Inspiration, Furies accumulate. The Referee may take back a Fury at any time to give character player is controlling disadvantage [roll 2 d20 take worst result].

Players will fucking hate this. So much, I'm sure that I will soon not have cause to pass out Furies. The table will shift from "game talk" to "in character talk". People will feel comfortable roleplaying if they want. And some might even fall into it without realizing. Ideally, play emphasis will shift from mechanics, fighting, accumulation of more mechanical benefits to "adventure" and pursuing in character desires. At least a Referee can dream.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

RPG (every 10 or so) days

It's a thing -> http://autocratik.com/media/img/rpg-a-day.jpg
But, I can't be arsed to write 31 individual blog posts. You get them in several mass ramblings!

12th - Old Rpg you still play / read

Most the RPGs I play are old (or retro-clones of old games). OD&D. Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, I hope to be playing Metamorphosis Alpha when the kickstarter ships.

13th - Most Memorable Character Death

A dwarf defending fort till his death against Giants and humanoids while the civilians escape through escape tunnel. College game run by History Major.  It was keen.

14th - Best Convention Purchase


15th - Favorite Convention Game

Caves of Chaos (mash-up of D&D B2 and Hackmaster B2) which I've run at various conventions.

16th - Game  you wish you owned

Until they started re-releasing all the OOP print stuff I wish I owned D&D.  Wish I had the rights to reprint / make computer versions of all the old SPI and AH wargames. Although, I don't think question meant "Own the copyright to". I kind of own all the games I want, except some which are collector's items and ridiculously riced. I kind of with I still had the print copies of all the ICE Middle Earth modules.

17th - Funniest Game you've played

Paranoia

18th - Favorite Game System

I like different systems for different styles of play. Something simple, light OD&D, Swords and Wizardry for sandbox / exploration play. For the more heroic / story driven games I'm really digging FFG's Age of Rebellion. Thinking about Conan conversion of it's mechanics.

Art / Flavor wise Dungeon Crawl Classics is close tie with Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

19th - Favorite Published Adventure

B2 Keep on the Borderlands my first module ever, so great and flexible. I've done a lot with it.
S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks top of my short lest of classic modules I still need to run. Sci-Fantasy loves it.
Barrowmaze Dripping with flavor and unique dungeon layout.

20th - Will still play in 20 years time...

Everything I'm playing today. I'll be 64!

21st - Favorite Licensed RPG

Licensed games generally blow.  FFG's Age of Empire is decent. So was Firefly RPG if I remember correctly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Epic Game of Thrones Board Game Customization

I have a friend. This friend has imagination, a hot glue gun, and way more free time than I do. He spends some of that free time modifying board games. Both by adding extra rules, cards, pieces, etc. And by making 3-D game boards. His latest "large" project has been "A Game of Thrones". The board is huge 7+feet, see last photo of game board folded in half next to creator. My friend says it's 90% complete, only needs some labels and pouring the water stuff modelers use (acrylic?) for the oceans.

I don't know game, and haven't even watched the series (or read books). So, mostly let pictures do the talking.

Length of board looking south.


Ice wall, with snow zombies behind it. The Black Watch?


Scoreboard, playing decks, council table, and throne room


Flash washing out castles and viallages detail




The "rolling game box" and creator Yoseph B.

Maybe it was more impressive in person, but at least for me... Mind Blown!

Monday, August 11, 2014

RPG (every 10 or so) days

It's a thing -> http://autocratik.com/media/img/rpg-a-day.jpg
But, I can't be arsed to write 31 individual blog posts. You get them in several mass ramblings!

#1 First RPG Played

First solo play was Moldvay D&D Basic Set around 11-12 years old. Freakin captured my imagination. Really has dominated my life for next 30 years. RPGs have been and continue to be my #1 creative outlet.  I've spent more of my time, money, and life on them than just about anything else. I think the main draw (and I'm primarily a DM) for me is the creation and control of "worlds and characters". It's not as hard as writing a novel, or as expensive/complex as producing a movie or requiring talent needed to paint but has creative aspects of all of those. It can be as private as staying up all night in your basement keying the dungeon map you drew, or as social as playing games with strangers at the FLGS. It can be done with nothing more than pencils and paper (or even just rocks and sticks). Or with ridiculously large amount of "bits".

I think the first game I played with other people was AD&D in high school.

#2 First RPG Refereed

Rolemaster in college. Finally got 3 people interested in something other than D&D. It lasted 2 sessions. While I may still not be a good Ref, I was much, much worse then.

#3 First RPG Purchased

The Little Brown Books in a White Box from forgotten hobby shop in Falls Church, VA.Tagging along with dad when he'd get model railroad stuff.  Around this time I also spent my allowance on a subscription to Dragon Magazine, this was issues 80's or 70's . That was freaking awesome. Every month a brown paper wrapped parcel of RPG stuff.

#4 Most recent RPG purchase

Currently contributed to several (too many) Kickstarters that have yet to fund / deliver. Arguably these are purchases from the future.
DCC Purple PlanetNecromancer Games 
5ed Monsters and Stuff 
Metamorphosis Alpha (next year's winner for #5 Most Old School RPG owned) 
CSIO maps baby! 
Dwarvenite Caves and Caverns 
Blue Dungeon Tiles 
Bones II
Di I mention up in #1 about spending too much money on games...

Most recent from the FLGS (wave Mage's Sanctum) RPG (I buy regular games too much too) purchase was FATE Core.

Most recent EBay win: Bunch of Ravenloft Guides to .... 

#5 Most Old School RPG owned

I prefer old school, so most my games are old school. Empire of the Petal Throne wins. For being actually old, old school in play, and not retro-cloned (to my knowledge). Although, Jeff Dee and friends are working on something like that.

Honorable mention goes to The Traveller Book. The only RPG I'm aware of in which your character can die during creation.

#6 Favorite RPG Never get to play

Ars Magica I never have played and can't be sure it's my favorite. I really, really want to find out though. 

Definitely my favorite never get to play RPG is Rolemaster / MERP / HARP and derivatives. 

#7 Most "intellectual" RPG owned

I've thrown away any of those I've accidentally acquired.

#8 Favorite character

I don't really keep characters for long or recycle them. As a player I tend to get the DMing itch and leave campaigns before too long.  I like this guy, an NPC  Pilger, Dwarven Priest of Horm

#9 Favorite Die / Dice Set

d30 OF COURSE.  Btw I picked up New Big Dragon Games d30 Companions at this years North Texas RPG Con and recommend them highly.

#10 Favorite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

I friggin hate companies (i.e. White Wolf) and products (i.e. everything White Wolf has published) that combine 1/2 bad fiction with 1/2 bad RPG supplement. That being said a couple book -> games I've not hated are Jack Vance's / Dying Earth RPG and Robert Jordan / Wheel of Time RPG.

P.s. Dragonlance RPG stuff blows.

#11 Weirdest RPG owned

I have hundreds... and what's weird? If I had that diceless RPG Amber? I'd definitely call it weird. If I didn't dislike indie scenester games with all their cleverness and intellectualism, some of them are definitely weird. 

Macho Women with Machine Guns is nominally "weird" for those unfamiliar with the films of Russ Meyer.

Fudge / Fate has weird (relative to polyhedrals) dice.

Some of the Fantasy Games Unlimited RPGs have weirdly impenetrable rules.

Friday, August 8, 2014

One thing from column A, one from column B

An ancient post that has  been sitting in my drafts for, maybe a couple years. At one point this would be my mash-up D&D rules. But now, I don't even remember what some of these rules are... Some of them sound intriguing.


http://peopletobe.blogspot.com/2012/05/one-thing-from-column-one-from-column-b.html


OD&D: The castle rules from Book 3.

Holmes: Scroll creation for low level magic-users.

B/X: The baseline system for everything.

AD&D (both editions): Hobbits being mostly thieves, dwarves being clerics (so, now like the Elf being a fighter/magic-user, the hobbit is a fighter/thief, and the dwarf is a fighter/cleric).

BECMI/RC: Thirty-sixth level characters and fighter combat options.

D&D3: Interestingly enough, this turns out to be a tough one. Feats are covered by DD and if I wanted skills I'd use the DD system as well.

Type IV: It's Manual of the Planes, the one bit of assumed world I liked from it more than prior editions.

LotFP: The encumbrance system, attack modes for fighters, and the parry option. If I used my charlatan class (magic-user/thief combo) I'd base their player's company name level rules on the inn rules.

BX Companion: The high level thief traits. Possibly the mass combat rules.

ACKS: Ritual spells, high level magic user abilities (creation of half-breeds), cleave rule (for fighters only), and mortality table.

Dark Dungeons: Weapons feats and spell training/research rules. Thirty-sixth level demi-humans (I know they're an option in RC but DD assumes their use).

Neo-Classical Geek Revival: The various exploration and travel XP awards.

Classic 5ed - Classes

Classic 5ed in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Demonstration of how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Classes and multi-classing are limited by race. Standard Ability requirements (15+ in Ability) for multi-classing remain. Humans, Dwarves Elves, Halflings and 1/2 Orcs are playable races. Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues with Rangers and Druids for Wood Elves only after PHB is released.

Basic D&D 5th Edition PDF


One thing I desire in a RPG is fast (preferably 10min or less) character creation. Partially for ease of new players and fast start up. But, also the style I often run there's occasionally is the need to roll up a new character ;) So, I really dig 5ed's choice to delay many character decisions to 2nd level. But they didn't g do it consistently.  Namely Clerics shouldn't pick Domain until 2nd level. And Fighters should likewise delay Fighting Style choice until 2nd level. These two in particular, give time for the player to grow into their character, experience the mechanics and game play before being forced to make important decisions.

The only other changes to classes are to remove social skills, add several more skill options* and the various race/class restrictions. Oh and wizard spells are mostly determined randomly (cause magic is strange, barely understood, and wondrous).

* In classic play you differentiate your character by how you play them. Overly restricting skills conflicts with the player's control over that.  For instance want to be a "paladin", give your fighter knowledge Religion and be righteous. Mostly allowed everyone to take "mental" skills.  I might still go with no skill restrictions. But for now, ruled on a case by case basis.



Cleric

  • All races except Elves may be clerics.  
  • Divine Domain is selected at 2nd level.
  • Choose two skills from Arcana, Athletics, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Performance, Religion, and Survival.

Fighter

  • All races except Wood Elves may be fighters (wood elf fighters are rangers). Dwarves and Halflings may be multi-classed Fighter/Rogues High elves may be multi-classed Fighter/Wizards.
  • Fighting Style is selected at 2nd level.
  • Choose two from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Performance, Religion, and Survival.

Rogue

  • All races except High Elves may be Rogues. Dwarves and Halflings may be multi-classed Fighter/Rogues. Half-Orcs may multi-class one or more levels of Rogue.
  • Choose four from Animal Handling, Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Investigation, Medicine, Perception, Performance, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival.

Wizard

  • Only Humans and High Elves may be Wizards. High elves may be multi-classed Fighter/Wizards.
  • Literacy and Choose two from Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Performance, and Religion.
  • Starting spells and cantrips are randomly determined.
  • One of the 2 spells gained per level is randomly determined. The other may be selected by player.
  • If an already known spell is selected randomly the player may then select a spell.
  • Player must create a unique, personalized name and manifestation for any and all spells they select. e.g. "Norm's Noisome Natterings" / Confusion.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Classic 5ed - Halflings

Classic 5ed in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Demonstration of how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Classes and multi-classing are limited by race. Standard Ability requirements (15+ in Ability) for multi-classing remain. Humans, Dwarves Elves, Halflings and 1/2 Orcs are playable races. Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues with Rangers and Druids for Wood Elves only after PHB is released.

I don't really like halflings. Cause, not on Middle Earth. And shouldn't even include them. But it seems that every group has that guy who has to play Bilbo the Halfling Rogue. So, standard PHB with class restrictions and fixed starting equipment.


Halfling

 - Re-roll 1's
 - Advantage on saves against fear.
 - Move through space of any bigger creature.
 - +2 Dex


Halfling Starting Equipment
  • (a) Leather armor or (b) Ring mail
  • (a) 2 weapons for which you are proficient or (b) 1 weapon and shield
  • Sling and stones
  • Pick two; Holy Symbol, Thieves' Tools, Bell, Cask of beer, Fishing Tackle, Iron Pot, Soap, Signal Whistle
  • backpack, bedroll, mess kit, 10 torches, tinderbox, 10 days of rations, waterskin, 50 feet hemp rope.

 Lightfoot

 - Only Cleric, Fighter, Rogue or Fighter/Rogue multi-class (must alternate levels)
 - +1 Cha
 - hide behind big'uns

 Stout

 - Only Cleric, Fighter, Rogue or Fighter/Rogue multi-class (must alternate levels)
 - +1 Con
 - Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance against poison damage.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Classic 5ed - Half Orcs

Classic 5ed in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Demonstration of how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Classes and multi-classing are limited by race. Standard Ability requirements (15+ in Ability) for multi-classing remain. Humans, Dwarves Elves, Halflings and 1/2 Orcs are playable races. Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues with Rangers and Druids for Wood Elves only after PHB is released.

Campaign setting happens to be adjacent to the Beast Kingdoms (full or humanoids of all sorts) and in city which is accustom to seeing Orc and other Beast races as slaves and mercenaries.  So, figured 1/2 orc fit.

Basic D&D 5th Edition PDF

Half-Orc

Half-Orcs are a beast race and widely disliked. Brutish, short-tempered and typically short-lived. Half-Orc race represents both the offspring of human and orc as well as the smartest, least bestial full-blood orcs.

Only Cleric, Fighter, or Rogue. May take levels of Rogue with either Fighter or Cleric.

 - Disadvantage to Charisma checks with Halflings, Elves, Dwarves and humans unaccustomed to beast races.
 - +2 Str
 - +1 Con
 - You can speak Common and Orcish.
 - Darkvision


Half-Orc Starting Equipment

  • (a) Leather armor or (b) Ring mail and Shield (if proficient)
  • (a) holy symbol or (b) thieves' tools
  • 2 light weapons you are proficient with
  • 2 melee weapons you are proficient with
  • 1 ranged weapon you are proficient with
  • backpack, bedroll, mess kit, 10 torches, tinderbox, 10 days of rations, waterskin, 50 feet hemp rope.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Classic 5ed - Elves

Classic 5ed in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Demonstration of how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Classes and multi-classing are limited by race. Standard Ability requirements (15+ in Ability) for multi-classing remain. Humans, Dwarves Elves, Halflings and 1/2 Orcs are playable races. Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues with Rangers and Druids for Wood Elves only after PHB is released.

Basic D&D 5th Edition PDF



Elves aren't just another "race", humans with pointy ears. I'd go with what players come up with, but I see them as androgynous, indifferent alien, fey not bound by the physics of this world. Elves of Old England and grimm fairy tales. I'm of the opinion that elves don't eat, hence no rations. At least they don't require sustenance. Although they might enjoy a death cap and human baby roast for mid-summer's feast.

Elves

Elves are haughty, aloof, and otherworldly. They distrust humans, dislike dwarves, loath beast races (1/2 orcs, orcs, goblins, etc.)
 - Disadvantage on Charisma checks with non-elves.
 - May not cast spells which require willing target on nor use Help action to aid Dwarves or any beast race.
 - Automatically pass literacy checks with Elvish and Common.
 - Darkvision
 - Proficiency and Advantage on Perception Checks
 - Advantage on saving throws against being charmed
 - Immune magical sleep.
 - +2 Dex

High Elf

Only Fighter, Wizard or Fighter/Wizard multi-class (must alternate levels).

 - +1 Int
 - Proficiency longsword, shortsword, shortbow, longbow
 - Know one random Wizard Cantrip
 - Know an additional normal or esoteric Language.

High Elf Starting Equipment

  • (a) Elven Chain Shirt (14AC + max 2 Dex modifier) or (b) Elven Leather (12AC + Dex modifier)
  • (a) Shortbow and 20 arrows or (b) an arcane Focus (rod, staff, wand, crystal, orb, skull, juju bag, etc.)
  • Dagger and Longsword
  • Pick two: Artist Tools(pick), Book, Flask of Wine, Ink and Paper, Perfume, Scroll Case, Referee's Elf's are weird random thing.
  • Fine Clothes
  • 2d4*x10 gp


Wood Elf

Only Druid (of moon), Ranger, or Rogue

 - +1 Wis
 - Proficiency longsword, shortsword, shortbow, longbow, Survival
 - Hide when only lightly obscured
 - Advantage on Stealth Checks in natural surroundings

Wood Elf Starting Equipment
  • (a) Elven Chain Shirt (14AC + max 2 Dex modifier) or (b) Elven Leather (12AC + Dex modifier)
  • (a) Longsword or (b) 2 Shortswords
  • Dagger, Longbow and 40 arrows
  • Pick two: Bell, Flask of Wine, Leatherworker tools, Musical Instrument, Woodcarver tools, 50ft Silk Rope, Referee's Elf's are weird random thing.
  • Waterskin

Monday, August 4, 2014

Classic 5ed - Dwarves

Classic 5ed in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Demonstration of how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Classes and multi-classing are limited by race. Standard Ability requirements (15+ in Ability) for multi-classing remain. Humans, Dwarves Elves, Halflings and 1/2 Orcs are playable races. Fighters, Clerics, Wizards, Rogues with Rangers and Druids for Wood Elves only after PHB is released.

Basic D&D 5th Edition PDF

Mountain Dwarves

Dwarves are insular, secretive, and paranoid.  They distrust everyone, strongly dislike elves, loath beast races (orcs, goblins, etc.)

Only Cleric, Fighter, Rogue or Fighter/Rogue multi-class (must alternate levels).

 - Disadvantage on Charisma checks with non-dwarves.
 - May not cast spells which require a willing target on nor use the Help action to aid Elves or any beast race.
 - May not be a willing target of any Wizard Spell.
 - Advantage on saving throws against wizardly magic and resistance against magical damage.
 - Advantage on saving throws against poison and resistance against poison damage.
 - Stonecunning proficiency and advantage on history stonework, detect slopes, stone traps, depth underground and the like.
 - Automatically pass literacy checks with Dwarvish and Common.
 - Darkvision
 - Proficiency with Light and Medium Armor
 - Proficiency with battleaxe, handaxe, light hammer, warhammer
 - Pick one tool proficiency: smiths, brewers, or mason
 - +2 Con
 - +1 Wis or +1 Str
 - +1 hit point per level


No Hill Dwarves. [wisdom bonus meant every dwarf cleric would be a hill dwarve, which just annoyed me.]

Starting Equipment

  • (a) Chain mail or (b) Ring mail or (c) Studded Leather
  • (a) Battleaxe or (b) Warhammer
  • (a) Lt Crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) 2 hand axes and shield
  • Pick two; Holy Symbol, Thieves' Tools, Caltrops, Climber's kit, Crowbar, Grappling hook, Miner's Pick, Shovel, Steel Mirror, Sledge Hammer, Cask of Ale
  • backpack, bedroll, mess kit, hammer, 10 pitons, tinderbox, 10 days of rations, waterskin, 50 feet hemp rope.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Classic 5th Edition

The world is not leveled to the player characters. Death is possible and so are great rewards. Until one "learns the ropes", caution and caginess are wise attitudes. Magical items are uncommon and not normally purchasable. The ability to cast spells. Most priests are humble servants or charlatans. Only a select few are granted the miracle of spell casting by their gods. Wizards are reclusive, feared, disturbers of the peace. Elves and Dwarves are alien, and indifferent to the follies of man.

Classic meaning in style of 70's and 80's D&D. Gritty, dark, "swords and sorcery", when elves were fighter/wizards and dwarves didn't dabble in the dark arts. A few changes and restrictions to 5th Edition Basic Rules to instill a particular flavor and style on the game I run. Not claiming any sort of superiorness. Really just showing how easy it is to and encouraging others to make 5ed their own.

Basic D&D 5th Edition PDF

Most of the flavor is in the races and classes (future blog posts). Below are some general house-rules.

Encounters

Every encounter starts with a reaction (Charisma Check) from one of characters in front rank. This check will guide NPC actions (flee, wait, parlay, attack) if they have surprise or initiative. Or, reactions to PCs friendly or neutral actions.

Group Initiative

Based on situation, their abilities, etc. Referee will split Character opponents into one or more groups and determine if each group acts before or after the PCs. E.g. slow zombies always act last, flyers and mounted act first, etc.

All Player Characters act together in any order they decide. Rarely the Referee may designate some PCs as being particularly slow or quick and place them in a separate group that acts independently.

[I have found few things that are as confusing, time wasting, in conflict with player desires, requiring all sorts of patches (delay, ready), and adding so little fun as d20 every round initiative. Having players act together also promotes teamwork and planning. FFG StarWars has interesting "middleground".]

Resting

Long Rest: Must be uninterrupted and truly restful. Including fire, warm food, relative comfort and safety. "Roughing it" unprepared or holing up in a random room of the Dread Dungeon of Doom ain't cutting it.

[The intent here is to not bring back "5 min workday" but rather provide Referee with option to have a stretch of dangerous wilderness in which characters must carefully husband resources. And return meaningfulness to the choice "press on for one more room or go back to town?" And / or treat dungeon complexes as Mythic places that must be escaped rather than napped in.]

Damage and Death

Consequences of  death / near-death: Brought back from death suffer permanent loss of one point of randomly chosen Ability. Two failed death saves, suffer permanent loss of one point of randomly chosen Ability. [Death doesn't have to be permanent, but it should be feared and avoided.]

Attempting to Knock Out: [Probably overcompensating for how annoyed I am with Pathfinder "subdual" damage"]
  - Attack with disadvantage unless using a Bludgeoning weapon.
  - Intelligence check required on final blow to avoid "accident".
  - Some creatures may resist (Con save). Some creatures will be immune to knock out damage.

Falling is deadly. Damage is cumulative: 1d6, 3d6, 6d6, 10d6, 15d6, > 50' auto-death.

Suffocating is too deadly. Not sure how to make it less so.

Spells

Magic is dangerous. Almost any mechanical method to avoid that will be ignored. e.g. Evoker school's ability to shape spells to avoid hurting friends. No. You must actually plan, communicate, and execute in game tactics.

No such spell as Identify.

Spare the Dying: provides 1 successful death save, not auto-stabilize

Probably no standard spell to revive the dead. 

Fireball is volumetric, similar with Lighting Bolt.

No Backgrounds

Instead make your own background; Pick one skill or tool proficiency and one language proficiency. Optionally select a profession.

No Feats


Skills

Referee will never call for a Social Skill check, role-play instead. Charisma checks will come into play often. Primarily in form of encounter reaction checks. [Social skills destroy games. Esp with explicitly called out Description based role-play they add nothing but boring, binary dice rolls. While robbing game of it's most unique feature, interaction.]

  - No Deception(Cha)
  - No Insight(Wis)
  - No Intimidation(Cha)
  - No Persuasion(Cha)

Literacy Skill
Literacy is not common. Characters must pass an Intelligence check to read or write a given piece of text. This skill allows you to add proficiency bonus to this check. Dwarves, Elves, and Wizards automatically pass this check for Common and their native language. There are several setting specific languages.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pictures of Campaign Climax

Climax of Pathfinder "Airships and Aeronauticals" campaign. Went from 1st level to 20th level (although starting around level 10 we advanced 2 levels every couple sessions). I got burnt out on Pathfinder (as I knew I would), but really wanted to "complete" a high level game.














Monday, July 14, 2014

The Great Kingdom Documentary Q&A

The fine folks behind the Dave Arneson / Gary Gygax / early TSR documentary, The Great Kingdom (facebook page), took the time to answer a few questions about their film and its production. The primary filming is complete, but the filmmakers need our support to finish production. They created a KickStarter campaign to fund the final Production of The Great Kingdom. I really would like to see this film and have made a pledge. Watch the trailer and decide for yourself.



Filmmaker Questions & Answers

CH: Chris Haifley (director)
AP: Andrew Pascal (producer)

How long have you been working on the The Great Kingdom?

CH: We have been in production on The Great Kingdom for almost year. If you count the years playing, we've been working on this project for 30 years. It's been an incredible, rewarding if not heartbreaking journey.


THIS IS THE REMARKABLE TRUE LIFE STORY OF THE RISE AND FALL OF GARY GYGAX, DAVE ARNESON AND THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE CREATION OF THE EPIC ROLE-PLAYING GAME, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.


What was the most challenging obstacle in filming The Great Kingdom?

CH: One of the most challenging obstacles in any production is logistics - getting equipment, crew and schedules to match up with the busy lives of our interviewees. A challenge that we love to overcome.

AP: We're a small crew (3-5 people usually) and so everyone puts on a different hat at different during production. The hero of our production is James Sprattley. At any given moment, he is a Camera Operator, Grip, Make-Up Person, Producer, Craft Service, Driver, etc. It's been challenging, but great fun.


Editing transforms a pile of footage into a compelling story. But, there are many hard-core gaming/history buffs that might be interested in seeing behind the curtain. Is there any pledge level or possible future plans to release outtakes, extras, raw footage?

AP: We've discussed this only preliminarily. Of course we would love to show every bit of interview footage that we've filmed. Perhaps a website where everyone can access the interviews is something to consider. Paul Stormberg, one of our experts, has told us many times that what we are doing should be archived...these are testimonials that have never been recorded. We agree. It's something everyone should have access to. I would like to add that our website (http://www.thegreatkingdom.com) has a bunch of "behind-the-scenes" pics that might be of interest to anyone who would like to know how we work and who we are interviewing.


THIS IS THE STORY OF FAMILIES, BOTH BLOOD AND PERSONAL BOND, AFFECTED BY THE SUCCESS OF THE GAME, A GAME THAT BROUGHT JOY TO MILLIONS AND HEARTBREAK TO ITS CREATORS.

What time period does the film focus on?

CH: The time period that The Great Kingdom focuses on is from 1972 -1985 - from the inception of the game through the point when Gary Gygax is fired from his own Company, TSR. We picked that timeline because we felt the flashpoint of the story happened between those years. The story of Dungeons and Dragons is a big story, bigger than a feature length film. We didn't want to be the definitive documentary about Dungeons and Dungeons. There's a compelling story about the triumph and heartache that came with the development of the game - this is the film we wanted to make.


Did you interview any of the iconic TSR artists?

CH: We have not interviewed any of the original TSR artists. There is a core group of interviewees that support our origin story. We are focusing on those interviews right not now. If we had the opportunity we would have interviewed the great Dave Sutherland (Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual). He was there at the very beginning of our story.


WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE INDIVIDUALS AS THEY WEATHER THROUGH THE SUCCESS, THE EXCESS, THE BETRAYALS, THE DOWNFALLS AND EVENTUAL REDEMPTIONS, ALL TAKES PLACE IN THE GREAT KINGDOM. 


Do you have a total number of people interviewed for the documentary?

AP: We don't have a large number of interviewees as we wanted our story to be intimate and personal. Having too many people would have been confusing to any one watching the film. 12-15 people at most for any decent documentary and that's been tough to follow as there have been so many great people that we've interviewed already and there are still a couple of hold-outs. We'd like to keep the list a mystery for now as there are a few surprises we'd like to share when the film is released. The pictures on our website will give a glimpse of some of the people we've interviewed.


After you reach funding goal, when might the film be finished and released?

AP: We are hoping to have something to show by Gary Con next year (March 2015). If the stars align, we would love to be finished sooner, but that would be our projected date. We felt that it was our small way of giving thanks to the wonderful people in that community. After all, it all started in Lake Geneva.


Any thing else you'd like to say?

AP: Please support our efforts on KS (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720223857/the-great-kingdom). We need as many people to get the word out as we can get. We are so excited to tell this story. It's a story for the ages, something every true fan of documentaries, D&D, RPGs and games in general would be interested to watch.


Andrew Pascal, Jim Gavin, Chris Haifley and James Sprattley 
(the filmmakers)

Thanks guys, and gook luck!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Old School 5ed

Here is how I'll run D&D for my Swords & Sorcery (Beastmaster, Conans, Dragonslayer, Fire and Ice, Krull, The Warrior and the Sorceress) styled Greyhawk (although I'm leaning towards ditching Greyhawk and just running with the "Durthos - City of Adventure and Twin Peaks Megadungeon" I've been working on for local (Austin) multi-gm Planet Eris campaign. But, I do really want to run G123/D12/? and S3).

Imagine Greyhawk City a little closer to Lankhmar. Its Thieves' Guild a little darker and more cultish as opposed to the one portrayed in the Gord novels. 
Imagine a Scarlet Brotherhood more akin to the Dreaming Isle of Melnibone, its Suloise monks and wizards the modern descendants of the twisted demon-sworn conquerers of a dead age.

Imagine the Wild Coast and Pomarj as a savage Hyborian wasteland, where a man's life is only worth the steel he carries.

Imagine the Nyr Dyv as a pirate-infested sea like the Vilayet, dotted with black isles haunted by the nightmares of lost races and empires.

Imagine Dyvers as a city of dark pleasures, depraved wizards, and crowded brothels like Shadizar the Wicked.

The world is not leveled to the players. Death is possible. Referee will not protect characters from themselves. Caution and caginess are good attitudes. Magical items are rarish and not regularly for sale. Magic is uncommon. Wizards are strange, reclusive, secretive, and feared. Elves and Dwarves are strange, "alien", and indifferent to the concerns of man.

  • Long Rest: must be **uninterrupted** and truly rest. Including fire, warm food, relative comfort and safety. "Roughing it" unprepared or holing up in the Dread Dungeon of Doom ain't cutting it.
  • Death Saving Throws: You don't make any of them until someone comes to check you out or you are abandoned. [idea stolen from DCC]
  • Knocking Out: Attack with disadvantage unless using a Bludgeoning weapon. Int check required on final blow to avoid "accident". Some creatures may resist (Con save). Some creatures are immune. [non-lethal damage is annoying, should be suitably difficult (and rewarding) to "capture"]
  • Falling Damage: is cumulative: 10' 1d6, 20' 3d6, 30' 6d6, 40' 10d6, etc.
  • 1/2 of Wizard's spells are randomly determined. Must develop personal name and manifestation when learning a spell. ala "Bigby's Fist", or "Excellent Prismatic Spray"
  • No Identify Spell
  • Spare the Dying spell provides auto death save, not auto-stabilze
  • No Feats
  • No Traits
  • No Halflings (cause I'm bigoted, also too cute, and I can't stand another sterotype halfing rogue character)
  • In place of background; pick two skills, one language.
  • I will ignore mechanical parts of Background i.e. "Feature".
  • Social Skills Suck: I will never call for a Social Skill check; no Insight, Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion. Will rarely call for Investigation, Disarm Trap or "search room" checks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5th Ed, Dwarven Armored Wizards?

I understand this is v0.1 and "basic" rules. But... Dwarves don't get any Intelligence score increase, but Mountain Dwarves do get proficiency with light and medium armor.  Combined with "Casting A Spell" section has this to say about casting in armor;
"... blah, fluff, blah, you must be proficient with the armor you are wearing to cast a spell."

Means, unless I missing something, Mountain Dwarves are the only armor wearing wizards (by RAW and presuming no multi-classing). With multi-classing and super low XP for 1st level it is eminently min-maxish of any Wizard to take a level of Fighter.

Now, DMs are free to plug this "hole". It's just weird (still assume I missing something somewhere...) Although, maybe armor is not a big deal with all the "impossible to die" rules (full hp regen every night, partial hp regen rests, multiple saves before death, lots of spells to auto-make saves / heal / be not dead, healing potions in the equipment list, etc.).

Personally I like Dwarves to be the antithesis of magic and Elves to be fighter/mage types. I'd house rule Dwarves to have advantage on saving throws against magic and be unable to take Wizard levels. And Elf Fighter/Wizards being one of the very few multi-class options available.

[wtf is up with basic PDF jacking cut and paste?]

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Six Systems in Six Months

Because I have too many games I want to run and I like "promoting" RPGs at my FLGS's I came up with scheme to run small "campaigns" with six different (less common, but currently available) game systems in roughly six months.  I'm sure with holidays and scheduling it will take a little longer than that. But the goal is run 3-5 connected sessions of each RPG. Long enough to get real feel for system, not too long the DM burns out.



Candidate Systems

Dungeon Crawl Classics - too 'popular" for list but friends are begging me to run it...

FATE - Thinking something Hong Kong Action like. "Big Trouble in Little China" with some "Escape from New York" thrown in.

RuneQuest II (Mongoose) - cause that is version I have.

Brutal Big Bad Ball Bustin Bloody Battles - Fast light fun.

Something Sci-Fi; Stars Without Number, Star Frontiers, maybe classic (TOS) Fasa Star Trek  but that's not really "available".

HARP / MERP - My most favorite system I've never (well vanishingly rarely) played.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Vaults of Pandius 18th Anniversary

Is *the* mega official resource for the "Known World" from Expert Box D&D.  Later renamed Mystara.  The wealth of material here is overwhelming. It's existence makes me want to run a campaign in the Known World. Much of the material is generic or easily adaptable to any RPG. There are also options, house-rules and other crunch for the die hard BECMI fans.

It has active community and is regularly updated. And Pandius / Mystara s is supported with message boards, email list and forum.

All this and more. 


Check out some of the stuff in Mystara Atlas for one of my favorite nations Glantri. Including my favorite Gazetteer style maps of Glantri.



It is really and incredible amount of material and effort. I laud the authors, supports, fans, and game companies for keeping this reference work alive and thriving!

Vaults of Pandius

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Great Kingdom D&D Documentary

A kickstarter to pay for post-production of "A feature length documentary uncovering the true tale of the rise and fall of the creators Dungeons & Dragons."


"In 1969, GARY GYGAX, a family man and an insurance underwriter with an entrepreneurial mind meets DAVE ARNESON, an idle, yet brilliant game designer. Their collaboration would change the world, their families and themselves.
This is the remarkable true life story of the rise and fall of Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the people behind the creation of the epic role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.
THE GREAT KINGDOM explores the personalities behind the game and the families they engendered. This is the saga of the people who brought a company from its humble basement beginnings and transformed it to a multi-million dollar corporation. A story for our time that parallels the rise, fall and redemption of Steve Jobs and echoes the who-invented-what question of the creation of Facebook."

Dave Arneson (seated, with glasses) at Gen Con II

Gary Gygax (striped shirt) at Gen Con II

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