Wednesday, December 11, 2019

2020 Central Texas RPG Conventions

OwlCon Feb 28th - March 1st, 2020

On campus, Rice University in Houston, TX https://owlcon.com/
I've been to this great little convention several times



ChupacabraCon VII May 1-3, 2020

Wow! Hard to believe this is in its 7th year. I remember backing the (failed) Kickstarter for the first one. Right here in Austin (well Round Rock). https://tabletop.events/conventions/chupacabracon-vii



North Texas RPG Convention June 4-7, 2020

The Texas Old School convention. Really, really great. Meet and play with folks who invented this hobby. Always interesting auction. Many great artists attend. In Dallas/Ft Worth area https://ntrpgcon.com/





Sunday, September 29, 2019

I wish all political news was delivered thusly.  https://princeofnothingblogs.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/the-doom-of-king-james/

It's like social science fiction. Couching subject in veneer of alieness (or "fantasy epic" babble here). Which short circuits (all but fanatics) knee jerk "two minutes of hate" reaction. Allowing thought, reflection and the composition of a deliberate reaction. Whatever that may be.

I also find it entertaining.

Friday, March 15, 2019

3/15 Friday Trivia Travisty




A question a week, answer the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even setting aside 2ed is one of my least favorites, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; When Kendor drinks a potion of speed, he can move twice as fast and perform twice as many actions as usual. What ill effect does he suffer?

DMG, page 144. He ages one year.

Age is a tough thing in RPGs.  It's mostly doesn't add much (too little for the cost of tracking), unless it is dramatic. That is enough age to enfeeble or kill.  Or, going other direction, make you a child or baby. Having to lug around the "baby paladin" looking for cure sounds like fun. Except for the paladin who is probably spending 90% of session being a passive observer. Used sparingly, a cool short-term effect (like a curse). Otherwise, meh.

Aging could be a less FU effect than Level Drain. But, I've been convinced that Level Drain should be a complete FU.  It's good to have more axis some creatures that just are not worth messing with. See also rust monster. Even when you are powerful enough to defeat them. XP loss is one of the very, very few things that actually scares players. Undead should be scary. The corollary is that level draining undead should not be randomly encountered or at least have way to run away from them. When you create bad choices for players, you had best be sure they have the chance to choose.


Question (3rd lvl)

Who role-plays a PC's henchman, and who keeps track of that henchman's possessions and statistics.

I'm not sure if 2ed continues the AD&D distinction between hirelings (roughly employees) and henchmen (probably still payed, but more akin to followers, sidekicks, proteges).

Friday, March 8, 2019

3/8 Friday Trivia Travisty




A question a week, answer the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even setting aside 2ed is one of my least favorites, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; On a clear plain, how far can the silhouettes of characters at a campsite be seen due to the brightness of the fire?

1,500 yards DMG, page 118.  Sure, whatever, like I even have a map or know scale or distances to that precision. And every possible creature, magical or not, has the exact same night vision?  I'd rather abstract everything and leave it to chance; 1 in 6 something curious wanders close enough to see their fire. Also known as Wandering Monster Check.  Maybe increase/decrease chances if party is lax or cunning in not being detected.  Or, if I'm bored and the first 3 hours of session has been all role-play and exploration and there is just enough time for one battle before everyone goes home; DM fiat, monster night raid!  Fun, pacing trumps simulation. And no matter how comprehensive you try to make your simulation it will never cover all situations. So, why bother with anything but the barest of simulation at all? All that energy remembering and following overwrought rules is better expended on being creative, inventing cool encounters, developing interesting foes, in a word; being a DM.

There's a saying from Software Development, a mantra against over-engineering, over-complicating things. YAGNI - You Aren't Gonna Need It. Sadly it is easier to sell books full of rules than it is to sell "Just play the damn game."



Question (3rd lvl)

When Kendor drinks a potion of speed, he can move twice as fast and perform twice as many actions as usual. What ill effect does he suffer?

Hmmm, I;ve always treated magic items are proper nouns and capitalize them. Nobody remembers this nor similar effect with Haste spell and in 1st ed (not sure if it carried forward to 2ed) there was an obscure to find but nasty combination with System Shock.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Commissioned Conan The Barbarian Artwork

After seeing the work of a local artist, Wiley Ross, at my local cafe. I asked if he'd be interested in doing a commission based on my favorite still from "Conan The Barbarian" movie.



This was his answer.



It is huge, larger than life size, about 5ft x 5ft.  The quotes are from the movie ("Grab him and take him" is a, probably mangled, Grace Jones line from CtD). I love it.

I've bought a fair bit of original art, mostly from "RPG" artists. But, this was first piece I've commissioned. Probably not the last.

Friday, March 1, 2019

3/1 Friday Trivia Travisty




A question a week, answer the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even setting aside 2ed is one of my least favorites, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; A spell that produces matter or items from some other place (such as Evard's Black Tentacles) is a spell from what school of magic?  PH, page 81  Conjuration / Summoning. [I'd say Conjuration. Summoning deals specifically with creatures. It's a subcategory of Conjuration. But, of course, such distinctions are what hour long, at the table, rules arguing are all about.]


Question (3rd lvl)

On a clear plain, how far can the silhouettes of characters at a campsite be seen due to the brightness of the fire?

[On the one hand, it's cool to provide information camping, fires, sight distance; that many modern people have no idea about.  On the other, holy freaking OCD over detailed rule minutiae! There are OCD players who like the certitude of exact rules for everything. For me, 90% of 2ed and AD&D can be replaced with this DM advice on how to handle situation X "Fuck it, do whatever seems coolest / most fun."] 

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Trivia Travisty




A question a week, answer the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even setting aside 2ed is one of my least favorites, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; What gem is worth more filthy lucre, topaz or amethyst?  Topaz!  You should know your gemstones even if you don't play D&D.

I really dig using gem names rather than just gold piece value. But, there are too many of them. More importantly, detail and complexity needs to be applied were it counts / removed were it doesn't (something Gygax did not agree with). I want a little flavor, but not at expense of "playability", and it must be comprehensible to players (so they can make informed choices and don't just find a short cut and ignore your flavor as the nuisance it is). In my current campaign I use only two gems per tier (for most part) and there is some regularity; both 50gp are "stones", solid color means 100/500gp, transparent gems are 1000gp +.
10 GP
 - Agate: Multi-colored circles
 - Tiger Eye: Brown with golden center under-hue
50 GP
 - Bloodstone: Dark gray with red flecks
 - Moonstone: Translucent white with pale blue glow
100 GP
 - Carnelian: Orange to reddish brown
 - Jade: Light green, deep green, green and white
500 GP
 - Pearl: Lustrous white, pinkish, to pure black
 - Topaz: Translucent golden yellow
1000 GP
 - Emerald: Transparent deep green
 - Ruby: Transparent crimson
 - Sapphire: Transparent vivid blue
5000 GP
 - Diamond


Question (5th lvl)

A spell that produces matter or items from some other place (such as Evard's Black Tentacles) is a spell from what school of magic?  [5th level, the hardest? Seems most everyone (who's played 2ed or later) should know that.]

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Swanhelm "Gift of the Elves"

aka "two friends get drunk and ask each other why D&D doesn't have a beer hat magic item"

Overly large, overly ornate, mithral helm of the finest elven craftsmanship. Styled in the form of a swan. With folded articulated wings and long articulated neck. Close inspection will reveal a cleverly concealed "butt plug". When removed, it reveals an empty cavity within "body" of the Swan. Which appears able to contain a fare amount of liquid.

Something like this first image but with equally large and obnoxious wings. Or, second image but four times larger. The opposite of practical/cool/macho/elegant.




That second drawing from "Middle Earth something or another" forum which has a lot of amazing concept art. Worth checking out.

If liquid is in the Swanhelm when the command phrase is spoken "I have the Swan Power!"  the swan neck bends around and down. Its swan beak opens and squirts that liquid towards wearer's mouth hole whether bearer is ready to receive or not. About one dose of a potion or a big, manly gulp of ale per invocation.

Alternatively if "I bestow (insert name here) with the Swan Power!" is spoken, the chin strap will disconnect, the wings will spread open and the entire helm will "fly" to named person and deliver a squirt of liquid as above. It does not fly back.

If either phrase is spoken when swan is empty, the wings flap agitatedly and swan honks disapprovingly in front of wearer's face. Obstructing view for a round or two and possibly attracting wandering monster. 


Most scholars agree this item was created by elves weary of their boorish human allies too crude to comprehend elvish sophistication.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Friday Trivia Tragedy



A question a week, answers the following week, until I get bored or forget. All questions from the 2ed AD&D Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monstrous Compendium Volume I, and Monstrous Compendium Volume II. Even putting aside that 2ed is one of my least favorite editions, most the questions are troll piss. Rule math minutiae. Aspects of 2ed I find too stupid to endure. Quite a few that are common knowledge to any player these days. Mostly in regards to iconic monsters that were relatively new and unknown back in 1991.


First up last week's answer; How much is falling damage. 1d6 per 10 feet fallen.

This bothers me for reasons from trivial to vital. 10ft even 30ft pits are nothing after a few levels. The, "oh I jump off cliff, get up and carry on cause max possible damage is less than my hitpoints" maneuver. Physics! Later editions even cap the number of dice, 10d6! That fall from orbit? Yeah, I walk it off.

I use to rule it was 1d6 cumulative; 10' 1d6, 20' 3d6, 30' 6d6, 40' 10d6, etc. and/or any fall 60' or greater is auto-incapacitation (often via death). That there is a reason to have Feather Fall, Levitate, rope, thieves, something. But, as I've matured (or become mentally decrepit) I've learned to be less bothered by things not worth bothering about. Now I just put spikes slathered with Save-or-Die poison at bottom of my pits :)




Question (3rd lvl)

Which is of greater value, a topaz or an amethyst?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Specialist Retainers

Additional Specialist Retainers available in my B/X Sandbox using Judges Guild Wilderlands setting.


Astrologer

10 gp per reading.

Most settlements village or larger will have an astrologer. A basic reading costs 10gp gets 2d6 roll. With a “sacrifice” of 50 gp or more roll d6 + d8. A great sacrifice, 200 gp or more, earns a 2d8 roll. Outcome effects entire group and lasts until next Downtime.

Roll Outcome :
2 Monsters receive undisclosed bonuses.
3-4 Twice as many random encounters.
5-9 The omens are unclear. No effect.
10-11 Each player gets one saving throw or To-Hit re-roll.
12 Half as many random encounters.
13+ As “12” and all player saving throws are rolled using d30.

Chronicler, Venerator

d6+2 x 100 gp per month

Useful only in cities. Abstracts together several related occupations hired to raise the social status of people in the Noble, Gentlemen, and Military hierarchies. Increase character’s Social Level (JG Ready Ref Sheets p2) by one if 2d6 die roll is greater than their current Social Level.


Slanderer, Spy, Thief

d6 x 100 gp per mission.

Spies are hired to gather information about a specific person, group or area. They are also used for sabotage, rabble rousing, rumor mongering and the like. The Referee will determine the probability of success based on the scope and difficulty of mission, the details and aide provided by players. Spies may or may not be reliable, and could stab the hiring character in the back. Maybe literally!.

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