Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Hiatus

Between moving house and becoming a newly minted landlord, starting new position at work, having my only motorized transportation break down, and holiday shopping/merrymaking I've got no time for bloggy. Probably resume early Jan.

I only mention this cause the RPGBN is threatening to excise the inactive and lazy from their blog roll.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

OoE - Dragon Magzine #12 #13 #14

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250. See also DragonDex.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 6. Feb, 1978

The Full Index. Another Elrohir cover, diggin lizard boy's Aztecish sword. Other nice details, cobras cauldron(magic item right there!) , pig orc belt buckle, bald man's staff nice eyebrows too. Ok, I'm really liking Elrohir, who is this guy?

7500 copies printed, 1164 mail subscriptions.

by James Endersby and John Carroll

Maybe good to use with trading system from Dragon issue 6.

Small merchant ships can hold up to twelve units of cargo, while large merchant ships can hold up to thirty units.

gp/unit cargo
1000 Spice
1000 Silk
1000 Precious Stones Amber, flint, jade, marble, emeralds, etc.
300 Ivory
300 Precious Wood Only 1-4 units; ebony, teak, balsa, etc.
350 Tea
250 Cotton
1000 Jewelry This is primitive and low-grade stuff, not the jewelry used in normal D&D campaigns.
250 Cloth
250 Livestock (exotic) Camels, falcons, peacocks, monkeys, ocelots, Arabian horses, etc.
100 Fruits and vegetables Spoilage may occur, especially over long voyages.
— Foreign slaves 20-60 people. (aw, too PC to put a price on people?)

Also, roll for treasure — type A.

There is also a 15% chance that a few passengers are aboard ship. These passengers can be merchants, adventurers, or noblemen.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 7. Apr, 1978

I see that Conan is still with us. Cover, Tom Canty. Don't think it's this guy. But, I like both their arts. The Full Index.

Dragon starts new monthly schedule, $18 for 12 issues.

From the Sorcerer's Scroll
by Rob Kuntz

In reply to Tolkien fanboys.
As I stated earlier we support creative imagination but we also support the premise of D&D. Those who base their games around a single work such as LotR are playing a campaign based around Middle-Earth and since D&D was not written to create a basis for one world, it is thus not strict D&D.
Hey, Rob Kuntz says my One of Everything is the proper D&D, I win the OSR :)
One must also remember that this system works with the worlds of R.E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and L.S. de Camp and Fletcher Pratt much better than that of Tolkien. If one is to branch away from the D&D system, let’s say towards Tolkien’s world, he will be disappointed to find that most spells, characters etc. do not function well within the epic world of Tolkien’s design.
...for a role-playing, continuous adventuring world, Tolkien's does not fit well within the D&D game style.
Oh, snap! Definitely feeling a preference for S&S over High Fantasy.
One last piece of information which might help those people out there who are confused about which “light” Dungeons & Dragons should be taken in or how the game was inspired; I suggest you read the following. This is an excerpt taken from the foreword to Dungeons and Dragons, written by Gary Gygax.

“These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don’t care for Burroughs’ Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howards’ Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries will not be likely to find Dungeons and Dragons to their taste.”
Oh, double snap followed by an offhand pimp slap! But, really, it's we lovers of black pit groping who lost. Because they didn't find D&D to their liking and they changed it out from under us.

by Shlump Da Orc

When I was a kid reading this I didn't pick up on that it was probably April Foolish. I remember thinking along the lines of bloody hell, who cares? Playing a game over here. Wtf are you doing?

Looking now I'm intrigued by the weight per cubic foot of all sorts of stuff; metals, stones, gems, woods, rubber, pitch and many more. Guess that's gonna be my one thing from this issue. The maths and depth of giant's footprints are still a bunch of hooey.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 8. May, 1978

Nice, a little sci-fi horror in this issue's cover by Steve Oliff.
Full Index.

Robots PC's and background for MA could be interesting if I was running a MA campaign. Not one bloody thing from this issue can I use. Not even any decent inspirational art. I've failed at OoE. Luckily failure doesn't bother me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

OoE - Dragon Magzine #10 #11

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250. See also DragonDex.

WARNING pixie sized nipples below (if that sort of thing bothers whoever you work for). Even more nipples further below!

The Dragon Vol 2, No 4. Oct, 1977

Comic book cover by John Sullivan.
Full Index.

Let There Be A Method To Your Madness
by Richard Gilbert

Nice article on dungeon design which was more interesting than title led me to believe. Start with "story" behind dungeon and then enumerate the basic purpose and theme for each level. Interestingly he suggests creating all the connections between levels and only after that is done fill in the rooms of each level. Some basic stuffs, create vertical elevation for "continuity between levels". But also tidbits like
Give the builder’s character a few personal tendencies, such as being sneaky, grandiose, austere, or a hater of straight lines
In the entire history of mankind, only shelter has caused more construction than religion.

D&D Option: Orgies, Inc.
by Jon Pickens

Instead of receiving xp for gaining treasure, players receive xp only as treasure is spent. GP Spent / Character Level = XP.

Sacrifices 1/week offering directly to a god, or demon, or to their mundane representatives. Naw, I want sacrifices collected in person or not at all! GP/100 == chance sacrifice is accepted.

Philanthropy aid to the "little people". A real need must exist.

Research wow article says 250gp / level per day! I'd keep it line with carousing d6*100 / session (higher dice with in big city or with nice lab). Money for spell research counts? Making items, potions, etc does not. I can see some reason in that.

Clan Hoards dwarves and other clannish folk. Give it up for the family.

Orgies "500gp / level per night (250gp if recuperating and under 50% hit points)" Ha, guts hanging out but I can still go whoring! Hey, I've seen this idea before! A player (I hope author meant character) may orgy (didn't know it was a verb) continuously! as many days as he has constitution points.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 5. Dec, 1977

Didn't take long for Dragon to start pandering to puerile interests with pixie nipples last issue and "full bodied" nipples on this freaky cover by Elrohir.

The Full Index.

TSR Periodicals becomes a two man crew as Joe Orlowski joins as Little Wars editor. The Monster Manual had been recently released and "Gary continues to work upon this humoungus project daily..." Project being AD&D.

I turn seven years old this month.

Good intentions never last
"TSR is proud that it did not take advantage of this tendency in its D&D players by sending forth a stream of junk products to attract more money." -- E. Gary Gygax

Seal of The Imperium
by M.A.R. Barker
It requires much preparation, special training, and ascetic dedication to the art to produce a magical scroll. ...a priest might enroll himself-herself with one of the scroll masters. It then takes a year or two to learn: the making of special paper and ink, the ceremonies connected with the production of a scroll, instruction in the secret forms of calligraphy and writing which make it efficacious, the purification of the writer so that his own imperfections do not creep through into the scroll, etc. It then takes a few years more to master the art of writing higher and higher level scrolls. Really powerful scrolls may take a year in themselves to write and are done by a team of priests. least so Lord Fereshma’a hiKúrodu, High Priest of Ksárul in Jakálla, confided to me.
Dig it. Magic! Not just a game mechanic so you have more than a few spells to cast. A scroll. Neat how Barker is playing that his information on Tekumel was releated to him by denizens of that world. Very Edgar Rice Burroughs/John Carter of Mars and many others who copied that style of narration.

Sea Magic
by Fritz Leiber

I just read my very first Leiber! How sad is that?

Indeed, happy holidays to everyone in blogger land.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

OoE - Dragon Magzine #8 #9

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 2. Jul, 1977

This guy by Bill Hannan looks like he came from The Dying Earth.

The Full Index.


by Robert J. Kuntz
For those that like the fast-pace, roll-it-up-and-get-it-over-with type of gaming with no extra added realism to brighten up their gaming day, I suggest that these tables are not for you.
Snarky much, Rob? jk, random tables get me every time. Esp, if like these, they are very much not randomly constructed. [btw, Why do so many people equate random tables with erratic, chaotic results?] Roll for size in carats, then value per carat in gp, finally consult table that corresponds to that per carat value per carat to determine what gem stone has been found. Here one example

50 G.P. - 75 G.P. Value:
1. Amazon Stones
2. Adventurines
3. Azurite
4. Bloodstone
5. Smoky Quartz
6. Chalcedony
7. Fluorite
8. Malachite
9. Rhodonite
10. Rock Crystal
11. Rose Quartz
12. Chrysophrase
13. Citrine
14. Cyanite
15. Essonite
16. Hyacinth
17. Jacinth
18. Kunzite
19. Serpentine
20. (Roll Over)

Bonus, jewelry tables!

The Dragon Vol 2, No 3. Sep, 1977

After several issues of MA and pimping Gamma World they finally kick down with a bitchin post-apocalyptic cover. Once again by Bill Hannan (Still can't find a thing about this guy)

The Index

Tombs & Crypts
by James M. Ward "The mystery, challenge and pleasure of any wargamer in discovering and opening a tomb of some unknown being is well known"

Random generation starting with 1. Soldier, 2. Hero, 3. Priest, 4. Pair, 5. Mated. Pair, 6. Lord, 7. King, 8. Patriarch, 9. EHP, 10. Magic User, 11. Wizard, 12. Being. Which provide a bunch of modifiers to the following tables; Gold, Gems, Maps, Jewelry, Magic Item x2, Misc Magic Item, Special Item, Artifact, the Tomb itself, and the Guardian. Pretty nice all considered. It goes into my DM binder.

Needs more than a drop of ichor.
Totally reminds me of playing Populous II.

Seal of The Imperium
by M.A.R. Barker

Barker answers some of the deluge of letters (note: not email!) received due to the "EPT" issue. A few things struck me.
The Detect Evil/Good spell seems to really be a "detect hostile/non-hostile" [intent].
I like that interpretation esp since I abhor good/evil alignment systems.
(4) Can the Transmutation spell turn water into stone?
This spell is very rare on “real” Tékumel, and thus I have not had much experience of it — and did not give it much thought when I introduced it into my list.
That is how I want to roll. Throw that shit in there, figure it out later if it ever comes up.
(6) How do persons of one alignment (“good” or “Evil”) behave towards followers of the other?
With pleasant circumspection: correctly, with dignity, and watchfully.
Tsolyáni are more ceremonious and formal than Americans, ... “friendly insults” ... might well lead to violence! Thus, when one has business with a person of the opposite alignment, it is best to be honorific and polite to an equal, gravely deferential to a superior, and clearly concise to an inferior.

(7) Why don’t members of one alignment attack members of the other on sight?
... it quickly became clear to all that there must either be a terrible war to the death between the forces of the “good” deities and those of the “evil” ones, or else some means of working together must be found.
Can't we all just get along? Interesting take on alignment and a model for "How to deal with a Paladin in the Party".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OoE - Dragon Magzine #5 #6 #7

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250.

Hey! Just found Held Action Blog has similar idea and a cooler name :(, Read'em 'cause you got'em.

The Dragon Vol 1, No 5 Mar, 1977

Full Index.
Dave Sutherland created this nice "Conan about to be chomped on by a Snake" cover art. Was there a male warrior that wasn't Conan in the late 70's? Also, since we're talking snakes, that old Dragon logo is all sorts of Swords and Sorcery Awesome.

These early issues have more S&S feel than when I had subscription (early eighties). Also back in #001 Tim Kask said "That mission is to publish the best magazine devoted to Sword & Sorcery, Fantasy, Science Fiction and Role Playing gaming." Maybe it means nothing that S&S happened to be listed first. But, I'm really seeing Grognardia's points about S&S and origins of this hobby. I wonder when/why S&S fell out of favor (with the fiction/game buying public)?

Also this issue marks when Dragon went from 6 to 8 issues a year. At the expense "Little Wars" going quarterly, a magazine I never heard of and wikipeadia has no info for me. Anyone?

Witchcraft Supplement For Dungeons & Dragons
by unknown

Clerics are immune to witchcraft (along with Djinn and Efreet, don't get that?) Neat concept though, that men (and women) of god are flat out immune to some kinds of magical shenanigans.

Numerous interesting magic items such as
Mountain Seeds
Similar to Hill Seeds in function but much deadlier. When pitched into the air thee gloves will swell to the size of a castle almost immediately. With one such seed a wizard could crush armies or destroy a town. They are safest when dropped from above, but can be thrown up from the ground if you are able to use teleportation and escape before it comes down.

Creature Feature
Here's and Erol Otus I've not seen before, a water color, not his usual medium?
Number appearing: 1-6
Description: 10-20 feet long, brown chitin overall, pink underside
Armor class: 2 overall, underside class 4
Movement: 12/6 through ground
Hit die: 3-8 (8 sided die)
Treasure: B2
Squirt acid for 1-6 die of damage according to size
Bite for 3-18 points damage
Magic resistance: none
Alignment: neutral
% in lair: 25%

That image is almost full magazine page. Crammed into the bottom inch are the stats (reproduced above). That is the entirety of the Creature Feature. A far cry from the later ecology series, eh?

How Green Was My Mutant
by Gary Gygax

Random skin color, skin texture, head, neck, body, face hands & feet, fingers & toes, arms, and legs. The uses are legion!

The Dragon Vol 1, No 6 Apr, 1977

Nice cover by Morno.
Full Index.

Almost nothing of use. A (complicated and not as good as B/X) morale system, psionics, Metamorphosis Alpha stuffs (which are cool but dated). How to paint Petal Throne miniatures could come in handy for descriptions.

Sea Trade in D&D Campaigns

by Ronald C. Spencer, Jr.

Nice, simple, somewhat abstract system for sea trade from the "Bardukian Campaign" aboard the USS Benjamin Franklin (SSBN 640). Nice to know the people ready to usher in our nuclear holocaust Mutant Future get to have fun in their spare time.

Buy a cargo(assumed to be available in port) for 10k or 50k gp depending on how big of a merchant ship you have/are hiring. Write captain orders (default assumption is players are investors / merchants and have better things to do then spend weeks at sea. Although, nothing precludes sea borne adventure), pay pilot fees and import taxes. The general mechanic is the more ports you "skip" the bigger risk and bigger payoff you gamble. There's a d100 chart that has profit/loss as percentage of cargo. Ship can also be flat out lost at sea. Instead of taking loss, captain's orders can be to push on to next port and hope for better price there. A few more wrinkles but that is basically it.

I'd add some random tables for cargo types (cause I just know my players will ask me exactly what it is they bought). Maybe a table for how ship was lost at sea, d6 -> 1. storm, 2. kraken, 3. dread pirate roberts, 4. sea nymphs, 5. mutiny, 6. UFO

A minor distraction for players, way to gamble away their coin or strike it rich. Could lead to some adventures and generally fills in some of the vacuum of a world thus making the campaign seem more rich and real.

The Dragon Vol 2, No 1 June, 1977

Cover by another one name chap, Elrohir.
Full Index.

In the editor page, Dragon Rumbles, Tim Kask is hating on poor issue one's cover. He also claims to be the sole staff member (with assistance from Gary Jaquet who is four hours distant). Which's pretty darn impressive and I guess that means Tim gets to hate on whatever he wants.

This issue's Featured Creature, "Prowler", features another full page Otus water color.

This Morno guy has got some nice style going on. Wrote a bit of fiction to go along with his sweet art. More of his illustrations too (saved to my flavor/inspiration folder). Can't find much on him/her, did some Character Sheet cover art. Hmmmm...

Ah ha, I got you now Mr. Morno, or should I say Bradley W. Schenck!

The Internet is so cool.

Unlike issue #7 of The Dragon in which I find not one directly usable thing. The Military Formations of the Nations of the Universe by M.A.R. Barker is full of cool flavor. e.g
"The Oncoming Wings of the Hereafter"
This battle plan consists of a strong centre (variously divided into phalanxes, squares, wedges, etc.) and two long, fast-moving columns of lighter troops on the flanks, sometimes with “warhammer” units in concealment in one or both of the Greave positions behind. As the centre meets the foe, one or both of these columns may attempt to cut off enemy flanking units for annihilation by the concealed “warhammer” units coming along behind, or they may swing out like great wings to try to outflank the enemy and attack him from the rear.
But, I'm gonna be hard pressed to squeeze that into Gold & Glory. Guess I'll use it if the players ever find / enter Portal to Tékumel. Hmmm, they will arrive during major war (civil?) and be thrust into choosing sides / playing them off each other Fist Full of Dollars style. So, now this Portal isn't just "Freak Ass EPT world" it's "Freak Ass EPT military campaign world". See, brainstorming through all my stuffs is working out!

[I'm not 100% certain how I'll work this... Thinking that once players discover and figure out a "major" portals like the EPT one described above I would metagame tell them "hey through this portal is this freaky military campaign kind of game". Want to play that for awhile? No, fine. Don't enter that portal. If yes, then maybe roll up new characters for it? Maybe just a few players want to. Their characters enter portal and players create new characters (or assume control of henchmen) for this this campaign which we continue now. We'll make a side game for the EPT characters, meeting these other days.]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

OoE - Dragon Magzine #3 #4

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250.

The Dragon Vol 1, No 3 Oct, 1976

The Full Index. Reading Tim Kask's Dragon Rumbles editorial pages of these early Dragons I'm struck with how much the tone and topics remind me of Ignatius �mlaut's words from Fight On!

From Len Lakofka's Notes on Women & Magic the level name for clerics after Prioress and before Matriarch is Superioress. That's too funny.

GenCon IX D&D Elimination Tournament "Miss Teenage Wisconsin, Jennifer Johnson, was on hand to add a touch of class to the ceremonies and presented all of the plaques." Wonder how that went?

Birth Tables for D&D
by Brad Stoick & Brian Lane

Pretty neat. Interesting ideas on rolling father's title, Knight, Baron, etc. and also their position Land Holder, Sheriff, Advisor to the King, etc. If I used something like this I'd start with the over the top HackMaster system and add some ideas from here to that.

by Mike Childers as modified by Keff Kay

The mechanics for Katana and Wakizashi are interesting. They come in +0 to +3 tohit/dam varieties. Each having increasing chance to score a critical. E.g. for the +3; automatic on 18,19,20 or when rolling 5 or more above required to hit number. A critical blow is resolved on this d100 table.

01-80 25% of Max Hit Points or 6 hit points (whichever is greater) and the loss of a limb (1 = right arm, 2 = left arm, 3 = right leg & 4 = left leg).
81-95 50% of Max Hit Points or 12 hit points (whichever is greater) and a major body hit (no additional damage other than hit points).
96-00 100% of Max Hit Points due to decapitation or other instant kill.

I wonder when the Vorpal Sword was first mentioned and same for critical hits?

A New View of Dwarves
by Larry Smith

From the Abilities of Dwarves;
7. They can "feel" when handling armor or weapons if they are magical in nature.
9. Dwarves with Int of 9+ and Str 9+ can do smiths work.
10. Dwarves with Int 12+ and Str 9+ can to armorers work.
13. Dwarves with a Dex of 17 or greater can swim naturally.
14. Only Dwarves with an Intelligence of 12 or better will even consider getting on a horse. [Think Larry got that reversed ;)]

There's more of the "if stat then foo" entries. Interesting idea on how to both provide benefit for high stats and produce some character background.

The Berserker
by John Pickens
"Each berserker must become a shieldbrother in one of the following
clans: Wererat, Werewolf, Wereboar, Weretiger, and Werebear. When
the berserker earns his wereshape he will take that form when berserk,"
Kind of a fighter druid shape changer, I'm diggin it. I always thought barbarian and rage were two tastes that did not go well together. Definitely will use this class concept if not the exact mechanics. I like how one of the followers they attract will be a bard (I imagine Skald type)

Under chance of berserking:
Add 20% if the berserker bites his shield (voluntary).

WTF? More on this shield biting thing.

The Dragon Vol 1, No 4 Dec, 1976

I'm six this month! Full Index. Cover by M. A. R. Barker. The art and that it was made by the game author both pretty much explain why EPT rocks. They added four pages to this issue for EPT.

"In terms of development of detail, I think EPT has it over Middle Earth in the matters that most concern gamers. This is attributable to the fact that EPT was developed by a wargamer, and M-E was not." -- Tim Kask

I hadn't realized EPT was ever so gamer mainstream. Even had miniatures made for it (reviews in this issue). I wonder why it did not take off. Actually I know, it's too freaky. And only some gamers are freak lovers. Some of that freakish awesomeness
"...dispatches from all over the Empire are gathered each month into another volume of the “Korunkoi hiGar-dasisayal Koluman hiTirikeludalidalisa” (The Book of Mighty Imperial Deeds of the Great and Glorious Petal Throne). Inscribed on leaves of gold, this record is maintained in the Hall of Blue Illumination ..."
From Reports Submitted to the Petal Throne. Also very awesome is The Battle of the Temple of Chanis: 2020 A.S.

One of the past / lost / destroyed empires that once ruled the lands that comprise the "G&G play area" and whose ruins are it's adventure sites will be EPTesque. I'll sprinkle those reports and the rest of the awesome flowery text in scrolls, texts, monument carvings. Perhaps the players can piece together the location of a great treasure. Or even what caused the Empire of the Petal Throne to fall and thus avoid its mistakes.

Creature Features The Mihalli
No author listed, I assume M.A.R Barker

Your basic malevolent ancient race, but with awesome pants.

The Mihalli are an ancient nonhuman race which came with humanity to Tekumel G&G — but not with humanity’s knowledge or blessings! Their motives and attitudes are totally incomprehensible to mankind. They behave in ways which can only appear random to humans, since the Mihalli seems to function simultaneously in this dimension and in others as well.

The Mihalli are humanoid in form, hermaphroditic, able to see in the dark. Their skins range from dull green to a rich coppery brown — lower class Mihalli being of the former color and higher level Mihalli of the latter. They are shape-changers and can adopt the form of any human they wish. The only drawback to this is that their opalescent red eyes can at times (20% each turn looked at) be seen even through their disguises. They are marvelous magic users.

Their favorite magical weapon is the Ball of Immediate Eventuation, which can fire an energy bolt, build up a defense shield against all nonmagical projectiles, or cause them to become invisible. This weapon comes in various strengths, represented by its color: the weakest one is light purple, then bright silver, then bright gold, then lambent, translucent blue.

Monday, November 30, 2009

One of Everything - Dragon Magazines #1, #2

I've decided to take at least one element from every RPG product I own to use in my Gold & Glory campaign. To keep it from being a total mess I'll use my Seven +/- Two as guides. Also, I fully expect most everything to never be used/encountered by players, (in alt worlds they may never find portal for, in deep dungeons they may never reach, etc.) So, not spending much time fleshing things out.

Starting with my CD collection of the Dragon Magazines issues 1-250.

The Dragon Vol 1, No 1. June, 1976

I was five years old when this was printed. Cover by Bill Hannan. Full Index. I didn't find much for me in this issue. The spells, monster (Bullette), and wilderness mapping advice have been presented elsewhere. The bulk of the issue deals with wargames.

Magic and Science
by James M. Ward
"I believe it is a real mistake to think that just because there is a world created by D & D type thinking where magic and magical monsters exist, there is no room for technological type devices and all they imply."
Damn straight!

Pistols that shoot colored spheres of various and typical magical effects. Ok, sure.

But, the coolest idea is the Analogic Computer. They have "heat core power source"? and are able to analyze and compute a counteraction to any spell sent their way. Even though magic is "magical" and "unknowable" it's pretty bad ass to have a computer that can calculate a counterspell. These computers follow the Star Trek pattern and self-destruct if faced with logical fallacy / problem they "can't compute." [diverging from article] Each computer can only process a certain number of spell levels per round. Spells in excess of that aren't countered and may cause the Analogic to spark, smolder, and exclaim in 70's computer voice "Warning! Warning! Computation matrix overload. Warning!"

Mapping the Dungeons
Hmmm, list of DM's. I wonder what these guys are doing these days? [addresses redacted]

Robert Dudley, Glenndale, MD
Martin Favorite, Cumberland, RI
Chas Hickock, Harrisburg, PA
Jon Hoskey, St. Pete, FL
Paul Jaquays, Spring Arbor, MI
Joe Marshall, Jr., W Lafayette, IN
Mike McGrail, Midland, TX
David Mumper, Henniker, NH
Jason Saylor, South Bend, IN
James Siegman, IL
Harry Smith, Jr. Columbus, OH
Tony Watson. Las Vegas, NV

The Dragon Vol 1, No 2. Aug, 1976

That cover is bad ass. I dig that leafless tree and Conan's pose. Tom Canty's work, Same dude? I could imagine that cover leading to this style.

Lots of fiction this issue. The Full Index.

From Dragon Rumbles Tim Kask, editor "the attitude taken by much of the established gaming hobby when fantasy first started making inroads: “It’s a phenomenon. Won’t last long. . .” The evidence today suggests otherwise."

Ha! it's lasted Tim, and it's growing again methinks.

It's Here! ... The Last D&D Supplement!?!

Proclaims an ad for Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes. Yeah right, the last one.

by John M. Seaton

I've always thought using a system like this with cards for Martial Arts or Swashbuckle type Fencing would work well. Each card represents different moves, stances, postures, etc. At the start of each round players pick X cards and place them down in order (sort of a "programmed" movement) Then they are flipped over and compared (in order). The cards make it more tactile / fun and replace having to write moves down and looking everything up in a table.

Was this article in the Best of Dragons? I actually had those and I'm totally remembering this graphic.

D&D Option: Weapon Damage
by Jon Pickens.

Instead of adding a +x to hit weapon specialization increases the size of damage die rolled. e.g Battle Axe does 1-8 normally but 1-12 in hands of expert. Also two-weapon fighting is considered a specialization and each combo of weapons is a different specialization. I like that part, but probably don't want to use specializations nor damage per weapon. Preferring instead more abstract damage per class.

Hints for D & D Judges Part 3: The Dungeons
by Joe Fischer

"... have the mistaken impression that there is only one
entrance to every dungeon."

Intelligent gold pieces; Scream when taken from the room they were found. Or, throw them-selves en masse at whoever makes the mistake of opening the chest they are in.

Magic items that keep trying get back to their real owner. I've never given that idea much thought (and I spend a lot of time thinking about magic items, how to limit them, make then confounding). The One Ring is a prime literary example.

But this is the best of all. Monster Gems! Idea is the players must make the choice between a valuable gem (money/xp) or getting a monster to do their dirty work for them. Each gem could turn into a particular monster when destroyed. But, I like the articles suggestion that monster is random and indeterminable. So, smash your 1000gp Ruby and gamble that you get a dragon rather than a kobold. The monster obeys smasher's orders as far as they are able (language and intelligence are factors but not demeanor or inclination as the monster is a simulacrum and lacks personality / alignment). The monster lasts for as long as character remains in the Mythic Dungeon. And Monster Gems revert to normal (still valuable) gems if removed from the Mythic Dungeon.

And to answer this question the article contains the Hobbit's Pipe and several magical pipeweeds for it including this one. (I think my teenage sister had some of this pipeweed.)
Pipeweed of Acapulco
It’s easy to see all the fun a judge could have with a player-character who happens to accidentally smoke this: causes the smoker to treat everyone as his friend, stands around in a stupor, not attack and defend at minus 3. Lasts 2-12 turns. If smoked in a Hobbits’ Pipe, allow saving throws.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Buying, Selling, Collecting

A few months back a friend gave me his collection of RPGs, pictured above, to sell on ebay. Instead of selling his stuff I've went on a spending spree on ebay, 1/2 priced books, my FLGS, Amazon, Lulu and elsewhere. I did, finally, list his stuff and a few of mine last Sunday. 107 items in total, something old, something new, something blue.

Check it out.

The gentleman's agreement is that I could use some of the proceeds from selling his stuff to "pay" for the items I wanted to keep. One of those items was CityBook II. I've read over a few books from this series of supplements from Flying Buffalo. Also have been really impressed with one DM's use of them.

Which despite not planing on doing any city adventures for a while prompted me to look for the others. I found I, III, V, VII fairly cheap (~ $10 shipped) on Amazon. No luck so far with finding the others at a reasonable prices.

While at Amazon and due to my recent purchase of "Prehistoric Life" I went looking for a couple of books that fascinated me in my youth. "Castle" and "City" by David Macaulay. I also discovered his "Pyramid" and "Mosque" (this is not in the same black line drawing style, it's still good though) Each of them only $6-7 shipped! Even used (in good condition) that is an amazing price. Great resources to see how each of those structures was built and used.

I've, of course, picked up latest issues of Knockspell and Fight On! magazines. Will get around to reviewing their contents, maybe, someday.

I'll bid/buy on just about anything that only costs a couple bucks. That is how I ended up getting a lot of six Brave New World source books. A game I knew nothing about nor intend on ever playing. But, I should be able to extract a $1 I paid of worth out of them in some Mutants & Masterminds campaign, eh? Been recently vaguely interested in Birthright D&D setting for it's "end game" realm management infos. A couple cheap lots later and I ended up with what's pictured below.

1/2 Priced Books is great! I (had) little interest in Dark Sun but 1/2 Price have this stuff there so cheap, I can no resist. Besides what's pictured also got a boxed set with several expansions in it for <$10. These Dark Sun modules are interesting. They have a flip book for the DM, and one for the players, full of stories, descriptions, maps, drawings, and other props. Novel idea which, apparently, didn't catch on. I'm curious if any Dark Sun players/DM's have any thoughts/experience on these flipbook modules? Other 1/2 priced book finds include the box of Battletech (which made miniature sounds when shook). That combined with a couple recent blog postings on the classic game of giant, ass kicking mecha made me pony up four whole dollars for it. GURPS Conan is so mine for $5!!! The white box edition of Castles & Crusades (lacked the old school dice, no biggie) only $4. While my infatuation with C&C is waining, having a digest sized box for Carcosa, Miscellaneum of Cinder, and other booklets is good enough consolation.

Other stuff I've acquired or ordered recently include Rifts Book of Magic, Pantheons of the Megaverse, Old Ones (for maps!). Various d20 supplements, various GURPS supplements, Midnight setting and sourcebooks (cause it was too cheap to pass up). A couple Chaosim Stormbringer/Elric? books cause they looked weird. 20lbs of tumbled semi-precious gems and varios gem beads, maybe combine with Campaign Coins to have "real" treasure to hand to players. Tons and tons of HeroScape Terrain, HO model train trees, and the like (and I've since become strongly discinclined to use minatures, sigh). Tons of dice, esp weird ones (that's a whole post for the future). Deck of Many Things, various cool playing card decks for Savage Worlds initiative, Tarot Decks. Toolbox, Ultamite Toolbox, Mutant Future, Dungeon Alphabet.

Finally, I finally found and paid too much for Compendium of Priest Spells Vol 3 completing my totally awesome library of more spells than I'll ever need. I also have the Encyclopedia Magica four volume set for more magic items than I'll ever need. With that and the Internet I see no reason not to make every magic item unique (baring potions and scrolls).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nine Minute Campgian

I'm game, actually I started this before reading any of it, and it's heavily geared towards the epic story, plot driven story path type campaign. [Edit: only kind of, the Mule Abides one, linked above, seems to be a sandbox. It said "9min", I did this fast about 20min. #7,9 specifically seem "plot (rather than players) drives action" and #5,6 aren't factors for G&G. See my comments for more]. So, it's not working out so hot. Kind of preferring the Seven +/- Two thing more.

Gold & Glory Campaign
  1. What is the Look & Feel of your campaign?
    Right there in the title buddy, Gold & Glory! Exploration & discovery, Mythic Wilderness, Mythic Underground. Magic is not a substitute for Technology. Technology is a substitute for Magic! A little S&S, S&P, and S&H. More Arduin, Mythic Europe, Otus, Howard. Less d20, Eberron, Elmore, Tolkien.

  2. What’s the high concept of your campaign?
    Are you brave or foolish enough to explore the Frontier in search of gold and glory? More to the point are you strong enough to survive its challenges and return body, mind, and soul intact? Fame, fortune, and adventure beckons! Will you answer the call?

  3. What’s the core story? (or: “Lovable misfits who…”)
    Tomb robbers, out of work mercenaries, professional scoundrels, holy men looking to save or be saved, seekers of forbidden knowledge, naive farm boys with dreams of glory, assorted ne'er-do-wells, and foreigners from near to far all congregate at the Goat & Wizard Inn. Milling about, they drink down the last of their coin, eye the competition, and chase up rumors or bar wenches. Eventually, a group gathers to explore another portion of the Frontier. If they are clever and careful most will return relatively unscathed. If they are lucky they will bring back ancient treasures, forgotten knowledge, and tales that will be retold across The Kingdom.

  4. What rules will you be using in your campaign? Crap if I know. LL, SW, whatever the system there will be too many house rules.

  5. What are the big-scale social institutions or groups in the campaign? There is no organized religion only cults and lots of them, The Kingdom, black marketeers,

  6. Who are the major supporting cast? King Osric (who has opened the frontier for exploration and will be granting those who reach name level baronies), Baron Brok, Unamed proprietor of the Goat and Wizard, Lucious Lucimor hermit mage, and lots of hirelings, henchment, and torch caddies.

  7. What are the major threats in the campaign? The Grey, Cosmic Alien Intelligences and their cults, Toad Gods and their cults, Unseelie, Warangutans, The Dreaming Queen, not using a 10' pole, the player characters.

  8. Draw a map of the campaign setting. ok, but it's not that easy (for me) and ain't happening in 1min unless you Pick a map.

  9. Draft up your first adventure. It's a sandbox, choose direction and start walking.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Protrusible Eyes

Naked Snakes. I use sensory tentacles every third monster but I've never imagined protrusible eyes. I don't even want to know what protrusible means, I know what I think it means and it means awesome.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Diablo II Magic Item Gnerator

Silly thing found by Chgowiz but none the less produced some interesting names that lead to the following.

Howling Maul - The ends of this giant maul are carved faces that "howl" as the maul is swung in battle.

Garnet Plate Boots - Have similar properties/effects as ruby red slippers. But, manly sized.

Stalking Gauntlets - They wearer of these hard leather gloves will be able to unerringly track the last person/creature struck across the face dueling challenge style with one of these gauntlets.

Halberd of the Sentinel - One holding this polearm will remain alert and never tire. They gain no benefits of rest however and as soon as halberd is let go they will suffer the accumulated effects of sleep/rest deprivation.

Weirdling Pike - The shaft of this pike bends, warps and twists through the air. Striking around shields, obstacles, attempts to parry, and corners.

Shield of the Colossus - Once per day when this 5' tall tower shield is planted in the ground and the word engraved on its face, "thermopylae", is spoken this metal shield will extend left and right upto 20' each direction until it makes contact and merges with a fixed surface (wall, tree, cliff face, etc.). Unless both sides so connect the shield will "retract". Otherwise the shield "wall" remains until the wielder is slain.

Amulet of Excellence - +1 to every roll.

Battle Axe of Simplicity - This large ax is great at chopping things. It is also cursed such that the owner will consider "chopping things" to be the simple solution to all problems.

Elixir of Fire - This liquid catches fire and burns intensely when exposed to air. If the container is thrown and shatters the resulting explosion will match the force of a fireball. If poured onto ground it will create sheets of fire similar to Wall of Fire. Other uses are left to creative players.

More generated names (and a couple I thought of in between) for which nothing particularly interesting came to mind. I'll store them away for now, unless you have an idea for one of them?

Prismatic Ring of the Mind
Drake's Leather Armor of Weakness
Studded Leather Armor of the Vulture
Silver Spear of the Vulture
Indigo Herb
Russet Herb
Crossbow of Pain
Scepter of Slaughter
Raven's Flail
Amber Kris of Unity
Book of Shivers
Amulet of Defiance
Helm of the Lion
Oil of Immunity
Ivory Bracers of Tears
Swift Blade
Lord's Long Staff
Glass Blade of the Cat
Meteoric Halberd
Gold Flag
Platinum Long Sword of Perfection
Bountiful Scepter of Wizardry
Whirling Halberd of Hate
Bored Sword

Friday, November 20, 2009

DM and SD Parrellels

My "make money to support gaming habit" activity is Software Development. Over the last decade or so I've migrated toward Agile "practices". My RPG preferences have also migrated towards simpler, looser, "lite". What is commonly called old-school. I, maybe erroneously, see striking similarities between Software Development (esp the Agile flavor) and Dungeon Mastering (esp the "old-school" flavor).

It's interesting. Both "disciplines" have various competing "methodologies" each with flame-thrower wielding religious adherents. Both indulge in a metric ass load of meta discussion over process/philosophy/origins/bike sheds. And both groups are over represented by what is generally known as "geeks" or "nerds".


You're Not Gonna Need It, agile definition. I and many other developers have wasted lots and lots of man-years designing and coding elaborate frameworks and libraries that we believe will (but never do) anticipate all needs and use cases. We had hoped these edifices of engineering would be reused over and over. But, each problem/customer/environment we wrote software for was slightly different and the reuse rarely paned out. Now, I try to solve exactly the problem at hand. No more, no less.

All the rules, YAGNI, DM adjudication/freedom from rule tyranny. Balance, YAGNI, in fact it gets in the way and it's never actually achieved. The hyper detailed Kingdom of Freedonia, YAGNI, the players will invariable never visit Freedonia unless they board a railroad. Four hour character creation complete with detailed background woven into the campaign history, YAGNI, character eaten by lions 30min into 1st session. A plot, YAGNI, this isn't story time, it's a game. Players are free to act as they wish. Perhaps creating plot through game play, perhaps just robbing some local merchants. Grognadia discusses DM minimalism a bit here and in other Dwimmermount posts.

Just In Time

Is the answer to the question "When should we write the code we thought we weren't gonna need but now realize that we do?" This idea is diffused throughout Agile Software. Just in time originated with general business, JIT compiliers are a concrete if tangential example. "Release early, release often", Test Driven Development, backlogs and iterations of Scrum, are all predicated on the JIT premise.

In RPGs it is called "winging it" or DMing by the "seat of your pants". Random encounter tables, random dungeon/monster/treasure/npc generator, old school terse one line descriptions of dungeon rooms/monsters/spells are all examples. So, is the oft repeated mega-dungeon / sandbox advice of fleshing out just the 1st few levels or just area around player's home base. Let the rest evolve during/from game play.

Iterative Development

I see each game session being akin to a scrum iteration. The ideas and activities of players during each session adds to the campaign backlog. They will be investigated (worked on) in future sessions (iterations), according to the the priorities set by players (customers). Sorry, if you don't know Scrum that might not make a lot of sense. It's about growing the game (campaign/houserules/style) incrementally over time through play. Growth driven by the players actions, rather than at the "speed of plot" and/or via simulation. Players decide what, DM decides outcome of that what.

Final Thoughts

Software Development, at a high level, is about managing complexity. A successful DM must also manage complexity. Running an entire imaginary world (or multiple worlds) in which you can't even rely on some basics such as the laws of physics is INSANELY complex. No one even comes close. Although, hard core simulationists foolishly try. SD/DMing have evolved similar tools for managing complexity. Some of which I discussed above. There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to managing RPG complexity;

1) ignore it. In the 80's this was roll up character, pick monster and duke it out. Repeat until you've killed all the gods in D&DG and have to write into Dragon Magazine to ask for new challange. Today, more of the same combat focused games only slightly obscured with light RP trappings. These are joined by the new breed of miniature/tactical focused games.

2) plot railroad. Choo choo! Complexity is limited because what will happen, when it's gonna happen, and how it's gonna happen are more or less known. Linear, perhaps with a few branches for alternatives. But, pretty much a simple directed graph (probably tree shaped) with a limited set of possible outcomes. (limited by amount of complexity DM can handle). This is design up front Waterfall SD.

3) old-school. Loose, agile, JIT. Dealing with where/what the players are doing now and largely ignoring the rest of the world (complexity) until/unless it becomes "what the players are doing now".

Like their software development counterparts they each are best in different situations. I hope to avoid situations where #2 is the right choice for either RPG or SD.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

South Austin Has A Game Store!

Who knew? I didn't, and I've been lamenting lack of FLGS that was not way the hell North since I've moved to this fine city.

The other day, leaving 1/2 Priced Books I spied "across the street" strip mall a small store Tribe Comics and Games. Flippin Awesome! Thinks I. Going in I ask "Wow, Awesome! Game store in South Austin, are you guys new?" "Uh, no. We just celebrated our one year anniversary. What's worse is I drive past it almost every day on my way home from work, doh!

The people there were totally friendly and tried really hard to find me some Lovecratianesque comics. I bought even more stuff there, including this Tribfecta of three GIANT classic comics collections. Over 1500 pages of Weird Science, Horror and Conan!

I will be adding Tribe to my regular every other week or so "spend lots of money buying weird/old rpg stuff from 1/2 price books" jaunt. If only to by the other five volumes of Savage Conan. Like 3000 freakin pages of Conan. Tribe has a small gaming area, although, they aren't open crazy late like some other stores. Still, I'm seriously thinking about running some games there, any Austinites read this blog? Wanna game?

Hopefully this is a link to Tribe's Google Map and this is my Google Map of Austin Area RPG Stores, aka FLGS.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Festung Konigstein

Fortress Kingstone (literal English translation) is pretty cool. I know cause it's one of the several castles I visited while biking around Germany/Czech Republic back when everyone else was getting rich (if only temporarily) on dot coms. Looking at the museum exhibitions I'm sort of sad I just walked around the walls and visited the open parts of the fortress.

A Fairy Tale about it and the blog that reminded me of it. The wiki page is woefully short. I remember that same view of the Elbe. I should dig up my photos (of this and several other castles/arms/armours), but they are photos on film paper and not digital so a real pain for the scannerless dude to post on a blog.

Ah, but this is the page we're interested in, full, keyed map of the fortress with lots of supporting images. Nice! Fortress has been expanded and modifed for cannon. Good location for steam punk, Renaissance campaign.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Suprises on 1-6

Nature, it's seriously freaky. I've heard that humans have problems with comprehending huge values such as how long life has been evolving on earth really is (more than three billions of years). Did you know that 99.9% of all species are extinct. Those alive today represent .001 of what has lived. Everything alive is a thousandths place rounding error*. There's been so much opportunity for evolution, countless weird ass creatures have evolved, lived, and become extinct. Critters left today are by and large the most extreme adaptations or the most general. Like the little guy to the right, we are all elites!

This is how I imagine Elven Cloak works and do some degree Hide in Shadows. That is the hider is adept at flowing his cloak, cloths, body to adapt and blend in with the existing shadows and contours of terrain. They've done things like frayed all the sharp lines and removed (or boot blacked) any shiny bits from their exterior. It's not a supernatural ability, it is all experience, practice, and evolution (high Dex being beneficial mutation).

Clicky picture to awaken monster.

* This is part of why I can't get too worked up about all the extinctions humans are causing. Even if we trigger a mass extinction. There's been several already. We might not survive but the Earth will. Life, it can make more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Prehistoric Life", a review

The dude from Tetrapod Zoology blog cowrote "Prehistoric Life". A huge book, thousands of images, 512 pages, 11.8 x 10.3 x 1.4 inches. Covers everything from formation of planet to the rise of man, 3.8 billion years. Expected it to be $40-60, it's $26 or less from Amazon! Bought it straight away.

It arrived the other day, and it is totally awesome. Typical for my reviews I offer no actual review and instead tell you who should get this book. There are three sorts.

One You have kids or in process of making one. I've had a life-long fascination with science and learning. It might just be the way I'm wired. But, as a wee lad I remember reading volumes of "How Things Work" and "City", among others. Since then I've been searching out knowledge and understanding. Buy "Prehistoric Life" (and other books like it.) Don't make your kids read it. Just leave it around. Your kids will find it and unless they suck it will blow their minds and they will crave more.

Two You're running a sci-fi/time travel RPG and want to throw down with some verisimilitude. Player's Far Trader land on a young, primitive planet? Turn to page 112 and peruse the section on Devonian plants. The regularly awesome CGI renderings and descriptive text provide all you need to set a unique stage. Need some ideas for the "Land that Time Forgot" other than, yawn, T-Rex? 500 freakin full-color pages to the rescue.

Three I've said this before (and "Prehistoric Life" supports my thesis) that nature has made weirder, more interesting "monsters" than we will ever think up. Pg 130, Stethacanthus. Pg 254, Dimorphodon (image in book makes it look cooler than wikipedia one). All those armoured spiked "dinosaurs". Pg 410 horse-ape people. A tweak or mix and match a few and you have a wicked new creature. Seriously, take any Paleozoic aquatic invertebrate, stick on 1d6 eyestalks (if needed) and float them toward your players.

Oh, yeah. I guess fourth type that should buy it. Those that are still that kid fascinated with science, learning, and big books. But instead of raiding your father's book shelf you can charge things on credit cards and have them arrive at your door a few days later. It's so rad.

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