Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Trivia Tragedy

Do you dream of Dryads, converse in Cant, wonder about wands, think THAC0?  Are you geek enough to reach 5th Level?  Then step on up to the Troll's Trivia Tragedy!

Every Friday (except when I forget and until I get bored of it) I'll post five questions, one from each level, from my AD&D 2nd Ed Trivia Game.  Bragging rights will be bestowed. Prizes, not so much.

Comment with your best guesses, no fair looking answers up!  Bonus points for humorous, sad, poignent or otherwise anecdote involving the answer. I'll post the answers later, Mondayish.

1st Level
What character class has the ability to influence the reactions of others through music, poetry, and stories?  [hint: what is the lamest character class?]

2nd Level
Which of the following is NOT a special ability common to all rangers?

A. Tracking.
B. Use of clerical spells at 8th lvl.
C. When wearing light armor, can fight two-handed without penalty.
D. Can accurately identify plants and animals.

3rd Level
What is the maximun number of missiles permitted by a magic missile spell?

4th Level
What specific advantage do characters gain by parrying?

5th Level
Francis casts polymorph other on a lesser basilisk (INT 1) turning it into a chipmunk. What is the chance that the basilisk will take on the mentality of Chippy the chipmunk?

[bonus question: will Chippy's gaze turn to stone?]

Austin Game Scene 2011

Another year of gaming in Austin awaits!

FLGS and Meetups

Google map of Austin Area RPG / Game Stores I maintain (let me know if I'm missing something).

Battleforge Games like Thor's Hammer before failed its Save vs Business Reality.  Taking a good gaming space with it (same as Thor's).  Austin lacks (like everyplace I've lived) public gaming space.  RPG's just aren't commercially viable.  They run long 6-10 hours, take 5-10 peoples worth of space, require infrequent and/or minimal purchases, and few people are willing to pay say $5 to have a place to play.  Metro Seattle's Gamers is/was? kind of working that pay to play model.  Don't think they break even, and are subsidized by Dragonflight Con, and MSG is an exception.   The only game stores surviving in Austin are supported by comics sales and focus more on CCG/miniatures and recurring income games such as Hasbro's 4ed.  They certainly have (some) shelf space for all sorts RPG's but can't justify having much playing space for them.  It's not their fault, it's just business.

Dragon's Lair
 is the only (AFAIK) "not way the flip up North" public place for RPG.  But is very crowded, often booked and too noisy for me.  [I was just there utilizing my xmas gift card (thanks Paula!) and space has been rearranged, with several more tables in different areas.  So, I must reserve judgement on crowd, availability, and noise until I get a chance to play in the new setup.  Looks promising though]  They do have the largest selection of games I've found.  Standard stuff, oddball stuff, indie stuff, local stuff, OSR stuff.  Some of everything except wargames.  They also have many events, tournaments and author/celebrity signings.  Definitely should subscribe to Dragon's Lair email newsletter.  DLair also started a podcast, but I'm not podcast kind of troll so know zilch about it.

Tribe Comics and Games is still the southernly place for RPG, board games, minis, and of course comics.  Also, still, not letting people game in their store :(.  But a great store, with friendly folks, a varied stock of RPGs and other games.  Will order anything you may want that's not in their store, pay when you pick up.  I've used this service twice it was painless and quicker than waiting for USPS delivery.

Tribe "sponsors" S. Austin Game Night, Tuesdays 6pm-late at Rockin Tomato on S. Lamar.  Great group of people, great place (tables, booths, beer, and pizza!) But for board games only.

Great Hall Games (a bit north for some) still has great board game, historical minis, wargame, Go, and other game nights.  The place in Austin for wargames and historical minis.  No RPG games or gaming.

King's Hobby still has RPG section and is worth an occasional visit.  And if seems to be Austin's modeling HQ.  Although, I'm not into that scene and could be wrong.

I believe the "modern" D&D Meetup folks have moved from defunct BattleForge to Dragon's Lair. But, it seems the D&D meetup activity has died down (could just be holidays). The GeekingOutOldschool contingent of the D&D Meetup has been gathering at the Troll's house in S. Austin recently.  More activity with Austin's RPG Meetup group of late is encouraging.  Sadly I don't believe Redbox BCS ever built up enough steam.

Georgetown RPG Meetup (too far for me).  Another, Friar Tuck Meetup, for the Northerners.   This thread about Options for gaming in Austin.

Game Conventions

OwlCon XXX Jan 28th-30th, Houstin Bam!  If I could, I'd clone myself and go twice.

ChimaeraCon April 1-3, San Antonio "Chimaeracon is a South Texas festival for Gamers, Sci-Fi enthusiasts and Anime fans. Come and enjoy video games, miniatures, card games, RPGs, live action role play and much more. "  Probably won't make this one.

North Texas RPG Con June 2-5, Irving.  Heck yeah! I'll be slamming the early-bird registration page when it opens on July 1st.  I went last year and had the best time.  The size and old schoolishness of NTRPGCON give it a unique atmosphere.  Pics.

MillenniumCon Nov 11-13, Round Rock - RPGA, Historical Minis, Boardgames.  By November might be feeling the need to get my Wargame On! Will hafta wait and see.

Maybe there will be another Central Texas Mini-Con.

Austin Region Game House!

Starting Sunday, Jan 9th I'm opening my house for gaming almost every Sunday.  Since SAGN covers board games pretty well, ARGH! will "focus" on RPGs and wargames, but I'm open for what ever.  I'll be running my new Labyrinth Lord campaign "Gold & Glory" on some of those days. GeekingOutOldschool may still be meeting there 1/mo, at least until a more centralish location can be found.  If interested email me. 

Next update 2012.  Hopefully my enthusiasm and stamina maintains for the next 52 weeks!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I am 40

I was born on this date.

I'm a 40yr old nerd and proud (overly so I'm sure) of it.  I have a great job, recently promoted to Director of Server Development, boo yah!  I own a house, share it with my demon dog!  At my awesome birthday party the Piñata was filled with D&D mini's.

Rock Out the New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Malware Site No More, I hope.

Thanks again to all the people who took the time to email, post comments, send me screenshots, links.   That was really impressive of effort and goodwill.  Seriously.

From this Google Safebrowsing Report:

What is the current listing status for
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.
Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 2 time(s) over the past 90 days.
What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 7 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 5 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-12-27, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-12-27.Malicious software is hosted on 2 domain(s), including digieyar . ru/,
caxdermain . ru
1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including hackslash . net.
Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.
Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.

I've removed from my blog list, and am asking google to review TF's status.  Hopefully it will clear up for the new year.

Monday Morning Trivia Answers

Finally, what I'm sure you've all be anciously awaiting, answers to last Friday's Troll's Trivia Tragedy!

1st Level
On average, which of the following groups enjoys the greatest booty of initial funds when play begins?

A. Warrior  PH page 66

2nd Level
Schools of magic allow wizards to specialize in a particular type of magical study. What is the corresponding concept for clerics?

Spheres of Influence.

3rd Level
Which giant-kin most resembles one of the Three Stooges? 

Verbeeg. [lamest question/answer evar!]

4th Level
If a creature with magic resistance fails its resistance check, does it still get a saving throw (if appropriate)?

Of course!

5th Level
There is only one way to slay a Tarrasque. What is it?

Reduce Tarrasque to -30 or fewer hit points. Then cast a wish spell on it. That or get Chuck Norris to round house kick it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

oh noes!

lots of people are telling me their browsers report this blog to be attack site or malwarelishous.

i didnt do it.

probably some bad link(like a old blog in my blog roll whose domain is now a bad site) or maybe someone commented with a naughty link.  unfortunately not in posostion to figure this out now (typing this on my phone)  so, feel free to stay away until after i resolve this. before this happened  i scheduled up a few posts for during my vacation from computers (which im theorectically n right now) when they post dont assume malware issue fesolved.

ill post blog when i figured out and remove whatever is triggering malware alerts.

thanks to everyone who alerted me about this.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Trivia Tragedy

Do you dream of Dryads, converse in Cant, wonder about wands, think THAC0?  Are you geek enough to reach 5th Level?  Then step on up to the Troll's Trivia Tragedy!

Every Friday (except when I forget and until I get bored of it) I'll post five questions, one from each level, from my AD&D 2nd Ed Trivia Game.  Bragging rights will be bestowed. Prizes, not so much.

Comment with your best guesses, no fair looking answers up!  Bonus points for humorous, sad, poignent or otherwise anecdote involving the answer. I'll post the answers later, Mondayish.

Ah hah! Seems I'm not the only one with a copy nor the idea for a blog post series ;) Dungeonmum beat me to punch.

1st Level
On average, which of the following groups enjoys the greatest booty of initial funds when play begins?

A. Warrior
B. Wizard
C. Priest
D. Rogue

2nd Level
Schools of magic allow wizards to specialize in a particular type of magical study. What is the corresponding concept for clerics?

3rd Level
Which giant-kin most resembles one of the Three Stooges? [huh, wtf? this question is lame.] (Hint: They're sometimes called "human behemoths".)

4th Level
If a creature with magic resistance fails its resistance check, does it still get a saving throw (if appropriate)? [A basic rules question seems much lower level than knowing random giant's that don't resemble the Three Stooges at all.]

5th Level
There is only one way to slay a Tarrasque. What is it?

AD&D 2nd Edition Trivia Game

I didn't know this existed until I put a eBay bid on it.  I won and it arrived a couple days ago.  Early present for me, yay!

Even though 2nd ed is my least played and least favorite edition of all, I'm still pretty stoked.  has some tokens, neat (if you like 2nd ed era art, I do) player cards and oh I don't know 1 box (500?) trivia cards plist into 5 levels.

3rd Level Card

Dragon and Dungeon Magazine Insert

Thursday, December 23, 2010

3d6 in order, another quick point

I'm not a fan of demi-human level limits.   I've often heard people support them because they desire demi-humans to be rare / have a human centric world.  I'm not that into human centric campaigns either, but if I were the demi-human level limits haven't been in my experience an effective means of making them rare.  Nor does it balance them at all in most campaigns cause those levels aren't reached often.

I was noticing (I believe Labyrinth Lord) had some modest ability requirements for demi-humans.  Which reminded me of the really tough ability requirements of 1st/2nd ed Paladins and Rangers.   It donned on me that ability requirements combined with "3d6 in order" are an effective way to make certain classes/races rarer.   The Paladin and Ranger requirements are way, way too high making them virtually impossible to qualify for unless you use one of the multiple dice stat methods.  But, say requiring elves to have >= INT 9 would make them less common just by virtue of dice rolling statistics.  Also elves would gravitate towards Magic User.

I've often read at Grognardia the author's belief much more thought than we give credit for went into the earliest editions of D&D.  Much of what many (myself included) consider(ed) an arbitrary hodge podge of rules.  Are actually tied together in subtle and elegant ways.   I'm still undecided how much I believe it was intentional vs survival of the fittest (there were tons of RPGs the one(s) that happened to be elegant survived, the others not so much).   But, I'm definitely seeing more and more of what James talks about re: how effective the rules are when taken as is.   Changing one thing ability rolling has a tremendous effect on many other parts of the game.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3d6, in order

After using it on both sides of the screen I've become a serious fan of rolling up characters using 3d6 and assigning the rolls in order.  That is no rearranging of scores.  Even in games where the DM doesn't require it I sometimes assign ability scores in order.  This morning, in the shower, I was thinking about 3d6, in order, what was lost when game rules moved away from that.

We need feats and doo dads and more rules to differentiate characters!
I'm sure you've heard that.  I hear it from friends and read it online.  Where I don't often hear it is from people playing "3d6, in order" games. Of flippin course every fighter is gonna be the same if you rearrange scores (esp if you roll tons of dice, reroll '1's, etc. to "guarantee" one or more 18's) so that they all have 18 STR, next highest rolls in DEX/CON and WIS/CHA dump stats. Duh! If you decide to play a fighter and then roll 3d6 in order. A lot of interesting, fun to play characters will emerge.

The player characters should be Heroes, well above the common folk.
I like campaigns were the characters are average schmucks as much, maybe more, than when they are near super-humans and "destined" heroes.   But, assuming we are interested in heroic play the above is often claimed as reason for rolling lots of dice, rerolling 1's, etc. So as to greatly increase chance of high stats.  Instead of elevating the PC's and introducing substantial power creep (thus requiring increasing monster & magic item power and leading to endless splat books, 1-up manship, and rules) I suggest degenerating NPC and esp common folk.  Farmer Bob doesn't have 3d6 abilities, he has 2d6 or 4+2d4 or 8+/-2(Fudge Dice are wonderful things), or simply 8.  Or really old school it, "normal" folk are 0lvl without stats or significant abilities of any kind.  Only PC's and henchmen have levels.

3d6, in order isn't for every game style, it isn't more better, I don't always use it. The point of this post is to encourage you to try it for yourself and find out if you enjoy it as much as I have grown to.

Monday, December 6, 2010

OwlCon XXX

I'm going to OwlCon again this year and if you're in Texas area late Jan, so should you!

One of the best convention experiences I've had was last years OwlCon.  The organizers do a great job.  There's a nice variety of RPGs, boardgames, miniature games, interesting vendors, and other events. The location, Rice University, is great.  (The Student Union's bar in the basement sells beer!)

I'm running "B2 Caves of Chaos" using Labyrinth Lord on Sat at 8pm and continuing Sun 10am.  I wanted to do something new, but 1) Been busy, 2) it's been a blast for me and seemingly popular with the players every other time I've run it.  So, why jack up a good thing?

I was surprised at the relative lack of OSR type games.  Seems to me that there's a lot of old-schoolish interest in Texas, what's up guys?  I did find and sign up for some S&W space adventures.  But dawdled for too long, missing out on the single session of "Barbarians of Lemuria", its slots are all full :(  At least The Paradigm Traveller got in so he can tell me about it.   Got in on some Atomic Highway which I know nothing about other than both "atomic" and "highway" where in the title.  Which is enough.  More Burning Wheel (cause the GM last year was phenomenal and I'm hoping it's the same guy.)

I highly recommend OwlCon.  $20 gets you a full weekend of great gaming. Or if you GM games for two time slots you get in free! Hint, Hint OSR DMs, events like this is how to get the word out (if you're into that).  Preregistrations must be received before pre-registration closes on Friday, January 21, 2011.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Troll and Flame is ranked 63rd Old Schoolish Blog

By followers, or was.  Thanks follower peoples ;)  See the Cyclopeatron's Post

63Troll and Flame71


Some Blogs that should have more followers than Troll and Flame:
I'm sure there are others. Those are ones I remember knocking my socks off and/or giving ideas for my games.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Necromould [Guest Post]

[This post was written by Flip, author of The Paradigm Traveller RPG blog.  Payback for the guest post Role Playing Game aides and accouterments I wrote on his blog.]
You round the bend in the underground tunnel and a cavern opens ahead of you. The faint rays from your flickering torch disappear into the yawning gloom ahead. You make your way down to the floor, miniature rock-slides marking your progress. When you reach the bottom, you brush the heavy dust from your clothes and turn to resume your trek. You freeze as the torchlight flickers over something... strange. After a moment's hesitation you move cautiously forward to gain a better view, halting several yards from the oddity.
A large irregular sphere, pale yellow-green and roughly six feet in diameter, hangs suspended before you, perched atop numerous slender filaments that stretch down to pierce the ground beneath. The surface glistens with slime and large pores with swollen rims, each a hands-breadth across, dot the lumpy skin like a multitude of festering wounds. At first it seems odd that such ponderous bulk rests on such seemingly fragile supports, but the longer you gaze at it, the more you feel the central mass actually supports and anchors the filaments as they stretch down into the earth. You become convinced when your scrutiny reveals that while the center mass is motionless, the filaments are continuously undulating in a nigh-imperceptible writhe.
As your eyes pass over the area where the thing's tendrils enter the stone, a small glint catches your attention. Several small objects gleam in the torchlight, and they seem to be spilling out of a half-buried pouch. Coin! -- a matching gleam sparkles in your eye as greed compels you forward. Not wanting to move any closer than necessary, you halt several feet away and stretch out your sword, hoping to catch the pouch with the tip of your blade. Suddenly a long drops and ricochets off your weapon. With a start you leap back, eyes darting up. From every pore the fungus oozes a mix of yellow ichor and bone, all falling into a slimy pile on the ground. Ribs, shoulder blades, a spine, and finally a skull. An inhuman, fang-toothed skull. A moment after the skull hits the pile, the bones begin to rise and join together. Seconds later a full skeleton stands before you, yellow ichor flowing over and around each bone in narrow rivulets. Jaws open in a silent roar and the nightmare steps towards you...


[Before we go any further, allow me to note that the Necromould is not a monster per se, but can be thought of as a flavorful explanation for the presence of undead, both in the world and in a particular location. The Necromould can also serve as the existential threat against which the PCs are striving]

It is said that long ago, an elder god from a distant dimension was cast down and murdered, betrayed by his most trusted servants. With his last strength, the old god uttered a curse of vengeance that consumed his own essence and gave rise to the Necromould. The Necromould may best be classified as an unliving disease, an unholy cancer that spreads decay and death wherever it propagates. The Necromould quickly consumed all life in its home dimension, and now strives to spread to other planes to feed anew.

While the vast majority of the Necromould's physical bulk resides in its native realm, it is constantly sending out astral feeding tubes that probe other realities. When one of these feelers happens to alight on a living creature at the time of its death, the life-force acts as a conduit through which the Necromould can deposit a spore in creature's body. Part of the creature's soul is drawn back through the astral feeder to the main body of the Necromould, to languish in uncomprehending torment. A sliver, however, remains behind to nourish the pod. Each necropod exists to consume life, and catches its prey by reanimating the dead. These undead minions may be the remains of the creature that first served as the gateway of the necropod, or may merely be the bones of some other dead creature. Indeed, the necropod extrudes tendrils which slowly phase into the ground, always searching for a stronger corpse to reanimate. On finding such a prize, the necropod magically draws it up through the earth and into itself, ready to act when needed. When a living creature approaches within a certain distance to a necropod, roughly equivalent to the diameter of the pod itself, the horrible mass begins expel the physical components of the corpse it has animated. In a matter of seconds, the skeleton, zombie etc is made whole, held together by faintly glowing necroslime. The undead minion remains tethered to the necropod via an astral feeder, but is otherwise able to move freely in pursuit of living targets. The minion will attack all living targets, and if successful in making the kills, will bring the corpses back to the necropod. The newly fed necropod may grow, and may "elect" to animate the fresh kill.

Necropods vary greatly in their own size and in the size and number of creatures they control, based on how many lifeforms have fallen prey to them. Mechanically speaking, each necropod has a diameter proportionate to the number of hit-dice worth of undead it commands. The ratio is three feet of diameter for every 1 hit-die. Thus a 15-foot diameter necropod might contain five human skeleton warriors at one hit-die apiece, or a single 5 hit-dice owlbear skeleton. Or it might contain a 2 hit-dice ghoul, and a 3 hit-dice shark skeleton. Of course, the shark skeleton won't be terribly effective in combat, but the necropod is effectively non-intelligent. It cannot choose it's servants selectively, it merely seeks out the echos of the most powerful form. Necropods of sufficient size may even contain intelligent undead, which are capable of independent thought, but are nevertheless compelled to serve their master's hunger. There is no upper limit to the number of monster hit-dice a necropod may contain.

Even if a living creature survives an encounter with a necropod's minions, the danger is not yet passed. If the necropod managed to injure the living creature during the fight, then the living creature itself now contains traces of the Necromould. The creature is now sensed by the Necromould, and when the creature dies, there is a 1 in 6 chance that the Necromould injects a spore at the moment of death. It may or may not be within the power of certain clerics to help a victim to avoid this fate. Necropods are mostly immune to physical damage, but their minions have all of the normal undead vulnerabilities. The only known way to destroy a necropod is to sever the astral feeder tube that connects back with the Necromould, and then to burn the now-vulnerable pod with fire.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cheap Mini's

Roleplaying Tips Blog had a recent post "Where can I find cheap minis online?" which is worth checking out.

I love my cheap plastic toy frog and spider minis more than any "official" mini's I've seen.  I've had success finding various animals and "giants" looking through bags of kids toys at thrift shops.  I want to save money for special mini's like this one:

Slug Eat Your Face

Were do y'all find minis?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Guest Post at The Paradigm Traveller

I wrote a guest post on Role Playing Game aides and accouterments over at the The Paradigm Traveller.  The author, Flip, is great guy and frequent player and occasional DM in various RPGs of all editions/brands/stripes.   He arrived "late" to gaming and has many interesting ideas & viewpoints.  His blog is well worth checking out.

some accouterments

Monday, November 1, 2010

Magic Items Should be Magical [repost]

[Magic Items Should be Magical originally posted Dec 25th, 2008!  A good post, edited and shortened a bit.]

Magic Items Are Special
Create a 3x5 note card for each item to give to the lucky new owner (keep a separate card or notebook for secrets about the item the player has not learned yet). Providing something tangible that the player receives, can hold, point to, wave in the air, throw across the room when it fails, and is missed when taken away is a bit of psychological trickery. But trickery that, from personal experience, creates heaps of fun. Unfortunately, it takes no small effort esp if like me you draw pictures too. 

The card provides space for descriptions, pictures, history and the like. Occasional additions to or outright replacement of the card should be made as the player discovers the item's secrets. Reserve the back of the card for player notes; where they keep it, thoughts on how it works, great deeds accomplished with it, whatever.  In manager speak you want to facilitate player "ownership."

Never flat out tell the player what an item does. Do not include mechanics in your descriptions. Never out loud for the whole group to hear, provide them privately. Allow the owner an opportunity to roleplay item's explanation and usage.  The same way scary movies slowly hint at what's so scary the mysteries of magical items should be slowly revealed.  Provide one detail in an epic floor-to-ceiling mural, another in a bard's song several sessions later. 

Even if you want the players to know everything upfront don't just blurt out "It's a Horn of Blasting, can demolish doors, walls, small structures and does 6d6 to constructs." At the very least say in your best fabulous voice "Aha! You have found the legendary Trumpet of Droog. A single note of which shattered the stone guardians of Thool. A sustained blast from this legendary horn will crack and crumble city walls and utterly demolish lesser structures." Pass the game mechanics to the owner in a note, or hey on that 3x5 card you made for this item.

Some rules expect there to be plenty of accessible "plus items". Which really makes it hard to maintain the mystic of magic. Solution; items that only provide a plus bonus aren't magical!  They are legendary masterworks.  "You, lucky sir, hold a Montoya Blade forged more than 300 years ago when the Golden Caliphs still ruled."  You could keep them magical and do the same thing.  But, +1 hit/damage seems like the effect of a master craftsman.  Something magical should be so much more...

Magic Items Are Unique
When describing an item describe that particular individual item. Describe in specifics, don't neglect sounds, tastes and smells the item possesses or generates. Depending on how magic & morality work in your world there might be other detectable emanations. "Before you is a 5' long smooth metal staff capped on one end by a large translucent bluish-white crystal.  It crackles with arcane power." Not "Found a Staff of lighting, they are from 5-6 feet long and often have crystals incorporated in their construction."

Focus on one or two signature details. Not just "a crystal" but "a large translucent bluish-white crystal." Consider making items other than scrolls and potions literally unique. It's pretty awesome to know there is exactly one Rod of Lordly Might and your character gots it.  If a player asks a leading question "What's in the crystal?" Roll with it! "The multi-faceted crystal captures your attention. Within its depths the torchlight's feeble orange light is reflected and amplified into the purest white. You drift off into pleasant memories of moonlight sparkling off the frost white snows of your long missed homeland." Maybe that's too fluffy... but, hopefully you get the idea.

Getting your players accustomed to specific traits being associated with particular magics creates opportunities for atmosphere and immersion. From frequent past usage everyone knows that invisibility potions smell strongly of lemon. While in the Dungeon of Dark Despair the scout makes a detect hidden check. Instead of blurting out "There's an invisible bugbear behind you."  Lean forward, sniff the air and whisper "Something familiar, a smell you can't quite place.  It gets stronger, you know this smell. It's lemon! From behind you and quite close."

Magic Items Are Important
Once a player has the item, don't let them forget about it. Reinforce how rare, magical and amazing it is. Peasants, followers, and hanger-ons will beg to see it. Collectors will offer to buy or try to steal it. The characters will hear songs that mention it.  Perhaps the heir of the original owner believes it rightly belongs to them and takes their claim to the authorities.  Does it need maintenance?  Perhaps a magical fungus starts growing on it. "Brave sir Hadley what is that fuzzy brown stuff on your Holy Avenger?".

If they carry it on their person it should be in danger; of being broken, getting rained on, pick pocketed, drained of magic, dropped into a volcano. Players keeps it safely stored "at home"? The place should be broken into and ransacked but the item was fortunately not stolen, this time!  Let them overhear how a great conflagration burnt down the characters home town. Make them fret over whether or not their hoard is so much melted junk.  If it fits the character, encourage them to roleplay misplacing it for a few days "Oh, here it is, in my other robes."

Don't make every event negative. It shouldn't be a constant burden just to own a magic item. Positive encounters persist even longer in players' memories. An artist or sculptor might desire to see it, even pay for the privilege. Perhaps a great wizard asks to study it. Having a wizard owe you a favor should be worth something. Events involving the characters' magic items shouldn't come up every five minutes either. Occasionally when you need a plot pick up or if the players complain about there not being enough phat lootz.

Final Thoughts
sirlarkens mentioned the "It's Sort of Like a Wand" article from Dragon Magazine. Looking it up I'm damn sure that some 19 yrs ago this is the article that got me started.  Garry Coppa, where ever you are, I owe big.  More recently I've gleamed sage advice from the most excellent Roleplaying Tips newsletter. Oh hey, look what they have done there.

I challenge every DM to make it a personal goal that every magic item your players pry out of you will be notable and prized by the character who obtains it.  Invest as much time detailing items as you do on NPCs.  Give them names, colorful descriptions, histories, previous owners, secrets.  Make them mysticalwondrous, and exciting.  It is likely that characters will have more interaction and a longer relationship with their items than they will have with most NPCs.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Star Fleet Technical Manual

I (well my older sister) had a copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual from ADB (who went on to use that material and Star Trek License to make Star Fleet Battles).  It was really, really cool to my adolescent mind.

Adrenaline and other compounds.
In a big auction lot I recently picked up a different version (red cover) and SF Medical Reference Manual (blue cover) which I had never heard of before.

Flipping through the pages made me wonder how cool it would be to base an TOS campaign on just what's presented in these two books.  Other projects got in the way.  The main effect was I started hunting for old FASA Star Trek RPG books. I dig the Triangle Campaign / Trader Captain "campaign".  Playing Klingon "Privateers", Romulan "Traders" (aka spies), or Harry Mudd type "Merchants" seems more fun than encountering new and dangerous aliens, seducing their women, then warping away before you have to deal with any consequences of your actions.  Actually that sounds pretty neat too ;)

Medical procedures for those suffering from a Mugato bite.

More pics from the Star Fleet Medical Reference, which is really a bizarre and interesting collection:

Note: not a red shirt.


Skulls of the Universe

Monday, October 25, 2010

Patent Searching for Ideas

BoingBoing mentioned Using Google Patent Search as coloring book generator.  Trying a few searches seems like a great idea.  Of course I tried looking up a couple "game" terms;  Role Playing Games, Dragons.  Found some really interesting drawings and ideas.   The patent drawings are typically nice clean line art with labels and descriptions.  Not that I need another endless rabbit hole to dive down, sigh...

If I had endless time and energy I'd put together a RPG coloring book!  But instead I'll just mention it on my blog in the hopes someone else does it ;)

Totally Awesome Dragon pistol! Just what every Shadowrun street samurai needs!

Reading those patents, mostly (esp the software/system/idea patents) just made me sad over how much time and energy and money to lawyers is wasted on patents.  Stupid, trivial, obvious.  Ideas worth less than the patent application forms they are on.

Friday, October 22, 2010

15 Games with Annotations

"I rarely participate in these blogosphere trends (mainly because I tend to come to them too late), but here are the fifteen most meaningful games to me, not necessarily in order.  I've provided a little explanation for some of them, as well:"
From the Sorcerer's Skull
Well I'm a blogwhore and jump on any meme, even ones I read about tangentially and aren't even sure exist ;)

1. D&D - Blue Box!  Norm's first RPG ever, nuff said.

2. Rolemaster - When 2ed and TSR's money grubbing, splatbook whorring ways became apparent to me I fled D&D.  And fell into Rolemaster's warm embrace.  (the warmth was from the 4/hits round of bleeding I suffered from the Fall/Crush 'C' critical I had received)

3. FUDGE - The messiah that wasn't.

4. ICE MERP - Middle Earth Roleplaying. I had most if not all of the 1st ed supplements.  Showed me how bad ass a wilderness map could be.  Gave me interest in Flora and Fauna, Herbs and Poison tables. Taught me everything I knew about Middle Earth before the movies came out.  And sold along with MTG cards funded a 9mo bike trip around Europe.

5. ToEE PC game (and module, one of my most successful campaigns. Lareth the Beautiful most fab villain ever).  The game that brought me back to D&D (3.5).

6. D&D 3.5 - Taught me exactly what I like as a DM and a gamer (it's not 3.5)

7. Arduin - Arrived very late here.  The Parlament Funkadelic of RPGs.

8. Go - subtlety, sacrifice, the whole, humility.

9. SPI's War of the Ring - My first (of very many) paper chit and hex wargames.  Wow, just realized this is probably the only item I've managed to retain from before age 14, certainly the only game.

10. Star Castle - Arcade video game, the first I ever played.

11. MTG CCG - Learned very much about game mechanics/theory.

12. Settlers of Catan - My first (of very many) modern/adult/euro style board games.

13. Traveller RPG - Space; it's really, really big and still you can't get away from "Hard" Sci-fi dweebs.

14. Labyrinth Lord - The game I most want to play, and by play I mean houserule beyond all recognition.

15. "Basic Computer Games" - Start of my tech career which has given me joy, stress, bad posture, pale skin and best of all; time and the money to play all the games I want.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

So, what have I missed?

I took a long (multi-month) hiatus from blogging and reading the deluge of great material all the peeps in the blog roll to the right produce.  The choice between playing and reading/writing about playing is what separates "bloggers" from "gamers".  Me definitely in the gamer camp.  I've luckily been doing more gaming.  So the blogging suffers.

Not quit ready to jump back into the 2-6 hours / day reading I was doing before.  But, I'm curious what big things have I missed?  I just ordered FO! #9 and #10. Doesn't seem to be a newer than #4 Knockspell which I got.  Gamma World has been shat out by Hasbro.  Their use of Dungeon Majesty / Awesomist D&D video ever in selling the 4ed Red Box (esp commercials on almost got me to buy it, just barely made my save on that one.  [btw, does anyone know are the makers of that video getting any credit / compensation or did Hasbro just rip it off with a clause in their contest rules "we get to use your stuff anyway we like"?]

Anything interesting happen in commercial RPG world?

But, I'm more wanting to know what OSR/blogger stuff I've missed.  Seemed like every few months there'd be some colossal shitstorm over NOTHING.  Proly missed a couple of those, eh?  Proly better off for it.  Who are the up and coming bloggers, who's gone on "hiatus"?  Any new community projects of note?

So, what are the top posts of last few months I should check out?

I live in Texas, so the bars have chairs made of cow horns...
Replace that cow skin with some Dragon hide and it looks like a barbarian throne to me.  Or, perhaps a giant's chair made from Mastodon tusks.  Whatever, it should surely be irresistible to curious characters and thus deviously trapped.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Central Texas Mini-Con

[Yeah this happened months ago, sue me for being slow ;) ]

Great little event, hope it happens again.  Thanks to the organizers, DM's and all the players that showed up.  I ran my mutated B2 Caves of Chaos using Labyrinth Lord.  One of the players, Hill Cantons has words and pics.  [asmall correction "ape-like orcs", ape-like Hobgoblins! Well organized, militant, 2-3HD hobgoblins that the party did great just to survive an encounter with.]  Thanks for the write up!

Some pics I found still in my camera, waiting patiently for the day I get around to uploading them.

Gamers, Grub, and Goblins.  Perfect Trifecta!

Fun for all, young, old, and in between.

I should create a website for hand drawn character portraits.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Post Reread

Someone found an old post of mine and commented on it, which made me reread that post, which made my day.  It was written just about a year ago and it's a message/theme that's good for me to be reminded of.  So, I'm linking to it.

I liked one of the bits of that post so much that I added to the top of Troll and Flame's sidebar as the motto / theme / purpose of this blog.
This supplement is offered in the hopes that it will infuse new life into the amateur side of fantasy role playing games, and stimulate the free idea exchanges so sorely needed to keep this type of gaming alive and viable. This supplement does not seek to replace or denigrate any other fantasy role playing supplement or game, either professional or amateur. 
-- David Hargrave

Some other Troll and Flame posts on Arduin.  I doubt it but maybe I'll get in gear and finally review some of this stuff.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Gaming

One of Austin's local game groups usual meeting place a FLGS closed it's doors a couple months ago.  So, we've been playing at my house.  Yesterday's session was the first in my new (since move) "Game Room".   Here's some pics of our 1st/2nd AD&D action.  If you're in Austin, TX area and want to game (of anytype)  get in touch, I probably know where/who to go for that.

Frogs! Slimy, bulging eyed frogs. Love'm. Their watery lair was packed with loot.

Maybe I should have had everyone smile/look excited before pic, eh? :)

Teamwork! Thief goes onboard ship, everyone else stands as far away as is physically possible.

Our illustrious GM, actually everyone in that pic GMs now and then.
See that big ass grin, that's cause his frogs be chomping up our party:( 

Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Wilderness Alphabet", a review

[Several months ago a kindly dude, James Pacek, asked me to proofread a project he had been working on.  A while after (but still several months ago) he sent me a gratis printed copy of his project, "The Wilderness Alphabet" (thanks James!).  I've owed him a review for a long while now (sorry it took so long).  This is one slick supplement, I would be enthusiastically reviewing it even had I not received a free copy.]

In the mold of "The Dungeon Alphabet"'s randsomely description of the dank below, "TheWilderness Alphabet" takes on the great expanse of adventure between civilization and the local mad wizard's dungeons.  The subtitle says what this fun, little book is all about.
"A Collection of Random Charts, Tables, and Ideas for use with various Games of Imagination."
[aside: Games of Imagination, that's pretty bad ass description of how I view RPGs.  Very much like that "game" is first.  Imagination encompasses much more of the fun I have than 'role playing' (which always made think of maid costumes...).]

Digest sized, little more than 60 pages, nicely printed and perfect bound by Lulu, $9.00.  The cover art is
 great.  In fact the whole design/art direction of the book is great.  One of the best "indie self-publication" (and I imply no belittlement by that label) I've seen.  The art is mostly public domain.  But there's lots of it and it has been expertly chosen/laid out. Greatly complimenting the various charts and tables.  Just like the in the best RPG products the art spurs the reader's imagination and gets their ideas flowing.  Included is a list of illustration credits.  It's not only classy to give attribution but also enables the reader to pursue a particular artwork or artist that caught their fancy.  A small touch, but a nice one.

"The Wilderness Alphabet" contains 26 "chapters". One for each letter of the alphabet (in case you were vague on the concept).  Not satisfied with just those the author included additional material at the end; Bonus Tables (undead, places, powers, weapons and the like), Colorful NPCs, Strange Sounds, Gods and Goddesses, Mines and an alternate letter 'L' is for Labyrinth.  Built into the Table of Contents for the 'letter' chapters is a d100 chart, very cool.  One feature I especially like is how the author has put little anecdotes from his own games/campaigns here and there. For example;
"... an annual tournament called the "Mythrilman" competition. Fighters Paladins and Rangers (some Monks too) would compete in a series of three events. Each event testing a different element of their martial prowess. ..."
Mythrilman, that's straight up cool.

Overall "The Wilderness Alphabet" is a great book/tool for DM's, I highly recommend it.  It's handy, short (not overwhelming), fun to read and use.  It inspires.  Immensely useful when creating a wilderness (I recently used it to help fill in some blank spots on my GnG campaign map).  Or even more so, for when your players take the "other" road.  The one that leads to "you have no idea".  Call a 5min snack/bathroom break.  Grab your copy of "The Wilderness Alphabet", some dice, and rock out.  Games of the Imagination indeed!

Temple of Elemental Evil PC Game at GOG

[I've bought a few games from GOG, had no problems / recommend them.]

[UPDATE: I forget to mention the Circle of Eight forum/community that maintains patches and mods for this game.  The patches are necessary! See also]

Many people hated this game. They were wrong.  If you like turn based, party building, D&D and can get over the 3.5ness (btw it follows the 3.5 rules very well, in fact I learned 3.5 from this game) then ToEE is a game you should play.

suck on my Ice Storm bitches!

I've talked (ranted) about ToEE (PC game and original adventure) before and don't have time to "sell' it to you now.  Search this blog for toee or the internet for; njharman toee.  But, really for "$6, don't even hafto get up from your chair" you owe yourself to check it out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Worldwide D&D Day: Gamma World

[Announcement from my FLGS's newsletter... I'm excited but fear the worst.]

Grab a friend and get ready to celebrate the launch of the new D&D Gamma World Boxed Set. Mutate a brave new hero and be ready to take on just about anything! Experience the return of an old classic in a new play experience using the D&D 4th Edition rules engine! The D&D Gamma World game is a fast, furious romp through a post-apocalyptic Earth where mutant heroes face-off against killer robots, alien weirdness, and strange irradiated creatures.

Gamma World Game Day: Trouble in Freesboro

It’s shocking how the Big Mistake completely obliterated some places while others got by relatively unscathed. Freesboro falls into the latter camp, but if Genghis Tangh has his way, life will never be the same for the mutants of Gamma Terra. Delve into the origins of the Big Mistake as you take on Tangh and his forces! Pick up a D&D Gamma World Boxed Set, a few booster packs of power cards, and create your own characters in an exciting new Game Day experience! A D&D Gamma World Game Day adventure designed for 4-6 characters of 1st level.

An exclusive 4-hour adventure called Trouble in Freesboro, written by Robert Schwalb, includes an online feature to the game that if accessed during game play can provide the players with a valuable clue. Players purchase 2 D&D Gamma World booster packs and create their own characters when they arrive at a participating location to play. DMs are required to have a copy of the D&D Gamma World Boxed Set and the adventure materials, available prior to the event day in the game day kit, to prepare to run their game. In addition to a poster map and the adventure, the game day kit also contains 2 different D&D Gamma World cards, available nowhere else, and awarded to players and DMs just for participating!

Dragon's Lair Comics & Fantasy® Austin

WHEN: October 23, 2010 REGISTRATION: Register Here!
  • Session I: 1:00 PM
  • Session II: 6:00 PM

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Come to Mordor

Dammit, now I'm gonna have to spend the weekend (re)watching the gabazillion hour long extended LotR dvd set I have, ... yay!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Austin's Central Texas Mini-Con July 31st & Aug 21st

Central Texas Mini-Con
July 31st and Aug 21st
11am - 10pm
Scholz Beer Garden
Austin Texas

Ah yeah!  Fresh on the heels of the NTRPGCon the Austin Old School(ish) community and friends (i.e Alex mostly) is organizing an Austin RPG Mini Con.  Two days of gaming goodness.  Spreading them out one in July and one in Aug so everyone has a chance to come.  The original Dragon's Foot discussion.

The official discussion forum and registration site are hosted by Doug Rhea, manager of NTRPG Con. Make sure you register so organizers get a count of attendees! Registration is free! It's a two step process. First you must register with the site to use it. Second you must register on the site for the date or dates that you plan to attend. Attendance on both dates is permitted (and encouraged!).

Register for the Central Texas Mini-Con at the NTRPGCon Website

I've registered and volunteered to run games for both dates.  Gonna break out the B2 Caves of Chaos Marathon for July 31st and thinking something Gold & Gloryish for Aug.  But if more people don't attend I'll be happily hacking it as a player. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine's Supplemental Issues and Dowloads

I mentioned these briefly before.  But, John Four has collected some great stuff over at the downloads section of the Roleplaying Tips website.  I decided they deserved own post and more exposure.

Supplemental Issues

Other Downloads

A grab bag of  goodness, overland encounters, book generator, 8000 first names, excel spreadsheets, and the like.  Also, awesomely, Roleplaying Tips Archives - plain text format - Issues 001 to 431 a 4.7MB zip file.

Not linking them all, head over to Roleplaying Tips Website's Download Section and scroll down.

5 Room Dungeons - Contest Entry Downloads

Before the One Page Dungeon Contest, there was the Five Room Dungeon Contest. These are all smallish (5 rooms) adventure settings based on the 5 Room Format.
  • Volume 18

    1. The Tomb of Three Brothers by Jake Sorensen
    2. The Wizard's Retreat by Jake Sorensen
    3. The Shifter by The Shifter
    4. The Braun Castle by Monstah

    1. Volume 17

      1. Retreat by Aki Halme
      2. Tomb of the Colossus by Bryan Smart
      3. Too Many in the Tomb by John Moseman
      4. Minaret of the Smoking Tankard by Michael Sinclair
      5. The Witchwood by H L

      1. Volume 16
        1. The Sledge by Dragonlordmax
        2. The Pyramid by Jeremy Coffey
        3. The Masters of Evil by David J Rowe

        1. Volume 15

          1. Prison Break by Nathan Wells
          2. The Company by Nathan Wells
          3. Catching the Traitor by Amy
          4. The Wizard's Land by Dr SciFi
          5. St. Nathanial - Harbinger of Doom by Thewizard63

          1. Volume 14
            1. Caravan of Courage by Nathan Wells
            2. Escape From Slavers' Isle by Jason Kemp
            3. Vault of the Wiglord by Ken McCutchen
            4. The Towers of Wisdom by manfred
            5. Through the Maze by Margaret Coffey

            1. Volume 13
              1. The Wizard's Challenge by Thewizard63
              2. Drop of Blood in the Bucket by mrcelophane
              3. Temple of the Four Elements by Nathan Wells
              4. Random 5 Rooms Dungeon Generator by Davide Quatrini
              5. Promised Aid by Jonas Dorn

              1. Volume 12
                1. Stranger Than Fiction by Uri Lifshitz
                2. Aboleth by Andrew Anderson
                3. Dragon's Lair by Aki Halme
                4. Lord and Killer by Drackler
                5. Upshi Rises by Cheka Man

                1. Volume 11

                  1. The Mercenary Shrine (sci-fi) by Ancient Gamer
                  2. The Cursed Keep of the Wastelands by Captain Penguin
                  3. The Well by Bert Isla
                  4. The Governor's House by Anthony Hart-Jones
                  5. Blind Pack by Jean-Christophe Pelletier

                  1. Volume 10

                    1. Revenge of the Urn Beast by Cheka Man
                    2. Raid on Tantalus IV by dark_dragon
                    3. Sewer Lair by Daniel Burrage
                    4. Orcish Olympics by Aki Halme
                    5. Pitfall Castle by Nathan Wells

                    1. Volume 9
                      1. Skanda Biologicals by Siren no Orakio
                      2. The Spirit Never Dies by Ria Hawk
                      3. Saving Plaque by Strolen
                      4. Barrow of the Bored Berserker by DeeCee
                      5. The Stone Labyrinth by Daniel Burrage

                      1. Volume 8
                        1. To Sell a Gem by David Hickman
                        2. Place of the Embalmers by Wulfhere
                        3. The Nobleman's Daughter by Dragon Lord
                        4. The Great Gate by Davide Quatrini
                        5. Heart of the Dwarves by Paul Darcy

                        1. Volume 7
                          1. Of Pines and Roses by valadaar
                          2. The Tomb of Agellar by Dragonlordmax
                          3. Deserted Island by Nik Palmer
                          4. Henge of Ascension by Nik Palmer
                          5. Taking Sides by Uri Lifshitz

                          1. Volume 6
                            1. Diamonds and the Deluge by valadaar
                            2. Bedizen's Traveling Dungeon by Scrasamax
                            3. Thieves' Guild by Aki Halme
                            4. 'Ringed' by fadeaway1978
                            5. Tomb of a Cleric by Uri Lifshitz

                            1. Volume 5
                              1. Spawn of the God-Egg by Wulfhere and EchoMirage
                              2. Foray into the Forest of the Frog King by Thewizard63
                              3. Troll Brothers Cove by Nik Palmer
                              4. Black Fire Ruins by Will Cartier
                              5. Shadow Vault by William K. Wood

                              1. Volume 4
                                1. The Sanctuary of Sumuho by Dozus
                                2. Crossbones Island by Chaosmark
                                3. Swamp Music by Nik Palmer
                                4. The Windspire by Nathan Meyer
                                5. The Message by Morgan Joeck

                                1. Volume 3
                                  1. The Haunting by Matthew and Paul Darcy
                                  2. The Quest for the Rod of Spellius by Davide Quatrini
                                  3. The Plague Devil by Nik Palmer
                                  4. Villainous Cellar Pub by Aki Halme
                                  5. Ye Classic Wizard's House by Gillian Wiseman

                                  1. Volume 2
                                    1. Warts and All by Paul Darcy
                                    2. Temple of the Volcano God by DJ Mindermast
                                    3. The Necromancer's Cave by Morpha
                                    4. Merchant's Crypt by Aki Halme
                                    5. The Temple Defiled by Tyler Turner

                                    1. Volume 1
                                      1. A visit to the Witch's Cottage by Gillian Wiseman
                                      2. Isles of Ice by Mothshade
                                      3. The Tomb of the Dragon Queen by Joseph Rapoport
                                      4. The Living Vault by Mothshade
                                      5. The Sunken Vault by Nathan 

                                    All 18 Volumes 181 pages! Includes a new advenrure, The Pool of Unmaking by John McCullogh

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