Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sick or Not, the Game Must Go On

Well, not my game.  I Cancelled last night's game and tonight's game.  Feeling better, going to work, but that's about all the strength I can manage, plus with the Whisk down I need to find her weird shows to watch.  Last night was a marathon of Extreme Couponers off of YouTube.  Man, some of those people are a bit, wow.

Anyway, gaming news at the manor.  Lots of great stuff has been coming out.  Still reading through Weird Adventures.  I plan on doing a more in depth review soon when I can sit at my computer for more than five minutes without passing out.  I read it and keep imagining all the cool characters I want to play.  Someone please DM this soon!

I also got Christian's Lovitar issue 7.  I had it for about 10 minutes before bug also found it.  Needless to say, issue #7 got its ass kicked.  A forest full of basilisks is no match for The Bug.  She keeps this up I am going to need to stat her up just below the tarrasque.  Despite Loviatar's apparent vulnerability to the Bug, I renew my subscription.  Damn zine is too fun to miss.  If you have the funds treat yourself.

Then to my surprice Jason Sholtis released his new zine, Zogorion Lord of Hippogriffs.  It looks to be an adventure module featuring Jason's great artwork including on kick ass map.  At $2 the artwork is more than worth that.  And if anyone follows Jason's new Dungeon Dozen blog you know its going to be a crazy adventure.

And lastly I got off the snide about ordering Land of Nod.  I got my first issue, issue #5 because that's the one about Medieval Mining, and I am really enjoying it.  I plan on scooping up more soon.

Okay, I am late for work.  Just for the record, Tuesdays suck in general.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Which Trees of the Forest?

I've been messing with maps a lot lately and I have several variations of trees to depict forests.  Each one I like and dislike.  So out it goes to everyone to see what others think.  I guess this is my lame version are my tree hot or not.
'Puffy Tree' version.  One of my long standard forest version.  This one is outlined with a thicker dark green Sharpie then a color pencil used to fill it in.

'Blob Forest' version.  Simple shape outline.  Black pencil is used first to do the outline, then the dark green pencil to go over the outline and fill.

'Blog Version 2' Forest.  The main difference is the outline is done with a Sharpie.

'Brain Version' forest.  This one I've placed some texture in this version.  Outlined with a micro sharpie and color pencil fill.  Below is a map featuring this version of forest.

Let me know which version you like best.  I go back-n-forth on this one.

Sleestak Spartacus

Normally Enik is dressed in his snazzy orange metallic smock.  But since this is the start of new Spartacus season he was caught wearing this.

Of course you do Enik. 

For those interested in seeing the first episode here is the link to Starz.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Game Plans Hampered by Sickness

Usually I don't do posts on non related gaming posts so I'll loop around and duct tape this at the end to some sort of gaming relevance.  Maybe not.  I've been sick all week and this weekend its gotten worse.  Don't mean to complain, but it is really getting on my nerves right now.  Next week my Monday night group gets restarted after a two week hiatus and then the second session for my newbie group is on Tuesday night.  I'm trying to work a bit on stuff and can't because the pressure behind my eyes is getting to the point where I think they may pop out at any time.  At some point I'm not sure I would care if it stopped the pressure.

The Monday night crew just cleared out a big boss.  It is leading up to the second stage of the campaign.  If I can manage to play on Monday the party is about to learn something game changing.  I'm interested to see what they will do with it.  If they do what i think they'll do then I will have a lot of work to do, but that's okay by me.  I've already got maps drawn.

Monday they finished the initial adventure successfully although the party is pretty well beat up and their cleric is unconscious.  Part of the reason they went on this adventure was to earn the privilege to be healed at the local temple.  It's a week's walk to the next temple and Brother Owen knows he has a bit of a monopoly in the area so strutting into the temple with a sack full of coins is not enough.  In my campaign world, gods do not heal someone who serves them no purpose. 

The thief initially got mouthy with the cleric, but backed off on the insistence of his fellow party members.  There will be a lot of role-playing in the next session.  They will learn how the town works and making one person mad my have repercussions in other areas.  Should be interesting. 

Okay, back on the couch.  I'm watching a documentary on the mothman. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Makes You Support an OSR Product...or Not?

I've been having a discussion with a few other OSR bloggers about the reasons why someone would support an OSR product or why they wouldn't.  Some of the factors that came up were:
  • cost of the product
  • saturation of the product
  • quality of the product
Other factors, more personal, that come into play are:
  • buyer's current financial situation
  • like or dislike of the author
  • personal interest in the product
I'm aware this is not a complete list, but base to use.  Besides I need to be to work a half hour so time is precious.

There are tons of OSR products out there and more and more folks are getting into the game.  Two of my personal favorites recently released were Weird Adventures by Trey Causey and Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz by Dylan Hartwell.  It should also come to no surprise I really like both of their blogs.  I can say that I bought Trey's because I've been getting samples of Weird Adventures on his blog for a while, I like the genre he selected and the art was fantastic, so my interest in his product was a done deal when it came out.  As for Dylan's adventure, he released his soon after he had a discussion on his blog whether to sell it or not.  I encouraged him to sell it.  Did I know much about it?  Nope.  I bought it purely because I wanted to see his style and what kind of adventure he would create.  I was not disappointed.

But there are a ton of other products which I can't list them all, but just off the top of my head, Micheal Curtis's Stonehell Dungeon and Dungeon Alphabet (Three Castles Award winner) and how could I forget Realms of Crawling Chaos.  I bought Stonehell in print because at the time I wanted to check out how a mega-dungeon was built.  Michael came at it from a fresh approach that I think is still one of the best ways to go.  The ever changing dungeon.  Dungeon Alphabet I wasn't all that interested in, but after the hype and chatter about it I got it on PDF.  I like it, but haven't used it for much.  Then the Realms Of Crawling Chaos, I bought on PDF and will buy in print in the future.  I really enjoyed this one and will definitely use it in the future.  I use Micheal's three products because most everyone knows them and the important thing, at least to the publishers, I bought all three.  I like supporting Micheal's products, because so far he is given me value for my money.  So when he releases his next product and I may not know many details, but because I have enjoyed his work in the past I'll probably get it.  The only real decision is whether get it in PDF or print.

One of my favorite OSR publishers is Expeditious Retreat.  Before I knew to much about them I bought A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe on PDF.  Than I immediately bought it in print.  Then I purchased several other items from Joseph Browning and crew, A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture in print, and one of my favorite bestiaries Malevolent and Benign which I lucked out and was able to purchase from the damaged bin with a few adventures.  Great stuff.  But his Sorcery & Super Science! has not interested me.  Again, not because I think its bad, just at this time I'm not interested in mixing genres like that for my games.  Hell when S3 came out and all the PCs were running around with laser guns I lost interest in the game.

Magazine wise we have Fight On!, the original OSR backed magazine.  Which I like, but if I only have enough for one magazine I prefer Knockspell overall.  And Christian's zine Loviatar is a favorite of mine.  But if I have money for both I usually buy both.  Because you really can't go wrong with any of them.  I know there are other magazines out there like Land of Nod and though I am a big fan of John Stater I haven't bought any of his magazines yet.  And this is due to I only have so much money to go around.  And those who saw my running total for 2011 it was long, but still I have only so much I can spend on gaming.  So for Land of Nod, which I still want, the only reason I haven't supported it was money.

Rob Conley had a great success with his Majestic Wilderlands.  I helped him out with a small portion of it.  He's been running the same campaign world forever and it shows in its depth.  I got a free copy because of my help, but also bought a couple of copies to give away to others, to help support him.  Rob and I have been friends for 20+ years and if he ever needs help with a project he knows he can always call on me and the reverse.  But, we dropped the ball on this one a bit.  Rob was giving me small segments to edit then would give me another small portion with some of the last portion that was the unedited version so our organization stank for that.  Then as time wore on I got a new job that required a ton of my time and the second half of the book shows that.  Because of this we changed our strategy, when he wrote Blackmarsh it was given to me as a complete manuscript, I did the edits and then we went over it together.  Then we sent it out to test readers to catch things both of us had missed.  Again, I bought two print copies to give away to support him.

I can't go through every product out there or the reasons why I buy or don't buy a product.  I think my two main reasons why I buy is does the product fit my interest and do I have the mula.  Why I don't buy a product, I admit that if I am not a fan of the person I am less likely to buy it.  This rarely is the case, but it does happen.  And the other reason why I don't buy a product is mainly there are so many to choose from and that you just have to pick.  Doesn't mean the others aren't fantastic, but choices need to be made.  We only have so much money and time.  And real life demands its share.  Just like now.  I have to go to work.

So if you get a chance let me know what influences you to buy or not to buy a gaming product. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Villians, Part 8

Mallard 'deadpan' Malkin, squatted next to the creek shoveling dirt into his pan.  He swooshed around the muddy water to wash away the stone, mud and crud to check for gold.  A few glittering golden specks came into a view and a pinky-nail sized nugget.  He nodded and grinned, only a few of his teeth remained.

Just as he filled another pan he heard the snap of one of his traps then heard a man cry out.  He took a deep breath and grabbed his shovel.  He walked down the creek a ways and chuckled when the man's cries sounded like a woman's.  He used the shovel to walk up the creek side and over the ridge.  From there he could see a young man struggling to get the trap off his ankle. 

"Weren't come off doin it like that."  He said in a slow drawl as he walked down the ridge.  "Got in one of my biggins."

The man's hands were soaked with blood that came from the wound.  "Please, help me.  Oh god please help me."

Mallard stood above the the man, maybe not even a man, looked like a boy who'd grown good.  "There be a lock on that there side.  Just pull it out and it'll release.  Why you runnin through my woods boy?  This ain't no place fer you and youins.  Traps set all over this here ridge."  He pointed along the creek.

The boy released the lock and the jagged metal teeth relaxed.  He fell onto his back trying to catch his breath.  "I need to get home.  Please."

"Well hell no boy, that foot is just a danglin."  He pulled out a crusty rabbit's foot he wore as a necklace.  "Hell, even a rabbit needs all his feet to be gett'n away."  Mallard spit on the ground then pulled out a large skinning knife.  "I guess we best start gett'n this done."

The boy put up a bloody hand.  "Wh..what are you doing?"  He tried to scream, but his voice failed him.  "Don't cut off my foot."

"Hell boy, what would I do with your foot?  I needs your skin."  He walked around to the head of the boy and grabbed his hair.  "Now don't a go a struggle'n.  Mess up my cutt'n."  The boy cried out and struggled.  Even though he's lost a lot of blood there was a good fight left in him.  Mallard jerk backed the boy's head, "I gots eight kids that needs to be feeding.  One boy just a shorter than you."  He took the knife and pointed it to the top of the hill.  "Up yonder is a lady give'n a handful of coin for a skin like yours.  I need to keep the cuts clean."

Mallard put the knife to boy's throat.  "Know you're doin a good thing.  A boy dies for nothin.  A man dies for somethin.  You a real man today."  The knife slid effortlessly through the skin of the boy's throat.  Mallard flipped him over a rock and let the blood drain into the creek.  He thought maybe the gold spirits would like that.  It didn't take long, being as he was draining from both ends.  With a flick of his wrist he change the position of his skinning knife and got to work.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Weird Adventures has Arrived, Bug Approved

I've been waiting for nearly a year for Trey to complete his Weird Adventures and tonight, the waiting has ended.  Bug wasn't even alive a year ago, but she endorses Weird Adventures.  So I had to get one for me and one for her.  My night is set, to read some of what Trey (of From the Sorcerer's Skull blog)  has to offer and then scour his blog and print another booklet of relevant posts that go along with his setting of The City.  I will do a more in-depth review in a later post.   Congratulations Trey.

Word Verification Off

I've been meaning to do this for a while, turn off word verification.  I know it's a pain and I'll keep it off as long as I don't start getting hit with a lot of spam.  No more reading words that look like they were written by a drunk person with a good vocabulary.  No more losing your comment because of an error during the verification.  And no more time wasters developed because some wank needs to splash an advertisement no one is going to 'go see' all over the web.  So in the next four years I will...

...apparently I've been watching too many political debates.  Scramble the channel and let's get back to a regularly scheduled program...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Map Time! 3

I just noticed I have the Coven Forest in two places.  Not sure what happened there.  With this map I used a picture program to add the words and twist them around.  I like the way it turned out overall. This is what it looked like before.

This is How I Think

So after Bug slaughtered a good portion of my Sharpies I went out and bought a 24-pack.  Whisk asks "Why did you get the big pack?  I thought you didn't need that many colors for your map."  I don't, but my strategy is this.  Bug doesn't know that.  The other Sharpies are decoys to keep her away from my blues and blacks and browns.  I will put out a purple and weird gray and one I have no idea what color it is.  They can be the sacrifices to The Bug.  I'm a gamer, this is how I think.

P.S. The Sharpies are surrounded by spices.  I'll bet you can't guess who took the picture and took my orange and pink markers.  I forgot I needed to make my sacrifice of the 'pretty colors' to The Whisk.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No, You Can't be the Cow

Okay, so the newbie game was last Wednesday.  Out of the six of them, one had played once, five had heard of the game and as I said in a previous post, two of them had four, 20-sided dice.  I had a very newbie group.

I created the characters ahead of time and went over what some of the stats meant.  I gave them a very stripped down version.  The spell caster got spell cards so before we started I had the magic-users select two of them.  Also, I did a quick lesson on what dice were which.  This seemed to be the biggest challenge for players.  The 4-sided became 'the pyramid', 6-sider 'the cube', 8-sider 'the diamond', 10-side 'the top', 12-sider 'the baseball' and the 20-sider 'the big die'. 

Before we started the real game I ran them through a sample combat.  I find doing this helps a ton.  They were excited to see the battle board and the miniatures.  The one girl who was playing the elven magic-user wanted to be the cow miniature that Rob had jokingly put in the box.  "Can I be the cow?  Wouldn't it be cool if I was an elven cow who cast spells?"  For a moment I did think that would be pretty cool, but said no.  Let's learn the basics of the game before we run a gonzo version.

The initial attack, the players were greeted with an astounding number of critical failures.  The thief attempted to hide in a bush and instead got stuck in it.  The archer tried to archer and dropped her bow twice.  The mage tried to throw darts and hit a teammate instead and then the thief tried to throw a dagger and it flew into the woods never to be found again.  So the combat went about normal.  They thought their characters sucked, but I reminded them it was bad luck.  What they did learn was the power of a Sleep spell.  When the goblins took a nap the players cheered then the dwarf character said, "Why didn't we do that in the beginning?"

The adventure I ran them through was the one I created for Started Adventures.  They handled a group of maskers well, avoiding trouble.  The thief found a dead body in the forest and kept the minor loot he found himself (bonus xp).  When they reached the dungeon the players showed a good knowledge of tactics.  Covering entrances, having the thief check for traps and so on. 

One quick note on the thief, I stole an idea from Skyrim and all Elder Scroll Games (I've been stealing a lot lately) and thieves now have to buy a number of lockpicks.  If they fail over 20% the pick breaks.  This gives a sense of urgency in a way.  If a thief breaks a few right off that start he may want to conserve the picks for a more interesting score.  I made the picks a finite resource. 

The elven mage charmed one of the goblins they encountered and had a good rp moment.  Then the big battle with the goblins followed.  Again, they showed a lot of good sense.  The guy who played the dwarf used iron spikes to keep the door shut so they would only have to fight them from one way.  As a DM I was stoked to see them really embrace the things they could do in game.  Again it was the mage with the sleep spell that saved the day.  After he jumped into the fray he was immediately cut down by the leader, but the cleric was on the spot and was quick to save him. 

Another fun moment was when the elven mage, who wants to be a cow some day, told the cleric "Get up close and spray him in the eyes with your mace."  I had to take a short DM time out while a laughed. 

Although I had to cut some of the dungeon out they completed their objective with no time to spare.  After the game they were jazzed and talked a mile a minute.  All of them wanted to know what we were playing next.  The morning after the two girls who played said they stayed up all night on a 'gaming buzz'.  Said they couldn't stop talking about it. 

I plan on running it once a month, maybe twice a month.  I'm pleased with the way things turned out.  I look forward to the next game. 

Sleestak Sunday

Another Sleestak Sunday has come around again.  This week has been interesting.  Wednesday was the all newbie group which I will post on either tomorrow or tonight.  It went well.  And couple of days ago we got the initial rules for 5E D&D.  I need to go over the NDA before I can say anything.  We are setting up a group to start testing it.  My initial impression is 'I want to see how this plays' which is good.  It's got my interest.  I started doing commenter XP.  I listed how to gain XP at the bottom of the list and will award bonus XP on various posts.  Should be fun.

I know its a low keyed Sleestak Sunday, but I can't scare Angry Lurker every week with scary green reptile men.  dmarks over at his Throwawayblog will compliment this Sunday with some sleestak finery.  I hope everyone has a good Sunday.  Championship Sunday.  Now everyone go make some maps.  I've been digging all the ones I've been seeing lately.  I need to go to Staples and buy more Sharpies, Bug ate half of mine last night.  That is why the universe made puppies cute.  So you don't kill them.  Besides, they aren't worth shit for XP.

Slayer of Sharpies

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Participant Experience Points

I've been a big fan of the Digital Orc blog and now I am going to blatantly rip off an idea from his blog.  Experience points for those who comment.  A running total for the year along the left side.  Why?  Because I like the idea of it and when I do give-a ways, that is something I would like to do more of, or contests or whatever, maybe those with the higher scores get some kind of bonus.  I have no idea.  But I like the idea.

I can't be any more difficult than keeping a running total for the year.

Completed My Collection

One of my favorite book series is Thieves World.  They also released a series of six graphic novels.  I bought the first three when they first came out, but never could find the last three.  I kept forgetting about them then recently I took another look at them, hopped on ebay and scored the remaining three I needed.

If you are a fan of the series I highly recommend them.  Tim Sale's art style really compliments the tone of Sanctuary. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Map Time 2!

Another map drawn while I watched Netflix.  After a long ass week at work its nice just to sit down and sketch a map and color.  I did another color map.  Instead of doing 'fluffy' wooded areas, just made green shapes.  Not to be confused the with green ground shapes.

In this offering we have specialized little village.  These are horse wranglers who capture wild horses in the wilderness and break them for riding.  To the north they have their own blacksmith and a couple of miners who have a rich source of coal nearby in the hill.  The place is run by a nasty halfling named, Bart Beerbean.  His wife is a big woman, rumors say she is half-ogre, named Mildred who is quick with the numbers.  Some say she can tell how many and what type of coins are in a pouch just by the weight.  And of course their is an equivalent of their Moby Dick horse Bart is desperate to capture.  God, this is so much more fun than working.

And always that touch of unusual.  There is a pylon to the north.  They leave it alone. It whispers. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GM Questionnaire

 Zak posted a DM questionnaire so here are my answers.  A little late.

1. Single invention most proud of?

I'm know I didn't 'invent it', but creating micro cultures.  The first one I remember doing is creating a culture on a slaver ship.  It had its own rules, hidden lore and a ruthless god (the slaver) they all feared.

2. Last time I DMed?
The 9th of January and have a newbie game lined up tonight.  I am taking 6 complete newbs into an old school adventure.  Looking forward to it. 

3. Last time I played?
About six months ago, when my group finished Rob's campaign in the Majestic Wilderlands.  Ashling Anubis, an elven mage thief character finished out at 11th level.  It was a lot of fun.  And I think the first time I played an elf in many years. 

4. Pitch for an adventure I haven't run.
 The Knights of the Round Table have died, Camelot stands empty and Mordred has risen from the dead to claim his father's throne.

5. What do I do while I wait for players to do things?
Listen.  Consider.  React.

6. Do I eat while I play?
Nothing most of the time.  When needed its usually fast food or pizza.  But always ice tea at the ready.

7. Is DM physically exhausting?
No.  In fact I find it exhilarating.   But I do keep a strict time schedule.  if we say we are playing til 9 then I end it at 9 or if a more natural ending come a little sooner then it ends then.

8. Do my players make my serious setting,  not serious?
I couldn't ask for a better group.  They have a great time, but go along with what I've developed.

9. Last thing I remember my character did when I played.
The last session in Rob's campaign we took on a godling.  Then I tried to teleport his body and critically failed and lost it. 

10. What do I do with goblins?
Goblins are my most versatile race.  They can be low end enemies or very amusing sidekicks.

11. Last non-rpg setting converted for a game.
 I have no idea.  I would guess I swiped parts of Sanctuary from Thieves World series.

12.What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
I would have to refer to answer to #9.  It was a campaign of critical failures and that was the climax of them.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
GURPS Vikings, to get a better understanding of the cultural structure.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
I guess I would need to go with Trampier, but there are so many good ones today.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
In my recent game with the newbs, yes.  My Monday night game with old farts, no.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I can't think of any.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
 A room with good ventilation, one of the virtual tabletops, a couple of good sized tables and chairs, a roof that doesn't allow any cell phone reception and an ice tea machine with an expert pizza maker making brillant pizzas in the back.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
CityBook series and Tome of Adventure Design.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
I like role-players who go with the game and not upset when things go bad.  I like players who get a good laugh after rolling a couple of critical failures at the worst time.  Players who just want to have a good time.  

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
My RL occupation puts me in contact with intense and a wide variety of people.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
I computer mapping program I can understand.  The ones they have out now I can't seem to grasp.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
Some of the people I work with ask questions about the game.  I don't go into too much detail because its really not the place to go into lengthy explanation.  And really, I don't like mixing the two. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Favorite Question of the Day

Tomorrow is the newbie game and two of them approached me looking worried and asked.

"Between both of us we have four 20-sided dice.  Is that enough?"

Quick Glance at Player Backgrounds

Through the weekend and last night I was working on backgrounds for the newbie players.  What I try to do with players of any caliber is give them a grounding to start from.  A little of where they have been and who some of their friends are and if they have an rivals or out right enemies.  The great thing about giving them this at the beginning of a game is they see you've taken the time to establish something beyond a column of numbers.  So when they get into the shit they may have someone who can help.

The other great thing is to plan role-playing opportunities.  The one character I created for the party is a magic-user who has the beginning knowledge of necromancy.  It is up to him whether he uses it or not, but he will know the use of it is illegal.  Down the line the player may encounter a source of advanced necromancy it will be up to him what he does with it.

Just a quick post before work.  Gotta run.  Short weeks and always the longest for some reason.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Map Time!

While I sat at my kitchen table tonight I created this map for the heck of it.  It is heavily influenced by Matt Jackson's technique over at his ..lampus calumni.. blog.  I've been really digging his maps lately and I wanted to do one.  Mine is not nearly as good.  My well sucks and that glump of ink in front of the bottom house is supposed to be a set of stairs.  Fat marker.  But other than that, I like it and may use it as a small mining camp.  I don't have anything written for it, but way to north is a secret room the miners will eventually discover.  What's in there?  I don't know.  But I am sure it will require the assistance of some adventurers.

Housing Cleaning at the Manor

Since I have the day off I've been going through some blogs I don't get to read all that often.  Some blogs who post while I'm at work or asleep are hard to keep up with, but that's what weekends and holidays are for.  I was adding some blogs I thought looked good.  I'm not sure why I didn't have scott's blog already on my roll, but that has been corrected.

Stocking the Dungeon
scottz's blog
The Excessive Gamer 

As I was joining their blogs I saw I was reaching my 300 limit so I did a little blog roll cleaning.  I'm down to 245 blogs.  I think I chopped 50 blogs that were discontinued, dead links or as a general rule, if they have not been updated for two months they get chopped.

I still see some dust in the corners and cobwebs on the ceiling.  Those damn things seems to be everywhere.  Before I go, here is Booger, Johnny Fever and Alice Copper playing D&D.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sleestak Wear Sunday

I can't tell you how bad I want these t-shirts, especially the Enik one.  Love it.

Understated.  These are the kinda shirts I like to wear so people will ask me questions and I will randomly make up shit. 

I have got to get this one!

Hmm, they kinda look like condom heads.

On black this would be sweet.  Nothing beats those crappy decals where when you jump on the gym floor a little one your shirt stuck to the floor sending your chin or face into the floor.  For Enik, I would risk it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Using All My Game Systems

To flatten my battle map.  It's been rolled up for a long time and needs squished flat.  Its a good one.  One of those vinyl ones with hexes on one side, graph on the reverse.  And one of those ones you don't use dry erase on, you have to use those overhead projector markers.  I learned that one the hard way even though it said it on a little piece of paper I threw away when I bought it.  It's important to read those little pieces of paper.

What it looks like when all the editions work in harmony.

Newbie Character Build

Last night me and the wife had a snow night where we stayed in and listened to some old CDs (featuring Meatloaf, Stevie Nicks, Eagles and even managed to tolerate a little Purple Rain from Prince).  She was in the kitchen making bagels while I hand wrote the characters.  I was planning on using a character sheet, but forgotten how much I dislike them.  None of them seemed to have what I wanted.  A bit like the three bears, this one has to little, this one has too much.  And some are to confusing for someone who is new.

A few things I won't be worrying about and left off.
  • Encumbrance.  This never played much in our games either unless we found a large, gold statue then we would have to explain how we would transport it.  And that will be my approach. 
  • Weapon Proficiencies.  I considered using them, but tossed them in the end. 
  • Spell Components.  This was always something we hand waved.  I don't want the mages worrying about inventory.
  • Alignment.  It is just unneeded in my game.  For clerics they will just need to emulate aspects of their god.  
  • Race Level or Class Limitations.  Never liked them.  Not going to use them.  
  • Eating.  I will do a VERY basic check of food consumed and needed.  I won't go into much detail other than, 'mark off an iron ration'.  
And here are a few things I've altered or changed.
  • Cleric Spells.  As in my current campaign, clerics do not have to choose their spells ahead of time.  As long as they have a slot available they can cast.
  • Spell Bonus for Magic-Users.  For high intelligence I am giving the magic-users bonus spells.  I want the two players who have chosen to run magic-users to have a bit of flexibility. 
  • Simplify the Move and Ranges.  AD&D has a bunch of different measurements so I made them all a number with no feet or inches.  It's just 4 or 5.  On the battle map it will be easier for them just to count the hexes or squares.
  • Simplified the Spells.  Since I only have one Players Handbook, I wrote a short description of the spells they could use on the back of the character sheet.  
What I am going to do next is develop a background for each character.  I want each one to have their own distinct feel and angle.  There are two magic-users in the party, one a human male another elven female.  With the human, he has a secret desire to explore all types of magic.  I've given him a necromantic spell that is illegal to have.  So it will be up to the player to decide when and if to use it.

Role playing is always a large part of my campaign.  So when the thief in the party starts off with no money, but posses a ring he lifted and has to find a place to fence it. He and the others will encounter the power of organizations, the bonuses and the penalties of belonging and not belonging.

Below is a sample of the characters I made last night.  The a fore mentioned human mage with an interest in necromantic spells.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Newbie Game All Set

Okay, enough about the sucking.  I've got a date, time and place for my newbie group.  Next Wednesday at 5pm and the very cool thing is my place of work has a nice conference room and are allowing me to use it.  In fact they are excited about me running a game.

Right now I think there are six players which is about all I want to run.  Especially new players.  I've decided to use AD&D for the system as that is what I am running with my Monday night group.  I really considered running Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules or Labyrinth Lords Advanced.  Hell, I still may change my mind.

I mentioned before, I will be creating the characters ahead of time.  I've asked each player what race and class they want to be so making them up as I watch Chopped with Ivy.  I'll do a paragraph or two background for each.

Expectations for the game?  For me I'm unsure what to expect.  Whether this will become a semi-weekly game or one-shot or whatever.  I would like to set it up as a mini-campaign.  If it looks like it works out then I plan on using Pathfinder's Kingmaker Adventure Path as a template.  There are a lot of elements I really like, especially the earlier adventures. 

I'll see how it works out.  In the drama department we already had a small flare up before things got started.  One of them refused to play because someone they no longer spoke to was already signed up.  I explained to her that I wasn't going to refuse anyone.  That if she wanted in the game she was more than welcome, but I wouldn't be kicking out someone else so she could.  Ah, young stupid love.

I went through my dice last night and found I have six complete sets of dice with a bunch of spares, but they won't be using my original set or my Game Science dice.  I will chop off their little newbie hands if they do.  Just wanted to check my dice stash in case they need some.

All right.  I am out for the night.  I heard Trey is selling a print version of his Weird Adventures so I am going to stand in line.  It's going to be a midnight release so I don't want to get stuck being a group of goobers dressed up like the Sinister Sorcerers or Barrow Men.  I wouldn't be so bad, but they think not showering gives it more authenticity.  Oh wait, I can get it on RPGNow and forgo the line.  Done!

Sucking is a Relative Term

Yesterday the Rhetorical Gamer blog referenced my Just Above Suck in a post called I Don't Wanna Suck!  (loved the title) I can appreciate the sentiment not to suck, especially if your expectation is to be a world changing hero.  But I think she (I am only assuming the poster is female because she mentioned writing a romantic fantasy rpg, so I am just playing the odds) doesn't understand how an old school type game world works.  Rob over at Bat in the Attic referenced my blog yesterday as well, but from the angle I am taking today.

Suck is a relative term.  And my explanation to my newbie players was not to crush their spirits, but I let them know this will be an old school hex crawl.  As I explained to one of the guys who is excited to play, "This is a hex crawl, I don't level out the encounters so they are balanced.  If you try to go hero on a red dragon while you are 1st level, grab 4d6 roll and leave out the lowest number six times and tell me what you want your new character to be."  So against high level opponents you will suck.  But against a goblin you have a great chance.  You won't suck.  It's all relative.

As I said in my comment in her post, I know the players will have fun.  I have had tons of fun while I sucked during a game.  My players will have just as much fun killing a group of drunken goblins as they would storming the gates of Mordor and pissing on the tower Sauron.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Above Suck

Yesterday I had to have a little chat with my newbs. They were expressing what kind of characters they would like to play. Of course the two girls wanted to play elves. On said, "I want to be an archer, like Legolas from Lord of the Rings. The other wanted to be a elf mage Gandalf character. And one of the guys said he wanted to be a badass dwarf named Clive who could cleave monsters in half. I nodded and listened to their suggestions. Then put my one hand out and told them "This is suck." I put my other hand just above it. "This is just above suck. This where you start."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

There's a Lot of Lubrication Going On

Last night, game night, we started out where the players had cleared the upper level of the dungeon they were in. They went into a cavern and found some interesting magic items. Including two jars of healing salve. So for the rest of the night the lubrication jokes flew. "Why don't you lube up and backstab the monster?" And all the varients. We had a good time. Even without the lube. The entire session centered around a boss battle. The way i set up the encounter is it would have three stages. Heavily borrowed, hell stolen, from video games. This beast, Rozoroth, would be considered a demon prince. The players battled through all three stages. An interesting thing happened though in the third stage. One of the players grabbed a shield, it acted as a +1 shield, but it had a hidden property he was not aware of. His shield protected his party as well, but if another party member took a killing blow, the beared of the shield would take on the damage and not the targeted individual. So when Rozoroth belched out a fireball and nailed the mage. The half-orc fighter, who was on the other side of the room, collapsed. Of course the halfling theif was Johnny on the spot with the healing lubrication that perked the half-orc fighter right up. Doh! It was a good time. After having a long day at work it was great to come home and laugh a lot. Much needed. And Ivy (Happy Whisk) made a killer supper. I'm working on scheduling my games with the newbs and setting up some ground rules. I want to go over some gaming etiqutte basics. I'll come up with them, post it and let you guys make suggestions or throw rotten tomatoes. Arg blogger won't let me make paragraphs!

Monday, January 9, 2012

5E D&D In the Word of Tom

Tom Doolan has a very good post over on his blog, in the Words of Tom.  Another post about Wizards announcing a new addition to D&D.  I guess they are calling it 5th edition.  I like his honest take on it.  I don't have a dog in this fight.  If they put new version out cool.  That always stirs a ton of reknewed interest in the RPG industry.  But if it stinks, no big deal for me.  I plan on playing whatever floats my boat at the time. 

So go check out Tom's post and his blog as a whole.  A lot of good stuff over there to check out.

Newbies to the Hex Crawl

In a week or so I plan to initiate a handful of people into the world of the hex crawl.  Some of them have a little experience with RPGs, but very limited.  Most of their experience is with card games. 

On average the players are 15 to 20 years younger than me which makes me feel fucking old.  But, it should be interesting if my GMing techniques can translate to the initiates.  One of the problems I've run into with younger players is they are terrified to make a mistake.  When given an open world to explore they get paralyzed with all the choices. 

Here's my plan.  And like all things I say and do are subject to change at a whim.

In the first session I will have a batch of premade characters and the players can choice one.  I considered having them roll up their first characters, but since there will be five to six players, only one rulebook and the probability of me needing to explain a lot of things, I decided to give them characters so we can get to the game.  If not the first session would be consumed with character creation and I really want to get them used to the dice and system. 

That leads me to what system I will use.  I am planning on using Swords & Wizardry.  I am leaning toward the core rules, but may decide on the complete rules. 

The first session will be me teaching them which dice are which.  Explaining the various things on their character sheets and then a brief practice adventure so they can get used to the game itself.  Prop wise I will be using a vinyl battle map and token figures (since I have no real miniatures).  I want to keep it simple for the first session so they can focus on learning the game and not on the do-dads. 

The adventure I'll be running is the one I made for Starter Adventures.  I need to playtest it anyway.  So this will be a fantastic opportunity to do it.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The adventuring business is a big business.  Entire towns and villages can disappear overnight if the adventurers went elsewhere.  Having a good dungeon nearby is like a gold mine within walking distance.  Each villager or merchant will have their specialty, whether they are the finest rope makers or the finest sack makers in all the land they make their money by selling to adventurers.

There is another group, a highly competitive group that also thrives off the adventurers.  These are the scroungers.  The scroungers go in after an adventuring group and collect anything valuable they might have missed or left behind.  Scroungers who have been around a while have a discerning eye.  They know what's worth taking and what can be left to rot.  A broken chair can be repaired and sold for a few silver, that dusty and dented cookware can be pounded out, scrubbed and resold.  If scrounger believes he can make a copper on it he will drag it out of the depths of the Abyss. 

Scroungers will avoid a fight, but they do have clever ways of securing an area so they can pick it clean.  The heavy use of iron spikes, securing doors and setting simple traps that will alert them if anyone or anything is coming.  Experienced scroungers know how to get out fast.  They don't push their luck and will flee to pick another day. 

Because scroungers are in general hated by adventurers and were killed often, they formed their own guild which is recognized by nearly every kingdom.  They bring more money into the local markets thus paying more taxes and that makes a happy noble and protection from be slaughtered.  If a scrounger is murdered the consequences could match the crime.  When a scrounger is killed it rarely comes to that, but it can.  To help track scroungers they must register where they are exploring.  It's also not unheard of an adventuring party allying with a scrounger.  They work out a percentage and everyone make a little more than they did before.

Scroungers do have a set of ethics that they swear to when they join the guild called the Code of Henric.  Because their guild is often called a legalized thieves guild the masters of the scrounger guild use the Code of Henric as what defines them.

1. A scrounger must never knowingly endanger a life of another.
2. A scrounger must never knowingly misrepresent an item he is selling.
3. A scrounger must never avoid paying taxes to the crown or guild.
4. A scrounger must assist any scrounger in danger.

The symbol of the Scrounger's Guild is a scale with four coins on one side and four coins on the other with the inscription negda darabus hez negda darabus.  Translates into four coins for four coins.  Meaning, the scroungers sell what the item is worth.  No more, no less.  The four coins represent each line in the Code of Henric.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Villians, S&W Style, Part 7

Quadral smoked the last of his husk weed he'd taken from the dwarves.  Stupid, arrogant, cave boys.  He nudged the dense body with his foot.  Pathetic, he thought.  There were two more somewhere, another dwarf and a non-dwarf.  He could smell them. 

The absolute blackness didn't bother Quadral.  His father had buried him alive several times to get used to it.  "Stop your crying boy and find a way out."  He chuckled at the thought.  Father looked surprised the final time he tried.  Bullying a boy was one thing, but he'd grown older and stronger and learned to hate.  Hate was the key to survival.  To hate your enemy more than he hates you.  Quadral heard the echo of the shovel splitting his father's skull and the meditative sound of the the spade piercing the dirt to bury the man he owed so much to.

He breathed in the fear of the dwarf.  The little ones always bragged about courage and honor and other shit, but when it came to an unknown death it terrified them.  Two more and he earned himself a full tankard and meal.  Two more.  Quadral hoped this dwarf carried more husk weed.
Quadral is a killer.  He creates hate to give himself purpose and to provide himself an enemy.  To those who his hate is not focused on, he is a calm man who always has a slight smile on his face.  As if he knows something you don't.  He will indulge in anything to the extreme, wine, violence, women or gambling.  He will continue until all others surrender. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Do Adventure Game Systems Matter?

To me they do.  Since I am running a AD&D campaign right now I doubt I would buy a 4E module or 3.5 adventure to use.  Too much conversion.  But what about the retro clones and I am speaking mainly of the big three, Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC and Labyrinth Lords.  When someone puts out an adventure of Labyrinth Lords, but you're play OSRIC does that matter? 

Here is why I am asking.  I've been working on some side projects and I am currently stating them for S&W.  It would be very easy for me to release the same product for the other two systems.  I'm just curious how much of a difference this makes to people out there.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sleestak Rock in the New Year

What do you think their playlist would include?