Monday, April 30, 2012

Gaming History in a Campaign

I've run a couple of handfuls of campaigns in my time.  Most of the them were short runs.  Only once did I have a long run.  But in all of them there was never a true 'gaming' history to my worlds.  I'd make up something new each time I ran a game.  So that sense of history isn't there.

Rob Conley over at Bat in the Attic has been running his Majestic Wilderlands campaign over thirty years now.  When you start playing in City-State you know you are walking into a place neck deep in history and he knows it all.  Rob doesn't hit you with exposition of info dumps, he lets you experience it.  When you go into the tavern it bears the scars from the previous adventurers that have come through.  When you are dealing with a guild master you know their is a organization behind him based on guild laws pasted on for ages.  Walking across the landscape you can feel the ghosts of the soldiers who fought on this land.  This is not hyperbole.  This is what I experience when I game with Rob. 

Many campaigns, including my own, lack this depth, lack the character only age can bring.  Only playing it year after year with different people at different times can it be developed.  I know my Monday night campaign will be coming to a close soon and Rob will start a new Majestic Wilderlands game.  I'm looking forward to skulking through the streets again.  I'm probably one of the people who has played through it the most and each time I play I still find something new.  I still find things that surprise me.  How many campaigns can say that after 30 years?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

That Was Close

My computer crashed.  Blue screen.  Fatal error.  And me thinking of how many files I lost.  I didn't panic though.  Called Rob (Bat in Attic) up and asked him what I should do.  I used my rarely exercise computer jedi mind meld thing and asked him if it could have been the video card.  I was suspicious of that card since I plugged it in.  It was no good from the beginning.  He told me it could be that, but also the other things it could be.  Each one more terrifying than the other.  At least to my wallet. 

So I untangled the mass of cords under my desk and was appalled by the amount of dust that had already accumulated since the last time I cleaned it.  Looked like the moon's surface.  Anyway, unplugged the video card and reattached minimal stuff and started it up and wa la, it worked.  I am no computer guru, but once in a while my mojo is in tune and I can use the force to do a home brewed computer analysis. 

I'm done wasting your time.  Please go back to what you were doing. 

Batstak Sunday

The sleestak have just upgraded their ride.  Although it looks like their diet has gone to hell.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Issue #1 Contents

Here is a list of the contents in issue #1 of The Manor.

It will start off with a brilliant introduction by me.  Whisk asked, "Why are you doing an introduction?  Does anyone read those things?"  I have no idea.  Then there is a micro adventure than can be run quickly to fill in time.  This adventure could actually be run if one part of the party is dicking around shopping while another party member is standing around holding the bags.  Next part is a d12 table by Jason Sholtis which ties into the micro adventure.  A piece call Rural PA.  This entry focuses on the horrid Ghoul House.  The a table of twenty random forest encounters.  Poetry slam by none other than Rusty Battle Axe accompanied by brilliant artwork by Johnathan Bingham.  A random map which may or may not be included depending on space allowance.  The last section is a write of of a Street Vendor with adventure hooks.  So I squeezed a lot of stuff into 24 pages.

The other things included will be three 'advertisements' for the current products I like.  I have two on a page inside the zine and one on the back cover.  I did not get paid to do this or asked I'm doing to to just share some obvious knowledge that these are great products.

Artwork is done by Jason Sholtis who did the cover which I absolutely love.  And Johnathan Bingham added two fantastic pieces for the inside.  I gotta say the artists in the OSR are great guys to work with and very helpful.  During this process I had a couple of other say they would help also.  Thanks to Johnathan and Jason.  And the others who I'll probably be contacting soon. 

I'll finish edits today.  I may even take a half day from work and get something done.  One last detail is, PDF pricing will be $2.50.  So those across the seas will get a nice price break, nearly half, while those in the US would be getting a small break.  Not a big enough one so you should order the print version.  And as Matt Jackson requested, signed.  Not by me, but by Whisk.  Thanks Matt.  :P

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Welp, I Choosed My Choice

After throwing PDF or Not to PDF out there I got a lot of impassioned responses.  It's interesting how such a small decision can incite this degree of different opinions.  After some consideration I decided on releasing The Manor in both formats.  The print copy will come directly from the manor printed and stapled by me or Whisk.  The PDF will be offered at RPGNow and at Lulu.  Although I have to set up a store at Lulu.  I'm not going to do a delay for the PDF.  If there is a delay its because I screwed something up.

I'm not doing this for money.  If I were I would be the worst business person in the world.  I'm just doing it because a lot of people were interesting in an electronic version.  And I don't think it takes away from the print version at all.  I can't tell you how many times I've bought both versions of a product.

With every project I start there is always an expectation hung on it.  Like how many would I like to sell.  With Knowledge Illuminates I wasn't sure what the response would be so I kept my expectations low at selling 25.  I've sold 129 now I think which is great.  With the first issue of the Manor I have a number of 100 in my head.  I'd like to reach that goal with sales.  If I don't reach my goal will I pout and piss my pants?  Nah.  I'll keep it in mind when I do issue #2 and hope to do better.

I want to thank everyone for their comments (even the ones who deleted theirs lol).  I didn't expect such a big response.  I'm in my final read over with my copy tonight.  Tomorrow or Saturday I'll send it out to proofreaders and in the beginning of May is should be ready to roll out.  It's a lot of work and a lot of fun.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To PDF or Not to PDF

I’m a huge fan of Lovitiar (and just got the 9th issue yesterday and the damn thing gets better with each issue) and Christian’s philosophy on only providing it in print. I was going gung-ho with this philosophy. Print or death. But after talking to a few people there seems to be an interest in a PDF version. Now here comes me waffling without the syrup or bacon.

I’m still edging towards a just print version, but there is a part of me that says, offer it as a PDF, give as many options as possible. Then there is that original thought of how print is what I originally intended, I should stick with that. Then of course there is the third side that tries to compromise between my embattled voices. Offer the PDF on a delay.

I’ll make a decision by the end of the week. But if anyone wants to chime in please do. Or maybe just tell me this is something I should worry about. Just get the damn thing done.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Manor, an Update

I spent this weekend finishing up the different sections. 

My work schedule has increased lately and I wasn't able to set aside the time I needed to do it.  And to tell the truth I was trying to figure out a direction I wanted to go.  So I just stood still for a couple weeks, but found which way I wanted to head and went back to work.  I took a lot of time to rework one of the pieces I wasn't happy. with.  It was a bit too skeletal.  And I added a new piece.

Whisk will look over it today and do some proof reading, minor edits and point out layout issues.  I hope to send copies to my proof readers mid week.  So by next week I should have everything done and ready to shove it out the door.  After doing this I have a lot more respect for Christian and how much work goes into one of these zines.  They are deceivingly small and he makes it look easy.

The good part though is I already have half or three quarters of issue #2 written.  When I finally get #1 out the door I'll hit the ground running with the next issue.

Pricing and subscriptions.  I'm going to use the same price point as Christian, $3.50 US, $4 Canada and $4.75 Overseas.  As far as subscriptions, there won't be a subscription offer yet.  It depends on how well #2 goes.

When I wrote short stories there was nothing more satisfying than having that final crisp copy in your hands.  And I'm getting that excitement again.  Just holding the second draft in my hands I can see the end product now.   

If I could only get the page numbers to stop being such a huge pain in my ass.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sleestak Sunday

I know.  I'm sure you had to do a double take on this one.  It sorta looks like a fetish dildo for extremely dedicated Land of the Lost fans.  But stay your mind pervs.  It is a sculpture from Aaron from Aberrant Ceramics.

After going through his blog he makes a ton of fantastic stuff.  I love the purple worm he made.  Please check out his site and all hail Sleestak Sunday.  What would a Sunday be would a 7' reptilian?  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Map Time Fashion Show

I've been playing around today with making maps on the computer.  Just using the simple Paint program because that is my skill level with mapping programs.  I did it in the old style TSR module format, but played with the different colors.  So here is the same map four ways.  I'm titling this one "The Taps Six Dungeon" because back in Jr. High this was one of my first homemade jobs and a lot of the gamers wanted to go through it.  While that is long gone, I thought it would be fun to bring it back and see if I can put some life back into it.
Here is Tap Six in what I call OSR black.  It is modern yet classic with an elegance that will never go out of style.

Here is Tap Six in a calming blue for casual times.  This look is good for dinner parties at home or luncheons with friends.  

Tap Six never looked so sexy.  The red incites passion and excitement.  A flare in the night for everyone to see.  Tap Six cannot be ignored in red.

And lastly, the classic.  Light blue of eternity.  While the other colors come and go this chartreuse blue that brings back memories of yesteryear.

Have a great weekend.  Throw some dice.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Winners Are...

I want to thank everyone who commented.  The cool thing was seeing people who I've never heard from commenting saying they read my blog.  And really, that was the main part of doing this just so see who was out there I may not of known about.  And of course the regulars who can always be counted on for support. 

Now onto the drawing.  I had 57 individual commentors.  So I'll be giving away 6, $10 RPGNow gift certificates.  And like a good OSRian I have made a random table and will let the dice chose. 

And the winners are....
1. Jimmy Simpson
2. Anthony Hunter
3. David
4. Pat
5. Drance
6. Boric G

Winners please contact me a elder_sensa(at)yahoo(dot)com and let me know where to send your $10 gift card.

Thanks everyone.

A Few Hours Left

Sign in here to be entered in the drawing tonight.  So far I'll be giving away 5 $10 gift cards to RPGNow.  It ends 9pm EST.  So if you ever stopped by just take a moment to say hello to be entered.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

3 Years at the Manor Giveaway

Today is my 3rd year doing this.  I was going to have some sort of contest but will just do a giveaway instead.  To all those who comment on this post will enter you into a drawing.  I'll give away a $10 gift card to RPGNow for every 10 individual people who comment.  If you stop by and just glance at the blog once in a while, just say to get entered.  I'd like to see who all still stops by these days.  And I would love to give away a lot of gift cards.  I'll be keeping this post up until 9pm Friday.  Good luck to everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Third Year Anniversery Contest

Tomorrow, Gothridge Manor will be three years old.  I want to do a thank you to those who slog through my Sleestak Sundays, Villains and Game Recaps.  I thought it would be interesting to do a contest.  I'm not sure what kind as of yet.  I'll announce it tonight or tomorrow morning.  And by that time I will have figured out what to give away.  So stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two OSR Indiegogo Projects and an Orc

Not much going on in the Manor these days.  So I thought I would post some links to some OSR indiegogo projects.

Greg announced on his Discourse & Dragons blog he started a pledge drive for Barrowmaze II.  Smart move.  With the huge success of the the original Barrowmaze I think he'll have an easy time reaching his goal.  I'm curious to see how far over his goal he'll get.

Stuart Robertson, creator of the Weird West RPG announced he started a pledge drive to create six miniatures for his game.  The six miniatures include, Abraham Lincoln, Billy the Kid, American Werewolf, Victorian Vampire, Indian Princess and the Mummy Outlaw.  For some reason I've been digging western themes, probably in part I've been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption.  So the timing of this one sounds cool.  I'm hoping to see sketches of the proposed miniatures.  The mummy outlaw...I gotta see that one.

Dylan Hartwell over at Digital Orc released his follow up project called the Horrendous Heap of Sixteen Cities.  He does his own artwork that I enjoy.  It's got a original angle for gaming.  At least one I have not heard of before.  I plan on snagging this one after I get done writing this post.  And if you get a chance download his Digital Orc fanzines.  They are on the right column to look at.

That's all for now.  Support these guys if you have the means and the desire to do so.  All three of them have proven to put out good, if not great products.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sleestak Sunday

Just when you thought all places for sleestaks to hide was exhausted, they've found a new place.  Under a bottle cap.  Go over to Patrick Kendall's site, Bottlecap Monsters, where he has some great critters hiding under the caps.  What a great oddity this sleestaks have me finding. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Village of Lost Artifacts and Non-Scary Places

The Smoldering Ruins of Eptoch is over that hill.  Since it is the ever smoldering ruins its easy to find.  With the smoldering and all.  Yeah, lots of cool stories about what happened there.  An uprising of demons or vampires or handmaidens, I'm not sure I get mixed up, but nothing much going on there now.  Once a month some young bard comes along and wants to see it.  I try to tell them it's just smoldering and they get all puffy and want to sees it anyway.  Pays for me bar tab.  Most of the time.

Yep.  That's the Standing Stone of Infinity so they say.  Some religious relic.  Some of the priests come through here all googly-eyes like they were staring as Sherri at the tavern.  Now she is a holy relic.  Anyway, they claim it's a piece of a piece of some god stone that will reveal the secrets of the universe.  Well if its a piece of the piece then its broke.  No secret there.  If it was an artifact it shouldn't break.  And why would they stick a chunk of it in that field?  I guess it they are the creators of the universe and they broke their stone and put a piece in that field that might explain why everything is so ass backwards.

Now if you look toward the west you'll find the Doom Swamp.  Scary sounding eh.  Doom and all.  But some good berry bushes grow on the edge that make good wine.  Henry at the tavern makes a good batch every so often.  Hmm?  Oh yeah, there are monsters in there, but we don't feed them.  We trap along the edges and catch some bigguns, but most of the time they just ruin the traps.  Then I have to go to Kurn, he's our smith, and get it fixed.  Man's got no teeth and thinks Sherri is in love with him.  Been sniffing those forge fumes too long.

I'd tell you about that colossus statue in the middle of the village, but don't know much about it yet.  Although I can tell you if you walk under it, that statue has got all the parts.  Ha.  Yeah the ladies got a kick out of that one.  Nah, ain't moved at all, but only been here a few days.  We had one statue get up and run.  Made a racket.  Ran into the Doom Swamp and sank.  You can still see the top of its head a hundred strides in.

I'd suggest staying away from The River Valley of Death.  The fishing is fantastic there, but there's lots of flooding going on now.  I can tell you the rest over at the tavern.  Sherri's working and Henry said today his swamp berry wine would be ready.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Take on Hit Points

Under the big red moon of gaming there is a great debate of what hit points mean. Interpretations, edition differences and house ruling have spread the concept of hit points all over the spectrum. In the 1st Edition DMG hit points are considered an abstract thing where it’s not considered how much damage a person can take, but a combination of factors, not just physical damage. 

I know there was an interesting conversation over on Google+ about saving throws vs. poison. The save vs. death specifically. I think one of the points of contention was if an elephant gets bit by a snake and it failed it save would it die? Depends how fricking big the snake was I guess. This is where things get too nitpicky for me. Asp vs. elephant, though the rules may say a failed save results in death I would use my powers of GM and make a ruling I thought made sense. If you want to get into the debate of whether the snake can bite through the elephant’s hide then you are talking about another type of system that takes natural toughness into account. I think some of the disagreements come when people argue across systems or editions about a subject.

Here’s the secret though. It doesn’t matter. Not one little drop of gnat piss. As GMs we can all make whatever ruling we choose that makes sense and is consistent with the decisions you made earlier. I like the debates, but in the end usually everyone goes away doing the same thing they came into the argument with.

Hit points for me are simply this. Don’t run out of them or you’re dead. Save vs. death for me is simple, make your save or your dead. If adventurers don’t like these options then tell them to stay home, eat owlbear potato chips, drink mind flayer ale and wait till the Grim Reaper comes to take them in their sleep.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Map Time!

I was digging through some old files and found this one lurking in a dusty file.  I like this map, but wish I'd used a subtler blue for the shallow water. Again, this one was drawn in pencil then outlined and filled in with color pencils.  Then I scanned it in, opened it up in Paint to draw in the buildings and place the numbers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quick Game Night Recap w/ Pictures

**Warning.  Some of the following images may disturb, nay terrify, nay make one yucky.  Read at you're own risk**

The party camped outside the tomb entrance.  The cleric excused himself  to take a pee.  This pee will last two more weeks.  They heard a scream.

"What was that?" 

"I dunno."

Sneak. Sneak.

Skeleton in armor standing over two bodies. 


Stabby. Stab. 

Skeleton crumbles.

Armor is formed onto the bones so this makes Boog sad.


Enter the tomb. 


To the north, the door is ajar.

Five skeletons inside.

Skeletons killed.

Searchy.  Search.

Door.  Secret.  Stuck.  Shit.

Boog bashes.


Boog pries.


Little halfling Grim pulls little level.


Grim the lever puller enter crawl space.

Boog to big to fit.

Slimey in there.

Oh wait, there's something wrong.

Enveloped by a trapper!

Cough.  Couch.  Gasp.

Tavi the Bard tosses 30 hit dice of fireballs from his necklace.

Grim the lever puller, crispy, but barely alive.

Boog smears healing ointment on Grim.

Boog feels uncomfortable.

Weird screaming.

Dwarf running with a heavy backpack.

Chased by three ghouls.

Boog paralyzed.

Munchy. Munch.

Bard fillets ghoul.

Grim rubs healing ointment on Boog.

Grim feels uncomfortable.

Tavi saves dwarf.  He has lots of stuff.

Tavi makes sure dwarf is ok.

Grim goes through his things.

Finds potions.

Finds big gem.

Cuts off heavy backpack.

A large black prayer wheel falls out.

Spell shoots at Grim.

Spell Turning ring.

Grim happy.  Woohoo.

Spell lands on Tavi.

Saving throw.

Tavi falls to the ground as his skin quickly turns black.

End of session.


So last night the party got into room one.  But it was fun.  A lot of fun.  I told them "Wait til you get to room two."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Game Night and Fire Face

Tonight is game night and I am set.  I used a few hours yesterday to prep for the game.  Something I've failed to do it the past few sessions and I think it showed.  Though we had fun I think I didn't do enough work for the session.  I'm looking forward to tonight, taking off the past couple of weeks have helped recharge the GM batteries.  Plus, I reorganized my office again.  I think my new setup will keep my notes and campaign stuff organized.

Here is something I drew while doing something else.  I think it look kinda cool and will probably come up with something for the second issue of The Manor.  Alright, time to go.  Lunch is over.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bunny Convict Tale

This story is completely true.  Except for the parts I made up.

Several years ago some where in the late 80s I was strolling through our local mall.  It was a week or so before Easter and the mall had a place where kids could sit on the Easter Bunny's lap.  Not sure why you would want to do this, but maybe they could give the bunny tips on what to put in the basket.  Anyway, it was a slow time and I walked by where the Easter Bunny was sitting and I heard.

"Hey Tim.  How's it going?"

I looked around and it's just me and the bunny.  It was a guy' voice.  One that smoked a lot.  I was completely baffled that the bunny knew my name.  "Good, I guess."

"It's me, Bob."

I have no idea why, but that was enough and knew it was a guy I knew from school.  "Wow, nice pink suit."

"Yeah, I had to get a job.  My probation officer said take the job or sit in the cell."

"You might want to reconsider your decision."

"Tell me about it."  He said and itched under his giant pink bunny head.  "It's so fucking hot in this thing."

"Take it off and take a breather."

Bob shook his bunny head.  "Can't.  Freaks out the kids."

I can't remember what happened after, but it doesn't really matter.  How many times have you met an Easter Bunny that knew your name, had a smoker's cough, swore and was on probation.  I love the holidays.

Now that Easter is over the bunny can get back to what it does best.

Sleestak Easter Sunday

Be very careful searching for those Easter eggs.  You might find a giant sleestak instead. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Notice of Impending Assassination

One of the props I like to use in game is a billboard.  I've written about it a couple of times.  I was cleaning up the office and found an old disc.  A group of assassins known as the Death Arrows post Death Certificates on the billboard.  Why would a assassin guild do this?

The first part of the answer is The Death Arrows are civilized and business men.  They believe it's proper to give someone a chance to put their affairs in order.   There is no known case where someone escaped a contract. 

The second part, it allows others to seek compensation for outstanding loans.

And lastly, it gives the target a sporting chance.  Though once their death is proclaimed it's only a matter of time before they assume room temperature, but the Death Arrows prefer to give a fighting man a chance to not go quietly into the ever night. 

Click to make sure its not for you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Playing it Fast and Loose

I run a loose game.  There are several times during a session you'll hear me tell the players, just tell me what you want to do and we'll figure it out.  I'll set an arbitrary difficulty rating.  The player can chime in and debate it down and if the point it valid, down it goes.  Or I'll come up with a 'you get this bonus if you succeed or this penalty if you fail.'  I try to keep resolutions simple and fast paced.

Initiative is a simple matter for me.  Group initiative and then I take in dex modifiers after.  If the initiative monkey rolls a 3 and someone has a dex mod of +2 then they go one segment 1.  If the monkey rolls a 1, all can rejoice and go at the same time and slaughter the innocent monsters whose homes they have invaded.

I don't worry about 'you shoulds' when I play.  From the blogosphere you here many opinions on how things should be or how things should be played.  pppffffttttt.  Only requirement is having fun.  Drance over at Once More Unto the Breach!  is doing the A to Z challenge and his C is for Campaign entry spurred this post on.  I read some posts about a game report and think how boring it would have been to be included.  Some GMs just have a stranglehold on what should and shouldn't be happening.

Now I'll be the first to admit that my loose style gets me into trouble sometimes.  As I get older I have a hell of a time remembering where we left off.  I always have great intentions of taking notes and most sessions my notes of the beginning are great, but the farther I get into the game I find I get wrapped up in what's going on and forget to note things.  Luckily I have players that are more organized than me and can usually tell me where we last left off.

My prep for a game in minimal in most cases because I allow the players to drive the story.  But there will be situations going on that occur beyond the players control that often steers their actions.  Example, a war with a neighboring kingdom and the eastern iron ore mines were taken over by a small army of the rival kingdom.  All of a sudden weapon and armor prices triple and those lowly bandits along the road are now organized military ambushes.  Do the players have to do anything about what's going on, absolutely not, but they can if they choose to.

I guess with the weird convergence of reading Drace's post and watching The Hustler, Eddie Felson playing it
fast and loose made write this.  It railroaded me.  Yeah.  That's it.  I was railroaded.  And I didn't mind at all.

This one is mislabeled as the final pool game.  It's not.  This is part of the first game vs. Minnesota Fats.  If you haven't seen this movie or haven't seen it in a while, it's on Netflix.  Great movie.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cancellations and Anniverseries at the Manor

A lull in the game scape at the Manor this week.  Last night's game was cancelled because one player had another commitment and I have been slammed at work the last few weeks and just needed to rest.  I spend my days talking to people all day at work and sometimes when I get home I don't want to say a word.  I was going to add a Whisk joke here, but I don't think she would find it funny and she would hit me when I wasn't expecting it.

Wednesday I had to cancel for Trey's Weird Adventures game because it is mine and Whisk's 8th Wedding Anniversery.  Very cool and looking forward to spending the day with her doing whatever.  So no gaming that night.  I'd hate to be castrated on my anniversery.  Any day for that matter. 

So what's going on?  Not all gaming activities have stopped.  The Manor is in its final leg.  Whisk is finishing a recipe and the final article I'm waiting for.  This is one instance I with I was doing a nice color zine to add one of her food pictures.  I plan on doing proofs this week.  Send copies to second readers than off to everyone in blog land.  Oh, and my mother wants a copy.  She won't understand a word of it, but she needs to have a copy of whatever I write. 

I recently cracked open my old Tunnels & Trolls.  Just to read.  I like randomly picking things off the shelf to read.  With Tenkar's gift I wanted to refresh myself on the rules.  I looked through the adventures that I bought from Ken St. Andre at Origins last year.  Fun stuff.

Lunch is over.  Time for me to return to the pepper mines.  The salt mines are so yesterday.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Game Night Cancelled

Game night cancelled due to foreseen and unforeseen circumstances.  Time to get ice cream.