Follow Me And Die!

Ramblings of an Old Gamer

New Computer

I took the plunge and bought a new computer at CostCo over my lunch break. I went their the first time Monday after work and got a few things I need for Thursday and a few extras, and saw this good deal on a PC. It is Windows 7 Pro. I could have spent a bit more for more RAM, but it had Windows 8, and I don’t want to take the time to learn where everything is. If my company wants me to learn Windows 8, they can buy me a new computer. I can always order more RAM, assuming it has another slot, or it can handle a larger RAM chip. It was under $400, so I’m not stretched too thin.

The weekly online AD&D game I play in is a go for tonight, so I don’t know if I’ll manage to get home and get it set up in time for the game.

I also haven’t started my preparations of food for tomorrow (Thanksgiving in the USA). My parents taught all their children to cook, not just my baby sister. My boys like what I fix, and I maintain the tradition I got from my parents. My oldest son’s girlfriend said that my efforts last year were on par with her father’s, so I know she’s a keeper.

I also need to focus on the last few chapters of my first draft for NaNoWriMo and wrap up my hex for Tenkar’s Landing, I mean Eilean Dubh – The Black Isle by the end of November.

Thankfully, I have the day off on Monday the 1st.

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Galloping Crocodiles

Interesting find of ancient crocodiles in the Sahara, both huge AND able to gallop. PICTURES.

Alligators and crocodiles and sprint rapidly for short distances, but to have one that can chase you down and swim after you.

Now to stat these up! Simplest, take standard crocodile and giant crocodile stats and bump the land speed….

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Adventure/Module Names

It’s been a long day. Snow and cold last week, followed by warmer temperatures and a lot of rain and a thunderstorm last night. I only new there was a thunderstorm because I had to get up in the middle of the night, I can sleep through most anything once I get to sleep. That was at 3:30 and the power was out.

I got back to sleep.and was sleeping soundly and dreaming, on the edge of lucid dreaming when I swore someone was pounding on my front door, so I stumble downstairs to see who it was. No one. The dogs in their kennels were all excited and wagging their tails into the sides of the kennels making a load of racket. Did my dreaming translate that into pounding on the door? That was at 5:30 and I couldn’t fall back asleep. At 6:30 the power came back on and the streetlight across the street filled my room with light. (I need blackout curtains.)

At 7:00 my alarm went off, so I grudgingly got up and got ready for work and stopped to get massive amounts of caffeine to help me get through the day. At about 9:30 I dozed at my desk for a bit. Thankfully, it was a relatively slow day at work.

We finally got a CostCo in Kalamazoo, within a couple miles of my work, and just off the way home. My son presented me with a membership card, as he got two with his membership. Since he lives with me, we are in the same household. I made the mistake of shopping while I was hungry, but got things that are healthy…or mostly so. I saw what I consider a good deal on a mini desktop with Win7 Pro. My last desktop got zapped and all I could salvage were the peripherals and the hard drive. My laptop has a failed screen and keeps freezing up and having issues with Google+ Hangouts with the weekly AD&D game I’m in. I do some work for a non-profit, so I need a working PC to keep up. I was on the look out for a good buy.

Did I bury the lede well enough? LOL

My tired brain came up with a name based on some of the OSR and original modules, and I thought I’d write about that tonight.

The Caves of Cavernous Caverns. Awesome, right?

Or, The Caves of Chaotic Caverns.

The Crumbling Caves of Chaotic Caverns.

The Terrifying Terror of The Terrible Trolls.

What this is calling for is a random adventure/module name generator. I recall having read about something like that a couple years ago, there is probably more than one, but I don’t feel like googling for them right now.

Alliteration add punch to it, like : Red River of Raging Ravenous Revenants. Although a horde of raging revenants would be silly without the proper story and narrative elements, psychobabble and circumlocutious obfuscation….

It’s not a complete set of tables to generate a module/adventure/campaign name, since I didn’t put a die and a roll with each table, just something to get started. This is more a placeholder for me to refine my idea and come up with some sort of finished product or PDF to share at some point in the nebulous future. Ah what fun a tired brain can generate!

d3 ARTICLE
1-2 – A
3-4 – An
5-6 – The

LOCATION
Cave(s)/Cavern(s)
Tomb/Crypt/Vault/Grave
Hill(s)/Knob/Mount/Mountain(s)
Plains/Tundra
River/Lake/Sea/Ocean
Idol/Altar/Shrine/Temple
Pit/Dungeon
Fort/Castle/Fortress
Aerie
Coast

NOUN/ITEM
Secret
Night
Gold
Hoard
Horde
Clan/Tribe
Idol
Deep
Dark
Unholy

ADJECTIVE/DESCRIPTOR
Shiny
Adjective form of the Location
Frightful
Awful
Awe/Awe-full
Dread/Dreadful
Mischievous
Ravenous
Raging

ALIGNMENT (Use Lawful, Good, and Neutral if you want.)
Chaotic
Evil

CLASS (Mix in some of the AD&D Level Titles or find a Thesaurus)
Wizard/Mage/Archmage/Necromancer
Priest/High Priest/Acolyte
Monk
Thief/Rogue
Assassin
Warrior
Ranger
Paladin

COLOR
Black
White
Red
Blue
Green
Yellow
Ochre
Mauve
Taupe
Plaid

WEAPON(s)
Sword
Dagger
Staff
Hammer
Axe
Spear
Bec-de-corbin (not so much….)
Arrow
Club

MONSTER(s)
Kobold
Goblin
Orc
Hobgoblin
Drow
Pirates
Lizard/Lizardmen
Frog
Ogre
Troll
Dragon
Gelatinous jelly of slimy oozing spores (Now I need to stat that out….)
etc.

 

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NaNoWriMo 2014 Winner!

Winner 2014 NaNoWriMo

50,123 words for NaNoWriMo.

I have made the goal of writing 50,000 words in November. Now I just need to wrap this thing up.

50,000 words is not as difficult to achieve as it sounds. Getting to the point that there is an interesting story that others will want to read and enjoy it, that is the trick.

Now to get this story moving to a conclusion….

I hope to have a complete first draft by the end of the month.

#NaNoWriMo

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Musings on This Blog’s Name

As I explained in the About and here and elsewhere, the name of this blog comes from my brother, Robert, the DM mocking my character in his game, who hired all the mercenaries he could to deal with the large hordes of orcs in his territory and all of the troops dying, making it very difficult to hire more troops. It’s a bit like “going over the top” in WWI.

It is not lost on me the irony of the term when it comes to social media, as one wants to encourage and attract followers.

But if you think about it, whether you follow my blog or not, you will die, so don’t be like all the others who die without following my blog, join the few who die valiantly (?) in the pursuit of role playing fun!

Follow me!  ….. and die!

Or as best as I can imitate the way my brother says it:

Follow Me, And Die!

.

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Reading My New Holmes Blue Book Basic

I picked up a copy of the 3rd Edition Holmes blue book Basic D&D rules at UCON 2014 this weekend.

As I read through it, I found eight bold references to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

This is the third edition, which is copyright 1979. I started playing D&D in April, 1978, so I had either the first or second edition of this boxed set. This was when the three white books and any boxed set were not on the shelves and available to us, and before the revised Red Box full set of rules came out.

I am making an assumption here, but with all those bold faced references to ADVANCED D&D, that colored the thinking of the group I played with. Basic was “simple” and for “children”. We had to have Advanced. We decided to wait until the advanced books came out and managed to keep playing until then. I remember getting the Player’s Handbook for Christmas of 1978, then I bought the Monster Manual and the DMG when they came out.

If it had not been for our ignorant adolescent understanding that there wasn’t that much difference between the two games, we might have used more of the Basic information. Although cost was a factor back then. I had thought about getting Chainmail back then, but I had a subscription to Dragon and had to give my parents money to write a check to renew each year’s subscription. Mowing lawns at $10 each made that money precious and it did not get all the things I wanted. Had I been more industrious back then, I would have been able to afford more of the things I wanted, but had less time to enjoy them. Much the same problem still exists today, if I want paid so I have food, clothing, and shelter, I have to go to work instead of play.

A few things I noticed, after not seeing this for a few decades. While it only goes up to 3rd level for characters, the monster combat table goes to 11+ hit dice, and the monster list includes creatures that are well beyond 3 hit dice. All distances are in feet and some equipment on the list here did not make it into the Player’s Handbook.

This was a how to play book that reorganized the rules. It was not clear to us that this was the case back then. I have so far only had time to skim the rules, but it is clear that one can get a full set of playable rules and a wide selection of monsters in 50 pages, and easily in 60 pages or less. Delving Deeper is only 128 pages of rules with several full page charts and full page illustrations.

I look forward to reading these Holmes Rules and seeing what nuances I missed way back when. I will also read my red box rules and see how it compares to the AD&D I favor over others.

 

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UCON 2014 Impressions

I had fun at UCON and wish I had had the ability to be there the whole weekend, instead of the whole day. I did get tired and ran out of steam at about 7:00 pm, so I made the 2 hour derive home. Thankfully, the worst of the weather did not impact the interstate. This was my third con for 2014. Before this year, I had not been to a con in about 30 years.

I got there about 7:45 registration opened at 8:00. I took a chance and asked if I could get my stuff, and they were kind enough to accommodate me. I had pre-registered and prepaid for the day, so all they had to do was check my ID and have me sign something. I ordered a UCON bag, in case I needed it.

I then looked around to find where the two games I had signed up would be, they were in the same conference room at different tables. I had about and hour to kill before my first game at 9:00.

At 8:45 I worked my way back to the conference room, which was by now open, and found the table for Keep on the Borderlands, with S&W Rules. I had never player this module, or had no recollection of it, if I did. I started with Holme’s Blue Box, and modules were not a thing my brother and I could afford, so we only played modules when friends provided them. We had a father, John, and his ten year old son, Jack. This was Jack’s first con game. The other two players were friends Frank and Michael. Our DM was Forest Ray. We had a good time. We were given max hit points and our magic user, John’s character, was allowed to be third level. the magic user also hired a lantern bearer. Other than the power boost from the magic user and lots of sleep spells, we did very well in combat and the DM could not hit us for anything. We did have a couple of people get hit, but it was not knock down damage. Even if we had not had the extra spells of the magic user, we would have still done very well. Jack got the UCON token to redeem for a prize since this was his first game at a con. It was fun, but I can see where a lot of younger players would misunderstand game design and every player end up with a magic weapon or item of some sort. If there is a closet with a magic sword for every fighter in the group and other things, why aren’t the orcs using them on the players? In three hours we rolled up characters and got past the bandits, kobolds, and orcs. It was fun and I would have liked to keep going.

Next I viewed the vendor area. It was not very big at all. I had expected there to be more vendors there, but there was a bit of something for everyone.

I bought some things that I had not planned to by, but isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be at conventions? I had to have something to put in my UCON bag.

I picked up Gygax Magazine No. 2 at the Pacesetter Booth, that’s all they had. I have the PDFs but like having a real one. I wished I had the chessmen covers, those are too cool and remind me of the ones on Dragon, by the same artist. I wish I had my old collection of Dragon Magazine.

At Newera Enterprises, ran by Roy B. Snyder, I found a Blue Box Basic D&D Manual. This is what I started with. I gave my original to my youngest brother. But over the years, found myself wanting one.

I also picked up some things that I never owned back in the day: the red box basic rules that has a module in it – Keep on the Borderlands; the blue cover Expert Rules and red cover Player’s Manual with a Dungeon Master’s Handbook.

I spoke with Roy for awhile and found out that he live in Kalamazoo, and that one of the police officers in the village where I live has written for Castles & Crusades. It’s a small world. I had no idea.

UCON 2014L oot

UCON 2014L oot

While in the dealer room, I way a guy with this awesome shirt, and he was kind enough to let me take a picture of it.

Call Chulhu

Call Chulhu

I then introduced myself to Tim Snyder, of The Savage Afterworld, who was manning the Goblinoid Games booth. Tim sums up our conversation on his blog. Yes, Tim, it was good to meet you. One thing I will mention, is that it was priceless to see Tim’s reaction that I played Keep on the Borderlands for the first time that morning. [Tim – The Village of Hommlet is the module I was struggling to recall the name.]

From 2:00 – 6:00 I played in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, DM’s by Shawn Dry. This was ran as three four hour sessions, so one player could go through the entire adventure, if they signed up for all three sessions. I played a high level priest of Odin. I had played this module once way back in high school, so I remembered bits and pieces. As the DM showed us pictures of the creatures and other things we were finding, I recalled more of it. This was the middle session, and we had done well. I was having such a good time, I wanted to play in the next session. We had one character die, and mine got knocked down. We thought for sure we had a TPK on our hands, but we prevailed and survived for the next round of players to finish the module.

My only real complaint, it that on the website for UCON when I signed up, it was not clear playing through the Peaks module was an all day thing. I did try to sign up for the third session online before I knew this, but it and the first session filled up before the second. I did go downstairs and try to sign up for the third session, having forgotten it was already filled. I did not think to ask about an “alternate” ticket, in case someone didn’t show up. The person assisting me did not ask if I was interested in another session at that time, and I did not think to ask. It didn’t help that some guy came up asking her about shirts in the middle of her helping me, so she was well distracted, as was I. (What is it about people and their social skills and waiting their turn? I find this in places other than cons, usually at convenience stores all the time where the person behind me is putting their stuff on the counter around me, before I can put my change or my receipt in my wallet and put away my wallet and grab my stuff and get out of the way.)

I would suggest that the website show filled sessions in red or whatever color it is that works for color blind people, so one can see at a glance which ones are still available. That doesn’t mean one can buy the “alternate” tickets in case someone is a no show. Also if any games have the potential to be an all day thing, make that clear, so one can decide if they want to play the whole thing or just a portion. I would gladly play another module with Shawn as DM.

My plan was to meet others I have met and followed in online RPG settings, but I ran out of steam too soon. It is hard to fit all one wants to do into a single day at a three day con.

I was impressed by this con. It was big enough to have lots for everyone. For the board game set, the ball room was filled with tables. I would say 50+ tables. The venue was big enough to accommodate the attendees with only momentary crowds in a couple of places and not the press of a horde, like at GenCon. There were all kinds of RPGs, many I had never heard of. I loved that they had an OSR track. There were several DMs using their Dave Trampier cover AD&D DM screens.

I am already looking to next year. I plan to get Friday off so I can be present from the beginning, and to get Monday off so I have a day to rest. I will also get a room, so I don’t have to deal with all the driving and weather. I just wish I didn’t have to wait until January to put in the request at work.

 

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Gold vs. Silver Standard

NOTE: I went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole on this one – Wikipedia or a regular Encyclopedia is good for that when I find something I want to learn more about. Short version, there would be about 100 Roman gold Solidi in a US pound. In the early Roman empire the standard silver coin, the Denarius was a day’s wage for an unskilled laborer. A system where silver is the standard coin of trade would require one to determine how much that would buy and what the fractions of a silver piece, i.e. copper pieces, would buy.

This was mentioned in the past week and has come up on various RPG blogs over the years. Gold as the main coin is the default in AD&D. The weight of the coins is ten to the pound, which would be huge coins.

I was reading up on ancient Roman coins last week on Wikipedia, and the Romans used 72 coins to the pound of gold, for the Solidus. Another gold coin, the Aureus, was valued at 25 silver denarii, and its mass in relation to the Roman pound went from 1/45 under Nero (7.3 g) to 1/50 under Caracalla. The Solidus was a new coin under Diocletian and started at 1/60 of a Roman pound and equal to 1,000 denarii, under Constantine it had the 1/72 pound and was worth 275,000 of the massively debased denarii. In later years the Solidus equaled 4.6 MILLION denarii. The aureus was about the same size as a denarius, but weighed more due to the higher density of gold. They had copper and bronze coins that were common, but were debased just as severely as the denarius. This example shows that the price sheet in AD&D or other FRPGs is a snapshot in time, and as the economy is flooded with loot, prices should go up, if you want to model reality that closely.

The fantasy vs. reality, is that in the real world it is estimated that all the gold ever mined would make a cube of almost 21 meters on a side. The pile of loot Smaug has and other depictions of dragons has could not all be gold, based on the real world. Silver is another matter, I found this graphic that illustrates the amount of various sizes and weights of gold and silver and compares the size of all the gold every mined vs. all the silver ever mined. The ratio of gold mined to silver mined is 1:10.48 in modern times. Prior to current methods the ratio was about 1:8.52, and historically 1 ounce of gold has had the power to purchase 15 ounces of gold. Now, as of March, 2014, an ounce of gold is valued at over 64 ounces of silver.

However, in the ancient world, the silver coin was the standard. It was a day’s wages for an unskilled laborer. What I found interesting, is the for Roman soldiers, their annual pay in the Republic was 112.5 denarii per year, and was raised to 225 denarii a year by Julius Caesar; and they had to pay for their own food and arms. Centurians’ pay varied under Augustus from  3,750 denarii and the highest ranking, 15,000 denarii a year.

Depending on which era’s size and value of coin you wish to use in your game, or make your own standard; you can greatly vary the number of coins and the amount of wealth a single person can carry. In AD&D 1,000 coins weighs 100 pounds. A roll of quarters contains 40 quarters and weight 8 ounces, or 80 quarters to the pound. That would make 1,000 quarters weigh 12.5 pounds. Based on a modern pound, with 16 ounces, being 453.592 grams, or 28.3495 grams to the ounce, and a Roman pound being 328.9 grams with 12 ounces, each 27.4083 grams. This makes the Roman pound 72.5% of the modern pound, meaning that 1,000 quarter would weigh 17.24 Roman pounds. Similarly, a gold solidus would be 1/100 (1/100.798) of a US pound. With 100 gold solidi in a US pound, 1,000 of them would only be 10 pounds. Thus it would take 10,000 coins of this size to equal 100 pounds. This makes the ability to carry a large number of coins and large amount of wealth somewhat easier. Gems and jewels would still be a more compact means of carrying a large amount of wealth great distances.

A quarter has a diameter of 24.26 mm and is 5.67 g. Based on Roman coins of about the same era, both the Aureus 7 g and Solidus 4.5 g gold coins were about 20 mm. The Denarius was about 19mm and was about 3g, about the size of a penny – 19.05 mm and 2.5 g. The sestertius was about 35 mm and 20.3 g. A half dollar is 30.61 mm and 11.34 grams. The Eisenhower “silver” dollar is 38.5 mm and 22.7 g with a copper core and a copper/nickel cladding. A Morgan silver dollar is 38.1 mm and 26.73 g, so 0.4 mm smaller but just over 4 grams more massive, thus the heft if you pick up a “silver” dollar and a silver dollar.

BTW – The Troy pound is 373.241 grams with 12 ounces, Troy weight is used for precious metals. This is why a pound of feathers weighs more than a pound of gold if each is measured with their usual method and not on the same standard.

I have played in games with the default AD&D coinage system, and games with a silver standard of ten silver to one gold and ten copper to one silver and platinum and electrum are rare or non-existent, having only been used by the ancients.

My current game uses this silver standard with ten silver to a gold and ten copper to a silver. However, I have been re-thinking that. Yes, it is easy and decimalization makes the math easy. However, I am thinking about a new silver standard with 1 gold = 100 silver and 1 copper = 100 silver. That makes the copper nearly worthless, so maybe more like 50 silver in a gold and 20 copper in a silver.

Something to think about.

With 1 silver = to a day’s wage for an unskilled laborer, the value of a copper would need to be a reasonable breakdown of that. How many loaves of bread can that buy? Can a single silver buy enough to feed a family? How big of a family? A family of four, six, bigger?

The drawback to fiddling with the money system, is that you have to revise the price sheet to accurately reflect the new prices. Without a quick way, like a spreadsheet to fiddle with the relative value of each coin to the other, it becomes tedium.

[EDIT 11/16/2014 – Removed last line to remove incorrect information and a very confusing sentence.]

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UCON 2014 Final Preparations

I found out about UCON just a few weeks ago and about two weeks ago decided that I would go for all day on Saturday. I don’t have any unscheduled days off left, so I can’t get away in time to do much tonight, and the way traffic is Friday nights, I won’t make efforts to fight it, even for a game. Yeah, I know, I’m getting old.

I live in Michigan, over near Kalamazoo, and it’s less than a two hour drive, IN GOOD WEATHER…. Famous last words this time of year in Michigan. Of course, yesterday and today, we have been hit with our first big blast of cold and snow/ice. I am blessed to be able to work from home, if I need to, so I am avoiding the frustration of having to deal with all the people that seem to forget that you don’t go fast or slam on your breaks when there is snow and ice on the road. I’m not a native to Michigan, but I grew up driving on ice and snow, in Missouri. (I am amazed at the number of people in Michigan that don’t think it snows in Missouri. Maybe in the boot heel where it stays warm enough to grow cotton and tobacco, but it definitely snows in the rest of the state. There’s also at least one ice storm, the trees look pretty covered in ice, but yuck, what a mess. It’s really great if you’re a kid in school.)

So, I will gather my dice bag, a notepad, some graph paper, and some writing instruments and my bag for the games I have signed up to play. I already gassed up the car and hit the ATM for some cash. I will get to bed early, so I can get up  in the wee hours and make the drive. Not looking forward to the drive on slick roads, but I am excited to play and meet up with some other gamers from my corner of the LP (That’s Lower Peninsula, for all you non-Michiganders.).

Here’s to safe travels to all that aren’t there yet, and to all when it comes time to head home.

Now to find my checklist and make sure I don’t forget anything….

 

 

 

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Currency in FRPGs – Favors

There are many types of currency in FRPGs and other genres of RPGs.

We are all familiar with gold and silver in coins, bars, and items, gems and jewelry, magic, trade/barter, force -such as a quest or geas, other types of items found in treasure hordes, like the awesome ewer! One powerful form of currency is the favor. I briefly mentioned this in yesterday’s post on Magic Shops.

Often a character or party will be in need of something, like a potion or scroll, to help them overcome an obstacle to one of their goals. For example, a scroll with several sleep spells to quickly and quietly make their way to a well guarded tower. Or a potion of control of the creatures guarding the tower.

When seeking such things from a local wizard, or cleric, the matter of payment comes up. Gold and jewels are nice, but what if there are other needs of the temple or wizard? Thus the favor. A form or barter, its value agreed upon by both parties.

What kind of favor is required? Small, medium, large, enormous?

The favor is often more valuable than gold and can be as valuable as magic. One agrees to a favor with a wizard in hopes of it not being too severe, or difficult to fulfill. There are small favors, like information: Where is the lair of the marauding orcs? Mid-sized favors, like: Rescue the villagers from the band of ogres and slay the ogres. And large favors, like: go slay this creature, or retrieve this item from far away.

One avoids honoring a favor at the risk of the wrath of a wizard and his associates, or the patron diety of the temple. Not honoring a favor will make it difficult to gain another favor from anyone else in the general area. Among wizards and temples, perhaps no wizard or temple of that diety will ever help that party or character again. Perhaps other temples and merchants and other NPCs with useful skills will not enter into a favor agreement.

Backing out on fulfilling a favor would be perfect fodder for a quest or geas to compel fulfillment.

One might argue that a chaotically aligned person would avoid agreeing to a favor as payment. That may be for the personality of the character in question, but if one views a favor as one of the forms of currency, a greedy character would seek to acquire favors owed them, in addition to coin, gems, magic, and other goods and services. While it might not be in the nature of a given character to enter into a favor agreement, how is that different than any other character agreeing to a sum of gold delivered by a certain date as payment?

Favors are currency in our world, but tend to be limited in scope to family and close friends. How many of us have done a requested favor for our parents or spouse? They will come out and ask for a favor. In this context, it is usually a one-sided transaction, but a home cooked meal from Mom is often worth it, and one’s spouse might have a more personal reward in mind. When one asks for a favor, how often is the reply, “OK, but you’ll owe me?”

In farming communities, one farmer will make an arrangement for another to plow or harvest a field that is closer to the neighbor, in exchange for the same in return. Of if one farmer is called away for a family emergency, such things occur.

Why not extrapolate that into the game world of whatever genre? How common is the movie or TV plot that someone owes the mob a lot of money, but they’ll forgive it for a special favor?

I play this in my campaign and have experienced it in other campaigns that the specifics of the favor is not discussed until it is time to fulfill it. Some favors took years of game time to be resolved.

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