Campaign Setting Idea

While mowing the lawn yesterday, I  heard sirens and had one of my off the wall thoughts. What if you died and didn’t know it, and could only do the thing that you were doing for eternity?
That’s potentially a terrible curse. But I went with the idea and let the ideas bubble up as i continued to mow.
I have an idea for a new AD&D campaign and want to have fun with it, so I put together some quick notes on my phone in Evernote, when I took a break from mowing. I then cleaned them up and added more ideas below.
  • When I was still on the same thing for eternity idea, I thought about this making people think about their eternal future and learn things that would make them have as much variety as possible in how they do things. For example, learn 100 or 1,000 ways to cut the grass, or maintain the lawn. This will prevent boredom/monotony.
    • I further imagined literate cultures having lots of books on 100 ways to do 100 things, or long lists of ways people have died and ways to deal with that. Pre-literate cultures would have intricate oral traditions taught by the elders on such matters.
      • The idea of dying in childbirth was very unpalatable, and how to deal with that? Perhaps a belief that the mother and child are united together in eternity exploring and learning from the cosmos.
      • This and other horrible ways of dying lead to the idea of nuance, and not being literally the only thing one does for eternity. I am sure one burned to death could be seen as involved with fire in the afterlife, as a shooting star, lava flow, etc. Or they become a fire elemental or other creature on the plane of fire!

This lead to the idea of birth and death augurs, and the points that follow:

  • All humans – Characters are all humans, with rare exceptions. Demi humans arrive via random gates from other worlds. For some reason, the idea of an all-human party is appealing. Maybe the first character for each player has to be human, and future characters can be something else.
  • Birth augur determines class and other affects, etc. Use DCC until generate own lists. Players write a paragraph or two to weave together class, secondary skill (if AD&D), and birth augur.
  • Birth order to get 7th of 7th son/daughter, etc. If roll 7th of 7th son/daughter, get plus 1 to Intelligence and Wisdom, or other cool bonus. Social class, rank, parent’s occupations, season, month, etc, all play a part.
  • Parents would want children to carry on the family business, but if the birth augur says differently, then parents are reluctant to challenge the way things are.
    • Making a character with a class that goes counter to the stats. A high strength for a mage, for example, might indicate one bucking the trend of their birth augur. This should call for interesting role play situations.
  • Death augur, roll on table,  determined at birth. Thus the characters have it at the start of the campaign. Age, season, circumstance, activity, such as battle. Search real world augurs of birth and death. This should encourage players to be heroic and if they are slain, to go out in style.
  • All groups, human and monster believe that what one is doing when they die will determine what they do in the afterlife for eternity. Those slain in battle might be involved in eternal war. The nuances of the death could point to something else related to that circumstance. For example, slain by ogres could mean you awake in a new world where ogres are friendly and you have to work past your issues with ogres to move on. Or you could be re-born as an ogre….
  • Note, raise dead forces a re-roll of birth and death auguries. If identical, signals a blessing from the powers. If vastly different it signals a mark, curse, burden, or quest is demanded to lift or rectify it. If one is the same and the other is different, it presents a fun roleplay opportunity.
  • Those who desire a long life avoid the things that signal the possibility of their death.
  • Certain death – there is a saying, “While death comes to all that is, the only certain death is one that is foretold.”
  • No fear of death.  Fate, luck, etc. all play a part. If character knocked down, but ruled by the DM as not part of his death augur, “flip the body” like in DCC, and just badly injured. Possible permanent injury table.
  • I like the idea of no set alignment, but those on the side of civilization and law, and those on the side of monsters and wildness. More of the law & chaos of original D&D. I had the idea for the name of a rule set, “Heroes & Anti-Heroes.” Those on the side of law are heroic and those on the side of chaos are the opposite. Not necessarily cowards, but their great deeds are infamous rather than heroic.
  • Undead and those who seek to cheat death would be chaos and hidden cults. A lich would be the ultimate in an attempt to cheat death.
    • Demons would be those powers out to trick the susceptible into resisting death at all costs. The “blessings” from the demons would be life as undead.
  • Call Turn Undead “Banish Magical Abomination”, and druids would “Banish Unnatural Abominations”. Let druids turn undead at 2 or 3 levels lower.
  • No set deities. “The powers”, “great ones”, generic name for all the deities. Few groups would worship a specific deity.
  • Any tribes/groups/nations/cultures that don’t follow the birth/death augur tradition will be viewed as “wrong”. This should be rare and not encountered in the core of the campaign region.
This whole idea helped me to see undead and law vs. chaos differently. It is not as confining as one imagines.
This also feels like the idea for a book.  Hmmmm…. Not until I get the first draft of the final chapters of the novel I have yet to finish.
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Fun With Cabinet Labels

My house had an infestation of grain weevils. So my son and his girlfriend, who have been living with me for the last couple of weeks took on the task of emptying all the cabinets and finding all the affected flour, etc. over the weekend.

When they put everything back, they rearranged and reorganized it, all with my prior approval. Heck, I didn’t have to do all that work, why should I mind?

So that my other, younger son, and myself would know where everything is, my son made labels on 3 x 5 cards and stuck them to the front of all the cabinets on the level of the shelf behind them. being my son, he had fun with the labels. I’m so proud!

The kitchen & dining room
The kitchen & dining room with contents of cabinets on tables.
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Left Side: Tupperware Housing Co-Op Right Side: All Coasters have been EVICTED
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Baking Bad (chemical agent storage)
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Emulsion, Measurement & Containment (E=MC2) <- for short
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Miscellaneous Containment Vessels of Minimal Stature
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“There’s no food” Reality Check with Astronaut Milk (Ooblek Potential)
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Poop Assistance Program (PAP)

Oatmeal and raisins…. Gives a whole new meaning to PAP smear….

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Apocalypse Starvation Inhibitor Mechanically imprisoned calories Lipids & Stimulants (contingency coffee pot not Included)

Coconut oil & Coffee.

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Essential Hitchhiker’s Equipment (Don’t Panic)

Do I need to explain that one?

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Lots Available Adjacent to Oats Corner Large Containment Vessels & Fruit Torture Apparatus

LOL a box of oatmeal and a juicer.

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Flavor Enhancement Modules & Nourishment Lubricators

Soy sauce and the like, and cooking oil.

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Three Dimensional Heating Prisms {May, or may not contain Top-most Plane}

Pyrex casserole dishes.

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Hot paFibrous Membranes of Heat Resistance Deflect all heat Damage from applied area for Duration of One Turn

Hot pads

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Plethora of Utensils Which were denied residence in Kitchen Caddy
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Hard Work Sometimes Pays Off

My boss appreciates me jumping in and picking up after two people on another team resigned in the same two week period.

He’s only been my boss about seven months. He gave me an Amazon gift card to show appreciation. I used that to knock some items off my Amazon wish list, and also splurged when it didn’t cover everything. [In the nearly two months since I drafted this article, I got another Amazon gift card from my boss, and an appreciation Amazon gift card from our division VP. ]

I’d been wanting a copy of the Rankin & Bass The Hobbit, and the other cartons of the era. I don’t have many DVD’s, as there are not a lot of movies that I want to watch multiple times. Some that I have, I have fond memories of them, but I watch them again, and it doesn’t seem like the movie I recall. I remember the whole family gathering around the TV to watch The Hobbit, I miss those days.

Unfortunately, I have yet to watch all of these movies, and with all the chaos of moving my office and adding three people to my house, I don’t know where they are at the moment. I did squeeze in The Hobbit last night.

The Hobbit
The Hobbit
Return of The King
Return of The King
Lord of The Rings
Lord of The Rings

I also splurged to get the table top Hobbit and Lord of The Rings, two hefty volumes. I haven’t had time to just sit and enjoy them. At least I know that they are on my nearly organized gaming shelves.

Art of The Hobbit
Art of The Hobbit
Art of The Lord of The Rings
Art of The Lord of The Rings

 

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Tim Kask Talk – First Five Years At TSR

Here’s a write up from GaryCon 8 from back in March I hadn’t published yet.

I attended a session by Tim Kask on Riding the Rocket: TSR’s First 5 Years. I missed the first twenty minutes or so, but I enjoyed it immensely. Tim recommended that we read the book Orcs, and that it changed his view on orcs, and that he no longer sees them as just meat sacks.

Pat Kilbane filmed Tim’s presentation for use in his D&D Documentary. I had the honor of asking the last question, “What was the thing you like best about working at TSR, and what was the thing you liked least or might want to do differently in hindsight?” Others besides Pat also recorded his response on video, I wish I had. Basically, he voiced his disapproval of the Blume’s business acumen. He said that he loved working with Gary and having so much fun. The second thing he liked was the opportunity to go back to teaching.

Pat’s YouTube channel, Dorks Of Yore published most of the interview in a series of short snippets. You can see them all in this Tabetop RPGs playlist, along with their initial video about GaryCon. Alas, my question didn’t appear in these snippets, but will be in the final product. However, this screenshot from an FB comment I made and Pat’s reply is fantastic!

Awesome!
Awesome!
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Celebrity ChariD20 – Next Sunday

I wrote this article that was originally published on Multiverse — it is republished here with permission.
Source: http://multiverse.world/blog/2016/08/21/celebrity-charid20-next-sunday/

I had the honor to interview my friend and fellow Multiverse writer, Satine Phoenix, about her upcoming event – Celebrity ChariD20 (CCD20).

What is CCD20?:
CelebrityChariD20.com celebrates Storytellers by Fundraising for the Childrens literacty charity: Reach out and Read!

How did all this start?:
I started Celebrity ChariD20 back in 2010 at Meltdown Comics. I was running the Hollywood Table-top Gaming Group #DnDMeltdown out of the store and wanted to throw Charity events along with the other fun events. (Sunday games, Battle Royale & Pancake Breakfast potlucks). I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 1995 and like other Entertainment Professionals, I was having a hard time finding other players as an adult so naturally, I created a place for us all to get together. Men & Women of all ages and backgrounds. It’s easy for us to sit by ourselves and play video games but there’s something incredibly bonding and exciting about playing tabletop role playing games. You can’t go alone. You have to cooperate with others to get the goal accomplished. Tabletop roleplaying games remind you about this both at the table and in life. I am a better human because of Dungeons and Dragons.

Why have it as both an in-person and live video stream?:
Back in 2010 the internet didn’t have live-streamed gaming events, at least not on the small DIY scale we were trying to run. It was a wild new idea that Meltdown Comics and I had. It was a way for us in Hollywood to fund raise with people in other cities, states… countries. Since then the internet has evolved and now Live streaming is just another everyday item we have access to on the internet. Which is great. It was really complicated trying to invent the format of CCD20. We tried running 4 simultaneous streams at once. Too much bandwidth. Then we evolved to a few shorter games back to back which ended up making the event WAY less chaotic. The event is very complex to run and I’ve been directing it by myself with the help of a few friends. It was easier to have it run on a closed set at Meltdown with people watching from home. I hate limiting the people involved in these kind of events so this was my way of including everyone! Now that my business partner Ruty is helping me throw CelebrityChariD20.com events we now have the capability of getting people to both donate online from anywhere in the world AND come to the store to play games and party while we run the live stream. Making it a REALLY BIG PARTY!

What are your future plans with this event?:
I’d love to throw a giant event where hundreds of people can come out and game at tables all day and raise money. One day I’ll have enough volunteers to help organize that kind of event. In the meantime Ruty & I can manage a handful of 2 hour tables. We asked our celebrity friends to come out and share the event with their fans so we can do our very best to raise money for this charity. Because that is what it’s all about. Raising money for the Children’s Literacy group, Reach Out and Read.

What can we do to help?:
If you would like to participate, impact the game play of the different tables/celebrities, enter into a raffle for some cool items just go to CelebrityChariD20.com and donate! You can start today! If you want to come down to Meltdown and game with us and donate cash or books, please do! We will be running other games all day long! If you want to mail books to Meltdown to be donated to Reach Out and Read, please do! More than anything, please tell all your friends to go tocelebritycharid20.com and donate!!
MELTDOWN COMICS
7522 SUNSET BLVD.
LA, CALIF 90046 USA
323.851.7223 (STORE)
323.435.4411 (SMS HELP)
MAP
HOURS
EVERYDAY: 11AM – 9PM
WED: 10AM – 10PM

CelebrityChariD20.com celebrates Storytellers by Fundraising for the Children’s literacy charity: Reach out and Read!

August 28th from 10 am – 8 pm!
5 games, 2 hours each, back to back for a whole day of Tabletop Gaming with over 30 Celebrity Guests.

LIVE STREAM Hosted by Satine Phoenix on XSN at Meltdown Comics and Collectibles in Hollywood California. Dungeon Masters: Keith Baker & Ruty Rutenberg
Donate TODAY and UNLOCK exciting Stretch goals that effect the Players and their games!
Donate at CelebritychariD20.com

All donations automatically entered to win **SPECIAL RAFFLE PRIZES** from our sponsors: Wizards of the Coast, Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, Hero Forge, Comikaze and Many MORE! Signed Books, Games, Toys, Tickets, posters & other fun Nerdstuffs signed by our celebrities!
Wanna donate big but don’t want disadvantage on your raffle roll? Never fear! Each donation increment of $10 is another entry! Donate TODAY for the first Raffle Drawing at 10 am AUGUST 28th!

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY?!?! Come down to Meltdown Comics! We’ve got tables for you and your friends to play Board Games & other Tabletop Roleplaying games. Join in the fun, Rally the troops and be a part of the Festivities!!!

TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! SPREAD THE WORD!
Check out the PLAYER LIST on celebritychariD20.com

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A New Class – The Vexillologist

I posted this morning on G+ that I awoke with the word vexillologist stuck in my head. +Eric Fabiaschi suggested that I make a new OSR class out of it. I liked the idea, so below is my rough draft of the class.

This is the first class I have built and I had a lot of fun with it. It needs more polish before it is ready for prime time. I will publish a PDF once I get it cleaned up. Most likely it will be my first offering on RPGNow.

The image I found, is supposed to be free according to the site I got it from, but it is just for illustrative purposes. I’ll pay an RPG illustrator for a basic image once this is ready for sharing.

I’m interested in constructive comments, as long as you understand this is a rough draft and not the final form.

Vexillologist Class

The run of the mill vexillologist is just one who specializes in flags and banners, but the mage specialist is one who has mastered magical signs, sigils, glyphs, writing, and flags and banners.

Their specialty is in flags, banners, and other such devices, from a carved stick or other “simple” symbol to heraldry. In addition to their spell books, they compile over the course of their life a notebook on symbols and their meanings to different groups. This notebook is the same size as the spell book and requires a new one for every two levels. Losing these notebooks is nearly as disastrous as losing a spell book. Any written information about symbols, writing, or heraldry found during adventuring is as valuable to a Vexillologist as finding new spells. There is a chance that any sages the party encounters with an interest in Vexillology is a Vexillologist, or knows the spells of that class if the sage knows any spells.

With their advanced training, vexillologists can garner the intent of regular magic user user spells, and even those of illusionists, without the use of read magic. That is, they will know the name of the spell. Much of their craft crosses the boundaries between these two disciplines.

The vexillologist has made a study of various symbols, banners, totems, and heraldry of the region and known world. They have a 15% chance, plus 5% per level above 1st, to know the significance/identity of those with a certain symbol. For example, tribal groups, such as goblins and orcs, or nomadic human tribes.

They specialize in spells that enhance, reveal, or obscure the symbols they encounter. For example, they can obscure, or even damage the banner of an opposing force to affect its morale, and even make the banner appear smaller to enhance morale of friendly forces. For friendly forces, they can cause a banner to be more visible, appear larger and more imposing to an enemy.

They are also known to target bearers of banners and totems with interesting effects.

Their greatest magical specialty is the creation of magical banners, totems, and other signs. Such enchantments range from boosting morale of units, increasing the fighting capability of the unit (making them harder to hit, or easier for them to hit others.), special protections for the banner bearer, to even special attacks using the banner. The greatest vexillologists of yore even mastered creating banners that were intelligent, and some even grew in power based on the success of the unit. I wrote about magical banners here with my way to complex entry in the OSR Superstar Contest. Too complex for a contest, but something I have in my AD&D campaign, but so far, they have not come into play.

New Spells

1st Level Burning Hands – Cause all who touch an enemy banner to have their hands burned for 1hp/caster level. If the bearer takes double their HP or more in damage, they burst into flames consuming the banner.)
2nd level Splinter – The pole for a banner will shatter in the hands of the bearer doing 1d4/level to the bearer and 1hp/level to all within 10’/level.

1st level Tear – The banner is ripped at 1″/caster level, strong winds have a chance to lengthen the tears. 1% reduction in unit morale per inch of tear.
2nd level Rend – Higher level spell that does 3 tears that are 6″ long per level. 1% reduction in unit moral per inch of tear.
4th level Shred – The banner is shredded as if by the claws of a wild beast, and an audible growl is heard. 20% reduction in unit morale if not other morale rules apply, or at discretion of GM.

1st level Enhance – Banner/device appears to be more obvious, and any significance it carries is enhanced. For example, the banner of a well-known and feared band of mercenaries would seem to be even more imposing. 1% reduction in morale/level to units that fail teir saves.
The reverse, Obscure, causes the banner of an opposing force to appear less imposing and gives friendly units a 1% boost to alignment/level.

1st level Shield Bearer – Cast a magical shield on the banner bearer, as the 1st level spell shield.

1st level Comprehend – In addition to reading regular magic, this spell allows the caster a 15% chance, plus 2% per level to discern the meaning or intent of new, hidden, or subtle designs in banners and other symbols.
The reverse, Incomprehensible, will hide new and subtle images from casual view and requires a caster of higher level to cast comprehend to counter it, or of course, Dispel Magic.
When cast on an enemy banner it has a 5% chance per level of caster to cause confusion as the spell if the affected unit fails its save.

3rd level Route – This is a high level spell that causes the targeted unit, with a banner or other carrie symbol, that fails its save to be routed and flee as if their morale broke for 1d6 rounds. If they make their save and make their standard morale check, they stand. If they fail their morale check, they move back in good order. Even breaking and fleeing for a single round is enough to prevent a unit from regaining its cohesion. Any units that witness this unit break must make a morale check with all the normal modifiers caused by seeing a unit break and flee. If this unit has any special renown that boosts the morale of surrounding units, that effect is removed. If the targeted unit is under the effect of a Brace spell, that spell is negated.

3rd level Brace – This spell causes the targeted unit with a banner or other symbol to have a 5% morale bonus, plus 1% per caster level beyond 1st. They get a +1 on all saving throws for the duration of the spell. Brace cannot restore the morale of a unit that has fled. Units that fall back in order

False Flag – Appears to be the correct & proper flag for a unit or vessel unless a saving throw is made.

Swap Image – The caster causes the banners of two enemy units to swap. Ideally this is used to swap the general or leader’s banner with that of a unit that has been routed or annihilated to affect the morale of the entire enemy force.

Confuse Signal – If an enemy force is using flags or other means of communication, i.e. semaphore, the receiver of the message will think they are being told the opposite or least favorable option of what the sender is trying to communicate, if the receiver fails their save.

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Free RPG Day – 2016

I’m late to the party in writing about Free RPG Day for 2016, which was June 18.

However, I may be the first to blog about it at my FLGS, Fanfare.

Last year, there was a strong DCC showing with +Doug Kovacs, +Adam Muszkiewicz, and +Roy Snyder sharing the day long scenario. This year, I was sadly unable to participate, but I was out running errands and I had to pass Fanfare to get to the big name hardware store. So I stopped in and asked what might be available, and the manager behind the counter showed me what they had. His only request was that I only take what I would run.

As I was looking at the selection, Erik from GamingPaper walked up and introduced himself and gave me a roll of Gaming Paper. I mentioned my blog and that I had once reviewed Gaming Paper. He confirmed that they are located in Grand Rapids, about an hour north of Kalamazoo. A couple of years ago, an employee at Fanfare  didn’t believe me when I said they were located there. You can read my Gaming Paper review here. As a resident of Michigan, I like to do all I can to support RPG vendors and producers in the state.

Erik fro Gaming Paper
Erik fro Gaming Paper
Gaming Paper
Gaming Paper

I grabbed three items, the offering from The Dark Eye, the German RPG that recently had a Kickstarter; the DCC Lankhmar/Mutant Crawl Classics combo (See here for the MCC Kickstarter.); and the GamingPaper sampler for their Mega dungeon 4 – Rooftops and Alleyways, now on Kickstarter.

 

Three Things
Three Things

 

The Dark Eye Quickstart
The Dark Eye Quickstart
Gaming Paper Megadungeon 4
Gaming Paper Megadungeon 4
DCC Lankhmar/MCC
DCC Lankhmar/MCC

I am stretched too thin on Kickstarters to go in on The Dark Eye. It looked interesting, but would I realistically play it? I have the DCC rules and a few modules, and I play as a player, but I am not up to speed on feeling like I could run more than a zero level session. I like Metamorphosis Alpha and Gamma World, but I’m not sure I need yet another large rule book. That Kickstarter is already funded, so my small amount of cash won’t break it. If I decide I want it, I can always get it once it is generally available. I think the Mega Dungeon idea from Gaming Paper is interesting, but I am not big on miniatures in play. The blank Gaming Paper more than meets my needs.

I asked the manager of Fanfare what their requirements were for running games. It is very simple, just call at least two days ahead, two weeks ahead to get on their calendar. No limit on the games to run, just make sure it’s OK first. He also cautioned that certain tournaments, like for Magic the Gathering and others related to a product release would be packed. The good news is that it is a definite possibility! I’m debating running something there, or opening my home to a group. There are benefits to both. My son and his family are moving out of state, so I won’t be able to see my granddaughter every weekend like I do now. Thus, I will have more time open to game.

There was a group playing the Pathfinder scenario for FRPG Day. they had some other things scheduled throughout the day, but it did not see to be as busy as last year. My plan is to do more next year to get my locale excited about RPG’s and the OSR. Work had better not be as crazy next June as this one has been!

PF for Free RPG Day
PF for Free RPG Day

I didn’t have time to stay, I had to hurry up and get home before my neighborhood got blocked in for the annual car show. Here is what I wrote about the car show last year, with an RPG angle.

There was a bit of a dust up that Free RPG Day is more about vendors getting attention instead of getting more people to play RPG’s. It’s all about the focus and what the gaming community does to make the day what it wants. If the majority are only after free stuff and not concerned with getting more people to return to playing or start playing, then that’s what it will be. If gamers choose a day to focus on getting people to play, then that’s what it will be. I am sure there is a wide variation across the spectrum of various RPGers.

It is much like the issue of, there is no GM, then be the GM. If no one is organizing, then step up and organize. I don’t want to organize a whole day of various games for multiple groups, but I will gladly plan to run something for as many people as want to play.

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Getting Ready for UCon 2016

I  just submitted four OSR track games to run at UCon in November.

Two are written and I could run right now, but I hope to play test at the local game store, and eventually the other two, when they are ready.

One is an idea I’ve had for a while, but needs fleshing out.

The fourth is a very loose idea that still needs work.

I am looking forward to this! I haven’t ran a game since Marmalade Dog in February.  I’m in two Roll20 AD&D games, but not running anything at the moment.

I’m forcing order on my life, now that some of the unexpected chaos has settled. This will force me to work on running something either at the FLGS or online.

Here are the systems and the blurbs for the catalog.

Quest for ARLOK3 [Still in the works]

It has long been a right of passage of the tribe/village for those who have come of age to make the journey to ARLOK3. Those who return are welcomed as fit adults and future leaders of the village.

I have interest for Roll20 play testers for MA. If you are interested, drop me a line. This is one that I still have to work on, so if you’re interested, I’ll let you know when I’m ready.

The Kiel Experiment [Ready – needs polish/playtesting]

German scientists in conjunction with the German Navy at Kiel performed an experiment informed by information smuggled out of America about the Philadelphia Experiment.

The experiment was successful in masking the ship, but caused unintended side effect on the crew and opened an inter-dimensional portal that unleashed “something”.

The opening of the portal emitted a signal that was detected by allied scientists in Philadelphia, and its import relayed up the command chain.

Slim Pickings Or Bountiful Harvest? [Still in the works]

Your band of freelancers has gotten word of a massive space battle that will be over by the time you arrive to salvage what the warring parties left behind.

The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep [Ready – needs polish/playtesting]

Delver’s Deep is a well known adventure location. In recent months, some mysterious druids have occupied The Deep, as it is known to locals. This order of druids wear black robes, and their tight lips have led to rumors and gossip about their real nature and purpose. It is “common knowledge” that they are an evil cult practicing human sacrifice. Like most villagers, they mind their business, hoping that is enough to protect them; yet are glad to take the coins from selling
supplies to the druids.

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The New Cover for the Latest Revision to Swords & Wizardry

Yes, I’m making a post. I wrote it a couple weeks ago, and just decided to post it. Real life has been interesting the past several weeks. My hopes of starting up some new in person games have been put on hold until things settle down.

+Stacy Dellorfano, the editor of the latest revision to Swords & Wizardry showed off the new cover the other day. I saw it as a bit of a tease and to show that the project is progressing. That’s how you build up excitement for a project and upcoming Kickstarter, set to start some time after GenCon.

The reaction to the cover was either, “I love it”, or “I hate it”, with some going so far to say it ruined it for them. I’ve read too many comments both ways. This is the whole redundant argument about “bad wrong fun”, “the world must see things my way and do them my way”, and all kinds of other ridiculousness.

What many fail to understand it that this image is art. Like all art it is subjective. We have an immediate visceral reaction to art and we either like it or we don’t. When one person says they like something and another says they don’t, they are both right. However, when they go on to say that everyone else should like what they like or not like what they don’t like, that is a problem. We each have our opinion, but too many of the don’t like say that this doesn’t say S&W/RPG to them, so no one should buy it, or support the Kickstarter.

I am just baffled by this.

I am not a fan of heavy metal music, yet I don’t care that to many of my generation and after, heavy metal was what they listened to when they started playing and it fits them and their personality.

I am a fan of classical music and the themes of fantasy, science fiction, and other genres of movies and TV shows.  My gaming circle had mix tapes with all kinds of music from Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost in Space, and more. There’s nothing like the “planet eater” theme (used for other tense moments) from Star Trek TOS when you are in a tense moment. The Imperial March when a big bad shows up. Or Mars from The Planets by Holst. It was so funny that the ebb and flow of the game synced with the music many times. It enhanced the moment. Just as my preference for instrumental music while playing RPG’s others want heavy metal.

I have played with many in cons that are very vocal about their love of heavy metal. It’s just a part of who they are. Many of them have an eclectic taste in music. It is the same with art. I can appreciate a particular piece, even if I don’t like it.

This cover is one that definitely grabbed my attention. I’m looking at it and wondering, “What is that?” I know others speculated and I have seen multiple interpretations of what it is. To me, it looks like a skeletal dragon sitting on a hoard of bones, somewhat reminiscent of the dragon on the pile of gold on the Holmes Blue Box.

I have gotten really close to my screen to look at it, and that is still my first impression. It does look like some sort of flowers or plant under it, but I’m not sure.

It isn’t necessarily what I was expecting for a cover. I already own one edition of S&W in hard back. I’m not sure that I will back the Kickstarter or not. I have been trying to cut back until some of the bigger ones deliver. My outstanding list is much smaller in recent weeks, that I have yet to write about. [The craziness with work is taking longer to resolve than I expected. I do have some things in the works to wrap up.]

My limiting factors on buying it are financial and shelf space. I am working on downsizing other stuff in my life, I need to play what I have. S&W, and other clones are still the original game, the name we can’t say. Why does it matter what the package looks like? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, right? We don’t know yet, but when it comes out, what if it is the best presentation of the rules ever written? That will be hard to do, but what if it was?

What gets me is that people are complaining about the art on an RPG book, when some of the art in the original three books, and later AD&D and basic was not the best.

This is something someone did out of their love of the game. It is OK that everyone doesn’t like it, but some of the things said about it are juvenile. Some of the comments sound like they were made by immature pre-teens.

Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you need to say something. How about CONSTRUCTIVE criticism of the prose and presentation of the rules, when they come out, and less whining about the art. If you don’t like the art, you can roll your own rules and get the art that you like and see how many people have the same love of your creation. What if it generated as much vocal dislike? Would you still want to have an online presence and make and play RPGs?

I really like the art by Dave Trampier, but there are a few of his pieces that I don’t care for very much. Some artists from back in the day I don’t care for a lot of their stuff, and others are what RPG art “should be.” Many agree with that, but not all.

Take all the nitpicking strewn about the interwebs and turn that energy into encouraging others to play.

Joesky Tax:

What to do if you don’t like something in an RPG (d6/d12/whatever).

  1. Do your own version.
  2. Do your own art.
  3. Do your own maps.
  4. Play solo games so no one can disagree with your rulings.
  5. Turn off your computer so you don’t encounter art and opinions you disagree with.
  6. End sentences with prepositions to annoy those who don’t like it.
  7. If you can roll a seven on a d6, I’d like to see that trick in person.
  8. Make your own paper.
  9. Make your own ink.
  10. Scribe it with a quill pen.
  11. Bind your own books.
  12. Get a push cart and go door to door and town to town trying to get other’s to buy it.

Hmm, that looks more like a 12 step program on the road to shut the Hell up!

The following image that +James Spahn posts from time to time sums it up much better than my efforts.

Moar Elf Games

 

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Still Alive

The blog’s been quiet for a few weeks. Real life is keeping me busy. Work is unusually hectic for this time of year. Also my oldest son and his family are moving out of state the weekend after July 4th, so I am helping as much as I can plus spending all the time I can with my granddaughter before then. She is about 18 months old and in the last few weeks started calling me Grandpa. It brightens my week to spend time with her. I wish I could afford the gas and hotel expense to drive 9 hours one way every weekend to see her…. I foresee a lot of Skype time in my future….

I had enough energy after work that I wrote and posted a new article on Multiverse, and I drafted two articles for this blog. I have an idea for another article for this blog and will get a draft started for that momentarily.

I’m going to Gamehole Con this year, so I’ll be getting signed up for some games ASAP. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, and meeting online friends in person!

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Ramblings of an Old Gamer