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Ramblings of an Old Gamer

Newly Discovered Deepest Known Cave In Continental USA

This is very interesting and got me to thinking about, what else, RPGs!

I did some spelunking back in high school. Our band directory had an interest in geology and taught a high school class on geology for several years and took students to a couple of caves. This was in Missouri, the cave state, and we drove from the eastern suburbs of Kansas City to the caves west of St. Louis, in Meramec State Park, not to be confused with the commercial Meramec Caverns. There was one cave we couldn’t enter at that time of year due to an endangered bat species that was in hibernation the part of the year we were there. The one cave we were able to enter had a very cold stream coming out and got narrow and low very quick. We had to go sideways where we could stand and had to crawl on our stomachs in other parts.

It was a hot spring day and the water was like ice. One could easily get hypothermia even in summer.

In college and a few year after, I went on several canoe trips on some of the rivers in south-central Missouri, like the Meramec and the Current, and those can be very cool, but feel great on a hot sunny summer day!

The Current River is well named. There are places where it is only about 3 feet deep and if you lay down, or were to fall or be knocked over, you can get swept quite a bit down river, 30 to 40 feet or more, until you get your bearings and can plant your feet. Even if you keep to your feet, you can’t run without the danger of falling. This was while in sneakers and shorts. Someone in armor and weighed down with a pack would have their stance shifted to compensate and could very easily get knocked over. Just something to think about. Deeper than three feet in a swift river would be even more challenging. Where there are relatively sharp bends in the river with a limestone cliff, the river will dig down and create a deep area. Such places are good to jump off the cliff. CAUTION: I knew a guy who dove head first into one of these places headfirst and died because he came down in shallow water and broke his neck. Always make sure of the depth of the water before jumping off a cliff.

I have also taken tours of some smaller commercial caves and they have very interesting rock formations, very slick stone, made slick as ice with water.

I also recall stories a few years ago about a cave with a secret location in Mexico that has giant crystals. The pictures were cool. I will leave it to the reader to do a google search to see what I mean.

Deepest Known Cave in continental USA.

Subtle entrance to Tears of The Turtle cave. This type of entrance would be very hard to miss. This is a neat album with more than one cave and gives some ideas about how caves look.

Double Date cave Entrance – This looks like a mine to me. This could confuse characters without a mining background to think they found a mine. Dwarves or gnomes would know better.

One also has to be careful in caves. I recall the movie I saw as a kid and found it via Google. Ace in the Hole AKA The Big Carnival with Kirk Douglas, based on a true story.

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Alliteration Though The Monster Manual, A to Z.

I play in a Roll20/Google Hangout AD&D first edition game. We recently started back and forth strings of alliteration in our online comments about write ups of our sessions, etc. I took it much farther than the others.

One player posted a link to a poster of a blind monk on a blind beholder, to which I posted: “Blessed Battling Blind Beholders, Batman! ;)” To which I must now add, “Robin retorted, rhetorically.”

I have the bug bad. So bad, in fact, that I am going to inflict it on the internet at large. I’m sorry, but not that sorry. ;)

So while in the shower the other day I had the idea to do alliterative phrases for an A to Z listing from the Monster Manual. This was initiated as I was reflecting on my post on what the OSR stands for.

Without further ado, here is the list and a couple extra at the end. Yes, I know I have two for B. B for bonus! Hmm…. This just may be my list for next years A to Z challenge….

  1. Angry ankhegs attacking artichoke agriculturalists assiduously.
  2. Bespectacled bald baby basilisks bouncing beautifully.
  3. Barbaric bugbears beheading bullywugs.
  4. Caterwauling catoblepas callously casting cats.
  5. Devilish druidic dervishes dancing defiantly.
  6. Eager ettins eradicate elves enthusiastically.
  7. Fancy famished frogs feasting furiously.
  8. Giant gorgons gobbling goblins greedily.
  9. Hungry harpies harpooning harried hippos. (Get where I got this one?)
  10. Inquisitive imps investigating intrigue.
  11. Jacked-up jackalwere jousting jauntily.
  12. Killer kobolds kissing ki-rin.
  13. Lazy lycanthropes lounging longingly.
  14. Manic misanthropic minotaurs minting mounted miniatures.
  15. Naughty nymphs nuzzling Norman. (Who wishes they were Norman?)
  16. Obtuse owlbears overbearing orcs.
  17. Perspicacious pixies painting pegasi.
  18. Quick quassits quietly questing.
  19. Raging rocs routing rangers.
  20. Silent skeletons slink surreptitiously.
  21. Tough trolls trick troglodytes treacherously.
  22. Uniformed umber hulks undulating under ungainly untied unicorn umbilicus.
  23. Violent vapid violet vampires vamping.
  24. Weird wraiths wriggling wildly.
  25. Xylophoning xorn.
  26. Yellow yeti yelling, yet yearning.
  27. Zombie zoning.

And the two bonus phrases:

  • Master’s multitudinous machinating minions menace marooned mercenaries manning mantlets meekly, masticating meat.
  • All alliteration alludes allegorical alternative alertness, allegedly.

And another….

Flying flaming flamingos fleetly fling flagons flung flatly.

My plea:

Help harried honest human halt horrendous haphazard haranguing.

This is terrible, the tune to “R-O-C-K in the USA” came into my head with the words, “Alliterate in the OSR”.

Will this post never end? Will the puns and assault on the unwary link clickers continue???? …. Tune in next week, same OSR time, same OSR channel.

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My Son’s Music Videos (Covers)

My son recorded these today, so I got to hear them live… along with the exclamations of frustration along the way. Isn’t is fun being creative? I wish I could play an instrument….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Technical Difficulties Resolved

Technical Difficulties

I realized a few days ago that the ability to comment on my blog was not working.

I verified that comments were on, and I get plenty of auto-generated spam comments. I have all comments moderated.

I figured out the issue, I had installed a plugin, Gigya a while back and it isn’t compatible with the current version of my blogging software. I have disabled Gigya and now you can comment on my blog, if you wish.

Technical Difficulties

Technical Difficulties – This image brings back memories of childhood.

 

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Creatures you stated from fiction

Some creatures from mythology and fiction that do not already exist in a game are fun to develop stats for in game use. I have only created stats for a few creatures myself, and have yet to use them in my campaign, but have played in games that had them.

For me, the most memorable are creatures in my brother Robert’s game.

Stormhounds from Chronicle of Amber – I don’t have specifics, but Robert mentioned that the adults have 12 HD. The main NPC wizard has them to guard his tower and raises them. Many an adventurer has offered a lot to try to get a puppy.

The Rancor from Return of the Jedi – See Out of Character Outbursts.

Modifications of existing  creatures:

 Stewart war dogs 3 hd instead of 2. In my brother’s game, the hillsmen are based on Scottish clans. My character in his game, Griswald, is a Stewart and raises these dogs. They were historically (in the game) used in battle. The dogs would be lined up in front of the battle lines with collars with sharpened blades, thus they are also called “Sword Dogs”.

I read about the labors of Hercules back in February and yesterday I finally did stats for the Stymphalian birds with beaks of bronze and metallic feathers they can launch. I have not seen the movie with Dwayne Johnson/The Rock that came our earlier this year, to know if it included them.

What mythical or fictional creatures have you stated for use in you game(s)?

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What is the OSR?

Three little letters seem to cause such a fuss. Here is a list that I will add to as my brain spits out new words and phrases to fit the acronym. When I get enough for a table or two, I will post a new article. (Be afraid, be very afraid.)

I invite others to submit their O.S.R. words, please submit them in the comments, in three word groups in order as seen in my examples below. NOTE: It doesn’t have to relate to RPGs, or at least not in an obvious way.

Obstinate Stinky Referees

Old Senile Roleplayers

One Shot Roleplaying

One Save Rule/Roll

Only Singing Roleplaying

Odiferous Slimy Raconteurs

Ornery Statistics Regulators (My personal favorite so far.)

Original System Resolutely

Obtuse System Rules

Obtuse Seething Revolutionary

Obverse Signage Regulations

Onomatopoeia Serving Rhetoric

Oranges Simmering Resolutely

Obtuse Seething Ridiculousness (A recent Kickstarter comes to mind, in addition to many other efforts to define three letters.)

Overpaid Senior Regulators

Ostracons Scoured Regularly

Ostrogoths Serving Romans

Ovulating Soothsayers Ruminating

Oscillating Sonorous Regurgitation

Ossified Spider Riders

Order Shiny Rings

Orthodontists Skewering Rodents

Overt Slimy Renters

Oysters Salaciously Rotated

Ossuaries Shattered Regretfully

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Stymphalian Birds

The sixth labor of Herakles (AKA Hercules) is dealing with the Stymphalian birds. They were birds were man eaters with beaks of bronze and metallic feathers they can launch like arrows. Herckles destroys or drives them off and they are encountered later by the Argonauts.

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stymphalian_birds

THE ORNITHES STYMPHALIDES (or Stymphalian Birds)  were a flock of man-eating birds which haunted Lake Stymphalis in Arkadia. Herakles’ destroyed them as his sixth labour, employing first a rattle to rouse them from the thick vegetation of the lake, then shooting them down one by one with bow and arrow or a sling.

The Stymphalides were sometimes identified with the arrow-shooting Ornithes Areioi (Birds of Ares) encountered by the Argonauts in the Black Sea.

SOURCE: http://www.theoi.com/Ther/OrnithesStymphalides.html

If you search for Symphalian birds, you will find pictures of ancient Greek pottery, Roman mosaics, and lots of modern interpretations. Deviant Art has quite a few examples.

One artist describes the birds as having poisonous dung. Knowing the way that much ancient mythology was cleaned up for presentation in the Victorian Era, I can believe this. However, I have not yet found a source to back this idea.

Here is my efforts to stat them as per AD&D.

NAME: Stymphalian Birds
FREQUENCY: Rare to Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 3-30
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVE: 3″/18″
HIT DICE: 1
% IN LAIR: 60%
TREASURE TYPE: D
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-6
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Launch feathers as arrows
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Metallic Feathers
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
INTELLIGENCE: Low
ALIGNMENT: N
SIZE: S
PSIONIC ABILITY: N/A
Attack/Defense Modes: N/A
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: (Added in MM2, also in FF):
CLIMATE/TERRAIN: They nest in trees surrounded by swamps and marshes.

 Swords & Wizardry (So I can use them in my hex for the OSR Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting.)

Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 6/[13]
Attacks: 2
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Launch bronze feathers as arrows.
Move: 3/18 (when flying)
Alignment: Neutrality
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

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Kickstarters For RPGs and Related Items

Kickstarter has been very popular for both complete RPG games, i.e. new ones, to new editions, to reprints.

I have participated in a few Kickstarters and have not had the funds to join in on all the ones that I’d like.

The Metamorphosis Alpha Kickstarter was one I was interested in, but it was more nostalgia than a resource for play, as I don’t have a group to do MA with, so I passed. Also because the complete book was at like the $80 level. In hindsight, I wish I had joined in on that one. I GM’d for MA back in the day. My manual was one lost in the water damage incident.

I bought some challenge coins from the Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coin Kickstarter. I like the one from the Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkey.”, that is, “It’s not my problem.”

Projects I have backed:

Adventure Conqueror King – Funded. I have the softcover. I like it as a tool. I did not have the funds to support the other Autauch projects.

Hero Forge – Customizeable 3-D Tabletop Miniatures – Funded – Close to on schedule. Currently in beta. (I have beta access and need to make time to try it out.)

Schlock Mercenary Challenge Coins – Funded. Delivered coins on time. Still waiting on document about the history of challenge coins.

Judges Guild City of the Invincible Overlord – Funded – Close to on schedule. Some minor setbacks due to health and family but will be out a month later than initial projections.

The Great Kingdom – Film about the early days of D&D/TSR. -Funded. On hold due to lawsuit.

I believe I pledged to one or two others that did not meet their funding goal, but Kickstarter does not keep track of those, so I can’t identify them.

I have seen some that were obviously so poor that people were just looking for a quick way to make a lot of money. I have seen some that had a good idea and it was poorly executed or poorly planned so that when there was either mild to overwhelming success, the creators were not near the level of readiness they should have been.

Just the last few days, a Kickstarter for an RPG “sandbox” setting was reviewed at Tenkar’s Tavern (Since edited with more colorful graphics than the images from the Kickstarter, after a lawsuit was threatened.) and the creators whined about his critique instead of taking it for what it was and moving on and improving their product. It got very bizarre as someone at this project threatened a lawsuit and made all kinds of other ridiculous statements on the blog. They later deleted all those statements.

I was curious and went to that Kickstarter page and watched the introductory video that is supposed to be the elevator pitch. I was left scratching my head. I had to read more and dig into other things to figure out what it was. It mentioned four “core” books and 25 modules for this “setting”. Why does a setting need four “core” books if it is compatible with Pathfinder or OSRIC? They had a grandiose and interesting goal to have every business and building in every city, town, and village stated out for ease of play. Basically, a ready made campaign world where the DM had to do little more than run it or generate random encounters. At least, that is the way it came across to me. I think they should have spent more time in explaining what this RPG supplement is and why I would want it. Additionally, they need to polish the look of the product more. If they want to hit their timelines, if they had been funded, they should have had things much closer to a ready to go state. They have a map that looks like an old DOS game map, and the way they describe the modules is that it is a railroad for pre-generated characters, instead of something I can bring my own character into it.

After the storm they caused by their thin-skinned reaction to criticism, it was pointed out that they were using named creatures from WoTC that were not part of the OGL. I suspect they got a take down notice from WoTC and cancelled their Kickstarter. Rather than taking the blame for their own poor execution, they blamed the reviewer and those who agreed with the assessment of the reviewer.

From what I have read from those who have done successful Kickstarters, the main thing is a laser like focus on the goal and to have a near ready product, if it is a book, module, or manual, that only needs final editing and proofing, and layout if art for the project is contingent on funding. Other projects that require programming or a physical product need to have details of when it will be done, how it will ship, and above all, proper accounting for all aspects, including shipping/delivery, and taxes.

I think Kickstarter serves a useful purpose for getting the word out when venture capitalists are nowhere to be found. However, it requires the producer to actually have something, and deliver it on time or communicate delays early and often. Too many have under budgeted and lost a great deal of money when it comes to shipping, etc. If you don’t have the ability to stick with a project and see it through to completion, Kickstarter is not for you.

 

 

 

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GenCon 2014 Cosplay

I took pictures of the cosplayers and boot people that caught my eye. Far from all of them. I left before the parade and costume contest. Many were so well done it looked like they went home after last GenCon and set to work.

There were very few slave Leias. :( Some were obvious comic book or manga/anime style characters, I just don’t know anything about those characters.

This knight has a cool outfit, not sure what video game or comic it is from. Catwoman had a well done costume.

Catwoman and a Knight

Catwoman and a Knight

Very well done Ghostbuster costume.

Ghostbuster

Ghostbuster

The line to the vendor room started a couple hours early. I found a bench against the wall so I could be comfortable.

Not Cosplayers but the line for the vendors

Not Cosplayers but the line for the vendors

Batman

Batman

Boba Fett

Boba Fett

Girl with a sword

Girl with a sword

This was one of two guys around a model cannon for a company selling a battle game. I didn’t catch the name.

Guy with a Prussian Helmet

Guy with a Prussian Helmet

This young woman was attracting attention to a game product. I didn’t catch its name.

Booth babe with red eyes

Booth babe with red eyes

This young woman’s contacts made her eyes look very red. Unfortunately, my cellphone camera did not do them justice. :(

Closeup Red Eyes

Closeup Red Eyes

I remember when this came out in 1983, Dragon’s Lair – the first arcade game on laser disc.

Video Game Character

Video Game Character

Have you ever seen a Storm Trooper in a Kilt?

Braveheart Stormtrooper

Braveheart Stormtrooper

I thought this was a cool idea and well executed.

DM Cosplay

DM Cosplay

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GenCon 2014 Goodies

I had meant to post a follow up to my GenCon 2014 post back in August, but time and the realities of life got in the way. Now that I am back on an even keel and have a couple days off work, I am getting caught up.

Of course there was a lot of information about D&D Next (AKA 5e). Pathfinder also had a huge area and people were packed into a hallway to get in when I went by. People were afraid you were after their spot in line and were slow to let you pass.

There is an area with old cards that anyone can use to build anything. At the end of the con, it gets knocked down.

City of Cards - Better than a  mere house of cards.

City of Cards – Better than a mere house of cards.

Lots of different street performers. Lots of food trucks outside.

The group is called "One Man Band" Three women and one man.

The group is called “One Man Band” Three women and one man.

Here’s a scary one, a selfie….

Me at Gen Con 2014!

Me at Gen Con 2014!

I peaked in at the auction. No spare cash to get anything.

The Auction - I just peaked in.

The Auction – I just peaked in.

Lots of artists present. I got to speak to Jeff Easley when I bought this print. I need to find a frame to better protect it.

I bought a cool Jeff Easley print and he signed. 28/1500.

I bought a cool Jeff Easley print and he signed. 28/1500.

I have a set of Game Science dice that I have had for 20+ years. I picked up another one. Not the color I wanted, but I wanted a full set. Sadly, no d30’s until later.

I bought a new set of Game Science Dice.

I bought a new set of Game Science Dice.

I spoke to two different people at Inkwell Ideas and each one gave me a Sample Adventure & Encounter Deck. I also bout the RPG poster. It won’t lay flat and I don’t have help to unroll it to get a picture.

Inkwell Ideas Sample Adventure & Encounter Decks

Inkwell Ideas Sample Adventure & Encounter Decks

There are five creatures and three traps.

Inkwell Ideas Encounter Deck Contents

Inkwell Ideas Encounter Deck Contents

I always wanted a battlemat. I don’t have the minis to do much with it, so I got a factory second, and a d30.

Chessex Battlemat and D30

Chessex Battlemat and D30

Chessex Battle Mat Factory Second Square Side

Chessex Battle Mat Factory Second Square Side

My d30 – Now I am an “official” member of the Order of the d30.

Chessex D30 On Hex Side Battle Mat

Chessex D30 On Hex Side Battle Mat

The GenCon swag bag can hold a lot of stuff. I suggest those buying maps and art that is rolled up and sticking out to purchase those things separately to ease travelling the vendor floor and minimize damaging your artwork.

GenCon 2014 Bag & Badge

GenCon 2014 Bag & Badge

Other Side GenCon Bag

Other Side GenCon Bag

There is a coupon book for merchandise and some activities.

Coupon Book Closeup

Coupon Book Closeup

The program book is the size of a small catalog and I recommend early registration so you can plan what to do before you go. The place is so huge that a plan will come in very handy. A lot like for adventurers going out to loot the dungeon….

Program Book Closeup

Program Book Closeup

I also go to visit with Larry Elmore and a fellow congoer behind me in line bought this for me as I had exceeded my budget for artwork and more goodies. It was only $5, and Larry Elmore signed it. I am drawing a blank on the gentleman’s name, I believe it starts with a B and is a city. Thank you, whoever you are!

Elmore Character Clip Art

Elmore Character Clip Art

Mr. Elmore and I agreed that we each have a great first name!

Larry Elmore Signed My Book

Larry Elmore Signed My Book

 

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