Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas time, gaming updates and the New Year

Hello all, I hope you all had a great holiday season.  I am doing well, having gained much loot from the family and friends.

As far as gaming goes, my Sunday Temple group didn't play again...they tried out a concept game I had kicking around in my head.  The basic premise was that the player's rolled up three stats, a BODY, MIND and SOUL.  They didn't get much in the way of personality, I wanted them to develop it as they played.  Also, they didn't get any kind of skill.  They "woke up" with one goal in mind, a mountain they had never seen before, with a bright shining light coming from it.

I had this in my head since watching the first few minutes of game play from a PS3 title named Journey.  It looks interesting and might try to pick it when it comes out.

The other thing I took from this video game was finding runes that, in the game help you fly.  In my game, they unlocked bits and pieces of the PC's mind, allowing them to gain skills in whatever they wanted.  Allowing them to build their character from the ground up.  I was using a hodgepodge of Microlite d20, a touch of Tri-Stat and just flying by the seat of my pants.

This idea was originally for solo play with individuals and then eventually getting them in a group.  Yet, I ran it with two people and I think it worked out better that way.  Starting people as a group, all of them trying to figure out what is going on and what they are doing.  And, above all, trying to get enough supplies to survive.

In other news, I am seriously thinking of trying to start up a ConstantCon game.  I shall keep everyone posted.  It will be OD&D or LotFP rules.  As far as what I will be using, I want to use the world I have created for my 2E game.  Yet, the issue is that in that game: No elves: Elves look much like those from the movie Hellboy 2.  They are seven feet tall and magical things.  One out I could see is that the PC elf could be considered a half-elf, using the same magic-user/fighter stuff elves get from the OD&D/LotFP rules.  Plus, one of the main bad guys is a drow.  I guess I could make him a full Elf instead and have him have complete contempt for any half-elf PCs.  Or, I could have a different NPC become the BBEG and not even worry about it.

Other thing is the main plot arch.  I will have to see if the players like it or not.

And, on a final note, I have been thinking of the old module Temple of Elemental Evil.  What would happen if instead of having all of the evil cultists in the temple, they are spread out?  They have taken up for different cities, each of which reflects one of the four aspects of the elemental nature/connection to the nodes?  Would that be to much?  Something to ponder about.

Have a great week everyone.  I hope to be back soon.  (I'm moving so it might take me some time to get back to the blog.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sorry, no podcast...and ideas on the horizon

Sorry, there will be no podcast this week.  Yes, if you come here for the podcast last weeks was horrible.  I have fired the sound engineer--myself.  Next week, we will go back to Dave being the one in charge of such things.  (If you want to know the reason for the podcast not being up, jump to the end of the blog.)

For any of you that didn't hear--read last time, I was in a Constantcon event with Evan from In Places Deep.  (This link will take you to the write-up I did of the session, which was fun.)  After using Google Plus, I have found that there is a neat way get together with friends online and play.

A quick side-note.  I was talking about this last night to my players and one of them, Josh, mentioned in a sarcastic manner that this has been going on for awhile through Skype, through Ventrillo and through other things like AIM and other chat programs.  I agree.  It is much like when a "discovery" is made about gaming, a way of working a theme into a novel or story, or heck even art, the generation that discovers it think they are trailblazers.  It is simply how people are built.

Moving on, the whole idea of Constantcon (a quick link to the blog maintained for the event if any readers want to jump on board with it) has me thinking about trying to do a campaign through it.  It means making sure that players are there week after week, yet availability might be a touch better since if the player is home and has a few hours to kill it might be able to get done instead of having to drive to someone's house.

Anyway, there are two games I am thinking of trying to get a campaign for.  One would be using the LotFP rules, just because they are easy and widely available.  Heck, Raggi has it for free over at his blog.  (Just go to the sidebar on the left hand side and there is a link to the grindhouse rules.)

Another reason I would use these rules is they are very simply and could be houseruled with easy.  I am always in favor of houseruling things.  I would have to have it on my blog about houserules, which I could easily do...And have to if I want to run a successful event.

The other idea is to run a sci-fi game using the Stars Without Number rule set.  I was looking over it and was amazed at how easy the rules are.  Also, the rule set is free if you want to get a pdf version.  Mongoose printed out a hardback ruleset.  It added aliens and starships to the mix, not sure if it was worth the price, yet I am someone who prefers to read off a bound copy of something instead of off a computer screen.

I will talk more about these future games on the blog.  For now, I will close with the reason we didn't have a podcast...

My group has for the last few weeks been floundering in game.  A goblin horde destroyed the city they were in, their quest items have disappeared and they are confused as to what is going on.  Last night we also finally had everyone together.  For about an hour, we sat around and had to discuss what was going on.  The group was heated because they had no idea what was going on.  They felt as though they were being dragged through events instead of moving the events forward.  I maintain that they caused this themselves, and they did realize it.  Yet things did need to get hashed out.  I do hope things have been resolved because it has bogged down the game to the point where I was ready to up and quit.

I didn't though and today I am glad I didn't.  After a full nights sleep it what seems like a long time, I have new ideas to spin out for the group that should be interesting.  I will keep you all appraised of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ConstantCon report

So, earlier today I took part in my very first ConstantCon event.  It was put on by Evan in his Nightwick Abbey setting.  I gave it a write up--scored an extra 100 xp doing it--and had fun.  I think it would have been better had I actually had my mic with me, but I made things work with the chat function of Google+ hangout.

I must say, I loved the game.  It also got me thinking about trying to run my own ConstantCon game.  Yet, I want to run one that would have a greater chance of keeping the same group of people playing.  I will ponder it some more and keep you up to date.

In my own game, we had some issues that I hope to cover on the next podcast the group does.  Until then...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Here is the link to out next podcast!  Be back soon for an actual podcast.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Long time, no post...

Hey all...

I am sorry for the delayed post.  I have recently gotten a job that has been sucked up a majority of my time.  Even cut into my gaming a little.

No, the podcast hasn't faded yet.  But, it might be another week or so before we get one up.  Holidays and family always trump gaming and podcasting, IMHO.

There are a few reasons I have decided to come to the blog today.

First, is to tell you about Zak's cool Type V idea.  I just finished looking over it.  It has a bunch of very cool ideas.  I will probably steal a few in my own quest to try and make a DIY ruleset.  Don't agree with everything, but there few nitpicks over a majority of good ideas.

The second and third reasons are to tell you about some podcasts out there.

One is Fear the Boot.  The episode linked I listened to last night and it has me thinking about many things game related.  Mostly about encumbrance and gaming in general.  I highly recommend listening to their backlog--yeah it is massive, they have been doing it for years.

The other is a neat little podcast I'm listening to about OD&D. Here is the link.  Just started listening to it.  Also, gets me thinking about looking over the original Holmes game and how far and how different the game has become over the years.

Hope to be posting again soon...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just a quick post...

Though I have not talked about him ChicagoWiz's blog was pretty good.  I say was because he has ended his blogging.  He has set up something on his last post, see the link above, with his words of wisdom and thoughts on these games that we play.  I for one, will miss him.

Also, it is kinda interesting to see that he went on for three years.  I wonder how long this blog of mine will go on.

Makes you think...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clerics and Magic-Users

(I apologize, a podcast will be coming next week.  And, sorry I haven't written much, been working on outside projects.)

Reading around the blogsphere today, I discovered this little tidbit from the Mule Abides.  Look towards the bottom for the joesky tax.  It is an interesting little houserule that I might use.  Though, I know my two spell casters, who are both arcane/divine casters (one is a bard/priest the other is a fighter/mage/cleric) might get annoyed by this.  A little carrot to go along with the stick is that the healers can switch out their mem'ed spells for healing ones.  Though, I might not.  Depends on the hue and cry I get.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Podcasting and gaming...

We have a new podcast, which can found here.  Later tonight, I will talk more about the game...until then.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two things to talk about

(I apologize, this is a post I should have done a few days ago.  I started to write it and the second topic literally swept out of my head when I sat down to write this post.  But, here it is...)

One of them is brought up by Michael Curtis over at Torch, Pole and Rope here.  I think what I will do is try and talk to my players about asking questions.  There have been many times in this past game I am DMing right now that could have been avoided, or it could have changed the game play in a good way.

The other thing I wanted to talk about today was using things from other bloggers.  Now, I must warn you, I have forgotten who did this great keying for a dungeon.  (If you are out there and read my tiny blog, please send a shout out to me on my comments.)

What he did was he took the map included in the 1st ed. DMG, the underground temple complex of the Fire Opal, and keyed the entire thing.  It was roughly 35 rooms or so.  I stumbled upon it and thought it was amazing.  Once again, I wish I could throw the link up, I will try and dive through the mountain of posts from more prolific bloggers than I and try to find it.

Anyway, I ran my group through it.  I tinkered with a few things and added a few things of my own, a wall of darkness that concealed an altar to Asmodeus, the altar itself destroyed by a very devout fighter/mage/cleric and found the wall solid when he tried to go back through.  Discovered that the ability to "turn undead" also worked on the wall.  And, I put the Fire Opal and the manual on how to use it in the same room.  (Though the "fire opal" and book were part of a trap which lead to a nasty surprise by the end of the session.)

Afterwards, my players were telling me that it seems really hard and one of them even said I think this was for a MUCH higher party.  And, this feeds back into the first point.  None of them really asked any questions about this abandoned temple.  They knew it was a place where Asmodeus worshippers use to gather.  They knew it was abandoned and sacked fifty years ago in my campaign's timeline and they stumbled upon a small group of human worshippers of a snake deity.  Yet that was it.

Granted, I do think I need to have a chance for them to ask questions.  There are a few times when I feel like I am rushing them along.  Maybe being chased by goblins or some group of "paladins" that believe themselves to be part of a holy war.  (I hope to get back to this idea later on.  IF the campaign ever does falter, or if I need some blogging fodder and I need to, I write about these guys.)  The main point is that my players and I need to learn to start asking more questions.

The reason to ask questions instead of out and out telling them is I think it takes away from the game.  It becomes a more meta-game plot of, "Well, I can't go into that dungeon because the monsters are to tough for me," or "Hey, I just dinged and I need to go train."  (Yes, I do require training, YET it isn't at every level.  I looked at how 2nd ed. does weapon and non-weapon "skills" and thought it would be best to have a PC train when they are eligible for a weapon or non weapon slot.  Granted, a few of my players still don't like it and think it is a money sink and time waster, yet I think PCs need to get some training every now and then.  I know we have debated it on the podcast more than once.  I am sure it will come up again and again.

But, I do know what the topic will be for the next podcast, and that is not only the level drain topic I posted a few days ago, but also this idea of having characters ask MORE questions.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another post, finally...Level Drain!

Sorry for the long overdue post.  I have been dealing with things, both in game and out of game.  I haven't really wanted to come back here and write anything for awhile.  Yet, that has gone now and I am back.

In the game I am DMing on Mondays, just last night we had an issue.  The characters I have are still neophyte, 2-5 in levels.  They ran into a spectre.  I was running it a particular way and everyone but the monk in the party got out of the way.  He lost two levels, bringing him down to level 1.  Not as bad as you would think, he is playing a dual class, and already had a few other levels under his belt.  Yet, losing levels sucks regardless of how many you have.

Then, there was a unanimous vote from the party that this was a bad call.  I give my players one such call a session.  They happened to use it at the end of the session.  I gave the monk back his levels and xp.

Before I go any further, though I don't want to tell a gaming story, the basics of what happened should be set up.  The spectre was demanding a book from the thief PC, they were in a tight corridor where the five adventurers, four PCs and one NPC and one NPC non-com.  The thief rushed past everyone to throw the book down a pit instead of give the book back.  The rest of the PCs, and the two NPCs, made a Dex. check to get out of the way.  The monk did not.  The spectre, furious that he had to chase the book, was able to expand his essence and shot down after the thief.  Everyone got out of the way, except the monk.  There was no "to hit" roll on the monk, yet I said he took damage and lost two levels.  This was then amended by the vote later.

So, I am getting ready for bed and I start looking through my fellow bloggers out of habit and I find Raggi over at LotFP has come up with an interesting idea on level drain.

While it is not something I would take whole cloth, I do find it an interesting idea.  I might start to implement a system like Raggi's instead of the somewhat cumbersome level drain idea.  And, another thing I was thinking about and toying with is, since this is something that is a soul attack, the idea of the -10 hp that most of players are familiar with might not exist when it comes to energy drain.  That -10 is for physical damage, not for something that attacks the soul.

This is something I will be tinkering with and I want to try and get a podcast going about it.  Speaking of which, sorry for those fans who like the podcast.  We took a short hiatus.  We should be returning to it next week.

Until next time...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not gone...

I swear, I haven't gone anywhere, neither has our podcast.  Just dealing with things and gaming, and non-gaming issues.  Will have a post up soon, and should have a podcast next Monday.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dave Arneson...Happy Birthday

I am not someone who knew him, heck I hadn't even heard his name until I started to delve into the older editions of D&D.  Also, there is this.  He and Gary did much for this hobby.  I think we should all pause for a moment to remember him and what he did for it.

I know, another short post.  Hopefully soon, I can get more stuff up.  Until then, enjoy your gaming...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Podcast...and gaming!

There is a new podcast here.

I have finally starting moving forward more with my 2E game.  I am liking how it is going and the players enjoy it as well.  Tonight we had them finishing a small dungeon of mind fucking and weirdness.  I took a page from Zak.  There was one that I really liked is making something new every session.  This session was the Spore Goblin.

I might write it up, yet making it into a stat block kinda takes the fun and mystery out of it.  I will simply say that it is an unnatural combination of goblin and yellow mold.  Beyond that, make it up on your own.

I know, short post.  I will get more up soon, I promise.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


New podcast!  Get it here.  Enjoy!

Thoughts on 2E and running a game...

Last night I was was able to start up my 2nd edition AD&D game.  Been chomping at the bit to get this to start.  It was a great deal of fun in my opinion.  My players thought so as well.  Not much happened though, and that is fine with me.

I find that the players were helping create the world more than just what I had set down.  They went around the starting town; getting the first "adventure hook," exploring, following a simple boy with a snake coin and the thief doing his best to be a thief before they even left for the next "plot point."  There was a great deal of role playing without much combat, expect for a single round where they chanced upon a warehouse guard/owner.  It wasn't until near the end of the night that there was fighting at all.  With the Tokli.  (I highly recommend this guys blog.  He is great!  And, I know my players read this blog.  I trust that they will keep in game and out of game knowledge separate.)

Was I disappointed that it took most of the night to get to the small town?  Not at all.  I was having fun, so were they.  That is what the game is about.  Granted, as we got closer to midnight there were some sleepy looks and a little confusion.  Yet that happens.  I think next time, I might have a break if the players start to drift and wonder--if we are deep into the game.  If it is five minutes in, then no.

Moving on, the only complaint I got from my players was that there seemed to be a lot going on.  And, there is.  I have built this world to be massive.  There are plots and plots and plots.  Wheels within wheels.  It was one reason why I made a player's handout and the first thing I said was, "Take notes!"

This is something that has not bothered me, but sometimes I see my players just nod when I tell them that and then a session or two later stare at me blankly when I ask what the name of an important NPC is.  I'm not asking you find out every NPC and keep a detailed flow chart, just write down names of people who talk to you for more than a few minutes.  Usually the quest giver and any major NPC that can affect the party-captain of the guard, king, head of the local temple and maybe the innkeeper if you are going to be there for awhile.

This has always been a sticking point with some of my players.  They do have the correct assumption that this is their character's life, their character would know the name of these NPCs and that they--as players--don't need to write it down.  At the same time, I believe that is shows the the players are paying attention to what is going on.  (Probably cover more of this on the podcast...which might be a little later than normal.   Having issues with people, life issues that get in the way.)

Beyond that, the only two problems were minor.  One was an NPC bodyguard for one of the players didn't follow her somewhere.  I completely forgot about him is why and it wasn't until combat started that I realized no one asked about him.  So I decided he stayed in town.  It happens.  The other issue was the mage of the group sidled up alongside the skirmish that started towards the end of the night.  He asked for targets, I told him five.  I neglected to tell him that two were fellow PCs and one was a damsel in distress.  He proceeded to cast a spell to affect all five targets.  When I asked the players for saving throws, who both failed and were knocked unconscious by it, he realized the error.  He apologized and tried to take back the action.  Yet, I didn't allow it.

Once again, I think it falls into the category of a player not paying attention to the game.  He stated he was confused by what was going on.  Both points hold water.  Again, something we will talk more about on the podcast, I think.

The rule system is something I cut my teeth on.  Yet this is one of the first times when I didn't have to constantly look in the book for something.  Granted, I also put that down as a player handout rule.  And, most of the first session was roleplaying.  However, I hope that I can continue to have games without me or my players constantly looking up things in the book.  The only exception is mages and their spells.  I might have them put down notes on what their spells do, damage, range and the like.  Yet, this is just a thought at the moment.

Overall, it was a very fun game and I can't wait to do it again.  The way things are slated right now, I think it is an every other week game.  We shall see.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I have been able to get my group of players together for a 2/2.5E D&D game.  They have rolled up characters and I will try to keep those readers who want updated.  I am also going to try and get my Obsidian Portal site up and working again.

The characters are:

A female human ranger who was pulled from another campaign.  Her name is Miriya, she is looking for a book for the woman who pulled her from the other dimension.  She feels a little obligated, since the woman saved her from the nasty death of a gnoll stew pot.

A female tiefling that was raised by humans, who were slain in a violent war in the North.  She is a priestess of the moon and a bard.  Her name is Dissidria.  She seeks to know about her past.

A male human paladin that fell, turned from the path of the paladin and has taken on the ascetic life of a monk.  His name is Thomas "The Penitent Guardian" Girvan.  He strives to continue the path of upholding the good of his goddess without the stiffness of the paladin code.

A male human thief that is skilled at escaping from dungeons.  His name is Anthony "The Ferret" Steward.  He has found himself in trouble with the law by helping the former paladin.  He now finds himself chained to the paladin, at least for the moment, and is being dragged to the Temple of Theran, Goddess of Light and Healing for the rest of his penitence.

The final member is a drow male.  (In my world, the drow aren't anathema.  They aren't trusted, yet not enough to be killed on sight.) Phryinid'Dris, a wizard who has become embroiled in something that might be to much for him

More will be written up later...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

DCC thoughts...

Well, the people at Goodman Games are closer and closer to releasing their DCC game.  Here is a link to the forum, scroll towards the bottom to look at some of the possible module covers.  The art isn't final.

I like the art and the overall rules of DCC.  Yeah, there are certain people in my group who won't like it (something about wanting to be heroic.  I kid, I kid.  He is a good guy, and he has his own ideas on gaming.  Some of them aren't to bad.)  I plan to pull out the beta-test rules and look them over a little bit more.  I want to look at the Luck roll again.  Thinking about setting that up in one of my own games. Hmmm.  Soon, I will be posting some of the changes I am going to do for my own game.  It will be a mix of 1st and 2nd ed.  AD&D.

Until then...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Thoughts...thoughts and podcast stuff...

First off, I would have put this in the comment section of my last post, but Blogger isn't working right.  I couldn't even get my own blog to load.  Oh well...

Second, tonight we played an amazing game of Temple of Elemental Evil.  In this part of the game, Hedrack has pulled out a red dragon, a mature red, to cause chaos and destruction over the Kron Hills area.  Tonight, the group took it down.  I won't bore you all with details and minutia.  We struck down the beast, in mid-air, with gumption, heart, and a whole mess of luck.  Next part is the hoard and back to the temple for the last node gem and the golden skull!

Third, this is the real reason I am putting this up right now, and I am sorry to Rich for going on and on about other things...but hey, this is a blog.  The podcast I do with several others is up on iTunes, just go to the search engine and plug in RPG: Rants and Raves.  You should get it.

Finally, I have been thinking about Temple of Elemental Evil often.  And, the DM who is running it, Tom who is on the podcast once and again, talks about how it needs to be the center of the story.  It must be everything.  I don't agree.  I think that, while it is something that should be one of the main plots of a story, it shouldn't be the ONLY plotline.  There is a bit of a want to plant the Temple into my next campaign.  It won't be the only one.  It will be there, and will be a part of the plot.  Yet, it won't be everything.

And, now I am off to sleep.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Character Death, Hit Points and Healing

Hey, sorry for the break in the posting.  Been doing things other than role playing, to some extent, and trying to find a job...but anyway...

Listening to the guys on Fear the Boot over the last week or so and I have found that, even though I have listened to this episode several times, it got me thinking about things in a different way this time around.  I think that is also has to do with this blog post.

In the Temple game I am in, I have lost several characters.  It happens, it is that kind of module and the DM for the game is fair.  I was fine with my characters dying.  Yet, the frequency wasn't something I liked for awhile.  I have since grown comfortable with the character I am currently playing.  In other games, I have gone out of my way to kill my own character--a long story that I won't bore people with--and the DM refused to let me die.  By hook and by crook, he forced me to continue to live.  I had a small problem with it, but that stems from other issues in that game as well.

All that being said, something that I have come to think about is how hit points work and how death works as well.  In most D&D type games, hit points are not a measure of how much damage they can take.  Maybe Roger the GS has a point about them being a kind of morale system.  The only thing I disagree with is that first set of hit points, when you first make a character are actual, are a kind of gauge.  And, there is that rule in several editions of D&D about if you take fifty points of damage from a single attack, there is a chance the character can keel over from shock as well.

So, what is my point?

There is a certain part of the podcast linked above when the guys talk about combat, and that combat should have a danger.  "Any time you pull out a gun or a sword, there should be a very high chance of death occurring."  (Not sure if that is a direct or paraphrase, but it is said somewhere.)  And then, later they talk about in D&D, "Then, after the battle, the cleric heals everyone and mend is used and everyone looks like they did before the battle."

This got me thinking.  Why is it we go along with the rules about healing without scars?  I suppose there is some kind of worry for some that their pretty warrior will look worse and not be able to woo the women in the tavern, but I for one think that the healing rules need to be amended.  There should never be a a way for the healing spells to take care of EVERYTHING.  There should be a price for going into combat.  A scar, a twinge of pain, a pulled muscle or something.  Yes this is one way to talk about all of those extra hit points after your core hit points, from now on called life points, and what those extra hit points represent.  The same thing goes for mend.  I don't think this cantrip should be able to fix all the scars from battle on clothes and weapons--I could be wrong about the weapons thing, don't have the spell in front of me.  The thrust of what I am trying to say is that combat needs to be scary.  Fighters know this, and this is why they are the fighters.  They stand up to the brutality and take those hits.

I think that from now on, in any game that I run, I am going to make life points and hit points mean a little bit more.  The cleric can heal you, but there might be a slight mark or twinge of pain because of the wound.  Resting and healing natural will get rid of these small issues.  In fact, I think I can work up a table of some kind that will help show what kind of detriment such minor problems can cause if left untreated.  Besides, the way that the clerics cast spells, they almost never heal you fully with one spell.  They have to cast it several times to get the hit points back to full.  Unless you go back to town, or find a nice safe place to sit and rest in the wilds or in a dungeon.

Until next time, I will try and get the table up soon, goodnight all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hopeful for the 27th! And some random thoughts...

First off, I am a huge fan of the PvP webcomic.  And, I also love Penny Arcade.  And, their D&D podcasts they did.  Yeah, it was fourth, doesn't matter.  They did a great job and made the game sound fun!

They are doing it again at PAX Prime.

Looking forward to it and I'm sure it will be great.

The random thought is about getting what I want as a DM out of a campaign.

I listen to the Fear the Boot podcast often.  One of their shows, found here, was about how to make the campaign a success.  I found it very interesting and I thought it was time to write them down.

An epic campaign: A game that allows for the characters to grow from nothing.  From zero level all the way to level 18-20.  Or even higher.

A poor campaign: This might sound harsh, but I think many of the modules around throw gold and silver around like it is nothing.  Will I still insist on training?  Yes.  But, I will have a different scale for what the PC needs to get training.

A deadly campaign: Not one that means the players need a stable of characters to play.  It means death is going to be a part of the campaign.  That the risk of death will be there and I will not be pulling any punches.

This might seem like a strange list.  Yet, there it is.  Anyone want to give me their list?

Podcasting again

Here you go, a short post.

Here is your weekly podcasting goodness.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Random vs. old school gamers

Recently, I have had the chance to play with people are are familiar with systems that promote role playing more than D&D.  At least that is what they believe.  In my opinion, even the old Metzer and Moldvay OD&D promoted role playing.  It was just of a different type.

It is not a problem that these new players, in the sense that they haven't had much exposure to old school gaming, don't like the old style.  That is their choice.  But, I think that it can cause a problem with the what is being played.  Currently, I am in three games.  One is the old school 1st ed./Hackmaster mash-up of Temple of Elemental Evil.  There is a excess of role playing in that game.  We role play with each other, with the NPCs that we meet--that aren't trying to kill us--and even with some of the monsterous NPCs as well.  That is Sunday's game.  (Tonight, I think we are facing off against a dragon.  Oh goodie.  More on that later.)

Monday, we play a 3.5 Faerun game.  I have my own issues with 3.5 D&D.  Mechanically, the numbers get stupid far to quickly.  Yet, there is a great deal of role playing in that game as well.

The game that is sort of floating is a Wheel of Time game.  It is a 3.5 game, that I am running.  One reason is I am the only one, until recently, that read the books and now anything about the setting.  However, I am not above crushing down canon in order for the the story of the game to work.

We tried to run a Lamentation of the Flame Princess game.  It lasted one session.  Then, I ran a Raveloft 2nd ed. game.  It lasted one session.  If you are a fan of the podcast, you heard someone spewing hate and vitriol all over James Raggi IV.  I don't share his opinion.  Nor, do I think he is some new god come down from on high and is the greatest thing since Gygax.  There are several reasons why I think the new school gamers dislike the old school games.  This will be a topic for the podcast, I know.  But, I'm getting out some of my thoughts now.

The reason so many of the newer gamers dislike the older editions is the sparseness of the sheet.  At least this is my opinion.  "Where are my other skills?  All that is there are weapon slots?"  Granted I might not have stated it, yet there is a unwritten rule about old school stuff.  You don't need those numbers.  Within reason, you can make things up.  I know I have several creative people in these games, the new players have shied away from anything old school.  And, I think that isn't good.  I might have done them a disservice, yet I am going to try and win them back to playing something with dungeons, with low level characters that suck and with things that you need to run away from.

Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Random thoughts...coinage and gaming

The way that my mind works, I have been thinking about coinage and the way to use it game.  Part of me wants to come up with all of these strange names, or use the names from the past to describe a coin instead of saying, "You find a bag with twenty gold pieces."

I think there is a certain verisimilitude in using that kind of coinage.  Yet, I think that my players will just look at me, again and again, and ask, "How much gold is that?"  or "What is that in gold pieces?"

I am a world builder.  I want to breath life into the campaign world.  It is a way to make it a little more vivd.  One way to do that is to have different coins, and even to have different values for them in different kingdoms.  Yes, this gives me more work, but I think it is worth it.  IF my players actually pick up on it.  I am curious if this is something many GMs go through?

So, which side do you fall on this issue?  Should I use sovereign, crown, mark, shilling and drab?  Or should I just say gold piece, silver piece, copper, electrum?

The DM Challenge...

A fellow blogger named ckutalik over at Hill Cantons posed a question and challenge.  The rules are thus...

1. Name three “best practices” you possess as a GM. What techniques do you think you excel at?

2. What makes those techniques work? Why do they “pop”?

3. How do you do it? What are the tricks you use? What replicable, nuts-and-bolts tips can you share?

I have read many of the blogs that have tackled this topic and I will try to as well.  However, I must say that I feel like I can't answer this very well.  I can give you a few reasons:

1) My campaigns fall apart fast.  Two separate games that I thought could get off the ground lasted one and only one session.

2) I don't feel like I follow my own advice half the time when I try to run these games.

3) My players sometimes take advantage of me.  There is one whole campaign in particular that I feel--was actually talking about this with one of the players earlier today--like a substitute teacher.  (I felt like since I was not well versed in the rules, I would allow things that helped to "break" the campaign.  I am not saying it was entirely my players fault.  I take some of the blame myself for how I set about trying to make this Star Wars Saga game "pop" but in reality I feel like I made it groan, wheeze, then finally settle back and begged to be taken out of its own misery.)

HOWEVER, this dreary note does not mean I can't try and answer these questions to the best of my ability.

1) Creativity.  I am a bit of a frustrated novelist.  I have another blog about it here if you wish to read that one as well.  However, I do know that I have some creativity.  It is one of a few compliments that I have received on my games.  I try to focus on what will make this game fun and what might be exotic or interesting to the players and try to bring it in and show them.  How do I do it?  Well, I read as much as I can.  I carry a notebook with me everywhere.  Not just to write down ideas for stories, but for games as well.  Also, as much as some will comment that the medium is dying, TV and movies are full of great ideas and not so great ideas.  Look at something that tickles the DM bell in your head and twist it and turn it around.  Ponder on what will make this better.  And, ask the next question.

2) Allow for a more free-flow game.  I have found that the more the players can seek out and do what they want, they will enjoy it.  Have a story, yet don't ever railroad.  That is a mantra I think most good DMs have.  Let the PCs have some freedom.  With freedom, comes action.  They will love the fact that they don't have to doggedly continue to go into the dungeon time and again, getting to the point where it feels like punching a time card as they come in and sit down, ready to grind through the next level of dungeon.

3) Learn from your mistakes.  I think one thing I have learned in my ten plus years of gaming is try not to make the same mistake.  (I know, I am still a newbie in many ways with only ten years of gaming and DMing under my belt, but write what you know.)  Some of my first campaigns were dreadful.  Nothing but a linear point A to point B progression.  I remember there was one game where the players, through a critical and the shouted out want to use a critical hit table, decapitated my main NPC, my Baron Von Badass for lack of a better term (I suggest you look up Fear the Boot and listen to some of their podcasts, they are free and funny!)  I was so stunned, I just closed up the book and said we are done.  And, I walked away from the game.  I learned several things.  One of them is that you always need a plan B, and another is to allow the players to kill that big bad.  Why?  Because and even bigger bad is always going to be out there somewhere.  And, since then I have made many many more mistakes.  And, I have learned from them all.

I hope that this has been enlightening for you.  If not, no worries.  Either way, feedback would be great.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Here is the link to the podcast, unless you have iTunes.  It is on there now, I believe.

Hopefully, I will come back later for more updating of the games I am in.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Podcast...up!/Game update

God gods great and smaller, it has been awhile since we did a podcast.  Well, PlayerDave and I, along with a friend named Josh, got together and finally knocked one out.  I am going to make a promise that we will start posting them at least twice a month.  The podcast is on iTunes and here.

In other news, my group started a Wheel of Time game.  I had nothing planned, everything was off the cuff and we all had a blast.  I have decide to use my idea of taking canon and throwing it out the window.  The same main story is going, yet the PCs might stumble into things.  Or not.  It all depends on them as well.  I will let them have a chance, yet it won't be forced.

Doing more gaming tomorrow.  Keep you up to date.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thoughts on Vampire and Wheel of Time

I know, very different games, yet hey, it happens.

Earlier today, I went to a Vampire LARP.  Now, hold on.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Yeah, there were guys running around pretending to be vampires, but that is kinda the point.  It was very much a political game, talking to each other and a few points of high drama and tension.  It was not what I expected.  Which is kinda a good thing.

Would I go back?  I might.  I am not completely sure what I am going to do.  Still processing the night.

Then, the guy who took me to the larp was at my place and pulled one of the many many role playing books I have--I am a collector.  I have many systems, many out of print now.  The big thing is that he pulled out the Wheel of Time book.

This is a single volume game book.  Everything you need is in one nice volume.  I have read it more than once and have wanted to run it, yet I have never had much interest.  I have read all the books and loved them--most of them, books 4 and 5 were horrible.  I am still waiting for Memory of Light and can't believe that it won't be out until 2012.  But, I digress.

The main thing that came up was he wants to play a male wilder.  (A male mage.)  If I go by straight canon, he will either be someone who has gone mad and is a False Dragon, been gentled by the Tower or was picked up and becomes an Ash'a'man.

But, if I don't go with canon, then the sky's the limit.  So, how about you?  Where is the line between canon and the game you want to run?  Is it very close?  Or is it like what I have planned for Faerun, a complete slash and burn?

Friday, August 5, 2011

This is not a flame war...I swear/Faerun

My friend, and when I say that I don't mean a guy I've been talking to online for ten years I mean I know this guy in real life, has a blog that he just started.  And he and I have gone back and forth about Heroes vs. Adeventurers.  I'm gonna stop now with going back and forth with him, cuase that is not what this blog is about.  It isn't about how I have a better opinion.  I'm just giving mine.  I also think he and I can continue our little debate--which I know will never really end--in private.

I have been reading more than a few articles and posts put up by this guy.  I think he makes quite a bit of sense.  I have stolen many tables from him.  Same with this guy as well.  I love looking around the blogsphere of the OSR and finding crunchy and not-so-crunchy bits of information and wisdom to use in games.  Sometimes these are contradictory, yet mostly they work.

In fact, because of something I read at Jeff's Blog, I think I'm going to put up an idea or two I have been kicking around.

First off, you need to know I cut my teeth on 2nd ed.  I came to gaming later than most of the old school guys.  I got a taste of it in college, yet not enough to want to try more.  But the first actual campaign I played in was 2nd edition.  I know that is on the outskirt of the OSR, it is mostly OD&D and 1E, yet I still think it is better than anything WotC put out.

Second, I both love and hate Faerun.  I love it because it was the place of the campaign.  I love some of the locations, some of the NPCs and the fact I have access to maps of the region.  I hate the high magic of it, the Uber-powered NPCs, the way some of the realms are set up and the glut of novels that have made every reader an armchair DM who thinks they know the world better than I do.  (They might, but that is besides the point.)

So, here is what I am going to do to my beloved/hated Faerun.  I'm sending down a cleansing balefire and wiping out the world and starting over.  I might allow the gods a saving throw, yet that is pretty much it.

I want to use the map of Faerun and maybe the cities, and a few of the gods.  Yet that is all I'm doing.  The magic level is going to be cranked way down.  (I'll use a pipe wrench of Gond if I have to.  He is staying, regardless of who else does or doesn't.)

Why you ask?  Why do all of this?

Two reasons:

I want to.

I can.

Granted all of this is going to be a massive undertaking in and of itself trying to repopulate cities and making up my own NPCs, not to mention facing some of the weepy stares of and mewling cries of "What did you do to MY game setting?" But, hey, this is my game and I can do what I want.

And, now I am off to start those rolls for the gods.  Hmm, this should be fun...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hero vs. Adventurer

A buddy of mine has started his own gaming blog here.

He also got me thinking about Heroes and Adventurers.  Read my comment at the bottom of his blog, unless he deleted it.  (Which I seriously doubt he will.)

The brass tacks of his post are Heroes are people like John McClane and Bruce Lee, guys that can do epic level stuff.  Adventurers are guys who have a little training under their belt, maybe a serviceable weapon or two and brave the dark and creepy passageways of catacombs and tombs to find loot.

Continuing from my little post, I think that Heroes are fine and dandy.  Your own PC can grow to be like him.  Yet, Bruce Lee wasn't always a kung-fu master.  John McClane was a cop for 11 years before the events of the first movie (thank you wikipedia.)  The thing is that Heroes are what the PCs should be after they have gained a few levels.  By the time they are 8-10th level in my mind and in my games (which I must confess, have never been able to get a game going that long to have characters get that high.) is when the characters become Heroes.  Until then, they are Adventurers, guys that need to crwl through the muck, deal with the hordes of kobolds and rats and a few wolves.  Survive long enough and you can be a Hero.

My friend's blog also made it apparent he wanted to start the game out as a Hero.  He wants to play something larger than life.  That is fine with me.  Just not something I can really grok myself at least wanting to start off.

Yeah, everyone wants to be cool and have powers.  But, to me that means you should go play super hero games.  A fantasy rpg means you are an Adventurer for a long time, getting yourself up that ladder of experience until you can go toe-to-toe with a vampire or lich.  That is when you are a Hero!  Now you can start being the cool guy.  Until then though, until you have worked for it, you are an Adventurer.

Star Wars...a card game?

SO, I just learned that Fantasy Flight Games got hold of the Star Wars deal.  Here you can find all the news.  The thing that doesn't irk me, it doesn't hurt me, it just makes me wonder why is that the first two things to come out for Star Wars is a card game and a miniatures game.  I think we were all kind of hoping that they would bring out a few more books for the game.

OR, they could be hard at work redesigning the game and the system so that it is no longer a d20-esque game and is going to go with a different "game engine."  I will be watching out and seeing what they do.  Here is hoping they do something great!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gamer Bias

In my last post, I said some things about World of Darkness.  I might have offended a few people.  Yet, that was my opinion at the time.  And, I was also a little vague one whether or not I would ever play it.  I will try to play it, yet if I was going to be playing one of those supernatural creatures, I would have a very hard time wrapping my head around it.

This will probably be a podcast episode in the very near future, so hang around for that.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Games, games,games

I apologize for the long post.  I was unable to write down much until today.  So, you get four days of gaming crammed into one giant post.

Finally, I can come back and talk about my weekend.  Earlier Sat, I posted something, an inchoherent ramble I believe, about running a game at 1 in the morning.  I had started a game, which is starting to look like a one shot AD&D 2E Ravenloft game.  I was thrust into the role of DMing without much prep time.  Yet, I knew a module I had always wanted to use, Raggi's Death Frost Doom.  I had fun running it, the payers, two of which had never played anything remotely classic D&D before, hated it.  All of them thought it was a bit railroady and that, when they found out the "secret" of the plant" got pissed off saying the module is shit.

I completely disagree.  Death Frost Doom is a perfect example of characters being hoisted by their own petard.  They were so greedy and reckless, these three half-Vistani, (Yes, all three of them were half-Vistani.  None of them thought to do any checking, searching or study before heading off to the mountain.  Even Zeke screamed at them, as he always does, "It is EVIL.  DON'T GO UP THERE!")  Granted, most players see him as a old loon, yet I think Zeke is there for a very specific reason.  To make a smart player go, wait, what the hell is up there?

You could blame the time, we didn't start actual play until one in the morning.  It could have been that I had two neophyte gamers, in the sense that they had never played anything before 3.5, it could have been that it was Ravenloft and there was little in the way of villages besides the inn that the group found themselves in before night fell in Nova Vassa or it could have been that I was so tempted to run this module that I might have pushed them to go.  Yet, I still claim that it is a great module and I will run it again.  Maybe only use bit of it for other things, or try and run this in another campaign setting.

Moving onward from that, the next day we played CoC.  It was fun, though again, one fo the neophytes to "classic" gaming didn't enjoy it very much.  He is a World of Darkness gamer and there is nothing wrong with that system.  However, I find that particular style of game to be very power gamer oriented.  I will explain.

In World of Darkness, old or new, you aren't playing a typical human, or even a human or demi-human with any kind of "class" based training.  You are a vampire, a werewolf, a person who can re-shape reality or--in rare occasions--a mummy.  This is NOT typical gaming.  I have never been able to truly wrap my head around that kind of concept.  The idea that I am playing a vampire that has just been turned, I might be able to do.  Yet, the amount of power at my fingertips, even for a new vamp is, in my opinion, huge.  There is a whole new level of power that as a human, I could never do.  There is little appeal to me to play something that has the extreme advantages of a supernatural creature.

I don't apologize for my opinion.  You are welcome to your World of Darkness craziness.  I don't think I could ever really play it myself.  I will say that one of the players from this weekend of gaming has given voice to doing a fantasy based game with the "engine" of WoD.  I will try it once, expect a play test whenever it does happen.

Sunday rolled around and I went to my standard 1E/Hackmaster mash-up of Temple of Elemental Evil.  It was fun.  Our characters are still stuck in the Water Node and my character died twice, yet was brought back with some nifty magic and the help of the DM.  We also took out the dragon turtles that are the "big bads" of that node.  Yet, we still need the gem of that node before we can tackle the main temple.  That and find the golden orb.

Yesterday I would love to report more on the LotFP game.  Yet, it was shelved because some players didn't like it.  Enough people from my gaming group have shown interest to continue it later, I think I will attempt to set up a day for it.  Yet, we instead made characters and started a 3.5 Faerun game.  I have never been a huge fan of 3.5.  I tolerate it because the guy running it is brutal, I know he can make 3.5 deadly.  Which was always my problem with it.  (Well, that and the crazy stuff characters can do at first level that makes me think of a 4th or 5th lvl character from the more "classic" editions.)

One thing playing 3.5 again makes me think about.  My own tweaking of the game system.  Also, thinking of mashing different systems together and seeing what happens.  Not Hackmaster and say 1E.  I mean something like CoC and 1E?  Or 3.5 and taking the idea of decreasing the power level of characters a little.  Characters getting only a handful of points, even at 1st level.  Re-writing the skill lists.  Or using the CoC for skills.  Hmmm, interesting melange of ideas.

I have much to think about, hope you allhad a great weekend, and have an amazing week.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ran the Nuke of gaming...Death Frost Doom

Hey everyone.

So, I just now finished a game that started late late at night.  Around 1 AM, I had three friends start on a journey through the module called Death Frost Doom.  It is now 7 and we just finished.  We did a major grind of it.

ALSO, it is set in Ravenloft.  I am still new to it and was winging about half the issues the characters dealt with.  They didn't pass certain checks.  But instead of going mad, they slowly lost their grip on things.  This is a great module to use for Ravenloft in my humble opinion.

The only thing I am going to really talk about now, and it won't be much cause I need to get some sleep, is that they didn't like the "surprise" at the end of the game with the plant.

For those of you who don't know, it is a "gotcha" module.  You need to hack through a plant to get to the "maguffin" of the adventure.  By doing this, it releases ghouls, skeletons and other undead.  Thousands of them.

They safely got back to the inn they started in, yet now, they have released thousands of undead.  It should be interesting to figure out what they will do now.

Goodnight everyone, I sleep now...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Gygax!

Today, he would have been 73 years old.  He will be missed.

I think that Rich Burlew did a great tribute to Gygax years ago when the grand DM left us.  Took me some time to find it, but here is a link to his comic.  A long, long D&D comic.  It has some spoilers for those who haven't read it, yet I think this is a great tribute none the less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apologizes and LotFP game session!

First, sorry for being so quiet this past week.  Been trying to find a job.  Hasn't been working out, but I strive to do what I can.

Which leads me to this post.  Raggi is going to offer some cash for people who create modules for his LotFP rpg.  I am in!

And, it started when I first read his post.  It got my head spinning out ideas and plots and many erasing them since much of LotFP is about being very weird and different.  Not, "hey I have ten rooms and I need something in each of them."

However, it also gave me a twinge of desire to play this system in some way.  So, a few days ago when I knew we wouldn't be playing our weekly 1E/Hackmaster mash-up of ToEE, I tried to get the others to roll up characters.  It fizzled when another player, after having spent the weekend at Comi-Con, bailed because of sleep needs (don't blame him.)

Then, last night, I got a few friends together and we rolled up characters for the game.  Our cast of characters include:

Barlin Darkrock: 1st lvl. Neutral Dwarf
Mars Blackstone: 1st lvl. Neutral Dwarf
Merille: 1st. lvl. Chaotic Magic-User
Clarence: 1st lvl. Lawful Specialist

They arrived int he town of Crestin in different ways.  The dwarves, after feeling the NEED to LIVE again, left their mountain hold and journeyed away to seek adventure.  The magic-user needed to get away from the pervy old master, leaving his crooked mage tower behind her and Clarence read about the missing people in the town, crept aboard a wagon train and sleep until he got to Crestin.  (I love how the Specialist is playing Lawful.  In any game with the nine alignments, he would be playing more chaotic neutral.  He is letting Fate decide what to do, he believes Fate has a plan for him.  Love it.)

Everyone but the magic-user, who has been in close proximity to this town for a long time, sees something wrong with this town.  The owner of the inn, the Fishhook Inn, and mayor Hynd, is grumpy and one handed.  The people in general have a gray pallor to them.  After several hours of excellent role playing, and trouble making in the town, the group finds its way to the Tower of the Forest.  (One of them that should be pointed out is that the magic-user insulted the dwarves and was knocked unconscious by Barlin.  She tried to cast a spell and was stopped by Barlin's cousin Mars.  From then on, Mirelle was on 1hp.)  Clarence got their first and used his torch to light up the entire first floor.  A large two hundred foot oval shaped room with wall sconces every ten feet.  When the others arrived, he was already going down the East stairway leading down.  The dwarves went becasue they were given a job by the apothecary Old Bob to clear out the tower, if they found any evil inside and to prove they did it, bring back a rune stone from the altar in the basement of the tower.

Mirelle followed, finding him tinkering with a door a hundred feet down.  When he opened it, a giant spider tried to attack.  Mirelle fled while Clarence tried to hold the door closed.  The dwarves come to the rescue of the Specialist, though they don't realize another larger spider is waiting.  It leapt into the fray and was demolished by the three, yet not before draining Mars to 1hp.

Meanwhile, Mirelle is at the bottom of the stairs and finds a long passageway into the darkness.  She hears a roar and tries to get as much cover as she can as a charging ape-man comes careening out of the darkness.  She fights the ape-man, smacking it hard with her staff, yet suffers a blow that knocks her down to -1hp.

Hearing the fracas, the rest of the party comes down to see her getting hauled away by this ape thing.  The Dwarf Mars attacks, charges and strikes a might blow.  Yet, in the ensuing fight, he is killed.  Below -3 and bled out.  His cousin Barlin cries out and strikes the ape thing down and takes his cousin's body. Clarence binds the wounds of Mirelle and they both get the idea to visit her master.

"He is a wizard, magic is needed here." -Clarence.

After dealing with some wolves, and giving the town a wide berth, the two conscious players get their way to Ghren, the wizard.  He allows them in and tells them there is something that can be done.  Has the two unconscious (okay, technically, a dead and an unconscious) character in two metal seats that face each other, with a large rough hewn crystal in between in a large metal table.  The table and chairs are all one piece.  (This will have its own write up soon.)  The other interesting feature is the metal spike in front of each seat.

Ghren communed, after feeling up Mirelle, (One reason she left was so she could get away from the perv) and found she wished to sacrifice her life for the dwarf's.  She wanted to go on to be a part of the swirling Chaotic Vortex.  Ghren, agreeing to help, grabbed her hand and the dwarf's and slammed them onto the spikes.  After a light show and sparks, the dwarf awoke with 1hp and the body of Mirelle dissolved into dust.

While the two dwarves discussed what happened, mostly Mars telling Barlin that he needed to stop reacting violently to everything, Clarence told Ghren what happened and was given a job to find a torch made of ebony metal that supposedly had the secrets of dark fire.

Last thoughts for now, it was an amazing session and I apologize if this was a long post.  But, it was a really fun session.  And I find it very interesting that the character with the "best stats" Mars, was the first to actually die.  Though, he was able to be raised.  (Yet, the foul things he has seen and has become a part of make the evil GM part of me laugh.)  Also, LotFP is amazing and is as a friend of mine said, Nintendo hard.  (We are talking the old school 8-bit console, not the newest ones.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

50, wohoo...

So, my fiftieth post.

The last day or so, I have been toying with an idea for my own campaign setting.  Yet, it isn't going to be the normal kind of campaign.  This might just be a flash in the pan, but going to give it a try.

The idea is to make a sword-and-planet setting.  Already started working on it.  I will keep all of you readers about it.

Sorry for the short post.  Enjoy your day, back to work for me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My 49th post!

Yeah, I know, this is the penultimate post before the 50.

There are many I wish to thank, and many who just wish I would get on with it.  I think I will do the latter.

This might seem like a bit of a silly post, yet I think certain things should be celebrated.  I know over at THAC0 forever, he just posted his 100th post, and that was after 3 years.  I hope it doesn't take me that long to do mine.

Still looking through the LotFP:Deluxe box set.  And, I really want to try and get the Grindhouse edition eventually.  However, one thing I have already done is obtained the free pdf from his blog.  I must say, looking over the spells, he has truly changed the game in an interesting way.  Wizards no longer have the destructive spells of fireball and lightning bolt.  And at first glance, that is a bad thing.  Yet, if you think about it, two ideas pop into my head at least.

One is that this makes the wizard a little more "balanced" with the rest of the party.  He no longer can out damage the fighter, with the exception of magic missile which still does a d4 of damage PER LVL!  The other thing is that with spell research, if a wizard PC REALLY wants to get those spells into the game, he can find a way as long as the DM allows it.  I would say don't do it.  Unless there is a cost.  Perhaps go back to the way the druid spell call lightning works in 2E.  You need to have a storm going to summon up the lightning in the first place.  Not saying do it, but that just came to me as I was writing.

Another thought comes from talking with a friend of mine.  You heard him on the last podcast.  My buddy Joe and I were talking about this game system.  Well, I was telling him how great it is and he was giving me the stink eye, but you get the idea.  The point is that this box set is very much a DIY kind of game.  DMs can use as little or as much as they want.  The rules are basic and easy to use.  There are rules for making magic items and I for one have more than a few ideas for items that would have the feel of the "weird" that ould fit into the setting.

Now, the only issue is to try and convince the rest of my gaming group that this is a good idea.  Some of them might shy away from the difficulty inherent in this system.  Wizards are big power houses, fighters are the only ones who get better as they level, clerics are healers and "buffers." (To borrow from the lexicon of the MMORPG.)  And, with no "stock" monsters, the DM must create monsters and creatures that are eldritch, macabre and unique.

I think with my next post, I will start giving a run down the box set, or at least rules and concepts that I like from the game in a more expanded way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ideas, ideas, ideas

Last night, I was listening to The Game's the Thing.  I got it from Zak and while I listened, I pulled out my box set of the original Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  (Not the Grindhouse edition, which I want to get after hearing Raggi pitch it.)  I had already decided to use the small modules that he included in the box set.  (Tower of the Stargazer, which is brutal if played by idiots.)

Here is the thing, when I first got the box set, I thought it would be a neat little collection to have.  I might pull it out and look at it, yet I was getting it as a collectible.  Once I started looking through it with an eye towards game design though, I was won over by this thing!  It is an amazing little set of rules.  It is real old school, with a few modern twists.  The Specialist to replace the thief/rouge is the biggest one with ascending armor class being the other.  I devoured the books and was amazed at how elegant and simply, without being simplistic, this game system turned out.  I am not itching to run a game of this for my group.

Though, there are some who have a philosophy counter to the very nature of LotFP.  A few of them believe that their characters are heroes.  That nothing can hurt them and they are better than the rest of the world around them.  Not so in LotFP.  Your character isn't a powerhouse.  Your PC is a guy with a sword, spells or an attitude of wanting to go out and find "adventure."  And, typically, that adventure turns into delving into a dark and forbidden place, where things lurk in the dark that would make H.P. Lovecraft shudder.  S/He isn't better than anything out there, and most stuff out there can kill you easily.  So, why play at all?  For the challenge of it.

I can even link it back to the podcast I released yesterday.  (By the way, if you haven't listened yet, keep your volume down a little.  We were recording really loud I think.)  This idea of set challenge ratings and encounters is something that would never survive LotFP.  In this game, you a small guy/girl who can't hack it as a potato farmer and instead picks up a sword, or a book of spells, or a holy symbol and goes out and tries to survive in a  world that is trying to kill you.  Or, to be blunt, doesn't care if you live or die.

Ok, I hear those of you reading this thinking, so why are you talking about this and yet you put in the 4E label on this blog?

Well, I'll tell you.

First, there is something else you need to know.  I love Vornheim (also, a contest I am trying to do.)

So, imagine my surprise when I look to a game blog a guys writes about called re-skinning Vornheim.  Here is the link, and this guy's idea rocks!

What can we take away from this?

1. Vornheim is cool.
2. LotFP is an amazing and brutal system I want to play.
3. Even 4E can be cool, if done right.

And, as a last minute thought, I might also try and do a full review of LotFP in my next blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zero level and other tidbits

I decided to cut my post in half, first half on the Temple of Elemental Evil and then this on what I wanted to talk about level.

This has got me thinking again about the whole zero level kick off to a campaign.  I have this module and want to run it.  Yet, as I said in my comment to Jeff, I have players who balk at the idea.

I understand why they do.  There are several reasons.  One of them is my own GADD (Gamer ADD).  I will be running a game for a little bit and then something new/old will come into my field of vision and I will turn towards that one, wanting to play it or run it and the game I was running gets left int he dust.  I am trying to avoid this.  Yet, it can happen.  Another reason is that, as was pointed out in Jeff's blog comments, 1st lvl. PCs are rather fragile in 1st edition.  Plus, as a zero level, they don't have ANY real skills to rely upon.  No spells, no combat prowess, no thief skills, nothing.  Yet, the players who talk and squawk about this are losing sight of what I believe a zero lvl. game is about.   It is an chance to forge a bond with the other players from the very beginning of their adventuring career.

The module in question is called Treasure Hunt, N4.  In it a bunch of people are captured by slavers and the ship is wrecked on the shore of a small island.  The PCs are these captured people and must survive.  Kind of like Survivor, the real game!  In it, the DM tracks what the PCs do and helps him/her guide the player to a particular class.

The amount of potential in this module is staggering.  Every since I found it, by chance, at a gaming store awhile back, I have been in love with the idea of zero lvl.  I think it is one reason I want to try the new DCC beta on some players.

I think my games are much more story based than rules based.  The DM of our Temple game broke it down this way, there are two kinds of games.  Simulation, trying to be as much like that era you are trying to play and story based.  I disagree to an extent, but that is for another blog post.  My point is that, yes a zero level game is going to be scary.  You have a d6 of hit points and you can't hit anything unless you roll REALLY high.  But, I'm not that much of an evil DM.  At this point, I want the campaign to continue.  I'm not going to throw things at you that the player can't handle.  UNLESS, there is a story based reason behind it, or I want to teach my players that running away is a valid option.

Side note, there was a TPK I had the last time I tried to run a zero level game.  They characters were all first or second by this point.  The fighter rushed into some brush to find three gnolls.  He mixed it up with kobolds and decided to attack.  He died, the mage/cleric tried to stop them and died, the ranger tried to get away, and died while trying to dodge out of the way of the blades in a small copse of trees and the thief died as well.  They didn't run when they realized what it was that they fought.  My players have a tendency to stand and fight regardless of the odds.  I had to spank them for it, and I will again in my upcoming 1st ed. campaign.  They need to know that running away is a valid excuse and one that SHOULD be used on occasion.

I think it is one problem with some gamers.  Especially those that were raised on anything after 2nd. edition.  And, even that edition has some issues.  Players began to think they could survive anything.  A DM was going to "balance" the game.  Where did this idea come from?

Anyway, sorry to get off topic.

The last thought I have about the zero level concept is this.  It is an intriguing idea.  It helps a DM with that age old question of where do the adventurers meet?  There is no inn they need to meet in, no sudden command from the king to find brave adventurers.  The PCs are all normal folk, swept up into something much bigger than themselves.  They BECOME adventurers.  That is what I think will make an amazing game and an amazing campaign.  PCs are born, they are forged!

The Temple update

Got home to late to give you all a Temple of Elemental Evil update.

The party consists of a bladesinger, a cavalier, a cleric of Moradin and a thief.  (Next time, I will give you their names.  I am a bad player in that I don't know how to spell the names of the two elves, the bladesinger and the thief, nor the dwarf.)

 We are deep in the water node, have collected three of the four gems.  We had just finished clearing out a lair of Vodyanoi.  To get around, a majority of the party had been staying in the bladesinger's bag of holding while the priest walks through the air using an airwalk scroll he found awhile back.  (This is not the best idea, yet until recently, it was the only thing that worked.)

We get to an island, are attacked by lacedon.  Fourteen of them.  The bladesinger by this point has Fly up and is hovering away from us, waiting for the right time to strike.  This doesn't occur until the dwarf and my cavalier are grappled and being dragged into the water.  The thief is barely surviving, lucking out on the paralysis because she is an elf.

It was almost a TPK.  The bladesiger pulled out a shield that is cursed, calling all undead to him.  The lacedon turned from us and moved into the water, where he used a lightning bolt to great effect.  Being greedy adventurers--plus wanting to look for the water node gem, we dove into the atoll that was the lacedon's lair.  The bladesinger and theif using the Fly spell as a way to buzz through the water at speed and get out in a round or two.  The bladesinger was attacked by a sea hag and is still under the effects of it.  After fleeing, we get to the middle of the water node and Jaroo, the druid from Hommlet appears.

(A bit of a side not needs to be put up here.  In our game, the DM has larger machinations going on with Hedrack.  The temple decided to attack Hommelt, we as the adventurers thought it was a good idea to go in and try and strike from within.  While we were dealing with the nodes, Hedrack attacked the refugees of Hommlet, killing Burne and many others.  Jaroo was taken prisoner and sent into the water node.  We only know about the attack because the DM wanted to give us a glimpse of what was going on off screen of the "main adventure.  I approved of this.  Yet, it was exposition.  I think it would have been kinda fun to try and play some of the NPCs in this battle with humanoids, Hedrack and a red dragon.  Yes, we know going in we will probably lose.  Yet it was just a thought.  Maybe I will try something like that myself in one of my upcoming campaigns.  More than anything, it was would a way to keep the players engaged in the game itself.)

With Jaroo hurt and without equipment, we escaped the node and went back to the maid node room.  Jaroo went off as a sparrow to try and find spell components while we waited in an dome of opaque force.  We were attacked by two blue skinned ogres (not ogre magi).  My cavalier went out to fight them while the thief attacked from inside with arrows.  I was able to get one of the ogres down to half his hit points before two things happened.  One, the ogres started to hit me with their two handed swords causing major damage.  It wouldn't have been to bad if the second problem didn't crop up, the thief started to hit me instead of the ogres.  She was firing into melee and our DM was being very hardcore.  Which I do approve of again.  (Look, in my opinion, if you fire into a melee, there is a chance you will have some friendly fire.  I know other editions did things to "remedy" this.  I'm not bashing them for saying, that is silly in my opinion.  Combat should be deadly and a little unpredictable.)

Jaroo returned soon afterwards and we entered the water node, falling into the vast ocean again and stopped for the night.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hopefully, a game tonight...

Tonight I will hopefully go back to playing the mash up Hackmaster/1st ed. Temple of Elemental Evil game.  I have been through a lot in this game in the past year and a half.  Gone through almost ten characters.  And, I think the final fight is in sight.

How did I lose ten characters?  Well, many of them I lost in the temple somehow.  I was rash, stupid or in one case, just a few bad rolls.  (And, our cleric wasn't there, which would have helped.)  Also, a few I retired for various reasons.  In fact, we rebooted the game and had to restart.  Yet, the way our DM rebooted it was we had the new characters being drawn into the machinations of the temple while our "first group" was still dealing with the temple.  Our most recent group came in with half of the temple already decimated by the swords and spells of the first group.  So, it was a re-boot more of a separate storyline that converged.

My favorite character, thus far, was the very first one I played.  Sir Jeremiah Wallace, the Baron of Graystone.  A cavalier who died at 6th level to a white dragon in the air node.  Currently, I am playing one of Jeremiah's followers, Sir William de Montefort.  He has the sword of his one time leader, Chauncy (Yes, I cam up with the name and it was the first thing that popped into my head.)  If any of you know much about the temple, this is a mild spoiler, there is a +3 frostbrand in the game.  Our DM rolled up the random powers of this sword.  It can detect shifting walls, levitate me and detect evil.  It is an amazing sword and has saved Sir Jeremiah and Sir William's ass on many occasions.

More late on the game...I will do another post when I get home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You will be missed.../Challenge to yourdungeonissuck!

I been doing this blogging thing for about six months, and struggling to keep up a blog.  So, when I saw this I was more than a little pissed.  (If you want to read the post that set Christian off, it is here.)

It gets me pissed off when things on blogs makes others quick in disgust or in tears or rage.  Reminds me of what happened to ChicagoWiz back towards the beginning of my blogging career.  This personal attacking bull is just that, B.S.!  What the fuck, how can this guy send away someone who has been doing the blogging thing far longer than me off without much of a fight?

I don't have all the answers, I now he said he isn't having fun anymore.  But, if you are listening man, screw what the guy said.  And hey you over at yourdungeonissuck, turn your attention to something besides tearing other people down.  And, as I said on your latest post, if you want to pick on someone, bring it!

I am a young blogger who is starting out, read what I have.  I'm sure there is plenty of fodder there to bring more of your hate.  I'm ready for you.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Random thoughts while I can't sleep

I know, it is past 4 in the morning.  I can't sleep yet.  Far to much to do.

I am still working on a fantasy novel of mine.

I'm working on a 1st edition campaign that I hope will rock people's socks off.

And, currently I'm listening to the RFI podcast, which can be found here.

Some of my thoughts...
I am loving this guy's blog.  I'm finding so much stuff from his blog to put in that my campaign folder has reached over a hundred pages.  I just now found a god that he has been referring to again and again and again.  After finding it, I love it and it is going into my campaign.

I like RFI.  I also like the others, Save or Die and THACO's Hammer.  All of these are great podcasts, mine is a pale imitation at times.  (Yes, I will be getting a podcast up soon.)  Something I like about them is they get me excited about gaming.  About wanting to run a campaign.  It could also be a bad thing when I get a campaign going, yet that is the nature of the beast.

And, I really, really, REALLY want to run a 1st edition AD&D campaign.  This is the campaign I am working on right now, been working on it for some time.  It will still need a bit before I finally get around to running the dang thing, yet that is also the nature of the beast.

And now, I am going to try and go to sleep.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I know I haven't posted for awhile.  Been busy working on a fantasy novel.  I have also been ignoring gaming for the most part.  (I haven't played much of the Temple game in the last two weeks and my friend's Fallout game at all.)

This is just the way of things.  Life gets in the way of things.

However, that doesn't mean I am going to stop reading other blogs, or stop working on this one.  The podcast should be up sometime next week.  I will keep you gentle readers up to date on that.

Something I have noticed in the blogsphere is how annoying some people can be about their own ideas.  I realize it is kind of silly to say that when my own blog has the name Rant in it.  Yet, I try to understand where other people are coming from.  There are others out there who have such a myopic opinion that they immediately say that if you don't agree with me, you are wrong.  (I will not be acting like a tattle-tale, saying who is doing this or that.  That is rather silly in my opinion and not what I set this blog up for.)

Also, I do realize that the blogs are someone's opinion and nothing more.  AND, if you don't like it, don't read the rest of the article, blog or whatever and go on to the next one.  Or, just stop reading them in general.

More to come later...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DCC and 1st edition

If you haven't heard yet, Goodman Games has a beta of their Dungeon Crawler Classic rules, get it right here.

I have looked over the beta a few times and I like most of what they have.  This is not the heroic AD&D, this is gritty and harsh.  I fucking love it!  I plan on trying to get some guys together for a short game or two.  But, it has already burrowed its way into my head.

Luck is involved in this game.  Thieves need it for a boost to skills.  Fighters get it for extra boost to a weapon.  Wizard and Clerics get it for helping get through spell checks.  This is an amazing little rule that I have added it to the 1st edition AD&D game I am working on.  I need to change a few things, but hey, it happens.

Also, another thing I am adding is the way magic works in DCC.  Two things happen in DCC.  One is whenever a magic user learns a spell, something weird and/or bizarre can happen.  Wind could shoot out from the wizard, tiny demons could spill out and surround the caster for a few rounds or it could be harder for him to cast the spell.  Also, there is a mechanic called corruption.  Arcane magic is dangerous again.  This is something I have been looking for, to make magic strange again.  Clerics have their own deal as well.  I highly recommend this game after just skimming it.

However, a warning, this is not a complete set of rules.  This is just a beta.  You take characters from 0-3, (YES, you have to start at lvl. 0), in a short campaign.  The rules come out in November--I already have my copy pre-ordered.  I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Desert Adventure

I'm going on a sort of vacation for the week.  I will update this blog as much as I can.

I do find one thing interesting.  For the next week, I'm going to be a condo int he desert and I packed up a few clothes and the like, don't need to bring other things, it is my parent's condo.  But, I did bring D&D books and modules.

I see this as an opportunity to really flesh out this world I am creating and this campaign.  I will try and post pix of all the books I brought.  What is interesting is that I have brought such a range.  I have most of the 1st edition books with me.  But, I also brought a few 4e books, after stepping off the bandwagon of the war, I find I am looking at them in a different light.  They have some interesting points, some nice fluff and a nice dungeon design or two.  That is the reason I brought them, not to play the game.  (Though, I might find a game out here with some other gamer nerds.  You never know...)

Also, brought a few things from Hackmaster.  This isn't to big of a mindboggle.  It is a synthesis of 1st and 2nd edition with some real extra crunch thrown in.  Also, brought some Castles and Crusade stuff, using the Castle of Zagyg setting for encounters and random stuff.

Yet, this will be a 1st. edition game.  Completely...well, there might be a minor change or two to the rules.  Yet, Gygax said they are guidelines.

Now, I am off to try and find some graph paper and work on a map.  I like drawing them, yet at the same time, I am horrible.  I can never get the scale right for world maps.  Oh well...

Sunday, June 5, 2011


At long last, we get another podcast up!  Finally.  Get your piping hot podcast here.

Also, here is the blog about the post-apocalyptic game and his thoughts.  He has a list of his previous blogs on D&D.

Here is the story about a killer door.

I can't find the blog about the random encounters.  And, I am off to smite evil in the Temple of Elemental Evil.  Will Sir William survive?  Or will he die much like the previous cavalier, Sir Jeremiah Wallace, the Baron of Greystone?  Only time will tell.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Campaign ideas

Been working on my campaign world and thought I was going to take a break for a day or so.  Then, I realized after I left my girlfriend's place, my mind was already working on something for the game.  It is the same when I write fiction.  I take a break for whatever reason and I realize when I come back to it, my mind has had something on the back burner, simmering away.  Though, if you wait to long, the pans can be cooked right through and your idea is one burnt black thing that you need to work to even understand or just give up and hope that it comes back...ok, enough food analogies, I'm getting hungry!

Moving on...I discovered that there were several things that mind mind flashed to.  One was an old episode of a cartoon with a guy who lost his family and started carrying a photo book with him.  He called it his book of rage.  (If you know the name of the cartoon, good for you.)  My mind tweaked it and has used it before in a two episode game, changing his lost of family from the government to the gods.  And, because I needed something to challenge my players, I gave them rage zombies.  (Something like the things, not zombies from the movie 28 Days Later.  Those things are not zombies in the traditional sense, yet it worked for me then and it works now.)

Another idea that came was from the Sword for Truth series.  The nightstone.  In the book, it summons shades from the Underworld.  In my world, in summons undead.  Anyone holding it will attract any kind of undead.  And, it makes turning them harder.  (Yes, I am evil.)

Another came reading the Vornheim City Kit.  (This is an amazing product by the way.  I can't recommend it enough.  No matter what edition you use, or retro-clone, this is going to help any campaign you make.  Not just for the city games either.  There are threads of adventure that can start out in the wilderness that can lead to your big mega-city like Vornheim.  I'll even give an example of something I plan to do.  If my players are reading, be cool and either skip to the end of the paragraph or don't be a meta-game dick!  There is a library, run by a man named Zorlac who loves books.  He hires library thieves to find more and more books for his ever growing collection.  I plan to have the PCs either help these librarian thieves by bring back books or having a librarian of Zorlac stumble into them in the hinterlands, see that they have a tome of some unknown author and/or subject and steal it, or attempt to steal from them.  I can see more than a few sessions spent trying to keep the book away or trying to get the book back.)

Another came from combing through this guy.  (A special shout out to Ancient Vaults, you come up with some amazing stuff!)  Looking through his blog, I was stunned by the number of adventure seeds and partial campaign ideas that sprang from reading that one blog.

Finally, the last place where I get my ideas comes from a actual play podcast.  This one has been around for awhile these guys do all kinds of games, Pathfinder, 4e, Temple of Elemental Evil, World's Largest Dungeon, etc.  I was trying to sleep and listening to one of the actual plays of their Keep on the Shadowfell.  I have read through it and suddenly, while I was trying to fall asleep, listening to them tangle with the kobolds, my head started to spin a little nugget from a few pieces I remembered from the module and from what they were doing.  It didn't help me get to sleep though.  Bu thtese thigns happen.

In closing, I never know when my mind will grab and idea and start to play with it.  Turn it around and exam it, looking for ideas.  Even now, something sprang to mind from a different blog, talking about shrines, a link and now, I must go.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Around the blogsphere

Something I have noticed while I ponder upon my own games is I read blogs.  MANY, MANY blogs about gaming.  I have a list of some of them to the right of this post.  Yet, that is a drop in the bucket to the amount I actually look at on a daily basis.  (Though, to be fair, not all of them update EVER day.)

Some of them play the same edition I do, some are very old school, a few are buffet style gamers, picking and choosing.  None of these are the wrong approaches to gaming at all.

I suggest in this short little post that anyone who reads my blog go out and read someone else.  Find one on the side there or just type in "role playing blog" and you will get a jillion of them.

Try it, you might find someone you like.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Campaign making

Recently I started making a 1st edition AD&D campaign.  I have no idea how long it will last, yet I always try and make these campaigns that will last a long time.  And, one thing happens ever time...

I find something better I want to try or the game runs out of steam.  When I say "better" I mean something different.  The "new shiny" as some gamers put it.  I have tried to squash this as much as I can when I started the Star Wars Saga game awhile back.  It worked, to some extent.  Yet, I wasn't helping my case with listening to various podcasts about the different D&D editions that I listen to repeatedly and randomly pulling out role playing books and leafing through them if I was bored.  Yet, this is something that will happen.  This is just how I am.

But, does that mean I am going to stop planning?  No.  Cause I think there is something else.  The Star Wars Saga game ran out of steam for various reasons.  There were problems and inter-party issues.  Yet, mostly, it was me running out of ideas to throw at the party.  I made that game a sandbox and it was just to vast for me to really get the story moving when I switched from a gunning style to letting the characters catch their breath.

This new campaign I have based partially on some ides from the podcast RFI and their real play podcast.  Also throwing in a sprinkling of modules from various editions and and some clones of the game as well.  This is something that I have wanted to do for awhile.  Have these modules in the game, set out in various places waiting to be discovered.  Some aren't exactly what the actual modules are like, needing to be adjusted for the campaign world itself.  This is just the way of things when it comes to a campaign.  Or at least with my campaign.