Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Out of the pit...

Well, I have crawled out of whatever cavern I had found myself in, gotten back into writing a blog (we shall see how long it lasts.)  The podcast did podfade, yet I am still trying to get things together to make it work properly so we can cast a rez spell on the podcast and get back to it.

Many things to talk about and never enough time.  Earlier this year I talked about a "John Adams" who was part of Halfling Publishing.  I had bought the Delving Deeper Boxset and was concerned that I hadn't hear anything from him.  Well, recently I have been getting emails about the boxset and it should ship Wed. he says.  I just downloaded the pdfs and can't wait to look them over.

Also, several kickstarter and indiegogo projects have wrapped and are in various modes of release or waiting for release.  I received Barrowmaze II, which is amazing.  I got Rappan Athuk which is a monstrous book alone, but I also sprung for the Slumber Tsar Saga which is a monolith in and of itself.  Also received Adventure Dark and Deep A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore.  I have not had time recently to look them over and I can't wait to actually do so.

Gaming has been moving forward.  I continue to fight in the 1E game on Sunday as Sir William de Montefort, who has been cursed, into Lady Wilma.  (Belt of masculinity/femininity--Gygax you magnificent bastard you.) He/she has recently gone through some major changes and I will explain more at a few post.

On Monday, I am currently running a Star Wars Saga game in the KoTOR era.  It is interesting and kinda fun to have a break from the run-of-the-mill fantasy.  Plus, there are plenty of Sith and vile things to throw at the characters in such a time, a group I love to use.  There is another group that I will go into later, since my players read this blog and I don't want to give away to much, yet...

Until next time...may the dice land favorably...

Monday, August 27, 2012

After a long break...spells

Sorry, I don't know what happened, got lost in a time vortex or just was in a really weird headspace for a bit, either way, I'm back.

Much has happened since I left.  One is that there was a near break down of my Sunday group and the game I was running with them.  On Monday, we have taken a leave of absence from D&D to pursue Legend of the Five Rings.  It is a very interesting system and setting, very in-depth story lines and complex structure of clans, families and individuals.  I'm loving the game, and can't wait for more.  Plus, it has inspired a strange idea in my own head, a sci-fi setting using the background of the L5R rules and system.  Will keep you posted on how that is going soon.

I am still trying to slog through the D&D Next playtest rules part two.  I wish I had more to tell you other than it feels like they already had their own opinion and the beta test is kinda moot.  I could be wrong, this is just my own opinion.  Once again, I will write something up when I can.

Finally, there is a post today from a fellow blogger and member of the RFI podcast, The Evil GM, who this week talked about spell level and the caster's ability.  He brought up a point that I know I've had trouble dealing with recently.

Why does a caster HAVE to only cast low level spells?  Is the arcane formula to tricky for their low level brain to grasp?  Is a caster with an INT of 17 not able to wrap his mind around something at level 4 that he can at level 12?  Or 15?  Or 18?  I know I use to come down on the other side of this debate, "Well, the rules state this and that, therefore..."  But, I've been thinking more and more that a magic user could cast a MUCH higher level spell than the rules say s/he should.  There should be a gauge to help keep the MU from casting 3 Wish spells at level 4, but, I think it should be allowed.

I'm sure there is a table or something out there that can be used for random issues that transpire if a MU tries to use a spell of a higher level.  I'm a little lazy...I would probably just have the caster roll a d100 and come up with something on the fly.  Or maybe use the random Wild Magic effects from 2E Spells and Magic.  Always a fun chart.

Anyway, I am going to stop here and try to figure out a few things...hopefully be back soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Late Wed. post

So, been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to write here.  I have plenty of ideas, to many I think.  All of them are just crushing together and jamming into the doorway all at once.

Something I want to work on is another ConstantCon game.  Something set in my world of Sydell that will have very little to do with the other two campaigns going on.  Yet, there is that small part of me that wants it to be part of the overarching structure of the game.  Something that will hep expand the knowledge of my sandbox world.

However, I think the best thing to do would be to follow the mold with ConstantCon a little more.  The megadungeon that is explored little by little.  But, then I think back to what B/X Blackrazor said here and it has gotten me to think a little more about what I want in a campaign.

Of course, another part of me wants to stop the campaigns, for a week or two and sit my ass in a chair and write down all the stuff that needs to be written down for the campaign notebook to be filled up.  One of the games did take a small hiatus because one of the players is gone.  The reason I am not willing to run it until he gets back is not that he is center to the plot.  I just don't want him to come back and feel like I punished his character for leaving or something.

So, last Monday I tried a game called L5R, Legend of the Five Rings.  It is rather fun.  A neat little d10 system.  I liked it, and kinda waiting for more next week.

And, I have just lost my train of thought, I'm gonna take off.  Might come back and write more later...

Monday, July 30, 2012

I am a middle of the road gamer...

Well, first off, I am feeling better than I did a week ago.  Not sure what is happened to the game tonight.  But, that is for later.

Two things have sort of been spinning around in my head.

One is the fact that I am both an old school and new school gamer.  And, there is nothing wrong with that.

What do I mean by this?  Well, the best way I cam describe it is thusly:

An old school gamer is content with starting off in some mega-dungeon then into the frontier, building up xp and treasure until they are high enough to raise an army and carve out a niche for themselves in the wild frontier.

A new school gamer wants to start off at first level with a complex backstory and a desire make the campaign his own from the start.  That the plot revolves around them.  That they are not merely part of the show, they ARE the show.

There is nothing wrong with either approach, and I think that I have been switching back and forth between the two camps for awhile now.  And, I have to say I think I need to realize I like bits and piece of both.

I was reading a few posts by Blackrazor about his musings on exploration, starting here.  It got me thinking about the old school movement.  Also, I have played in some of Evan's G+ Nightwick Abbey games as well.  The game was always fun.  And, it was mostly exploring, trying to survive and then getting the hell out with treasure.

Then, there are the games I have heard of in some actual play podcasts.  Most of these are 3E or higher and they are either more interaction with people with small planned out encounters or long encounters with powers and abilities that make me think I'm listening to a superhero game.  I have also played in a smattering of 3E and 4E games.  And, there is something to be said for having powers and being able to do amazing things.

I think that there is a middle of the road here.  That there is something that can be done to accommodate both the new and old school groups.  I'm not positive how as of yet, but it is something I am pondering.

I know I had a part two here, yet it has gone...oh well.  I'm sure it will come back to me at some point.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stuff in the mail...

Well, today I got two things in the mail.  One thing I was surprised at, and the other I've been waiting for since Jan.

Yes, the second item was the reprints of the 1E AD&D books.  They are very nice.  I just pulled them out of the box.  Need some time to go over them, but they look really cool so far.

The first item was a surprise that it came as quick as it did.  The X-plorers box set.  Now, I got the single book version for free when I bought the boxes from Brave Halfling.  They are gorgeous boxes, and still trying to figure out what I want to put inside them.  But, they were a little late, and John threw in the X-plorers book as a freebie.  Which was cool.  But, I dig the box set and even though Brendan had some issues with it, he thought it was a neat box set.  So, I went to Noble Knights and purchased it.  They are quick and reliable.

(This is not an attack, simply a bitch)

And, now for a small bitch.  I know John is going through some issues right now and I completely understand.  The way of the world these days, many people are having the same problem he has.  (And, but for the grace of...well luck in picking who I was born to I suppose I would be in similar straights.)  The bitch is this...I bought a copy of his Delving Deep and have yet to receive it.  I am sure there is a perfectly valid reason for it not to be here.  I'm not asking for my money back.  I only want the product that I purchased.

I also hope that you land on your feet and continue to publish the products you do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thinking about Old School...

After a night of hanging with friend at the local Norms, while discussing Pathfinder, I came home and just felt like I had been discussing such a different game than the one I love.  The amount of options just freezes my brain.  Don't get me wrong, I think it fun to game and Pathfinder does have a certain joy that shines through in the writing.  But, I still feel like the overall concept is just to option heavy.

Then, this morning, far earlier than I usually get up, a friend called and asked, "Hey, what is that old edition clone where elves have to be magic-users or fighters?"  Groggily, I said, "Swords and Wizardry."  (I have some interesting friends.)

Ever since, I've been thinking about going back to that slim volume.  Yes, the reprints are on the way to my place and I am running a 1E and 3.5E game in my world, yet there is a tickle in the back of my head to go to something very simple.  If not maybe bashing together S&W and LotFP (but take out some of the "brutal" nature for some of my players...or not.)

Just been thinking about that recently.  And, thinking that M-W-F for the blog will be better.

Until next time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A short post

I was perusing the blogosphere and caught this at Greyhawk Grognard.  It is an interesting way to look at the upcoming 5E.  And, it makes me think about some of the games I have run.  There are times to run, and there are times to try and negotiate.

Yet, the question becomes, "What happens if they refuse to negotiate or run?" I use to think the answer was, fudge some die and let them live.  Sometimes I think it should be death.  But, I'm thinking that now, the best thing is to fight them, get them close to death and capture them.

An example of my 1E game is I had the group surrounded by saughain(sic), about 300 of them.  The NPC captain tried to negotiate, yet the cleric refused to have anything to do with the devil fish.  I can't completely blame him, yet  I should have either had them get killed or captured.  Instead I had the NPC captain save them and that is a bad idea.  A better idea would have been to either just say, "They swarm the boat and kill you." Or, "You all fight bravely, but are taken out.  Hours later..."

(A short post I know, but feeling kinda sick still.  Should be better by Wed.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ahhh, those late posts...

I had every intention of writing a blog post about going to see Batman: Rise of the Dark Knight, and some other thoughts when I got home from watching a marathon of the three movies.  Yet, that was quickly squashed when I had to drive someone home and didn't get to bed until 6.  Now, I should be doing other things, but I'm going to post something about something...

After watching Batman Begins, while we had a break to go get more food and use the bathroom, two theater employees cam in and asked two trivia questions.  They promised more, but I don't remember them coming in, though I was gone for a lengthy period of time.  Anyway, the first question was, "Nolan has said he can break down the three movies to a single word.  Those are...Fear, Chaos and Pain."  I almost had it, but didn't know the third one, yet it was obvious once uttered.

This got me to think about gaming, as things usually do.  I wonder if there is a way you could break down your campaign into a single word.  Or even a single sentence.  I think I can, and for all of my players out there who read the blog, enjoy...

The way to sum up my campaigns that I am running, both the 1st edition game and the 3.5 one, as well as the possible third game I have been thinking about running for another group of gamers is to use one of the words that Nolan used.


My players will find out, or not if they choose not to continue, what I mean by that and I will come back to this point later on once the campaign is closer to completion or dies in the water.  (I hope for the former and dread the latter.)

(And, I just got word that Paizo is sending out the 1E reprints!  Stoked to be getting those in the mail soon!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

God heaven's what happened?

So, I just realized that I have been so busy with reading other blogs, trying to get some writing done and gaming myself I have neglected this blog.  MAN, that isn't cool...

Well, What have I been doing?
I have been running a 1E game on Sunday in a game world of my own design, a world called Sydell.
I also started running a 3.5E game on Mondays, in the same world, yet I think the best way to explain it is that the 3.5E game is that it is out of phase with the 1E game.

I have added things from TypeIV that I kind like, the Fey Wild and the idea of rituals.  I could go on about both for some time, but this is just an update so I will save them for later.

I've been working on trying to get the podcast back from the graveyard after Mac decided to suddenly drop MobileMe.  That hurt.  But, I think we will be getting it back within a few weeks and might even have a new place for it with more stuff to do thing.

Also, been trying my hand at learning the sword and shield, going through a friend who is part of the HEMA Alliance.  It is fun, swords are different, and, not an orc to be smote.  Yet, fun nonetheless.

Also, there was another push to get something up.  A fellow blogger Bat continues to blog even though he has had shoulder surgery and I realized I was being a bit of a wimp by saying I didn't have anything to write about.

More to come soon.  Going to try a T-Th-S post schedule.  See if it works for me.  Until next time!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A quick thought experiment...

So, I was wondering around the WotC article homepage.  I found three articles that caught my eye and I downloaded them (even though I could have just cracked open a copy of the 1E player's handbook or monster manual).

The last one was about a theme, which is an interesting idea that they have slipped in the D&D Next playtest.  

(Yes, if you don't have a DDI subscription, you won't be able to look at them.  Sorry if you do not.)

The three things got me thinking and I came up with a real quick adventure setup.  Enjoy.

We have a savage beast, whose name I do not think I can use.  This savage "swamp beast" is marauding the swamps of a region of your campaign world.  This is complicated by a group of pirates who have come to the riverside town looking for an ancient ship called the Osprey.  The PCs could also be hunting for the ship, they could have overheard them looking for this treasure laden ship or are drawn in by the pirates who hire them on for protection.  And, the further complication, a bard that has gone mad from his loneliness and wonders around the swamp, using her songs of charm to entice PCs and NPCs both into the jaws of the swamp beast or to drown in the swamp.

I know this is real quick, but this is what I would use for a map.  I just recently stumbled onto the Black Marsh campaign setting and have fallen in love with it.  I could see this description above as a very large entry for a hex.

 If anyone would like more, I would be glad to work on this more.  Or, if you want to try a challenge yourself, attempt it.
Also, if you want to challenge me, go for it.  Would love to try this more often.

Pondering thngs...

So, first off, no podcast this week.  (Unless I can corral some of my various gaming circles together that is.)

Second, been thinking of a few things for my own heartbreaker D&D game.  One thing that I have come to is about magic-users.  Wizards.  Mages.  Twinkle fingers.  Clerics.  Druids, illusionists and Priests, oh my!

Sorry if this is a random list of thoughts, to tired to go back and go through this again.  (What is new?)

The idea that I have for this game is to encompass as much of the Old School games as possible.  The idea is you could play a 1E magic-user, a 2E specialist,  a OD&D elf or a 1E illusionist and be able to play all together in some semblance of a game together.  (I am sure that some of you are thinking this sounds much like the first rumblings of D&D Next.  It does, I will admit.)

The big question was, well, how are you going to get everything to work?  The answer is, I'm not.  There are going to be thing that don't work.  Yet, I also have a big problem with gamer ADD as well as a bit of ADD when it comes to writing as well.

One thing I stumbled upon, while looking for my Arms and Equipment guide for a 2E game I am playing on Mondays, was the Necromancer handbook.  This was an amazing splatbook, in my opinion.  It made me realize that there might be room for a straight out necromancer from the very beginning, instead of building them up as you would with other specialists.  The necromancer is very different.  He can;t be played by just anyone.  Their spell selection is smaller and more focused, yes I know that is for all of the 2E specialists.  Yet, the necromancer is special and unique.  He is one who dabbles with the forces of life and death, light and dark.  That is not something to be taken lightly.

What about the illusionist?  Or the druid?  My design goal is to use spells from the 1E handbook for these two specialists.

What about specialty priests?  Well, I had an interesting thought about that.  In OD&D, a cleric didn't cast a spell at first lvl.  What if a specialty priest can cast at first level?  But, it is only those who have high wisdom.  (I think I might have to fudge the numbers a little to make it more OD&D-like for those things.)  Also that is a priest, someone who can cast at first lvl.  A cleric is someone who is more martial in status.

Anyway, just a few random thoughts for today.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New podcast...and some thoughts

First off, the podcast is here.

Second, been mulling over and starting to put together some rules for my own D&D heartbreaker.  My idea is to basically make this a "kitchen sink" model.  I am going be throwing in as much as I can from Original to 2E.  However, I am going to use the OGL as a baseline.

But, I am also going to be throwing in house rules.  All kinds of house rules.  Rules I have garnered from friend and from the OSR blogsphere.  And, that is the one issue.  I plan to have a page, or more, thanking everyone for putting out their ideas.  I know I will probably never be able to sell the thing, yet would there be any issue from anyone else if I did publish it?  Even if I did thank the people, do I have to be specific?  Or could I just have the page thanking all of my fellow bloggers for their helpful ideas?

I ask because there is a two or three page pdf out there in the OSR that had a bunch of house rules and it was specific on who and where the rule was from.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Podcast and quick update.

Podcast is here.  We finally got back to it and I think that we should be getting back to a regular schedule of getting podcasts out.

Did another playtest, and more will be said about that next time.  Or, listen to the podcast and it gives you many of my thoughts.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts for the OSR about D&D Next...

I know, two blog posts in one day, wow!


Earlier, I was reading some stuff Jeff posts over here.  He makes an excellent point.  Yes, there should be some sort of grinding for those who want a more "old school" feel to this new game.  I know mnay would probably say, "Why not just go back and use the old stuff?"  Good point again.

But, I can see much potential in the little bare bones play test put out by WotC.  I can see hacking away at some of the stuff, like the HD mechanic and the extended and short rest.  And, I can see bolting on bits and pieces from other games, making some kind of game that isn't quiet D&D Next, nor "old school."

I think there is a happy medium out there, and it might be D&D Next.  How?  Well, if you look at the play test, yes there isn't much there.  But, that can be a very good thing.  Use it how you want to use it.  Get back to WotC and say, "Hey this is what I did and I liked it because of X."  Or, "I didn't like this or this, this is how I houseruled it."  You never know, it might help.  Or, WotC might take your idea and throw it away.  Who knows.

Personally, I am liking many aspects of this new iteration of the rules.  There are somethings that are a little wonky, yet they can be smoothed over with either a house rule or maybe waiting until we get to the next "patch" in a few weeks.

One thing it has done is spur me towards re-thinking my own game world and how to integrate these rules into the rule systems that I use.  I love the fact that they use the Caves of Chaos and can't wait for more..

One of the big things that helped was the idea of this small sandbox, the Caves.  I plan on using it, to some extent, yet there needs to be a base, and people and allies and enemies and just that small little setting has me thinking and plotting more and more.

Of course, this is all my opinion...what do you all think?

D&D Next Playtest Part two

Well, I was able to get to a playtest last night of D&D Next.  Though, I didn't go in as the DM, but as a player.  That is fine, since I might be able to get some players together for a playtest as a DM soonish.

I must say that I like it!  I went in with three other players, well ok let me back up...

The VERY first thing I did was play with just the DM and I was running three characters.  The Human priest, the dwarf fighter and the halfling rouge.  I went into the cave on the right, the first one on the second level and was almost wiped out by the orcs there.  The fighter went down, the priest ran off with the dwarf dragging behind him and the halfing, well the halfling couldn't do much.  (I was lucky that the DM allowed for the other two members of the playtest to be nearby and ready to lend aid.  POtherwise, I would have been smoked.

But, then I had help with some other players and when we started again, we were able to destroy the orc lair.  We had a nearly full playtest, the only class not used was the rouge.  Which I might try if given a chance down the line.  I played the human priest of Pelor.  However, it almost cost the dwarf his life, since the wizard decided to use grease to great effect.  Then, thought using his shocking grasp would be a way to take down a prone enemy.  He did not realize it might ignite the grease. Or, that pouring water on the table (which was on fire) would spread the grease fire around.  (Yes, the mage wasn't thinking clearly, at all.)

Overall, I will say that the playtest was fun.  I like the advantage/disadvantage mechanic.  I am still sort of offput by the at-will powers of magic missile and radiant lance.

I was part of the Live Chat put on by D&D Next and they did say they would probably tone done the spells.  Which, I like, yet I don't want magic missile to go back to 4E with a static number.  I would say bump it back up to an actual spell.  Yes, it can only be used as often as it was memorized, but giving a mage a spam button, and the priest too, felt wonky to me.

I know that without them, most people will see mages and clerics as "useless" after using their spells.  A wizard or mage doesn't lose the ability to cast, he is still a mage.  He has just grown tired and cannot channel the arcane forces anymore.  I would say if you want to keep "spamming" the magic missile button, then that is fine.  Yet, there must be a cost to it.  It starts to wear away at your CON stat, or eats away at hit points or something.

However, I did think of a compromise.  Allow for the magic missile to be the cantrip d4+1, yet it does not scale.  The spell magic missile, that you could get at 1st level, does scale as you level up.

Friday, May 25, 2012

D&D Next Playest Part one

I am calling this part one because I'm hoping the second part will include a playtest in the near future.

I have been looking it over, after many errors that might have been WotC misjudging the volume of people, a simple oversight or them messing up.  The short answer is, yeah they had trouble when putting it out this morning, yet it is now in my little hands now.

Second, I must say so far, without having any chance to truly play it yet, there is some 3E stuff, blended with 4E ideas, with a dash of the older school ideas.  I will say there are things I like and things I don't like.  Can't really go into things, because of the rules set forth by WotC.

IF they set forth these rules, in book format, I would buy it and run it with a few bits of tinkering.  More later...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Been awhile...

Many things have happened, I did not expect that hiatus to hit me.  I apologize, I was working on a novel and then things sort of slipped away from me.  Yet, it happens.  This is just going to be a shotgun kind of update.

I have still been gaming, yet not as much.  I have run two sessions of my 1st ed. Sydell game for my Sunday group and that first session was great because I had more than one player finally.  We had a full group delve back into Stonehell.  Then, just last Sunday I took up the DM mantle again and only two people were able to show.  We soldiered on for awhile, then called a end of session when they had cleared out a nice chunk of a section.  I must say that Michael Curtis and his Stonehell project are amazing.  (I know I have been a little coy about what I was using for a bit.  Don't care.  I trust my players to not rush out and buy it or download the thing.  Plus, if they did, it wouldn't help.  I change a few things here and there to either make things more fun for me or to blend in more story to the game itself.)

The other game I have played a session or two of since I last wrote this blog was a steam punk sci-fi game my friend created called Into the Black.  Starting to really get into the meat of the game now, which I have been hoping would come a little sooner.  But, it hit with the force of a dump truck and sent us reeling.  I am more on board now than before.

Finally got back to reading the blog list, though I know I will never read all the ones I missed.  One that I saw recently grabbed me.  GROGNARDIA had an interesting idea.  The idea has some merit to it and I know that some of my players would love to give it a shot for the challenge.  Others would say I like "hard mode" to much.

Also, been playing some Diablo III and until recently, I wasn't impressed.  I have it on normal difficulty, plus I am a very casual gamer when it comes to video games of all kinds.  Yes, exploring the land of Sanctuary is fun and hearing the lore of the different creatures has a benefit.  But ultimately, it is a hack-n-slash and that never appealed much to me.  I am sure I will go back and play more of it, though there is no great NEED to finish it or keep playing.

Last Monday, Mike Mearls wrote up another column for Legends & Lore, talking about hit points.  It is an interesting read and I know many on the OSR blogshpere have already ripped into it.  I am going to focus on the survey option that he had at the end of the article.  It was short, and at one point there was a chance for me to give feedback.  Below is what I wrote verbatim:

I feel that there is a trend to get "back" those lost when the game went from 3.5 to 4.  Yet not enough is done to get back the older edition players.  To many of the "old guard" gamers are told we hear you, yet the feel of the column trends towards those lost recently.  I could be wrong, yet this is my opinion, and I have ever hope to swallow my words along with a big piece of crow pie.

Every word of it I feel is true.  So much of the D&D Next sounds like it is geared towards those who played 3.5 before the change over.  And, to many of us who stopped keeping up with the newer editions, though didn't stop playing the game, there is a sense that we were left in the cold.  I keep hearing the rumors that this game will allow for any edition lover to come to, play their favorite version and allow others to play their own without any problems.  And, if true, the last sentence I wrote will be just as true.

I LOOK FORWARD to being proved wrong by WotC.  I am LOOKING FORWARD to this new edition, for many reasons.

Because, if nothing else, I am sure I will find something that I can cherry pick out of upcoming play test or the rules whenever they come out, and incorporate them into my games.

And, I think I can add another writing project to my ever expanding list.  To write down my own house rules.  COMPLETE LIST, not hey that is a neat rule, hey that is cool.  Then, forget them six months down the line.  I know that is going to take a great deal of time because of all of the different games that I play.  It is something to think about.

Thank you for reading the post, I will be back, hopefully before next month. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


So, been hiding out, trying to game and rarely finding a game to play.  Also, had to move some stuff, from my move in Jan.  So, that sucked up time on Sunday.

I did happen to play my buddy's d20 sci-fi steampunk game called Into the Black.  It is fun.  Loving the set up of the world and the group is some extent.  There is always problems with the crew.  Part of the fun of the game really.

Been mulling over things and, after reading this guy and Zak's hack, I want to try and work on my own system or hack.  I have a few ideas I have been keeping on the back burner, I think it might be time to dredge them up for a bit and shake them out.

Short post, I know.  But, hey, I will b posting more soon.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Into Nightwick Abbey

From the journal of Erasmus of Kars:

I heard the murmuring in the Medusa's Head that there were some who were heading back towards the ruins of Nightwick Abbey again.  The last time I went in, I made a nice little haul for myself.  Yet, whatever has been brewing there has done something to the town itself, for my silver that once kept me in food and spell components now was no longer good enough.  I donned my robes, grabbed my stout staff and gear and spellbook and went out to the Frogling Rupert outside of town to wait for the others.

I like the Froglings, and though I don't pray to the gods of this place, I find it strange that the Froglings can't join us in town because they worship other things.  I think it is just a way to keep the little green guys guys down.

I found the group and joined in, naming myself Erasmus.  The demons in the wind started to cackle as I came to rest my mismatched eyes on the group.  A cleric of Law, a Shazi or something to that effect, a fighter type--I think in banded mail and girded with weapons--named Tisqualalqual and the grave digger Abraham whom I've never talked to--his eyes able to stare at you and the wall at the same time unnerve me a little. (Yes, my eyes are strange as well, but at least I look at you with both the green and blue one at the same time.) We headed towards the abbey and skirted around the edge of it to the graveyard below.  Some of them had been here before and found an entrance to the mausoleum and wished to further explore it.  I thought why not, since the dead never stay still very long in this place.  We also picked up two hirelings, Hammish a fighting man and a porter who I can't remember his name, sorry mate.

After  bit of exploration into the mausoleum we found the room with four statues that the grave digger kept talking about and went about tying sacks onto the heads.  I thought he was a fool until the bag started to expand when we opened the first of the four sarcophagi in the room.  (I know the demon in my head laughed all the more from my surprise.)  Then, another Frogling by the name of Fredrick joined out little troupe.

At that moment, some eldritch ball of energy floated into the room and exuded thick ropes of slime.  All were safe except myself and Tisqual.  I was able to slip away after the initial barrage.  Yet, the thing found Tisqual to its liking for it started to suck away at the man's body.  His cheek and face grew dessicated.  The rest of us tried to attack the thing to little avail.  I even threw magic at it, and it only empowered the thing.  Tisqual died in the battle and the thing just floated away.

The sarcophagi were looted, four knights with rings, plate and silver crosses, we left Tisqual in the room and headed back to town.  That night we sold a majority of the booty.  I kept one of the garent rings and one of the signet rings--you knew know when it might come in handy.  Abraham kept a cross for himself and I think Fredrick did as well.

The next day we left to foray into the abbey again, were joined by the dilettante Lazzaro.  An odd fellow who spoke of magic and other things like he had dabbled in them yet knew nothing of the deeper science behind it.  He joined us as we headed back to the abbey and we all explored the ruins of Nightwick.  It had been some time since I had been there, and that strange growing kudzu of mauve had an eldritch affect on the stone.  It was growing them.  It seems the abbey is trying to repair itself.  I noted that for myself and while I did, the graver digger and the others went to look for the source of the kudzu.  They found it and started to dig it up.

They found a thick, thirty foot mass of root.  Most of them started to attack it, wanted to destroy the thing.  I was still unsure as to what to do, when someone threw oil at it and lit the thing on fire.  A thick purple haze roiled from it, along with the screams of something.  We even found holy items affect it and cause small burns and blisters to appear on it.

We lost the Frogling Fredrick to the haze, he passed out and while Shazi and Lazzaro--who talked of dissecting the Frogling if he didn't wake--tended to him, I found myslef having to follow the gravedigger into the treeline to try and get more trees for kindling.  I thought it was a better to go with him that have him go off on his own and end up dead.

It was a good thing, for we spied a group of goblins coming towards the ruins and the two of us hid.  We were soon joined by the rest of the group who spirited away with the Frogling, who was unhurt.  Though, part of me would like to have watched this dissection.  I am intrigued to find out what sets a Frogling apart from a human and frog.

The goblins went to investigate the fire and were transfixed by the haze.  We surprised them with a rope that we held taunt and were able to drop half of them into the haze.  Yet, we also took in the haze ourselves.  The remaining goblins ran, while we all had horrible visions.  We lost the torch bearer, who tore at his eyes.  Myself, the visions were things better left unsaid for now.

We returned to the town, then a quick foray to Halfdan the Black, another magic-user who is a little to familiar with his black bear friend.  We talked and found another group was sent in to collect specimens from an underground garden and haven't returned.  Also, we gave him some of the kudzu in hopes of finding where the center of it might be.

Our final raid into the abbey was brief, yet we explored the north tower, found it growing as the rest of the accursed place and then went below to fight a few madmen who wore human skin as armor.  One of them wore it well, and it was undamaged int he fight.  Lazzaro took the armor, starting where he was from, it was almost natural.  I shudder to think what type of place that is.

We returned home and I was ready to be done adventuring for some time.  I gained gold this time for my share of the loot, gained some spells from Halfdan the Black and took it as a good sign the demon was laughing in the wind.

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Game Updates, ideas and hating on Blogger

Hello, all:

At first, I was going to try and do the "April Challenge" that some of the other bloggers are doing out there, yet in the end I took the advice of Alexis over at the Tao of D&D.  (I would link the actual blog post, but I searched for it and the page is missing.  Oh well.)  To boil it down, what he said was, "Why bother?  I'll be posting when I can and I don't see a need to do a 'theme' for the month just because of the ways the days line up.  I know some bloggers are doing the April Challenge, and they have some interesting stuff.  They should be on my sidebar somewhere, but that leads me to my next point.

I hate the new Blogger interface.  It seems a little clunky and the previous one was working fine.  The big issue I have with it is when I try to open up several blogs at once, I do that throughout the day, this new interface only opens one window and stacks the blogs one on top of the other so I have to hit the back button on the browser.  The truth is, sometimes--well more and more now--I read these blogs on my iPad and it is frustrating to have to touch the blog title, wait for the screen to pop up and select open in a new tab and keep doing that for all the blogs I want to read.  (ALSO, I am a Luddite, so if anyone knows how I can fix that on my Mac or iPad, please drop me a line in the comment section of dragolite 1 at gmail dawt com.)  ALSO, it keeps saying I'm not folowing anyone when I have something like thirty to fifty blogs I follow!  That grinding noise you hear is my teeth...

On to gaming stuff...
Last Sunday, I was able to continue my 1E campaign with three players, then one dropped out.  He was on Skype and continued to have problems.  He should be joining again next week, I hope.  The other two PCs, Kael the Elven Ranger and Cardis the human thief along with two NPCs, Fulnoch the halfling thief and Sister Thersail, cleric of Theran, delved into the first level of Stonehell Prison.  They did not get very far, since they also were dealing with several issues above ground on the surface of Stonehell.  (I must say, it is an amazing megadungeon.)  They stopped, after only exploring a few rooms.  Didn't camp, just put the game on pause.  Which I thought was a little weird myself.  But, I think it was because of the truncated session we had.

Then, on Monday, some friends came over and we did a modified d20 game called Into the Black.  A steampunky, Victorian space game.  It was interesting.  My character is a treasure hunter, looking for old tech of Earth-That-Was.  (He found a weed whacker and a few crewmembers and I were having a blast deciding what to do with it.  The first thought was a weapon of some kind, putting either a bunch of razor blades or made a modified hubcap on the end.  It was silly fun.)  Overall, I had some fun.

There is one more item I want to touch upon before ending this post.  I have brought it up before, I believe, in a previous post.

Zak S. was playing around with a Cthulhu game set in the 1920's with the player's having some kind of super power or something like that.  That got me thinking about using something similar, taking cues from a few other blogs.  Then. I stumbled upon this guy and it got me thinking of something that would be very much like Zak's idea and smashing it together with Victorian Gothic instead.  With Zak, it was horror in one way, I think my idea is more oppressive and dark.  Yet, I want to have it in a world that isn't typical 1890's London or 1920's New York.  This is a world with steampunk tech, and maybe something even more sinister.  The Mi-go and Elder Things thrum away behind the scenes while the cultists of Cthulhu run amok doing their own evils to the world.

This is just an idea, but it could be fun.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rituals and Old School D&D

First off, if any of you know me or have read the blog, you know I'm not a fan of 4E.  However, a fellow blogger, Untimately, wrote something up that has been buzzing around in my skull for a bit.  I have since gone back to the Type IV PHB, all three of them, and looked at these rituals again.

The thing that gets my creative juices flowing is looking at some of the rituals and thinking, "Ok, that makes sense."  Other, like Forbiddance, I think back to the older edition and think that the old school idea is better.  So, what to do?  Well, hack it to my own needs of course!

Since I brought it up, let's look at Forbiddance:

The ritual basically keeps an area warded from scrying.  Depending upon the roll, it could be a big area or a smaller area.

Nice trick, but let's look at the old 2E handbook:

It seals the area from teleportation, plane shifting and ethereal creatures.  PLUS, it does damage, 2d6 for a different alignment along the law-chaos axis and 4d6 for a difference in the good-evil axis.

To me, the second option sounds like something I want to have as a ritual.  Something very big that will help the players, or the NPCs.  Which is something I would want.  NPCs should have access to the same things as the players.

These rituals, in my opinion, miss the mark the same way feats missed the mark in 3E.  Feats were an interesting way to distinguish one fighter from another.  Yet, most players I know would always take the same ones over and over again.  And, the word "feat," at least IMO, means something extraordinary.  Not something everyone gets at when they have survived for a certain amount of time, i.e. go up a level.  (I know I have probably ranted about feats before, so I apologize if this is old hat.)

Looking at the two versions of Forbiddance, yes I'm trying to get back to a point, I think there is nothing wrong with merging the two together.  Making this ritual a priest spell only works for me as well.  I'm not sold on letting anyone "master" a ritual.  There are some I could see letting several classes have access to them, yet most I think are for the druid, the wizard or cleric only, even the bard ones have some merit to them.

Now, let us go to the cost of it.  The ritual from Type IV is 5,000 gp and 5 healing surges. Casting time is 30 minutes and it is up for 24 hours.
2E is the priest's holy symbol, a 1,000 gp of "rare" incense per 60 ft. cube.  If there is a password that is to be added, the incense must be worth 5,000 gp. Casting time is six rounds and it is permanent.

Now, I have always balked at the idea of hand waving certain things.  One thing I do balk at is something that happened in many of the later editions.  "Give x amount of gold and you get 'needed' items for the potion/item/etc."  I am someone who wants to come up with a list of stuff.  You need the glands of a basilisk to help make that scroll of protection from petrification.  You could buy it, but how is that fun?  Go out and adventure and find one of those nasty things.  The needed material for the Forbiddance ritual in my game would be incense, yet this is something that needs to be found or created.  Yes, this might put more work in my hands, since I have to come up with that stuff.  But, it is part of the fun of being a DM.  And, the casting time and duration are interesting.  the old school version is about a minute, and it lasts forever.  The 4E one casting time is a half hour and it only lasts twenty-four hours.

Also, the deal with the healing surges.  I kinda like that.  I might make it so that the spell takes away a few points of CON, or maybe it sucks away hit points, since I dislike the idea of healing surges--at least the way that 4E uses them.

Heck, two things that just came to me for the material for this ritual.  Incense infused with either the tear of an angel or the blood of a demon, depending upon what the alignment is of the priest casting the spell.  Both of those would work well for this spell.

Granted, I suppose there could be a less powerful ritual that would keep scrying away, one that is mobile or only lasts so long.  That would be something that would a much lower money sink that the big uber spell above.  Something more like the 4E variant.

The point of this long ramble is that even I have found a few things about 4E that I like and can hack into my older school games.  Anyone else?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Game Update and thoughts...

First off, go over to wizards and see what Mike M. is talking about this week.  Then, if you want, look at Joseph's thought here.

I'll wait, playing Bubble Witch Saga on Facebook...seriously, why is this game addicting, Bubble Trouble was awesome!  This isn't as good, and yet...

And...we are back...
I agree with Joseph on many of the points that he raised.  The main issue that Mike is bringing up with "balance" and the like is, I think, for the neophyte DM.  Those who want to step into, or are thrust into, the DM seat.  The players are hungry for an adventure, your DM from last week is on a DMing hiatus because of a massive game he finished last week.  And, you want to take over and start a game.  Some are intimidated by that prospect and the help that Mike is offering is something that could sate players for a time.  Yet, I am sure many of those who have taken up the mantle of DM find that the modules and formula soon gets boring and we strike out on our own, trying things that might blow up in our face or cause a TPK.  But we learn, and if we are smart we redesign and put more effort into the next session of the campaign.

So, while I agree that this whole "balance" thing is a little silly, it isn't all that bad.  I don't believe in it.  I think there are times when something comes up that the PCs can't handle what that DM throws at them and they need to run.  Yet, for those new to the game, there is an adjustment to being in the DM seat.

And, even with me and running games for as long as I have, granted it isn't as long as some people even in my own gaming group but I digress, I am always looking for new things to do in dungeons and the like.

In the game that, at the moment, is a solo game with a buddy of mine I was running Death Frost Doom.  There was his character, an elven ranger and an NPC halfling thief.  For those unfamiliar or currently running this module, please skip to the end.  For those who have run it, you can cut-n-paste of highlight the following section:

The ranger came to the "plant" before room 22 and when he was close, the thing reacted since he had a torch.  The NPC, seizing on an oppurtunity, dashes through the gap, grabbed what he needed and had the ranger threaten the "plant" again to cause a gap.

I have been grappling with what I had the thief do, to some extent.  Part of me thinks I might have taken something away from the ranger playing.  Yet, at the same time, there was no Vomit Forth of Hell.  I'm not asking, "Did I run the module 'right?'" Because there is no wrong way to run it.

One thing I have discovered about running this game is, I want to do more gaming.  Very soon, I think I will restart my G+ game soon.  Thinking of running two different games.  One set near where my current player is running his ranger.  Redthorne Keep.  The other one I might restart, or ret-con, back in the main starting area I had for the G+ group.

But one thing I am really starting to think will be cool is to try a Torch&Sixgun game.  Just something that drifts into my conscious now and then.  A Wild West and Weird game.

And, finally, there is a game that I heard about that really sounds cool and I want to either get in on it or take a spin myself and try it is the game Zak S. talks about here.

And, I hope to try and get more blog posts in, yet that is as always, something I say very often.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gaming update and some 5E thoughts

First off, I had a game session this Sunday.  I was amped because it was the first session of my 1E game in a world of my own creation.  I get to my friend's house and no one showed!  Only the guy who lives there and myself.  We burned some time creating some other characters and he also talked at length about what he wanted to play until he decided to play an elven ranger.  (I must say that rangers in 1E are wicked.  Some of the abilities he has access, especially the bonus to damage for giant-kin...along with the expanded list in Unearthed Arcana..makes for one big list of baddies.)  We got the game off the ground with just him, I dangled a tantalizing series of plot threads and waited.  He took one and I am curious to see what happens.

Yet, I was still annoyed that no one else showed.  It deflated my elation of starting a new game.  It sucked out some of the fun as I look at the binder of info, wondering if I want to keep going.  (I will, just still annoyed by the lack of players.  I will survive.)

The second part is an update about 5E.  Apparently, Mike Mearls has an issue with turning undead.  It is an interesting article.  I have my own issues with it as well.  Yet, I think one thing that might help Mike is to take a look at LotFP website, download the grindhouse rules and check out one of the first lvl spells that clerics can take.  (It is turn undead.)  I will say that Mike makes a certain amount of sense about turning undead and the opposite of animate dead.  Making it more of a spell and giving it a way to blast some undead, or turning other undead is something I might consider for this game or others...IF I can get some players.

One last thought, I might just go back to Google Plus and attempt to run this game there as well.  I might try for some LL with the AEC, or just the very simple and elegant LotFP ruleset...something to consider.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The somewhat overdue post about the Temple of Elemental Evil...

Well, it has been an interesting ride.  For almost two years, the gaming group I am part of on Sundays finally took down the Temple of Elemental Evil last night.  It has been a LONG haul.  Taking down the temple is a trial-by-fire, a badge on honor amongst old school gamers.  The only thing that could gain more fame is if we tackled the Tomb of Horrors and came out intact.

Yet, our DM is stepping down for a time to refocus and find something else.  He has had the temple on his mind for about five years now, tried to run it three times.  Third time is the charm I believe.  (Well, technically four since we did re-boot it-but hey whatever...)

It feels good to have finished something as epic as the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Now, I know that there might be some people out there that will say, "Isn't there a sequel to it?"  In a way, yes there is and in a way, no.

There was something called "Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil," a very thick book that I own and have looked through.  It has some amazing ideas, yet I can't say it is a sequel.  It is a module that uses some of the same ideas, similar places and has a little bit of the same feel.  Yet, the way I see it, "Return" is a separate entity  from "Temple," IMO.

The past month or so, I have been ramping up my own DM thoughts on what I want to run for this group.  I have been running a game on Google+, which is fun and I am going to be using the same world I am using in that game as I am for the Sunday group.  Yet, with a different rule set.  The Sunday game is going to be 1st edition AD&D, with some variations and house-rules that I know will come up at some point and time.  I will probably post them here as well.

The game system is somewhat new to me.  I say somewhat because I have played 2nd Ed. for many years.  Is it the same thing?  By no means.  Yet, I feel the core of it is the same.  Plus, something Gygax stated in the foreword to 1st was "These are guidelines, not set in stone."  It is implied that these rules are allowed to be used or discarded however we wish.  Since I have recently jumped on the bandwagon of the DIY gaming, I look at all rules as things I can plunder and use for my own games.  It might be 1st Edition in the beginning, yet I see the game morphing already.

We shall see...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some sad news, yet light out there.

First off, I am a little sad to report that Bat of Ancient Vaults is ending his daily blog.  I am sure he will probably try and keep going or at least keep his toe in the blogging OSR community.  He has inspired me on more than one occasion.

There is also the Old Stuff day that I will throw up a little later in the post.  (Good or not, who knows, I like it.)

Been reading more than a few blogs over at B/X BLACKRAZOR and I think he has some interesting opinions of assassins and paladins.  I like both classes, never been able to play an assassin as of yet myself.  But, I like them.  And, I could see both of them being used in a dungeon delving situation.  (He does give a reason for why a paladin would go into some dungeons.  And, I really like the way he sees paladins as a class.  Makes me rethink some conversations I have had with a friend about paladins.

ANYWAY, the point is I could see any class playing a game of D&D.  Yes, the assassin at low level isn't going to be able to do much.  Yet, a campaign is more than just a dungeon delve.  At least to me.  Sessions can be spent trying to learn the history of the dungeon, or a specific monster or NPC that lives down there.  (Also, Blackrazor does point out that the game he was in with his gnome assassin was a bad fit, the paladin is a much better fit.)  The campaign I am tinkering with now has more dungeons that you can shake a stick at, yet the PCs don't have to delve in them if they don't want.

Anyway, a link to my old stuff.

Friday, February 24, 2012

20 Q. and A. from a fellow blogger and a few odds and ends.

Hey all...Brendan over here, has a list of 20 questions.  Thought it might be fun to answer them.  (He is a cool guy and I have gamed with him on ConstantCon, we died in a TPK.  Was fun.)

Already, I can hear several people saying, "How can you like a game where you die at the end?"  Well, I suppose it has to do with being a little relaxed and calm when it comes to games.  Yes, I will be the first to admit that I do put work into my characters, I think up back stories and motivations for the character.  Also, I will admit that having played the Temple of Elemental Evil--almost to the conclusion (long story and a separate post) --I have lost a fare share of characters.  Yet, I still have fun because it is more than the characters, it is the experience of playing the game.  Should every game end with  TPK, NO!  But, if through stupidity, rash action or dumb luck the character dies then so be it.  One thing about people who find new rpgs, the 3x and onward crowd, so pleasing is that the players have more power.  The PCs are the center of the world.  They are ADVENTURERS!!!  And, yes they can die, but it takes so much more for that to happen that if they die they feel like it was a monumental struggle that was epic.  They would look at the older editions and see how easily you can die and they refuse.  Oh well...

Anyway, on to the questions:
Answering the best way I can.  Mostly going by 2E games I run, though also adding in stuff for a 1E game I want to try.

  1. Ability scores generation method? 3d6, arrange to taste, Roll nine times, the six basics as well as PERception and COMliness and then drop the lowest.
  2. How are death and dying handled? 0 is unconscious, -10 dead.
  3. What about raising the dead? it can happen, might cost some gold, or a quest.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? roll them on and we will find a place for them.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Individual on a d10 (Yes, I know it is "wrong" don't care.)
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? 1 is a fumble, 20 is a crit when it comes to combat.  Fumble is either a strike at a comrade, bowstring breaks or you might drop your weapon.  Crits are rolling damage twice, then add in all modifiers.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? And "called shots" to the head you get a bonus to AC.  Otherwise, you can be stylish.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? OH YEAH!
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Gandalf said it best, "FLY you fools!"
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes (But, I am working on trying to figure out the mechanic behind them a little more.)
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? Yep.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Try to keep a track of things so you don't have a dragon's hoard in your backpack.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? You do have to train, yet this doesn't happen every lvl.  You get one spell automatically, which I will roll up.  When you lvl: you get to roll up hit die and if your a caster you get the spell.  Anything like more weapon skills or if I'm using other skills, then you need to wait for some down time.
  14. What do I get experience for? R-O-L-E playing, exploring, monsters, treasure-used to carouse and spending it on stuff.  And, if you can make me laugh and entertain me you get a little extra.  But, don't call it out or you don't get it.  Also, figure out a magic item without using a spell.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?  Give me a good description and I will tell you if there is a trap, or make you roll with a big bonus.  You just roll die, I get bored and you start blowing trap finding rolls.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Yes, retainers will be a good idea.  Morale is by Grindhouse LotFP.
  17. How do I identify magic items? If you want to be boring, the spell Identify.  If you want to try and do something fun and maybe get some xp, try to figure it our with the spell.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? NO. No. Well, there is a gnome who likes to sell them...I don't completely trust him, but I'm just the DM, the score keeper, nothing more.  Potions, I guess you could find them or buy one or two from somewhere.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? You can.  High level, and devoting time, blood and tears into it.  This is something you need to do once you have moved past the dungeon delving stuff and gained a stronghold or lab--or a VERY NICE npc wizard will let you borrow theirs.  For a fee...
  20. What about splitting the party? Well, if you wish to, you may.  Was that thundering or are you rolling encounter dice?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

5E, D&D Next, or whatever...

So, I woke up today to get my place ready to see my girlfriend, and I thought I have time to check on a few blogs.  I scroll through my list--a very long list of blogs what can I say I have found many people with interesting ideas out there--and I come across Alexis and his Tao of D&D.

Yes, sometimes this guy bugs me, yes sometimes I applaud his efforts.  But, todays post he pointed out something I had missed.  A new Legends and Lore column.  I also missed the original poll and was a little bummed.  I thought the thing comes out on Wed. not Monday.  Oh well.

The thing that gets me is more than a few bloggers are going on and on about how they don't want to be part of D&D Next or 5E or whatever you want to call it.  I am kinda curious.  I have signed up and waiting to see what happens.

Yet, there is something in the back of my mind when I read these other blogs.  All of them decrying how WotC has lost its way and that company will never get back those people's money even if you bring back the 1E books--which they are doing and, yes I'm probably going to get them as well.  How no matter what WotC does, their edition was the best and will never stop using the three little books or the glut that was 2E or 3E.

Guess what guys, you can still do that.  WotC isn't going to come to your house, take away your computer and old editions and burn them in front of you and shout for show as they count the tears they collect from you.  Play the game you guys want.  If you are a DIY guy, maybe you will find something you like in D&D Next.  Maybe you won't.

How about we just stop the speculation and beating of a horse that, never mind dead; it hasn't been spawned yet!  Go back to your arguments about why infravision is broken or not, how to properly use Weapon Type vs. Armor or how effective/ineffective weapon speed factors are.  Or rant about how WotC screwed the pooch, I'm not some holier than thou man myself.  I sometimes rant about Type IV myself.  When I first started this blog I ranted to them.  Here.  There is some anger there.  Still feel that way from time to time.

In closing, look guys this is a game.  We play it to have fun.  Do what you want, play what you want.  You can do that--last time I checked.  If you need to get something off your chest, do it.  But, maybe we can go on to do something else.

What do you say?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So, been running my Sydell Google Plus game for three weeks now and I must say it is fun.  The players have been changing a little, yet for the most part, having a blast and so are my players.  And, did another session of the Type IV game and while it is still not my favorite, it is fun at times.  I know it will never take place of the older school editions, yet as a diversion it is an interesting game.  I will say that after playing a few sessions, I agree much more with this guy.

Now, I will say that every once and again, I like the idea of having the Combat as Sport come up.  As a set piece for a PC or a group facing off against another group of NPCs of equal level.  Yet, not all the time.  Most of the time, the Combat as War is the way to go for me.  It just makes more sense to me.  I am not trying to spark any kind of war on the editions, just stating this is my opinion on the matter.  (I understand that to some, it seems kind of silly for me to say that.  Yet, there are many who will start bitching and complaining about how I am wrong.)

There was talk of maybe doing a sci-fi game soon with some of the group.  I would love for that to happen.  I have been thinking of doing something more sci-fi like for a game.  Should be interesting.  Keep you informed.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post 100!

Yeah, I know it is a little silly to be celebrating one hundred posts.  But hey, it is a milestone of some sort.  Won't be doing another celebration until 200,and maybe not even then.  But, one hundred is always something that is big IMHO.

So, two game session reports that I have to tell you all about.

The first was last nights foray into 4E territory.  It wasn't horrible.  It did sort of feel like I was playing a video game at times, especially with the combat.  Yet, I have been reached the point where I am over the edition wars.  I don't mind trying a 4E game and maybe doing a small campaign.  Yet, I don't know how it would last over a long campaign.  I could be wrong.  It was fun to blow off some steam and just hit things with magic missile.  (I asked to use the Errata of 4E, magic missile is much weaker, yet it always hits.)  Yes, I am playing a mage.  I will say that, unlike the old school gaming, yes mages can use their magic every round.  But, there is a part of me that thinks this detracts from the game.  Magic users of all kinds have been characters that are smart, will see how the battle is playing out and help with a spell they know, and this also goes to what they memorize beforehand, keeping in mind that they might not run into something that could be hurt with the standard magic missile spell.

Granted the DM running the game thinks mages in previous editions are weak, "Fighters can fight all day and mages blow their wad and have to sit in the back and cower."  I disagree with this and he and I won't see eye to eye on this.  That is his opinion and he is more than welcome to it.  I am not trying to say my opinion is better than his.  In 4E, he has a great way to allow wizards and fighters to be on par with each other.  In the older editions of D&D, you need to play the characters differently.  (Or not.  You could wade into combat, fight off your spells and then use your staff or dagger to great effect.)

Now, I am going off on a tangent.  Back to the 4E game.  We fought goblins, collected their ears and are starting to make a name for ourselves.  I look forward to seeing where this goes.

The other game, I just finished running.  It is my own game using the LotFP rules.  Very old school feel to it.  We don't know what happened to the fighter from the last session, so he slept throughout most of the game.  The cleric and the mage were made aware of bandits coming into the storm cellar of the Gallow's Inn.  (I put up a link, this is not what I used, but was inspired by this guys blog post of the inn.)  They blew open the doors to the room with the sarcophagus with kindling and flour.  Then, blew up the emerging thing inside said sarcophagus.  (It was an undead priest of an evil deity.)  And a note to my players, I am sure you can keep in game and out of game information separate.  They then were rewarded with coin from the offering in the sarcophagus and the two were able to con the innkeeper not only into not kicking them out, but offering them rooms.  Two of the bandits escaped with their lives, the third was  cousin to the innkeeper and was killed "by accident" by the innkeeper.  His ear was later collected for the bounty.  And, then the two PCs, along with a new NPC fighter by the name of Cooper, left for the town of Garret's Loop.  And, they wait for the next session.

Two incidents, one from each of the games, comes to mind as showing how different the two rule systems are for 4E.  (If it sounds like I am bitching about 4E, I am not.  Just this came to me and I thought I would write down these two thoughts.)

In the 4E game, while we were going through the tunnel fighting goblins, we came across a wooden platform two goblins were on.  They started to throw little fire pots at us.  I wanted to use my scorching burst on the platform.  Against a target, there is a d20 roll against the targets Reflex.  Yet, it is a wooden post.  Even with my bonuses, I didn't even hit a DC of 10.  So, the burst didn't do anything.  Ok, cool.  We did destroy the goblins anyway, but it would have been cool to set the thing on fire.

In the LotFP gam, my players wanted to set a door on fire and explode it with flour.  No rules, none to really look up.  I just used what I know about particles in the air, like aerosolized flour, when it meets fire.  It goes BOOM.  So, the door burst into toothpicks, the stone was scored and the PCs were far enough away that it didn't cause any damage.  The second time, when the PC mage tried to blo the lid off the sarcophagus and the undead thing was coming out, he panicked, threw the lantern and ran.  He was sent flying and hit the other PC and an NPC.  He took a little damage.  Everyone thought it was great!

One system, many many crunchy rules that are adhered to.  One system, fewer rules and ones that can be changed or ignored as per the DM's desire.  IMHO, I like the system with less rules more.

As for what I am working on, cause I did mention in a previous post that I would tell you about it on this one, well I guess:

This is a real Frankenstein type of game:

-Using Raggi's skill system, LotFP with some of my own ideas thrown in.
-Zak's stat, race and maybe even his class ideas.  (Still fiddling with this part.  Mostly with special abilities)
-The 1E stat caps.  Ex. being a female elf can't have higher than a 16 Str.
-2E Skills&Powers for some customization
-3E idea of skill points (you get so many a lvl, but it would be MUCH lower.)
-1E/2E secondary skill role (It would help to roll this and then figure out if the PC gets another pip in one of the skills.)
-2E weapon proficiencies
-1E spell lists, for every class.  So, there would be a seperate Illusionist class.  And, yes 1E spell casting, so priests and druids need to mem a spell.

This was just an idea I have been tinkering with.  I think I would use most of the 2E combat, though have to fiddle with that as well since there are MANY optional rules.

But, one thing I will use for this game system/game...which might or might not every come to fruition, is if a caster is knocked below zero hit points, your spells are wiped from your mind.  Combat is something that should be DEADLY, and even if you knocked unconscious, there is going to be some kind of trauma.

I will keep you all informed on if I will continue with this whole system idea.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Penultimate post to 100!

Wow, I just realized I missed the 1 year birthday of this blog.  Many things have changed, some have not:

The podcast that my friends and I do is still on hiatus.  I might try to get that back soon, so look for it in Feb.

I am STILL grinding through the module The Temple of Elemental Evil.  Though, to go into a quick game story: the former bladesinger/delusional elf (still thinking he is a dragon) went to the Silver Consortium and was able to buy a Deck of Many Things.  [Henceforth known as mistake number 3, One being, "Hey, let's eat a dragon brain." Two "Hey, let's eat the brain of a spawn between a dragon and an evil deity!" (He lost a level.)]  After some roleplaying with several NPCs, he decided to use it--wanting to pull the card with wishes.  He drew three cards.  The first one removed all of his magic items.  (Sidenote, sorry I know there are many but information needs to be had, he has spent three years--out of game--building this character up.  He had a magnificent library inside his bag of holding, as well as his spellbook and ALL his money.)  The card went back into the deck and he drew it agian, so nothing happened.  The last one gave him an answer to his next dilemma.  The player has since said that his character sheet is a blank sheet now.  He sees everything through his possessions, which is kind of dumb in my point of view.  But each his own.  The one good thing that came from his sacrifice was we now know where the end game item is and have a good chance of getting in and out without having to take down all of the Temple in one long slow grind.  One can hope...

I have started to run a game on Google Plus.  The first session went very well.  I am very hopeful for this game to continue for some time.  My players enjoyed it and I am eagerly awaiting the next session.  (More on that tomorrow.)

My 2E game ground to a halt because of inter-party strife.  I will not go into details, but I seriously doubt that the game will get off the ground again.  I might take a break from doing any kind of GMing for awhile, except for the ConstantCon game.  (If you're looking for my game, look for Sydell.  People are more than welcome to come and jump in.)

Yet, even as I say I am not going to run, I look at the world I am running using the LotFP rules and I like them, yet there is a part of me that chafes, that says that this world needs to be added to, you can expand much more of it using your ideas.  (It might be the topic of my next blog, I am not sure.  But, I have this idea brewing for a very Frankenstein-like bogged together rule set.  Stay tuned.)  One thing that has me thinking of it is two other blogs, both of them talking about the assassin, here and here.  (JB goes on for three posts about the assassin, and I just now discovered his part four was cut short because he was taken from the campaign.  Read all about it on their blogs.)  Getting back to my own feelings, especially when Alexis talks about his ideas of the assassin, it gets me to think about my own views and that sparks ideas and starts to build up scenarios in my head and I see adventure paths set out before me.  Heck, I also picked up a compilation copy of Conan:  The Frost-Giant's Daughter and it has my head spinning out ideas for barbarians and building them into the world of Sydell as well.  Even the cavalier I have in the Tempe game sometimes makes me think about different factions I can add, sending me running for my journals to jot down notes.  (NOTE to my ConstantCon Players: I am not going to add in much for your game.  A few ideas might slip in, yet I am not going to be distracted and let the game slip away from me.  At least I hope not. ;-P)

It has been an interesting year for this blog.  The fact I only have 99 posts thus far does not mean I have somehow failed in my blogging.  I hope to try and get to 200 or more before the end of the year.  It is a goal, yet if I don't make it, I don't make it.  C'est la vie.

And, my final thoughts for today concern what I will be doing tonight.  I shall be playing 4E, yes the one I have earlier gnashed my teeth about and have tried to play and couldn't get into it.  Yet, I am an edition war free blog now, so I will not call it some dreaded name.  I have some apprehension playing in this, yet it is suppose to be a short game.  I will tell you all about it.  Hopefully tomorrow.

(Do I wish to end this with some allusion to the rap song, or the meme of Skyrim going around with 99 arrows?  I think not...)

Until next time, may evil be confused on its way to your door.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Google Plus game as a Game Master...

So, I ran a game on Google Plus for the first time today.  I must say that I had a blast doing it.  I had two people start out, then a third joined us.  Luckily for the group, he was a fighter named Stragg and could handle himself.  The other two players are a cleric, Sela (sorry I don't have the full name, sorry) devoted to the goddess of light and healing and the magic-user Crowtooth.  The game is using the LotFP rules, which means things are pretty quick and simple.

This is going to be a quick thing: the three adventurers entered the town of Mytheran, trying to find a job here to gain some money.  They agree to do two things, work as guards for a small wagon full of beer and wine and to hunt down bandits.  They set off the next day, entered into a forest and were attcked by four bandits.  They made short work of three of them, leaving the last one--Bob--alive.  They did cut off his left ear--for proof--and left for the Gallow's Inn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sydell Campaign-LotFP overview

I know I threw this up on ConstantCon, but I thought I would toss it up here as well.

Hey all, I'm running a game on ConstantCon.  This is the page for the LotFP rule version.

My blog is

The game is to be run at 2 p.m. PST/ 11 p.m. in France starting the 24th of Jan and every week after.
The system is LotFP (which can be found on his website here.)

Going to be using Google Plus: you can find me at dragolite 1 at gmail dot com or Googgle Plus under the name Lon Varnadore (my avatar is my girlfriend and myself with sunglasses looking into the camera.)

players: 4-6 1st lvl. characters only please.  FLAILSNAIL welcome.
This is a campaign that will be ongoing, I am looking for a group of players that will be able to get on week after week.  I do not mind changing the time to every other week if necessary.

Sydell is a place of dangers and wonders.  A land where most gods have passed on, and only a few grant power to their faithful.  Where the riches are all around, if you know where to look.  Where spell and sword might be enough to protect you.

This is a campaign that will be one of a number of plot lines.  Choose your path.  The only thing you know is that you have taken a caravan to a town called Mytheran.  Here, you can get a job working for the Church of Theran, the Church of Sylenia or find some work in the local tavern of the Broken Spoke or the Three Coins Inn.

I'm not one for rules lawyers.   THERE IS NO RAILROAD.  If your party wants to go off an do something else, don't worry there is something else to do.  But, be wary of leaving things half finished.

Quick primer-

Fifty years ago, after a monumental battle between the forces of good and evil, most of the gods stopped granting powers to their faithful.  The battleground was before a place that still exists.  It is called the Old Temple.  Strange things are still rumored to be there.  A handful of them still do, while the others were quickly forgotten.  Ancient altars to long forgotten gods still exist and, some rumors say that the gods will grant powers for a price.

Rumors also abound that the Elves had something to do with the disappearance of the gods.  There is a great schism between Man and the Elves.  Yet, the Elves are still viewed as allies by some.

The Gods that still have worshipers:

Theran-goddess of light and healing

Sylenia-goddess of the moon and music

Xellex-god of magic

There are two large cities, ones that are the center of power.  One if Vel'eth: the city on the water.  (Much like Venice.)  This city sits off the coast of the Great Sea and is a major center of trade.  The other city is a huge city called Zelfane, a place cloaked under clouds that never fully leave the city.  This is the largest city of Sydell, and it is a place of strangeness, wonder and weirdness.

Mytheran is a small town a half days travel from the city of Zelfane.  Two churches lay close to each other.  The Temple of the Singing Heart, devoted to Sylenia and the Temple of the Radiant Sun, devoted to Theran.  The two churches work closely with each other, they are sister goddesses.  Yet, there is some dissent between the two at times.

Mytheran itself is a small hub of trade, laying so close to Zelfane and the River Rel that is an artery to Vel'eth.  Your characters have come by caravan to this town to get money, find a job, something.  Because it is this, or go back home and raise turnips.  And, none of you want that.

I did say that I want new 1st lvl. characters, yet I am willing to have any FLAILSNAIL players come in and play.  If you like it, great, stay awhile.  If you don't, then no need to worry.  My goal is to get a full group of 4-6 players that stick around from week to week.  If so, amazing!  If not, I will deal with it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ConstantCon Update

Hey, the link is up for the ConstantCon game which is here.  I already have two people who want to join.  That leaves at least two more spots open.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another question about XP...

So, for all of you out there who don't know, there is something on Google Plus.  ConstantCon is a way for anyone on Google Plus to game with anyone else using the hang-out feature.  I have gone through a game and it was fun.

Now I want to run my own game on there.  Actually, I am going to try and run two games on Google Plus.  They will both be in the same world, one is going to be under the LotFP rules.  (The link goes to the main site.  On the left hand side there are rules for the game if you wish to peruse.  And, the rules are very nice and simple.)  I want to use it for two reasons.  One is that they are, as I stated, very simple and anyone can get their hands on a copy.  Two, I have been itching to try and run a campaign using these rules.  The other system I want to use is a 1E/2E hybrid I have been toying with for awhile.  There are many house rules that I will be posting on this site soon, I hope.  This is something of an issue, I'm not sure where people will be able to get the rules.

And, now after that long explanation, here is my question about xp.

Should I use it?

I hate dolling out xp.  It the one problem I have had with gaming.  My first GM never handed out xp.  We simply were told when we were leveling and went from there.  And, I think I was spoiled by that.  Giving out xp is kinda dull in my opinion and I never have the numbers written down.  It takes a long time for me to give out xp and I think that it would go faster if I stated, ok, you leveled.

Granted, I'm not going to let them level anywhere.  They need to be in a safe place and survive.  And, I might have them try and find a mentor, yet this is only something I am pondering.

If you want to, drop me a comment down below.  And, I will be posting something about my Google Plus game soon.

The Zak S. survey

Reposted from "Playing D&D with porn stars"
Repost and answer. Or, if you don't have a blog, answer in the comments. Or be a big rebel and do neither.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be? The wand of Chaotic Wonder.  It is a rod of wonder with a touch of chaos in the mix.  Basically, I use the rod of wonder chart, the wild surge table chart and the PHB spellbook to figure out the results.  Many good times were had with it.  (All 2E stuff btw.)

2. When was the last time you GMed? About two weeks ago.

3. When was the last time you played? A week ago.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.  Come and join a party of fellow adventurers as you explore the world of Middle Earth, set five years after the Battle of Five Armies in lands of Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things? Review notes, try to listen to what they are doing, figure out a few paths that they could take and try not to be surprised when they go somewhere I didn't even plan for.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play? Many things, chips, brats, 'za, burgers, every once and again some veggies.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?Yes, and I also find it mentally exhausting.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing? 
My cavalier going one-on-one with a red dragon, both of us flying.  The only reason I took it down was luck, a frost brand and a super heroism potion.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither? They are constantly making jokes about NPCs, the setting and sometimes the game itself.  It gets grating when it happens as often as it does.  I don't think it has happened the other way around.

10. What do you do with goblins? In my most recent game, they have an empire. They have honor.  They have high quality weapons.  And, in a run through of the game, almost destroyed the party several times.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)? The way some see religion, I used it in a way that those from a more rural background had a better connection to their faith than those who dwell in big cities.  (I am NOT trying to start a religious thing.  It was simply something I noticed about out culture.)

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now? When our GM was so sleep deprived, he started a description about a light over a temple one of our characters created.  Problme was he wasn't high enough to do this yet.  (We were all sleep deprived and it might be a cheat of an answer, but that is the first thing I could think of.)

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it? The One Ring.  Thinking of maybe running a game using those rules.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator? Tie between David A. Trampier, Erol Otus and David Sutherland.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid? In the sense that they will never see their character get very high, then yes.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever) I ran the Sunless Citadel, I did some converting to 2E, but ran it mostly as is.  Had a good time.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in? The ideal physical set up, WOW.  Hard question.  Some comfortable chairs or couches around a table with either an inset plastic grid or maybe just a well worn battle map with bookshelves that are close at hand to pull books for rules discussions (at the right time that is) and a kitchen nearby for snacks.  And, at least a few bathrooms for the call of nature.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be? AD&D 1E and the Cortex system for the Firefly/Supernatural/etc.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be? The way culture works and religion.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table? One who can show up week after week, can get there on their own, can throw in for food/drinks if need be without needing to be paid back, non-rules lawyers and can get along with other players and blend as a party.  (Yeah, I kno wit sounds like a big gripe.  But it happens.)

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms? Can't think of one off the top of my head.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't? As far as I know, this doesn't exist: a formula or set of instructions for making something like Type IV (4E) or 3.5E work with older school game systems.  I always feel like I am hitting them with a sledgehammer trying to make the square peg fit in the round hole.  It fits, yet it takes a lot of hammering.  (Maybe one reason why I am looking forward to see what 5E is going to look like.)

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go? Yes there is.  It goes pretty well, then he steers the conversation to wanting to play.  I tell him what I am running and he realizes it isn't the one kind of game he wants and he shuts down.

Hope you all enjoyed that little delve into my thoughts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blogger issues, some food for thought and my gaming woes

First off, I STILL don't like the new Blogger look.  (No, I'm not jumping ship to wordpress.  Just annoyed with the way it is working.  Maybe it is just me.)

There is another blogger out there, known as B/X BLACKRAZOR who has an wonderful OSR blog.  I love reading it.  I recently read to articles about this hobby that he and I both enjoy running and it got me thinking.  Here and here are the two posts.

Both of them make good points.  I think the second one is something I want to deal with a little more.  Because that has always been an issue I have felt is one of the weakest points about D&D.  The fact that magic is so weak as to be more akin to technology.  (By saying these words and using these materials, along with the right hand gestures, you have a fireball.  Or by calling forth to your god/dess and clutching your holy symbol, you can heal someone or all a bless to go off.)  Everything is mechanical, there is no Gee Whiz! stuff going on in the world.  Yes, a DM can try and add to the realism, and the players could try and role play that gee whiz moment, yet it would feel fake IMO.

I have tried to do that in my most recent game, the one that is in a kind of limbo at the moment.  I did find that when I tried to bend the rules, some of my players enjoyed it, while the grognards took umbrage to me bending the rules.

There is a comment int he second rant, by a guy named George, who said it best.  These are his words:

"My new policy, which my players really enjoy, is simply: 'You will never find a magic item straight out of the DMG in my campaign. Never!'

So all my magic is either my own creation or inspired (or copied) from other sources (such as different games, bloggers, forums, etc).

I do the same thing with monsters. So I also tell my players: 'Don't bother studying the Monster Manual.'"

I think that is something I need to take more of a stand on.  It also might mean that some people do not want to play with me again.  (Just something I say off the top of my head, I could be wrong.)

This thought also leads to what I have been calling a schism of my latest game.  I don't want to get into a gaming story, but suffice to say that there were issues in the game that caused the players to break into two groups.  They fall along lines of more New School gamers and Old School gamers.  The Old School guys have effectively quit my game.  The New School group want to continue, yet the drama from both in game and out of game issues has me throwing in the towel.  I have held off on simply calling the game.  Yet, I still might simply stop it and either become a player or just not do something on Monday nights for a time and work on another campaign/or go back and try to re-work the current one and try to use it at a later date.