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Um, it's about fun?

There's a lot of OSR-related fan blogs out there, and I subscribe to several of them, but perhaps one of the most prolific in terms of pure "if it ain't OSR it ain't anything" screed is Hack and Slash.  I sometimes think the whole OSR thing reminds me a bit of the question of a vegetarian diet.  There are those who occasionally go meat-free or at least appreciate what vegetarians are trying to do, those that are "I'll eat fish but that's it," those that are strict vegetarians, and then there's vegans.

Me?  I'm in the first category. I can respect the whole "player agency is good, rules light can be fun and encourage creativitiy," etc.  But I'll still play another game if I feel like it because just like I think meat is a good thing, I think skill rolls are a good thing sometimes too.  The "fish only" people are like individuals who like Castles and Crusades--I'm basically on board, but I'll still indulge i…

Onto Plan B

Well, after touching base with the GM of the game in the Big City, things have kind of died off.  Or rather, I haven't heard anything for the better part of a week.  I'm not exactly sure what to make of that, but at the moment I am figuring that the game is still in the clone vat, and not ready for play just yet.  Either that or they just decided that they didn't want me in the game.

So, tonight I was talking with a friend of mine from my old campaign in my previous home town, and he told me that the EOW group was experimenting with iTabletop, which is a virtual, well, tabletop for doing RPG's together online.  I'm intrigued.  I'm still enough of an old-school guy to like the idea of sitting around eating nachos while people game together, but if I can't get more than two to the table, then I may have to go this route.  At a minimum, I'll probably try out the EOW group's campaign once to see how it flies.

I'm also re-thinking the choice of RPG g…

On to Plan A

I mentioned in my last post that I was making some inquiries into a game going on in the Big City.  Well, I've heard back from the GM, who games with his wife and some friends in their home.  They are basically between games but will be launching a new campaign soon.  We're going to get together and just see how the vibe is.  It looks like they might be playing D&D Third Edition (not even Pathfinder), which is interesting.  It's the edition I have the least experience with, and I always thought that it was pretty front-end heavy when it comes to planning adventures.  But hey, I'm good to play for it.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Another Nail in the Coffin

Well, of the two remaining players in my game, one texted (not called) me today to say that he had some "family stuff" to do.  When I asked if everything in his family was okay, he admitted that basically he had gotten a better offer than hanging out playing a board game with the other two gamers.
Here is where I think things are.  I think the game's done.  Or rather, unless I can conjure up two or three more players, we're done.  And right now, I'm not seeing too many possibilities, no one coming forward.
So, here's my plan.  Or rather, my plans.  First, I made some inquiries about a game in the Big City.  It would be a long drive, and maybe a little too often for my schedule, but perhaps I could hop in and out.  Second, I think I'll put together my own game, and after years of fantasy games I think I'll do something different: a superhero RPG.  The genre lends itself to episodic adventures, and if I make the backstory a sort of "Justice League …

Two sci-fi RPG campaign premises

I've been thinking about what to do in the very likely case that my D&D campaign is over (and I'll know in about a week).  I had two ideas that percolated up, not that either may be the one, but I thought I'd share them here.  As a bit of a notice, neither are particularly original.

The first was cribbed from an old issue of Shadis Magazine (#45) called "Timeship--Titanic" in which the famous cruise ship has actually been hurled through a time/space vortex, cursed to wander the continuum for all time (or the end of the campaign).  Along the way it picks up people from various places and eras to make up a motley crew.

So basically the Titanic is a gigantic TARDIS without a Time Lord.  There's a couple of issues with this, the first is the word "gigantic."  The Doctor's TARDIS is small, a phone booth, which can easily fit into the utility room of any spaceship or wherever the current adventure is locating.  That means the characters can just s…

Back to First Level, it seems

I wrote this all out as a long, sordid tale, but the short version is this: the D&D campaign in which I'm playing just hemorrhaged four players.  It's not a "we're unhappy with the game" but a "work schedule changed" kind of thing where rescheduling the game doesn't seem to be an option.

So,  we are back down to a gaming group of three: a GM and two players.  Our options?

Pick a game that doesn't require the critical mass of four that 4E doesTry to start scrounging players againall of the aboveI'll let you know how it goes, gentle readers...

End of the World 2011, Day Three

This entry is written by Scott, the judge in the first day's session.



This is a review of the third day of EOW 2011. Since this is Rob's blog, and it would be a little difficult perhaps for Rob to review his own scenario I will give my own review and send it to Rob. My name is Scott. I have been gaming with Rob for a number of years. This is I believe the second EOW we have attended together.

Robs scenario was ostensibly a Morrow Project scenario. This would be Rob's idea of Morrow Project. Gone are the bolt holes, the vehicles, the weapons and equipment. We played a team of seven science personnel who were dug up and moved to a "Morrow” facility before being awakened from cryogenic sleep. In previous blogs, Rob explained the basics of the Morrow Project background. So I will not waste your time or try your patience re-explaining that. Suffice to say the project intended to cryogenically freeze people who would emerge after a world shattering nuclear war for the purpose…

End of the World 2011, Day Two

The second day of EOW featured a post-apocalyptic western.  The locale was an island off some mainland where people lived essentially late 1800's American lives, complete with saloons and undertakers.  The only real government was a local law enforcement official, apparently elected by popular consent, and a quasi-feudal force known as the "coasties" who protected the area from pirates in return for a portion of the goods produced on the island and the local mainland.

The set-up was pitch-perfect. One of the PC's played a local sheriff, in this case Scott who had collaborated a bit with the story.  The others were all brothers whose father had recently been killed in a "farming accident."  Upon arriving back to the family homestead, they discover that their father had been a lawman in his day and had been killed my members of a gang he had put away to prison years ago.  The brothers, armed with the father's secret stash of modern-day era weapons, rode o…

End of the World 2011, Day One

I thought I might give my review of my three-day gaming fest in Columbus called "End of the World" or EOW for short.  This is an annual event for myself and about ten other people, with most of us participating in three one-shot day-long events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  We use one system, a homegrown ruleset appropriately called the EOW System.  I'll take each day as its own post, just because of length (and to milk it for the week).

After arriving in Thursday and checking in, Friday we had our first session, which was judged by my friend Scott.  This was a little bit of an unusual game because it was not a one-shot, but a session for the quarterly Traveller campaign that Scott is running for the group.  Normally you get three sessions a year, then EOW to cleanse the palate, but this year they decided to have one session be the "home game."  I saw "Traveller" but in fact it only takes place in the Traveller universe.  The rules are the EOW System…

Ripping off books

I had lunch with the DM of my D&D game recently and spent some time describing to him the various one-shot games that show up at EOW (my mini-con coming up next week).  One reoccurring theme is judges ripping off the plot of books for their adventures.  It is an enticing prospect: you have the plot, NPC's, key events, etc. all laid out for you.  Moreover if you liked the book, you'll probably have a good game.  Or so you think.

In reality it never works out.  Either you end railroading the players through the plot of the book, or the PC's go off the rails so badly you don't know what to do, because you didn't build anything beyond the plot of the book. Case in point: last year a judge did a scenario based off a piece of military science-fiction where a stranded leader of an armored company in Iraq travels all the way back to Europe, following the path of some famous classical-era general.  So, we the PC's, are these military personnel who get informed that …

Hanging out here for a while

If you frequent my other blog (and Analytics tells me that a whole lot more of you do that than come here) then you know I'm a bit soured on the wargaming side of my hobby universe.

Ergo, I've been packing up my paints and busting out more three-ring binders down on the hobby table as I contemplate my RPG stuff.  I've got one iron in the fire right now, my one-shot for End of the World 2011 (EOW).  That's the annual five-day gamefest that I play with a few of my friends back home.  There's three full days of gaming with one of us running an all-day session Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  This year I'm running one of the sessions, and for the first time I'm running a scenario set in the group's primary setting, Morrow Project.

For those who are unfamiliar with Morrow Project, the game was written initially in the mid-70's but wasn't published until 1984, smack in the middle of the heightened anxiety of a nuclear war.  Drawing from the same creativ…

Dungeoncasting made easy

Even if I didn’t just love the name, Super Galactic Dreadnought is a fun blog that shows off a wide variety of hobby interests, much like my own past-times.  Recently its author, Desert Scribe, decided as a sort of solo venture to come up with nine dungeon levels, using the old original B/X D&D rules for random dungeon encounters.  Or rather, he just decided to populate them, leaving the trivialities of a graph paper map to a later date.

It’s a fascinating bit of reverse engineering, and I thought I’d copy the process here.  Basically, every level has roughly sixty rooms, with one-third being occupied.  So using the random generator charts for dungeons, you come up with twenty encounters.  You then look at the encounters to see if there are patterns or obvious alliances between the creatures, and then sub-divide the entire lot into factions, plus the odd roaming monster or vermin.  Once you understand the “big picture” you can build the dungeon around them.

I love the idea, mostly b…

Draft pic of Doctor Tyranno

So I thought I'd take a stab at a rough sketch of what I thought Doctor Tyranno would look like.  Sure, he's campy, but he's campy in the Jack Kirby kind of way.

Anyone want to do a little artwork for me?

With all the superhero movies out there, and my son and daughter getting into comic books, I've been thinking about running a superhero RPG for them. If it goes well, maybe I'll take it to a larger audience.

In any case, I've been working up an introductory scenario, "The Danger of Doctor Tyranno."  Anyone interested in helping me with a little character illustration?  Doctor Tyranno is a millenia-old super-intelligent dinosaur cum mad-scientist whose goal it is to overthrow humanity and re-establish saurians as the master species of earth.

If it works out well, I'll publish the adventure here on this blog.

Jared, Shifter Druid

I painted this fellow to represent Jared, a Shifter Druid in my D&D 4E Campaign.  Back when we were short players, one of the players played two characters: Jared and a minotaur barbarian.  Since our group has grown, the player settled on the barbarian, and Jared has faded way into the woodwork, no pun intended.

MegaDungeon Gallery added

For almost a year I've been slowly adding pieces to a modular dungeon.  This is actually the third or fourth modular dungeon I have built in the past decade or so using Hirst Arts blocks, but none of my previous creations made it with me when I moved to my new home almost a year ago.  Thus, I started another, using a technique I had been considering for a while, namely using the mini-walls from the "Stone Arch Mold" (#88) and the "Cracked Floor Tiles Mold" (#203).  These two molds work together to made a fairly simple but effective layout.  The walls of the dungeon are represented without blocking view on the table.  The downside comes with flexibility--when you have a "dungeon tile" layout you can put the door anywhere in the room you like.  But that's the sacrifice you have to make with a layout like this.

Anyways, the terrain-building bug as struck again, and after cranking out a quick wargaming piece I thought I'd start adding to the MegaD…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery: Round 5

The fifth round of books from the Mystery RPG Box of Mystery is:


Queen of the Demonweb Pits, Module Q1 (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons)Signs and Portents: Babylon 5 Roleplaying Game and Fact Book (Mongoose Publishing)Missions (Shadowrun, FASA)All right, now we're talking.
Queen of the Demonweb Pits was the final episode is series of modules running though the "Against the Giants" (G1-3) and "Drow" (D1-3) modules.  The PC's have made their way through some standard monster lairs, an underground wilderness, a mega-dungeon/lair, and finally an entire city-nation of evil elves.  Where to go from there?  Apparently even Gary Gygax didn't know, so he gave the job to in-house artist David Sutherland, who had some ideas about an extra-planar realm that would serve as the home of the drow goddess Lolth, Queen of Spiders.  Q1 is probably best known for the map of the Demonweb, an elaborate maze involving some non-Euclidean geometry.  In addition to various rooms o…

KantCon

I actually did an earlier draft of this post but realized that most people were not interested in a play-by-play description of all my comings and goings, my struggles and victories, and everything else involving my weekend at KantCon.  So here's the brief recap:

The Good

Great location Good foodFriendly peopleThe Not So Good On Friday there were not games available for people who had not pre-registered (like me)What I bought Ingenium by Silver Gryphon Games.  This is a great lightweight fantasy RPG that clocked in at $20 for 98 pages.  I literally crammed the rulebook in thirty minutes and was playing with my kids half an hour after that.  I'll do a review later, but both running and playing in this game was a breeze.OSRIC this is the new giant black book from Black Blade Publishing.  Yes, it's 1st Ed. AD&D with a new slipcover, but at $26 for essentially the three core rulebooks in a beautiful binding its a deal for those who want the rules, and I think there's somet…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery: Round 4

The fourth round of the Mystery RPG Box of Mystery contains


Wild Dragon Den, an adventure for D&DDenizens of Earthdawn Part One, a sourcebook for EarthdawnRavenloft II: the House on Gryphon Hill (module I10, for AD&D)Still a little heavy on the D&D stuff, but that's no mind.

Wild Dragon Den is the first adventure from the same boxed set that Wyrmhaven came from, built for four 1st-to-3rd level adventurers.  The format is simple to the point of being trite: a wealthy patron seeks adventurers to exterminate the lair of a black dragon and her lizardmen henchlings (is henchling a word?)  Like Wyrmhaven, the PC's are equipped by the patron with flashlights, healing potions, and equipment designed to neuter the main villain, namely the aforementioned black dragon.  In this case the equipment is several potions for curing poison, and two shields who remove most, but not all, of the damage from the dragon's acid breath.
I actually like Wild Dragon Den better than Wyrmhav…

Some Gold Stolen from Somewhere Else

Over at Dragonsfoot, Evereaux once said the following about his Megadungeon campaign:

The Dungeon is a weird, unfathomable, and deadly place, and as such it should sound an irresistible call to those with the doughty hearts of adventurers. It is the paragon of Chaos, a limitless manifestation of danger, chaos, and alien strangeness, just as the Town is the paragon of Law, a physical embodiment of safety, uprightness, and predictability. Within the dungeon, you will find ferocious monsters, lethal traps, cunning tricks and buried secrets, tortuous layouts and forgotten ways, baffling riddles, and best of all, fabulous treasure beyond imagining. You the player will be challenged as much, if not more, than your PC, and it will take the combined skills of both to succeed. This place is not merely a workaday, subterranean lair, with logically arranged sleeping and eating areas for a species simply somewhat different from (or even antagonistic toward) humans and demi-humans. The door you ope…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery: Round 3

The third round of books from the Mystery RPG Box of Mystery contains:



Wyrmhaven, an adventure for Dungeons & Dragons (1992)Smuggler's Run, a sourcebook for the Dragonstar game (Fantasy Flight Games)Oasis of the While Palm, a module for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1983)All right, I'm moving out of the generic rulebook part and into some adventures and sourcebooks.

Wyrmhaven is actually out of the Dragon's Den box set that came out in the struggling years of TSR.  The hope was to induce new players by creating a sort of hybrid game reminiscent of boardgames with which young people could transition into RPG's.  With that in mind, TSR created the "Easy to Master" Dungeons & Dragons, essentially a re-tooling of the Basic D&D into a box set that looked like a board game in size.  To supplement the game they created several box set adventures, including Dragon's Den, which featured three adventures, all featuring dragons.
The problems for me with…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery: Round 2

The next three books out of the Mystery RPG Box of Mystery are: Dungeon Master's Guide, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd EditionPlayer's Handbook, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd EditionThe Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Advanced Dungeons & DragonsIt's like I'm in a D&D Time Machine, hurtling backwards!
If you don't know AD&D 2nd Edition, it was probably the D&D that most of Generation X grew up on.  We were a little late to the Basic/Expert D&D game or even AD&D First Edition (which came out in the late 70's when I was still in grade school).  AD&D 2nd Edition with its multi- and dual-classing tomfoolery and the eventual rise of both Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms really marks my generation's Dungeons & Dragons experience.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I own both of the rulebooks already, somewhere.
In my own experience, AD&D was pretty much the staple until point-based systems like GURPS and Champions (later HER…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery: Round 1

So, I open the box and pull out the first three books...

[facepalm]
Okay, the first three books out of the Mystery Box of Mystery are: Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast)Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Dungeonmaster's Guide (Wizards of the Coast)Tournaments, Fairs, and Taverns (Natural 20 Press)So, the first two books are two of the three core books for the third edition of D&D, which came out in 2000.  Their release marked a huge tectonic shift in the RPG market, both by having the biggest RPG in history radically change their rules, and second by allowing third party publishers create sourcebooks for the game.  Suddenly everyone and their brother were getting into the publishing business.
One example of that process is the third book, Tournaments, Fairs, and Taverns which is full of, not surprisingly, tournaments, fairs, and taverns.  Most of the book has rules for all different kinds of games (29 in all): card games, ball games…

The Mystery RPG Box of Mystery!

I will admit, it was pure psychology.  I am visiting the Half Price Books near my house and as always am checking out the RPG section.  Interesting enough, they have multiple copies of the books from the Dark Heresy RPG, but even at half price are still prohibitively expensive.  On the floor by the RPG shelves, however, is this box:

I did not purchase the box at that point.  I went back to the store that evening and bought it, because it took me a few hours to succumb to the pure temptation of what might or might not be in a box that is roughly 24" wide, 14" long and 12" deep.  But I finally did, telling myself that at for thirty dollars I could almost not go wrong.  By the way, the box weighed at least forty pounds and was completely full, so we are talking two stacks, what could be almost two feet of gaming material.
So, here's the game.  I am going to open the box and slowly remove the contents, three books at a time.  I will show what three books I have removed fr…