Saturday, February 28, 2015

We're Jamming

So by some weird twist of fate I find that I will be spending this weekend preparing a fifth edition spell jamming campaign. The Wednesday night group at the Friendly Local Game Store has been enjoying the clean spare lines of fifth edition by gooping it up with weird gonzo stuff. Unfortunately it is my turn in the DM rotation. One of the stipulations of my time in the chair that characters get to transfer from the old campaign, and yes they get to keep the evil eleven space suits, boltcasters, medium size mecha, and the Death Jammer the space gorilla (player character) stole. So we're jamming and I have the weekend to figure out spelljamming rules for fifth edition. I should be able to steal ideas and encounters from the Void below the World campaign I ran for fourth edition, but it is both a different level and system. I'll be using two guiding principles: 1) If tech is magic then magic is tech (i.e it may look like an evil elven space suit, but stats are like the adamantite armor in the DMG) 2) When in doubt make stuff up (this invokes the awesome power of the DM's imagination and keeps the game moving, because nothings worse than watching the DM spend a half an hour riffling through pages of rules and notes). Time to put on my DM hat, saddle up and see where this bucking bronco of a campaign takes us. Luckily this is not my first time in the chute, and  given the inherent gonzoness of the Fabulous Unknown City and Farmville campaigns my fellow DMs ran before me, very little will seem out of line.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hot pink sands of Athas

As I mentioned previously, my son has become quite interested in the defunct online computer game "Dark Sun Crimson Sands". Unfortunately the ability to resurrect a client/server game who's last server shut down in 1999 has proved a bit challenging. I did find a copy of the files and was able to get the splash screen to materialize for a brief second before the "unable to connect" brought things to an abrupt end. I know the graphics and visuals are hidden in the .GFF files, but finding something capable of reading those .GFF has proved challenging. I am pretty sure they are not the genomic file format used for DNA. The generic file format used by Bioware for the Witcher and Knights of the Old Republic seems closer, but all the third party GFF reader gives me is a structure number. My hex code byte reader gives me little snips of text surrounded by gibberish. I am sure there are pictures in there somewhere, but have yet to find a binary code reader that can reconstruct images (assuming that they are either uncompressed, or compressed with a common format like .bmp or .gif). However desperation has led me to a unique and interesting approach. As it so happens "Wake of the Ravager" also uses GFF files and it was pretty easy to guess that the files labeled rgn01, rgn02, etc were the map files. I copied over the rgn files from Crimson Sands to a copy of "Wake of the Ravager" and voila a game with just enough difference for my son to declare it "Crimson Sands" and move to the next project. Screen shot below:

P.S. My son has great faith in me, but after all I am a rocket scientist

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kickstarter End-of-Year report

A little status check on the kickstarters I am backing. Awesome kudos to Revelry in Torth from kickstarter to .pdf in two months. Slumbering Ursine Dunes was also impressive, but a few stretch add-in still remain. 50 sHAdes of VORpal worries me as $5 I'll never see again as I have had only one update since the campaigns end. However, it is not overdue like  Arcanis, Lusus Naturae, or even The Lost Lands: Swords of Air. I am glad I made this list, because it actually send me searching for the missing World of Calidar Drivethrurpg link, which has been hiding in my junk mail folder since September.

Dementalism: Lots of Snazzy New Stuff
Legendary Games Pathfinder Books in Print
Razor Coast
Revisiting my Legions of the Petal Throne Art
Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition
Scarlet Heroes
Rappan Athuk
Orbis Terrarum RPG
Domains at War: Battles, Campaigns, and Mass Combat
Bethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG
Adventures in the East Mark - The Red Box
Dragon Kings
World of Calidar
Revelry in Torth
Wield: A Little Game about Ancient Powers

Almost Complete The Original Online Megadungeon! (everything but the pathfinder conversion)
Slumbering Ursine Dunes (a few bonus things still to come)
Fantasy Hero Complete

Subscription Ongoing
Adventure Quarterly: A Pathfinder Periodical
Throne of Night, a Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path (a little behind, but good things are promised)
Arcanis: The Cradle of Empires - The First City Sourcebook (Chapter One received)

Draft in hand
Ryuutama - Natural Fantasy Role-Playing Game
Five Moons RPG by Sean K Reynolds
What's O.L.D. Is N.E.W. - Two Crunchy Roleplaying Games!
Saga of the Splintered Realm

Still waiting
The Lost Lands: Sword of Air
Lusus Naturae: A Gruesome Old-School Bestiary
Quests of Doom - Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry Modules
Southlands: New Fantasy Options for Pathfinder RPG
13th Age in Glorantha
Rhune: Dawn of Twilight (Expanded Primer & Adventures)
Death & Taxes: A Complete Role-Playing Box Set Adventure
50 sHAdes of VORpal


Friday, November 28, 2014

Beyonder as far as I've gotten

Been meaning to write this review for awhile. Beyonder from Flying Nightbear games is not your usual fantasy heart breaker having a number of unique and different approaches. It has six primary attributes but not the standard instead we get emotion; mental; body; physic; spirit; and shadow. It also has two secondary attributes Stillness and Wyrd. It has ten races but only humans and dwarves are the stock ones. Character classes are linked to the primary attributes, but are not standard either. For example there are no fighters but the body channeling Soman are pretty close. I have been working my way through chapter by chapter, but I have stalled out on descriptions of all the powers for all the classes. Heart of the game, but very soporific as massed wall of reading (as far as I got: FNB don't feel bad I had a similar problem with the 5e Dungeon Masters guide). Although I am impressed with the presentation,art and ideas  of this game a final verdict with will depend on actually playing this and seeing how the various powers work out. I would have done the breaking of the book into chapters differently. Quick chapter by chapter walkthrough below:

After a paragraph of introduction to roleplaying provides an overview of how the game works. Important box text at the end on which part to skip to get started quickly.

Chapter 2 THE WORLD, ITS WORKINGS, AND ITS INHABITANTS (I'd have split this chapter)
Lots of nice world settling info which I skipped to stick with the crunch

Ten races:
The corba like crawn
The yoda like dwaheelies
Heola, sorta like high elves
Ishirs sorta like goliaths
Kamaris fun loving tree people
Ushen like warcraft tauren
Weylan gnomish trickster cat people
Zweyjen fish people, but not evil

Most of race ideas are not ones I have seen before.

All energy wielders. Six classes (referred to as guilds) each linked to a specific attribute, Sorecerers who channel all energies and priests. No fighters, but the body channeling Soman are pretty close.


Lots of history (also skipped)

Two methods of character creation
Method 1:
Play a pick-a-path adventure. Fun for the first time, but sure to get old after awhile
Method 2:
Direct choice
- Pick a race
- Pick a size (really?)
- Pick a gender
- Choose Energy Affinities using point buy system
- Pick a starting organization
- Add some extra talents
- Choose a guild (actually character class)
- Get some stuff
- Calculate a defense rating
- Choose a homeland

Uses essence sorta like experience but spread across a number of things. Essence can be used to master a power, learn a new power from an NPC, invent a new power, increase a talent (like skills) , or buy barriers (like class levels). Detailed descriptions of the barriers and their associated benefits follow. There is a discussion on wealth I didn't quite understand. Apparently finding treasure does not increase your wealth rating. You are allowed to buy stuff with your weatlh, some examples are given ,but the big shopping list is missing. The chapter ends a with a list of talents and their descriptions.

Chapter 6 CORE MECHANICS (seems to traditional these days to bury this in the middle of the book, rather than right up front where I'd like it).
Most actions are checks against talents. There are various timings for various actions (not as clean as 4es free, minor, move, and standard, One is allowed to do Stunts which are special actions requiring extra level of success and causing fatigue.

Chapter 7 COMBAT
Very similar to core mechanics

Countering powers (basically dispel)

Chapter 9 ITEMS
Standard Stuff yada-yada. Energentic items: recreate guild powers in item form, needs a mystic to create

The usual yada-yada.

Chapter 11 POWERS
Descriptions of all the powers for all the guilds. Heart of the game, but very soporific as massed wall of reading (as far as I got).

There are two appendices and  a glossary after chapter 11

I am very intrigued with many of the concepts in Beyonder, but I will have to find a group willing to play the game before I can assess it fully. Right now my game group seems quite content with 5e. Please also note that although I have had the .pdf since June the website is still mumbling about getting the print books out. So you dead tree affectionatos may have to wait a bit.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Con on the Cob Mapping it Old School

My time at Con-on-the-Cobb was less than I wanted due my work schedule. However I did get to play Dwimmermount on Thursday and prowl the dealers room on Saturday. A little different mix at the con. Games were free, but I didn't spot pathfinder, 4e or 5e games in the program. Have to ask Andy what went down (Andy's going to tell me next time run my own). Con didn't lack for games though. Now for the details. First up Dwimmermount.

Signed up for Dwimmermount with Tim S. (Gothridge Manor) and Ken H. (the Rusty Battle Axe). I was worried it was going to be full given that Tim advertised it on his blog but it was just us three. GM was Jim Yoder (Random Encounter Ohio [Nice Pic of us on his con report]). I chose to play an elf ( I was a bit appalled at his 3 hit points but this was Old School so I rolled with it). After a brief time in town to pick up a war dog (when you only got 3 hit point you need something between you and the monsters)  and a torch bearer, we headed through the red doors of Dwimmermount. We played it Old School without battle mat or mini's, Although it was obvious that Jim was a bit new to this style we got through it with very little "here hand me the map" and only one "oh by the way there's six orcs in this room also". Here's the map I drew:

Saturday was shopping. Picked up print copies of Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion from the Goblinoid Game booth. Talked to another booth with a lot of Dungeon Crawl Classic including a good collection of the "Crawl!" zine, but since i am not into DCC right now I bought Goodman games Glitterdoom and the Fey Sisters Fate both labeled as "Fifth Edition Fantasy". Although this seems a clever way around the lack of third party license for it might be a tough sell in court (in general things that are similar enough to trademarked items to be easily confused with the trademark are considered infringements as well). At least I've got mine.

Also on Saturday tried to interest the son in the playdo monster making contest, and ended up making monsters. Although I had lots of fun I am not quitting my day job to be a professional sculptor
anytime soon. Some pictures below.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

OSR On Sh*tstorm Rants

Here I go wading into fray just as things are winding down, hopefully my Nor'easter gear will keep too much from sticking.

 This particular blow of internet bad weather was of course triggered by innocent post at Tenkar's Tavern trying to point to some cool gaming stuff available for free. RPG pundit in response triggered the sh*tstorm (using the media pundit tactics of bloviating authoritatively) by trying to palm off the origins of the game to some obtuse science fiction game no one plays, and some joke rules obviously not meant to be taken seriously. When that failed RPG pundit responded by producing a paragraph long soporific definition with little basis in precedent, which brought the sh*tstorm to full flow with a volley of angry bloggers providing their own soporific paragraph long responses. For the best historical viewpoint read this post on Bat-in-the-attic (Strangely enough, although the first reference to Old School Renaissance occurs on a Castles and Crusaders (C&C) few bloggers seem to consider C&C an OSR game). My favorite definition of OSR from the current mess comes from Greyhawk Grognard who has provided a handy roll-up table on this link . The OSR being a self organizing collective of bloggers, forum posters, and other miscreants (including know sh*t-stirrers) will never settle on just one definition. One of my fondest memories of the OSR is ordering one of those boxed sets from "that crazy Finnish guy" James Raggi just so he and his wife could actually live in their apartment (he didn't listen to me when I told him go print-on-demand), and suddenly discovering there were over 750 bloggers with similar concerns selling the first print run out very quickly. Unfortunately Jame's commercial success has cut into his blog posting. As for the current sh*tstorm, like the Carcossa sh*tstorn (the nerve of that guy pretending to be the fourth expansion of OD&D :), or the "Porn-Star" (Porn-star OSR, Oh my what will the children think? :) it will blow itself as well.
Until then break out the foul weather gear, batten down the hatches (one of the reasons I moderate comments), and prepare for rough weather.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October kickstarters I've backed

I have fallen behind on my shameless promotion of kickstarters I've backed. All of these are still live but some close on the 14th.

Quests of Doom - Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry Modules
Made my saving throw on the 5e, but couldn’t  resist the adventures

Five Moons RPG by Sean K Reynolds
Sean Reynolds is awesome. Hopefully his game is too'

Southlands: New Fantasy Options for Pathfinder RPG
Kobold Design , duh! I forgive them the Tyrany of Dragons thing, I blame WoTC for dulling it out.

Slumbering Ursine Dunes
Because Chris Kutalik deserves his chance to go down in kickstarter flames like all those other OSR folk. As least he’s finished a few .pdfs to post on his blog.

Revelry in Torth
I liked the other two modules and the .pdf is pretty cheap

13th Age in Glorantha

Glorantha is my favorite setting. The chance to play it without using those slow ass Runequest rules or that wacked-out Herowars/quest. Awesome!!!!

P.S. I am signed up to play Dwimmermount at Con-on-the-Cob Thursday. We'll see if it was worth the wait

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