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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Zak S. rocks; John W. doesn't get it

Read Zak S.' Blog post and watch his video conversation with John W. here:

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2014/10/john-wicks-chess-is-not-roleplaying.html?zx=184cc014fcff2d2e

By the way John W. I game master to listen to the players tell me stories, not the other way round as you suggest. One of things I like about old school gaming versus the plot-hammered railroad modules being pushed by commercial gaming companies, is the story can go almost anywhere and is driven by player agency. When I sat down at the table to GM I was never sure what I'd get. However that was a good thing. My best adventures often come from being light on my feet and making things up on the fly.Even worked with 4th edition although I had to print out a few monster stat blocks in advance. Still can't believe that they wouldn't dock the Spell Jammer to the asteroid, just because the human wore a funny hat. They had no problem at all following the funny hatted dwarves in the brass paddle wheeler back to their dock. Perhaps that is a story for another day...

P.S. John W, I still like the Wield book I got from your kickstarter, although I am unlikely to use it exactly as you wrote it. Don't feel bad, I very seldom use the gaming stuff I buy as is.

P.P.S. Although my Dad used say there was no point in playing games with rules more complicated than chess. I think the pawns should be able to run away when that big old rolling tower comes bearing down on them.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bare Bones Fantasy Plain and Skyrimed


As I mentioned previously I actually got a chance to play Bare Bones Fantasy at AnCon. Pretty straight forward system. Percentile Based; Four abilities Strength, Dexterity, Logic, and Will determined by 5d10+30; Races include Elf, Dwarf, Halfing, Human. So far nothing special, but here's where it gets interesting the skills are classes. Skills are as follows: Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar, Scout, Spellcaster, Thief, Warrior. EVERY player could have a rating in each of these. Scout, Thief, and Warrior have ratings based on ability for everyone. Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar, and Spellcaster are 0% unless you have a level in them. At the start every one gets to add +20 to one skill, +10 to another and 1 level in one skill (for demo purposes since we only had two players we got a level in two skills). Once you have figured out starting charterers there are several more items calculated from your abilities and equipment including: Body Points, Initiative, Damage Reduction, Movement, Weapon Damage, Unarmed score, Unarmed Damage, rank, and development points. Only about twenty spells but their effects get stronger at higher levels.

In actual game play everything is a % roll. Doubles on a successful roll are a critical, doubles on an unsuccessful roll are a fumble. You can try again at -20% (I spammed my charm spell unmercifully  until the giant spider was charmed).

Overall I found it a simple but ingenious system. Things I liked about it included the skill as class, the reroll, and spells that level up. Things I didn't like about it, percentile dice, low number of abilities, linking both body points and fighting skill to strength (No Elric of Melnibone characters for you!), and capping level at 6. The game I ran through also felt a bit generic, I am afraid one of the problems of simplicity is a lack of hooks to hang things on. The extensive adventure generating tables in the middle look awesome, but I haven't tried them out.

After the AnCon play I put the game in the mildly interesting bin to get around to reviewing later, but a recent comment on one of my posts brought it back to the front of the list. Turns out some dedicated soul has produced an Elder Scrolls expansion. You can find it at http://www.dwdstudios.com/node/3444 . This forum post contains an extensive collection of conversion documents. The players guide includes Tamriel race descriptions, schools of magkia, ways to create walls and auras, Tamriel specific equipment, and more. The spell guide contains suggested tweaks to the BBF spells to make them Tamrielresque as well as a cross index between Tamriel and BBF spells. The GM guide has things like Tamriel diseases and poisons, as well as creatures (I was surprised to see no tamriel magic items, but perhap
s the enchanting rules cover this terrain). There are also guides for Dragon Shouts, Organizations, Paths of Power special classes, and lots of paper minis. I am hopeful that this expansion is just the thing to chase off the generic of Bare Bones Fantasy.

P.S. I'll still have to put up with % rolls,  and low number of abilities (although these are found the Elder Scrolls Games themselves)
P.P.S As always the magic system will require more acctual play experience to determine both its balance and where the broken bits are.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

From the depths of the web to the burning sands of Athas

My son is a great fan of the old DOS Darksun computer games. He was off googling the other day and ran across the Darksun Online Crimson Sands massively multiplayer online game. Despite his complaints, I pointed out that game that had all its servers shutdown in 1999 was unlikely to be playable. I did go looking for some of its artwork to appropriate for dungeoncraft (a Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventure simulator). However, an image search on dark sun came up with this beauty which stopped me in my tracks:
Being an affectionato of maps I had to have more. I traced the image to this nine year old forum thread http://community.wizards.com/forum/dark-sun/threads/1016611 in which Brian (screen name zombiegleemax) attempts to fill in the rest of the world of Athas from maps provided in the published setting. Here's what is mapped in the published setting:

Here's what it looks like on the fan built Continent map (maps 1, 2 and bits of 3 and 4):

And here's what that continent looks like on the entire world:
As you can see Brian had plenty to work with, Here's a thumbnail composite of the maps he got done before trolling and real life shut him down:
Full size maps as well as the photoshop brushes (just in case someone wants to pick up the torch) Brian used to make them can be fouund at the Athasian Cartographers Guild (http://ds.daegmorgan.net/).

P.S. I can't believe I missed this for nine years! (The fact that the Athasian Cartographers Guild was already in favorites indicates some awareness)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It came from the depths of the web Skyrim edition

Sometimes when I’m fooling around with blogger I look what keywords pop up as leading to my website and see where else they go. This post is based on “pen and paper skyrim”. In addition to my wistful musings (I do recommended the revised Skyrimic Sandbox chart ). I found several other interesting items.  First up off a fairly direct route to the Skyrim Blog a spreadsheet, a good list of what to include but woefully incomplete as rules. Next a link to a  .pdf  from this thread on the Piazza forum. This ones complete enough to try to play, although its a d100 game rather than my beloved d20. Released with a  noncommercial creative commons license so free to play and pass to your friends, just don't sell it. Thanks Barruktp! Now here where it gets tricky. Not content with just the ruleset I backed up the URL and landed on this site . Not a particullary descriptive site its just labeled /sup/tg; covered in internet cobwebs (last post was May, second to last post six months earlier). However it did have an archive and the archive had search function. A quick search on "elder scrolls" led to a post on "Scrollhammer" which in turn led to this wiki page. This is version one of "Scrollhammer" based on giving Warhammer stats to the various factions of the Elder Scrolls world. Webpages are not the easiest format for rules so I copied it into MS Word to make something I can print. Some back "wiki"ing revealed a second edition page which actually has a link to a handy dandy .pdf Unfortunately for Warhammer fans like me the second go round is based on the infinity engine rather than Warhammer (probably a better way to avoid the GW legal dragons, but reduces the scope to a skirmish game). The original infinity rules can be found on another stub of the main "wiki". Definitely have to some more poking around the 1d4chan.org "wiki" and see what else I can find.

Note to all: The deep end of the web has no life guard and there definitely are sharks (and worse). Surf my suggested links at your own risk.

Friday, August 29, 2014

RPG international Dutch Game Queeste

While trying to bang out my long delayed Beyonder review, I successfully sidetracked myself again. Off reading the "Mesmerized by Sirens" blog ( an aptly named blog for me, who shared the authors penchant for chasing after obtuse out-of-print games), I was going down the list of "Unicorns" and discovered one from 1979 that is available on LULU NOW!! Unfortunately it's in Dutch, but if you get the .pdf the price is right (as in free). Download it here. Hopefully, translate is better at Dutch than Hungarian (could happen. right?)
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