Friday, July 31, 2009

Giant Bat-Eating Centipede (Video)

Speaking of Giant Ticks, here's a creepy little number that's been making its way across the web...

Perhaps better entitled "Giant centipede eating bats video" but whatever!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Game Play Journal: A Tick Drops the Thief

Having gone back to the ruins, things went badly for Ipsil the thief when a giant tick launched itself from it's hiding place in a fire place and immediately sank its teeth into him. He managed to survive the initial attack, but fumbled and dropped his short sword in an attempt to attack/cut it off. It proceeded to suck a goodly amount of blood out of him (a certain amount of poetic justice was noted). With aid from the rest of the party, it was distracted and made to lose contact with Ipsil, but before it died it managed to penetrate his leather armor yet again, and sucked another pint or so, dropping him. The critter was then killed on the end of Narmain's halberd if I recall correctly (sending both it and Ipsil's blood spattering over a large portion of the floor - Ipsil might have been glad to have been unconscious at this point and not seen this). He made his saving throw against death, and was hauled back to the church in town for some major recuperation time, taking him out of the game for a bit.

Someone suggested that the militia might loan them an extra man, and Francis took the opportunity to request his leave from them. The militia is extending haz duty pay to its members if they agree to join the party in clearing out any baddies from the ruins, but they are growing slightly uneasy now that the party has returned several times and two of the four men the militia has loaned them have come back dead (at least one grieving family was compensated with a half year's wages of their departed). Two young and green militiamen agreed to join, one of whom had a long sword which some in the party looked at with a small amount of envy.

Spending the night at the inn, they spotted an adventuring-looking pair down the hall from the common room where they were staying, and entreated them to join the party the following morning if they were looking for work. They agreed, and Eluxen made known that they needed to stop off at the church before setting out to the ruins, but this seemed to not be heard, or was ignored.

The next morning, there was some grumbling from Torgu, apparently some kind of cleric or fighter, that he wasn't interested in entering anyone's church, nor visiting with priests. His comrade Qubert, an absolutely ripped fighter, said he had no problems with chatting up some priests (I suspect Nick was hoping the clerics at the church would cast Detect Alignment on these two, as they had to Agnal, which had outed him as an evil-doer). Eluxen seemed to tire of the grousing, and then came up with the idea of introducing them to the local druid of the grove, with whom they were in good standing (perhaps again to vet these two newcomers). Unfortunately, he was nowhere to be found, so the group set off in the direction of the keep, which was also on the way to the ruins, in order to join the new militiamen recruits.

Once there and joined, Eluxen asked to speak with the head honcho there about the new recruits from the inn, but Eustace and Chuck (the newest men-at-arms) told him that he had left on business and was rumored to be meeting somewhere with the local druid. At this news, Eluxen asked Qubert and Torgu to stay at the keep and wait for their return, for permission to join the rest of the party. They both bristled at this, and Qubert said that as he knew where the ruins were, they could just go there themselves and take any loot that they found before Eluxen and the others got there, if that's how they wanted it. There was some debate in the party, with Narmain being fine if they came along without first asking a village leader, but the others were ambivalent, and followed Eluxen's lead. Finally, Qubert and Torgu set off on their own, a bit huffily. After waiting a while, the rest of the party set off to the ruins as well.

Once there, they searched a few apparently empty rooms before entering a larger room that was obviously a barracks at one time. In this room was a giant lizard - in the ensuing battle, the new recruit Chuck dropped his long sword, Eluxen's fumbled his arrow, another got a large piece of wood stuck on the end of his battleaxe, and Narmain managed to completely break the shaft of his halberd. Despite this comedy of errors, noone was killed, although Bob was left on the brink of death, and quite quickly donned the scale mail they found shortly after without asking anyone else about it first. As the party searched the room, a large section of the roof collapsed on several members, leaving another badly injured now as well. With Bob cursing the small number of silver coins found in the debris and in the sole unbroken chest in the room, the party exited back into the hall from which they'd came. There they saw two figures which stepped into the light twenty feet away or so, revealing themselves to be Torgu and Qubert.

These two exclaimed how rotten the party looked first, and then went on to say how they'd only had a chance to explore a small bit of the ruins to the southeast. They'd discovered a large, rotten carcass of a snake (previously slain by the party) as well as a number of dead giants rats. They said they'd heard the battle from the other end of the ruins but had been reluctant to enter the chamber because of the sheer noise of the commotion and concerns that they might be seriously outnumbered. A conversation ensued and it was decided that they should join the party for their mutual benefit, given the injured members and the safety in numbers.

Whereupon there was again an argument, this time over marching order, with Eluxen wanting the two of them to be at the front, Qubert and Torgu wanting to not have their backs to strangers, and finally it settling when Qubert agreed to join an uninjured man-at-arms at the front, and Torgu would follow in the rear, "shielding the injured militiamen" from any surprise attack.

After this, the party found the stairs down to the dungeon, and descended them, with no sign of any further green slime this time. They found a door to an empty chamber, went through it to another door on the other side, and entering that one were horrified to discover an ogre waiting - not having all entered the room, Eluxen yelled for retreat, and they were all able to pull back without injury, the ogre missing Qubert with a polearm. Eluxen readied his Sleep spell, but the ogre did not enter the room they'd fled into - with the door still open, they couldn't see where he'd gone there and wondered if the ogre was waiting just off to the side of the door. They threw a jar of lit pitch into the room, but still couldn't see where the ogre had gone to...

(uh...Qubert & Chuck? I know, silly. I get the odd chuckle in when I can in this game - "You won initiative. Chuck's up!")

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Recent Craigslist Haul: Part 2 - The Modules

This really is my favorite part of the loot from that day. There was a total of fifty or so modules listed here by publisher:

C3, C4, C5, D1-2, D3, DL1, DL3, DL2, DL4, DL5, DL6, DL16, DQ1, G-1-2-3, HHQ1 (2e), I4, L2, MV1 (includes "magic viewer"), N2, S2, S3, UK4.

These are all in VF-NM or M, the ones in bold are still sealed in the original plastic. I was really happy that this was the case with S3 in particular, "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" - one of my top 3 favorite TSR modules.

Role Aids: (Mayfair Games)
705, 710,711,713, 716, 717, 720, 721, 726, 730, 732, 733, 737, 740, 742.
Also all VF-NM, ones in bold are sealed in original plastic.

One adventure book by Game Master Publications entitled "GM5: Rod of Seraillian".

A small heap of Judge's Guild adventures, all in VF-NM shape, no writing, creases/folds etc. - These I'm personally not really familiar with, although I'm sure I've seen one or two on game shelves before:

Lara’s Tower
Glory Hole Dwarven Mine
Dragon’s Hall
Citadel of Fire (staple present on cover, otherwise fine)
The Mines of Custalcon
Operation Ogre
Escape from Astigar’s Lair
Wraith Overlord (still sealed!): Terror Beneath the City State

There's another Judge's Guild item here I'm trying to determine if it's complete, called "Tegel Manor". Big ass map!

Phoenix Games: "The Mines of Keridav" #2550 (unfortunately, writing throughout, otherwise in excellent shape)

and a handful of WotC/RPGA adventures.

Again, I'm hoping to unload some of these on eBay to help fund the purchase of the lot which had to be done as a whole. Anyone interested in anything can contact me directly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sorting Out the Craigslist Loot Part 1: The Miniatures

I've been going through the stuff I bought a few days ago and putting it into different boxes and piles. I've little interest in most of the miniatures I acquired that day, and hopefully can cover the acquisition of the stuff I'm keeping through auctioning it off on eBay along with some other items (anyone interested can send a message to me via this).

There are four larger items and a host of smaller 25mm figures, all of these appear to be cast in lead and made by Ral Partha or Grenadier.

The larger items are:

Griffin Chariot by Ral Partha (unassembled, unpainted, in original box). This is not a re-release - I see that it's on Amazon for an unbelievable price, and on eBay for considerably less, but still not cheap! I'd sell this for a lot less...

Dueling Dragons by Ral Partha (also unassembled, unpainted, in original box)

Grenadier Dragon Lords "The Invincible Dragon" (as others above)

And a mystery dragon, painted, once partially mounted, and now fallen apart but the pieces all appear present. Anyone know this one?

There are two cases with humanoid miniatures. The first contains a number of unpainted Grenadier and Ral Partha figures (looks like two of them were maybe painted and later stripped), and the second contains much the same only painted.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Labyrinth Lord on the iPod Touch

I'd never bothered to try before, but here it is on the iPod Touch... (just as doable on the iPhone of course): screenshot #1 and #2 from iPod - (the latter in landscape view, held on its side) and photo (zoomable, so decently usable i suppose).

Just in case you ever wondered! I saw Sagaworks Studios on the Goblinoid Games forums checking it out on their Nokia, so thought I might give something like it a try.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fillable Labyrinth Lord Hirelings Gen. and Record Sheet

By request, I've been meaning to make this fillable PDF available for the Labyrinth Lord Hirelings Generator and Record Sheet I'd made earlier, in case you have your own house rules you want to enter but still print out for your players.

You can get it here.

Swords & Wizardry version here (see post update for fillable version).

A Craigslist Score

Or is it?

Yesterday, I drove out to the coast on a lark - I’d seen an ad on Craigslist for a large lot of older D&D stuff that was up for sale. Having the day off, I decided to check it out without even a list of what it was... on the (90 min. drive - it's Oregon, lots of trees!) I began to imagine it was all 3rd Edition stuff, and that I was completely wasting my time and gas. Of course there was another part of me that wondered if maybe there were some buried gems in the collection for sale, and I’d be a fool to miss out on it.

When I got there, a fellow by the name of John greeted me and showed me to a number of boxes sitting on a table. I also saw a stack of magazines on the floor off to the side. Initially, I was under the impression from having emailed John that there were a couple of hundred Dragon magazines that he had, but in fact they all turned out to be Dungeon magazines instead. There was also a lot of 2nd edition D&D material, which was a disappointment. But there was also some 1e AD&D books, over (mostly 1e) 50 modules, a lot of miniatures, and a bunch of miscellaneus items. John was also including his personal campaign data - player characters, a huge hand drawn map, and various notes, by which I was a little intrigued. I struck a deal with him, foregoing any of the Dungeon magazines and buying the rest of the items as one lot.

Honestly, I’m not really interested in most of the things I acquired that day, but some of the 1e books were in better condition than my own, so I upgraded my collection to them as collector's items (I'll tend to use OSRIC instead of them). The modules really seem to be the gems. Over the next couple of days I’ll post lists and maybe some pictures of what I picked up - I think I paid a fair price, but it’s possible I got quite a good deal on a few items (and maybe overpaid drastically for others!)... Hopefully I’ll get feedback here about it - it’d be nice to know if I did well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Illusionist Spell - Horrorshow

Either because of my Gnome Illusionist in Nick’s OSRIC campaign or because I’m looking forward to the (hopefully included?) illusionist class in Dan Proctor’s “Advanced Edition Characters” supplement to Labyrinth Lord, this particular spell popped into my head lately. In retrospect, the previously posted “Standing Ovation” is very much an illusionist spell as well. I’ve really never been a huge illusionist class fan, but for some reason I guess I like it now. Here I have another attempt to bring awareness to the flow of time into the campaign, as well as yet another table to roll on, albeit a small one...who doesn’t like dice tables?!

Illusionist Spell - Horrorshow

Level 4:

Duration: 1/2 rounds/level of the caster, rounded down
Range: 60'

With this spell, the magic user creates a vision in the mind of one target of the most mentally and emotionally traumatic situation it can imagine. For some, this might be a monster attacking them, for others, the horrific death of loved ones, and for another it might be the complete loss of all their possessions. Whatever the particulars of the vision, the effects will
either cause fear or paralysis, based on the judgement of the DM.

Effects of fear induced by Horrorshow: The affected target will flee from the spell caster at full strength for a number of rounds equal to one half the caster’s level, rounded up.

Effects of paralysis induced by Horrorshow: The affected target will curl into a fetal position and and take no activity (even in
self-defense) for a number of rounds equal to one half the caster’s level, rounded up.

In addition, the spell will cause the target to not be able to sleep a period of days (can't restore hp from rest) and suffer the following effects for the same amount of time:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Game Play Journal - OSRIC campaign. Assassination!

Woohoo, I get to be a player! With Nick as DM, I rolled up 4 characters using the newly arrived OSRIC hardcover (looks great, highly recommended even if you have the old books for the greater clarity and better layout).

A Dwarf Fighter (Anrid), A Dwarf Thief (Gladric), a Gnome Illusionist (Dennis Slyfoot!), and a Human Cleric (Benedict, the Acolyte). I have never played an illusionist, or even been in a game with one. Never having had the chance before, I went for it - this gnome fellow is never going to be able to get past 5th level though, due to race limitations. I figured he'd probably never make it that far anyway, so why not.

The game started out in a tent settlement in a somewhat barren, hilly/mountainous area - the party having been attacked while searching for a lost religious relic in a burial ground (ok, there might have been some grave robbing). Chased through the wilderness by bandits, they ended up in a large "beer tent", for lack of a better term. There they began recuperating with a few watery beers when a paladin they were setting near and whose conversation they were listening to, was assassinated in broad daylight (there's something you don't see in OD&D). The party (with some local help) attempted to subdue the killer, but when he took out another knife combat ensued. One dwarf nearly split him down the middle with his battle axe, and the other ran him through with his short sword.

The cleric attempted to revive the man, but to no avail. A strange, gray and gold ooze dripped out of the dead assassin - the cleric had never seen anything like it. Fearing evil magic or disease, the party recommended that the body be burned along with all of the personal belongings. The paladin's body was searched - a small sum of gold was found, a sealed letter from a duke, and arrangements were made with the proprieter of the establishment to acquire a coffin and pack animal. With these, the party transported the body to the edge of town and built a funeral pyre. A Ranger approached on horseback, hostile at first but he was quickly convinced that the party was not an enemy and were seeing to the final rites of the deceased. They were invited then to join him as a companion of the late paladin, on a quest to destroy a certain evil group of marauding monsters. At first the party declined (the dwarfs are all chaotic neutral and didn't see the profit in it) but the neutral good cleric talked them into it once they determined that paid mercenaries were sought by local duke to assist with the quest.

A lot of time in making characters tonight, much more than is involved with LL or S&W. I used the fast packs listed here previously, adjusted somewhat for AD&D use. OSRIC is terrific - Very nice to use in comparison to the old PHB for generating new characters. We were able to play for about 3 hours (obviously left out a lot of details above), a decent amount of time. We played over Skype, and I found myself closing my eyes and visualizing certain interactions. I haven't rolled dice to hit (as a player) in so long, it was a lot of fun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swords and Wizardry Hirelings Generator and Record Sheet

I've been considering using the S&W/OD&D rules instead of LL lately. There's no one reason why, but there's something about the greater use of the old d6 that makes me happy (maybe because I played a lot of early Traveller). I also really like the single Saving Throw, even though I understand the hesitation that gives a lot of players.

In preparation, I converted the (4x6 Index Card sized) LL Hirelings Generator I'd made before into a S&W friendly one. Basically, this meant adding AAC, replacing the multiple saving throws with one, and adjusting the Armor types (there's no "padded" armor!). I changed the weapons a bit too. The Saving Throw is the newly adjusted figure from the 3rd S&W printing.

You can get it here.

If you like this but would like to change the specifics on the tables, I'm working on a fillable PDF so you can "roll your own" so to speak. I should have it up in the next day or so.

You can get the form fillable version here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Runic Orbs

I'm looking hoping for feedback on these relics/magic items I plan on introducing to a future campaign. I'm fairly happy with the details of the items, their history, description, etc. but am still struggling with the dangerous side of them and some of their powers in general.

In addition to the part they'll play in the larger setting, I wanted an item that could be slowly assembled and quested for, and something that could be a part of any end-game.

Runic Orbs


In ancient times, before the gods took notice of the Material Plane, it was the playground and feeding place of demons. These demons would torment and abuse the young human race for sport. After many years of demonic attacks, a group of powerful wizards formed what would much later become known as the First Guild. To defend their settlements, they created a Runic Orb of tremendous magical power, composed of separate pieces. Each piece was held in trust by a high-ranking member, but could be magically and magnetically interlocked with the others. In this way the great power of the Orb could be shared and was prevented from being used without democratic consent. Were it to be used too often by one person, the incredible power contained in the sphere would drive even the most well meaning of souls to madness. Legend says that for this reason, the original Great Orb was eventually destroyed, although some say it can never be destroyed - only deconstructed into its parts. In any event, its possible whereabouts and specific powers are unknown now. Similar (but less powerful) Runic Orbs are said to exist, rumored to be buried in forgotten tombs or disassembled and strewn throughout ancient ruins. The knowledge of their construction seems lost forever.

Powers, Use, and Vulnerability

There are two kinds of Runic Orbs: Greater and Lesser. A Greater Orb comprises twenty- four interlocking pieces, each piece inscribed with a single rune (or other type of magical glyph). They are approximately twelve inches in diameter, and weigh about twice that number in pounds. Lesser Orbs are similarly constituted, being but six inches in diameter when whole, weighing about twelve pounds, and of only twelve interlocking pieces. The pieces that make up an orb are made from a metal that appears to be cast iron, but that is resistant to rust and virtually indestructible. Both types of orbs and individual pieces are black as coal. When fully constructed and touched by human hands, they become illuminated from within (treat as Continual Light spell).

The powers of Runic Orbs are varied, but are magically linked to the lunar cycle. During the waning cycle, the power of the orb is limited to diminishment. Dispelling, destruction, darkness, silence, invisibility, removal, confusion, restriction of movement, fear and bewilderment - these are the domain of a Runic Orb’s powers during this time. Conversely, during the waxing cycle, creation, light, protection, curing, finding, enhancing movement, and growth are examples of the power of the orb.

Only the magic user class can utilize the power of Runic Orbs: Lesser Orbs confer up to twelve levels of spells per day, Greater Orbs up to twenty four levels. Although these spells are unchangeable, they vary from from one orb to another, and also vary based on the lunar cycle. For example, during the waxing moon a Lesser Runic Orb might contain the 2nd level spell Locate Object, the 4th level Plant Growth, and the 6th level Reincarnation. During the waning cycle the same Lesser Orb might contain the spells Hold Portal, Confusion, and Mass Invisibility, or even just twelve instances of Sleep.

When holding an orb, the magic user is suddenly aware of the item's spell-conferring abilities, and as occurs with his own spells, forgets them once they are cast. These orb- derived spells are then unavailable until a full day later. Unlike magic scrolls, an orb cannot be used as a way to learn new spells. A Lesser Orb can be held in one hand while the other wields a weapon or is involved in spell casting. A Greater Orb must be held with both hands to be used.

Although the pieces of Orbs are indestructible (even by the use of a Wish spell ), an Orb itself has a hit point value of d4 x12 (Lesser) or d4 x24 (Greater) and an Armor Class of 0. If the hit point value of an Orb reaches zero, the magnetic power of its parts fails, and it will fall apart, effectively removing its power. The magnetic attraction of the parts to one another will not return again until a full day has passed. This attraction only adheres the pieces to one another once they've been placed into physical contact - it does not work over any distance.

Runic Orbs and pieces of them are only solid for and can only be handled by natives of the Prime Material Plane and cannot be transported by any means to other planes.

The Curse of the Orbs

The power of the orbs is mighty indeed – but its creators wisely ensured that its use carry a price. If an orb is used on more than one day in a month's time, a saving throw must be made per additional day of use. Failure to save results in a permanent loss of wisdom points. See the table below (Greater Orbs penalties in parentheses).

Note: Non-magic user classes/races are not affected by this as they can't use these items. Optional exception: even attempts by halflings (curse them!) to use these items will be penalized as per magic users.

Wisdom lost in this way may not be restored by any magical means. Reduction in Wisdom to less than 3 effectively removes the player character from play, as at this point the PC will be a raving lunatic.


Parts of Runic Orbs may be interchanged with the parts of other Runic Orbs, but there is no clear, predictable outcome - the abilities of the orbs may stay the same but may change dramatically and at random. It's also unclear if a specific arrangement of the pieces of a particular orb will to empower it with specific abilities. It’s said, though, that certain ancient scrolls and magical tomes record theories and purported explanations of the science and power of the orbs. If such knowledge was recorded, it's most likely lost to antiquity, or very heavily guarded indeed.

Very high-level magic users and the Elven Kings know that there are twelve Lesser Orbs for each of the Greater Orbs and some believe that the mystery of the original Great Orb is contained in these others. Since the supposed destruction of the Great Orb, demonic attacks have increased in numbers and regularity. There are those who consider the reunification of The Great Orb to be possible and actively seek for its pieces. Some note with interest that the Gods only revealed themselves to Man after the creation of the Great Orb. Perhaps some of them feel threatened by the very existence of such a relic and compel their followers to quest for pieces of it, although given the Earth-bound nature of the pieces, what purpose they might have is unclear.

The Great Orb

I wasn't aware of runic orbs elsewhere until I began hunting a little for art components and discovered that they're apparently found in WoW (I've still never played it). I suspect these items bare little or no resemblance to the items in that game though.

Re: artwork above, I have a new respect for the artist behind the wikipedia icon, which I obviously (!) borrowed, removed symbols from, texturized and darkened, and inscribed with the elder futhark by hand. Attempting to create a decent similar item with the proper number of (12 or 24) pieces was a frustrating exercise, but the image of the Lesser Runic Orb (above, top) is an example.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An R&R Haiku

I've been following Ken's great D&D (C&C?) inspired haikus over at The Rusty Battleaxe. This, and the arrival of my latest Lulu order made me come up with:

a great battle waged -
the setting sun on the red
ruins and ronin

(Ok, so maybe Mike Davison practically wrote that one for me...

I used to write a lot of haiku for an L.A. newsletter about twenty years ago, and the SF Bay Guardian once published haiku by both my wife and I. Still, there's no competing with some of Ken's gems.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

d30 Table of Random City Events

Now that I've got my campaign's calendar worked out, my d30 has arrived, and I've joined the Order of the d30 (why not?), I submit the following:

d30 Table of Random City Events:

1. The beggars are rioting.
2. Music festival – streets are rife with dirty bards and guitars.
3. Street market sale – All non-combat adventuring gear 30% off.
4. That whore won't let go of your arm. Her pimp watches from afar.
5. Caught urinating on the wrong side of street/town – Pay fine.
6. Spotted by someone who saw you buying drinks at the tavern the other night: New best friend!
7. Upper Class funeral procession.
8. Heavy precipitation – streets deserted (20% chance of catching a disease).
9. Wandering prophet encounter.
10. Captured monster escapes from cage! Entire city in panic. Reward offered.
11. Jails overcrowded – major furlough. Increased chance of picked pockets.
12. Major speech today by city official.
13. Parade - Militia and constabulary review. Increased chance of robberies/burglaries.
14. Brew festival – Streets filled with drunken revelers.
15. Fire! All able bodied individuals expected to help with bucket brigade.
16. Invited to join street side game of craps (see page 215 of 1e DMG).
17. The local idiot has taken quite a liking to you.
18. Palm reader offers “discounted” reading.
19. Public hanging – free entertainment for the whole family!
20. Jousting tournament – first timers welcome.
21. Traveling Freak Show visiting.
22. Everyone's talking about those highway robberies. All goods at +30% cost.
23. The army/navy needs soldiers/sailors. Pressed into short term duty.
24. Mistaken identity – accused of being adulterer/father/debtor/murderer/thief.
25. Windfall – Dapper Dan dropped his wallet while getting into his carriage.
26. Royal/Religious emissaries from a distant land visiting: cultural XP opportunity.
27. Major caravan leaving town – now hiring guards/escorts.
28. Unbelievably attractive person just made eyes at you from across the street – or did they?
29. Crime lord assassinated – gang warfare, curfew set.
30. Ergot poisoning! Streets filled with hallucinating bread eaters (and hallucinations).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pathfinder D20 SRD Site

I don't play Pathfinder (although I'd be happy to play a pick up game), but I find sites like the D20SRD and now the Pathfinder D20SRD to be great resources. The D20SRD's "About" page says it well: it's a fast reference guide, it's more durable (we'll see!) than books, increases accessibility, and aids learning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Expedient Calendar

Zirthus (I wanted a word that sounded something like “surface”) is blessed, not coincidentally, with an astronomical situation which makes its calendar very simple. There are 360 days in a Zirthus year, there are 12 months, and there are exactly 30 days to each month. Zirthus has a single moon, whose cycle is also precisely 30 days. There are five weeks to a month, each week being 6 days long. Typically, one day a week is left unworked.

Due to religious conflict over the naming of the days of the month, and months of the year, a compromise was reached a long time ago. All of the months are based on (Jeff Rient's) Gods of Neutrality (with three personal exceptions and some name butchering). They are listed relative to our months, in parentheses:

1: (January) Hewl
2: (February) Vafrim
3: (March) Rubi
4: (April) Mashkurk
5: (May) Irshar
6: (June) Solanio
7: (July) Lashu
8: (August) Dothagen
9: (September) Cron
10: (October) Ituchi
11: (November) Herstii
12: (December) Varuzon

The days of the week are also based on the names of Neutral gods, but these are dead ones:

Lundo, Mardo, Merkredo, Jaudo, Vendredo, and Sabato.

Some readers may have noticed that these day names look familiar...that's because they are actually the names of the days in Esperanto. “Common” is Esperanto on Zirthus, not that I expect it to come up much.

Why bother? I've been wanting to observe time more accurately in the new campaign for a number of reasons including the seasons and weather, the specifics of how certain magic works under house rules, and a number of calculations for costs, recuperation, and other gaming mundanities. There are also religious observances and festivals to track. Streamlining the calendar itself will make this easier, and an index card to mark on easier to design.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Projects in Process

I've considered our current game (although I've called it a campaign, that's not really accurate) to be mostly a way to become comfortable again with the B/X rules and in DM'ing again. I hope to soon have a larger world sketched out and begin writing original scenarios (although I'll probably splice in some pre-published ones). The road map is:

Finish fleshing out the Relics that will lie at the heart of the high politics of man, monster, dieties, and demons. The day to day world will not revolve around these items, but they will help define the relations, goals, and motivations of a large number of powerful entities. I'm excited about the possibilities here, and how it will impact the player characters, indirectly at first and then (hopefully!) via their direct involvement with them.

Many of the deities of this world will be original although obviously they'll have their inspiration in pre-existing pantheons. They will be involved with the world of men in a number of ways, through their spheres of influence, the geography of their worshippers, and through the cycle of time itself - which leads into:

A calendar system - a simplified time system for gaming purposes concerned with the seasons and in which gods themselves may have their own temporal spheres of influence and periods of greater activity. The Relics' magic will in some ways correspond to this system.

World Map - something I've been putting off again and again but that just needs to get done.

That about does it. The glue will be the Relics themselves, the draft of their history's description, powers, and clues to their future involvement in the campaign setting is nearing completion...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Game Play Journal Update & Walkin' Around Town

I'm surprised that some folks don't do very much role playing in towns and cities - some don't do any, opting to quickly gloss over the mundane affairs of outfitting, carousing, gossiping with the locals, and all manner of non-dungeoneering sorts of things.

Even without frequent combat, the above ground interaction with your own species seems wonderfully pregnant with possibilities, and not just with plot hooks to get the players back into yet another dungeon further down the road. This type of adventure creation might be more demanding than underground design. Maintaining the interest of the players by creating NPCs with depth and personality, good plot lines, motivations, intrigue and politics, all of these are more akin to just good fiction or theater writing. I don't mean to demean good dungeon design at all, but I'm surprised at how many people just write off town and city gaming completely. I've gone back and forth on it myself, but in the end and speaking personally, it seems like simple laziness that makes me want to mostly avoid above ground design. And I don't mean that the majority of gaming shouldn't be in our favorite underground haunts, but I do admire those attempts I've seen at good design above it, or even just attempts at all.

Some of this came up during tonight's game with the retreat/return for R&R to town. Dropping off a hireling (who'd had enough of dungeoneering after watching his friend burn to death/turn to slime), looking for new ones, dividing the loot, upgrading and replacing equipment, carousing, taking note of suspicious characters... All of these were fun little diversions that could have been tedious but that allowed some interaction with NPCs and foreshadowing - it helps that there's a certain paranoia in the air that evil is undercover in town as well as existing down there in the dungeon.

What has bugged me slightly are the short time periods we've had for gaming lately - I really think at least several hours are needed to really get into the feel and flow of the game. An hour here or there is ok for maintaining the integrity of the campaign by not letting too much time go by between sessions, but it's no substitute for caffeine fueled marathon gaming.

Update: Just to add a plug for Sean Will's Cities of Swords and Sorcery. I've been meaning to get this for a while and just put in my order for a print copy - not sure if I'll use it directly, but I'm sure at minimum it will help inspire and encourage my own urban designs).

Game Play Journal Update

Even now, four or five sessions into this campaign, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m still more than a little bit rusty DM’ing. I’m improving and more comfortable, but one of the things I’m remembering as Nick and I continue his party’s adventures is that I’m much more interested in playing my own created dungeon/scenarios than one written by someone else. There are a number of reasons for this, but the first of which is that just by intimately knowing the contents of the dungeon, there will be better flow and role playing. Even though I’m not the best DM or dungeon creator, I’m sure I’ll be a better one just by knowing the map and its contents better in this way. There are plenty of excellent, epic modules published out there, and I look forward to playing a lot of them, but I don’t think you can beat homebrew for the sheer joy of sharing your creation and being comfortable with it - and there’s a built-in incentive to really excel when it’s your own work your sharing, versus someone else’s creation. Nothing new or shocking here, but that’s what I’ve been processing lately.

Which isn’t to say we’re not enjoying ourselves - the green slime encounter tonight (resulting in the death of a hireling and main party member) was a fun highlight. And somehow there just wasn’t enough light to go around, so talk began (the thief’s suggestion?) of fashioning a makeshift torch from a femur bone, some rags they found, and some pitch they’d brought along. Nothing like the smell of your fallen comrade’s burnt and slime dissolved remains to make the old clockwork orange start tickin’ a little faster.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Standing Ovation (Magic Spell)

Vince and I were sharing with each other our favorite useless spells from Drago's list, when I asked if he could come up with an original and potentially useful one. Among other things, he's an accomplished actor, so it shouldn't have surprised me when he proffered his spell, "Standing Ovation". With his permission, I've developed it a bit here:

Standing Ovation
Level 1
Duration: 1d4 turns
Range: 240'

The Standing Ovation spell causes humanoid creatures of up to 4 hit dice to stand and begin applauding while looking towards the spell caster. Creatures within an apx. 40' diameter circle can be affected. Paralyzed in the legs and not having control of their arms and hands, creatures of less than 3 HD will shout things such as "More!" or "Again!" believing the spell caster to be an extraordinary source of entertainment, continuing to applaud and shout even if the caster disappears from view. The thoughts and voices of those above 3HD
are not affected in this manner. Attacked creatures cease being affected. Undead are not affected by this spell.
To determine the number of affected creatures:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Odds & Ends - Lulu Discount, Ruins & Ronin, Mullen Shrine

Mike at Sword+1 has released Ruins & Ronin (also available for as a $1 PDF): "Rules for playing OD&D in a Japanese-like setting (based on the 1974 rules with no supplements)." It looks to be a great addition to the OSR based on the beta, so to speak, at the Mythmere Games forums, and most excellent cover art by a personal favorite, Peter Mullen. If you've been putting off buying a number of things at, this weekend's the time - use code "1776" to take $17 off your order of $76 or more. I Bit the Bulette and in addition to Mike D's R&R, got the OSRIC hardcover, Mutant Future, GG's Idol of the Orcs, and a hard copy of Jeff Rient's Miscellaneum of Cinder I'd already bought as a PDF, just 'cos I think it's that rad.

I finally finished the quest for a cleaner office space. It now compares very favorably with the previously posted pics here. I can see the desk! And yeah, there's a little shrine of Mullen artwork. What can I say, that guy rules! In the course of printing out those items, I actually had to upgrade the RAM on my printer, and was shocked to find I somehow had a spare 64mb so-dimm it needed to complete the job that worked just fine.

Lastly, the wifey came up with these three spells/mutant powers a month or so ago that I'd jotted down since they made me chuckle, and thought I'd post here:

• Crossed eyes resulting in fear, confusion, and paralysis in victim.
• Shoot BB's from eyes.
• Teleport to nearest bathroom while stopping time.

Happy 4th!

Dungeon! Boardgame: More scans

I'm not sure if I played Dungeon! before D&D or not, but it was close. I must have been about ten or eleven. I thought of it again when I played Labyrinth Lord with Josiah, and as much fun as we had that day, I think it might be just a little too early for him and that game. He enjoyed the miniatures so much though, I thought there must be a way for us to utilize them and still play a similar game that would be more suitable. Dungeon! seemed like the perfect solution, we'd just replace the plastic player pieces with the much cooler minis. The only downside being that of course I no longer had a copy. So I went on eBay and one small fortune later, presto, one Dungeon! boardgame. We haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I thought I'd share some scans here (see also my earlier post of the box bottom):

Board detail : Monster cards : Spell cards : Treasure cards

(please do not link directly to these images due to bandwidth considerations)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Campaign Setting Concept: Religious Conflict

Don raised an interesting idea in an earlier blog post comment, and it lead me to think about religion more in my campaign setting. I've always run a more sandboxy style of play as DM (see The Grumblin Grognard's "Sandbox vs. Adventure Paths" posts). That said, setting up a larger background's religious conflict might be very cool. I'm not talking about the St. Cuthbert vs. Lolth variety, I'm talking about the conflict between deities or whole pantheons where language, history, and culture comes into play, regardless of alignment differences. Has this been played up or examined in any Greyhawk (or newer) campaign setting?

I'm envisioning a much more subtle and challenging set of moral dilemmas for players and characters to confront. What of the zealous, self-righteous religion, bent on evangelism but not necessarily evil unto itself? Or does the the very nature of an expansionist, evangelistic religion in the game automatically define itself as "evil" in some sense, given the polytheistically open, or at least objective nature of the rules system itself?

My ideal campaign setting would in many ways mirror the current social/political/spiritual reality, yet would retain a very fantasy and medieval feel: the concentration of magic power geographically being analagous to our present energy situation, the cultural battle between progressive and fundamentalist visions, and the conflict and confusion of a new and compelling pantheon of Gods or beliefs in juxtaposition with the traditional ways and faiths. Combining these elements as campaign building blocks might be very fun to explore, especially if I can get the actual geographics of it right.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

HLFW's Stats on God, Virgin Mary, etc.!

Lest you think I made it up, here's a scan of the page containing game stats on God, The Virgin Mary, Joseph, and a holy host of others in Galloway's game. Wacky. At least there's a number of question marks for God, even if His combat level is in fact quantifiable! My apologies if this offends anyone. Just to be clear, I'm not a member of any church or religious organization and am just sharing it here as an item of trivial interest...