Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reminder: Huge Bundle with Haiti Relief Donation - Last Day

Just a reminder that today is the last day to receive the huge bundle of PDFs offered by OneBookShelf for your $20 donation to Haiti relief efforts. You can also donate $5 or $10 and they will match your gift. More information (including the list of PDFs).

Saturday, January 30, 2010

OSRIC Session Journal: Into the Tower

In the last session there was some attempted recon of the Tower and the area near its base. This session, the PCs were determined to enter. Demurarg, the female magic user NPC suggested a plan whereby she would somehow gain entrance from the back of the tower and then signal the others once they’d entered from the front to warn them of impending attack by the tentacled creatures on the ground floor that had killed her own original party. She was still acting very suspiciously and wouldn’t allow the PCs to see how she was going to gain access from the rear of the tower (a 30’ high balcony entrance).

Everyone but her went around the other side for a frontal assault, even though I strongly felt (I’m a player in this OSRIC campaign) that she was quite possibly leading us into a trap. There was plenty of confusion about what to do with the horses as there was very little in the way of trees or anything else to tie them up to, but eventually we found something. At one point Anrid the Fighter tried to hack the head off of the staked down thing in front of the tower as a cautionary step before pulling up the stakes with which it was impaled to the ground for use with holding the horses. Strangely, the head could not be completely severed and the metal stakes were impossible to remove from the ground.

Having gotten distracted from the coordinated plan of attack, they heard a whistle signal coming from the tower entrance, and hurried to it. They discovered that there was some flooding around its base, some of it as much as 20’ wide. They had to wade through this to get to the entrance, and again paranoia and precaution was high, but nothing attacked. It was discovered, though, that this moat of sorts was comprised of half water half mud as much as 2-3' high, so the approach was slowed as would be any retreat, making everyone most uncomfortable.

The dwarves' infravision wasn’t working very well from the outside as they attempted to peer into the darkness of the tower’s base level. They ended up throwing a torch in there to see what they could see, but it quickly extinguished by landing and rolling into more water. Suddenly it began to rain and a big thunderous sound was heard but there was no accompanying lightning. All of this water seemed strange as the climate and terrain had been barren and dry previously (there are no trees of any size in the area).

The two dwarves stomped into the base of the tower, and suddenly heard the whistling of Demurarg, warning them of the approach of creatures. The dwarves retreated back to the entrance way, and short tentacled creatures with flippers were seen approaching. I have no idea what these are, as I can’t remember anything from the 1e MM or Fiend Folio remotely like them that would might be encountered by such a group of low level characters - of course that’s not to say that it might not be something of higher caliber. I’m guessing it was home brew, as eventually we killed one of the pair of the beasts with our crossbow, slings, and darts, alternately fleeing and then returning on horseback once it was pursued us across the muddy moat. They were slow moving and never seemed a real threat to the party - the group that had accompanied Demurarg originally must have not been very cautious in their approach to have been nearly wiped out as they were.

After killing one, everyone fled to the rear again to hopefully regroup with Demurarg - there was still one of the beasts in the tower with her. She came out onto the balcony and asked us to throw her a rope (Aha! She must have levitated up there). We did so, but she had nothing to tie it to, and threw it back and then ran back inside. We waited, hoping she would appear again, but she didn’t. Finally we went back around the front of the tower and entered again. This time there was no sight of the other tentacled beast. We found a stairwell that was partially collapsed. The thief Gladric successfully rolled to climb walls and managed to get around the collapse. Once on the other side, he threw a rope and pulled the gnome over. Then the two tied themselves together and pulled the other dwarf up. Eventually they all made it over in this fashion.

Proceeding up the stairs, they passed the balcony where they’d seen Demurarg. The thief was able to hammer some spikes into stonework and then throw his rope around/through them and down off the balcony in the hopes of both providing a quick emergency exit from the tower as well as a potentially easier way back to where they were now.

They reached the 2nd level, and bypassed a door when they heard a whistle in response to their calls and own whistling. They found Demurarg unharmed in a small empty room just past the first, entered, took stock, and spiked the door shut with the aim of resting and allowing her to recuperate and memorize spells. This seemed like a good place to end the session as well.

The first couple of hours were really frustrating tonight, with all the continued recon and hesitancy of just entering the tower and then battling the creatures. Still, the PCs range from 5-8 hit points, so the prudence seems warranted. I was so glad to find Demurarg and spike the door shut. Later as I tried to get to sleep, I kept visualizing tentacled creatures in a tower emerging and pursuing me across a mud filled moat.

Friday, January 29, 2010

RPGKids - Session Report

I've played Labyrinth Lord with my three young nephews a couple of times, and though we had fun, overall I was left with the feeling that trying again in a year or two might be best. Meanwhile, my friend John in PA, a 4e player, had been trying to find a D&D-like game that would be suitable for he and his six year old boy to play. I suggested RPGKids, and below is his response - I thought someone here might find it of interest as I know a lot of us old schoolers now have kids right in this age range...

We've been playing the good guys vs bad guys rpg with the boy. Very fun.

He likes playing the bad guys.

I found some free fantasy counters to print out, so we have 5 different party members and a bunch of kobolds, goblins and zombies. Adrian & Ruth designed a party, so we just agree on some monsters and Adrian picks a map out of my Keep of the Shadowfall module and we go for it.

This morning for instance, we found a graveyard map and he put 2 zombies, 2 dagger throwing zombies -- he wanted them to be poisonous daggers! -- and 2 skeleton archers in some coffins in the tomb. They started making noise, so we rolled initiative. Our big fighter stepped in first to investigate while the zombies patiently waited for him to make the first move. Then they leaped out and attacked everyone. About 5 turns later, everybody was dead, especially the poor magic-user who was ganged up on: the confident Josephina casts magic missle -- roll 19 -- toward the skeleton archer who is curiously unharmed by the spell's magic -- roll 20. I think we'll have to add a healer class to help the party survive such onslaughts!

Thanks for the rules (link)... We've already thought about different versions of the game (like healers mentioned above). Or bigger badder monsters with more hit points and area damage, i.e. dragons. I think I can get him up to playing with a couple of my friends in a full blown d&d4e session.

But the main thing is just being able to whip out a map and some miniatures -- or counters -- and just play for 1/2 an hour or an hour so those original rules are very cool.

Then he followed up in another email:

By the way, he mentioned Josephina's demise this morning again. "Remember when the skeleton rolled a 20 and Josephina rolled a 19?"
"Yes, I do. Poor Josephina couldn't do anything."
"And now they're all dead," he responded with a smile.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The New Free Dice Bag, A Review, Sorta...

I’m not very confident about writing reviews of new OS products, even though I end up buying a lot of them. After all, most of you have much more experience with the game than myself, certainly in the last year at least. I know experience doesn’t necessarily equal greater insight...still, I hesitate. Yesterday, however, I found a product that I was comfortable reviewing.

I should start this decadent review off by saying that at first I was a Scotch drinker. I never liked bourbon, and though the first few Scotches I tasted almost made me toss, it’s possible that the taste buds of those under the age of thirty are simply not mature enough to appreciate most Scotches. On the other hand, from the younger perspective, you simply cannot trust a Scotch drinker. In any event, I somehow persevered and eventually discovered Balvenie Doublewood. Their Singlewood or Portwood are also fantastic, esp. the latter. As years went by and more people found Balvenie, the price went up. And then, sadly, there were budget cuts. So I downgraded slightly to single malt Irish whisky. At last here I settled on Jameson 1780. Quite nice and cost effective. Unfortunately, there were further budget cuts. American bourbon it was to be! After flirting with Knob Creek (nice, but it will never be smooth) and some locally produced (Oregon) whisky, among other things, I finally settled on Sazerac Rye (originally from New Orleans), a wonderful compromise between flavor, smoothness, and price. A nose of “Vanilla, clove, anise and pepper”, taste of “Candied spices and citrus”, and a “Smooth, licorice and smoked pepper” finish. Yum! Even more recently though, I’ve journeyed into the spirits land of the Canadians. I’ve spent many summers on the shores of the St. Lawrence and a couple of years living only a short drive to Niagara Falls - time enough to occasionally let loose an “Eh?” after a great amount of libation. It seems natural or familiar somehow, perhaps similar to my return to D&D, that I should have evolved or revolved to the mapley sweetness of Canada's own interpretation of whisky.

So more recently I’ve been picking up the Pendleton Canadian Whisky. I try to be a localist as a consumer, so I was initially attracted to it as it seemed to be made here. But the fact is, it’s only bottled in Oregon, hence it’s still Canadian. Thank Thor for this particular orlæg. If you like Canadian Whisky, you have to try it.

Of course before I stumbled on this, the ichor of the gods, I dabbled again with Crown Royal. Yes, a little sad. I really did need a dice bag after all those years, and it was tried and true. Well, anyhow, two birds with one stone, or debit card as it was.

But then, just yesterday, I made the rare (ahem) journey to the liquor store to procure more Pendleton, and saw a strange and new offering on the shelf - Canadian Club. The name was very familiar, but here was a startling thing - a bag! A bag perhaps to challenge the supremacy of the Crown Royal purple dice bag of yore! Taking stock, it turned out that if I bought a smaller than usual bottle of Pendleton, I could also buy the bottle of Canadian Club and get the FREE BLACK dice bag. It’s possible that these Canadian Club bags have been around for awhile and I just noticed ‘em, but still, here’s the review:

I like it. The whisky that is.

I decided to write down my thoughts immediately after drinking it so as not to be swayed by the opinions of others. Here’s what I wrote...

Smooth. Not as sweet as Crown Royal (as far as memory serves). Nice, quick finish, but lacking the subtlety and spice of Pendleton.

So after writing these few words I googled “Canadian Club vs. Crown Royal” and found this review, with which I agree 100%.

Ah, but what about the dice bag you say? Well sir, it’s crap. Number one, it’s simply too large. Much larger than the Crown Royal bag. Number two, the material! Not soft! Rough and cheap! And where are the reinforcing extra gold stitches to be found on the CR bag? Nothing like those here. And the drawstring? Also cheap. Finally, the stitched words themselves are far too verbose, in comparison to the simple and proud “Crown Royal” to be found on the classic purple bags.

Really, it’s a shame. A black bag, of comparable quality to the CR bag, might have resulted in several hundred extra sales, because generally black is cooler than purple. Even the wordiness of the CC bag might have been overlooked if the cloth and pull string were better made. Twas not to be, gentle readers. So I urge you, implore you even, to not impulse buy this whisky, as I did, based purely on the appearance of this (new?) marketing scheme. You will be disappointed.

Only slightly though, two birds with one stone after all. :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yet Another D&D Documentary Coming...

Continuing my string of lazy posts here, today's is about how I discovered (probably after all of you) that there's another documentary coming out about D&D. This one's called "The Dungeon Masters". Maybe this is the one Christian was thinking of in the comments for my earlier post, as yes, it does look like it might be a little exploitative based on the trailer. Or maybe it was just precognition. Still of a DM from the movie above, promo text below...

"An evil drow-elf is displaced by Hurricane Katrina. A sanitation worker lures friends into a Sphere of Annihilation. A failed supervillain starts a cable access show involving ninjas, puppets, and a cooking segment.

These are the characters, real and imagined, of The Dungeon Masters: Against the backdrop of crumbling middle-class America, two men and one woman devote their lives to Dungeons and Dragons, the storied role-playing game, and its various descendants. As their baroque fantasies clash with mundane real lives, the characters find it increasingly difficult to allay their fear, loneliness, and disappointment with the game's imaginary triumphs. Soon the true heroic act of each character's real life emerges, and the film follows each as he or she summons the courage to face it.

Along the way, The Dungeon Masters reimagines the tropes of classic heroic cinema, creating an intimate portrait of minor struggles and triumphs writ large."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Clockwork Xvart

Xvarts always reminded me of Alex and his droogs. This GIMP inspired by a recent OS blog's entry whose name I've forgotten between sips of Moloko...apologies!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New D&D Reality TV Show Being Made?

I read on Reddit that one of Zak's players had twittered that she was being paid for playing D&D, so I asked him about it and was surprised at his reply that on that day she was paid - and that it was because "We taped the first episode of what will no doubt be the longest running reality-tv series about porn chicks, models and strippers playing D&D ever."

Whoa! Well, I'm sure the franchise will survive however it turns out. Given that he's in Hollywood, I wonder if this has actually been picked up somewhere or if it's just a lark. I wonder what the D&D community's response will be...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Limerick: The Bulette

We canceled last night's S&W session and are in the process of creating two more characters to replace the ones killed by last session's goblins. I decided to offer the option to play the additional classes laid out in Salvatore Macri's Supplemental Lore for S&W Core, and the Assassin was chosen. I can't remember the last time I DM'd with one of these and am looking forward to the plot twist potential it affords.

Meanwhile, I was inspired to write this limerick by a post on Christian's blog...not quite the traditional form but the best I could do...

There are some who pronounce it “boo-lay”
Mostly those who enjoy a word play
Others speak it “bull-et” -
Either way, don’t forget
It can really ruin your parté.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dungeons & Dragons Documentary Being Made

It looks like their site is still under construction but there's some basic information up about a D&D documentary being made by a pair of students at SDSU. I get the sense that it's mostly about the culture, though it's hard to say from the trailer (Quicktime). Might be interesting... I'll have to put a reminder on my calendar to check back on their progress.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Alleged Mutant Washes Ashore

A friend pointed out this sad and odd story posted on WPIX (re-posted here in case the link goes bad)...sure to cause conspiracy theorists a headspin or two:

PLUM ISLAND, N.Y. (WPIX) - An alleged mutated human body washed ashore on Plum Island, a small island where the U.S. Government typically studies dangerous animal diseases.

A security guard on foot patrol reportedly discovered the clothed decomposing body Thursday afternoon on the southwest beach area of the island, where access is restricted, police said.

The body was described as that of a white male about 6-feet tall with a large build and "very long" fingers. According to authorities, there were no obvious signs of trauma.

An autopsy will be conducted by the Suffolk County medical examiner in order to determine an exact cause of death.

Plum Island, which is located about 100 miles northeast of New York City in the Long Island Sound, has been called a potential target for terrorists because of its stock of vaccines and diseases.
4:57 PM EST, January 15, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tavern Graffiti: The Orcs Have A God...

The orcs have a god they call Mork
Who some say said not to eat pork
After all they're pig faced
So it'd be debased -
Like seeing your mum on a fork.

*I do not play Warhammer.
*I'm actually offended by this. :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Haiku from Haiku

I haven't taken a decent vacation trip anywhere in many years, and my wife surprised me with a trip to Maui for my 40th birthday this year. At one point there, we found ourselves driving through the small town of Haiku and as dorky as it was, we couldn't resist stopping off at the local post office, buying some generic postcards, and quickly composing haikus to mail to ourselves back in Oregon... mine went:

A far away place -
Reprieve from dungeon and dark...
The elf awakens.

I would have preferred to follow the form laid down by M. Battleaxe (with the theme of monsters being favored) but that was all I could come up with on the spur of the moment. Good to be back, I see the Dungeon Alphabet arrived in my absence - I'll add to the chorus and say it's a great looking book and surely a bargain even though I haven't yet had the chance to really read through it yet.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Break Time

Gonna take a break from posting for a couple of weeks, just a little sorely needed vacation. If you see re-run posts this month, that's why... Best, zB