Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wizardly Wednesday

Let me tell you of the days of high adventure...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Brief FLAILSNAILS Announcement

The pieces of the legendary Rod of Seven Parts have been hidden in seven different FLAILSNAILS campaigns.

All FLAILSNAILS players are welcome to participate in this multiversal scavenger hunt. In fact, on behalf of the referees involved I double dog dare you to come get it.

We humbly request that all other FLAILSNAILS referees forbear placing the Rod in their own campaign, but please be prepared in case someone shows up to your game with some fraction of it.

Redistribute this announcement as you please.

found this at my local con

'At this point, I should let you know what it is that makes me qualified to write such a set of charts.  Let's start with the fact that I have been gaming for more than 10 years and ran the "Armadillo Game Club" for a few years.  As well as the fact that I am a "Contributing Editor" for a local game "fanzine".'

That passage from the intro to this book cracks me up a bit.  Dude, it doesn't matter if you were president of the local chapter of Nerds Anonymous, either the charts work or they don't.

So anyway, RPG DATA CON is 30 pages of conversion charts from 1992.  Here are the systems it attempts to cover:

various Palladium games
MERP, RoleMaster & SpaceMaster
CyberPunk 2020
the original Marvel rpg
the original DC rpg
Call of Cthulhu
Vampires [sic]
FASA's Star Trek
WEG Star Wars
Dark Conspiracy
Dark Space
Mekton II

All RPG DATA CON tackles are raw character stats.  You won't find rules here for converting AD&D spells to FASA Trek or statting out Mekton machines for MERP.

One of the charts is called "Level & Points".  Here we learn that a 16th level AD&D character is roughly equal to a 74th level RoleMaster character or a 400 point Champs character.

Monday, February 27, 2012

You know who can drink like the devil himself?

Lemmikaïnen the Elf, that's who.  After today's expedition under Dundagel the rest of the party departed for their various home universes.  (Ba Chim the Landsknecht-Elf and his henchwoman, Radomir the Antichrist and shield-bearer, Subarau o' the Rags and his dog, Rotgut.  I think got that all right.  Can't find my note.)  Lemmikaïnen strolled into the Abbey guesthouse and plonked down 200 gold for some carousing fun.  His save versus poison to avoid embarassment was a natural '20', so he doesn't let slip anything about the expedition during the next couple of days worth of drunken hellraising.

Thus everyone else at the guesthouse somehow ends up with the impression that Lemmikaïnen is both the life of the party and a big ol' party pooper at the same time.

3-D Dundagel grounds

Courtney Campbell, the mysterious "-C" of Hack & Slash, drew this based off my crappy MSpaint 2-d version.  Thanks, dude!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Enlist today!

So I made this thing called LasFodder: In the grimdark future there is only sci-fi fucking Viet Nam.  It's a short roleplaying-ish add-on for the original 1987 Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader rules.  You can read the first draft here.

I may run this via Google+ Hangouts some time.  If you'd maybe like to play, just follow the chargen rules and record your results in the official rolls of Sampi Company.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Behold... the Space Wizard!

My buddy Pat made this.
He's pretty cool.

Brendan's 20 Rules Questions

Brendan is on to something here.

Here are his questions and my quickie answers for Wessex.
  1. Ability scores generation method? - 3d6 in order
  2. How are death and dying handled? - 0 is out, -1 is dead
  3. What about raising the dead? - 1,250gp; 1,000gp in advance
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? - roll, then beam in
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? - group d6, high wins, tie goes to players
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? - 1 fumble, 20 crit, Arduin charts
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? - can save you from a head crit
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? - possibly
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? - run!
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? - yes
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? - yes
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? - not very strict most of the time
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? - immediate advances, MU types get one new random spell
  14. What do I get experience for? - treasure, defeating foes, carousing, exploring
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? - either/or
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? - yes, I sometimes roll BX morale
  17. How do I identify magic items? read magic or consult the local witch (250gp)
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? - random potion d6x100gp
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? - only at high levels, per BX
  20. What about splitting the party? - go for it

on funky powers & special maneuvers

So once upon a time I played a few sessions in one of Dave Hoover's Feng Shui campaigns.  This was back before he and his wife Heather ran my kickass local game store, so he still had time to GM.  Dave's one of the best GM's I've ever played under.  My time in his campaign was short solely because I prefer to run rather than play, so I launched my D&D3.5 game not long afterwards and didn't have time to do both..

He will kick your ass.
Feng Shui is basically the game of playing all Hong Kong action movies at the same time.  There's a background involving time travel and demons from the Netherworld and cyborgs from the future of  Orwell's 1984, but the jist of it is "You're John Woo with two pistols, I'm shirtless Bruce Lee.  Lo Pan is stirring some shit.  Let's go."

I played an Old Kung Fu Master template (character class) that I'm pretty sure was designed for jolly little Mr. Miyagi types.  For my own guy (see the picture) I decided that he would be a villain like the guy who gets his balls busted at the end of the 1977 classic Invincible Armor.  My basic line of explorations was "What if the evil white-haired master of a thousand deadly techniques worked for the good guys?"  Since these guys always roll around in wicked cool robes that my guy would be horrible at blending in with modern Hong Kong society.  The pic of him in his civilian clothes is swiped from an old column called FashionSWAT.  Since have the players in the game had chosen templates based upon white action heroes (I think we had a Mafia thug and a Kurt Russell from Big Trouble in Little China, among others) I also decided that my guy would be a grumpy old racist who thought all honkies looked alike.

But my main problem with this dude was with his charsheet.  I claimed to be master of 10,000 ways of killing a man, but mechanically I really only knew 5 different Kung Fu tricks.  So I borrowed a trick from Champions, where pretty much any fluff can be assigned to any game mechanic.  Enter: Chris Pound.  Chris Pound's Language Machines is a collection of word-recombination toys that any GM should keep handy.  Need a few Tsolyani names for your Empire of the Petal Throne game? Bam! Howzabout five hundred Dying Earth style spell names? Suck on this Vancian magic!

For this old kung fu bastard with the ugly suit I printed out this sample list of crazy martial art maneuver names.  Every time I used a perfectly ordinary melee attack I would call out one of these names and then mark it off of my list.  One round a simple punch would become "Roaring Mantis Scratch!", the next round the exact same mechanic became "Golden Sun Claw!"  I never shared the whole list with the other players, so they were always in suspense regarding what sort of nonsense I would next spout.  One time, as an experiment, I simply rolled my attack without calling out its name.  Everyone was visibly disappointed until I quickly looked at my list and tacked on a maneuver name.

I think musing on this experience recently has given me a little insight into why some of the 4e enthusiasts are freaked out about the way 5e seems to be leaning towards the old school.  They don't want to go back to the days of "I swing my sword, again".  That's perfectly understandable.  If I was playing a 4e PC with a dozen weirdo powers I'd probably enjoy announcing my kickassedness just like I did with my white-haired kung fu douchebag.  I think a fair number of Exalted players dig on that as well.

But I also think my Feng Shui experience might demonstrate that you don't really need any mechanics backing you up to achieve that sort of baroque combat ballet.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Caves of Myrddin: Nothing quite like the smell of smoldering PC.

A Space Wizard kinda looks
like this but with a robe and
glowy Tron lines all over.
So last night the game store group made two trips to the dungeons below Castle Dundagel.  The first one was a bit of a disaster.  Fifteen men/dwarves/elves plus a donkey went in, but only four came out, each carrying a blasted corpse of one of the dudes who didn't save versus the Space Wizard's fireball.  Fred the Dwarf would have been among the dead, but he threw himself inside of Father Aethelred's protection from evil circle just before the fireball detonated.  That turned his roll of 7 into an 8, which is good enough to save when you're a dwarf with some levels under your belt.

Since these guys are the ones who plundered the Dragon's lair, they hauled ass over to the Bishop of Cornwall and spent some money to get some raise dead spells thrown on their comrades.

One of the guys who was raised was Mike's brand new first level PC, the cleric Brother Walter.  This was Mike's first run.  He showed up just as we're starting and said something like "Hi, I'm Mike!  I just found your blog about 15 minutes ago and I saw you were running tonight."  That's the second time this has happened.  The first time there was a Total Party Kill fifteen minutes later ("If we can kill this sleeping dragon before it breathes...").  The second time the new guy wakes up dead with his boss's boss staring him in the face.  Good times.  Incidentally, Mike had played 2e once before but got his sea legs with 3e, so this was an entirely new type of D&D for him.  He seemed to be digging on it.

I can't tell you about the second trip into the dungeons, because the party never came back out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wizardly Wednesday

Gig poster by artist Jason Killinger.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Four Deaths of the Cornishmen

Salvatore the Cleric rolled on my random henchmen table before this morning's expedition.  He got the result of "d6 mercs".  Further rolls indicated 5 "desperate locals", which I decided were men who lost their families to the Dragon. Nearly mad with grief, they signed on in hopes of causing the Dragon some annoyance before they died. Here are their fates, in chronological order.

1) Blasted to a blackened skeleton. Should have thrown the torch instead of walking up to the volatile chemical and igniting it by hand.
2) Left to guard a corridor. Shredded by giant rats.
3) Drowned when the halfling opened a secret door holding back 12,000 cubic feet of water
4) Traded (along with a magic ring) to a wicked silver spider with a body the size of a VW beetle. What did the party get in exchange? Their own miserable lives.
5) The last one fled when the silver spider attacked, so he didn't see the party callously sacrifice his buddy. He survived.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Art of the Citadel Compendium

If you like things that are awesome do yourself a favor a go over here and click 'Citadel Compendium' over in the left-hand column.  I've always seen this work billed as a catalog for the early Citadel range, but it's much more than that.  There's capsule rules for Warhammer Fantasy Battles and an embryonic form of 40K, scenarios, and advice for painting and sculpting figures.  And the art is absolutely glorious.  Dig it:

I know those are goat horns, but I keep wanting to read the cover as an homage to the vorpal bunny scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail.  The head is rather rabbitish in shape and those knights in the background look rather... hesitant.

Best tagline ever?

These dudes are supposed to be giants, but man that dude with the finger pointing up is totally badass.  I may cut him out of the pic and use him as a PC sometime.  The guy with the eyepatch next to him is also great.  That's obviously meant to be a boulder in his upraised hand, but imagine it as a mystic orb and him as a really sketchy magic-user.

I know those are just two revolvers, but I can kinda want that to be a pic of a gun with its own gun attached.

How's that for a dungeon entrance?  Photoshop project: change "(first) Citadel Compendium" to "Jungle, Baby!"

These dudes are wicked cool.  The slann (frog-dude in the middle) has an ax on his shoulder, but it kinda looks like he's holding a big fat cigar.

I have no idea what is going on here, but I know who to blame: RICK PRIESTLEY.

Empire of the Petal Throne referees should totally add these dudes to their campaign immediately.

Nice comic book style sound effect.  Note that Our Hero is attacking this dude from behind.

My greatest hope for this blog post is that some gamer named Mark sees this pic and starts a new blog named The Mark of Chaos.  Come on, Mark!  You know you want to!

There is nothing about this picture that isn't great.  Two details I love: 1) the orc in the back with both his jaw and weapon dropped, 2) the shooter's left hand making a "don't worry, I got this" gesture.

I'll close with three absolutely wonderful Chaos Mutant creatures.  Enjoy.

If you meet any of this trio in my dungeons, remember BLAME RICK PRIESTLEY.

Friday, February 17, 2012

minor Caves of Myrddin item

The Dragon of Dundagel has been spotted flying in the direction of the Outlands

Consider yourselves warned.

Wandering Fumbles

Howzabout a post wherein my commenters do all the heavy lifting?  That sounds like a nice lazy-ass way to start the weekend.

A while back I made an off-handed remark about wanting a fumble chart for non-combat situations.

Lasgunpacker asked "Jeff, when would you apply non-combat fumbles?"

Whether Mr. Moscrip still lives
under this bridge is unknown at
the time of this writing.
Michael Moscrip, a.k.a. migellito, a.k.a. The Grumpy Old Troll replied with what I would have said:

I think I'd use the Generic Fumble table as an entry on a wandering monster chart. I always have several non-monster events on my wandering monster tables.

Other things besides monsters that sometimes appear on my Wandering Monster charts include sounds, smells, odd sensations, and dungeon events ("d6 orcs from room 54 go take a leak in hallway 7").

In response to me request Will Douglas, the Coffee Swillin' Analog Gamer, wrote this d30-based Random Mishap chart.  He has some empty slots on his chart, either to be filled in by DM's or left empty for fewer fumbles per session.

And here's Uncle Matt's Generic Non-Combat Fumbles (d12)

1) Torch dropped for no good reason.
2) Stumble and break nose on flagstone.
3) Nasty spores infect the rations.
4) Hip-deep in guano.
5) One of your flasks or bottles breaks and leaks through.
6) A boot dies. Got a replacement?
7) You drop it. Loud, loud clang. Like a dinner bell.
8) Cloak gets tangled in someone's weapon.
9) Spilled backpack.
10) As you stagger, your coins roll out in every direction.
11) Mishandled torch sets someone's Typical Fantasy Hair/Beard on fire.
12) You stumble over an imaginary unseen deceased turtle. Have a good laugh, dust yourself off, and get back out there. Lucky thing this system doesn't have lethal fumbles, eh?

Thanks for the charts, fellas!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

WTF Virginia Woolf?

Anybody recognize the monster in the photo pinned to the door behind Elizabeth Taylor?  It looks to me like some dude in either a mask or make-up featuring a skull look with fangs, plus horns or maybe antennae.  My guess is that it's from an old schlocky monster movie.

Detail from a screenshot of the 1966 film version of
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Mystery Minis revealed!

So these figures were sold in the earliest days of Warhammer 40K as robots.  Any players from the Rogue Trader era (the original game, not the recent RPG) remember actually using the robot rules?  They're pretty much the most complicated part of the original game, as I recall.

Those of you who identified these figures as BattleTech mechs, fret not!  The top one is a dead ringer for the Archer, an 70-ton missile monster from first BT boxed set (and one of the anime designs later de-canonized as "Unseen").  The one with chicken legs is clearly based off of Duane Loose's original illo of the Catapult from the original BattleTech Technical ReadOut 3025, the first big book o' mechs.  

[Side note for BTech nerds on the Catapult's connection to the later Madcat from the Clan era:  Years before the clan stuff was in print a guy from Chicago (where FASA was headquartered) would occasionally come to my part of Illinois for BattleTech events.  He owned a Catapult figure to which he had attached Marauder arms.  He even called it a Madcat.] 

The bottom robot isn't an exact match to any mech design I've seen, but it's very close to Loose's version of the Vindicator, House Liao's 45-ton miscellaneous workhorse machine.  Dig the illo:

Loose rules.

Note the head mounted laser.  The arm mounted laser is not visible in this pic, but the Vindicator definitely has one.  Basically, if you swap out that big ol' particle cannon for a proper forearm and hand you'd end up with something that looks a crapload like the 'SAM' Type Light Wardroid from Slocombe.

Anyway, I was just curious yesterday to find out if anyone remembered these guys as 40K robots.  I knew a lot of people would see them as BattleTech figures.  Coopdevil offered a theory in the comments yesterday that these guys started as licensed figures, but I think the missing cannon on the SAM points more towards "borrowed" designs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wizardly Wednesday: magnets are magic

Wade Rockett thought this would be a good idea.

The Case of the Mystery Minis

WITHOUT looking at other people's guesses, please leave a comment where you attempt to identify the figures below.  Thank you for humoring me.  I'll reveal the answer in a follow-up post tomorrow.

Sorry about that stupid white line running through two of the figures.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Material Components: Pros & Cons

So I hope everyone got a chance to check out my list of first level components that the local witch would sell if I decided to run my campaign with AD&D first edition.  Not long after the announcement of the new reprints a someone on a thread over on Google+ asked what mechanical weirdness people would cut from the rules if they opted to run AD&D1 again.  My from-the-hip answer was "almost nothing".  If I'm going to run AD&D again I'm going to try to tackle the whole dang mess.  Hence the new weapons chart I did a few days ago and yesterday's material components chart.  Ability score limits by gender are about the only thing I can think of that I would outright jettison.  I'd even try keeping the stupid alignment rules.

Anyway, let's look at some of the issue surrounding material components for spellcasting.

CON: The are a giant headache for the DM.  Obviously this is why no one uses them.  Even with that Dragon article assisting me, that chart yesterday was a giant pain in the ass to make.  And it only covers the first level spell components for sale in one specific shop.  Someone with programming skills could automate the process, but you'd still need a multi-page printout for each magic shop in your campaign world.

PRO: They're a tool for the DM.  You know what's missing from Dremelza's shelf of first level components?  Pearls, owl feathers and live miniature carp.  Those plus wine are the necessary components for Identify.  She doesn't sell them (in fact maybe she buys pearls at a fair price, if asked) because she holds a local monopoly on Identify spells.  A PC entering the region with Identify is suddenly in a new situation.  And what is RPG play if not an exploration of new situations?

CON: Players don't want to mess with this crap.  AD&D1 already has a pretty intense character sheet.  Do you really want to add tracking how much of each of the three things you need to cast Friends?  And what happens if you fall in a pit and half the little jars in your component pouch break?

PRO: Players can use this crap against enemy wizards.  Enterprising thieves can forget backstabbing the necromancer, just swipe his belt pouch instead!

CON: Oh crap, that means I need to generate the component pouch of every NPC spellcaster.  Again, a little computerfication should help here.

PRO: Thinking about where the NPC spellcastes get their components can lead to new adventure situations.  Take the PC who wants to Identify some stuff rather than pay Dremelza through the nose.  Where does she get these components?  She needs a good supply, given that she casts Identify more often than just about any other spell in her spellbook (except maybe Polymorph Other, people on her bad side tend to end up turned into animals).  Perhaps her tiny carp and pearls come from the sea elves who live near the coast.

CON: Gathering components can really bog down a session.  Imagine the party stumbles into a standard bat-filled cavern.  The illusionist immediately starts pestering the DM about how much bat fur can be gathered to fuel his Darkness spell.  How the crap would I know?

PRO: Any activity that further the campaign that isn't just killing things will only make the play experience richer.  In fact, my whole argument probably rests on this assumption.  "I can't cast Comprehend Languages because I'm out of salt" is a bummer for the PC and the party relying on him, but it sure keeps things interesting.  And watching the players squirm as the elf swallows a live spider to cast Spider Climb will never, ever get old.

Obviously this post isn't going to convince everyone to adopt material components.  I'm not even trying to do that.  But let's talk this out.  If you see an objection that I missed or you feel I've glossed over, please say so in the comments.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dremelza's Front Room

Here's what the local witch in my campaign would sell to first level PCs, if I was running AD&D first edition. The numbers are based upon (but not identical to) those found in "Living in a Material World", Dragon #81 (January 1984).  Jamie Mal has the rundown on that piece here.  (For those of you playing at home, assume Dremelza is an MU7 and that Camelton is a village of a little less than a thousand inhabitants.)

Tomorrow I'd like to talk about material components, but today I just want to hit you with some raw data.

Bat fursmall packet1010gp60%
Bitumensmall vial2050gp100%
Blood, mammalsmall vial510gp70%
Brass, powderedsmall vial1050gp100%
Brazierindividual item1250gp100%
Burrssmall packet1010gp100%
Chalkindividual piece110gp100%
Charcoalsmall packet110gp100%
Coalindividual piece110gp80%
Copper wireindividual piece110gp100%
Cricket, livesmall jar110gp100%
Crucifix, woodenindividual itemunlimited1gp100%
Crystal, clearindividual pieceunlimited55gp100%
Crystal, yellowindividual piece1100gp70%
Dirtsmall packet1010gp100%
Dungsmall packet1010gp100%
Evergreenindividual sprig110gp80%
Fleecesmall packet1010gp80%
Flour, whitesmall packet1010gp100%
Glass, yellowindividual piece110gp70%
Grasshopper legssmall vial41gp100%
Herb mixturesmall packet1100gp100%
Incenseindividual stick110gp80%
Ink, specialtysmall vial1300gp100%
Iron & silver, powdered mixturesmall vial1075gp100%
Iron, powderedsmall vial1035gp100%
Lampblacksmall vial1010gp100%
Lodestoneindividual piece125gp70%
Mercurytiny vial20250gp90%
Mica, yellowindividual piece110gp70%
Mirror, small silverindividual itemunlimited100gp70%
Mistletoe, borrowedindividual sprig15gp70%
Oaken clubsingle weaponunlimited10gp80%
Parchment coneindividual piece15gp100%
Pease, split driedsmall packet101gp100%
Phosphorussmall vial1050gp100%
Prism, mineralindividual pieceunlimited50gp100%
Rose petalssmall packet1010gp100%
Saltsmall vial101gp100%
Sand, bluesmall vial1010gp70%
Sand, finesmall vial1010gp100%
Sand, redsmall vial1010gp70%
Sand, yellowsmall vial1010gp70%
Shamrockssmall packet1025gp70%
Silkindividual square110gp90%
Silver, powderedsmall vial10100gp80%
Sootsmall vial1010gp100%
Spider, livesmall jar11gp100%
String wrapped around woodindividual piece11gp100%
Talcsmall vial1010gp70%
Vermilliontiny jar5100gp100%
Watersmall vial2010gp100%
Wychwoodindividual piece150gp100%

half-remembered Caves of Myrddin news

So last week was the last of the Friday sessions for the Caves of Myrddin and today was the first of the Monday morning sessions.  I don't remember a whole lot about the Friday session.  I overslept and ran much of it only half-awake, this is why I moved to Mondays. 

Time Police: protecting the continuum
since 10−43 seconds after the Big Bang.
My notes indicate that the party was Blixa the Infamous, Abe the Talking Dog, Pavel the Great (Wessex's nakedest halfling), Iderneth the Pale and Kelonius.  The heard some sort of rumor about a party of sea elves spotted entering the Wet Cave, but they headed for the Smoking Tower, which wasn't actually smoking.  Down there they [REST OF FIRST EXPEDITION REDACTED BY ORDER OF THE TIME POLICE].  Later, during the second trip down, Iderneth was killed by a critical strike from a giant rat to a major artery in his leg.

Iderneth's death finally replaces my previous Most Humiliating Critical Ever, which goes all the way back to the eighties.  My high school group was prowling around under Bone Keep and a lousy one hit die skeleton ripped the ear off of Tom Novy's ranger.  Even worse, if he had been wearing a helmet he could have avoided it.  Still, at least he survived.

Any dang way, I don't remember most of the rest of that expedition.  Iderneth was replaced by Brother Fortress, a cleric with what I must admit is a pretty badass name.  At some point the halfling funded a lengthy bender at the Blue Rabbit, everyone's favorite wretched hive this side of the Cornwall border.  Pavel the Great wakes up days later, his copious halfling chest hair shaved off and a sweet new tattoo in its place.  I don't think we specified the design, but I lean towards celtic knotwork framing a dragon.

Today's expedition starred the priests Ganlant of Escavalon, Brother Madyn and Geoffrey de Cornouaille, the magic-user Phandaal the Antiquarian and the elf Wælgar the Loveless.  Insufficient loot was brought up to allow for carousing (in fact, almost no treasure was found) but there's already been some loose lips on Google+, so I'll share a bit of what happened.

The saddest part, for me, was the death of Geoffrey de Cornouaille.  He was one of the original adventurers into the Caves, alongside Taurus Hell's-heart, Rump the Impertinent and Diarmud Duff.  But he drank from a magical fountain some 300 or 400 feet below the surface and failed his save versus poison.  Poor Geoffrey melted like a Nazi gazing into the Ark of the Covenant.  ("Beware the water that flows from the nipples of the Queen bearing the Five-Pointed Crown. It is highly flammable and not at all tasty.")  His bones remained and they were transported back to the surface for proper burial back at the abbey.  I'm thinking he would make a pretty decent local Patron Saint of Adventurers.

Ganlant of Escavalon had a rough go of it as well.  He nearly fell into a pit about 100' deep.  He teetered on the edge of it abit until the elf Wælgar caught him by his backpack and miraculously the straps held.  Visibility in my dungeon is normally limited to the 30' or so allowed by torchlight, so how did Ganlant know the pit was 100' or so deep?  Because of the flames of Hell and beckoning devils at the bottom!

Later the party was just starting to loot the tomb of some dead wizard when one of those (or is it the same one?) giant golden spiders showed up.  That they managed to hurt it at all was a pretty impressive feat, as that shiny carapace is tougher than leather.  They ended up fleeing, but not before the spider scored a crit on Ganlant's right hand, leaving him with a thumb and four bloody stumps where his fingers used to be.  Poor sod had to climb three ladders, one almost 50' long, to get back out of the dungeon.  Doing that with a full set of fingers doesn't sound like fun.

Pretty close to the only loot for the adventure (other than some meager gear off a dead 1st level cleric they found) was a glass sphere (4" diameter) with a hook on it, with continual light cast on the sphere.  I believe Brother Madyn ended up with that.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wessex weapons in AD&D

The three stupidest, ugliest, pain-in-the-assiest charts in the 1st edition Players Handbook are found on pages 37 and 38.  These are the Weight and Damage By Weapon Type chart and the two Weapon Type, General Data, and "To Hit" Adjustments charts.  Go look if you have a copy.  Of course, if you have a copy you probably know exactly what we're talking about.  We're talking about the friggin' speed factor/weapon-versus-AC chart.

Since AD&D1 is on a lot of minds lately, what with the forthcoming reprints and all, I thought I'd try chopping these charts down by only using weapons and armor that actually appear in my campaign.  The results seem a lot more manageable.

(Click to embiggen)

The lesson here might be that with a game as big as D&D one way of getting a handle on it is to cut it down to size.  You can do this same sort of thing with monsters and treasures, too.  I talked a bit about that a while back.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

brief Caves of Myrddin update

You know that one dragon that comes up from time to time in casual conversation in my campaign?  Last night my game store group used Vortullak the Untamed's map to reach its lair.  When do-or-die time came Lankii the Elf was holding a musty old scroll containing a twelfth level spell from the bygone Arduinian Age of Mankind in his hand.  The end result is that the party isn't sure where the dragon is now.  It's either lost in Outer Space or banished to one of the 21 Arduinian Hells.  Either way, they brought back their encumbrance limits in gems, jewels, magic items and platinum pieces.  Then they went back and brought out more platinum and some gold.

Just to be clear: there's still plenty of death and treasure in that dungeon.  Heck, the group last night didn't even finish bringing up the entirety of the dragon's hoard!

Very Important Item: Due to my class schedule this semester I am switching the Caves of Myrddin Google+ game to Monday mornings instead of Friday.  If you are available for some FLAILSNAILS type D&D from 4:30 to 6:30AM CST, then shoot me a gmail and I will add you to the player list.  Jrients at the Gmail to the dottity com.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

the shape of game design

Some very nice people seem to think that game design looks like this:

Under this model when designing a new edition of the game one need only look back at the immediately previous edition, figure out it where it needs to be tweaked, and blaze ahead into the future.

I submit that the actual situation looks a lot more like this...

...only messier.  One of the fundamental projects of the Old School Ruckus is to explore those roads not taken.  Game design isn't science.  The old schoolers aren't suggesting we go back to a theory of four elements, earth, wind, fire and water.  Game design is an art form.  Methods and ideas discarded by previous generations are always available for revival, repurposing and new experimentation.

crowdsourced Caves of Myrddin rumors

Before my con game I asked folks on Google+ to contribute to a rumors list to share with the new players.  Below are all the rumors now in circulation.  Fair warning: some of these may be true.
  • A rich Spaniard set off into the caves a little while back and hasn't been seen since. He had a ring on him with a ruby the size of a baby's fist. [The Spaniard is dead. His ring has not been found.]
  • Giant turtles are possessed by demons! Avoid them at any cost!
  • If you encounter humanoids who are purple or another bright, unnatural color, you must fight to the death - if you are captured, they will take you back to the horrible realm of Carcosa to be ravished and sacrificed.
  • A brownie with a gold waistcoat knows a secret way into the dragons treasure room.
  • A magical Pig roams the land. If you eat him, you will be granted a Wish!  [This one got a priest with a taste for pork into a bit of trouble.]
  • The keeper of the gate will let you pass for the price of a freshly-caught perch.
  • Gleichman the Warpoodle has risen from his resting place and is trying to eat all of the crows in town when he materialises on each crescent moon.
  • A halfling-sized air duct in a torture room leads to the dragon's lair.
  • Certain so-called "Adventurers" are said to travel to "other worlds." In fact, they are members of an Invasion Force and should be killed on sight!
  • Vampires are deathly afraid of buckets.
  • Flying cobra venom is powerful enough to kill ghouls. They sleep during the day, somewhere in the wet cave.
  • Broken mirrors indicates a medusa is nearby.
  • Orcs are extinct in Cornwall and Wessex.
  • Some say the only way to defeat Joe Mama is to kill him...
  • Hostile goblins will regard you as friends if you state the secret "Huxley College Motto".
  • If you run into a fairy with a pet octopus, speak backwards. If you don't she inverts your name, forcing you to become your new name. That is how all the Orcs were turned into crows.
  • The vampires love gambling.
  • The last dragon in England lairs somewhere below the South Tower.
  • The four towers of Castle Dundagel are actually just the same tower at different ages of time. If you cross between towers below the surface you risk becoming hopelessly lost in the past or future.  [The player who got this one decided her PC believed this religiously and opposed all efforts to travel between the towers.]
  • The seaside caves are the back door to the dragon's lair.
  • The hundreds of crows that perch among the ruins of Dundagel are said to be agents of a crow like monster that haunts the dungeons below.
  • A murderous clown stalks the passages of the dungeon.