|What has 4 arms, 3 eyes 3 bat-like ears, and a purple tongue?|
I don't know. What?
I don't know either, but it's eating your henchman!
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Monday, December 19, 2022
I used to play boardgames once a week with my brother-in-law Jim and a couple of dudes named Bruce and Al. Bruce and Al are a couple of real old school mofos. As I recall, they were founding members of the University of Illinois wargames club and the original organizers of the local con. And Al bought a copy of OD&D at Gen Con the year it came out and turned the campus nerdos onto RPGs. In a side room in Bruce's basement is monster wargame that recreates the European theatre of WW2 at the battalion level. The two of them started playing this beast more than 20 years ago as a playtest. I'm pretty sure the publisher went out of business many years ago with the game unpublished, but last I knew they still play a turn or two some weekends.
So even as a grown-ass man with a job and a wife and a kid, I was still the snot-nosed newbie among these guys. For months one of the things that mystified me about these guys was the fact that, whatever game we were playing, these guys always referred to the equivalent of the Encounter Player as "the bunny." This practice mystified me, but I never asked because I was usually too busy trying to get the gist of whatever weird boardgame we were playing that night. Often, everybody else at the table had played it a bunch and it was new only to me, so I was always playing catch-up. Still, I would dutifully pass "the bunny" to the next player when instructed to do so. Finally, one night we played some train game (Santa Fe something?) and it all came into focus. The special token in whatever-game-it-was happened to be a little wooden steam engine token that, when stood up with the front of the train pointing to the sky, looked a helluva lot like a little black rabbit.
The reason I am bringing this up this dumb anecdote is because some days I wonder if some D&D groups could use a bunny at their table. What often happens in a dungeoneering expedition is that one player, the most energetic, motivated, and/or charismatic, tends to make the majority of the decisions, like whether to turn right or left at a T intersection. They become the de facto Caller. I sometimes call this person the Quarterback because if you metaphorically give them the ball they will try to do something with it. Not every player does.
But I think you could draw out a few more active players if there was something like a Bunny. If the Caller role passed after every combat or something like that. Everybody takes a turn leading the party. Maybe use a little skull as the marker.
Friday, December 16, 2022
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Sunday, December 11, 2022
- After clicking to begin, hit S for Start Game, then enter.
- You'll need a manual, particularly for spells. Here's one of several pdf versions online.
- I don't think you can save and come back to this archive.org version. I basically just kept the tab open for a week or so until the game crashed on me. Consider this the test drive version. If you like what you see, you'll have to get an emulator and all that junk to really play it.
That's the entire world of the first Wizardry game. Although obviously a limit of the early machines the game was built and played on, I find the compactness of the design absolutely delightful. In fact this image is one of the inspirations of my old Vaults of Vyzor campaign. (I just played the game for the first time last week but I read the manual years ago. I read old CRPG manuals for the same reason I will peruse fantasy heartbreakers: I'm looking for ideas to steal. Speaking of which...)
And now, a thing that should exist, if it doesn't
Monday, December 05, 2022
The other day I was wondering how Nicholas Mizer was doing. He played the elf Celumir the Bald (I hope I'm getting that PC name right) in my first FLAILSNAILS campaign, the one set in Wessex. If I am recalling correctly, Nicholas was the one who solved the Mystery of the Blue Lobster.
Around that time he did a crowdfunding campaign to raise some funds for his PhD research on tabletop RPGs. Out of the blue last week it occurred to me that I wanted to see what had come of that.
First of all, I found his dissertation. So congrats on finishing, Dr. Mizer. Also, he has a book out now, which I am going to try to convince my school library to buy.
I also found a couple academic articles Nicholas authored and a book review that was interesting to me professionally (Turns out there's an edited volume with chapters on RPGs and education. I smell a new faculty workshop in my future.). I forwarded a co-authored piece on an economic game to my buddy who teaches behavioral economics. He was pretty stoked, as the piece had been published in an anthropology journal and he had not seen it before.
Nicholas's 2014 article "The Paladin Ethic and the Spirit of Dungeoneering", published in The Journal of Popular Culture, is a really compelling piece. The conclusion contains what I suspect is one of the first mentions of the Old School Renaissance in an academic journal.
Now I was down the rabbit hole. I decided I needed to know if there were any more recent articles about the OSR. I found one, "Old School Renaissance as a Style of Play" by Tommi Brander of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The analysis is a little bit water-is-wet to anyone who actually plays old school style, but water-is-wet research is important. Playing isn't the same as documenting for the outside world, after all.
Anyhoo, I thought you all would be interested in who from the scene is cited in the article:
|Alexander, Jason||Jaquaying the Dungeon at the Alexandrian|
|Baker, D. Vincent|
The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions (cited as example of a failure to understand OSR as a style of play)
|Blacky the Blackball|
Dark Dungeons (Am I right in thinking this is a Rules Cyclopedia retroclone?)
article on the entourage approach in Open Game Table anthology
|Brockie, Dave and Pittman, Joe||Towers Two|
|Cone, Jason||Philotomy's Musings (cited multiple times)|
|Finch, Matthew J.||Old School Primer (multiple citations)|
Goblinpunch post on "rulings not rules" being insufficient
|Lynch, Bryce||tenfootpole review of Seclusium|
|Maliszewski, James||2009 escapist article on the history of the OSR|
|Maliszewski, James||"Time in the old school campaign" from Grognardia|
|McDowell, Chris||Into the Odd|
seminal dungeon mapping post from ENworld & dragonsfoot
|Milton, Ben; Lumpkin, Steven et al.||Principia Apocrypha (cited multiple times)|
|Princess, Scrap and Stuart, Patrick||Fire on the Velvet Horizon|
|Raggi, James Edward IV|
Guide to Adventure Writing in Open Game Table anthology
|Raggi, James Edward IV|
Lamentations referee book (the old one from the boxed set)(cited multiple times in article)'
|Raggi, James Edward IV||Lamentations player's hardback|
blogpost comparing Seclusium to Moldvay dungeon stocking
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on the R in OSR|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on OSR Attributes|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on his OSR survey|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on OSR survey participation|
|Stukey, Randall S.|
Microlite 75 (cited as a possible alternative approach to OSR play)
multiple story-games.com forum threads about D&D (cited multiple times)
There are some pretty rad people on the list above. I am, of course, jealous. These are only the old schoolers mentioned in the piece. (Also appearing: Vincent Baker.)
What is a little more alarming is the amount of GNS in the article. John H. Kim, Brian Gleichman, Ben Lehman, and especially Ron Edwards are cited in this regards. Brander uses the threefold model to analyze old school play, which is totally legit to me. What concerns me is that a non-specialist, even an academic who studies mainstream D&D for a living, could easily conclude from this article that GNS and the associated people are part of the OSR.
But to circle back the the beginning: nice work, Nicholas!
Saturday, December 03, 2022
Many moons ago Brendan over at Necropraxis wrote a very smart blogpost called Overloading the Encounter Die. Marcia B. of Traverse Fantasy took the concept, expands it a bit, and remediates it into a threefold pamphlet called TURN. Since both original post and pamphlet are super short, I will not summarize them here. Although I found Brendan's idea to be very good at the time, I never implemented it. I'm not sure why. But in pamphlet form as TURN, I find it much more compelling. As in, I want to make it standard for my next dungeon campaign.
Some ideas just need the right packaging to speak to some people, I guess.
Traverse Fantasy also has a restatement/reinterpretation of OD&D called Fantastic Medieval Campaigns, but I haven't read it yet. Also, I discovered while writing this post that Marcia B. has a Traverse Fantasy blog and this post is an absolute winner.
Friday, December 02, 2022
I've talked about Asgard Miniatures a few times in the past. They used to run great full page ads in Dragon back in the day. I'm fond of several of their 25mm adventurers, particularly the Looter, their half-elf, and their magic-user. The latter is actually wearing a backpack and has some coiled rope. Not enough dungeoneering minis are properly equipped like that.
Today I want to talk about their amazing line of orcs, sculpted by Jes Goodwin. He went on to do big things with Citadel and Games Workshop, but his vision of orcs do not align with Warhammer big green goons half-inspired by the Incredible Hulk. Check these dudes out:
Here's a pic of some painted Asgard orcs I found just googling for additional photos:
Sunday, November 27, 2022
An Old Conundrum
Friday, November 25, 2022
So for the past couple of days I've been playing Minima, a tiny homage to the early installments in the Ultima series built for the PICO 8 environment. You can play this game in your browser, which is how I've been doing it.
Yesterday I attempted to finish the game, but the tower of the villainois Faxon repulsed me. I needed some time to think through what I missed earlier in the game, so I decided to hop in my ship (acquired from pirates, of course) and start mapping out the continent of Miskatonia. Here's what I've got so far.
The browser-based version of Minima may be a tad unstable, as it crashed on me and lost my save game. 20 levels down the electronic drain. What can you do? But I was able to finish the land map.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
Sunday, October 30, 2022
Random Vanthian Adventurers Tattoos (d100)
A 5th dimensional leprechaun holding a tankard of ale in one hand and flipping the bird with the other.
A Beautiful Gjenie Emerging from a Bottle
A Broken Sword Captioned WE REMEMBER
A club-wielding cave primitive smashing a robodroid, captioned BRUTE FORCE
A Grey Alien Holding An Ice Cream Cone
A Grimacing Goblin Carrying an Anarchist Bomb
A Hand Where Each Fingertip Is A Creature Head: Cobra, Goat, Lion, Eagle, Dragon
A Mushroom Cloud with the Caption OVERKILL WORKS
|9||Ace of Spiders|
Amazon in Black Leather Armor Wielding Lizard-Hide Whip
An Astronaut Among the Phoenix Asteroids
Bat with a Goblin Head
Bee Girl Stinging an Orc
BEEBLEBROX FOR GOD-EMPEROR
BLOOD & GLORY in classic Klengon, slightly misspelled
Bottle of Saurian Brandy
Bozo the Clown as a balrog
Butterfly with Dracula Head
Centaur that is Part-Fembot, Part-Motorcycle
Chainsaw Sword with ABSLOM DAAK FAN CLUB on blade.
Clock Face Showing that it is 13 O’Clock
Colonial Warrior Insignia
Cyclops/Satyr with a Unicorn Horn
Denebian Slime Devil
Devil Girl in a Skimpy Maid Uniform
Devil in a Three Piece Suit Carrying a Briefcase
Earth Directorate Flag
Eightfold Arrow of Chaos
|37||Eye of Horus|
Eyeball with a Fiery Comet Tail
Eyeball with Batwings
Frothy Mug of Ale
Godzilla Arising From the Sea
Gremlin Smoking a Cigar and Holding a Sawed-Off Shotgun
Grim Reaper on a Surfboard
Hooded Executioner with Bloody Axe
Hourglass Gripped by Skeletal Hand
Hula Girl with Medusa Hair
KEEP ON TRUCKIN’ with the Usual Art
Kraken Attacking a Castle
Martini with Tiny Skull Instead of Olive Captioned IT’S ALWAYS 1700 SOMEWHERE
Mermaid with Skull Face
Mime Impaled on Stake
Mirror Ball Captioned DISCO LIVES
Mushrooms Growing from a Skull with the Cryptic Caption LIFE OMEN
Open Treasure Chest Full of Jewels Captioned LOOT FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER
Pair of Numbered Dodecahedrons
Pennyfarthing Bicycle with the Number 666 Imposed over the Larger Wheel
Pyramid on the Back of a MegaTurtle
Rebel Alliance Starbird
Remember Alderaan on a Banner
Sabretooth Tiger with Caption I HATE MONDAYS
Scuttling Crab Captioned with Short Word in an Unknown Alien Script
Serpent Entwining a Black-Bladed Dagger
Sigil of the Galactic Psi Knights
Skeleton Playing Pinball
Skull & Crossbones
Skull with Batwings
Smiling, gap-toothed lad captioned WHAT, ME WORRY?
Snail But Its Shell is a Spiral Galaxy
Space Amoeba Engulfing a Planet
Teddy Bear Holding a .38 Special
The First Hundred Thousand Digits of Pi in Nearly Microscopic Numbers
The Formula e^iπ+1=0
The God Huron Smiting a Smog Monster
The Hook and Cross, enigmatic sigil of the Cult of the Azure Clam
The Letter Omega
The Magic Word MWOWM in Gothic Letters
Three Crucified Robodroids
Two Planets Colliding
Vorpal Bunny with Blood Dripping From Fangs
Vulkin Centaur Armed with a Phasic Rifle
Vulkinian IDIC Symbol
Wizard Giving Two Thumbs Up
Wooky Bodhisattva in Lotus Position with Third Eye Open