Sunday, November 27, 2022

a major network in BX


Elf and dwarf PCs in BX D&D begin play speaking three monster languages each, as shown on the chart above using arrows with solid black lines. That means you are taking away a class ability if your campaign doesn't include those monsters (or, say some books or inscriptions written in their tongues).

The BX write-ups for four of these six monsters mention other monsters. These are the monsters in the blue boxes.  The red arrows with the dotted lines indicates belligerence.  The purple arrows with dashed lines indicates that these creatures figure into the gnolls' reputed origin story. The orange arrows with dashed and dotted line points to a buddy that sometimes hangs out with the monster.

It is my opinion that these relationships define the core monsters of a by-the-book BX campaign. Well, these folks plus the undead (so the cleric has something to turn).

An Old Conundrum

If dwarves "hate goblins, and will usually attack them on sight" (B35) and goblins "hate dwarves and will attack them on sight" (B36), then why does every dwarf PC start play fluent in goblish? This is a question I have taken too seriously off and on for 40 years now. (Related question: If a PC party has six PCs and one of them is a dwarf, will a wandering group of 5 goblins automatically attack?) 

The first answer I landed on back as a kid was that dwarves liked insulting goblins in their original tongue and found it handy for interrogating goblin-prisoners.

The second answer I arrived at back when I started digging into OD&D and Chainmail: The quotes above are holdovers from the early fantasy miniatures campaign. I.e. these "attack on sight" indicators are meant for masses of troops in battle. If one side brings dwarves and the other side brings goblins, don't expect to be able to control those troops. They'll be too busy annihilating each other like matter and antimatter. The rest of the time there may be tensions between the two peoples, but they don't automatically boil over into hostilities.

My most recent answer builds on the second: Demi-humans and humanoids interact peaceably a lot more than I suspected as a kid. That's why elves and dwarves speak so many humanoid tongues. But recently something horrible has happened between gobblefolk and dwerpeople. This bad blood is new and raw. Determining the source of this rage will help you shape your campaign.

Friday, November 25, 2022

circumnavigating Miskatonia

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.

That blank spot in the middle can be filled in with some overland travel. The little bit of land in the southwest is an island only a few tiles bigger than shown, as I visited it earlier in the game. The main issue with completing the map will be the volcanic archipelago with Faxon's tower. It's somewhere in the ocean out of sight of the coast, in the southeast I think. But the map wraps around both east-west and north-south, so you could put it darn near anywhere so long as it shows the right number of squares to the mainland.

Given the large amount of open water around the continent, I suspect that the overland map is actually slightly larger than the 64 tile x 64 tile map of Sosaria, the setting of Ultima III. Which feels wrong. Miskatonia seems a lit smaller. But Sosaria had a much higher land to water ratio. And heavy woods and mountains don't block line of sight in Minima, so you can see much farther in many places. Also, the tiles are literally smaller in terms of the number of pixels used. 


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

I keep forgetting to mention this.

Many moons ago Settembrini, Germany's foremost old schooler, ask me for some material that could be translated into German for the gaming periodical Abenteuer. I sent him a level of my old Wessex dungeon all typed up and an entirely new piece on a magical soda vending machine.

I really dig Betty Baindl's illo of my dumb idea.

DriveThruRPG has the PDF of the issue, if you are interested and can ready German. In all probability, the Gabor Lux material is oodles better than mine. 


Thursday, November 03, 2022

time to get weird