Wednesday, March 31, 2010

If your play style were a book

If my play style were a book, I think it would be something like "Three Hearts and Three Lions" or "The Princess Bride."

Started thinking about this because Josh in my group really liked "The Broken Sword" more than 3H&3L, and his play style is sorta similar. Mine is a bit more light-hearted and heroic, I think.

test post

Just a little test

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

LL or S&W supplement idea

I wonder, would people be interested in a supplement for Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry that was basically just an OGL listing of the monsters and magic items found in the Mentzer Companion and Master sets (and possibly Creature Catalog if I get ambitious)? Maybe a few homebrew creatures and items thrown in for fun?

I know there are a few BX companion pieces in the works or out now, but this would just focus on monster and item write-ups, to get them out there in OGL land.

I'm about to take a break from just about everything next month (new radio show, and trying to get a new, revised, first draft of my screenplay done during the NaNoWriMo Script Frenzy), but when I come back, an open source write-up of those things would be easily doable by me. All I'd need would be some art.

Anyway, if you're interested, drop a comment below!

Friday, March 26, 2010

100% Pure Awesome

Is it just me, or is this guy brilliant?

Monday, March 22, 2010

4E, or not 4E. That is the question.

We started up Pat's 4E campaign on Saturday night. I'd like to say I'm keeping an open mind about it, but I know I'm not 100% there. I'm biased against it, but I'm gonna at least give it a go. We're running through the "Keep on the Shadowfell" module, but I won't bore you all with details (or spoilers for those that might play through it).

Here are my initial impressions:

1. I had fun. Of course, with the guys I play with, system may not matter for that. But nothing about 4E cut into that.

2. On paper, characters look hearty, but not having looked through the Monster Manual, I didn't realize that monsters (at least non-minion ones) are equally hearty. Fighting kobolds was a challenge for our 1st level characters.

There's number inflation, so when you think about it, it would be akin to playing any TSR version with the listed hit points, but with weapons limited to 1-2 points of damage.

3. Crits are just max damage, rather than a multiplier. Simple, and no need for a confirmation roll.

4. We only played through 2 combat encounters and some town talking encounters, but I can see how encounters might be tedious in the future. Old versions suffer the problem of 'roll to hit, roll damage' but 4E looks to have the problem of 'I use my at-will, roll damage.'

5. Character creation was easier than 3E, but managing the character with the official sheet from the back of the book was tedious.

6. Pat let us roll 4d6 drop lowest for stats, and Josh and I got to roll two sets (Alex was fine with his first set), which meant we had ability scores above the norm, but then we only had 3 characters--I played a Dragonborn Cleric, Alex was a Human Wizard, and Josh was a Dwarf Fighter.

7. The battles were a bit tough with only 3 characters instead of the recommended 5, but we won both of them without anyone dropping to negative hit points. So while there is some number inflation off-set, healing surges and what not DO make the game much more survivable. The monsters didn't seem to have any healing powers among them.

8. If we can, we're gonna try and get two more guys to join us next time, otherwise Alex and I might run 2 characters each... That should slow the game down considerably.

9. We spent about an hour BSing and talking about what we'd all play, about an hour making characters, and 3 hours playing. For 5 hours of play, we only had 2 battles, and talked to some folks in town.

10. Healing potions in this edition don't heal you, they let you use one of your own healing surges for the day. WTF?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I like d20 Modern

Of the d20 games I've played, I found the system, with all its fiddliness and customization and unified mechanic, worked best in d20 Modern (and d20 Future). I've got a few ideas on why it actually works.

A) It's designed to work without magic, and it does.
B) Having all sorts of skills and abilities mapped out seems to work well for emulating modern to future settings better than a strict class system.
C) The base classes, modeled to fit each ability score, are iconic enough to be classes, but are used more like ability templates. It's really easy to create the sort of character you like.

Strong Hero

Fast Hero

Tough Hero

Smart Hero

Dedicated Hero

Charismatic Hero

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Korean TV...uh, no thanks

My wife's engrossed in yet another daily KBS 8:20 melodrama. It's different from the last one in that no one in this one, to my knowledge has amnesia (yet). Otherwise, we're looking at another 6-8 months of relatively similar blah blah blah.

I do kind of wish my Korean was better than my current weak level (I'm still better than my 2 year old son, but he's poised to pass me up soon). There are plenty of 'period dramas' and while some are more concerned with the courtly politics and romance, quite a few are action oriented.

Back when I lived in Japan, there were a few of the 'jidai geki' (samurai shows) that I liked to watch. Sure, they're formulaic (every episode of Abarenbo Shogun):

Shogun goes in disguise into town, finds out a daimyo is up to bad shit.
Confirms that said daimyo is up to no good. But as shogun, he's powerless because he'll upset all the other daimyo if he steps in.
Goes to confront said daimyo in his disguise. Daimyo laughs at the 'ronin' challenging him.
Shogun says, "Take a good look at my face." Daimyo recognizes him and realizes he's up shit creek, so he orders his men to attack.
Men attack 1 or 2 at a time, or else shogun's ninja bodyguards join the fight. Ass is kicked, end of show.

But darned if I didn't find them fun to watch, and they made me want to play an OA game (which I did with 3E for a while).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Character Creation for the Maritime Campaign

I've decided that the characters will start out around level 4 for this game. I'll likely just have the players roll stats down the line (switching one pair as they like) as usual, then give everyone a set amount of XP (10,000 seems good) and they can level up to whatever that makes them.

Each character will get to roll d4+2 for starting potions and scrolls (I'll have a short-list of what they can choose from). Then they consult this chart:

Character Creation Customization.
Choose or roll 1d10:
1. magic weapon (type chosen by player, bonus by DM)
2. magic armor (type chosen by player, bonus by DM)
3. magic wand (type chosen by player, charges by DM)
4. miscellaneous magic item (chosen by DM)
5. extra 1d4+1 potions and/or scrolls (chosen by player, up to L3 spell scroll)
6. captain (small sailing ship, small galley, or longship)
7. 1d6+2 followers (0-level NPC men-at-arms)
8. henchman/cohort/sidekick (2nd level NPC, class chosen by player)
9. special mount (up to 6HD creature)
10. aristocrat (have land holdings and titles on mainland, +1d4 x1000gp)

I'm also considering the possibility of making any PC with an 18 in any ability to be considered a 'demi-god' of the mythic Greek variety, with an immortal patron and immortal trying to hinder the hero's progress. Then again, the players want a more Victorian pirates type thing than the Greek mythology thing, so I might drop this.

Monday, March 15, 2010

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

So I've been neglecting the run-downs of my new character classes. Anyway, here's my Barbarian class. It's basically the Dwarf, minus the racial abilities, with a few of its own (slightly inspired by the UA Barbarian, but only slightly).

The first big difference between the Barbarian and the Dwarf is that the Barbarian needs slightly more XP to level up. I've got them using the same progression as Magic-Users. They also get a d10 HD, the only class in my Classic roster. They're limited to Level 12 like Dwarves. They have a minimum Con and Wis of 9, and Prime Requisites are Str and Con (both 13 or more, +5%, both 16 or more, +10%). They attack as Fighters, save as Dwarves. All weapons and armors allowed (but see below).

Their special abilities are the following:
Combat--they can set spears as Fighters, but cannot use the lance attack. At Name Level they can use the Smash maneuver, and at 12th they gain 2 attacks per round. They don't get parry or disarm from the high end Fighter abilities.

When wearing leather or no armor, they gain a +2 bonus to AC (-2 if you use the traditional AC system). They can use a shield and still get this bonus.

Foraging--Barbarians can forage for food better than other classes, with a range 1 higher than the terrain normally allows (normally 2 in 6, Barbs get a 3 in 6, etc.).

They get their native Barbarian language as a bonus language.

At high levels, they can either attract a horde (similar to UA) or build a stronghold as a Fighter.

Simple, effective, and provides a human class that's good at taking on the sorcerers of the world thanks to the high HD and excellent saving throws.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is it just me?

Or do I have the most boring blog in the OSR?

Happy 50th post about nothing!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Goings on at the Game Group

I've been meaning to post this since Tuesday, when we had our last game. Steve and Alex weren't coming, so I brought along the D&D. Ended up being me, Pat, Josh, and Amy. Amy hadn't enjoyed D&D the last time so much, as the language and the pace of the game got a little too fast for her, but she was a good sport and played again.

Pat's Fighter died last time, so he was playing his Cleric (L3), Amy also has a Cleric (L1), and Josh decided to play his Magic-User (L1). They followed some rumors that the hobgoblins and kobolds were at odds. They bought some kegs of booze to try to bribe the hobgoblins into allying to slay the kobolds, then the plan was to turn on the now weakened hobgoblins and loot both lairs.

On the way there, they had a random encounter with Sprites. The sprites had decent reactions toward the group, and when they asked the party to disrobe, Josh said his mage was game and pulled up his robes. The sprites rewarded him with a random magic item, and I rolled up--a ring of 2 wishes. I'm always a fan of giving players wishes. It makes them nervous.

Later they encountered a solitary 1HD elf. He introduced himself as a ranger, so they of course recruited him to help take out the humanoids. He led them to the mountains, but I had him take them to the wrong cavern entrance (I've got various goblinoids in interconnected lairs within the mountain). They went to the Orc cave, and ended up finding some pterodactyls which they slaughtered after a sleep spell and a bit of minor damage. They rested to heal and prepare spells, then went back. The first orcs they encountered offered to join them take out the orc boss if they split the treasure. The party agreed to this, and another sleep spell pretty much rendered the orc chieftain and his guards helpless.

The treasure chest contained 1000gp, a potion, a scroll, and a bag. The players gave all the gold to the orcs, and took the magic loot. Instead of being brave (foolish?) they decided to take the items somewhere where they could be identified. The "ranger" suggested they go to the Elf Queen Cliodna.

They get through the elf defenses thanks to the ranger, but as soon as they enter the throne room Josh has his M-U say something like, "I hear you've got some monsters you need slaying. Pay us and we'll do it for you." Small penalty to reaciton rolls wasn't necessary as I rolled pretty poorly for it. They managed to salvage the effort, but Josh (who was game to have his character flash some sprites) refused to have his M-U bow down on all-4s, merely bowing at the waist (the two Clerics both got down on the ground to appologize).

So they didn't get their magic items identified, but they have permission to rearm and resupply from the elves, and if they manage to defeat the other tribe of orcs who are bothering the elves, they may end up on the elves' good side after all.

After the game, though, we got the bad news that the board game cafe in Seomyeon where we play is closing down at the end of the month. We've got to find a new place to meet up, or the board game group may be finished.

What makes an island mysterious?

Planning for the Maritime Campaign. It won't start for a while, if ever. But one thing I realize I need are less historical pastiche nations/islands, and more weird crazy shit. So to help me along during game times, when I'm sure the players are bound to decide to explore islands I haven't filled out or decided to be the home of a module, I've got this random table cooked up.

Of course, this is only a first draft.

Mysterious Island Random contents:
Roll 2d6

2 Important Clue
3 Powerful Monster Lair
4 Witch
5 Ruins/Dungeon
6 Common Monster Lair
7 Settled
8 Empty
9 Hermit
10 Cursed
11 Unusual Environment
12 Roll 2 times

Important Clue: Someone or something here will point the PCs toward the goal of their quest.

Powerful Monster Lair: Dragon, Giant, Cyclops, Bronze Golem, Vampire, etc.

Witch: Random alignment, may Charm, Polymorph, attack, scare off, seduce, imprison, etc. the PCs.

Ruins/Dungeon: Lost City, Caverns, Temple, Stronghold, etc. Could be inhabited, or empty.

Common Monster Lair: Normal animals, humanoids, or low hit die creatures.

Settled: Town/City, Stronghold, Colony, Camp

Empty: Nothing to see here, but foraging and water available.

Hermit: Crazy, Sage, Spell-caster, religious, guardian

Cursed: The island, its inhabitants, certain locations, or visitors are cursed.

Unusual Environment: Unnatural physical features, flora or fauna.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Thanks to Jeff over at his Gameblog for posting about the Holmes scroll rules.

I've just edited my magic item lists to include "special scrolls" where the treasure maps are on the normal tables. Here's the listing I did for these.

Special Scroll: This item is like a spell scroll, but it may be used by any spellcaster. It always only contains a single “spell” but that effect duplicates that of one wand, potion or ring with the following exceptions: potions of delusion and poison, rings of regeneration, spell storing and wishes, wand of misdirection. The effect is equivalent to that produced by the potion, ring or wand for range, duration and effect, with “always on” ring effects lasting 1 Turn.

I like this, as it allows for some wacky scroll effects, and allows classes to cast things they normally wouldn't.

As for Jeff's own idea that a player may wish to copy the spell into a spellbook, I'd allow it on a case by case basis, or as he then suggests, use it as a basis for spell research. I think I'd also allow that for the Protection scrolls. How cool could it be to have Protection from Undead or Detect Metals in your spellbook?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Minis? I lived in Japan for a decade...

There seems to be a lot of excitement about the big Labyrinth Lord/Otherworld Minis team-up.

I would be more excited, I guess, if it weren't for my time spent in Japan. Japan is the home of the cheap(ish) pre-painted plastic miniatures. While I was there, my minis collection went from a few odds and ends from my childhood to a huge whopping collection of cool monsters, adventurer types, normal animals, and movie/game tie-in figures that range from anime goofy to down right bad-ass.

Thanks to a place called Mandai Shoten (affectionately known to me and my friends as either "the geek shop" or "The Mummy's Ghost"--the latter due to their having the movie poster painted onto their building's facade), I was able to get lots of them dirt cheap. But I spent plenty of time buying the prepackaged, random collectibles first hand in convenience and toy stores, as well as buying lots of Coke or Pepsi when they had Final Fantasy and Star Wars figures attached to the bottles.

So while it would be nice to have some of those great looking Otherworld Minis, I'll stick with my cheap, light and already painted (for the most part) collection from Japan.

And just to note--while Japan is a wonderful place to be a gamer who likes minis, Korea seems to have nothing of the kind. Bummer.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interest in the Maritime Campaign

At the Board Game Group last night, we played Wizkids' Pirates again. Actually, except for me, no one who played before showed up, so I had to explain it all again (and play a simple, cut down version) for Pat, Josh, Lucy, Vlada, and another of Lucy's friends whose name I've of course forgotten.

Josh, who's into tabletop minis wargames (he playes 40K) really enjoyed it. He and Pat were lamenting the loss of the Saturday RPG sessions, and I mentioned that Alex had expressed an interest in my Maritime Campaign idea. Josh and Pat also seemed interested.

Josh, though, I should admit, was most interested in the fact that I called it a "campaign." I think we have slightly different ideas about what a campaign entails. For me, it's a series of adventures which may or may not have a connection plot-wise, but involve the same characters in the same world(s). For him, I get the idea from his 3E game, it's a railroad plot for the characters to play out. He's stated a firm dislike of sandbox play in the past.

Anyway, I plan to pitch the game play as sorta like the X-Files. There will be an overriding quest that they'll have, but not every encounter, island, pirate ship, cannibal tribe or lost ruin will involve that quest. They'll encounter a lot of other stuff as they search for clues to the quest, and that other stuff will be just that--stuff.

Of course, this is assuming I have the time to prepare the campaign, and the time to run it. Josh and Pat were again talking about Pat running a 4E game since he's got the rules, and we're all interested in giving it a go to see how it plays. So who knows?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Still thinking about that Maritime Campaign

Still thinking about that Maritime Campaign.

Question 1 for myself--do I want to allow firearms? I've been imagining more of a standard D&D type game, but with classical pirates and Captain Nemo & the Nautilus as potential parts of the campaign, as well as a potential Chinese/Asian realm, black powder weapons may be appropriate in some respects, and completely inappropriate in others.

While there are some simple black powder personal firearm rulse out there (GW4 and d20 Past immediately spring to mind, and I know there are others), I don't know if I'd want to have to invent rules for ship-mounted cannon. Seems like a hassle. I'll probably just stick to normal D&D weapons and Captain Jack Sparrow will just have to carry around a crossbow with one bolt in it that he's saving for Barbossa.

Question 2--do I want to have a mystical secondary realm? Something that can only be entered through maelstroms, whirlpools, enchanted fog banks, etc? Add a bit of planar travel, even if it's only to an 'alternate prime' of sorts? I'm thinking yes on this one. It'd be a place where I can really throw out the stops on the weirdness levels.

Question 3--do I want to make up a bunch of new fantasy realms for the mainland coastal areas on my maps that are basically just pastiches of real world historical nations but with different and funny names, or do I just want to say screw it and go with real world names for the areas? Having the Greece analog be Achaea, the Norse analog Thule or Midgard, the Chinese analog Cathay, etc. may be easier in the long run.