Monday, October 26, 2015


This post is a bit tongue in cheek, as I realize it doesn't matter, but it's something that came up when I was running my Under the Hillfort Ruins game a couple weeks back (and I'm just getting to blog about it now).

In my game the other night, Jeremy was looking for a character he had already rolled up to play, and grabbed one he had used in Justin's Vaults of Ur game. Dean also had used a character he has used a few times before in different game systems, most memorably to me in Justin's "Panoply Sector" Stars Without Number game. The thing is, in other games both of these PCs had died.

Now, don't get me wrong. I was running a play test. I didn't really care where the PCs had been used before, or if they were "still alive" or not. For a play test, it just isn't an issue. But during the course of play, Jeremy mentioned that his fighter, Danyael, should level up because he already had 1000xp from Ur. I reminded him that Danyael had died in Ur (partially my fault, Thidrek ran away rather than risking paralyzation at the hands of ghouls after Danyael and another PC had gone down). So does the character still get to keep its XP for use in other games after death in one campaign?

It made me think about the whole FLAILSNAILS conventions a bit. I'd considered in the past the fact that anyone could show up to a game with a character at level X, with magic items A, B and C, and who's to know if that PC actually earned that or not? Of course, the FLAILSNAILS Conventions give the DM power to nerf anything egregious in any way they wish (all ability scores are 18 and you have a Staff of Wizardry at level 2? Well, you're suffering from a curse in this realm, and you find the staff is nonfunctional at the moment).

Now, I'm not arguing that there should be a FLAILSNAILS police or anything, but shouldn't what happens to a character actually matter? Even if it's just taking your favorite character to another game as a one-shot, if good things happen you wouldn't ret-con them into not happening. Why should we ignore the bad just because we can?  Is that cheating to just pretend your character didn't die, or didn't lose their best magic sword to a rust monster, or whatever?

Is this cheating? Should it be discouraged?

Or is it a case of "What happens in Greyhawk stays in Greyhawk"?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Too many ideas!

I think many of you suffer from this problem. Most gamers are creative types, so we're always coming up with new ideas. Maybe it's a character concept you really want to play. Maybe it's a campaign you'd love to run. Maybe it's an adventure you'd like to develop. It could be your next awesome rule-set. But before you get to it, or just after getting started, you've already got another idea or three knocking around your brain.

I'm at that point big time right now. And since I'm actually starting to prep for my dissertation study, I really have NO TIME for any of it. But just got give you a glimpse of things you may, possibly, some day see from me in a possible future where I suddenly have oodles of time to write gaming stuff, here are some of the ideas I currently have:

Chanbara (of course, that's #1): My OSR with heavy character customization fantasy feudal Japan game. The third (or is if fourth?) draft incarnation of the rules are ready to be tested. I think they'll work better than before. I just need some time to run a few games. Well, that and flesh out the "starting area" for the campaign section of the book.

Presidents of the Apocalypse: Paul's and my take on super silly, super simple super presidential post-apoc gaming. One of these days, Paul and I will agree on a final version of the rules (or agree to make two versions). Then you, too, can be a mutated Founding Father beating the crap out of Ronald McDonald, Mikhael Gorbachev, King George III, Kim Jeong-Il, Justin Bieber, and any other foes of America you can think of, set in a ruined world of the future.

Under the Hillfort Ruins: The adventure module I wrote originally for 3E and have recently revamped for Labyrinth Lord (or whatever classic or OSR game floats your boat). A fairly standard dungeon tomb complex with lots of puzzles and traps, and plenty of loot as well. I just need to make a few edits, add some random encounters for the actual hillfort ruins above the dungeon, write up some hooks and rumors, and then this one will be ready to sell.

Demon Castle Dracula: This one's been on my mind recently, what with Halloween a week away and all. Not that it feels very Halloween-y here in Busan, where most people don't celebrate it. Anyway, this may end up being for LL or for Retro Phaze (the 8-bit OSR RPG) since it's basically the Castlevania games translated to table top. Could I get this Gothic horror-action sandbox ready for sale before next Halloween? Guess it depends on how the dissertation study goes.

Mysterious Seas: The maritime campaign I tried to run about 4 years ago or so. The idea was to mix up Jason and the Argonauts, the Odyssey, Sindbad the Sailor, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and the like into a big nautical sandbox. If I get around to finishing this (I really only had the first map half-way keyed, and there are nine maps), it may have to get broken into separate modules for each sector.

Ghost Castle Hasegawa: The test adventure I created for the previous version of Chanbara. I'm planning to update it to the new version when I get around to play-testing it, so eventually I'll also probably publish it. A castle cursed by its lord when it fell to his enemies, the Hasegawa family would like the curse removed so they can move back in and restore their standing at court.

Oni no Ran: The old 1E/2E Oriental Adventures campaign I ran back in Evansville in the late 90's before going to Japan was building up to a conflict between the Oni King and the PCs' daimyo. It wouldn't be too hard to convert stats to Chanbara (once I decide this draft is final or not) and release this as either a series of linked adventures, or a mega-adventure (again, if somehow time ceases to be an issue).

Of course, if I ever get any of these finished, they'll be for sale from my DrivethruRPG storefront, Hidden Treasure Books. And if I have time to write up modules and game systems, hopefully I'll have time to create more of my paper minis series.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Getting stuff done despite having no time

As usual, academics are taking up a lot of my attention, and what little is left has been mostly devoted to my family, so not much activity on the blog. I haven't been looking over Mentzer's DM book lately, but I'm not planning to abandon that line of posts. People seem to like it. It may stretch out a while, though, and I may give up my plans to continue through the Mentzer Expert, Companion and Master sets. That will depend on how the dissertation goes. [I'm getting my main experiment prepared, and doing a lot of background reading for that. Once I get that sorted out and I commence the experiment, I may have more time for blogging for a while, until it's time to write up everything, at least.]

On the plus side, I managed to squeeze in an impromptu game session last Saturday. I continued running Dean and Jeremy through an old dungeon I'd made for a 3E game and converted to Labyrinth Lord stats. They haven't completed it, but they found the puzzles and challenges to be good but not too difficult, and the combats so far have been hectic but not unwinnable (in the first session over a month ago, Dean and my older boy played through and came close to a TPK but avoided any loss of life, this time Dean and Jeremy each lost one of their two characters). They both feel like this is something I could publish. So I'll try to get one more session in to let them finish the dungeon, then try to find some time to write up some introductory material, rumors, additional information that could be researched, etc. Oh, and a few pre-generated PCs. And some art, maybe, but I'm not that great and I'm on a budget. Then I'll be ready to try selling it through my DrivethruRPG storefront.

Also on the plus side, I've been plugging away at my latest Chanbara draft (#4), and it's almost done. I just need to flesh out a starting area, and add a few things in the appendices. Then I'll be ready to have this thing play tested. Again, I might not have time to play test it myself due to the dissertation, but I'll try and see if anyone else can do it for me and give me some feedback.

So, if I can make good use of my very limited free time over the next month or so, I might get both of those projects completed. And if not by next month, then at least by the end of the year.