Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Good Press

I was curious about why my Chanbara sales have suddenly been much stronger than before, and I think it may have something to do with Ynas Midgard's post here (and John Higgins' comment). Thanks guys!

Before I stumbled on Ynas's post (I somehow missed it back in July when he posted it) this evening, I found this Reddit thread from a year or so ago. I'm not on Reddit, but occasionally follow a link to info there. Maybe I should sign up as a Redditor so I could comment when things like this pop up in the future. 


First of all, the OP used my cover right under the question, which sorta implies that this is in fact the answer to that question. Nice! 

In the actual post, I'm only third of four options, but still, I'll take it as the OP seems positive towards my little game.

This poster, derkrieger, gives a very nice review of Chanbara. Thanks, derkrieger, if you ever read this. They give L5R a good review as well, but that didn't fit on one screenshot. Also why I had to call them out by handle here. 

Aaaaaannnnnnddddd...it wouldn't be the internet without someone trying to drop a turd in the punch bowl. Granted, I am just some "Western dude" and my game of Japanese fantasy is filtered through my Western cultural perceptions. That criticism is spot on.

But Airk here has obviously not actually perused Chanbara, because I would love to challenge him to show me what in Chanbara is Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Nepalese, etc. Sure, there are some monsters that are pan-East Asian (fox fairies, dragons, and so on), but the version in Chanbara is the Japanese form and name. Also, how it would not be good for the OP's desired "samurai vs yokai" version of something like The Witcher, when one of the three campaign modes I even suggest is "ghostbusting" (page 39).

I don't mean to get my hackles up, especially for something someone posted in the past and will likely never see my response to. But it's hard when the original OA gets panned for claiming to be pan-Asian when it was very highly based on Japanese historical and fantasy tropes, and something like L5R is commonly considered to be Japanese when actually quite a bit of the Rokugan setting (as far as I've looked into it) pulls from other Asian cultures. And then there's my little OSR game which is 100% based on Japanese period and fantasy films/TV, some games & comics influence, my study of Japanese history (casual as it may be), and my experience of living in the country for some time. 





Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Good Sales

September was the best month for Chanbara sales that I've had since 2018 (the year it was released). I guess talking about my East Marches project a lot has been good for that. Which is a good reminder to me that I should promote my stuff more. 

If you're one of the people who has purchased Chanbara recently, thank you very much. It is appreciated.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Death of "The Big Model" (GNS)

The Forge, Ron Edwards' rpg game theory website, is no longer the powerhouse it once was. Early in the days of the internet, so much indie game design was influenced by this website. Probably still is, even though it shut down its forums nearly a decade ago. I know I still use lingo derived from The Forge when discussing game theory stuff simply because the one really good thing they did was set down a list of definitions that were clear and concise to discuss various aspects of role playing games. 

GNS, and later the Big Model, though, was supposedly Edwards' crowning achievement. A theory of game design that posited the idea that all RPGs are composed of a combination of three modes of play: gamism, narrativism, and simulationism. Or, people make games to game the system, or to create a story, or to run an imaginary world. 

But that never sat right with me. Partly, I think, because Edwards believed (still believes? I'm not in contact with him anymore after the destruction of Alderaan...I mean G+) that good game design focused on only one of these three modalities and sought to deliver a game focused only on that modality. 

Enter Alexis Smolensk and his elephant. The linked post didn't receive any feedback directly in the form of comments, but Alexis makes the same argument in this post that I have made against GNS. A good RPG doesn't seek to cater exclusively to gamists or narrativists or simulationists. It needs all of them to be a good game. Hell, I didn't need Alexis to figure that out. But what Alexis does in the post is set out what some of the real modalities of play (creative agendas in Edwardsian/Forge lingo) are. 

Escapism (distraction in Alexis' post)

Performance 

Exploration and Discovery

Problem Solving

I can add a few more, things like Immersion (related to escapism, but not the same), Wish Fulfillment, Camaraderie, and again I'm sure there are more. These are things players are looking for in a game.

Edwards wanted a tight little 3-part model. He also erroneously linked players' creative agendas with designers' agendas. They are not and should not be the same. Edwards' three agendas may or may not be pertinent creative agendas for game designers, but they really fall short when trying to classify reasons people play RPGs. 

 A well designed game should be an elephant. Different parts of the game should cater to different agendas, but all should be part of the whole. And as a designer, myopically focusing on only one modality of play really limits the design.

Oh, and Alexis at the end turns his post to his kickstarter menu project, which again I'd urge you to support. I'd like to see it succeed. He only needs about $700 (US) to fund it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

On Artpunk and 5E

 First off, let me say that I do appreciate the aesthetics of the OSR "artpunk" movement. Make the game more weird. Move it away from the bastardized Tolkienisms that have become the "D&D genre" and make your products look visually interesting. I get it. There's definitely appeal there. 

And when I look at things like the artwork from people like Jason Sholtis (Operation Unfathomable) as just one example, I dig the visual style and the oddity of his art. But as you might have guessed from my previous post, I would want stuff like that in my game only in small doses. I wouldn't want the entire campaign to be about making deals with eldritch slug-beings while battling off the hordes of mutant bug folk in a topsy-turvy underworld. The occasional foray to that underworld is fine, but not the whole damn campaign. 

And things like Mork Borg just don't interest me in the slightest. It could be the most revolutionary slimming down of the D&D chassis ever but the idea of using intentionally discordant layout/font choices keeps me away. I'm pushing 50, I can't really wear contacts anymore because I can't read with them in, and I need to take the glasses off to read. Yeah, bifocals are in my near future. Make your damn book easy to read, and I'll take a look at it. 

So yeah, consider me an old fuddy duddy, at least when it comes to my games. The big announcement yesterday of more splat books for 5E -- more races, more subclasses, more monsters, whatever. 5E games - at least the big one I still play on RPoL.net, is already this weird menagerie of kenku and genasi and kobolds and lizard folk and yuan ti and warforged and... I don't want my D&D to be like a shot of the Mos Eisley Cantina. I've got d6 Star Wars for that. The older I get, the more human-centric I think I want my D&D games to be. 

That way, when the players encounter the slug-traders or the birdman empire, it might still seem somewhat whimsical or interesting. Not pedestrian, like in 5E.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Vanilla vs Artpunk?

It is a paradox at the very heart of fantasy fiction that, unless there is a consistent and convincing (read "realistic") setting for the characters and their actions, the story may well drift apart in flights of unbridled fancy. In order for the elements of fantasy to succeed, they must be grounded in a recognizable world inhabited by characters and creatures whose attributes and abilities are carefully delineated. For example, when Conan confronts an unnatural monster, the only valid way you're going to have hackles raised  on the audience's collective neck is if your  hero is vulnerable, his situation believably desperate, and the monster so real you can smell him coming! It's not just a willing suspension of disbelief we're talking about but an actual embrace of the fantastic images as true for the span of the tale.

[emphasis in original]

--Alan Zelentz, forward to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian Vol. 1 No. 1 (Marvel, Thomas/Windsor-Smith)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Signal Boost: The Jousting Piglet

 Alexis of the Tao of D&D blog is running a kickstarter. If you haven't been keeping up with his blog, I would encourage you to do so. We often disagree, but lately we've been agreeing more than disagreeing, and if you followed his blog early on and quit due to the tone, know that while he still brooks no bullshit, he is much more...open to others than he used to be. Hard to describe how he's changed over the years. He'll still call you out on your stupidity, but he's a lot more respectful if you show you're engaging sincerely with his ideas. 

And really, he's been throwing out some posts over the past month or so that have been great food for thought (a dialogue with JB of BX Blackrazor, who is also throwing up a lot of good posts these days). 

Meanwhile, I'm just chugging along making lame Star Wars jokes and what not as I struggle to find time to put together a decent thoughtful post about D&D. Real life is like that sometimes. 

But anyway, the point of today's post is that Alexis has a kickstarter, as I mentioned already. He has designed a menu for a fantasy pub or inn. It's an actual artifact that you could throw down on your gaming table and have the players poor over. And as he mentioned in a post recently, can provide plenty of plot hooks to deepen your game world beyond just "Hey, there are goblins in them thar hills!" But he isn't getting enough backers yet.

Honestly, I don't need the menu for my games right now. I'm looking to maybe try some face-to-face gaming in the near future, but it's still iffy. And my West Marches game doesn't really need something like that. It is something I might want in the future. Anyway, I didn't back it for the menu itself, but I backed it because I'd like to see Alexis succeed in this. I don't need this menu, but whatever he produces next, if the menu succeeds, MAY be something I need for my games. And Alexis producing more things in this vein hinges on the menu succeeding.

So I backed him as much as I could afford right now, and I'd encourage you to do the same. If you don't think you need this menu -- and it is a gorgeous thing, go check out the kickstarter link (first link above) -- then do what I did and back him for as much as you can afford. It's just a small way for me to thank him for giving me lots of good ideas to ponder.

Thank you!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Gaming to Capstone the Holiday Weekend

 We're at the end of a 5-day weekend in Korea, with the Chuseok (Fall Harvest Moon) festival being this past Mon-Wed. It was really 6 days for me, since I don't have any classes on Friday. It was an interesting week, too. I got my second Pfizer vaccine on Friday, which left me feeling exhausted and with a sore shoulder for two days, but luckily nothing more than that. 

So I ran a session of my d6 Star Wars game on Sunday, and finished up the hex-crawl planet survey adventure I'd created and then regretted creating when I ran it. But the players, two of them at least, said they really enjoyed it. Well, it will be back to more situational adventures in the future. The players said they'd prefer some anti-Imperial hi-jinks. 

My younger son was asking me for the past few days to run some D&D, but we just never seemed to have the time. In the previous West Marches game, his character was left about 250xp shy of 5th level. So tonight, I ran another game of the procedural dungeon crawling thing. 

I pulled out a battlemap from the old 2E AD&D Intro box set, with a castle and small cave system. They went to the gates, which were barred by a portcullis. While trying to open it, they were attacked by giant black widows, and my younger boy's henchman got bitten and failed a save. They quickly killed the spiders and asked if they could retreat back to town to save him. Technically black widows' poison takes effect 1 turn later, but I fudged the rules and allowed it. Hey, I made sure the boys played the dice straight, but I didn't need my 7-year-old bawling shortly before bedtime (he'd already scraped up his knee on the playground this afternoon). So I fudged that NON DIE ROLL bit. Sue me. 

[Lots of talk on the blogs I'm reading recently about fudging or not.]

Anyway, armed with an extra potion of antidote (and a potion of growth for my older boy) purchased in town, they returned to the castle. I won't go over all the details, but they managed to negotiate with ghouls! (lucky die rolls on the reaction rolls), battled some elves, and tricked some dwarves into leaving a silver chalice unguarded so they could swipe it and flee back to town. My 7yo wanted to taunt the dwarves as they fled, but my 13yo talked him out of it. 

Bulldog, my 7yo's character, is now a 5th level Lark (like the BX Elf class, but not an elf), and chose Haste/Slow as his first 3rd level spell. While brushing his teeth, we talked about ways he could use it to help the party, and he seems excited by the possibilities. He complained that his older brother was trying to talk to everyone instead of fight, but I explained to him that it's often better that way, especially if you can still get the treasure without the fighting. He seemed to get it, but we'll see if he remembers the next time we play. 

My 13yo was in good form tonight (despite too much teasing of his little brother), trying to think his way through the encounters (all monsters, no traps or specials this time). He rarely does that when we play online. The voice chat we use doesn't hold his interest, especially when chatting with his friends on Discord is just a new browser tab away. 

 I know at least one local player is also fully vaccinated, and another has had at least one shot. I should ask everyone's status and see if they'd like to risk some in-person gaming.

Monday, September 13, 2021

12 Years of Blogging

Another blog anniversary passed. Why I decided to start this blog on 9/11 I still don't know. I know it wasn't a conscious decision to do so. And obviously, I'm a couple days late posting this this year. 

Well, real life is a big downer. And it's really not covid life. Or not much. I've pretty much gotten used to teaching via Zoom, gaming via Roll20 and Google Meet (formerly Hangouts), mask wearing, occasional upticks in cases that make us hesitate to visit restaurants, all that. I've gotten my first shot of Pfizer, and will get the second soon. Korea's vaccination rates are chugging along, with about 1,000,000 shots given (first and second doses) on a good day. About 2/3 of the population have had at least one shot. 

The downer is pretty personal. My father-in-law's lung cancer has finally caught up with him. He went six years from diagnosis to today, but his condition is deteriorating. And my wife is pretty busy helping her mother take care of him (he doesn't want hospice care, long story). So our family is under extra pressure right now. But we're managing. 

I'm still gaming, and tinkering with my rules. I'm also starting to develop the locations for East Marches, something that a year ago I thought I'd never get around to doing. But here we are. I'm firmly on the way back to race-as-class for my house rules, with the TSR-East Marches rules (better name than simple TSR-East) using that paradigm. I bet I'll be modifying my more "standard" TSR rules to suit that as well. I've pretty much decided I don't like the plethora of dual-class classes that I made, and most aren't getting any play anyway. I still want to give TSR-East Marches another simplification pass, but pretty much I think it's good to go. And with the PC options, spells, monsters, and treasure stuff done, I'm able to work on East Marches the (mega)module. 

My West Marches campaign and Star Wars campaign are still ongoing. We just had a pretty good session of West Marches this past weekend. The party managed to take out Onyx/Khisanth, the dragon of Xak Tsaroth, with a potion of luck and an arrow of teleportation (and a failed save on the arrow). The treasure was looted, and the dragon, if they ever encounter it again, is gonna be pissed! 

I made an adventure for Star Wars that I thought would be cool and different (and fast) but it's taken two sessions and at least one more. But I'm going to try and get that done this upcoming holiday week (Chuseok, lunar thanksgiving) so we can move back to more traditional bounty hunter/criminal underworld shenanigans with occasional Imperial incursions. The one good thing I did with this kinda boring adventure is set the PCs up to potentially be in conflict with the Pyke species. And that's most likely to be the case at the end of this thing. So that's something fun to work with. 

As for blogging, I've actually got quite a few topics I'd like to discuss, but honestly it's hard to find the time. Several are reactions or reflections based on other bloggers' recent(ish) works, but the more I put them off, the longer it's been since the original posts, the more I think I should just forget them. Still, I expect at least one or two of them to eventually find their way into pixels. 

Anyway, hoping the end of the year picks up. I've got Dune, The Eternals, and Spider-Man to look forward to in the theater, The Book of Boba Fett on TV, and plenty of gaming.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings -- Movie Review

My family went to see Shang Chi this afternoon. I'm definitely going to have a second viewing (or more) of this, both because of the things I loved about it, but also because there were a few things I missed (the trouble with taking a 7 year old to a movie like this is he can't focus when things aren't action packed or funny, so I can't focus). There may also be a few plot holes. Pretty much, though, it's a solid movie. 

Also, mandatory warning on language (since my blog has "curse" in the title and Google directs parents here): There are quite a few minor curse words. My 7 year old loves that. Mostly from Awkwafina's character Katy. No F-bombs, but similar levels to those in Black Widow and The Falcon & the Winter Soldier. 

My initial, and spoiler free, impression of the movie is that I liked it. A LOT! If you know my RPG work, you won't be surprised. I was looking forward to a super-powered kung fu movie. I figured, since it's involving a villain mostly from Iron Man comics (although with alien tech "magic" rings), that it would be relatively grounded in the "real world" of the MCU. Nope! Don't want to spoil things, but it's more akin to Thor or Dr. Strange than Iron Man or Captain America

Also, the second half of the movie was very much like a game of Flying Swordsmen! So yeah, you can guess I'd dig it from that. 

It's Marvel Studios, so of course the production values were great, the action scenes well done (most of them were easy to follow, but one was a bit confusing for me -- but again that may have been because I had to constantly stop my younger son from kicking the seat in front of him or climbing on the back of his own seat). The casting was good. Nice to see Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh. Makes me want to rewatch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Jet Li's Hero. I haven't seen either of them in a while. 

Also, there are two helpings of shawarma. I was expecting one to tie in to The Eternals due to (spoiler) and because it's the next MCU movie to come out, but it didn't directly. The mid-credit scene was pretty funny, while the after-credit scene was just a short set-up for a future film. 

Are you an MCU fan like me? This one will wet your whistle. Are you a martial arts/wuxia fan like me? This one will deliver. Are you an Asian-themed fantasy buff like me? You'll be happily surprised at a few little things here and there. If you don't really like any of these things, why are you bothering to read this review?

Friday, August 27, 2021

Dokkaebi

 Yesterday, Nathan Irving posted that he'd done a bit of simple research on dokkaebi because of my post, and made some interesting suggestions on how to modify the class. 

This morning, I randomly found one of my son's books of Korean folklore about a dokkaebi on the floor (along with a few other books). So, even though my Korean isn't great, I read it to him and he translated a couple of points I didn't understand (Korean is very easy to read, even if you don't know what you're reading). 

The story is about two brothers. The older is lazy, the younger one hard working. The older brother sends the younger to the mountain to collect sticks and bring back some food. Younger brother (no names given) finds some sesame nuts and collects them along with the sticks. But he gets lost, it gets dark, he finds a run-down old house to spend the night. But he hears a ruckus outside, and hides in a cupboard just before a group of dokkaebi enter. They smash their spiked clubs (bangmangi) on the ground and both food and treasure appear. They begin to feast. The brother is hungry, so cracks a sesame nut. The cracking sound is so loud, the dokkaebi think it's the roof cracking and about to fall in, so they run away. Brother takes the treasure and one of the bangmangi that was dropped, and heads home in the morning. 

The dokkaebi feast
Older brother hears this and decides to get off his lazy butt and copy his little brother's good luck. He doesn't collect wood, just sesame nuts, then hides in the shack. The dokkaebi come back, looking for the missing bangmangi. Older brother starts cracking sesame nuts to scare them away, but they realize it's just a human hiding, pull him out, and beat him up for stealing the club. He comes home, having learned his lesson, and the brothers use the treasure to buy a new, bigger home. And older brother becomes hard working. 

It's a fairly typical instructive folktale for children. And the dokkaebi in it are rowdy party dudes, but also perform the function of teaching the lazy older brother his lesson. 

One of the most famous Korean folk tales is that of brothers Heungbu and Nolbu (I mentioned this in my reply to Nathan). Heungbu is kind and hard working, but poor. Nolbu is fat and lazy, but rich. Nolbu is so stingy he won't even share any rice with his younger brother's family. 

Heungbu sees a swallow with a broken leg and nurses it back to health. The swallow may or may not be a spirit creature, but anyway it returns and blesses his house by laying magical eggs. When Heungbu opens the eggs, treasure spills out. 

Nolbu hears about this and decides he wants some free money, too. He dresses like a snake to scare a swallow into falling and breaking its leg. Then throwing off the disguise, he nurses the swallow just like Heungbu did. But the bird is not fooled. It does return and lays eggs. But when Nolbu opens them, dokkaebi appear and start trashing his house. Then another egg breaks and floods the house with shit. Nolbu learns his lesson when Heungbu gives up some of his treasure to help Nolbu rebuild. 

The flood of poop, and dokkaebi

Again, a folk tale meant as instructive for children. And who doesn't love the idea of the rich, greedy, lazy guy getting his stuff ruined by a flood of diarrhea? Anyway, this is where my conception of dokkaebi as dispensers of divine justice comes from. 

I just found a third book (my wife, like many Korean women, buys these sets of books from publishers, and most kids never really read all of them) with another dokkaebi story. I should read it a bit more closely (or with my son so he can fill in the gaps), but it seems like a spirit of a mountain is bothered by a bunch of rowdy dokkaebi, and chases them off. Then at the end of the book he gets taught a lesson by a witch (or group of witches? She seems to duplicate in the pictures). Here's a picture from the beginning of the story. 

I've made a quick revision of my dokkaebi class. Now they're a bit more trickster-ish, although still primarily a Fighter-type class. And they have some small ability to create items (but not treasure, obviously) when needed, a few times per day. Also some stealth (Halfling hide ability transfers nicely to them to mimic the invisibility caps of folklore). And I kept two "clerical" abilities from before. One is the ability to detect evil at will (which they had before), but only on a 1-2/d6 roll. The other is the ability to summon a spirit companion (Nate makes good use of the Channel Spirit spell to have Finn, his Dokkaebi Mudang (shaman) PC, summon Fang, his "brother" to help fight).




Wednesday, August 25, 2021

More Demi-Human Thoughts

 I've spent my free time this week working up Dokkaebi (Korean goblin), Koropokuru (Ainu dwarf), Shenseng (Pan-Asian spirit folk) and Vanara (Indian monkey-men) as classes for TSR-East. 

Mostly I'm satisfied. The koropokuru is mostly a fighter variant, but has a few special abilities, similar to the way the dwarf and halfling classes do in normal Classic D&D. Shenseng are spellcasters, but may be clerical or magical depending on spirit type (forest, mountain, river, or desert). Vanara are just a variant of my new (Flying Swordsmen inspired) Martial Artist class, with some unique martial arts abilities. I think these are all playable and fill niches in the game. 

The dokkaebi class, however, I'm not so keen on. I started out making it another fighter variant, but since Nate is playing a dokkaebi shaman, and in legends they have magical powers, I gave them spell-like abilities instead of most Fighter abilities. While this may fill a niche (slightly better at fighting than a Cleric...but not a lot, and able to fill some Cleric duties but not a lot), the Forest and River Shenseng also fill this niche, although a bit more clerical than fightery. 

Since the dokkaebi is the class with redundant purpose and novel mechanics that haven't been tried before (by me), I'm thinking to revise or scrap it. 

I could go with just three demi-humans. But I would like something definitely Korean in origin. I've been living here 13 years, am going to be living here a lot longer, might as well give Korean legends and myths some love. The problem is, Korea doesn't have a lot of original mythical creatures, and most of the ones it has probably aren't appropriate for PCs in an RPG of dungeon delving and treasure accumulation. 

So, make the dokkaebi class more like the Fighter? Or find something that might fill in a pseudo Thief slot? The koropokuru class has a bit of Rangery ability, with better surprise, hearing, dwarf-style trap detection, and infravision, so they can make good scouts in dungeons or wilderness. 

If I want a more thief/ninja type demi-human, though, there aren't a lot of good candidates with Korean flavor. Bears and tigers are important in Korean mythology, but anthropomorphized bears and tigers seem like variant fighters to me, so I might as well stick with the Dokkaebi. Or maybe I should stop thinking about Nate's character (I won't be switching my West Marches game to these rules) and make the Dokkaebi more of a bruiser and less of a support caster type.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Demi-Humans In Race-as-Class TSR East

 I'm still not 100% sure that I want to go back to demi-human classes, at least not for my main West Marches game (I and the players are pretty happy with separate race and class there), but if I ever wrap up West Marches and start East Marches (or start running it as a side campaign), I am leaning toward that, as discussed in my previous post on classes for a pseudo-combined Flying Swordsmen/Chanbara type game. 

The problem I'm having is that I need to pare down the list of demi-humans. Sticking to core rule books, not supplements, BX/BECMI has just three. AD&D has six. AD&D OA has three, but one of them is really a dozen different types, and another has three subtypes. 3E OA has an additional two or three races added on to AD&D's OA races. 5E has the AD&D races plus two more. But AD&D, both versions of OA, and 5E all have separate race and class. So the precedent is for only a few demi-humans in a race-as-class set-up. Sure, I could have more, but then if there are more demi-human classes than human only classes, will it really be a humanocentric campaign? Probably not. 

So, my options, from 1E OA, 3E OA, Chanbara, and my TSR-East rules are: 

Dokkaebi (Korean version of Japanese oni, more or less), big scary looking guys who are sometimes mischievous goblins and sometimes punishers of the wicked. 6-7' tall. Red, blue or yellow skin. Wild hair. Tusks and horns. [TSR-East]

Gumiho (Korean fox fairies, also spelled kumiho, equivalent to Japanese kitsune), tricky creatures with lots of magical powers, who most often are after human souls in the legends, but occasionally are helpful. 4' tall. Red or white fur, but able to transform into human form. Nine tails at full power (more tails = more magic in the legends, and the name is literally "nine tailed fox" as just regular fox is "yeou"). [Chanbara, TSR-East]

Hengeyokai (Japanese for transforming spirit/fairy), animal shapeshifters in OA, but in Japanese legend could be anything from a rock to an animal to a household tool! Gumiho and Tanuki would actually fall under this race if I added them in. OA has the forms they transform into as one of a dozen animal options (mammals, birds, fish), a human form, and a hybrid form. If I add them in, then I'd probably limit the number of forms to animal and hybrid only, and have fewer options for animal type. [1E OA, 3E OA, TSR-East]

Kappa (Japanese water imps), small water creatures resembling a cross between a turtle, frog, and monkey. They like wrestling, cucumbers, and sucking the souls of drowning humans from their buttholes in the legends. 3-4' tall. Green skin. Shells on their backs. The tops of their skulls are concave, and hold magical water that gives them strength in the legends. [Chanbara]

Koropokuru (Ainu fair folk), dwarves. 1E OA has them as gruff barbarians, legends have them as similar to primitive but pastoral gnomes or brownies. 3' tall. Typically tanned skin. Generally good hearted but suspicious. [1E OA, 3E OA, TSR-East]

Naga (Hindu snake-spirits), which are the same name as a monster type, but also pretty much just like yuan-ti. From 3E OA's Rokugan/L5R material, I have no desire to add these guys, but put them on the list for completeness. 10-15' long. Humanoid torso, snake the rest of the way down. [3E OA]

Nezumi (rat-men made up for Rokugan/L5R as far as I can tell), which again I don't feel the need to include these guys, but they appear in one of the sources for this list so here they are. 4' tall. Furry. Stinky. Long tails. Kinda like wererats who can't transform or infect people and not immune to normal weapons. [3E OA]

Shenseng, or Spirit Born (or Spirit Folk in the OA books), which in my estimation should be based on Japanese tales of spirit foundlings like Momotaro, Kaguya-hime, and Kintaro, but are basically half-spirit/half-human "elves" in the OA books. OA has them as bamboo, river, and ocean subtypes. 5-6' tall. Human-like, but prettier. Get benefits from being in the environment of their subtype in OA. Get benefits to interaction/followers in TSR-East.  [1E OA, 3E OA, TSR-East]

Tanuki (Japanese raccoon-dog fairies), are again sometimes tricksters and sometimes protectors/benefactors to humans, depending on the story. Some legends give magical powers to their oversized scrotums, others say they can transform into human form. 3' tall. Raccoon-like fur, dog-like faces (hence the English name). [Chanbara]

Tengu (Japanese crow-men), usually depicted as wild mountain goblins and tricksters in legends, but occasionally legends tell of them training swordsmanship to humans they take a liking to. Kotengu (small tengu) have crow or kite heads and wings, while daitengu (great tengu) have humanoid heads, usually red skinned, with very long noses. 3-4' tall. Feathered bodies with wings and bird heads (or red-skinned and long nosed winged humanoids). [Chanbara, TSR-East]

Vanara (Indian humanoid monkeys), although in myths they are usually described as beast-like, not necessarily monkeys, the most famous mythical vanara is Hanuman, who is always described/depicted as a humanoid monkey. Probably also the inspiration for Son Wukong (Son Goku - yes, this name may be familiar to some of you), the Monkey King of Chinese legendary novel Journey to the West. 4-5' tall. Brown to grayish fur. Prehensile tails. Curious and friendly (at least according to 3E OA). [3E OA, TSR-East]

________________________________

So obviously 11 races in addition to humans is too many, especially when there are only 5 human classes (although with subclasses there are really 16). I already mentioned I'll not be considering the Rokugan races of Nezumi and Naga because they just don't thrill me. So that's down to 9 options unless people in the comments really convince me to keep one or both of these. Also, if I use hengeyokai, again as mentioned above, gumiho and tanuki are already included there so that takes it down to 7. If I don't use hengeyokai, 8 options remain. 

TSR-East already has the Dokkaebi, Gumiho, Koropokuru, Spirit Born, Tengu and Vanara with stats for separate race and class, so it wouldn't be hard to manipulate those into classes, but it's still a few too many options. 

At the playground with my son yesterday, I jotted down an idea to cut it down to Dokkaebi, Koropokuru, Shenseng (spirit born), and Vanara. That's easily doable, but while I don't want to overdo the demi-humans, I also feel like I'm leaving out some cool options. 

So, I'd like to ask you readers what you think. Which of the races listed above would you consider the top three "must haves" for an Asian fantasy inspired campaign? Or should I just stick to humans only, as in Flying Swordsmen or Chanbara minus the last page?


Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Five

I haven't blogged about this yet, but I actually finished it up over a week ago. I went back to my old TSR-East file, and using some stuff from my condensed TSR version (Euro and Asian archetypes together, and the current rules for creating characters in my West Marches game), cobbled together something that's a little bit Chanbara, a little bit Flying Swordsmen, and a bit of its own thing. 

There are five base character classes: Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, and Martial Artist. 

In the combined TSR, each of the four main classes has a martial arts style subclass. I took all of them and made the Martial Artist class from them, along with a bit of Flying Swordsmen to fill in some gaps and even things out. 

For the standard four classes, I removed, added, or combined some subclasses from Chanbara, and revised some of the existing ones from the combined TSR document. Since only a few people reading this blog have seen these documents, I suppose I'd better go into a bit of detail. 

The Cleric

As you'd expect, a bit of fighting, some healing/utility magic, and turning undead. Subclasses are now:

Exorcist (Onmyoji), similar to the Chanbara Mahotsukai Onmyoji subclass, but with some improved Turn Undead ability.

Shaman (Mudang), similar to the Chanbara Soryo or Flying Swordsmen Shaman minus the martial arts. They get a small boost to spell casting, and some once per day rituals. 

Warrior-Monk (Sohei), similar to the Chanbara Bushi Sohei subclass or the OA class, but with normal clerical spell casting. They have a slightly different spell list.

The Fighter

Again, as you expect - the best combat progression, hit points, and access to weapons/armor [for most subclasses]. They have special abilities from my TSR combined rules (Parry similar to "shields shall be splintered," Sweep as in AD&D, Smash from BECMI Companion, multiple attacks at high level). Subclasses are now:

Knight (Hwarang or Samurai), which is basically the Cavalier from TSR combined edition, and a bit like the Bushi Samurai in Chanbara. 

Vagabond (Ronin), which is a bit like the Chanbara Bushi Abarenbo, and a bit like the Bushi in OA, with a bit of Flying Swordsmen Thief Vagabond in there as well. 

Weapon Master (Kensei), which is of course the OA Kensai, Flying Swordsman Weapon Master, and Chanbara Bushi Kensei class you'd expect. 

The Magic-User

Spells -- lots of spells, and instead of the Holmes edition's scroll scribing ability, they get a Craft Charm ability which is really just a refluffing of the scroll ability. Subclasses are now:

Geomancer (Wu Jen or Shugenja), which is a little bit OA Wu Jen, a little bit Chanbara Mahotsukai Yamabushi, and have casting a la Flying Swordsmen's Wizard (know X number of spells per level, instead of having a spellbook, but still need to prepare from those spells known), and Taboos a la the Wu Jen. 

Scholar (Wushi), pretty much the standard Magic-User, but get bonus spells for high Int. 

Soothsayer (Suan Ming), which is brand new (but very much ripped off from the 5E Diviner specialization for Wizards). They have a slightly different spell list.

The Thief

Pretty old school, with % Thief skills instead of the d20 + mods of Flying Swordsmen or the 2d6 system of Chanbara. Backstabbing, language deciphering, scroll reading, it's all there. Subclasses are now: 

Gangster (Yakuza), which is a little bit like the OA Yakuza, but with magical tattoos that they get every third level. Pretty much straight from my original TSR-East (and combined TSR) with little modification. They get improved pickpocketing and a bribery skill (like in Flying Swordsmen).

Infiltrator (Ninja or Shinobi), which is of course similar to the Chanbara Ninja Shinobi subclass, or the 2E Complete Ninja Handbook ninja. They get improved backstab and stealth. 

Outlaw, which is based on the Flying Swordsmen Thief Outlaw subclass. They have improved trap busting and lock picking, and a ranged "backstab", plus tracking. Still haven't decided if I want to use a Chinese or Korean name for these guys. 

The Martial Artist

Like the various Monk classes or BECMI Mystic, or any class in Flying Swordsmen, these guys fight mostly bare handed, and sans armor. Instead of basing the AC on Dex scores as in Chanbara and combined TSR martial arts subclasses, or special abilities as in Flying Swordsmen, I gave them a set AC at each level, modified by Dex and magic as usual. They get a Hard or Soft fighting style, Light Step (for wuxia action), empowered strikes to damage the "magic only" monsters, and secret techniques for each subclass. Subclasses are:

Acrobat, which is a bit like the Chanbara Ninja Taijutsuka subclass. They get some thief skills, and secrets that give them expanded mobility and/or defense. 

Iron Fist, which is pretty much just the Fighter (sweep, smash, extra attack) but mostly unarmed, and with a bit of self-healing and resistance to breath weapons at high level. 

Monk, which can cast cleric spells at 1/2 level progression, and gets the "mental" abilities of other Monk classes, and poison/disease immunity at high level. 

Mystic, which can cast magic-user spells at 1/2 level progression, damage reduction a la the Flying Swordsmen Wizard Taoist subclass, and the good old "death touch" ability at high level.

 

Demi Humans? 

My TSR-East rules assumes human PCs, but I did make some optional demi-human races like I did for Chanbara, but not exactly the same ones. 

Dokkaebi (Korean version of oni), Koropokuru (dwarves from Ainu legend like in OA), Kumiho (fox fairies, Korean name just because, but the same as kitsune in Chanbara), Spirit Born (sort of like OA Spirit Folk, but more like Japanese legends of adopted spirit children), Tengu (crow-headed humanoids from Japanese myth, also in Chanbara), and Vanara (monkey-men from Indian myths and 3E OA).

I've revised the classes allowed and maximum levels allowed for them, but this morning I was thinking that maybe I should go back to race-as-class for this rule set, to keep the demi-humans rare. I have these demi-humans in my TSR combined rule set, and they've been more popular than humans. Of course, so far only two players have tried TSR-East options, but they've been a Koropokuru Yakuza and a Dokkaebi Shaman. 

If I go race-as-class, I probably won't include all of these. And I might bring back the Kappa or Tanuki in Flying Swordsmen if I feel like it. We'll see. Basically, it's a pain in the ass trying to decide which archetypes each demi-human could fit with all these classes/subclasses to deal with. So a single class for each race might be best. Give them as an option, but keep them rare.


Monday, July 19, 2021

New Project?

 Right before bed last night, I had an idea. It may be a dumb one. We'll see. 

I've spent the past year or so tinkering with my Treasures, Serpents and Ruins house rules to get them to where I pretty much like them (a few tweaks still needed, as we play with them). And after a lot of effort to combine traditional Western and my preferred Eastern fantasy tropes into one simple set of classes/races, I was struck with the idea that I should make a second edition of Flying Swordsmen that is completely compatible with Chanbara. That way I'll have samurai/ninja action as well as Hong Kong style kung fu/wuxia action in one integrated rule set. 

Of course, would it be worth my time to make a completely new game, or just the player facing rules as a supplement to Chanbara? The latter is much easier and more likely to be completed. I added a lot of monsters and spells from FS already into Chanbara, so just adding some rules for martial arts classes Chanbara style might be enough.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Movie Review: Black Widow

 Last Saturday, the family and I braved covid19 (South Korea's only at around 11% fully vaccinated, we should be getting our first shots next month) to go see Black Widow on the big screen. We took in a matinee, and about a third of the seats were blocked off for social distancing, and there were maybe only 50 or 60 guests total in the theater which seats around 200. So it was a good gamble on our part. 

Mandatory swear word notice*: There's a lot more swearing in this movie than the typical Marvel movie so far. Especially from Yelena. My 6-year-old was giggling every time she said shit, and she said it a lot! No F-bombs that I remember, though.

So, about the movie. Well, I'll try to keep this spoiler free, since it hasn't been out for a week yet. 

The movie was pretty good. I was entertained. So was my wife and older son. The 6-year old was bored by a lot of the talking parts, but was focused on screen during all the action sequences. That said, it wasn't the strongest effort Marvel Studios has put out. And that's sad, since Scarlet Johanssen deserved a strong solo movie as her Marvel swan song, IMO. I mean, it's Marvel Studios, so everything is technically well done. Solid story. Good casting. Excellent CGI and action choreography. Good acting. I felt for these characters. 

But despite that, something was lacking. I think it all stems from the fact that most movies in the MCU, and now the TV shows, all seem to be building towards something. This movie seemed like it was just looking back. Now, it IS building toward things. The post credits scene definitely shows what they are building towards. But it wasn't obvious until the post-credits scene. 

Another thing may have been that this was both a spy thriller type superhero movie, and also a family building type movie. That meant the tension in the spy segments wasn't as tight as it could have been. The family building theme got more attention. The family dynamic between Natasha, Yelena, Melina and Alexei was a lot of fun. But because of that, we didn't get really well done spy drama like in Captain America: Winter Soldier. 

It's definitely worth a watch, especially if you've enjoyed previous MCU films. But is it a must see to follow the MCU metaplot? Probably not. It is interesting that this is the first film to come out since Marvel Studios started making Disney+ shows. When the credits started to roll, I asked my 13-year old if he thought the post credit would plug Eternals or Shang Chi? Neither one seems very thematically appropriate. And ... sorry, small spoiler here ... it didn't plug either. It was a plug for an upcoming Disney+ show.



*Having a blog with the word "curse" in the title gets a lot of Google searches for "curse words in movie X" directed here.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Not Mother-May-I: How to use rulings in RPGs

This post is related to several recent posts by Alexis over at Tao of D&D. Like him or not, he's a smart guy and I think he's been posting some quality content recently (not ONLY recently, but I've really liked his stuff of late). 

In old school D&D circles (including but not limited to the OSR), you often hear one of the things that sets old school play apart from new school play is the fact that the old school game doesn't try to anticipate every eventuality, which requires DMs to improvise and make rulings. New school games try to be comprehensive in their coverage, often by providing a universal mechanic for actions. To be fair, though, there are quite a few older games that have universal mechanics. I've been playing WEG d6 Star Wars, definitely an old school game, and it has a universal die pool mechanic. But even then, reading through the 1st edition reprint I bought a while back, there are a LOT of holes in the rules that aren't covered. The referee has leeway to make calls. 

Anyway, that argument about what is old school or new school is beside the point. We're here to talk about rulings in the game, not what makes something old school or new school (today at least). 

Why the emphasis on rulings in old school play? Well, as far as I can figure it, it comes from Matt Finch's Old School Primer. It's the title of the first of his four Zen moments. He may have gotten the phrase from somewhere else, but it's likely the Primer that made it famous. 

In the Primer, the section talks about how description should trump die rolls and common sense should trump dedicated game mechanics. I don't have a problem with that. It's advice I would generally follow, except for the fact that where the rules stipulate die rolls for game purposes, that should trump "common sense." What do I mean by that? Well, there are examples in the Primer of things like having players ask questions, get detailed descriptions, and use those descriptions to disarm traps or find secret doors or things like that. I think that's great. But if we're playing old school D&D, we DO have definite mechanics defined by the rules for these things. If players can, through smart use of description and questions/answers about the state of the game world, discover a secret door or trap or hidden treasure, or can sweet talk the guard to let them talk to the prisoner or get into the Duke's Ball without an invitation, that's fine. But if their description falls short, we have the die roll prescribed by the rules to see if they stumble upon the right answer despite the players' descriptions falling short. 

I don't think that's a controversial position, but I have seen many times people on blogs, on Google+ back when that was a thing, on message boards (which I rarely frequent these past 10 years or so), or other online places talking about "rulings not rules" in a different way. These people seem to think that rulings should trump the rules. There's "the rule of cool" and the various improv theater derived "say yes" rules: "say yes, and", "say yes, but" or "say yes or roll the dice" that all seem to be coming from a desire to improve the game, but in my opinion, may ruin it. 

The rule of cool says that if players want to do something cool and awesome like in a movie or video game, let them. The various say yes rules tell the referee to never deny players anything, unless the dice determine it so. You can't deny them, only give limitations through "and" or "but" statements.

Newer versions of D&D (since 3E) try to cover as many situations as possible, in as much detail as possible. And players of those games have been, in my experience, the ones decrying a game based on rulings not rules as mother-may-I. I think they're not quite accurate in their claims, but they do have a valid point. If there's a rule in the book that covers something, why is there a need for an arbitrary ruling?

Honestly, there have been some times in a game where players have such an interesting (or funny, or ridiculous) plan that I just go ahead and say sure, you can do that (rule of cool). But not every time. Maybe I'm inconsistent. Maybe that is me playing mother-may-I with them. I'm trying to be better. More consistent.

Here are how I think rulings should be used during a game, and how "rulings not rules" should really be interpreted to avoid mother-may-I situations.

First of all, the DM needs to know the rules well enough. They don't need to have everything memorized (although that's the ideal), but they need to know the basics and be familiar with the less often used rules. Once that condition is satisfied, there are four situations that may come up which require a ruling:

1. When a situation arises in game in which clever play by the players would circumvent the need for a roll, then the DM can make a call that that action succeeds without a roll. That's the first kind of ruling, and the thing Finch was talking about in the Primer. 

2. When a situation arises in game and the DM has forgotten the rule, and they know it will take time to look up the actual rule, then they should make a ruling in that instance to keep the game moving. If the rule is something they can easily find in the rules (a spell description for example) then they should NOT make a ruling, they should look up the proper rule. It only takes a short time and shouldn't interrupt the flow of the game. After the game, the DM should look up the rule and get to know it better.

3. When a situation arises in game that is definitely not covered by the game's rules, the DM in this instance must make a ruling. In this case, it is a good idea to record the ruling, and pending consideration by the DM, and possibly consultation with the players, it should then become the new rule for that situation in the future.

4. When there is a dispute among players (including the DM) about the interpretation or implementation of a rule in the game, then the DM needs to make a ruling as to how it will be interpreted in their game. Again, the DM may wish to consult with the players for their opinions, but as with any ruling, the DM gets the final say. Again, this should be recorded and kept for reference in the future. 

In any other situation, the onus is on the DM to know the rules and implement them fairly. Arbitrary judgments that aren't recorded to set precedents for future games are exactly the sort of thing those players were afraid of when they said "rulings not rules" is just mother-may-I.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Initiation

 Several weeks back, in April or early May, an acquaintance from the local English radio station* started liking my posts on Facebook about my twice-monthly West Marches games. I reached out to her, and yes, it turns out that she was interested in trying out D&D. She'd never played any RPGs before, and when I asked a few questions to see how much I'd need to explain, it seems like she hasn't really had much experience with computer RPG games either. 

We chatted via text, and I explained in fairly simple terms how RPGs play, and made a few suggestions, tried to find out what sort of character she wanted to play. 

Then when the next game session came up, she was too busy. Didn't hear from her for a while. I thought maybe she had lost interest. I did give her quite an info dump, even if I was simplifying things. 

But this past week, she contacted me again. She'd seen some 5E character sheets and a YouTube video about how to roll up a character. I assured her that the system I run is simpler than that.

She still wasn't sure about what sort of character to play, so I ended up rolling four pregens, a Human Cleric, Dwarf Fighter, Elf Magic-User, and Halfling Thief. Yep, hitting the four iconic (stereotypical) characters. Might as well start her with something easy. 

She quickly emails me back, asking if she can play a Half-Elf Ranger. And I'm like, of course! I made a few modifications to the pregens to make that PC for her, and sent it to her. 

At game time, several players were late, and she was also late. So we started the game. She finally contacted me, asking if it was too late to join. I said no, and resent the game links. She had some trouble logging into both Roll20 and Meet at the same time, but we finally got her in the game. 

And she did brilliantly. Granted, she does have some amateur acting chops. She's been in some local plays and short films in addition to her radio work. She got into character, asked good questions, had some good teamwork with the existing players, etc. And of course my usual crew is used to new people popping into our games, so that was no big deal for them. 

She sent me a message yesterday, thanking me for the game and asking if I was running again that night! I mentioned another game that I play in that is next Saturday, but she's already got plans (we'll get her in it eventually, I think). But she's on the hook for the following week when I run West Marches again. 





*Yes, I do a 1-hour radio weekly show. Yes, it's on the internet, but trust me, unless you listen to the other programs on the station, my show won't be interesting at all. Even if you do listen to the other shows, it's still not THAT interesting.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Gamma Goodness

 A few weeks ago, Tim Brannon gave a review of 1E Gamma World, or to be more specific, the PDF/POD combo from DriveThru/WotC. I got my start with a bit of GW2E that my cousin had borrowed from a friend. But since he had to return it, we never really got to play it. Oh, and I was in love with the setting from the Endless Quest book Light on Quest's Mountain (one of the better entries in the EQ series, at least as far as I've read). Later, in the early 90's, I picked up the 4e, which I've blogged about plenty before. It's my go-to version of Gamma World. 

But I'd always been curious about the first edition, so after reading Tim's post (link above), I ordered it. I got the PDF right away, of course, but only gave it a cursory skimming. The POD book arrived today. I'm always happy with DriveThru's international shipping rates. It wasn't that much. Also, thanks to everyone who purchased Chanbara. I got this with Chanbara profits. 

The book is slim, only 60 pages, and that's counting the "pull out" reference sheets and map at the back. The quality of the print is good, easy to read. It's perfect bound, so probably won't stand up to too much wear and tear at the table, if I were to run a long term dedicated GW game with it. But I'll probably mostly use it for sprinkling some GW oddness into my West Marches game (I've already got a zone of GW in there, using my 4E rules).

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Where's that Monster?

 So I'm going through my Treasures, Serpents & Ruins monster file this evening. For my own personal use, I'm free to use beholders, carrion crawlers, mind flayers, etc. But if I want to release this thing into the wild, especially if I'm hoping to make a bit of beer money from it (and no, I don't expect to make much if anything from it), I'd need to rename the WotC "product identity" monsters. 

Plenty of other games have these monsters in them, they just need to rename them. But I'm wondering how close I could get to the actual names and not get a cease and desist letter. 

For example, let's look at the beholder. Beholder is forbidden, but as far as I can tell, eye tyrant is not restricted. Observer is fine. I could easily go with either of those.

But one thing I noticed when looking through the OSE SRD the other day was that the renamed displacer beast, the warp beast, is nowhere near where I'd be looking for it. In the beholder's case, eye tyrant isn't too far away (although on the other side of the demons, devils, and dragons). If I wanted to keep the beholder in the B section, could I call it a "behold-orb"? 

Similarly, the displacer beast was based on the coeurl, so I could use that, or warp beast or something like that, but could I get away with displacer cat? Or if that's too close, disruptor beast? Could I get away with a carrion creeper? Illithid isn't mentioned as IP, but I'm betting I couldn't use that, but how about Mind Slayer?

Yuan-ti can just be serpent men, that one doesn't bother me. Never been a huge fan of that monster anyway.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Some Selective Play-Testing and Reflection

My new rules modifications for Classic D&D seem to be going well enough. Most players converted over to the new system, finding a way to more or less keep their PC the same (Don's still playing a dragonborn, a race which got axed, but did update his class from Fighter/Magic-User to Lark, and Jeff is still running the old Ranger class that gets Druid spells). Of the new Fighter (and Assassin/Paladin/Lark) combat options that have been tried out, both my younger son and Jeremy opted to go with Defense (+2 AC, +4 if attacker is giant sized) for their Fighter Combat Style (a 4th level ability), while my older son went with Cleave (like the 3E feat) and Don went with, I think, Iaijutsu (like a backstab: +4 to hit, x2 damage; but only on the first round of combat if you get initiative). 

Cleave and Iaijutsu haven't come up yet (pretty sure my son could have used Cleave last game, but we forgot about it). Defense is obviously overpowered. Not sure what I was thinking there. Obviously I was thinking of the Halfling bonus to AC vs large creatures, but +2 base was ridiculous. Even 5E's Defense ability for Fighters is only +1. I will change it. At 5th level, Jeremy's Fighter has AC 23 (I use ascending, obviously), and my younger son has AC 22 at 4th level. I'll be toning that one down a bit, and re-evaluating all of the Fighter Combat Options (a bonus ability at 4th level). 

Yesterday, Delta posted this discussion of the Fighter's ability to attack multiple low level enemies across editions.

It's interesting on its own, but since I've given my Fighter class the Sweep ability (from 2nd level) to make one attack per level vs 1HD or lower opponents in Classic (which if you haven't read Delta's thread, Frank Mentzer is commented as thinking is totally unnecessary in Classic D&D). But they also get an option to Cleave (drop an opponent to 0hp, gain a bonus attack on a nearby enemy) AND at higher levels gain multiple attacks against more powerful opponents with 1+1HD or more (2 attacks at 8th level, 3 attacks at 12th level, level cap 15th), I feel like I'm just handing out extra attacks like candy! 

Still, I've got to say the Sweep ability has been pretty useful in games so far, as it helps speed up fights with the weaklings. 

This past weekend, I ran my procedural dungeon crawl game with the boys. Their encounters skewed humanoid, so they made good use of Sweeps. First encounter with 16 bandits, and after negotiations failed, the bandits were wiped out quickly. Fire beetles and giant black widow spiders were spotted, but left alone. A group of warriors appeared, but were evaded. A Red Knight appeared (as a "special") and tried to arm wrestle the PCs (the boys' PCs legit won with good rolls)! Then they tricked a pair of white apes into opening a portcullis to allow access to a ruined castle. In the next room were (as determined by random roll) 40 orcs. They tricked the orcs and apes into fighting, leaving 29 orcs alive when the apes were finally defeated. Then they went to town, using Sweep, and the Sweep ability evened the odds, although both characters took some fairly heavy damage, even with my younger son's PC's amazing AC. In the end, all the orcs were cut down and the pair returned to town with the loot.

In my West Marches game that same evening, they finished off Quasqueton. Well, not completely finished, there were secret doors they missed, despite having a wand of secret door detection which helped. They didn't always think to use it, though. Most of the 1st level was already explored, and they had about half of the second level explored when the session started. So they put in the effort to finish it off. They encountered troglodytes (which proved to be the toughest fight of the evening!), a pair of ettins (spells rendered them ineffective), wraiths (only one level drain, Justin's PC - and just as he was about to reach the level cap for a half-elf Warlock, before the dragonborn blasted them and himself with a fireball), some ghouls, and gnolls. They avoided stirring up the bats in the giant cavern. And they finally found Zelligar's wand (Roghan's spear and armor had already been recovered). 

As for the character abilities under the new rule set, Nate has been searching for a way to make use of the Shaman (cleric subclass) ability to perform rituals, but they haven't really come up yet. The three rituals they can perform 1) allow detection of astral/ethereal creatures, 2) sanctify a small area for 24 hours, 3) allow up to four creatures suffering from poison, disease, etc. to make a new saving throw. 

The other area that's come to my attention through the game is the Paladin's Aura ability. Denis has been confused the past few sessions about it. The effects are fine, but the wording is poor. I need to rewrite the section to make it more clear.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Maybe this will work

I'm trying out an interesting arrangement for my wilderness encounter tables (mentioned in my previous post). I have a table for each terrain type: clear/grassland, forest, hills/badlands, mountains, desert/barren, swamp/marsh, jungle, river/lake, ocean, arctic, settled, city. For each table, there are five columns (six with numbering) and twelve rows. 

The columns are Animal, Human, Common Monster, Unusual Monster, Rare Monster. These are determined by a d12 roll: Animal 1-3, Human 4-5, Common 6-9, Unusual 10-11, Rare 12. A few terrain types get some adjustment to the number spread, but that's the basic. 

I haven't filled out the monsters in any of the tables yet, but I have 12 slots for each. If there aren't enough suitable creatures, I can double some up or adjust the rarity. It doesn't give quite as much variety as Mentzer's charts, but 60 creatures per terrain type should be enough for a general table. 

Oh, and these twelve tables only took up three columns of my 2-column layout, so I had room for tables for the Planes: Elemental, Ethereal/Astral, Upper, and Lower. These are arranged a bit differently, but I think it will be handy to have some random charts for planar adventures if I don't have anything worked up for a specific plane.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Wilderness Encounter Table arrangements

I'm revising wilderness encounter tables. I've recently consolidated my "regular" and "Eastern" monster lists for TSR. Treasure tables, too. And now I'm working on new wilderness encounter tables.

In the past, for Chanbara, I pretty much copied what Cook/Marsh and then Mentzer did, with a table by terrain type for monster classification, then tables for each classification broken down by terrain type. In Chanbara, I also included seasonal variation for some of them. I'm not planning to go down the seasonal variation route again, but I am considering different ways to lay this out. 

AD&D and the Creature Catalogue go the route of the big master list (d%) by terrain type. There's an advantage to this in that it allows wiggle room to set monsters as common or rare. But every monster is jammed onto one table, and they take up a lot of space. I'd like to be able to lay this out on two facing pages if possible, for convenience. 

I have a couple of other ideas for how I could do this. 

First would be to do something similar to BX/BECMI, except instead of the initial table, just break down each terrain type by monster type. So the Forest Table would have columns for Animal, Fey/Yokai, Humanoid/Giant/Oni, etc. But I'd either need to give everything equal probability of appearing, or have numbering for each column. This would probably be the most space efficient way to do it. Although I've got more categories than Cook/Marsh/Mentzer, so I'd probably want to consolidate classifications a bit more.

Second would be to divide terrain types by proximity to civilization. So each terrain type would get columns for Settled, Borderland, and Wilderness (to borrow from the Companion Set's domain management classifications). This would end up with a grab-bag of monsters on each list, but they would be more sorted into challenge levels for low, middle, and high level PCs. This one seems interesting, different, and useful, but would probably take up more space than I'm hoping for, unless each list is fairly short. 

I've got over 400 monsters in this thing. Nearly everything from BECM/RC (a few I NEVER use or just don't like removed), plus monsters and NPC types from Flying Swordsmen and Chanbara, and some extra monsters from modules, 1E, 2E, 3E, and homebrew monsters from my Beast of the Week series way back when (many of the sillier monsters -- but by no means all silly monsters -- removed, so no more Saurons running around in packs :D). Of course, many of these are "dungeon only" or planar creatures, but it still leaves me with a lot to work with, and not every monster will make the cut. 

I guess I should spend some time building prototypes of each system and see which one I like most.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Emulation

 I mentioned this in my post the other day, and figured I'd write a dedicated post about it. 

A few weeks ago, I was checking out the NES Classic console - a mini emulation box shaped like the good old 8-bit NES. And of course that led me to similar machines for SEGA Genesis, SNES, PSX, etc. If you don't know, these come with an emulator program and pre-loaded with a selection of the "most popular" games for that system. 

Well, I've been playing emulated games for decades now, so that's nothing new to me. But the idea of having an emulation box like this with proper controllers (the touch screen emulator on my phone is less than ideal for games where that tactile sensation helps game play). 

And I came across ads for the Super Console X. It's an emulation box -- actually a smart TV box preloaded with EmuElec and lots of ROMS for a wide variety of systems, including arcade and old PC games, in addition to most home consoles. This thing even has a few systems I'd never even heard of, or had only heard of in passing and forgotten, at least. 

Yeah, of course I bought it. It was around $100, and takes up a lot less space than five or six of the officially licensed ones would. Is it legal? I'm sure it's not. I doubt the company is paying anything to any of the companies that made all these old games. And while I'm not opposed to giving these companies some more of my money, like I said, this is just a lot cheaper and more practical. And my wife was on board with it, so that's a plus. I'm pretty sure she would have said "No" to me shelling out close to $500 for all of the individual licensed devices...and they wouldn't have had all the games I'd want to play, as well.

Is it nice? Well, it's not perfect. But so far, we've been having a lot of fun with it.

Here are the boys playing some Mario Cart.

One of my old favorites was Tenchu for the PSX, which did NOT come pre-loaded, but thanks to the internet, I got Tenchu and Tenchu 2 and loaded them on. There was a third PSX Tenchu game in Japan called Shinobi Hyaku Gaisen which was made of 100 fan-created levels which I had back in the day, but I couldn't find an ISO of that one. 

I did have one or two issues with it so far. Gauntlet and Gauntlet II for MAME don't work. I need to replace the ROMs, I think. A YouTube tutorial mentioned changing the video resolution for different systems to get a better picture, but when I tried adjusting that, it messed up the screen. I managed to fix that. There may be an issue with game saves, which would make replaying RPGs like the old Gold Box D&D games (yes, they're on it) impossible. But for more casual games, like most old arcade, Atari or NES era games, or things like Mario Cart or Street Fighter II, we're good to go!


Monday, April 26, 2021

An interesting weekend

 So, things didn't go as planned this weekend. 

Well, Saturday did. I had my West Marches game, and the party decided to track down a stone giant whose castle they'd heard rumor of, after a new rumor came that he had hired a small army of goblins and was harassing the Eternal Tournament, an Arthurian-style group of renegade knights who just joust and feast at their own camp in the Marches. 

The giant and his goblinoid foes (and grizzly bears) were defeated, and much loot was acquired. Both my older son's PC and one other are inching towards 7th level. So, yesterday morning my son said he wanted to play more procedural generation D&D with his brother to put him over the top (he seriously only needs 600xp or so). But one thing led to another, and in the afternoon both boys  were clamoring for Star Wars d6 instead. 

Well, I had a general idea for an adventure but nothing written up, so I spent an hour or so writing down some notes and organizing things. My younger kept coming to check on me, wanting me to hurry up. I got done just before my wife had an early dinner ready to eat, so we didn't start right away. I did tell the boys that I'd give them an extra 7 points to spend on skills (including Force skills) since the original 7 left them pretty weak and not so well rounded. But we ate before I could get them to divvy up the skill points. 

After dinner, the boys disappeared into my older son's room to play Minecraft or Roblox. I edited their character sheets to make it easier to level up (so we could write dice codes in pencil instead of having them pre-printed on the sheets like I'd done earlier). 

Then, since the boys didn't come out to play when I called them, I turned on our new emulation box (been meaning to write a post about that) and played some Street Fighter II. Man, I used to be so good at that game as Chun Li and E. Honda, and competent with the other characters (yeah, 25 years or so ago, I know!). Gotta get back into fighting shape! I did take 2nd place in a local classic video game challenge at my buddy's bar a few years back by beating one guy at a Super Mario Brothers (NES) speed run challenge, then another guy in a round of Street Fighter II (SNES), but losing to my bar-owning buddy at TETRIS. E. Honda and Guile kept beating my ass (as Chun Li). Gotta get more practice in!

Anyway, the boys finally emerged, and I got them to divvy up the skill points. They each have 2 dice in all Force powers now, and a more rounded selection of general skills. So hopefully that will make the next session a lot easier. But by that time it was time to get them ready for bed. My younger boy cried, but I promised we'd play again soon. And I'm ready to roll this time, with an adventure prepped.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Gaming with the Boys in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

 Instead of more procedural D&D, the boys wanted to play some WEG d6 Star Wars today. Even though it's not the sort of game you even want to try procedural play with, I agreed despite not having anything planned. I had a fairly simple scenario cooked up in my head (a simple rescue mission). 

But then they threw the curve ball. Despite my older son really being into this Mandalorian bounty hunter game on ROBLOX these days, neither wanted to play their Mandalorian characters. They wanted to play jedi. Of course. And since I'd set my game in the Rebellion era, there are already to many jedi running around in the game. And I should have been prepared for this, since they did ask back in December if they could have jedi PCs.

But after a bit of discussion, we decided to roll up the new characters and play in an unconnected game, with an "anything goes" Star Wars universe. Completely cutting the strings from canon. If we want to have to outwit Dooku and battle droids one session, then tangle with Kylo Ren the next, sure, why not? The Empire, Rebellion, Galactic Republic, etc can all just coexist. Sorta like the RTS Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds (which we've played a bit). 

So my younger boy asked if he could play a "bulldog man" (yes, he's got a thing for bulldogs these days) jedi, and I said sure. We used the Minor Jedi template and made a few skill picks and some equipment purchases, and found a picture he liked online. 

My older boy decided he wanted a zabrak jedi, one with yellow markings and a yellow lightsaber. We used the Young Jedi template for him, and he's on a quest to get a kyber crystal for the yellow lightsaber he wants. 

That took quite a while, actually, because the boys decided to see what was on TV at the time (Men in Black III) and spent more time watching that than making decisions about their PCs. 

After dinner we played a little. I had Yoda send them on a quest to some ruins to look for kyber crystals. I meant to have them encounter some RP challenges along the way, but my 1st son asked for a combat, so I through some battle droids at them. Too many battle droids. Their game stats are much tougher than the way they fight in the movies! I dropped eight, but had them in two ranks and only the first rank was firing. 

Son #2 did try to be clever, trying to use telekinesis to attack them with his lightsaber from far away, but at beginning level, there just aren't enough dice in the pool for easy lightsaber combat. Son #1 had some success shooting with his blaster, damaging two droids, but then he took an unlucky hit and was incapacitated in one shot. Son #2's PC grabbed him and ran. 

I looked up the natural healing rules (neither had bought medpacs despite my recommendation), and noted that the zabrak would die if he rolled 8 or less. He rolled a 7. My son was pretty upset, but held it in pretty well. It was bedtime by then anyway, so we wrapped things up, I said it was just a training game, gave them some character points, and said we'd try again another time once I'd had some time to plan a proper adventure for them. 

d6 System is definitely NOT the sort of system where you just want to throw random monsters at characters, especially when they're just starting out!


Monday, April 12, 2021

Procedural Dungeon Crawl Results

Last night's game with the boys went pretty well. They both had a good time, and some good traits came out in my older boy that have been lacking in our online games. 

I didn't have the BECMI dungeon random encounter charts handy in printed form and didn't want to get my original books out, but I did have the AD&D Monster & Treasure Assortment handy (I've got it in pdf, and had printed it out). So I used that for creatures and treasures in the game. 

We dug out my Dragon Strike game, and when we got the game boards out, I also got out the trap cards to use for random traps. They didn't always make sense, and neither did the random monster rolls, but my 6-year-old didn't care, and my 13-year-old was happy to accept semi-plausible explanations to keep the game going. 

My method was to roll 1d6 in an area to determine if it was empty (1-2), had a trap (3), a monster (4-5) or something unusual/special (6), then roll a second d6 for possible treasure. Just like BX and BECMI dungeon stocking. If there was a monster or treasure, I rolled for it on the M&TA charts. If there was a trap, I drew a Dragon Strike trap card. If there was a special, I improvised.

My boys chose the "Town" board and I said it was a town that had been overrun with monsters (getting the idea from the old Gold Box Pool of Radiance game, something for another post soon). The PCs were asked to help clear the monsters out, and told they could keep any loot they recovered. 

My 13yo has a Half-Orc L6 Cavalier* named Calvin who rides a tamed tiger named Hobbes. Oh, and he got lucky and rolled a legit 18 Strength. 

My 6yo has a "Bulldog-Man" L3 Lark* named BulldogTV who rides a dragon horse (just like a regular horse only a wingless, breath weapon-less dragon) and has a henchman named Bulldog Bro, who is an alien.

*Cavaliers used to be my name for the paladin class in TSR, now it's a subclass of Fighter with no clerical ability. Larks are basically the Elf class from BX, except open to a few more races. And yes, the name is from Ultima Exodus.

When the game started, they went in by the drawbridge (bottom of the picture above), and checked out the two gatehouse guard rooms. The first, random die rolls indicated 12 giant centipedes. When they opened the door, Calvin tried to shut it, but I rolled randomly to determine that 9 escaped before he could do so. But with the sweep ability (1 attack per level vs 1HD or lower creatures) they didn't last long enough to do any damage. They checked out the other side, and random die rolls indicated a Hero, who of course I made an Evil Hero. But a reaction roll was Helpful (12!) so when they talked to him, something they initiated, I had him offer to go along and help (with a mind to steal some treasure along the way). Oh, and he had a +1 shield. 

Well, the boys said if he wanted to join he had to finish off the centipedes, which he offered to do. But due to the quirks of the dice, he got bitten and failed his save vs poison. So the boys took his magic shield and also (random roll) 1500cp. 

They went on to the fountain, which was an empty area (actually a trap with treasure, a cursed -1 sword). The trap card was an entangling magic rope, which Bulldog triggered, but avoided with a saving throw. He took the sword and gave it to his henchman (he already has a sword +1, +3 vs goblins). 

From the fountain plaza, they entered the house on the southwest side, which was trapped with a "jaws of death" bear trap, but again a saving throw by Bulldog avoided it. They decided to look inside for secret doors, and while looking, had a random encounter with four giant crab spiders. Bulldog's sleep spell took out three, while Calvin killed the unaffected one. 

The next building was on the southeast side of the plaza, and die rolls indicated six Warriors. They knocked on the door, and the warriors readied tables as cover and cocked their crossbows, but when the boys' PCs kicked the door in, they negotiated. The PCs offered the warriors the copper coins if they'd just leave town, and the warriors agreed. 

The building on the northeast of the plaza had another trap - a pit trap, this time Calvin sprang it, but again a saving throw avoided it. There was a pair of bags with 1250ep in them in this house. So they had some treasure again, and more valuable. 

On the building on the northwest side of the plaza, I rolled a special. I decided it was a magical hologram from a wizard asking whoever saw it to help free the town of monsters. A bit more interesting than a magic mouth, but basically the same effect. 

They headed west and had a random encounter with 6 dwarves. Neutral reaction roll. The players tried to recruit them, but a reaction roll suggested they'd rather not. So after swapping a bit of intel, the dwarves left. 

Finally they went to the central west house, cracked open the door, and peeked inside. Random rolls told me there were fire beetles in there, so I described the eerie red glow. A bit freaked out (and realizing it was getting close to bed time), my 13yo suggested they leave town with what little treasure they'd collected. My 6yo, also realizing it was close to bed time, demanded that they keep going. As Dad, I had to agree with my older boy, and we wrapped up the game. They each earned around 300xp. Bulldog TV also paid 900gp to have the curse removed from his henchman's sword after rejecting Calvin's suggestion to try and con someone into buying a "magic" sword.

This morning, taking my 6yo to school, he asked if we could continue the game every night. My older boy also told me last night that he had a lot of fun with it and wants to do it again. So I'd consider that a success. 

I've got some more maps and things we can use for visuals (they're important to my 6yo). He was a lot more engaged than when he tries to join my West Marches games. 

When I used to run West Marches face to face, my 13yo (10-11yo then) always had lots of creative ideas for encounters. Lately, online only, he's just not that into things and not very creative at all. Last night, he was all about non-combat solutions to problems when possible. I'm glad to see that back in his gaming again. 

The procedurally generated content wasn't the most coherent (as you would expect), but it definitely got the job done, and will allow me to run for the boys with very little prep. I may also try digging out a few of my old dungeons from the 80s/90s, making some battle mat size versions for them, and having a go with them as well.



Sunday, April 11, 2021

Dungeon Crawl Procedural

Last night I ran my West Marches game, and my second son, 6yo, had a lot of fun before he had to go to bed. This morning, he asked to play D&D again today. Well, we had some other plans (we did get in a game of the Dungeon! board game this morning, but that didn't fully scratch the itch), but now dinner has been ordered and is on its way. 

 After dinner, I'm going to pull out the old Dragon Strike game boards and use those for maps (6 year olds do better with solid visuals), and have them explore it with their WM characters. My older's PC is level 6, my younger is level 3, so I plan to use the 3rd level wandering monster tables and the BX/BECMI random stocking method when they enter any rooms/areas, and randomly generate treasure on the fly. 

I'll use Google searches to provide visuals for monsters encountered, too.

We'll see how it goes. Should be fun!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ability Score Adjustments at Character Creation

 OD&D through BECMI uses a system of ability score adjustment where you can drop a score by 2 points to raise the Prime Requisite of your class by 1. I don't remember if AD&D does this as well. 

It's something we did from time to time back in the day, but a lot of the time we just played what we rolled. Or we did a swap of the highest rolled score for the PR of the class the player hoped to play, with no adjustments beyond that.

I didn't include it as an option in TSR, partly because of the rules I'm using for rolling scores. Players can choose to roll 3d6 six times and arrange the scores as they like. Or they can roll 4d6-L down the line. I feel like allowing players to monkey with the scores on top of that ruins the whole point of forcing players to make this choice. 

Anyway, one of my players was asking if he could do that the other day, and it got me thinking about the practice. 

I'm wondering how often players took advantage of this back in the old days. Or how often players take advantage of it today. Since there aren't a lot of mechanical effects tied to scores, it would make sense to try and bump the PR up for a character. This gets a bonus to XP and bonuses to hit/damage for Strength, bonus languages for Intelligence, bonuses to saving throws for Wisdom, and bonuses to AC and ranged combat for Dexterity. And since the rules state a score can't be dropped below 9 (average), you can't give yourself a penalty in these areas. 

I think it makes sense when rolling straight 3d6 down the line. You've probably got some scores that make you want to be a certain class, and then you can trade down scores your class doesn't benefit so much from to increase the one they do benefit from. 

I'm guessing it was intended to be used by most players, to get "more viable" PCs, but I don't have any evidence, hard or anecdotal, to back that up. Just a gut feeling. If anyone has some insight or just wants to share how you & your group(s) do it, feel free to comment.

Anyway, time to reconsider how I do ability score rolls, and see if I want to bring this back in my games. Or not.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Everybody was kung fu fighting

 Last Saturday evening, I went ahead and took the plunge. I modified my TSR class set up to include more martial arts action. Using Flying Swordsmen as a bit of a guide (plus some stuff I had done in TSR-East, and maybe a little bit of Chanbara that hadn't made it in yet), I came up with martial arts subclasses for the Cleric, Fighter, and Magic-User. The Thief already had one. 

Because of that, I got rid of the Monk as its own class. And the traditional "monk" abilities got divided up between the various subclasses. There isn't a direct analog to the typical Monk class now, but there are options to better emulate wuxia in the rules. To replace the Monk, I made a more standard Cleric/Thief hybrid which got the Darkstalker name I had previously as a subclass of Cleric. It's the Van Helsing/Simon Belmont/Vampire Hunter D class. 

For the Cleric, the subclass gets the Monk name. In addition to unarmed fighting and unarmored defense (using Dex score+BAB), the Monk gets resistance to ESP, charm, poison, disease, and so on as they gain levels. The Monk gets full clerical casting, but don't get to turn undead and don't get bonus spells for high Wisdom scores (something I'd imported from AD&D). They also use the Shaman spell list (AKA TSR-East spells, drawn from OA, FSRPG and Chanbara) instead of the normal Clerical list.

For the Fighter, the Martial Artist subclass focuses on combat, obviously. They get better unarmed damage than the other subclasses, and since their BAB goes up faster, will have better unarmored AC. They get healing (basically like Paladin lay on hands), and as they gain levels their unarmed strikes can damage creatures as if they were magical. 

The Magic-User's subclass draws on Flying Swordsmen and my old TSR-East Xia class (which was modeled on the BECMI Elf class). And it's still called the Xia. Of course they get unarmed damage and unarmored defense. The Xia has a lower Dex requirement than the other classes (11 compared to the 13 the others need), so while they get unarmored defense like the others, the possibly lower Dex and very slow BAB increases will mean they're not as well protected as the others. They gain the ability to reduce damage to the minimum value once per day per two levels. They get MU spells from the Geomancer list (again from TSR-East and its predecessors), but don't get 6th level spells. Instead, they get the Death Touch ability (for Fist of the North Star/Kill Bill fun!). Of course, the target of Death Touch can't have more than double the Xia's hit points or 15HD. And Xia use the standard d4 for HP. So I don't think it will be overpowered. One thing I may change is having it take the place of those 6th level spells, so they could use it once per day at 11th level, twice a day from 12th to 14th level, and three times a day at 15th level. Right now the rules just say once per day but I may modify this in the future. 

Oh, and if you're wondering, the Thief's Acrobat subclass has always had the unarmed damage and unarmored defense. Instead of Pick Pockets, they use those chances for Tumbling and leaping. Instead of Find/Remove Traps, they get Escape Artist at the same chances. They can also use Climb Sheer Surfaces as intended and for feats of balance. At higher level, they get to damage creatures with unarmed strikes as if magical, and at 10th level can make supernatural leaps. They don't get to read languages or cast spells from scrolls like a standard Thief, though.

Also for the Cleric, since the Darkstalker subclass was removed, I reinserted an idea I'd toyed with of a Necromancer subclass. They get the "control undead" feature instead of turn undead feature that the Master Set described for undead clerics. Otherwise they're just like normal. And yes, you can still be a normal Cleric and Chaotic. 

Also for the Fighter, I renamed the Knight subclass into the Cavalier subclass. No need to have a Knight and a Kensei (two Ks) when there's an established name in D&D lore already (and my previous TSR rules used Cavalier for the "paladin" class anyway). 

Finally, to balance out the Thief, which already had the Acrobat subclass, I reinserted the Yakuza from TSR-East. They're a standard Thief in most respects, but get magical tattoos at certain levels. They don't get to read languages or cast from scrolls, though. The tattoos give things like bonuses to Thief Skills or saving throws, resistance to energy damage, and a few other special abilities. 

So now the class structure of TSR (2021 revision) looks like this:  

Basic Classes [Subclasses]

Cleric [Druid (Yamabushi), Monk, Necromancer, Shaman]

Fighter [Cavalier (Samurai), Kensei, Martial Artist, Ranger]

Magic-User [Geomancer (Wu Jen), Illusionist, Wild Mage, Xia]

Thief [Acrobat, Ninja, Outlaw, Yakuza]

Advanced Classes

Assassin (Fighter/Thief hybrid)

Bard (Cleric/MU hybrid)

Darkstalker (Cleric/Thief hybrid)

Lark (Fighter/MU hybrid)

Paladin (Cleric/Fighter hybrid)

Warlock (MU/Thief hybrid)

I did almost all of that on Saturday. On Sunday and Monday I did a bit of tinkering and editing. Part of that included switching around which races can be which classes, and the max levels they can attain. That may be something for another post, however.