Friday, March 31, 2023

Treasures, Serpents, & Ruins Ruby Players Rules now available!

I've just uploaded my regular D&D house rules to DriveThruRPG, at my Hidden Treasure Books storefront. 

Treasures, Serpents, & Ruins Jade Players Rules 

It's fully compatible with the TS&R Jade Asian-inspired rules (the Fighter and Thief class are identical in both, just with different suggested examples of each type listed). 

In it, you'll find rules for running a game somewhere between BX/BECMI style and AD&D style games, with mostly the simplicity of the box sets, but with separate race & class, and a few other complexities from AD&D (and a few more modern conventions I like such as ascending AC). 

Ruby has rules for the following races: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, Half-Orcs. As with AD&D, demi-humans have class restrictions and level limits, although a bit more generous than old Gary originally suggested.

And the following classes: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Magic-User, Paladin, Ranger, Thief. Advancement goes to level 15.

Plus spells up to level 6, full equipment lists, and some handy rules for players to engage in exploration and combat, and some notes for higher level play. 

As with TS&R Jade, this is Pay-What-You-Want so feel free to download it for free, or tip me a few bucks if you enjoy it and can afford it!

Monday, March 20, 2023

The movie, huh? And TS&R Updates

So it's been 10 days since my last post. I figure I should put something up here on the old blog. But I don't have a lot to say about gaming at the moment. 

My last Star Wars session (on the 12th) went really well. They managed to avoid some of the complications and finish everything I'd prepped in just that one session. They did some pre-planning before the session started, and that allowed me to get some of the fiddly logistics out of the way (ship upgrades, droid purchases, trading the Inquisitor's shuttle for a Z-95 Headhunter to run escort for their YT-1300 freighter, etc.) before the session started. Then they managed to leverage their various skills to slip through an Imperial blockade, pick up a group of Mandalorians including an armorer who could forge the beskar steel they found in the previous game, and then run a con with the blockade just long enough to plot a course into hyperspace and jump out seconds before getting intercepted by TIE Fighters and engaged with by Star Destroyer long range guns. They got the Mandos to the 4th Moon of Bogden (where once upon a time Jango Fett was hired to be a clone donor), and after a run-in with a pair of pickpockets running a damsel in distress con, got their weapons/armor upgraded in thanks. Mandalore has been destroyed in the Night of 1000 Tears though, so that will have some ramifications going forward in the game. 

I've been watching The Mandalorian season 3, and liking it so far. It's a bit different feel than the previous two seasons, but so far I'm interested in what they'll do with the story now. Also, season 2 of the Bad Batch, which is not quite as interesting as season 1 was. Maybe it will pick up in the final few episodes? 

I had originally planned to wait and binge watch season 3 of Star Trek Picard. Season 2 was so-so, so I hadn't been too eager for it, despite knowing that most of the TNG cast would be appearing. But then I heard some good buzz from friends, so started in on it. It's definitely better than S1 or S2 so far, but the whole "dark and gritty" tone of modern Trek, and the emphasis on trying to tell cool stories rather than interesting (pseudo) scientific stories, just doesn't work as well for me. Maybe I should start in on Strange New Worlds. I haven't watched any of that yet, but I hear it's more like classic Trek. 

And on the movie side of things, Shazam 2 is out, but we haven't seen it yet. I really liked the first Shazam. It's the best DCEU film. But we were busy this past weekend with a lot of stuff, so it's still on the to-watch list. And the D&D movie seems to be out in the US, at least in some markets. I've seen people posting about it on Facebook. But it's not out in Korea yet. We'll definitely go see it. It looks fun, and from what I've been reading on social media, it's a decent adventure comedy film, although not so "D&D" other than a lot of fan service thrown in. 

Back to gaming, other than Star Wars, I'm still working on my TS&R Ruby books. The players book could be released as is, but I think I should read over it one more time. I always find a few small mistakes. Also, I don't have any equipment illustrations like the Jade book has, but then the Jade book's ones are my poorly hand-drawn efforts, so maybe it's just as well without it.

I'm almost done formatting the Ruby Bestiary & Treasury as well. It's got even more monsters than the Jade book (over 400, compared to 350+ in Jade), but more of them are familiar to D&D players. Still, I've managed, while formatting for space and illustrations, to find space to plug in a few more monsters, so there are some new things in there. Both of these books will also be pay-what-you-want titles when I get them ready. B&T just needs a reworking of the random encounter tables, as the ones I had before included a lot of monsters that are only in Jade, and I might want to put a few of the late entries in there as well. Once the random encounter tables are done, the book is ready. 

Editing/revising/formatting the Ruby books also helped me find a few mistakes in the Jade books, so I'll likely be updating those soon as well. I'll let everyone know here on the blog, and via DriveThru when the updated versions have been uploaded.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Virtual Tabletops

On my way to work this morning, I dropped the boys off down town where they could catch a bus to their school. And we were talking about our weekend plans, which include playing d6 WEG Star Wars on Sunday. Somehow, we got on the topic of WotC's planned new virtual tabletop. 

I told the boys that while the video that WotC released announcing One D&D and the new VTT looked really cool, it was probably just a money trap full of restricted content and premium dungeon terrain and in-app purchases for fairly standard monsters or character designs. It would also probably be a huge time sink for DMs who wanted to make homebrew dungeons, at least if they wanted their homebrew dungeons to look as cool as the ones WotC will be selling to them, that is. 

Both boys seem curious to check it out. The ability to zoom in and out of character view vs overhead view in a system running off of

They both play(ed) Minecraft, Roblox, and recently Garry's Mod, and the creative/edit it yourself nature of those game platforms are as appealing to them as the actual game play. It gives them aspirations of maybe designing their own games someday. So for them, the idea of spending hours working on a cool dungeon design doesn't sound so bad to them as it does to me. 

Neither of the boys seem too keen on paying for a lot of premium content, though. For Christmas a couple years ago we got them "Robux" (Roblox's meta-game currency), and they quickly realized how easy it was to waste good money on things that seemed cool one day (skins, game-passes, etc.) only to get quickly bored with it the next. 

So the idea of either paying a subscription or lots of in-app purchases in order to create cool dungeons in One D&D's virtual platform doesn't excite them. They could create the dungeons in one of the above mentioned games for free if they wanted to. Or they could copy their old man and do it the old fashioned way, with pencil and graph paper and imagination! 

This is just an anecdotal piece of evidence. I can't claim that my boys are typical of WotC's planned future audience. But if they are even somewhat typical, I don't see WotC's plans for a revenue churning behemoth coming to fruition. There are too many good enough virtual tabletops already, and I have a feeling that the novelty of using Unreal Engine 5 won't last long. Most people play video games instead of tabletop games because they want to game NOW, not spend hours creating the game space to game later. People who play table top RPGs will quickly realize that the video game nature of WotC's VTT makes it pale in comparison to their imaginations. 

Or at least, that's what I think. I could well be wrong. But this family, at least, probably won't do more than check it out for the novelty effect, then continue doing what we're doing now as far as gaming goes!

Saturday, March 4, 2023

TS&R Jade Bestiary & Treasury now available!

Hey hey, I've gone through the Bestiary & Treasury book I'm using for my current campaign, and fixed a lot of small errors, and added some additional explanations where I thought they might help others. Added more art, as well (all public domain). And now it's available on DriveThruRPG.

As with the TS&R Players Rules, this is available pay-what-you-want, so you can download it for free if you like, or throw me a few dollars if you can spare them and think it's worth it. 

The book has around 370 monsters, plus full treasure tables and magic item lists, and some handy reference material like sample dungeon, wilderness, and planar random encounter tables.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

This is the Way

Yes, we watched the first episode of season 3 of The Mandalorian a couple of hours ago. It was a good start for the season. Interpersonal conflicts, a giant monster, space pirates, a bit more of Mandalorian culture shown to us... The Bad Batch season 2 episode 11 came out, too, which also features a giant monster. Go figure! Anyway, I was already planning this, but all the Star Wars excitement has got me ready to run some WEG d6 Star Wars again after a fairly good sized break. 

In other news, I've been slowly making a final editing pass of my Treasures, Serpents, & Ruins Jade Bestiary and Treasury. It's got all the monsters, treasures, and magic items you might want for an Asian fantasy themed Classic D&D style game. I'll probably get it up on DriveThru next week or the week after, depending on how busy I am with the start of the spring semester tomorrow. The final edit is almost done. 

Like the Players Rules, it will be Pay-What-You-Want. Already, in the two weeks the Players Rules have been out, over 120 people have downloaded it, and a handful have actually sent a few dollars my way. Much appreciated! Once it's out, I'll go through the Ruby (standard D&D tropes) Players Rules and Bestiary and Treasury books one more time, then get them up. 

Once that's done, I'll have to finally decide on how much detail to put into the GM book, finish writing it, and get it out. Or maybe a genre neutral "Rules Reference" book, and then GM books specific to running Jade or Ruby campaigns. 

Maybe, somewhere down the road, I'll put out other TS&R sets, with things like Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean/North and East African theme, Sub-Saharan Africa theme, pre-colonial Americas theme, pre-colonial Australia theme...who knows? Of course, I'll need to do lots of research and reading for those, as my knowledge of the history, myths and legends of those areas is not as deep as my knowledge of East Asian history, myths and legends. 

That would be nice, anyway. Probably won't happen. But you never know!