Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Hey everybody, I will be at GenCon this weekend. If any of you are coming I hope to run into you. You can find me at rmckee78 on twitter, or on gmail for those of you who know how to get me there. You can also just comment on my blog at Tragically Trad and I'll get an notification.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My New Home

Hey everyone, I am moving to be part of another blog. From now on I will be posting at Ideology of Madness in a column named Tragically Trad. This will allow me to reach a larger audience, and will help with the fact that law school can make my posting a bit irregular since there are a bunch of columns there.

I will be covering some ground again. I don't know that I will review every issue again, but I am certainly going to use the increased exposure to talk about Knockspell, Fight On!, and the retro-clones.

You may have a few questions:

What the heck is "Trad"?
"Trad" is a somewhat insulting term that story game people use to describe traditional gaming. Get it, TRADitional?

What's with the rat tails? I got this one from Luke Meyer on the Podgecast. He jokingly claims that all trad gamers have rat tails because that was the haircut of the era.

I have adopted these two things to have some fun with them.

This blog is going to stay here. It is possible that I may still se it for my campaign recaps (of which I am many, many behind). I have not decided yet.

Thank you Grodog for keeping after me about the blog and, for just being a nice internet guy. I will be getting to Knockspell, S&W, and the Adventure Design Deskbook as soon as I get back up to NJ where I accidently left them two weeks ago.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I have sent in proposals to run two games at DexCon in July. I proposed running the gatehouse from Stonehell and my own mini-sandbox city. Both using Labyrinth Lord

Monday, March 29, 2010

Customer Service

The RPG Blog II pointed out that MWP pricing for the Cortex .pdf didn't make any sense. So they changed the price!

My Kingmaker Pathfinder issue showed up with a broken spine, I emailed Paizo and they are sending me a new one.

Good customer service does still exist.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Old School Tweets

Anyone know of any good old school tweeters I should be following? I am rmckee78 on there too

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Porn Stars
Lion Tamers
Republican Congressmen
Southern Baptist Ministers
Yale Graduates
Music Critics
IT Professionals
Video Game Designers
Public School Teachers
Stay-at-home Dads
Garbage Men
Whale Trainers
American Idol Contestants
Pen and Paper Game Designers
RPG Bloggers

I'd gladly play D&D with any of you. Yes, even after this week RPG Bloggers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stonehell: Advancement

I recently was asked in a comment if there was enough gold in Stonehell to support the training costs in OSRIC for gaining a level. According to the OSRIC rules it costs 1500 gp per level to gain a level in training costs. I am using the entourage system in my game so there are 4 players but each also has a dedicated henchman. I would like for there to be enough gold on the first level for all of the primary characters and main henchman to advance to level 2, even if some of the henchman don't get enough XP until later. This means there will need to be around 12,000 gp.

Some notes about my calculations:

1. This includes only the first level of the dungeon even though we also are playing the above ground areas.

2. I am including only treasure. I am not including the gold gained by selling weapons and armor taken off corpses. I am assuming that most of this goes to equipment, supplies, hirelings etc.

3. I am not including obscure things like selling natural resources to an alchemist.

Here are the rough amounts for each area:

1-A: 2700
1-B: 6500
1-C: 10000
1-D: 1483
Total: 20,734 gp

I am well over the required 12,000 gp. Even if they do not find all the treasure and some 2nd level characters die and additional expenses are incurred we have a good safety margin here.

So far it seems safe to apply training costs from OSRIC in Stonehell. In fact it almost seems like there would be too much gold laying around unless you do charge for training.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad News for Catalyst

One of the RPG darlings of the last few years is in bad shape. From RPG.net by way of Fear the Boot:

OK, as you may well have been able to surmise from release schedules, Catalyst Game Labs is in a bit of a financial pickle, and it is somewhat unlikely that they will retain the license to make Shadowrun products. This is not because Shadowrun hasn't been selling enough to cover expenses, but merely because a significant quantity of money is missing outright. Reliable sources put this figure at roughly $850,000. Which sounds like a lot, and it is. It is roughly 40% of Catalyst's entire sales for last year, missing over a three year period. There will of course be lawsuits, and there are already people drawing up legal documents accusing Loren Coleman of having hired people to construct an extension on his house through the company as "freelance writers" and somehow reporting an estimated $100,000 of convention sales as $6,000. Whether that is actually true or not is - of course - a matter for the courts to decide. And decide they presumably will.

But what that means for Catalyst as a company is pretty bad. It costs several dollars to print a book even when the pdfs are finished and ready for publication. A print run of say, 50,000 books (like the print run of Runner Havens) would cost somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 to print and ship to distributors. And while it eventually sold to distributors at ~$15 a book (a total take home of $750,000), it did so over a period of three years, during which time they were paying interest on loans and paying for storage, and advertisement and so on and so forth. A book like that isn't actually taking home half a million in profits. Which is a bad thing, because it means that even if there was a complete book printed and ready to sell, even a total and rapid sell through would not pull the company out of the financial hole it is in - and the shortfall means that it does not have the cash on hand to start the ball rolling with a new major printing.

The tiny amount of drachmas that are left in the coffers are being used to print up tiny print runs of books that have sold through - another 3,000 books of Runner's Companion for example (~$15,000 to start up, maybe $30-40k towards paying creditors if it sells out). There simply is not the startup cash to bring upcoming books like the SR4 sixth world almanac or corporate guide forward. The writing is there, but the printing costs are not. Beyond that, the freelancers have not been paid, and some of them are withholding copyright until they are - meaning that even a tiny print run of these new materials is simply not possible.

Many SR writers are quitting, have already quit, or have handed in notices contingent on demands which - word on the street - will not be met. And CGL does not even own Shadowrun, it leases the intellectual property from Topps. It seems unlikely that they will be able to make their licensing payment when the contract comes up for renewal - in a couple of months. At that time, CGL will cease being able to print Shadowrun or Battletech materials (they would presumably keep the license to Cthulhutech and Eclipse Phase for at least a little while longer, because those are separate contracts).

So what does this mean for the future of Shadowrun? It probably means that someone else will create a company and start making Shadowrun again. After all, freelancers work for very little, and a well selling book can bring in tens of thousands of dollars in profits. $850,000 of embezzlement is seemingly enough to sink the company (whoever ended up with the credsticks), but I must point out that there was indeed eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars to steal, so Shadowrun is not - as a concept - insoluble. And I also point out that something similar happened to Shadowrun before. Indeed, twice before, as both FanPro and FASA before it collapsed under the weight of people not paying debts and having bags with dollar bill signs vanish mysteriously in the middle of the night. It's somewhat... poetic considering the subject matter of the game itself.

It is entirely probable indeed that when a new company comes to take the licence, many familiar faces will appear in the new company as if they had never left. Certainly back when FanPro collapsed back when I was working for the company, I simply started working for the new company as if nothing had changed. This happened back when FASA collapsed as well - those members of the team that were not extracted by Microsoft simply started turning in writing assignments to the new boss.

And yeah, I regularly go on shadowruns against Catalyst to find out what new releases are in store. Don't you?


Monday, March 8, 2010


Glad I am not the only one who likes thinking about them

Hackmaster GMG

I was going to review the Hackmaster books some time in the near future, but there is nothing I can say about the GMG that Labyrinthian didn't say here. The book is an excellent resource, it is full of great stuff no matter what version of The Game you are playing. I will probably still talk about it later, but I wanted to pass the link along.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good Indoor Mapping Software

Anyone know a good program for making square graph maps? I know about Hexographer for outdoors stuff, is there anything similar for inside? I have some maps I want to be able to post on the blog.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taming the Savage Beast: Dragon Subdual

Way back in the 1980s a young boy was paging through his Mentzer Basic Set and noticed a section about subduing dragons. You could fight them with the flat of your blade, and capture them. Even sell them for money. Oh the possibilities...

Historically there are two different methods for subduing a dragon, you can reduce it to 0 hp with subdual damage, or you roll against a ration of damage done over total HP. 4th Edition charts new and interesting territory on this subject.

Chainmail: While dragons are in the fantasy section of Chainmail, nothing is said about subduing them

OD&D: OD&D uses a ratio method where a ratio is kept of total damage done over the dragon's total HP. Each round percentile dice are rolled, if the roll is less than the ration the dragon is subdued. The rules cap the number of people attempting to subdue a dragon at 8.

The characters can choose to sell the dragon for 500-1,000 gp per hit point, or they can keep it in their own service. If they sell the dragon it leaves the game forever. If they keep it they must remain in a commanding position or it will attempt to escape or kill them.

AD&D 1st Ed.: The players must announce their intention to subdue before the start of combat. Silver, Gold, Platinum, and chromatic dragons cannot be subdued. I am fairly certain that by chromatic dragons they are referring to the monster known as a chromatic dragon (Tiamat) not the class of dragons known as chromatic.

1st Ed. uses the same ratio method as OD&D but allows 11 characters to attempt to subdue the dragon. A subdued dragon can be sold for 100-800 gp per hit point. Subdued dragons can be ridden. A dragon can stay subdued indefinitely as long as it is strongly held, well treated, allowed freedom and given treasure. Older, more powerful and spell casting dragons are more likely to turn on their holders and take their realms and holdings as their own.

Holmes: Characters can attempt to subdue a dragon only if it is encounter while it is asleep. They must inflict subdual damage equal to the dragons HP, but subdual damage does no change the dragons breath weapon damage. A subdued dragon can be sold (no guidance on price) or forced to serve. A dragon will only stay subdued for 1 month and will then attempt to escape.

Moldvay/Mentzer: This uses a subdual method similar to Holmes but makes some changes to what happens after the dragon is subdued. The dragon will attempt to escape if given a chance. The subdued dragon must be sold. The sell price is 1,000 gp per HP.

Rules Cyclopedia: Identical to Mentzer except it says "can be sold" where Mentzer says "must be sold"

AD&D 2nd Ed.: While this edition has non-lethal combat rules, I see no specific rules for subduing a dragon. That said, there are a lot of books for 2nd Ed. In fact there are several different versions of the Monster Book out there. It could be somewhere I did not look.

3rd Edition: Has subdual damage in general, but no specific mention of subduing dragons. It is possible that there are rules for this in the Dragonomicon. I am separated from my 3.x stuff by 700 miles and only had a 3.0 core set to work off of.

4th Edition: Rules for dragon subdual are given in the Dragonomicon: Metallic. A dragon is subdued when bloodied. The rules provide for scaling the rewards based on how many characters are bloodied. A subdued dragon will grant passage, aid, or information. The rules also provide for a Duel of Honor. Here the dragon knows ahead of time that the party is shooting for subdual and any characters that are bloodied must leave the fight.

Labyrinth Lord: Uses the method where it must be dealt enough subdual damage to reduce it to 0 HP. The dragon will attempt to escape unless restrained and can be sold for 1,000 gp per HP. The AEC suggests the ratio method be used.

OSRIC: Says that you can challenge a dragon to a fight till subdued.

Hackmaster: Has non-lethal combat rules but no specific subdual rules. They do have rules for selling and uses dragon bits though.

C+C Collector's Set: No mention of subdual of any kind.

S&W Core: Uses the reduce to 0 hp through subdual damage method. Says the dragon can be sold and will attempt to escape if not frightened or impressed.

S&W WB: No mention.

I'd like a method that combines the ratio method and adds the Duel of Honor. I'd want the method to have robust support for selling the dragon or forcing it to serve you.

I am a bit surprised that none of the methods is based on a morale system, even in editions where that system was present. The ratio method and 4E's method are the closest to dealing with it as a morale issue.

A Long, Strange Trip

Two ago a former player of min passed away. He was about 30 years older than me, so he would be in his early 60s now if he had lived. One of his children recently sent be a box full of hid RPG stuff. It is full of all kinds of cool old stuff as well as a DVD with a bunch of Judges Guild .pdfs. I have no idea how legal these .pdfs are but amongst them were some fan made products, including a few by Gabor Lux.

I have remarked before that Gabor Lux is very prolific in the two old school magazines and there have been several of his articles that I really enjoyed (in fact there is an adventure in FO5 that is great). I have been meaning to search around to see if he has a blog or website for a while and decided that this was the perfect time to do so.

While I did not find a blog or website my search brought up this very level headed review of Carcosa. This was something else I have been meaning to pick up so I started checking out some of the posts by Geoffrey on Dragonsfoot. I found two, about the possibility of using the Holmes box set as a complete game especially interesting (here and here). So I ordered Carcosa, I got my file last night and am going to make my booklet today.

But the original mystery is still unsolved, where can I find out more about Mr. Lux's Fomalhaut setting and does he have a blog or website?

Akso if anyone knows of any other cool posts like the ones I linked from Dragonsfoot let me know. I love that kind of stuff.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Whitebox Arrives

My Whitebox arrived today from Brave Halfling. It looks good, I have to go to class but I don't see any obvious quality issues. Let me tell you, it is chock full of stuff too.

Now I need to find a way to make Akrasia's Swords and Sorcery mods from Knockspell into a booklet that I can put in there.

I also want to get a copy of Carcosa, I have been reading a bunch of threads by "Geoffrey" on Dragonsfoot and I like this guy's style. I am not talking about the "mature content" stuff, I'll wait till I see that myself, I am talking about his ideas for the Holmes box set. More to come..

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Expedition to Stonehell: Session 2

The second session of my OSRIC game went very well. While creating characters was a pain the first week, the game plays very well. I only went with the OSRIC rules for now with the optional shield rules and entourage system in place. I did not add in weapon speed or weapon v. AC. Combat moved fast, by my count we got in six different combat encounters.

We started the session off with the characters getting off the boat from The City State of the Invincible Overlord in Magnus Aquila, the colony city. They didn't hang out in town very long because the place was a mud-ridden, depressing dump. They hired two torchbearers and a boat and headed for the dungeon.

That's right, there were 4 players, each with a primary PC and a favored henchman, and two torchbearers. If you are keeping score at home that makes a party of 10 characters, and we managed to get done 6 combats in about 5 hours of playing.

When they arrived at the Stonehell canyon they dove right into exploring. They decided to not go through the gateway and went around through the hole in the curtain wall. They did a quick survey of the valley and they decided to explore the gate house starting from the north entrance.

They made quick work of the goblins in this section (room 2 and 3 if you are playing along at home) without even taking damage. They then ventured into the Former Magic User's Quarters (#4). The dwarf fighter was caught alone by the giant centipedes and surrounded. I had decided to give the centipedes paralytic poison instead of death poison before the game started and I am glad I did. Even with paralytic poison they came whithin a hair of a TPK. The mages used two sleep spells to put everyone, other party members included, in the room to sleep. The mages and the torchbearers then ran around and coup de grace'd the centipedes. Thanks to their quick thinking they managed to avoid any deaths. They uncovered a secret door and found a magic umbrella and cloak.

Having narrowly escaped death they decided to barricade themselves in the cleared North Watch Post (#2) and rest. During the night a Green Slime oozed its way through an arrow slit and attacked. Oil splattering, torch throwing hijinx ensued and the dwarf fighter had to throw himself into the fire in order to avoid loosing his leg to green slime.

Recovered, the party decided to push on to the second floor. Here they encountered a flight of steps leading up to the roof and a wine cask and satchel with a nasty looking wasp nest suspended above them (#11). They decided to head up to the roof. The ranger volunteered to scout the roof for them and headed south towards the hole he could see.

As he approached the hole the roof gave way beneath him and he fell through. When he hit the floor below (#9) it too broke and he fell back to the first floor. He found himself in a room with several ghostly adventurers (#5). After a few tense moments he decided they were harmless and the others pulled him up to the second floor (#9) with a rope. They joined him by descending the stairs.

With the party reformed, they dealt with the goblins in The Upper Gallery (#10) and the stirges to the south (#8), getting a nice gem as a reward. They descended a spiral staircase and checked the remaining areas, finsing nothing of interest.

The party decided to head back to the wasp room and get the satchel. They wanted to have Hans, the torchbearer, retrieve the satchel for them, but he refused to do it for less than 5 gold. The ranger retrieved it and got badly stung. While retrieving the satchel he noticed that the cask had its seals intact. There was some very old wine in there. They decided to find a way to retrieve the cask later.

All told the session was a lot of fun. The players seemed to enjoy the style of the game and the faster paced combat. I am VERY happy with my decision to not include a thief class. I think it paid dividends in the very first game in the way they played. For the most part I stuck with the roll 1d6 to resolve everything except for a few things directly derived from attributes. I am using roll-under-the-score ability checks.

By my calculations they should gain a level every 4 or 5 adventures. This may accelerate slightly when they are in the dungeon proper because there seems to be more loot down there for XP. I am giving XP for magic items based on the values suggested in Unearthed Arcana.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fear the Con

Fear the Boot is having its annual convention on March 12-13 in St. Louis. I attended the first one and had a blast, they have expanded it since then. Sadly law school will keep me away again this year. If you are looking for an affordable con and can make it to the St. Louis area, this is a great choice. The last time I went the size of the con was great, enough people that there was alot going on but few enough that you got to meet almost everybody.

You can check it out here: Fear the Con 3

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So Many Doors

Over at Aeons & Augauries, JDJarvis posted a bunch of symbols of different door types. What, you aks, would I want with all those door symbols? The main thing I want with all those door symbols is to figure out how they would mechanically differentiate themselves in game. This is another one of those great blog posts that gets me thinking, it doesn't give me any answers, just a launching point for an evening of RPG related thought.

This got me rereading godog's From Kuroth's Quill #01 that dealt with special doors, stairs and sublevels. And this got me excited about getting back to work on my changes to Stonehell (after loosing play time to the snowpocolypse we should be back on track next week, I hope). So what would I do to make these doors different?

Pivot Hinge: Have to choose between a one handed weapon attack or your shield bonus while standing in the doorway. There is no enough room for both or for a two handed attack.

Flapped Hinge: Surprise penalty while entering room. If no one holds it open it shuts.

Slides Down: Can be lowered part of the way to provide cover

Flimsy Door: Can be charged through

Decrepit Door: 1 in 6 chance of mold if bashed. 1 in 6 chance lock is rusted shut.

Chained Door: First bash attempt only breaks door open. It opens part way before being stopped by the chain. A second, esier, attempt is required.

Slotted Door: Piercing attacks are possible through the slot. -1 to attack roll

These are just the ones that came to me off the top of my head, some of the doors are just stronger or weaker. Others will have more complicated in game effects.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Iron Tyrants Website

Iron Tyrants is a mech mini game by David (I may accidently also call him Adam from time to time) and Luke at the Podgecast. I was lucky to get a chance to play it at Gen Con last year and now their website is up as launch draws closer.

First, David and Luke are great guys. I went to Gen Con with them last year and Luke was one of the people I roomed with. The guys a roomed with were a fun multiplier for the whole event. If the quality of the person making the game matters to you, they check that box.

Second, I think that podcasts, and especially shows like The Podgecast and Fear the Boot, are one of the best things the RPG world has going right now (the old school revolution and Fantasy Flight Games being the others). This is a game being made with that same "do it yourself" spirit that makes podcasting and the OSR so important.

Third, it was a fun game 6 months ago. I imagine that as playtesting has progressed it has only gotten better. It moves fast and the overdrive mechanic allows you to make gonzo, go-for-broke, damn the torpedoes full speed ahead, gambles. There is a real risk vs reward mechanism to the game.

Fourth, and this is just in case David reads this, it is shockingly well balanced despite the fact that no mathematical method was used to balance it.

Anyway I suggest you check out the Iron Tyrant's website

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Labyrinth Lord AEC

Just finished reading through it. If only this had arrived a few weeks ago, I could have avoided a ridiculously long character creation session in OSRIC. Oh well. Looks like I am not the only one who has had these problems.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rogue Trader: Session 1

Last weekend I was fortunate to be a player in an excellent Rogue Trader game. I played the Seneschal on a ship owned by a crazy, spoiled Rogue Trader with a Napolean Complex. It was my job to translate his vague instructions into commands that could actually be used to run the ship. We also had a dead world warrior and a navigator along.

Our first mission was to recover a city building artifact to pay off the Rogue Trader's charter. We set off to meet our contact to get the co-ordinates. We met him deep in the bowels of the space stations machinery. As he was passing off the data some kind of mechanical bird swooped down to steal the crystal. We made quick work of the bird and its psycher owner. While our fearless leader was standing on the cooling body of our foe making odd proclomations we tracked the psycher back to another Rogue Trader named Garren Fel, who was trying to jump our claim on the city building McGuffin.

As we prepped the ship for the journey the navigator approached me with some interesting news, our ship had been part of a space hulk at one point. She also felt that there was something "wrong" with the ship. I decided that this was not information that the captain needed to perform his duty and went to tell him that we were ready to go.

When I arrived on the bridge I was shocked to find the barely clothed captain glistening in the middle of the room. He had ordered "the men" to cover him with butter. He had also ordered "the men" to cover the floor with butter, or at least that is what they told me when I woke up in sick bay after my fall.

At this point I instituted a policy change on the ship. I created a group of fairly useless men and labeled them "the men". This way when the captain asked me to give "the men" a stupid order I could literally follow his instructions without causing too much harm.

Soon after we started our journey the navigator informed me that another ship was following us. The captain gave the order that we were to find a space monster and trick them into following us into danger. The navigator was able to find an Orc warship that we bribed into attacking the following ship. The captain proved surprisingly good at talking to orcs.

Once in system we decide to investigate a planet that has an area our sensors cannot scan. Jace, the dead worlder, and I landed outside the dead zone and hoofed it in with 150 of the ship's troops. We soon found ourselves in a maze. I took a small force to scout ahead and promptly got totally lost. Jace managed to find me just in time for our unit to run into a force of 600 orcs.

A short while later we stood on the smoking bodies of the orcs with only 7 or our force still alive. We proceeded to the middle of the dead zone where I communed with a force called the Star Mirror. The Star Mirror downloaded every event of the last 400 years into my brain in a matter of seconds. This had two results, I learned when the city builder entered the system and where it went when it left, and I went a little crazy.

I could now commune with the solar system whenever I wanted, but doing so warped me a little more each time. I used my new found abilities to determine exactly when and where the ship following us (Gerran Fel) would enter the system. As they jumped in I communed with the Star Mirror to guide a shot right to their bridge. I also started spouting nonsense about being a god. The captain knocked me out with a blow to the head.

Needless to say, we brutalized them and took their stuff.

We then jumped to the co-ordinates that the Star Mirror gave me for the McGuffin-bearing ship. As soon as we jumped in system we were faced with a bunch of planets carved to look like giant elder god heads. We set course for the one planet not carved up.

We hit the ground in three groups to retrieve the city building device. Two of the groups went after proof that we had found a long lost fleet. The main group went after the McGuffin. We fought off the deranged mechanical guardians and made off with "acceptable losses". In other words only about 30 of the several hundred men sent to the surface returned.

I really enjoyed this Rogue Trader adventure, and I am looking forward to more.

Expedition to Stonehell: Session 1

Two weeks ago we had our first OSRIC game session. The players created characters to take on Stonehell dungoen. Since we are using David Bowman's Entourage system from Fight On! #2 I had each player create two PCs one of which will be their main character and the other will be their Loyal Henchman.

I pretty much want to leave the world open for the players to create as much as possible so I was happy to see them start filling in the racial details as we made characters (female dwarves have beards!). It has been a long time since I had a group make up 1st Edition Characters and I forgot what a pain it was. Character creation requires a total of 8 die rolls (6 stats, hit points, starting gold) for most characters, but it still takes almost as long as 3.5 until people get familiar with the system. The problem is the race/class combos and the non-universal stat bonuses. Not only do the stat bonuses vary from stat to stat, they also vary from class to class! AAAAARRRGGG!

This problem was made worse by the fact that I allowed them to assign their stats after rolling. I wanted them to be able to play characters they liked, but the random attribure bonuses means they have to flip around the book forever to figure it out.

Once we internalize all of that character creation will fly by, but I forgot how much pointless chart checking there was. The OSRIC layout makes this much better, but you still have players making race/class combos that are not allowed (for no reason anyone can figure out) if you aren't on top of them. 3.5 characters take forever to make because of the number of choices, in 1st Edition it takes forever because nothing makes any sense. You just have to memorize it all.

I knew I should have used Labyrinth Lord instead.

So we didn't get any gaming in, just character creation.

This Saturday:
Welcome to Stonehell

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Busy Week

It has been a busy week or so around here. I am in crunch time to get a legal brief written and I am putting the finishing touches on the start of my OSRIC campaign.

Good stuff is on the way though. Two weeks ago I played in a Pathfinder game and I will be sitting in on another session this Saturday. There will be recaps of those two games going up soon. After the Pathfinder game, at 6 PM, I finally kick off my OSRIC game. Stonhell awaits!

I also confirmed that I will be staying with the Podgecast boys at GenCon this year. I had a blast last year and cannot wait to do it all again.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adventure Names: Songs

I would love to see what an adventure with any of these names would be like (in easy to use d100 form)

1. Last Train to London
2. In the Hall of the Mountain King
3. Welcome to My Nightmare
4. Heart of Glass
5. The Bringer of Old Age
6. Jungleland
7. Darkness on the Edge of Town (Hey, I am from NJ)
8. The Man Who Sold the World
9. Child in Time
10.Spanish Caravan
11.Soldiers of the Wastelands
12.Burn Down the Mission
13.The Ecstasy of Gold
14. Gabriel's Oboe
15.Wanderers from Ys
16.Castles Made of Sand
17.Vanishing World
18.Walking the Path of Legend
19.The Ancient City Surfaces
20.Collapse of the Ark Napishtim
21.Scenes From a Night's Dream
22.Duke's Travels
23.Land of Confusion
24.Firth of Fith
25.In the Cage
26.Los Endos
27.Watcher of the Skies
28.Dance on a Volcano
29.Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
30.Dark Horse
31.Rocket Queen
32.The Lonely Bull
33.2 Minutes to Midnight
34.Can I Play With Madness
35.The Evil That Men Do
36.Duel of the Fates
37.Electric Eye
38.Bat out of Hell
39.Dead Ringer For Love
40.Symphony of Destruction
41.Wake Up Dead
42.Fire on the Mountain
43.Hooligan's Holiday
44.The World is Not Enough
45.Butterflies and Hurricanes
46.Knights of Cydonia
47.Mt. Ordeals
48.Road to Nowhere
49.Wolfman's Brother
50.Purple Rain
51.Keep Yourself Alive
52.Seven Seas of Rhye
53.A Kind of Magic
54.Who Wants to Live Forever
55.Imitation of Life
56.The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight
57.Ashes in the Fall
58.People of the Sun
59.No Shelter
60.Sympathy for the Devil
61.Pulsing Towards Ruin
62.Living for the City
64.Handle With Care
65.Tweeter and the Monkey Man
66.Xanadu (Just seeing if you are still reading)
67.King of Kings
68.The Watchers are Being Watched
69.The Musical Pocket Watch
70.Once Upon a Time in the West
71.Cinema Paradiso
74.Home by the Sea
75.Midnight Rider
76.Night on Bald Hill
77.Whipping Post
78.Space Truckin'
79.Rainbow Demon
80.The Magician's Birthday
81.Echoes in the Dark
82.Footprints in the Snow
83.God of Thunder
84.The Hanging Tree
85.Atomic Punk
86.Verklärte Nacht
87.Consecration of the House
88.Screaming for Vengence
89.Symphonie Fantastique
90.Locomotive Breath
91.The Ancient Giants Under the Sun
92.On The Silent Wings of Freedom
93.Gates of Delirium
94.The Three Fates
96.Phantom Lord
97.Disposable Heroes
98.The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun
99.Under a Glass Moon
100.Prophets of War

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fight On! Issue 4

I got way behind on these reviews so the next few will just be quick thoughts so I can get caught up to the present.

I love the Arudin Trilogy picture on page 8. I don't know exactly what Arudin is, I gather it is pretty wild and gonzo, but you had me at "busty elf decapitates lizardman."

I like Hook-Hand Jack, he is my kind of creepy NPC.

The "House of the Axe" by Calithena is a pretty cool adventure. I really like how the ghost is handled and the apartment level. If I use it, I will probably just use the house parts though. Personally, I think all the dungeon crawling in the basement levels will lessen the haunted house feel. They are well done though.

I am probably going to use "Random Rooms" by Michael Curtis to flesh out my sub-level for Stonehell. I have some stuff I want to work in fairly early. I'd like to stick with the whole random/megadungeon spirit where I can.

"Home Remedies for Common Dungeon Ailments", "Carousing Mishaps" and "Random Facial Hair" by Jeff Rients are clever. I got a kick out of these.

I am torn about "The Tower of Duvan'Ku". I enjoyed reading it, it is a clever idea, it would be fun to run as a GM. I am not sure that it would be fun to play in as a player. It is almost like an Andy Kaufman skit, or Borat set up. They aren't really a lot of fun for the targets, just the people who are in on the joke. I will need to think about this one some more. I like it, but I could wind up with a table full of angry players too.

Gabor Lux is as productive and creative as always.

"Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer" makes me very interested in Carcosa. I like the style here. I really like the picture on 73. I know there is a lot of controversy around this setting, but none of it sounds like something that would even come close to bothering me.

"The Mysterious Crystal Hemisphere" by James M. is a dungeon level I want to use. I find this level to be far more focused than the other Darkness Beneath levels. The whole thing is just really cool. I like the weird effects outside the ship, the mystery of the whole thing, the alien wierdness, and the puzzle-like nature. I have a pretty good idea how I want to use it too. I will probably have it be a stand alone dungeon. With some minor changes to the background I could tie it into my loose Stonehell plan along with the Stone Wombs (Knockspell #2) and some crazy portals (Knockspell #3).

I am really glad to see a review of Tunnels and Trolls. I picked up a new copy at GenCon this year. I am a long time Flying Buffalo fan, we played many, many hours of Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes as kids. The guy at their booth was really nice, and talked to me for almost half an hour about MSPE.

All in all a good issue. I liked the more generic theme to this issue. The Arudin specific adventure could easily be used anywhere. I still don't grok Tekumel, I think I need to learn a lot more about that some how. Everything I read about it seems interesting.

Blogging Habits

Tim at Gothridge Manor wrote about his blogging habits, how he goes about commenting, reading etc. I use Google Reader. According to Reader I subscribe to 106 blogs, all of them are RPG or video game related. Most of them are pen and paper RPG blogs.

I rarely comment on blogs. I don't really know what to say most of the time. When I do comment I use Cocomment to track responses to the comments. I find this tool to be very helpful. I don't have to remember what blogs I commented on to follow the conversation. I only found out about it a few weeks ago, perhaps I will comment more now that I have a way to track it.

I am a creature of habit when it comes to blog reading. Every day I scroll to 1Up's Retronauts Blog, Grognardia, and West Karana first to see if there are new posts. Then I bounce around to see what else catches my eye until I have read the all the posts.

I usually read all the posts for the day. There are some exceptions, I usually skim monster, spell, and magic item posts. I enjoy these, but rarely read them in depth. I usually just read the headlines from commercial blogs like WotC. And on Gamesetwatch.com and some other multi-blog sites I am usually looking for specific blogs that post there.

I need to get better at commenting, and at pointing out posts I really enjoy by calling them out on this blog.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sustainable RPGing: A Letter to the OSR

As I gathered my resources for my OSRIC game I couldn't help but notice something. There are only two books, both out of print, by a major publisher. The City State book is by Sword and Sorcery, I am pretty sure they are White Wolf. The Gygax Names book is by Troll Lord and I am not even sure they qualify as a major publisher. The setting is coming from Goodman Games, some of their stuff is available in B&N so I guess they could be major. But, Points of Light II is written by Rob Conley so it keeps its small community cred as far as I am concerned. Everything else is self published in some fashion. Written by people whose blogs I read.

I get a lot of use out of the Names book, so it was hardly purchased for this campaign. The City State book has been sitting on my shelf for years, I just saw a chance to use it (maybe, if needed). So every single dollar, minus printing costs, spent on this game went right back into the gaming community. Those dollars stayed in gaming. They didn't get taken out for dividends, the weren't used for more popular things by a corporate entity. They went to the creators who will most likely use them to make/buy new gaming stuff.

I am going to nickname that sustainable gaming. Not in any real economic sense, obviously everyone has day jobs, but in the sense that we can get everything we need from each other. I am just using a popular buzzword to describe it. We could do this electronically, or through word of mouth before. Now we can do it by buying actual, quality print products.

As I have said before, I am not an old school purist. I love 4th edition, GURPS, and I am looking forward to trying out this WFRP 3rd edition box I have here. Old school gaming is one of many, many styles I enjoy. I even enjoy "story" games. That means that you are sustainable from the point of view of an outsider to your movement. You can draw people in, and they can make do with only your products. I don't know if this was a planned goal or not, but you accomplished it.

The idea of that much quality, community generated content is something I can get behind. You have created your own little RPG economy. So give yourselves a hand OSR. This can only make it easier to get new people in.

You have several excellent rule sets, a good volume of modules, you are really starting to put out different and interesting campaign settings, and you have the two best gaming mags out there right now. Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gaming with Kids: Sir Kevin and the Leprechaun

Sir Kevin decided to follow the unicorn as it fled the goblin hut. He quickly lost sight of it in the forest though. It wasn't long before he realized that he was lost and it was getting dark. He decided to rest on a log while he got his bearings. Once he sat down he started feeling very sleepy. He managed to jerk himself awake and find a strange little man dressed in green nearby.

"Who are you?"

"I am a leprechaun, and I want to make a deal with you."

"What is the deal?"

"I will tell you where to find my pot of gold, if you will dig it up for me. You can have all the gold in it, I just need the pot."

"Why can't you dig it up?"

"An evil witch put a curse on me."

"We should kill the witch."

"I am afraid she is long gone. I have had this curse for 100 years."

"That is horrible. I will help you get your pot back."

"Very good. Just follow this path to the bridge, cross the river, and dig where the rainbow ends."

"What path?"

"The one we are standing on!"

"Oh, I didn't notice it before."

"It's magic...." The leprechaun vanished into thin air.

Sir Kevin finished resting and set off down the path first thing in the morning. After a few hours Sir Kevin came to the bridge, a knight in black armor sat atop a black horse on the bridge.

"You shall not pass"

"But I have to get over the river to get the pot of gold!"

"You shall not pass"

"I'll give you half of the gold if you let me through."

"You shall not pass"

"I am going to walk around you now"

"No one has crossed this bridge for 50 years"

"I'll wait till you eat"

"I do not eat"

"I am coming through"

"I will strike you down if you try"

Sir Kevin walked towards the Black Knight, drawing his sword. The Black Knight charged Sir Kevin, lance in hand. Sir Kevin dodged to the side at the last second, the Black Knight charged by. Sir Kevin ran for the brideg. Behind him the Black Knight turned and started to run Sir Kevin down from behind. When Sir Kevin felt the horse's hot breath on his neck he turned, grasping the mermaid statue's spear in both hands. The spear took the Black Knight in the chest, his armor exploded in every direction in a flash of light.

When Sir Kevin's vision cleared he saw that there had been nothing inside the Black Knight's armor. It was scattered on the ground, crackling with electricity. Sir Kevin decided to put on the Black Knight's armor and take the horse to ride down the path.

Shortly after crossing the bridge Sir Kevin could see the rainbow. He followed it to where it hit the ground on a grassy hill. He began to dig.

Sir Kevin dug for three days and three nights before his shovel hit something metal. The pot of gold! He pulled the pot from the hole and turned it upside down to pour out the gold. Gold came streaming out of the pot, soon it covered the entire hill. The gold kept coming! Sir Kevin tried to turn the pot upright but it would not budge, he let go of it and it hung in the air. Soon the gold covered the ground as far as Sir Kevin could see, a foot deep. The gold was piling up around the hill and Sir Kevin struggled to stay on top.

From somewhere nearby he heard the high pitched cackle of the leprechaun.

OSRIC Campaign Resources

With my OSRIC campaign starting in just a little more than two weeks, it is time to nail down what will be in from day 1.

Rule Set: OSRIC. I think that for the group I will be playing with this is the best rule set. They have all played 3.x and have come to expect a certain level of complexity. This will let me keep that while being much easier for me to run. It also gives me a lot more room to mod the game than 3.x does, I can tailor it to this group. XP for gold and exploration will be the primary advancement mechanisms.

The Group: Looks like I will have 4 players. I have, to some extent, played with all of them before (maybe not 1). One member is part of my original gaming group and we go back to middle school and Mentzer. His wife will also be playing with us, she played in at least one of my 3.5 Monster Feature games (I think the one with the Kraken). I played with the other male player in a Shadowrun game last year and I think his wife also played in it. It is possible I met her at a different time though. They are all nice, and very smart people. Two lawyers and two engineers makes for a group that will pick up the rules fast. Four players is my ideal group size.

Additional Rules: From Knockspell #1 I will be using the "Random Hireling Generator". From Fight On! #2 (The Awesome Issue) I will be using "Shields Shall be Splintered", "The Entourage Approach", and "Random Inn Generator". I will also be using "Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names".

Setting: The campaign will be set in Amacui from "Points of Light II". The players will be arriving in Magnus Aquila in search of fortune and adventure. They will be fresh of the boat from The City State of the Invincible Overlord. This allows me to fall back on Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands if I suddenly need to flesh out world details for some reason. It also allows me to incorporate the lovely Sword and Sorcery 3.5 version of the City State that has been sitting on my shelf for years. Very little detail about any of this will make it into the campaign for a long time. If the players decide to get back on the boat and go home, I have something to work with.

The Dungeon: I am using Stonehell. I won't go into a lot of detail in this post about changes I will be making since one of the players might read this. For those of you in the know, I am putting Stonehell in hex 0411. What you would expect to find several levels down in 0411 of Amacui will be taking the place of the nixthisis in Stonehell.

Changes to the setting and dungeon will be discussed in separate spoiler posts.

Table Rules: Mapper and Timekeeper. No real need for a caller with four players. I will be fairly strict about the map. The mapping player's character has the map. Try not to get him too wet or set him on fire.