Skip to main content


Showing posts from November, 2009

Coup de Gace

In a Dungeon Magazine editorial from last year Chris Youngs talks about how Chris Perkins loves to use the coup de grace. He also talks about how it makes the enemies more memorable and satisfying to defeat. I couldn't agree more. In D&D, regardless of the edition, death is the threat that gives the game meaning. The threat of your character dying is what makes the game fun to play, it is the other side of the risk/reward balance. D&D is not Burning Wheel or WoD, the players do not assign soft goals that have mechanical meaning to their characters. The goals of D&D are to find monsters and make their stuff your stuff. Though in recent editions the scope of the goal has been narrowed to killing monsters and making their stuff your stuff. Either way the reward is for putting yourself in physical danger and surviving. If you are never in actual physical danger the reward is meaningless. I often have the monsters stop to kill a KO'd character. Do the players get mad? Y

Gaming with Kids: My Nephew's First Quest

On Thanksgiving my nephew, 7, brought Risk with him so I could teach him to play. As expected it started out fun but eventually devolved into mindless dice rolling as giant armies clashed in lopsided conflicts. By halfway through the outcome was obvious and he was getting bored. He insisted on playing on to the bitter end, but was ready for adventure. In the past I have played Descent with my nephew and during our vacation this summer we played through The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game. This is an introductory RPG that follows the plot of the Fellowship of the Rings through three battle scenarios. We completed it and he even explored deeper into Moria. I did not have Descent with me and since playing another made up adventure in Moria would basically be playing D&D, I drug out the D&D 3.0 starter box. Sir Kevin was born! Sir Kevin was hot on the trail of some unicorn stealing goblins when he came across their cottage outside of town. He crept up to the splintered wood door a

Thanksgiving Reading

Looks like I have a pretty good pile of stuff to read through this weekend. Fight On! Issue 5 Fight On! Issue 6 Knockspell Issue 3 Stonehell Hackmaster Players Hackmaster GM (I found the two Hackmaster books in a used book store for $15. They look like they have never even been opened) I will probably cheat and read Knockspell first because I am excited about it. I hope to get my Fight On! Issue 4 review up, one for the Knockspell issue and maybe, if I am lucky, get caught up with Fight On! I am currently working on an inn to use as a home base in my OSRIC game that starts in January. If I get that finished I will get it up. Then I will work on setting some of the elements I want in the Outdoor Map


I pre-ordered The Dungeon Alphabet and ordered Stonehell today. These are both from an author, Michael Curtis, whose work I have enjoyed online and in magazines. I also ordered WHFRP 3rd edition today too. I think Stonehell will show up first and I can't wait to see it. Since I will be running my first megadungeon soon I hope it will be helpful.

Fight On! Issue 3

I am going to preface my review by saying that this issue was not as appealing to me as the first two. My main problem with it was that much of the content is specific to old Judges Guild stuff. It is well written and much of it I could still use in some ways, but I kind of feel like I am missing something when I read it. I realize that this magazine is aimed at the OSR and I am somewhat outside that target group. My review will be coming from that viewpoint. Frankly, I think that Knockspell and Fight On! are the two best gaming magazines out there right now, even if you are not in the OSR. I no longer go through the issues article by article in my reviews, although I do read the magazines from cover to cover. I think you can get an idea of what the overall feel for these magazines is from my other reviews. I will just hit on the articles that really stood out for me. The Wild North by Rob Conley. I point this one out because I enjoy Rob's work. I have both of his Points of Light b

Mutant Future Game 1: Postponed

Didn't get a chance to play Mutant Future. This will actually give me a chance to flesh stuff out more and get a few more people together for the first game. I did wind up getting a chance to make a map and key I am pretty happy with for the battleship New Jersey. I also got a chance to develop some things that we be ongoing threads in the campaign. The first is the Multipass. The Multipass will be a combination EZPass, PATCO Freedom Card (public rail system), and admission pass. The idea is that the pass gets you through just about any gate you might have to pay to pass through. At some time in the distant past the country was basically run by corporations and Multipass basically had a monopoly on the pay portal business. They also installed killer robots for people who jump the turnstyle. There is the added benefit that few geeks can resist the word " Multipass ". I also decided that the currency for my world will be Skee Ball Tokens.

Mutant Future Game 1: Prep

I am preparing to start my Mutant Future game on Saturday. The game will be set in and around the City of Camden in NJ. The game will be starting with 1 player. This works out well, he is the guy I started gaming with. It will be easy to test out the new system in that setting. While the campaign itself will be a sandbox, I find it is best to start things off with a bang. I am going to use Grodog's suggestion and have the battleship New Jersey be in the hands of pirates. The player will start as a prisoner in the brig of the ship. I will leave the rest of the evening up to him. He can try to escape, join the crew, take over, or whatever else he can come up with. This means for the first session I will need a map of the ship, some NPC's, and a land area for him to escape to if he manages to get free. I am struggling with the map, but I found some game stats (Robotech) for the ship here. I am going to use Jeff Rient's Slimy Lake map from Fight On! Issue 6 for now if he gets a

Getting Started

I am going to talk a bit about what I think is missing for people starting out in the hobby. To set things up I am going talk about how I got started in the hobby. I first learned about RPGs through gamebooks. Gamebooks were like Choose your Own Adventure books with a conflict resolution mechanic. The first one I had was a Car Wars gamebook purchased at the school book fair. At 10 years old I was a Tolkein nut and it didn't take me long to learn that there were Tolkein Quest gamebooks. I grabbed the two availabe (they have a sordid publishing history) at the time and was hooked at once. I have learned in the years since that these are considered by many to be two of the best gamebooks ever made. They had a full color hex map for overworld exploration and there were entries in the book keyed to the map. When you entered a hex you flipped to the entry for the hex and from there choices might lead you to another numbered section of the book. Underground sections were entered this way.

Fight On! Issue 2

I am not going to step through every article on this one, just call out the ones that stood out for me. Patrick Farley's Penguin character race reminded me of the old Dragon Magazine races and classes that sometimes just cam out of nowhere. It is wacky but seems like it could work. I am thinking about throwing them in as NPCs and seeing how it goes over. If it flops we can just not come back to it. The Darkness Beneath is going to be Fight On!'s community megadungeon. I will probably not use any specific levels from it, but as I am starting work on my first megadungeon it is cool to see what they did. Shields shall be splintered offers an optional rule system for shield where they can be used to basically cancel a hit. I like this a lot and it is likely to be the first rule I add to my OSRIC campaign after the first session or so if my players want more detailed combat. The Entourage Approach by David Bowman adds depth to the henchman system. He creates a head henchman that bec

Knockspell Issue 2

Issue 2 continues the strong run for Knockspell. It opens with another good From Kuroth's Quill. This entry in the series deals with dungeon dressing and gives some cool things that can be done with doors. As I have said before these idea articles are the kind I get the mist use out of. I often times find myself putting down the magazine when reading an article like this and spending 20 minutes just thinking about the possibilities. The next article is Dungeon as Mystical Underworld. This is a good read and deals with dungeons in a way that I never have in my games. My dungeons have always been small and geared towards realistic layouts. The next section presents some views and class definitions for thieves. I know there is a lot of debate about thieves but I have no dog in that hunt. It was interesting, I may try my OSRIC campaign without them just to see what happens. Next up is another setting description by the insanely prolific Gabor Lux. You will understand what I mean if you

City in the Worm

For centuries Noxxe was the most powerful city on Ocama. It was the seat of the great Xnips empire and the center of technological innovation. It was a gleaming metropolis of steel and concrete. That all ended when the Chaos Worms attacked. Four hundred years ago giant worms rose up from the earth and began devouring the works of man. Noxxe fell victim to the Chaos Worm god, the World Worm. The World Worm swallowed the city of Noxxe whole. But the city was too big for even the greatest Chaos Worm. The World Worm choked to death on the city of Noxxe and the Chaos Worm invasion ended. Few have dared to enter the body of the World Worm to plunder the lost city of Noxxe, and fewer still have returned with tales of their adventures. The first stages of the journey to Noxxe will be the descent into the tunnel that the World Worm retreated into before dying. This will be a natural cavern exploration and the characters will have to deal with the standard cave dwelling monsters. The second stag

Religion in my upcoming campaign

All of the following assumes a campaign world where there are multiple gods, who are real, and are actively involved in the running of the world. One thing I want to avoid in my upcoming campaign is modern style religion. Clerics' prayers are actually answered, the gods walk the earth in the form of men from time to time, many gods are known to actually exist, and they kind of act like children. This will make for a different kind of religion. In fact, by modern understanding, it wont be religion at all. It will be science. Faith isn't needed in a world with a traditional fantasy pantheon. A god's followers are not taking his existence on faith when he can show up and lightning bolt someone. Clerics' prayers are actually answered. Religion in a world like that isn't about faith, it is about reacting to reliable evidence and things you directly observe. Religious people are not the ones sticking their heads in the sand denying verifiable phenomenon in a fantasy world

Upcoming Campaign

My plans for my next campaign have changed. It looks like I have a group of pretty experienced players who want to play D&D. I managed to convince them that AD&D was the way to go, so we will be using OSRIC. I am planning on starting with just the core OSRIC rules and tacking on weapon speed and some other things as we go. I anticipate working in a count initiative system with Hackmaster-like movement eventually. I am seriously considering using the entourage rules I saw in Knockspell. I really like this as a way to make old school death sting less without having to nerf the difficulty. I also like how it ties the players more to the setting in a continuous fashion. I will be running my first megadungeon in this campaign. Now I just have to figure out how I want to go about that. I will likely set this in either a setting from one of the Points of Light books or James M's outdoor map from Knockspell (or was it in Fight On!)