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Showing posts from 2011

Think Like a Mind Flayer

What goes on in the mind of a Mind Flayer? How can we ever really understand these strange, alien intelligences in our games? Well, if they are anything like octopuses, they may have more than one brain. Each of their tentacles might have its own lower level brain. What might this mean from an in-game point of view? From a mechanical standpoint you may want to use the multiple brains as a kind of buffer against mind effecting attacks. Perhaps the multiple brains offer a bonus to saving throws in those instances. If you want to get a bit more complicated, you could allow separate saving throws for the tentacles and the main brain; it is probably best to use one save for all the tentacles together though to keep the amount of rolls down. Maybe the extra brains allow it to split its attention in battle without a penalty. If it is knocked unconscious there could be a chance that one of the tentacles could administer a healing potion. It is possible that the mind flayer can farm out some p


I am about a week into Skyrim now, and I am enjoying the game quite a bit. I am a big fan of open world games in general, and Bethesda's work specifically. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing Morrowind and it's various mods and expansion packs. But while I enjoyed Oblivion, I just played through the main story quickly; the enemy leveling system in that game was a real deal breaker for me. This has been a great console generation for open world games. Oblivion, Fable II, Crackdown, GTA IV, Fallout, New Vegas, and my personal favorite, Red Dead Redemption have all been excellent. I have been really glad to see this kind of gaming come in to it's own on the consoles, mostly because trying to game on a PC has become so irritating and expensive over the last few years. I have pretty much switched to console gaming, and I am glad that my favorite genre has come over with me. While Bethesda has had many good games before, this one is looking like it will be the most popula

D&D Encounters Session 1

This week I played in the first session of the new D&D Encounters season at my new FLGS, Big Larry's in Leonardtown, MD. We were supposed to start last week, but it was the night before Thanksgiving; kind of poor planning on WotC's part. We had a full group of 6 players, and the store is a great setting to game in. It is a game and comic book store, and a burger/ice cream place. I think that is a great idea. This was not my first time playing 4e, but it is my first time in a long time. I ran Keep on the Shadowfell when it first came out, and I also ran a campaign through most of heroic tier in the first year of 4e. The only time I have played it since was at the 2010 GenCon Open, the Podgecast guys and I got destroyed in the first encounter. I enjoyed 4e, but had no real desire to run it long term. I looked forward to being a player for one encounter a week though. There are plenty of recaps out there of session one, so if you want the plot just look around a bit; it is bas

10,000 Words

Alexis has challenged himself to write a 10,000 word post in one day. He lays out some pretty tough criteria for his self-challenge as well. I look forward to reading it. I am pretty sure I could never pull that off so more power to him. I do have a three day weekend though...

Adventurer Conqueror King

This year at GenCon, I had the pleasure of spending almost an entire day playing Adventurer Conqueror King. I picked up the game at the OSR booth when I got my copy of Cheers, Gary. When I picked up ACKs I was given a flyer for a demo game during the con. A little after noon on Saturday I showed up hoping to see what made the game so special. I played in an afternoon session that highlighted the "Conqueror" level of the game. We were exploring the depths of Alex's megadungeon, when we happened on an odd room with a strange metal disk. After some experimenting we determined that the disk was a levitation device and we figured out how to control it. As we ventured further into the dungeon we found a strange magical sword made only of light. We were ambushed by a mind flayer and almost killed, we managed to defeat him and escape. Sadly one of our number lost his genitalia in the fight. After the session the Autarch guys were nice enough to let some of us come eat dinner with

Buying LotFP Again

What would make me buy a new version of LotFP? Recently Raggi mentioned that the level system might be on the chopping block if there was a third edition of LotFP. This got me thinking about what changes to the game would make me interested in buying a new version. I think removing, or changing, the level system would be a change that would get me interested. I would like to see changes that support the style of play found in Raggi's modules and that he describes in LotFP. I hope he will either remove levels or drastically change the way they work. The D&D power curve does not really fit with the overall tone of Raggi's stuff. While the original LotFP addresses this to some extent (only fighters advance at fighting), I'd like to see him go further. I would also like to see Demi-humans removed. While they are part of the original game that LotFP is evolved from, they just don't seem to fit with the overall tone. Maybe they could be replaced with nonstandard races. R

GenCon Overview

That's right, I am going to do a GenCon post in mid-November. This year's GenCon was my favorite yet. As always the best part of the convention was the people I room with, The Podgecast guys. If Adam/David did not set up the rooms I would never be able to go. This year was the first time I ever played a deck building game, I played Ascension and Thunderstone. I found Thunderstone to be a far superior game, it offered far more interesting choices during the game. Ascension was far more dependent on what cards were drawn, and we did not draw good ones. We drew only one type of card for the entire first half of the game, and another type for the second half. We got lots of items, but for the first half there was nothing to use them against. The other players assured me that this was rare and it only happened due to our proximity to Eric, but honestly, the fact that this happened shows a weakness in the game to me. Another first for me this year was surviving a game of WEGS . WEGS

Running a FLGS Game with Strangers

This year was a first for me. I ran a game, in a gaming store, without knowing any of the players before I started. In fact, for the first few weeks I had only one player. The opportunity to run this game came out of Troll Con East. This was a convention put on by Troll Lord Games at All Things Fun , a gaming store in Berlin, NJ. Steve and Tim from Troll Lord came down and ran Castles and Crusades. At the end of the con I volunteered to run a Castles and Crusades game at the store. I have never run a pick up game at a store before. I have always had at least one known player before starting a game. I spent some time thinking about what I wanted from the game, and what would work in the conditions I had to work with. I have always wanted to run a game in the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Not just a game that used the City State as a home base, or visited every once and a while, but a game that never left. A game in a game store where I might have players dropping in and out al

Finally back

Hello, I don't know if anybody is still out there but I am finally clear of law school, bar study, and my trip to Viet Nam. I am settled in at a regular 9 to 5 (actually 7 to 4) job again as a lawyer for the U.S. Government in MD. Working for the Federal Government was my goal entering law school, so it is Mission Accomplished over here. I enjoy law, but money is a horrible motivator for me, knowing I am helping my fellow citizens makes me eager to get in every day. From a blogging standpoint this is also good news. I know my postings have been pretty slim around here for the last year or so, but I have built up a good backlog of posts so you should be seeing a lot more, even if I have busy periods. While things have been bleak on the blogging front, they have been great on the gaming front. For a period of time over the last year I had three regular games going at once: an OSRIC game in Stonehell (DM), a Pathfinder game (Player), and a Castle and Crusades game set in the City Stat

C&C Dragonlance Session 1

I had the week off at All Things Fun as CK as Drance was stepping in to run a post War of the Lance Dragonlance game. The following is my recap, in character, as Sir Grant, Knight of Solamnia: Attention Grand Council, I hereby submit my weekly report. My colleagues Oisin, Keseim, and I arrived in Zaradine today in hopes of finding a ship to take us to Sankrist. Upon entering the town, one of the low folk, a sailor I believe, approached me and offered his aid in finding lodging. He lead us to the Three Fishes Inn and I compensated him with enough payment to be an incentive to further aid his brothers but not enough to encourage the laziness so common amongst his class. Once inside, my entourage and I took seats near an elf maid named Kale. I observed that she partook only of vegetables and ale. While my low-born retainers imbibed sinful beverages, I declared that no spirits would pass these virtuous lips. Sadly the wine the owner brought me was not fit for a gully dwarf. Shortly after

Charm Person

This post at Toa of D&D got me thinking about the history of Charm Person. This post has nothing to do with the substance of his, very interesting, post. It was just inspired by the opening discussion. In Men & Magic the spell is described: This spell applies to all two-legged, generally mammalian figures near to or less than man-size, excluding all monsters in the "Undead" class but including Sprites, Pixies, Nixies, Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls. If the spell is successful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such a time as the "charm" is dispelled (Dispel Magic ). Range: 12" In OD&D there was no limitation as to what the MU could make his victim do. He could force him to commit suicide, or commit acts against his alignment. This situation remained unchanged in Holmes, where the only changes have to do with the duration. It is not until the PHB and Moldvay that there are

I Hate Law School

OK, bar applications are done, moot court is finished, and I just did my oral defense for my research paper. I still am without a job for after the bar, but I should be back to posting on a regular basis now that I am through hell month. Both my long-running Stonehell game, and my Castles and Crusades game on Wed. nights continue.

Hot Elf Chick

I'll admit that the title and the picture were a trap. At the urging of The Underdark Gazette, I am hoping to attract lapsed gamers back into the fold. If you used to play D&D as a kid, and ever stop to wonder what happened to that game, welcome home.

Death in the City State: Session 1

Last night I ran my first Castles and Crusades game at All Things Fun in Berlin, NJ. I only had one player show up, but we had fun anyway. I set the game in The City State of the Invincible Overlord, in the same campaign world as my OSRIC Stonehell game. The adventure kicked off with the player waking up shackled to a wall. He had no memory of how he got there, but was sure he had been tortured. After a few minutes a jailer came in to take him back to his cell. After he was unchained he charmed the jailer and convinced him to let him go. During his conversation with the jailer he learned that he was being held for the assassination of the Invincible Overlord and that the City was in chaos. He made his way out of the tower and on to the wall. When he heard guards and dogs approaching he jumped from the wall onto the roof of a building in a shanty town that had grown up along the outside of the wall. He fell through the roof but was not seriously hurt in the fall. He quickly made his wa

A Blog You Should Be Reading

If you like old school D&D, or just well written blogs you need to check out The Tao of D&D . The first thing I do when I fire up Reader every day is rush to read Grognardia, Torch, Pole, and Rope, LotFP, Greyhawk Grognard, and flip through the various video game blogs to which I subscribe. Tao of D&D is different, I save it. It isn't something I can read while I am in class, it is something I like to take my time and think about while I read. I do not always agree with Alexis, but he has one of the most thought provoking blogs in RPGs. He also goes into insane (the good kind) detail. You will walk away from his blog with good ideas for your game, and probably having learned something new about history, or geography.

Gaming for Charity

I recently offered a game of D&D as an item to bid on for my law school's charity auction. I think I am going to cheat a little bit and actually run Castles and Crusades for the winner of the auction. It is just much easier to teach a total outsider.

Wilderness Rules: The Wilderness Turn

My wilderness rules saw their first use in play tonight. I was pretty happy with the results, they moved fast and made the travel just tense enough. They also gave the players plenty of choices on how to spend their two main resources, time and food. I am going to continue to revise these rules through play, and I have only completed the arctic environment tables (all I need right now). These are not especially original, but they do make wilderness exploration fun. I am heavily influenced by the Wilderness Survival Guide, but I have no interest in its unwieldy nature. My goal was to develop a streamlined wilderness system that still has enough depth to present the players with interesting choices. I am aiming for something like the fun of Oregon Trail. I am pretty happy with my turn structure. This is my Wilderness Turn (1 day): Food Phase Travel Phase Travel Phase Camp Phase Food Phase Rest Phase Food phase: Characters must eat 2 meals a day. If they only eat 1 meal they suffer a -1 t

Shadow, Sword & Spell

One of my favorite purchases at GenCon this year was James M.'s Shadow, Sword & Spell. Rogue Games has just released a preview of Shadow, Sword and Spell: Expert . I am looking forward to this. Edit: Forgot to mention that I appreciate that the cover is blue in the Expert book

'70s Sci Fi

When I was talking about running a game that would look like '70s sci fi I was thinking of something more like this: And less like this: See the excellent Space 1970 blog for more examples

TrollCon East Day 2

Just got home from TrollCon, I had a lot of fun. I played Castles and Crusades for close to 10 hours today. The game is a great fast and loose system. Steve from TLG is a great GM, and there were plenty of great players. I volunteered to run a C&C game every Monday at 6:30 in All Things Fun, Berlin, NJ. If you are in the Camden County/Philly area, feel free to come out. I am thinking about making it a West Marches style game, so people can drop in and out with overall campaign progress. It starts this Monday.

TrollCon East Day 1

Just got back from the first day of TrollCon East, it was a lot of fun. All Things Fun is a great store, and the owner is super-nice. We did not game tonight, I got to sit at a table with four other people and listen to the guys from Troll Lord Games talk about Castles & Crusades , the gaming industry, and driving across the country. A totally entertaining evening. I also got a digest edition of the elusive Castle Keeper's Guide . It is real, I am holding it in my hands.

On the Road to the Tomb of Horrors

Michael Curtis, at the Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, has posted a really cool idea for a campaign culminating with a run at the Tomb of Horrors. As soon as I read this it brought to mind an area like the Valley of Kings, full of trapped filled tombs to be plundered. This could be a lot of fun, especially if the game was more Swords and Sorcery influenced and focused on Conan style warriors instead of the classic party set-up. This would require that the referee has thought the traps all the way through so that the players could reason through avoiding/disarming them (this will not be news to old school players). There are several great books out there with detailed drawings and explanations of the working of traps. Traps and Treachery Traps and Treachery II Grimtooth's Traps It doesn't really matter what edition the books are intended for since we are after the diagrams here.

Reviving This Blog

I am going to attempt to revive this blog. Law school is taking less of my time now that it is drawing to a close, and I have a lot of stuff built up that I can write about. I also have some projects that I have started working on that I will cover here. They are all intended for my personal use, so I will offer them here for anyone else who wants to tinker with them or comment on them. @ttack: A stripped down version of early fantasy role-playing games that will emulate the play in a roguelike. It will focus on random item identification, random dungeons, and solo/referee-less play Inspired by my latest read-through of the LotFP Referee Manual, I have decided to make up a list of unique monsters. I want to shift the enemies in my game away from the standard roster and move towards the unique and mysterious. These will be monsters to be used rarely, that will be completely unknown to the players My own detailed wilderness exploration rules. There is likely a long wilderness trek in the