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Showing posts from 2015

Mines of Phandelver

Tonight, I ran the first sessions of the D&D 5e Starter Set adventure, Mines of Phandelver. It went really well. One of the players is in my C&C Stonehell group and runs 5e on a regular basis. The other two have only played a RPG once before during a Greyhawk Reborn event. They did very well and are a lot of fun to play with. I made some changes to the adventure. Most obviously, I set it in Mystara instead of Forgotten Realms. The players started out in Threshold and headed out for Phandelver to look for their missing dwarf friend Gundark. They discovered the remains of his caravan and were ambushed by goblins. They tracked a fleeing goblin to a cave. As they made their way into the cave, they were hit by two floods from goblins breaking dams above them. They decided to try another route. Their initial push into the cave saw them rescuing Sildar, one of Gundark's bodyguards. Sildar told them that Gundark had discovered the long lost Wave Echo Cave, and that he believed th

City Month Day 8

This is what I have worked out for the background of the city so far. A thousand years ago, the Prime Material Plane was devoured by a strange extra-planar force. The great wizards and scientists of the worlds of the Prime Material Plane had time to construct 12 Sphere Arks with which to save as many people (now called Primers) as possible. These Sphere Arks were set adrift in the multiverse to find a new home for the Primers. The Sphere Arks are the height of the Magitech art. Each sphere houses tens of thousands of Primers in a city built on its inner surface. The Sphere Arks' surfaces protect them from many of the dangers of interplanar travel, but their residents must still go out to explore, and outsiders still must come in to trade. Sphere One has drifted long and far, and still there is no sign of a place to call home. Many generations have lived and died in the Ark ad the memories of life in the Prime Material Plane have faded to legends. Knowledge of Magitech has faded

City Month Day 7

I made some decisions about the cosmos that my city floats in. Remember that I intend to have the city bob up and down through a layer of planes as it also moves laterally through "space". This means it will be shifting through the planes with sinusoidal motion and will reenter each plane in a different place than it exited it. Not only is the city drifting between the planes, it is moving to different places in the planes. I intend to stick with the generic planes to start with. This is both for portability reasons as well as familiarity ones. I may be adding some planes as we go if I think of something interesting. For now I am thinking: Air Water Earth Fire Field of Victory The Underworld Madness Mechanus I still need to decide how they are layered, and what it means to move spatially through any one of them. For now, this should be enough to give me a basic idea of what might be in my city.

City Month Day 6

I have decided to use GUMSHOE as my rule set when designing this city. I do not expect this to be a rules heavy exercise; it should be very easy to move this city over to another rule set. I do, however, expect to use some of the assumptions in the GUMSHOE rules when writing the fiction for the world. As GUMSHOE is an open rule set, I expect I will make changes and additions to it to suit my city. I don't want to give too much away, but I am going to need rules for power armor. You can find the GUMSHOE SRD here , so it will be free to follow along when I do use rules. I think GUMSHOE is going to be a good fit. After spending some more time looking at the rules, I am confident it can handle the level of combat I expect for this setting. It will have to be hacked a bit for a few elements though.

Around the Web September 10

Some cool stuff I saw today: USGamer has a story about an OC Remix of the FFIX soundtrack. I love both USGamer and FFIX. FFIX is high on my list of games to replay once I play all the games I haven't played. So that will probably never happen. SquEnix needs to remake it so I have an excuse.  Troll Lord Games launched a Kickstarter for a new printing of Classic Monsters . I have the first printing and I love it. If they hit the color stretch goal, I will be backing it. I have participated in their Kickstarters in the past and have had no problems. They delivered.  Venture Beat has a story on the upcoming Baldur's Gate "expansion" from Beamdog, Dragonspear Castle . The Escapist has a story about the never-filmed D&D movie from the '80s. It sounds like it had a lot in common with the D&D cartoon. Young people get pulled into a D&D world from the real world. It seems to fall into a common fantasy movie trap; it doesn't use many detai

City Month Day 5

I need to decide which game system I will use. I spent some time poking around, looking at different systems to see which ones might fit my needs. FATE Core: I have very little experience with this system. I have played a few sessions of Spirit of the Century, and while I found it to be enjoyable, I did not find it to be all that deep. I am not sure that you could make a long-running campaign really work with FATE. It feels pretty superficial. That said, it does facilitate focusing on things other than combat, so I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand. It is also possible that many of my concerns about SotC are addressed in the FATE Core implementation of the rules. I need to look through the book again. Savage Worlds: This system is the mirror image of FATE Core in many ways. I have a lot of experience with Savage Worlds. Like FATE it is a simple system, but unlike FATE it does focus on combat. I have run games with Savage Worlds that were light on combat, but the system is p

City Month Day 4

As I discussed last time, I need to determine what kind of game I would like to run in this city before I make any major decisions about it. I am discussing the genre here more than anything else. In my experience, hack-and-slash style games do not work in an urban setting. If the city is to be believable at all, there has to be some kind of rule of law, and the authorities tend to look down on murder hobos inside of the city limits. So, I can eliminate the traditional D&D-style game right off the bat. That isn’t to say that you cannot run a city game using D&D or one of its descendants, I have run D&D city campaigns in the past, most recently a City State of the Invincible Overlord game using Castles & Crusades, but they tend to have a narrow focus. The verb mix of D&D is not great for urban campaigns. While I am not making a game decision at this point, it is likely that D&D and its ilk are out. I have a vague idea that I want this game to be science fanta

City Month Day 3

I wound up being offline for most of the weekend because my in-laws visited. I will try to catch up over the next few days. When I last posted about my city project, I was trying to decide which kind of city to design. I have settled on a weird city. While the details will come out as I work through the next few weeks, I have made some general decisions about the city. The city will be an interdimensional city, the city is built on the inside wall of a sphere that bobs up and down through the planes. The city is always moving from one plane to another, the environment outside of the city is in constant flux. Due to changing nature of its surroundings, the city is inhabited by a diverse spectrum of people. I am going to have to define the cosmology that surrounds the city, at least at a rough level of detail. Right now I anticipate that this city would serve as the focus for any campaign set in it. Most of the action would take place in the city itself, there would only be brief


I will be running two sessions of Castles & Crusades at TridentCon , on October 17th, in Severna Park, MD. I will be running in the 9-1 slot and the 1-5 slot. Both games will be set in Stonehell dungeon and will be part of my persistent campaign there. You will be able to play in either of the games or both. I will start both sessions at the steps down and they will be free exploration. I have done this several times at conventions in the past, and it worked very well. Plus, as my version of Stonehell is persistent, you might be able to make off with treasure and deny my regular group the XP! If you are in the area, come out and play.


Yesterday, I took my daughter, wife, and father-in-law to NOVA Open, a local tabletop miniature games convention. We just went for the day to see the miniatures and scenery, the convention did not disappoint. The staff was very nice, we interacted prior to the con via email, and they made a special badge for my daughter. If you live in the DC area, I suggest this con. Here are some pictures.

Greyhawk Reborn

On Saturday, I played in two Greyhawk Reborn modules and had a good time. It is a pseudo-revival of the old Living Greyhawk campaign from the 3.x years. The interesting thing they have done to avoid IP issues is to make every DM run modules of her/his own design. This means that it is more like a massive, organized, home game than like one of the old living campaigns with prepared modules. Modules are still submitted for editing and the campaign overlords still develop approve the awards on the Adventure Record for the module. The campaign has many of the old Living game trappings like Adventure Days, travel between regions, and standardized rewards. Both modules were well paced at about three hours each, I met some really nice people, and I am thinking about becoming a DM for the campaign myself. This was also my first time playing 5e, and I loved it. If I wasn't already a C&C player, this would probably be my go to version of the game. They are a lot alike. Actually, they

Old School Adventures on Twitch

The first episode of Roll20's Moldvay Basic D&D game is up. It is an introduction by the GM, not an actual session, but it is still really interesting. He takes the time to show off some of the features of the Roll20 app, I am especially interested in that since I am playing in a Roll20 DCC game and am interested in running my own. Sadly, Keep on the Borderlands won the adventure straw poll instead of Caverns of Thracia. I love both of them, so it is a win either way. Hopefully he will do the Caverns of Thracia in a later series.

Daddy and Daughter Dungeon Delve

On Sunday, I took my daughter to the Skyline Caverns, about an hour from my house. To a certain extent the whole setup is a tourist trap. In addition to the cavern tour, they have a dragon themed mirror maze, and a small train ride. There is a large gift shop, which mostly sells junk and the inevitable polished “gemstones”. All of that said, it is a very fun tourist trap and a great place to take a three-year-old. The mirror maze and the caverns themselves are of interest to this blog. I you have never been to a mirror maze before, it is a maze where all the walls are mirrors. This creates the illusion that the maze is infinite and creates enough confusion that the maze feels much bigger, and more complicated than it actually is. At first a mirror maze feels like one of those dungeon tricks (like spinners, teleporters, or sloping passages) that are neat in theory, or in a Wizardry game, but come unglued at the table. But, I do think that you could make use of a mirror maze in a du

City Month Day 2

Sorry, I did not get time to write much about this today. Several people have indicated that I should go with a weird city, and that is what I am going to do. Now I just need to figure out what kind of weird city I am going to make. One thing I know for sure, it will be weird in a way that has a large impact on the rules of whatever system I use for it. There is no sense in having a weird city if I am just going to run a standard D&D game set in it, it needs to do something weird to the rules too. I have been kicking around a few ideas in my head today. One that I like, that is not fully formed, is a spherical that bobs up and down in a fluid fantasy cosmology. This means that it would follow a kind of sinusoidal path through different planes, constantly being subjected to changing external influences. I haven't really thought about this much. Another idea is a miniature city (like a model) that exists inside of a full-sized city. In my City State of the Invincible Overlord

City Month: Day 1

I plan to write at least one post a day about creating a fantasy city during the month of September. The first step is to decide which type of city I am going to create for this exercise. I have been thinking about this for a few days, and I have narrowed it down to a few choices. Develop a city that has long existed in my home campaigns, but has never been detailed. In this case, the City of Dar Janix, island home of the Knights Templar of the Circle of Dar Janix, a city of towers. Create a new generic fantasy city akin to City State of the Invincible Overlord or Lankhmar. The downside to this is that there are already plenty of cities like this for RPGs, the plus side is that it is a good way to illustrate my methods since everyone is familiar with the general concept. A floating refugee city. This city is inspired by the aircraft carrier city in Snow Crash and the real world city of Kowloon. It is a densely populated city, full of the cast-offs from other cities. It has a smal

RPGaDay: Favorite Non-RPG Thing to Come Out of a RPG

My favorite non-RPG thing to come out of a RPG is Lords of Waterdeep. Lords of Waterdeep is a fantastic introduction to the worker placement genre of board games and it has a theme based on D&D's Forgotten Realms setting. Light euros are not the kind of games that WotC are usually know for, but they really hit it out of the park with Lords of Waterdeep. Not only is it a good use of the D&D theme, but it is a solid worker placement game in its own right. Better yet, it is a great introduction to both worker placement and strategic board games in general. It is very easy to learn, and plays quickly. It also is very easy to set up, something that you cannot usually say for these kinds of games. This is a great gateway game that can lead to other fantastic games like Manhattan Project and Yedo. My wife and I have played this many times, both the cardboard version and the excellent iOS application.

RPGaDay Favorite RPG Playing Celebrity

I guess I am going to have to make the same choice here as 95% of the rest of the participants and say Wil Wheaton. Not only am I a fan of him as an actor, Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies, but he is a celebrity that plays RPGs that is actively helping the hobby. Wil has a talent for figuring out how to make it interesting to watch other people have fun. I was very skeptical of Tabletop when I first heard about its premise, and I was happily proved wrong. I think that with Titansgrave, he has offered one of the best gateways into the hobby that has ever been available. The show makes role playing look fun, and it communicates what it is all about. That second item has always been a challenge, how do you communicate what an RPG is if no one in the group has any experience with the hobby. I think that prior to Titansgrave, the best answer was Mentzer’s Red Box, and game books in general. I think that Fantasy AGE has the greatest introductory box set ever, a YouTube show. Tita

RPGaDay Favorite RPG Blog/Website

To be honest, I no longer have a central place on the web to go for RPGs. For years, the Fear the Boot forums were my RPG home, but RPG discussion seems to have moved away from forums and distributed across things like Google+ and Twitter. I find it much harder to stay interested in these forms of communication, they have no history and do not lend themselves to long, in-depth discussions. Things like Roll20 and Google Hangouts offer online gaming opportunities that never existed before, but without a central community, I am not sure how to find people to use these tools. It would be nice to have a place where there was a group of people large enough to offer a pool of diverse players, but small enough that we all know each other. It feels like what is missing from the web since forums went out of style is the ability to talk to small focused communities. You are either talking to one person or everybody now.

September is City Month

I really enjoyed having RPGaDay during August, it gave me something to write about every day. I think I am going to continue that on my own during the next month. I will use the month of September to create a fantasy city, one post at a time. I will be drawing on my various GM/DM guides and city books for inspiration and mechanical guidance. I haven't decided exactly how I will attack this yet, I may post a schedule of blog posts in the next few days, or I may wing the design throughout the month. I am likely to use the 3.X Dungeon Master Guide system for classifying the city as it is well organized and people are familiar with it. I am not a cartographer, but there will be a map or maps. I generally use procedural methods for detailing my campaigns, so there is likely to be random charts. I imagine I will detail factions and NPCs as well. More to come.

RPGaDay Favorite RPG I No Longer Play

I guess I could take the easy route with this and just say WEG Star Wars and be done with it. It has been years since I last played it, and I am unlikely to play it again anytime soon, but I don’t want every one of this posts to be about that game, so I will go with Alternity instead. I really enjoyed Alternity at the time, it was an attempt to have a universal game for science fiction the way that AD&D was a universal game for fantasy. This was a few years before 3rd edition and the advent of the d20 system that was set up to handle them both. From a rules perspective Alternity kind of existed in a wierd place between chaos of AD&D and the unified mechanic of d20. It moved towards the idea of having a standardized task resolution mechanic, but the mechanic itself was still pretty fiddly. It wasn’t a bad system for the time, but it is not one I see myself going back to today when I have choices like GURPS 4th edition and Savage Worlds. The best thing about Alternity was its

RPGaDay Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games Together

I wasn't too sure what he meant by this. I could take it to mean, "Favorite idea for merging two campaigns into one," or I could take it to mean, "Favorite idea for merging two game systems or settings into one," so I will just take it both ways. I have a lot of experience with merging games. I have run different groups in the same campaign world, sometimes even the same dungeon, for a number of years. Most recently, I have drawn all the heavily used areas from my recent fantasy campaigns into one world. This was pretty easy to do, I just cut out those sections of the maps and then glued them back together. They key was that by eliminating all of the history that my players never encountered in game, I found I had almost no conflicts that would have to be explained away, even if all of the players involved discovered everything that the other players knew (unlikely). I think they lesson here is that if you only create what you need, and do not get attached to

RPGaDay Favorite Gaming Inspiration

The inspiration for games I run tends to come from two places, books and maps. Generally, I get science fiction inspiration from books and fantasy inspiration from maps, although this is not always the case. I think this is because my science fiction games tend to be about an idea, usually a "what if question", and my fantasy games tend to be about a journey or exploring a place.  Almost any kind of book can inspire a science fiction game, from a science fiction novel, to a book on phone phreaking. Sometimes I will get an idea while reading a history book or a social science book. The inspiration almost always takes the form of a question, from the dumb, "What if this happened in spaaace?" to the more complicated, "What would a democracy look like if everyone could vote on hundreds of little issues every day through the internet?" Even when I am dealing with a licensed scifi game like Star Wars, the basis tends to come from a question. To a certain

RPGaDay Favorite Revolutionary Mechanic

This one is really hard. I am having a hard time coming up with a mechanic that I feel is really revolutionary. And I am going to answer this from the perspective of what felt revolutionary to me when I encountered it. That means that if someone else did it first, but I never encountered it, too bad. While there are plenty of times that I have found a mechanic clever, I can only think of two times that I can say I was surprised by one. The first was saving throws, it actually took a while for me to get my head around those. Part of that was that I was 10 years old, the other part o it was that it was the opposite of the way everything else in the game worked. You generally rolled to make stuff happen to another character, not to keep it from happening to you. I was comfortable with hit points when I first encountered them, they were the same as hearts in Zelda, but rolling to keep a status from being applied to my character was a bit mind bending. The other was the conflict resolut

RPGaDay Favorite House Rule

My favorite house rule is my dungeon crawling house rule set for Castles & Crusades. While C&C is great as written for most things, it does need some tightening up for extended dungeons crawls of the type I run. While I am always working on my house rules, the general gist is to get combat out of the way quick, and to have a very strict exploration round. I have talked about these rules before. I slim down combat by using group initiative and break combat into phases, each side takes its turn before moving on to the next phase. The phases are Missile, Melee, and Magic. I extend the combat round to 1 minute so movement can mostly be abstracted. I also treat all enemies in a group as a bucket of hit points. When you kill one foe worth of hit points, I subtract one enemy from the group. Any damage dealt beyond what is required to kill an enemy is applied to the hit point bucket. This means that characters regularly mow down multiple weak enemies in a round. This makes them feel

Roll20 Gaming: Backlog

Last week I played in a DCC game using Roll20, and I was impressed with the system. I have been thinking about running some games using it, especially games that I don't think I will get much chance to run in person, things like starter sets and the huge number of perfectly good modules and adventure paths I have accumulated over the years. These things have the advantage of generally being low prep time, accessible, and having a pre-defined endpoint for buy in purposes. Looking around my shelves I see things like the Pathfinder Beginner Box, several Paizo adventure paths for both Pathfinder and 3.5, a stack of 3rd edition Dungeon magazines, Ptolus, White Wolf's Scion campaign, the 5e Starter Set, the 4e Starter Set, the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Starter Sets (there is a dice roller, I checked), WEG Star Wars Darkstryder Campaign, some C&C modules, lots of Lamentations of the Flame Princess modules, and that doesn't even touch on the .pdf bundles I have purchased

Star Wars Armada

I played Star Wars Armada to day at my FLGS today. I stopped in the store two weeks ago and asked some people playing the new Halo fleet battles game about it. They told me that they play Armada every other week, so I picked it up to get ready for this weekend. The game is a lot of fun, and moves quicker than I expected. The first couple of turns were a little slow because I was figuring out how things worked, but the second half of the game really picked up. We played a game with 200 points on each side in well under 2 hours, including instruction. I played the Imperials and got lucky and won. We reached the turn limit and I had destroyed a Rebel corvette, but lost only a few fighters. I say I got lucky because had we played a few more turns, my Star Destroyers would have ran off the edge of the map and my opponent would have been awarded points for them. It took me a while to realize how hard the Star Destroyers are to turn. If you are playing them, you will need to use the maneu

RPGaDay Day 23: Perfect Game for You

I wasn't exactly sure what this question meant, so I am going to assume that it means which game I would want to play if I could always get enough people. For me, the answer is GURPS. For all the time I spend talking about, and running, rules-lite games, I actually prefer crunchy games with a high level of granularity to skills and mechanics. I think this is because, if I could run any kind of game, I would run hard science fiction games. I prefer that kind of game to have several different kinds of physicists and chemists, not just a generic "Science" skill. And it isn't just in hard scifi that granularity matters to me. I love Savage Worlds, but I have some problems with the system in long campaigns or back-to-back campaigns. Savage Worlds does not have a very high level of detail in its skills, this is great, it is what makes it so fast and easy, but it can make everything start to feel the same after a while. I have found that two Savage Worlds campaigns in a r

Shadowrun Returns

I finished Shadowrun Returns this afternoon, and while it is hardly one of the greatest games of all time, I really liked it. I thought they did a good job of capturing the feel of Shadowrun fiction. One of the nicest things about the game was the length. It feels like it is rare to find a isometric, turn-based RPG that clocks in under 40 hours. I estimate I finished Shadowrun in 10 hours or less. It isn't that I don't enjoy the sprawling epics, but it is hard to get a game started when the estimated time to completion is 80 hours. It was also nice to play a game where there is not really any filler story, it moves along at a good pace with only a few, quick side quests. The story is nothing special, but it isn't completely predictable. It was enough to keep me interested. The combat was good, although it was probably a bit too easy. I really liked the way they integrated netrunning into regular combat. This is one of those things that just works better on a computer in m

RPGaDay Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

Today's question was, what is your perfect gaming environment? For me the answer is either a gaming store or a convention, and I prefer a gaming store. I have several reasons that I prefer public gaming. One, I like big groups, eight is my favorite table size, system allowing. I find it is usually easier to pull this off at a con or a store, for reasons of space and having enough people. Second, I believe that the best way to get people into the hobby is for them to see people playing a game. Gaming stores are the perfect place for this. There are a surprising number of people in a gaming store that have never played a RPG, or have not played one in years. These are people who are generally geek inclined since they are in the game store, and a table with six to eight people sitting around it having fun draw attention. RPGs are actually somewhat less intimidating than many of the other things going on in the store, there aren't $800 of minis on the table, or a whole bunch

What Should a Shadowrun Game Look Like?

I have been playing Shadowrun Returns recently and I have been enjoying it. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of the Shadowrun tabletop game, it has way too much continuity built up, and I have never felt that the rules really had all that much to do with the theme of the game. This was fairly common when Shadowrun came out, and the Shadowrun rules are much better than many of the other games of the time, they just didn't make it feel like a shadowrun. While I was playing Shadowrun Returns today, I started wondering what a Shadowrun game should be like. Pretty much every Shadowrun game I have ever played in or run has had these parts: Information Gathering; Planning; Execution; and Everything Goes Wrong. In my experience, Planning takes up most of the night, and Everything Goes Wrong is where all the excitement is. The problem with the Planning phase is that many players hate it and want to get to the action, but for a few players it is their favorite part of the whole game

RPGaDay 2015 Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Favorite RPG Setting If you have read my previous answers, it should come as no surprise that my favorite setting is Star Wars. I am not going to go on about it again here, I have run two campaigns to completion in this setting and loved both of them. I can actually be more specific because both of those campaigns were set in the Elrood Sector, the subject of one of WEG's Galaxy Guides. The great thing about the Elrood Sector is the level of detail at which it is described, each planet gets a few pages, some hooks, and a few characters. There is enough there to build a campaign around, but not enough there that it becomes cumbersome to remember it. In fact, while both my campaigns were set in the Elrood Sector, they were two very different versions of the sector. I should mention two other settings in which I have run a lot of game sessions, Stonehell and The City State of the Invincible Overlord. I don't think it is a mistake that these are both very limited set

RPGaDay 2015 Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

Like Super Hero RPGs, I have very little experience with horror RPGs. The only horror RPG that I have any real experience with is WEG's Bloodshadows, and I am not sure that counts. Bloodshadows was part of WEG's Masterbook line. Masterbook was an odd duck generic system that used custom cards in conjunction with dice for the core mechanic of the game. It was interesting, but on the clunky side in actual play. You had to roll dice, consult a chart, and play cards. If I remember correctly, you also had to know what "stymied" meant. Bloodshadows was also an out-of-the-ordinary setting. It mixed '30s-'40s noir with hammer horror monsters and spellcasters. To be honest, the setting was not a great match for the rules. We generally did not play this game as real horror, our sessions tended more towards campy action. I think this was mostly driven by the artwork in the books, which had a very pulpy feel to them. The game hardly qualifies as horror from a thematic

RPGaDay Day 19 and Roll 20

Short post tonight since I played a game on Roll20. This actually works out well, I have never really played a Supers game. I ran a session of DC Heroes back in the '90s and I have read Necessary Evil. Based on that small amount of information, I like Necessary Evil More. I had a good time playing in my first Roll20 game tonight, it was a DCC funnel. We played Sailors on the Starless Sea by Harley Stroh. I had a good time, and Roll20 works really well for this kind of game. We started out to investigate a keep that we believed was connected to the disappearance of many of our fellow villagers. We lost one character (didn't catch name) in a tragic bridge-crossing accident at the very start.  Once inside the keep. the party investigated a well and hear a strange wailing sound. Two characters started throwing rocks down the well and were momentarily possessed by the urge to jump in the well. One of them died (didn't catch name), the other managed to grab a hold of a ch

RPGaDay 2015 Favorite Science Fiction RPG

I have always enjoyed science fiction more than fantasy. I like that it looks forward instead of backwards, that it celebrates humanity's ability to innovate, and that it has cool spaceships. There is no way I can discuss my favorite science fiction game without also discussing my love for science fiction in general, and especially Star Wars. It is almost impossible to overstate the impact that Star Wars had on my early life, the movies hinted at a universe that stretched far beyond the screen, more adventures to be had, and new worlds to discover. In some ways, Star Wars, a movie series that is not about exploration, did more to imply a giant universe to explore than Star Trek, a show focused on exploration. Maybe it's the lived-in look that does it, or the greater variety in alien appearance, or the many different kinds of aliens gathered in one place, even in a backwater. Whatever it is, the series has always been a call to adventure for me. I didn't want to go to th

Vote for Roll20's Old School Adventure

A few days ago, I linked to a video of Adam Koebel from Roll20 discussing Moldvay Basic D&D and why he loved it. It was a great video, and one of the better explanations of the attractions of Basic D&D I have seen. If you haven't seen it, go watch it . I'll wait. Now you can vote on which old school adventure they will be playing. The choices are: Keep on the Borderlands The Lost City The Caverns of Thracia The Palace of the Silver Princess While I feel like I should vote for KotB, because it is a great learning adventure, I really want to see how this guy runs The Caverns of Thracia. I will be voting for that. How about you?

Megadungeons: Tools

Before I embark on my Stonehell customization project, I need to think about what tools I will need. I have divided them into three categories, these categories each include both physical tools and processes I will use for content creation. Content generation tools Content management tools Quality control tools "Content generation tools" are pretty self explanatory, they are the tools I will use to create the content that will go into the dungeon: Graph paper: I still do the rough draft of everything by hand. I am not really sure why, it is very inefficient, but it is how I work. Pencils Drawing templates Writing journal Geomorphs: Some I will steal from other places, some I will make myself. I actually shouldn't need that many, I am leaving levels 1 and 2 untouched and they will have the most real estate. Treasure tables Dungeon tables Random dungeon generation procedure: I started talking about that here Monster books: I have plenty A dungeon d

RPGaDay 2015 Day 17

Favorite fantasy RPG Like most RPG gamers, I have a long history with fantasy games of many different types. I started with MERP and quickly moved on to Mentzer D&D. BECMI and 2nd edition AD&D were my group's primary games for the next decade. While we played other non-fantasy RPGs, I cannot think of any significant time spent with another fantasy game. At the dawn of the 21st century, we bid goodbye to AD&D with a marathon game of Dragonlance Classics and moved on to 3rd edition. I think it is hard, 15 years later, to remember what a revelation that new edition was at the time. AD&D was so creaky under its own weight with kits and Skills and Powers that I was regularly "doing the math" for most of my players. The sad fact is, most of my players did not actually know how to play the game. This is not a knock on them, it had become very complicated, and the rules were spread out among a whole bunch of books. The feedback from that first session was un

DCC on Wednesday

On Wendesday, I will be playing in a DCC game on Roll20. I am really excited about this. It will be my first Roll20 experience, I have only used Fantasy Grounds before. Even that Fantasy Grounds experience was about 8 years ago and I only GM'd. It will be interesting to see how far VTTs have come in the last few years, especially from an interface standpoint.  I have played Dungeon Crawl Classics before, I play tested Mike Curtis's "Frozen in Time" module. I really enjoyed it, but we did not do a funnel so I will be interested to see how that works.  I will let you know how it goes. 

RPGaDay2015 Day 16: Longest Session Played

It is not going to be possible for me to name the exact longest session that I ever played or ran because there were so many weekend-long games during high school. It would have to be either AD&D 2nd edition or WEG Star Wars. It is more likely to have been AD&D because I was running Star Wars every week and some times more than once in a week, so we did not tend to do marathon sessions with that game. I can tell you about a session that ran so long that the GM fell asleep. We were playing Rules Cyclopedia D&D and one of my players was running the game, he almost never DM'd and it was going really well. It was not a dungeon crawl, it was a mystery. We were closing in on the culprit and suddenly, in mid-description, the DM's head goes down and he starts to snore. We nudged him to try to wake him up long enough to finish the game and the only response we got was, "She's got your mother's dress, but she doesn't have the body." When he woke up t

RPGaDay2015 Day 15: Longest Campaign

My longest campaign was my WEG Star Wars Elrood Sector campaign. I ran this game for the entirety of high school, sometimes multiple sessions in one week. This is my longest running campaign no matter how you measure it, length of time, or number of sessions. It was a great system and a great setting in the system. I revisited the Elrood Sector a couple of years ago when I ran an Edge of Empire game there. That campaign is another one of my all time favorites.

Megadungeons: Stonehell Customization 2

So, how do I go about planning my Stonehell customization project? I already have a good first pass at a high level definition of my goal: A customized version of Stonehell dungeon that is consistent with the history of my campaign world and reinforces careful play and resource management. I will need to sharpen that as I go, but it will serve to keep me pointed in the right direction for now. I can't talk about the history part yet because my players have spent the last several sessions almost stumbling on some big reveals. Some of my players read this blog, so I don't want to spoil anything. I can discuss the play style of my group though. My current Stonehell group consists of people who either work in, or are students in, the science and technology area. There are both professionals and skilled tradesmen in our group. I am a lawyer with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. As you can imagine, my group has a very methodical play style. They carefully explor