Monday, January 31, 2011

Ages of Midrea

Note, this post was supposed to be second to last. Blame Blogspot if you like ro me for composing them in the wrong order. Anywhere here is a taste of Midrea, the mandatory time line.

Unlike a lot of Fantasy Worlds Midrea has a fairly short history, 1200 years in total ..

Its history (or at least the human part of it) starts with the coming of Humans to to Midrea via the Blue Gate some 1200 years ago. The first six hundred years or so, called the First Period is divided into Three Eras, sometimes called Ages, These ages are named for the Gates from which the new folk came.

First Era (The Blue Age) Human entry to Midrea, Foundation of Firom. 1-169. Note these is no Arcane or Divine Magic in this period, however Ley Line Magic does exist

Second Era (The Indigo Age) Shan Entry to Midrea 170 -391 . The opening of this gate allows for both Arcane and Divine Magic.

Third Era (The Green Age) Coming of the Fae to Midrea 392-631. The 1st Sorcerers occur during this period and gunpowder becomes unreliable do to magical saturation of the land

Second Period

Fourth Era (Early Modern) Other Gates are opened brining in new folks. 632-818

Unhallowed War 819-919 (Middle Modern) This was the war against the Abyss, The Death Lords and its aftermath

Modern Era 920-1191 This is when most of my games are set and its the blog standard "Time of Adventure"

Gate Keeper War 1192-1193 -- During this period the gates are destroyed.

False Gods War (aka War of Souls) 1197 -- During this period the False Gods are Destroyed and the souls they were preventing from reincarnating are freed. All magic save Ley Line Magic stops working although magic items still function. Alchemy also becomes more difficult and expensive as magically supersaturated materials become rarer (Alchemy is normal cost as per SRD) however gunpowder is now safer and more reliable. Muskets start to proliferate

Enlightenment 1200 -- This is the Year Zero for the Wielders variant using a hybrid of the Psychic's Handbook/True20, D&D items and E8 low magic rules.

Lastly , it should be noted that the Steel Cities folk use a different calender set up dating from Year 1 (Shipfall) to the current Year (541) , The Plainsfolk also claim different calenders as theirs include time on their home world.

The Nearly Last 1/2010 Post. Do You Want to Know about Midrea

Juts a question for my loyal readers.

Is anyone interested in a Midrea Gazetteer?

I figure it would be a 64 page (or so) free PDF with enough material to get someone started or to fill in themselves. More details could be offered for a modest price as maybe regional guides or other sorts of splat books.

Make the game offer it in Pathfinder system or one of the old school systems as well. Conversions aren't hard as the game has world has been used with AD&D2e, Rolemaster, homebrew card toss , Novel Form (??!! yes it was mediocre) 3x and GURPS (where the bulk of the writing was done)

Its generic enough but different enough to be different. I hope. Or its another Fantasy Heartbreaker and I am deluding myself. Either way, it might be useful for someone not interested in world design but who needs a sandbox to play in.

A Spell You'll Probably Never See "Roakair's Dragon Breath"

One of the players in my group made thats spell way back when we were kids (AD&D days actually) but you'll never see it as its been surplanted by Dragon Breath from the Pathfinder SRD.

I am fine with that as the spells are pretty much identical even to the level and material component! Great Minds Run In The Same Channel I guess.

However if I ever do a Pathfinderized "Spell Fluff" for Midrea it might resurface. In such a hypothetical product you'd learn about Roakair the Dragon Mage and the other famous wizards and the now common spells they made.

That product is a long way off it ever comes though. There really isn't much call for it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My 500k Choices

I had a hard time with these choices and in the end had to let armor go. Really I can't see much use in medieval armor in the 21st century anyway. Besides with the arming ring I could stash mundane armor in there and combined with the other items and the fact reality (tm) is really E6 anyway ;) I should be fine.

Part of my selection also includes the fact that I included items for family and comfort. I am not e one of the adventurer/heavily armed hobo types that seem to make up some PC's groups after all, just a bored and silly 21st century schmo ....

Sources include Magic Item Compendium, Pathfinder and my old lists from Dragon

2 X Campfire bead

6x Nacreous Grey Ioun Stone in Wayfinders

Ring of 3 Wishes

Cauldron of Plenty

3x Muleback Cords

Ring of Invisibility and Protection +2

6X Handy Haversacks

6x Hat of Disguise

6x Vestments Many Styles

Belt of Hidden Pouches

Survival Pouch

2 Protection Arrows Potions

20 Seeker Rounds (modern rifle rounds likely)

Forceshot Pistol

2 Enlarge Person Potion

2 Reduce Person Potion

16 Cure Light Potions

2 Potion Spider Climb

4 Pass without Trace Potions

6 Cure Moderate Potions

6 Cure Serious Potions

Rod of Metal and Mineral Detection

3 Immovable Rods

Rod of Enemy Detection

Rod of Security

Ring of Lockpicking

Meteoric Knife

Gwareons Boot

Magic Amulet made with MIC rules (+2 to AC, +2 to Con, Emergency Healing)

Ring of Arming

Pearl of Speech 6x

Lesser Return Crystal for pistol

10 Bottles Goodberry wine

2 bags animated caltrops

Circlet persuasion

decanter endless water

2 bottles kegotums ointment (10 doses)

45 Blessed Bandages

6 Everfull Mugs

Rope of Climbing

Optionally I think I'd drop the seeker rounds and maybe the cauldron which would be 31,500 k worth of gear.

Of course being able to reach out and auto-zap a possible threat at like a mile or something could come in handy as would having an unlimited food source so its hard to say.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What 3x adventuring class are you?

Here is a fun question for you ...

If you were teleported into a D&D world into an automagically peak and healthy body what adventuring D&D class are you? This can be any core or prestige class from 3, 3.5 or Pathfinder, assuming all official material and I dunno all 3rd party Pathfinder. And no NPC classes either.

me I'd be a Factotum from 3.5, a little Cleric, a little Rogue, a little Fighter and a little everything.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pathfinder/3x Outfit Yourself

Because I am bored and low on ideas today, a little fun here ...

Using any WoTC or any official Pathfinder source outfit yourself with 500K gold pieces worth of magic items. No minor or greater artifacts.

Assume these items can't be duplicated or recharged but that you can use any of them. except if they require a certain class ability or patron, they won't work. Also those "bullest" in teh PFSRD can be had in modern forms, just because

And note when I say "yourself" I mean you here, not PC you but real world you ...

I'll post my choices in the next post or so...

Campaign Ideas 1st 2011

Space Fall

This is a cross between the old SJ games setting Sprockets and FTL Y'all. Basically its 1982 or so and a bunch of alien technology has fallen to Earth. Apparently only some people can get it to work . The PC's are some of those people and they have a spaceship (and a few other toys) and go from there ....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So what level are regular folks in 3x?

Inspired by this article, Calibrating your Expectations I cap NPC classes (except for adept) to level 8.

The levels look like this

L1 Regular Folks, young

L2 Experienced People

L3 Highly Capable People

L4 Experienced and Highly Capable People

L5 Elite

L6 Experienced Elite and Masters

L7-L8 Borderline Super-Human

The classes fit into the world as follows

Commoner -- People with very limited opportunity, peasants, serfs and the very poor. There is no adventuring equivalent.

Expert-- Highly skilled persons who have had opportunities for learning. Adventuring versions include Savant and Rogue along with other skill intensive classes.

Warrior -- People with formal combat training but no special knack for combat. People with that knack are typically Fighters but may be any of the other Full BAB combat classes.

Aristocrat -- The Wealthy-- The PC version is either Cavalier or Noble

Adept-- I almost didn't use this class as I think its a bit redundant. However I decided that the work-a-day casters spellcasters, tinkers and hedge-mages make up this class. The PC versions are obvious ...

When designing cities and such, if I use the old "book2" demographic rules I tend to simply replace any non adepts above 6 or so with the PC class version.NPC's of 7th to 8th level get names and backgrounds

And yes this does slightly increase the number of NPC's with core type classes. I think thats just fine.

How I make Regular Folks Old School Style

Its really easy

All stats 10 but not listed

Level 0, Hit Points (1d6 Greyhawk Average) 4 +1 for men at arms or laborers -1 for sickly people or children

Quick note about skills (apprentice, journeyman, expert, master, grandmaster) or unusual traits

List weapon and armor if appropriate

The stat block looks like this

Jored the Innkeeper

HP6 AC9 Club TH19 1d6+1
Expert Innkeeper, Unusually Strong and Tough (15 in each)

Nice, sweet, simple and fast.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pathfinder House Rule; Experimental -- Fall Back!

This is not yet an official house rule as I have not tested it. It works with my alternative movement system here only and is best used with maps.

As a immediate response to a melee or thrown weapon attack anyone who has not yet made a five foot step that round may, if such a step as allowed , may take the step as a retreat The grants +2 to AC that does combine with other bonuses. It does not provoke an attack of opportunity from his attacker.

This rule is meant to simulate the effectiveness of retreating in combat, something I have seen done many times in hand to hand fights. Its not going to be used every time as they person may want to take that five foot step forward or may not want to risk an AOO or being flanked by his other foes, falling off a cliff or some other bad outcome. Its a decent bonus but not enough to unbalance things and I am pretty sure it should be straight forward and easy to use.

However any feedback on it would be appreciated.

House Rule: All Versions -- Initiative Pacing

This house rule is used in both OSR games and Pathfinder. Its my basic way of handling initiative pacing and the occasional distracted player.

Basically after initiative is rolled and I announce its a players turn, if the player does not respond on his turn, unless he is the last person to go, he is assumed to delay till the other players go.

If he is loses initiative to a monster I will allow him to take his turn immediately otherwise when it is is his turn again, I will announce this. If he fails to respond, he is assumed to be evaluating and to have taken a full defense action, forgoing any attacks this round but gaining a 4 point AC bonus.

This rule allows better survivability and actually simulates the circling lulls that sometimes happen even in pitched battles.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What kind of dice are you?

With thanks to Tales of the Rambling Bumblers for pointing this out

I am a D4

I am a d4

Take the quiz at

Antother Old School Vid Reply to Testubo57

Nice, pleasant and solid.

Play what you like, indeed Samwise7RPG , indeed

The Video IvanMike Referenced

This is a solid video I happen to disagree with but its well thought out and deserves a shout out to Tetsubo57.

My relies to this video are

#1 Whatdya Mean "We don't need to play them. Speak for yourself bud ;)"

#2 Absolute consistency is overrated.

IvanMike gets the OSR ...

Saw this on Big Purple and for those of you who don't want to go there, here is an excellent video from someone who gets the OSR very well ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So what are the best types of D&D games for you to Run.

My best games are

#1 Low to medium level Sword and Sorcery stuff

#2 Humor driven games, D&D as comedy

#3 Low level fairytale and horror games

How about you?

Five and a Half Petty Little Rules from my House Guidelines

These are petty little rules that I enforce for various reasons. They aren't especially fair but tough, my game, my rules

#1 Playing a different gender than your own is a privilege, not an given. Unless I think you can pull it off without the raft of defective characters this seem to create, the answer is no.

#2 The Gods are crazy. Entertain me and/or the whole table and I'll give you a fate point that can bail you out of a jam. You do start with one so, use it wisely..

#3 No Chaotic Evil, Chaotic Neutral "crazies" and no Neutral Evil PC's

#4 Nobody goes hungry at the table

#5 If you leave the campaign and you are tell me you don't care about what happens to your character , I reserve the right to do whatever awful thing I like to them.

and last this isn't a full rule as it applies to only one group. Personally it doesn't bother to have these types of things in context. I've played with anthros before the Fur subculture existed , but after my group mutinied in unison over cat people I imposed this rule for that group.

# 5 1/2 .No furry or anthro characters without unanimous consent of all the players.

Humor: 6 Things you'll probably never hear in my game circle , thank goodness

#1 Umm, so your party is a Warforged Factotum with really high stats who thinks he has no emotions, A Long Claw Shifter Barbarian with Admantium Bones ,a now good Drow Ranger with two scimitars, A Xeph Bard with a cracked sense of humor who eats cats, A Human Wizard with hourglass eyes and a Lizard thing Paladin -- IEEEE!

#2 No, I will not play in your Drow Matriarchy game making extensive use of the Book of Erotic Fantasy and the Book of Vile Darkness

#3 Especially if its a LARP!

#4 Unless the Lady DM and all the female players are at least 7's anyway ...

#5 No Dude, your character cannot have a chain mail bikini

#6 Yes I know I borrowed some elements from the Gor Novels, and yes they had them in Blackmoor you still can't have a Tarn.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So if you Like E6/E8 so much Why Old School?

Well its a fair question with a simple answer. Old School is my (the DM's) game E6/E8 is more theirs (the players)

Old school provides the classic D&D experience I remember. Its a game of imagination and exploration and roleplaying and combat and treasure of course . More importantly its wild and woolly and personal in ways that the modern rules rigorous games are not.

E6/E8 OTOH is a lot of fun (or at least D&D is at those levels IME as I haven't played with the extra feats) but its modernness can be off putting and its a game with builds and optimization and a host of things that change the flavor of the game.

Its analogous to say reading a print books vs reading on a screen. They are both reading but the book is simply different.

And in case you ask, assuming I run D&D of some kind this year (its not certain and in fact I might even run GURPS or Angel) it will probably be E6/E8 . The likely players (they are 2e ear guys) seem to like this idea a bit better and while maybe its not as cool as introducing them to S&W of LL, it will still be fun.

And having fun is the whole point anyway.

So Wait.. E8 for Fantasy Super Heros?

My answer is of course why not?

A fair number of the lowered powered supers can be written easily at L7 or L8 so long as you remember the guys they are facing are mostly 1st through 3rd level with some really elite outliers around 5th.

Use low magic rules and give your heroes bodacious stats and some fate points and you can have a game that feels in play much like a comic book..

Your Bat Themed Vigilante ? 8th Human Rogue w. extra feats

Cancuck Berserker? 8th Level Shifter Barbarian

Star Spangled Shield Guy? 8th Fighter with Adamantium Shield

and so on.

With this variant you can use D&D to play Lord of the Rings and Batman or many of you favorite fantasy books with minimal rules changes.

A Great Gaming Quote for D&D

From Old Geezer, one of the original Gygaxian players and whose real name escapes me, from over on Big Purple. Paraphrased very slightly

Abstraction, is the font of realism.

For D&D this perfectly suitable and true. Better armor is more effective, more skilled people are harder to kill (more HP) , better weapons are better at killing, combat is sometimes random.

Its not a reality simulation but it provides perfectly playable results that are not that far off from the haphazard nature of a real fight.

This is why I think that despite tons of excellent more "realistic" systems D&D endures. Its good enough and its fun, and thats plenty.

Thinking about E6 and E8 again.

This variant is basically D&D that stops at L6 or L8 respectively and makes all future advancement after that in the form of feats at every 5000k XP.

It adds verisimilitude and grit to the game without changing the rules in any significant way and as you can guess I really like it.

However it can be difficult to explain the power curve to people at times.

Here is how I do it

L1 Ordinary Folks

L2 Skilled Folks

L3 Highly Skilled Folks, S.W.A.T. Teams that kind of thing

L4 Low Grade Hero Types (Hero in the old level titles) and Experienced Highly Skilled Folks

L5 Elite Types Navy S.E.A.L.S Green Berets, Cinematic Movie Cops, World Class Atheletes

L6 The Very Best, Near Super Humans, Bruce Lee etc

L7,L8 Low Powered Supers

Characters are differentiated within these bands by stats and if PC material action points , so while a Navy S.E.A.L. And Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon (or his fantasy counterpart) may be both 5th level,the S.E.A.L. uses the Elite Array,Riggs has different stats and action points. Got it? Good

Confession: I Suck at Maps

This may be a product of the fact that I am not all that good at drawing them and that they don't (save for those block city maps or Mappa Harnica which I like) really inspire me.

Until quite recently (the 3x area, seriously) in fact stuff was designed and enjoyed haphazardly. I just kind of said, well OK this is here and that is there and that was that.

And you know what, it worked. My players didn't care, I didn't care and all was good.

However of late I have had some calls for a decent world map for Midrea. I was pretty stumped as to what the world should look like and I vacillated between something island-ish like Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea and something more Earth like.

After a fairly long thought about it I decided on the following

Midrea has only two large continents, The Mainland where most of the adventures take place and another land mass analogous to North and South America.

The rest of the nations are chains of islands and smaller Australia sized continents.

This seems to fit the way the game is actually played, allows me to isolate nations a bit to prevent unwanted cultural bleed and actually permits me to emphasize seafaring without overemphasizing seafaring.

Now thats left is for me to find a solution to generate real looking fractal maps then put the nations in place.

Any clues for solutions that are Linux based or at least compatible with WINE or web based and generate maps that I can add to my product legally would be appreciated.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Video with Old School Crush

The stunning Louise Robey from Friday the 13th the Series ...

Here is her sexy as all get up in a cover of Murray Head's One Night in Bangkok. In an odd bit of coincidence Murray's brother Anthony Stuart would later go on into SF as "Giles" on Buffy and Angel. So its a bit of Horror all around

Things you can learn by being an Old School DM

You can get learn a lot from being an Old School GM and as odd as it seems the social skills I learned at the table have come in handy many times at work and in real life.

And in case anyone asks, you absolutely can learn these with any game and edition but I think that the looser nature of the rules and the social expectations of the games and maybe the era, pushed me farther in that direction than say had something like 4e existed than.

Bluntly,sometimes like life my calls weren't fair, I couldn't just download the latest greatest (so I had to improvise) and I had to deal with the fallout from those choices. In short I had to lead.

Over the years I learned to give orders, make my decisions stick, have confidence, social acumen, good organization , people management , how to keep a group happy and on track and how to think on my feet.

Sure there were other places I could have learned those things but nowhere that would have been as much fun.

Right now if you can convince you players to go along (especially the younger ones who are more conflict adverse) and to be a player or a Judge (or a DM or a Ref) and
to game game it old style, all of you may just learn something about yourselves.

Fast Prep: Another strength of the old school games

A picture is worth 1000 words -- so a simple minimal stat block

Old School (roughly everything before 2e) from the Swords and Wizardry Monster Book

Blink dogs are pack hunters, intelligent and usually friendly to those who are not of evil intent. They can teleport short distances (without error) and attack in the same turn – in most cases (75%) a blink dog will be able to teleport behind an opponent and attack from the rear (with appropriate bonuses).
Blink Dog: HD 4; AC 5[14]; Atk 1 bite (1d6); Move 12; Save 13; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Teleport.

From the 3.5 SRD same monster trimmed slightly for brevity

Blink Dog click to see monster
Size/Type: Medium Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 4d10 (22 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 16 (+3 Dex, +3 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+4
Attack: Bite +4 melee (1d6)
Full Attack: Bite +4 melee (1d6)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: —
Special Qualities: Blink, darkvision 60 ft., dimension door, low-light vision, scent
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +4
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 11
Skills: Hide +3, Listen +5, Sense Motive +3, Spot +5, Survival +4
Feats: Iron Will, Run, TrackB
Treasure: None
Alignment: Usually lawful good

The blink dog is an intelligent canine that has a limited teleportation ability.
Blink dogs have their own language, a mixture of barks, yaps, whines, and growls that can transmit complex information.


Blink dogs hunt in packs, teleporting in a seemingly random fashion until they surround their prey, allowing some of them to take advantage of flanking.

Blink (Su)
A blink dog can use blink as the spell (caster level 8th), and can evoke or end the effect as a free action.

Dimension Door (Su)
A blink dog can teleport, as dimension door (caster level 8th), once per round as a free action. The ability affects only the blink dog, which never appears within a solid object and can act immediately after teleporting.

Smaller stat blocks mean more space for creativity and shorter prep time.

Ownership, a great strength of the Old School Games

One of the biggest things we don't think about when it comes to the strengths of old school games are our binders of house rules and worlds and such.

For those of us used to comprehensive, carefully designed rules sets, pages of rulings and rules can see like a burden rather than an asset.

We they certainly can be but that "simple rules, personally customized" aesthetic that makes up most of the old school, the custom monsters and classes, and yes even the hastily jotted down rulings and sometimes ill thought out ideas that circulated from group to group offered something special that we see less and less of modern rules rigorous games.

Pride of Ownership.

It was your campaign, you world (or version of published world) and your D&D warts and all. Thats a powerful incentive to play and to love gaming even more. It even tightens social bonds in the group sometimes as groups had lingo and rules onlt they, the elect few.

It wasn't all good of course, some rules sucked or were arbitrary or unfair and some groups grew insular and stale but simply and back in the day it gave a lot of us fun.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Filler Post: Whats on my buying agenda

I have more actual content coming soon but I thought I'd share my next few purchases.

#1 Swords and Wizardry Complete

#2 Tome of Horrors for Swords and Wizardry (and possibly Pathfinder)

#3 Some Pathfinder stuff

#4 Some GURPS stuff

#5 A Couple of Eden Studios books, maybe

#6 Historical minis

How about you?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Post of 2011

Well 2010 was a mediocre year. Yes I wrote some stuff and yes I made a product but I didn't really accomplish anything awesome and do to some vagaries I gamed very little.

However 2011 will be different. I will have cool stuff done and good lord willing and the creek don't rise, I will get some old school gaming on too.