Saturday, April 30, 2011

Human Groups on Midrea: The Shan

Human Groups on Midrea

Scholars generally agree that there are 3 fully "human" groups on Midrea, the Tera who come from Earth, the realm of the Blue Gate, the Fae residents of the Violet Gate , while not like humanity in their thought process are capable of having fertile offspring with humans and claim distant kinship to an ancient human goddess and the Shan.

The origin of the Shan is something of a mystery as they are not native to their own world, which they call Earth as well or to Midrea .

Recent discoveries in Shan language including members of the Robinson family , Firom and Hunzun scholars suggest that the Shan have an Earth origin at some unknown point.

Shan language groups and general appearances seem to match several language isolates and to a degree ethnic groups relating to the Basque, the Burushaki, and the Ainu. The written form of other Shan languages seems to strongly resemble the mysterious writing on the Voynich Manuscript and attempts at translation of copies seem to have a logical accuracy to them and to match those provided by translation spells. Also the images in the text seem to match the constellations and plant life of Homeworld (the translation of general Shan term used for the original world they came from)

Whats most curious though is the differential appearance of several ethnic Shan subgroups, the Alai , who outside of some unusual hair and eye colors look much the like the dominant Tera group, The Nia who look faintly like the Japanese ethnotype , the Vara, who while fair skinned and tall do not resemble any known earth Ethnic group, and the almond eyed and dark skinned Meran, who look like no one on Earth.

Its not known whether these groups are from unknown and unremembered civilizations from Earths past or even future or if they were possible caused by the effects of the richer magical energies of Homeworld. Still excluding the Vara ,outside of cosmetic differences , the Shan as a general rule are pretty much indistinguishable from Tera.

Theme Parties: The Rippers

The Rippers

Signified by a clawed red hand marker , this group is feared more for their sneakiness and cruelty than actual face to face effectiveness.

Generally lazy they can be occasionally found robbing tombs or when money is low can be hired to send a painful lesson to someone.

Marik -- L9 Joad Harrier

Severina -- L3 Rogue, L6 Archivist, Scholar of pain feat (advances sneak attack and lore abilities)

Kane - L9 Vivisectionist Alchemist

Happy Doyle L9 Arcane Trickster Core

Bay L9 Rogue

Thursday, April 28, 2011

20 Things from Earth that are found on Midrea that might surprise you

30 fun Earth things that are common on Midrea

#1 Potatoes

#2 Manx Cats

#3 Pugs

#4 a huge number of dances

#5 pretty much every martial art ever practiced

#6 the complete works of William Shakespeare

#7 the complete works of Tolkien

#8 A very large number of novels, good and bad

#9 a lot of music

#10 Asatru

#11 Wicca

#12 Many Spices

#13 Germ Theory

#14 Go

#15 much of the 19th century scientific canon hough much is no longer useful

#16 Hackey Sack

#17 Soccer

#18 Rugby

#19 Chess

and last

#20 Dungeons and Dragons.

Human Ethnographic Makeup of Midrea

This is a little wonkier than my usual post falling more into the technical and semi scientific style of posting, a little like Tao's work so bear with.

One thing I wanted to do when I designed Midrea was lampshade the European fantasy tropes a little bit. Most fantasy worlds for various reasons are derived from European myth cycles and cultural modes. Oh sure sometimes there is some Orientalism, mainly about Japan and bad Chinese movies with a smidgen of Arabian Nights but on the whole, its Europe meets American all the way through.

Now mind you I have no issue with this. In fact I wanted to do this openly Instead and to take the All European All The Time idea and run with it.

In addition I needed a common tongue and as it happened the two if them meshed together perfectly.

How it came out is this

Humans, the most common sophont on Midrea (making up 75% of sentient people) are not native to the world .

Humans in fact originated on Earth (the Blue Realm in Midrea parlance) and were brought across the Gateways by a mysterious alien race called the Shapers. For reasons known only to the Shapers every person selected spoke English at least as a second language.
These people were brought over in waves from the late 14th century to the early 23nd although they mostly arrived at the same time (about 1500 years ago Midrea Time)

The period breakdown is such

10% 14th thru 15th century (mostly craftsmen) England and regions

15% 16th century Elizabethan England and regions

10% 17th century England

10% 18th century England and Empire

10% 19th century Anglosphere

10% Early 20th century Anglosphere

15% Late 20th early 21st centuries (Global)

10% 21st century (Global)

5% 22nd Century (Global)

5% 23rd Century (Global)

Of the Human Folk 60% are of UK origin, 30% are other European or mixed European origin and 10% are non European entirely being composed of peoples from everywhere on Earth.

It should be noted that racism as we know it is not an issue on Midrea. While certainly some Gate Folk held suchs views instead People prefer to kill or enslave other people for more traditional reasons, gold, religion, and far older views of nation of tribe and of culture ,

As for players choices , there certainly are families and tribes and clans of all kinds of ethnic makeup and as such like gender or any cosmetic detail, any skin color or origin may be selected without any effect on how the rules are applied.

"Race" makeup on Midrea

I use race in the D&D fashion here, that is to mean "sentient species"

60% Earth Human (Tera in local parlance)

20% Shan (the other Humans)

10% Dwarves (Midrean Dwarves are prolific and successful)

8% Faerie races (Elves, Gnomes, others)

2% Weird (all sorts of stuff, Halflings, Lizard People, Fish Folk, Dromites)

Silliest Things You Allow in your Non Comedy Games

My list is mostly equipment and while yes a couple of items are real (spiked armor is possible as is the meteor hammer) they are still ridiculous. Monks made the list simply because there is no Asian analog in my game world

baatezu beard (aka blade helmet)

bucklers as written

spiked/bladed armor

double swords

meteor hammer

spiked chain

monk class

the alchemist as written

various magical and modern gear

the magic robot races (Warforged, Gear Forged, Iron Born)

So what are your silly things ?

Tim Brannan's Using Fortune Cards with B/X

A while back I mentioned a little B/X support was forthcoming.

Well as mentioned over at the Otherside Blog here is the article . Its not a long article but its free and a paid gig for a cool guy.

Nothing wrong with that.

Sons of Anarchy a TV show you should see for your edification

Want to know what a party of sane (but partially evil) adventurers would be like?

Go watch Sons of Anarchy on Netflix or F/X.

Its a rough and tumble show about a group of outlaw bikers and their troubles as a real life 1%'r put it "Yeah its a soap opera but its our soap opera"

SOA does a great job of showing how adventurers relate to the population at large in civilized areas, how they find adventure and the consequences they pay.

Best of all of them are nearly as ruthless as any party of PC's

And yeah I know its its modern but its full of good stuff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Twenty Quick Questions For Your Campaign

From Jeff's Game Blog

Now with my answers

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

A- ask based on what faith the cleric serves.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

B- Most small towns and up or a sutler. Non combat gear can be had in some villages

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

C- A big city. Freeport is best.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

D- Baran , The Master Magister

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

E- The Weapon Master Valan Jal

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

F- Probably the head of the Slaver's Guild

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

G- Many Temples.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

H- A temple or a hedge witch. There is no cure for death and I don't use level drain

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

I- Yes to both. The Order (aka the Traditionalists) is your best bet

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

J- Most cities. Four-Gate or Freeport are good choices

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

K- Four Gate, The Vara Embassy, Freeport.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

L- Hard to outlaw magic. Vilechia has tight weapons laws,

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

M- N/A

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

N- Best place for that kind of crazy is the Wastes. Its full of Undead. You might also hack out a chunk of Amachia as well.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

O- The Kingdoms are full of opportunity.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

P- Nope.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Q- Slavers Guild or Society for Permanent Manumission though they really aren't secret. There may be Denomolater cults here and there was well.

18. What is there to eat around here?

R- Try the Potatoes.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Amachia is full of them. You might also go looking for a Deathlords Crown though the world would appreciate if you gave it into good hands. There might be some pirate or dragon gold as well.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

Try the Barrens or the Fae Woods. Might be a few in the Stahl Range as well.

New Pathfinder Archtype, Joad Harrier

Yes despite my complaints about the size of my feats book I still like Pathfinder. This archetype, the Joad Harrier is inspired by these guys in the hypertext SRD and the Executioner class from Iron Heroes.

Text of course is taken from the Pathfinder SRD. Consider everything here open content covered by the OGL except the term Joad harrier which is closed content

The Joad Harrier

The Joad are famed for both their traders and their cruelty and nothing epitomizes that cruelty more than the Harrier. This class specializes in sneak attacks, often delivered by bluff or from behind. Rather than depending on an array of weapons skills, the Joad prefer to leverage a detailed knowledge of anatomy and use lethal directed blows.

The Harrier is treated as a fighter however stealth, bluff and acrobatics are class skills. They do not gain heavy armor or tower shield proficiencies.

At L1 a Harrier gains a +10 bonus to move as a Barbarian.

Replace all bonus feats from L1 to L20 with Sneak Attack as per the rogue class.

L2 The Joad gain a +1 bonus to Feint CBM. This bonus inrease by one every four levels.

At L3 they gain Armor Training as per a Fighter

At 7th level, a Joad Harrier can move through 10 feet of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. This benefit stacks with the benefits provided by the Acrobatic Steps and Nimble Moves feats.

This ability replaces Armor Training 2.

Rapid Attack (Ex)

At 11th level, a Harrier can combine a full attack with a single move. She must forgo the attack at her highest bonus but may take the remaining attacks at any point during her movement. This movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.

This ability replaces Armor Training 3.

Fleet Footed (Ex)

At 15th level, the mobile fighter’s speed increases by an additional 10 feet. He can take 10 on Acrobatics checks even while distracted or threatened, and can take 20 on an Acrobatics check once per day for every five fighter levels he possesses.

This ability replaces Armor Training 4.

64 pages of feats is a bit much

Yes, 64 pages. Thats 12pt text only , estimated after condensation BTW, its a little over that now and not 100% complete.

Much as I like 3x and enjoy writing for it, comes a point in which a man needs to take a hint from his players (who are suggesting they might have a big group who would enjoy 2e ) and roll back.

When all those pages are only part of one subsystem, basically just the WOTC feats plus a few 3rd party feats and a few homebrew feats. and it doesn't even include the Pathfinder feats, maybe its just a bit much.

Theme Parties: The Six Fingered Hand

I haven't done one of these in a while and I am pretty sure this is my 1st villain group.

The Six Fingered Hand is probably the most feared group of malefactors on Midrea. Tomb Tainted and capable of any crime or depravity, unlike most evil groups this group is truly dedicated to one another. If they could be said to have any redeeming trait or affection, their genuine friendship to each other is that. Of course thats no consolation to anyone else ...

Unless noted all of the member of the groups are human (well sort of) and possess the Tomb Tainted Soul feat which allows them to treat negative energy as positive as vice versa.

Charis, L12 Anti Paladin. The groups leader and immoral center

Sen L12 Cleric Undead Domain

Mala Fallen Star ,L12 Order of the Star Mystic Ranger (uses extended Arcane and Ranger magics)

Fayer, L12 Dread Necromancer

Skit, Tomb Tainted Greater Tiefling Fiendish Inheritor L5Rogue L7Assassin (3.5)

Calik, L12 Warlock

Friday, April 22, 2011

1d8 Reasons for perpetual medievalism

One of the most common tropes of the D&D genre is "Perpetual Medievalism" For some reason or other mankind (or halfling kind or whatever) never seems to advance must past the 14th century sans gunpowder.

Its a fun and workable way to run a game and while its not to everyones taste (I myself like Early Enlightenment technology from time to time) it is popular enough.

Here are 1d8 reasons for technology to not be able to advance

#1 Will of the Gods . Gods don't allow it, it won't happen. Great with powerful Clerics

#2 Lack of Resources . Some of the resources vital to industry are rare enough to make any real advancement impracticable. This works well in settings with limited steampunk as well, no coal and not enough peat and wood for a true steam age.

#3 Gremlins sur la Monde. The world is full of Gremlins or other spirits who utterly destroy certain technologies. These critters might be invisible, actually beneficial in some way or unknown to anyway.

#4 Magic doesn't Mix. Magic is everywhere and it doesn't play well with technology. This does mean technology would work in an antimagic zone but thats a net plus as it allows a little mix and match.

#5 No one thought of these things yet. With magic out there people might not even bother and as history has shown many cultures could care less about progress.

#6 Too many apocoli . The constant catastrophes faced by the world seriously impact progress and every so often, everything gets rebooted to a more robust form (i.e. pseudo-medieval)

#7 The laws of physics are different. This one is really simple. Stuff you don't want doesn't work.

#8 Technology eats souls. Technology damages the afterlife and too much of it brings on oblivion. Frankly this is A bit pretentious for me but some might like the notion and it allows evil technomancer plots ala the World of Darkness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Midrean Armor List

Armor on Midrea is at about the late 15th century of development although unlike on Earth, chain is still cheaper than plate do to lot of existing stock (magically repaired armor lasts a long time) and slave labor.

Its possible other types of armor exists and of course I'd allow them on a case by case basis, however these are the most commonly seen ones.

The Vara Scale also deserves a mention. Its is the only scale armor with external scales on Midrea. Its typically fancifully decorated in patterns resembling fish and is functionally similar to Chinese Mountain Scale armor.

Midrean Armors (PF)



Arming Coat (Padded)

Leather Jack (Leather)

Leather Coat (Studded)

Chainmail Shirt

Leather Coat, Thigh Boots (Hide Shirt)

Ranger Armor (M.W. Studded)


Armored Coat


Mail Hauberk (Chain Mail)


Fitted (Agile) Breastplate

Leather Plate (Hide)

Vara Scale Armor (M.W. Agile Breastplate)


Breastplate (or Brigadine) and Thigh Boots (Banded)

Breastplate (or Brigadine) over Mail (Half Plate)

Fitted Breastplate (or Brigadine) over Mail (Agile Half Plate)

Full Plate

Fitted Plate (as Masterwork Agile HellKnight Plate)

Half Plate (Field Plate)

Wrist Shield (Buckler)

Buckler (Light Shield weights 2 lbs) *

Light Shield (as Light Shield +2 to AC) *

Heavy Shield (as Heavy Shield +3 to AC) *

9 Cities Buckler (as Masterwork Quickdraw Light Shield)

Tower Shield


Tournament Armor (Full and Fitted Plate Only) (As Vital Guard)

Locking Gauntlets

Shield Spikes (not on wrist shield)

Shield Blades (not on wrist shield)

Armor Blades (Full and Fitted Plate Only)

Throwing Shield (only 9 Cities Buckler)

Ibara Steel (Add 100% to armor cost of M.W. metal armor, gains +1 to AC)

Shield Clips (As Shield Sheathe Castle Keep-- CK)

Muffling (CK)

Camouflage (CK)

The Midrea Weapons List

Here is my complete weapons list for Midrea.

For the most part these map to Pathfinder SRD or older editions verbatim with the few exception noted.

Tricky weapons such as switchblades, air guns and the alchemical exotic weapons are all masterwork. This is not to make them even less desirable but to represent how difficult they are to make at Midrea's technology level.

The Monk's weapons list is slightly altered, the Nunchaku and Sai are now a light martial weapons (the Light Flail and the Sword Breaker respectively) and the Kama (now called Sickle) Saigham and Shuriken are simple weapons. This puts them at their accurate level of difficulty based on the effectiveness rather than just being exotic because monks can use them .

Stats of course are not included.

As for other weapons, I'd probably allow them on a case by case basis. I have allowed such things as combat shovels before and as I have mentioned, almost anything can be found on Midrea, somewhere

Midrean Weapons



Knife (as dagger, cut and thrust, does 1d3, costs 1GP)

Switchblade (M.W. only)

Brass Knuckles




Punch Dagger

Sliver Moon Knife (as Jambiya)

Sap (1d4 non lethal)

Long Knife (as dagger, slash damage)

Spiked Gauntlet

Fighting Stick (as Light Mace)

Fighting Cane (as Hanbo)





Holy Water Sprinkler (M.W. only Battle Aspergillum use Heavy Mace Stats )

Mace (as Heavy Mace)


Short Spear



Boar Spear


Light Crossbow

Medium Crossbow

Hand Crossbow



Throwing Star


Throwing Axe

Blade Boots (M.W. only)

Hand Axe

Throwing Hammer (as Light Hammer does 1d6)

Ranger Knife (as Kukri)

Ranger Sword (as Short Sword w/ Saw Blades)

Short Sword

Light Pick

Light Flail

Battle Axe


Heavy Pick


Sharpened Scabbard (M.W. only)


Sword Cane (M.W. only)




Sword Breaker (as Sai)



Crows Beek (Bec De Corbin)

Mattock (Earth Breaker)

Great Sword

Great Axe


Glaive Guisarm

Great Club


Pole Axe (Halberd)

Lucern Hammer


Pickax (does 1d10)



Syringe Spear (M.W. Only)

Alchemists Sword (Short Sword as Holy Water Sprinkler M.W. only)

Throwing Wheel (as Chakram)


Short Bow

Shang (as Hunga Munga)


Repeating Crossbow

Poison Ring



Blade Helmet (as Babezu Beard) (M.W. only)

Double Spear

Battle Pick

Bastard Sword

Bastard Axe

Two Moon Sword (as Lajatang)


Scorpion Whip

Half Moon Sword

Spiked Chain

Bladed Chain

Combat Chain

Comet Hammer (Dorn Degar/Meteor Hammer 1d8)


Man Catcher

Flambard (M.W. Great Sword only)

New Moon Sword (as Shotel )

Half Moon Sword (as Double Axe also trip weapon)

Blade Staff (as Double Sword may use Quarterstaff Feats)

Hook Sword (as Temple Sword)


Spiked Bola

Throwing Shield



Sling Staff

Airgun (M.W. only)

Alchemists Javelin (as shrillshaft javelin M.W. only)

Javelin Thrower

Weapon Mods

Basket Hilt

A Cool Song "Winds Four Quarters"

I prefer the Leslie Fish version as vs the Heather Alexander (now Alexander James Adams) version better as her cigarette and whiskey voice sounds like a tired and sorrowful woman warrior.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Myth, Older Editions were more lethal at low level

Yes with a small caveat (3d6 in order, random HP at L1 instead of maximum and save or die stuff ) its a myth. In fact the opposite is true

Lets use B/X (Lab Lord) Fighter vs Orc as a demo. Note that i am using 3e style AC for simplicity

L1 BX Fighter Gets +1 to hit and damage (from STR) 9 HP (from Con) has AC +6 (mail and shield)

his Orc (as per LL) is AC+4 HP5 and does 1d8 with a to hit bonus of zero

This means our fighter can survive 1 or two strokes from the orc and baring bad luck, will be able to drop his orc, probably in one blow

Now of PF Fighter

He is +4to hit, +2 on damage (from feat, level and STR) has 12 HP with Con and AC +8 (scale, large shield, dex +1)

his Orc (as per SRD) is +3 to AC, 6 HP +5 to hit and does 2d4+4 --

This means while the chance of the fighter hitting and dropping the Orc are higher, the reverse is also true . Its easier for the orc to hit the fighter

Also while 1 good roll (either a good die roll, or a crit) can drop our PF fighter , the B/X fighter can always survive one good shot.

And yes this extra lethality pretty much carries over to all the low level monsters.

The only real mitigation in Pathfinder is the "die at minus 10 and stabilize rules" and of course the presence of more magical healing, the 1st of which is an old school rule and the second can be added via healing potions.

Now if anyone is wondering where that myth probably originated. I'd guess three things

#1 There was less effort at scaling encounters. Often as not no one cared, if you were dumb enough to mess with something bigger than you and couldn't get away, well ya died.

#2 Many of the old classic modules, even such things as the Keep on the Borderlands were Meat Grinders

#3 The hobby was pretty new and many DM's were unskilled and as such did not know how to DM in a way to challenge rather than wipe out players with bad luck.

However, myth or no myth, with a few key exceptions, older editions were less lethal mechanically.

Do you have an OSR compendium ?

My answer is pretty much, nope not yet. I don't have that much material and haven't decided which system to run anyway ...

If instead I go "Middle School" and use 2e, well I can sort most of that anyway with my OS/2 Warped edition

However when I do have enough stuff, I'll probably compile it and post it. It is after all all OGL. Why not?

The Edition 35 Compendiums , Two Cool books you will alas never see

As I mentioned above, keeping a compendium is one of the ways that you can increase your chances of playing as vs, simply reading RPG's ...

Now in the interest of full disclosure I don't actually have these compendiums written, they exist mainly as a series of notes, mental and written down as to what material I would use in my games.
Even if I had them, I couldn't share them anyway.. Its a lot of closed content.

However here is how I'd do it in all its closed source virtual glory ...

#1 is Edition 35, Forward ...

This is a massive list of rules and options culled from 3x and OGL sources that I use with Pathfinder. Its mainly spells, monster and magic items but it also includes classes, and such. If this were a book I'd guess it would be 1000 pages. This seems like a lot but as its mostly magic stuff and critters, its not all that hard to deal with.

#2 Midrea 35

This is a parsed out list, divided by nation of what stuff, Pathfinder and E35F, I'd use in a Midrea games. It includes rules, monster list and special items alike. I'd guess this would be 256 pages including Midrea fluff .

There you have it, my take on Compendia. What's yours?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Improving the shield rules old and new

I don't need to explain that pretty much everyone knows by know that shields are not treated very well in any edition of the D&D rules. At least until Late 2e (Skills and Powers) shields have been chronically underrated.

Its an unfortunate legacy rule that leaves these supremely effective protective devices that have been in near constant use for at least 4000 years in the cold and yet the rules we use, old and new often treat them as poor siblings.

Whats needed are a few changes, nothing too complex to give them the oomph they need

1st, consider Trollsmyth's excellent Shields will be Splintered Rule. This is a lot of fun a very simple.

2nd you might try this

Shield fall into 3 general types (I am ignoring the 3x tower shield here)

Buckler, a hand carried shield about the size of a large hat, 12" in diameter or so . Its small, may be used as an offhand weapon but may not bash or rush . Its also grants +1/-1 to AC.

Shield, this is the medium sized shield akin to a Rondel, a Targe or the like. Its twice the diameter of a buckler and weighs about 5 lbs or so. Its is unpleasant to carry however and unlike a buckler (which can be conveniently hung at a belt) this type of shield needs to be stowed and can easily get in the way in a dungeon or urban environment. Its gets +2/-2 to AC. It may shield bash or rush.

Large Shield. Knight shields, Hoplite Shields and Viking shields are all of this type. These are heavy, 10 lbs or so, 3 feet in diameter and fatiguing to carry. Great on a battle field, suck in a dungeon. They grant +3/-3 to AC and may shield bash or rush as well

In addition any shield user may elect to use the shield defensively, reducing the to hit roll by up to the shields non magic bonus and adding to AC.

Bucklers also have the extra ability to drop their own +1 bonus and reduce the opponents AC by this amount.

With these rules you can restore the effectiveness of shields to something approaching historical norms without unbalancing the game.

Less Books. More Gaming. Part #1

Less Books. More Gaming. Its sounds contradictory but one of things I've noticed over the years is that often the more books (or PDF's, same difference) we buy and are in play, the less actual play we do.

This topic is of course discussed at length in Barry Schwartz's book of the Paradox of Choice but as for our little niche well what I think happens gaming wise is this ...

We start buying books to make up for not gaming then we get caught up in reading and assessing the game material instead of using it in a game. In time this effects our actual gaming making it harder to settle down and actually game .. Vicious Circle

Breaking this cycle is tricky.

1st -- Read the books you have. Just one mans opinion but no game book should go unread. And yes in case anyone asks, I often let my books linger unread. Mea Culpa. Just read them before you buy more.

2nd -- After you read your books , use them before you buy more.

3rd -- Heck I'll go as far as to say unless you are a collector of a line or want to support a favorite company or co-hobbyist, (like some of our friends in the OSR and Pathfinder communities) don't buy books unless you know how you are going to use them.

4th Resist the urge to fiddle and settle for good enough. Yes there may be a cool rule or two in that shiny shiny book. Resist. Use the rule you have that are good enough to get the job done.

5th Last, consider making a compendium for the campaign containing what extra rules you plan to use in games. use this, the core books you need and nothing else .

And there you have it, 5 tricks to decrease the Tyranny of Choice, reduce clutter and help get down to actual play.

Feel free to suggest your tricks as well.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Excerpts from my Old School Player Handout #3 Part A of Classes

Excerpt #3 Classes without the abilities.


I will be using 2e style classes without multi-classing or dual classing. Instead certain classes will be adjusted using skills and powers, the DMG system and my own judgment to create composite classes as needed.

Note that most of these classes are fairly broad and archetypal and as such can fill in for many different types of roles. No need for a class for everything.

#1 Fighter

These are your combat professionals and career soldiers and combatants. Virtually anyone who depends on skill at arms qualifies as a fighter.
They along with Rogues are the most common classes and while fighters are not the bulk of most armies (that roll belongs to men at arms) they can be encountered almost anywhere .

#2 Rogue

This is the class for people who depend on dungeoneering or adventuring skills. It includes thieves, scholars, scouts , com men, trouble shooters and all other sorts of cunning fellows. They are encountered almost as often as fighters.

#3 Ranger

These are your special forces types and are physically and mentally exceptional fighters with extra wilderness skills and adventuring abilities beyond those of fighters. Some Rangers use magic as well though this is not uniform.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Few Minor "Domestic" Critters from Midrea

Most of Midrea's wildlife is Terran in origin with a few exceptions such as these from the gateworlds.

All of the beasties below can be tamed or eaten hence the use of "domestic."

#1 Cura

A canine about a hundred lbs or so very reminiscent of an Earth Coy-Dog. They are a bit more aggressive than a coyote but smarter than a wild dog and are generally consider dangerous pests. With some effort however they can be tamed and make acceptable pets.

#2 Mitp

A little rodent common to the Shan worlds. They are cute little critters looking something like a mix of hamster, gerbil and vole and weighing a few lbs. They are often kept as pets (especially by impressionable little girls) and as they are quite delicious, livestock as well.

#3 Kafer

This Kafer is a tasty ( like lobster actually) roach like insect, shiny black and about the size of a fist. They are of Shan origin but as they are very sensitive to cold have not become a pest species. And yes the name is derived from Terran German for bug, it seems to have become the generic name for them, replacing the Shan words.

#4 Slink

Slinks are a huge mustelid , sometimes 6 feet in length weighing well over 200 lbs. They are intelligent and aggressive but are hunted for their beautiful pelts. If taken as a kit, a slink can be trained not to attack its handlers and some exceptional specimens have even been used in similar rolls to dogs.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Excerpts from my Old School Player Handout #2 Stats

Here is another Tombs and Troubles excerpt ...


The next step is rolling up your stats. There are three ways you can do this, you may

#1 Roll 4d6 drop the lowest six times and arrange as desired. This method is the default but if the dice are fickle you may not qualify for the class you want.

#2 You may select a class, place the minimum stats into the class and roll 4d6 drop the lowest in order. This will guarantee your choice of class but may result in some unusual stat combinations such as high charisma fighters or the like.

#3 roll on the background table. This will grant you less control over what stats are good or bad but will grant you a few small extras such as contacts and equipment.

As your character is supposed to be marginally above average you may reroll anything below an 8. Also really poor sets of stats may be rerolled entirely at my discretion.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Dozen Unpleasant Jobs on Midrea other than Farming

Here is a nice list of possible professional skills/backgrounds, all of which are some parts of dirty, dangerous ,unpleasant, or morally reprehensible ...

#1 Rat Catcher.

#2 Sewer Jack

#3 Gleaner

#4 Stable Hand

#5 Tanner

#6 Miner

#7 Slave Breaker

#8 Pig Herd

#9 Dung Gatherer

#10 Rag and Bone Man

#11 Scullion

#12 Judicial Torturer

Excerpts from my Old School Player Handout #1 Welcome and Race/ Class

This is the welcome bit and the beginnings of the players guide . I will serialize the rest of it as I go along and once its done, make it available as a free download . . I hope y'all find it of some value.


Welcome to Tombs and Troubles, the old school D&D campaign. If you've never played Old School style before, please read or at least skim the handout before you play.

The first step is selecting race and class, Like A&D and later games, I am separating the two though as you will see, not all races can have all classes.

The available races are


Humans have no stat mods of any kind by ethnicity or gender . They may be any class . In addition they gain one extra roll on the gift table and a +10% XP bonus


Dwarves are a little Tolkien a little CS. Lewis and a little Norse Myth. They gain +1 to Constitution (and must have a minimum of 12 ) , -1 to Charisma. They gain a natural stone cunning, night vision (see in any light as per day) and a general bonus of +2 to all saves. They may be Fighter, Rogue, Runemaster and Wizard


Changeling are humans changed by the Fae either having a Fae parent or by by kidnapped and changed. They have normal human stats and gain Elf Sight and some limited Elven Immunities. They may be any class..

Other races may be allowed on a case by case basis, please ask me if you have a good concept or if you need more details for your choice.

How Grilled Cheese Broke My Deadlock

And no, this hasn't becoming a cooking blog I promise. ;)

What happened is simple, I read an excellent book ,Great Grill Cheese by Laura Wirlin in case you were wondering which enabled to finally master the grilled cheese sandwich.

After I finally made a nearly perfect sandwich I had a moment of Zen came to a realization that would enable me to make great adventures.


Simple... Look at the problem a new way .. My problem was the sandwiches were not cooking the way I wanted them too .. The solution I learned in the cook book was to take an extra step and plane the cheese so it cooks quickly enough to keep the bread just right

Say I apply the same basic idea, add another prep step find a a new solution to this problem

I've run out of ideas and I have no idea how to come up with new ones and I can't borrow fantasy ideas without everybody will catching the references ...

A tough nut eh?

Well suppose that you add an extra step and change the idea twice before you run it ...

This muddies the waters enough that, so long as you are careful, they players won't figure out the borrowing and resort to bad cliches

For example, 4 vague ideas come up that I'd consider borrowing, from Sci-Fi to Manga then to Fantasy

#1 Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles
#2 Star Trek
#3 Battle Star Galactica
#4 X Files

They become

Invincible Robot Girlfriend Cameron

Astronaut Space explorer Force Go!

Lost Home Struggle against the Robots

and National Phantom Police

Now I reconvert them to

A Chosen one with a Guardian Golem fro another time (the distant past)

A group of Spelljammers on a Mission of Exploration (in true Japanese style drop the military aspect)

a caravan fleeing an army of the demons lead by shapeshifters (Ogre Magi, and other sorts make the demons less spiritual and less physical)

and last a group of Crown Investigators exploring magic crimes in a world that no longer much believes in magic with a bureaucracy to contend with (which gives it an Anime flavor)

rip off a few favorite episodes and viola, instant campaign...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Dozen and One Interesting Ways (other than tomb robbing) to Make a Fortune on Midrea

#1 Spice Trade

Like people everywhere spices are always in demand and getting exotic southern spices to northern ports or vice a versa in good time is very profitable.

#2 Dealing in Magical Materials

Dangerous, yes but very profitable

#3 Amachian Land Grab

Land is free for the taking in Doomed Amachai if you are willing to risk freebooters, bandits, monsters, wild magic and any residual effects of the curse.

#4 Exotic Slave Trade

Regular slaves are cheap with all the wars and such and demand is fairly low, however strange or unusual slaves such as different races or usually skilled or exotic appearances are always in demand.

#5 Drugs

Drugs are mostly legal but there is a good market for a variety of noxious substances.

#6 Energy Equipment

If you can find equipment from the Drift Realm, crashed Astral Ship or the like, there is big money in it.

#7 Technology

Find a new, useful and sustainable technology or knowledge maybe from another realm and profits are yours. Of course getting there is hard and plane shifting magic is very very rare.

#8 Piracy or Banditry

With a little luck, its possible to make more than a bit of money in the crime business, It is however as or more dangerous than tomb robbing, so be careful or it will be a short life but a merry one.

#9 Terran Artifacts

Even something like the complete works of Judith Krantz would of tremendous value. Very big money can be had with a new kind of firearm or even better a military weapon, especially if you have the manual for it.

#10 Wastelands Looting

Yes this is technically a kind of tomb robbing but whole areas of Amachia and the Lost Kingdoms are unoccupied and likely full of valuables.

#11 Mercenary Work

There is always work for Mercs and with all the wars on, its a great time to swing a blade.

#12 Bounty Hunting

Whether its escaped criminals, run away slaves or thief catching, a good Bounty Hunter willing to tackle dangerous prey can make a small fortune. If he or she lives anyway.

#13 Monster Hunter

Exterminating dangerous critters pays well and you usually get to loot them as well. Other hunters bring them in alive either for magical experimentation or the zoos of the wealthy. This is dangerous but what's a little risk among friends?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcome to Eradim

Over time you'll be seeing a lot posts discussing Midrea vs Eradim. What is Eradim?

Well very simply, Eradim is Midrea played sane with the weirdness cranked down to a minimum and a more limited series of inspirations.

It is chunks of Appendix N later D&D inspirations, Glen Cook, Swashbuckling, Faeries Tales, Gothic Action Horror and a smidgen of later D&D inspired fantasy.

The peoples, nations, races and such are much the same but instead of being a wahoo kitchen sink world is a far more traditional secondary world without all the anime, steampunk, modern, sci-fi , furry and similar influences.

There is still a sense of humor but there are real limits and requests for Monkey, Ninja, Pirate, Robot, Zombies or the like will be met with a resounding NO!

I hope you like it.

So does all this silly stuff mean you prefer humor games?

The answer is of course not . Ideally I want to play something more akin to the ordinary sort of D&D with reasonably serious characters played straight. In other words blog standard secondary world gaming fantasy in the D&D mode.

Of course given the perversities of my players and the sheer volume of silly they bring to the table it only made sense for to accommodate them and allow the weirdness while still having a coherent world.

Basically this enables us both to get what we want, a coherent world and the humorous gaming my players seem to enjoy so much.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Monkey, Ninja, Pirate,Robot,Zombie?

Yes you can do this. I'd rather you didn't as even I have some standards but as long as you have seven levels its possible .Heck you even get some choices along the way

Monkey -- choose either Hadozee (glider apes) or awakened chimp

Ninja -- choose either Ninja Class or Rogue class with mods

Pirate -- either take seamanship related feats or levels in Pirate class

Robot -- Modified Half Brass Golem Template

Zombie -- Modified Necropolitan Template

This will be a highly magic resistant, sneaky, dirty fighting, sea faring, metal limbed, undead guy -- weird but playable

And in case anyone asks, I am not going to stat up Yohatobeki , the iconic Monkey, Pirate,Ninja, Robot, Zombie.. at least unless I get a lot of requests ....

Let Us Not Go To Midrea For it is a Silly Place

One of the things I decided to embrace with my Midrea game world was a kind of absurdist humor, not truly "silly" in the sense of random or slapstick or even the Monte Python I was paraphrasing but an essential sense of the absurd like you might see in say Snarf Quest or Wormy.

The reasons are pretty simple,

#1 Humor adds to the fun for me and my group

#2 Its really hard to take a game in which middle aged men playing elf maidens roll dice, spout Python references all the while doing bookkeeping in an imaginary world that is as Ken Hite would put it

a pastiche of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard adventure stories, set in a Tolkeinian world of Moorcockian morality, using Jack Vance's magic system, redacted for multiple protagonists. .

#3 Even if I can somehow get the players to be serious and me to be serious, the dice can turn any game into something more worthy of French Farce than any serious at role-playing. Sometimes it even seems like the dice conspire to do that on purpose.

Because of that I let the laughs fall where they may and if the game starts and ends serious, great. If not, thats great too as long as its fun for all.

And yes there probably are Zeetvah on Midrea. They just fit and as while I don't have the Snarfquest D20 any more certainly I'd allow them. I mean why not I have robots and every other crazy thing and it still works. Besides I like Snarf and his folks better than Halflings ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Man there are a lot of weird d20 games

I thought the Book of Erotic Fantasy and Crushed the Doomed Kitty were weird but I just found our there was a D20 game for Juggalos (fans of Insane Clown Posse) called Pendulums Promise D20.

Anyone here know anything weirder ...

A fun new 2e (and older) site

Monstrous Party explored the art of the Second Edition D&D Monstrous Manual in a fun and idiosyncratic style.

As a lot of the monsters have shown up in other editions, even folks who are not into or have never played 2e will find something to laugh about.

A word of caution though, more than a few swear words are used here and there and while its work safe (its 2e era art and therefor sanitized for your protection) if your office is touchy about language, its NSFW.

Saturday, April 2, 2011