Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why no Pathfinder?

Folks who read my earliest posts probably saw more than a bit of Pathfinder content and might be wondering where it went.

Well as much I respect Pathfinder (its a a fine design) and am fine with playing it its just not my game. Its not structured the way I like and I often find myself fighting the system rather than enjoying it

In fact I am running a GURPS campaign, switched at my request from Pathfinder. Its on Holiday hiatus now but the group and I (with a new player and a returnee) will be back to Midrea GURPS style.

To tell you the truth, I much prefer older, simpler versions and when I want more rules GURPS and Eden Studios Unisystem.

I figure since I am not going to be selling any Pathfinder stuff, the future content you folks see will probably be for those games.

The Holiday Post

There are a lot of holidays being celebrated this time of year and I want to wish you and yours a merry one, whatever you believe.

I also especially want to thank y'all for reading and linking despite my rare posts. There'd be no point in doing this without you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

WTF? Why is Santa Claus in your Appendix N

I suspect a few people wondering about why an animated kids special, evem if it is fantasy is part of my Appendix N.

Well simply, one day talked into running a short game (all thieves) and needed a town and a town ruler.

The town became Vilechia and the towns rules? Well I was spitballing so I borrowed "The Burgermesiter Mesiterburger" from the movie and rolled with it.

It worked,

and as I realized I was running enough to need a world and it inspired much later work, it deserves a place of honor. Its also not half bad either especially if you have kids.

Midrea Appendix N Fiction

I realized that I never posted my Appendix N for Midrea, the books that most inspired Midrea.

You'll note that a lot of these are late 80's and 90's . That is because thats the first time that I set out to create a game world as vs just playing the game. World building is not essential to play after all.

Also Midrea was built in spurts, a tiny bit in the late 80's and the rest in the late 90's (mostly) . Prior to that I was too young to really consider long term gaming (it was a hang with the buds thing) and for a good period I either didn't game or just bought GURPS books which I didn't play.

The real design came in a tiny spat in the late 80's than from I'd guess 1999 and up.

Here are the inspirational materials. Some will be familiar, inspired of course by the original appendix N. Other are just things that stuck with me. You'll note that few films has much influence on my gaming. I like movies well enough but none of them really felt right even the raft of 80's fantasy films. I've seen them they just didn't inspire. Same with TV

Now to the list

Robert Howard (and De Camp) Conan and Cthulhu mythos

Fritz Leiber Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser

J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit and less so The Lord of the Rings. This can also include the Rankin Bass animated version and the movie adaptations as well.

John Norman's Gor. Minus the excess supply of BDSM this is a fun series full of thud and blunder.

Robert Heinlein Glory Road

Louis L'amour Walking Drum and Haunted Mesa

Johan Whyss Swiss Family Robinson

Grimm's Faerie Tales

Daniel Dafoe Robinson Crusoe and other stories

Sir Walter Scott Black Arrow

Barbara Hambley: Sunwolf and Windyrose Chronicles

Katherine Kerr: Deverry stories

Kathryn Kurtz: Deryni stories

Andrea Norton: Witch World

Asprin etc: Thieves World

C. J. Cherryh Merovingen Nights

Poul Anderson: Three Hearts Three Lions

Ellis Peters: Brother Cadfeal mysteries

Steven Brust: Jehreg Cycle

Frank Herbert: Dune and the White Plague

Mercedes Lackey: Tarma and Kethry stories

Robert Adams: Horseclanst

Adams/Norton Magic in Ithkar

Rankin Bass: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Brian Froud: Faeries (this is borderline folklore but the movie had a heavy influence so its here)

Vision of Escaflowne

Indiana Jones specifically Raiders and Temple of Doom

Sid and Marty Croft: Land of the Lost

Gnomes (book and movie)

William Goldman Princess Bride: (both movie and book)



Swashbuckler (the Robert Shaw James earl Jones movie from 1976)

Terri Windling : Borderlands

Will Shetterly: Witchblood

M.Z. Bradley Sword and Sorceress Anthology

Terry Pratchet: most Disk World especially Lords and Ladies

Saturday, November 24, 2012

So What the Heck is Midrea?

I've mentioned my game word a time or two on this blog. Its not in my or my players opinion that special, it doesn't really have an edge over any other game world. It is however mine and I suppose theirs too.

What it does do is bring home the fun in several systems which is about all anyone could ask for.

When I bring new players in, here is the sheet I offer them. Its not exactly concise or an elevator pitch but its no so long as to get the TL;DR glazed eye look either.

Welcome to the campaign and to my game worlds, Midrea

Midrea was designed around the five themes

#1 Its coherent: Anything in the game world has to make sense

#2 It has verisimilitude: This is a world where monsters and magic are real and the world is designed to reflect that reality

#3 Its open to virtually any kind of character you can imagine. Pretty much anything Pathfinder goes

#4 Its open to any kind of campaign that can be imagined

#5 The tropes are part of the game. this means that there is a reason that it is a Euro-Centric game world where everyone speaks common and different species live side by side

#6 Its a a bit wahoo, all the older science fantasy traditions, space ships, blasters, aliens, guns, psionics are all part of the world

Take a look at Appendix N and the map and you'll have a good idea about what drives the design.

Until then, lets toss some dies, eats some snack and play.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The revolution is over, we won. Lets play

I'm keeping this one short.

The OSR is over and we can cheerfully declare total victory.

I mean Hasbro is reprinting Old School material and even writing new AD&D modules (Amazon here) !

Added to the collection is an all-new fifth adventure -- A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry -- that you can use to kick off an AD&D campaign that pits a group of adventurers against the evil Slave Lords! Module A0, designed for levels 1-3, sets the stage for events that unfold throughout the remainder of the "A" series.

All that remains is some more recruitment (the ongoing eternal goal for all gamers) and some more play, lots more play.

See you at the party.

Back in the Saddle Old School

Well, we finally placed Old School style, in this case a pick up game of Swords and Wizardry played mostly from memory and despite my players being from the D&D3.5 and GURPS 4e generation it went well.

A little dungeon crawling, a lot of silliness mainly derived from using whatever minis we had handy, Skaven, fish people , rats and a demon clown.

The clown was not a success .

However the game was, everyone had a least some fun and they want to play some more old school.

Next time, well I bring the rules (and my house rules document) and maybe later that I talk E into running. E may be a new school player but his games (a solid campaign of Dark Heresy we just finished and some others) are very old school. He'll fit right in.

Our next goals?

Get some more players, we have three and could use a couple more , settle on a framework and play.

Sounds like fun to me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

GM Hint: Simple is Flavorful

One of the things I've learned over the years of GMing is that complex info dumps simply don't help.

They do not bring players into the world and in fact they can be very boring causing people to pull away from the game, not only missing the immersion but the fun too.

what works for me is keeping it simple, a few words, a phrase ,a definition, a description something like that. If later the players want a lecture or to read a long paragraph, great let them. But otherwise be efficient.

Let me share a few examples that worked for me

Blog Standard Fantasy

"The innkeeper gives you a sour look and pushes a simple wooden platter forward. We've goat if you'll eat it. little else with the war on."

This tells people that a: people poor, goat is not a popular food stuff many people won't eat it and there is a war all in one sentence .

Trying to read a long paragraph about the Kingdoms War and Food Habits of the 20 Kingdoms would put most players to sleep but that simple phrase gets them asking questions and that moves them into the game.

Another "Post peak everything post CW2 Buffy"

You middle school aged daughter comes into the room "Ah hey dad, do you think you could help me I need to work on my knife fighting elective."

This sentence earned me a "buh wah?!" look from the player but served well to tell everyone about the world, that they still consider it a useful skill for youngsters to know and that they don't mind girls taking it either.

When the player asked about it (he didn't have the skill with knives ) I could tell him a bit more about the world "Oh you didn't have those courses you went to a progressive school"

This served to cement the idea that "This isn't now" and helped flush out his background in ways that longer charts simply can't do.

So my advice is this, try keeping it simple. You might be surprised how well it works.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Stil Out There in Blog Land

Things have been a bit weird of late but for my few but loyal fans , just a reminder. I am still out there in Blog Land and I will have some more posts about games both new and old school.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

High Trust Gaming

We call it Robot Chicken Night

Really its just when some of the players can't show up for the main game or the GM is feeling too tired. What we do is well make up something. Most of the time we make up some kind of simple rules and we just try anything. The only real rule is everyone has to be OK with it and to have fun.

In the past we've done police procedural/horror “Night Shift” post apocalyptic unfrozen convicts “Chosen Frozen” violent action “Hit Squad” and even with a new player never before GM'd game of Avatar the Last Air Bender “Three Elements Team Are Go!”

Rule have been all over the map, d6 systems, d20 1-4 Crit Fail, 5-16 Succeed 17-20 Crit Succeed, 3d6 GURPS like, d10's whatever's handy.

And you know, it works really well.

Why it does is not a mystery.

We have highly functioning high trust players. No Dinner Table Knights but just good solid gamers willing to lead and follow and help each other out.

This allows us the freedom to experiment, the ability to quickly end bad games (Faerie Cafe was not a success ) and the ability to trust both GM and Player to work together to bring on the fun.

And believe me not every group has that.

You see ,the default assumption Gygax and Arneson, all full grown mature adults had was that gamers were also imaginative mature grownups and in the 20 and 12's that is not always the case.

And no I am not talking about the games we played at 13 and 14 (Gor themed D&D shudder) or as kids, at that age a little juvenile behavior is to be expected.

No , I am referring to games where the players are theoretically adults. And I mean theoretical . Unfortunately many “adult” players these days have issues and those players, the immature, the self centered and the emotional runts can ruin any game.

They make high trust games, old school games difficult and suck up the fun with their issues and drama. Yuck.

Being there are so many, you can't always spot the or ban them much as you want to, you adapt and you play like B.A. Felton at least till its not fun, than its back to X-Box.

Happily however my current group while younger by a decent measure than me or the original founders were , are all adults .

But by dint of them having had had responsibilities and good parental investment they are as grown up as they should be for their age and as people were back in the founding era of the hobby.

That means they can do Old School , New School, our fave GURPS or Robot Chicken Night with aplomb which means more fun for all us.

Thats wonderful and having been exposed to a lot of bad gaming I am so aware how great it is to have a group like that. And so if any of y'all are reading this, thansk for being awesome.

So how about some mostly random D&D?

Yes seriously.

I was thinking about this. You roll almost everything.

Start at Level 0

Pick Race

Roll Stats

Roll Social Status

Roll Gifts (thats a custom bennies system I am working on)

Roll Staring Skill (like the old secondary skills system not adventuring skills)

Roll Starting Gear

Get you L0 Hit Points (4+con)

have a little adventure

Now you hit L1

Get you HP (Max +Con)

Get some limited class abilities

Roll on a version of the cool chart that Zack came up with for 2 class abilities

Roll Starting Gear and Money

Roll any other skills, traits, junk, proficiency I plan on using.

You guys life starts now.

Between adventure sessions (in the city etc) roll random events and at level up of course roll on some version of my version of Zack's table.

About the only thing you don't roll ironically is hit points. Those are Greyhawk Average

So does that sound like fun or too random?

Community Question . Old School Classes, Few or Many ?

This one is easy, do I go with few classes (3-6) in my old school or take advantage of one of the many rules sets I have for making custom classes and go with many?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unarmed Martial Arts of Midrea

Martial Arts that emphasize unarmed combat are far less common in a world with horrible monsters and where almost everyone travels armed with at least a dagger or cudgel.However there are a number that have developed over time or from pieces of other arts and that are widely taught and used. Here are six of them.

#1 Combat Wrestling

#2 High Hand and Foot

#3 Sama-Dab

#4 Initiate of the Litany

#5 Street Fighters Way

#6 Sport Wrestling

Armed Martial Arts of Midrea

As I mentioned in my last post I had a Midrea post in the hopper.

Knowing my readers this won't be most interesting or high traffic post but its one I wanted to do.

Midrea being a realm of gates has been exposed to Martial Arts styles of many cultures (Mostly European) from over a millennium. Technological and ecological changes for example have made the rapier and the smallsword passe and a lack of teachers and just preference has eliminated many Asian weapons from general use.

Over the 15 centuries of Midrean habitation these are the two dozen armed hand to hand combat styles that have proven to be the most useful and lasting.

#1 Masters of Defense

#2 Dagger Fighting

#3 Aramite Knife Dancing

#4 Cut and Thrust Fencing

#5 Eastern Fencing

#6 Sword and Buckler (with occasional "weapon" and buckler styles)

#7 Pollaxe Fighting

#8 Staff Fighting

#8 Stick Fighting

#10 Shortsword Fighting

#11 Weapon and Shield Fighting

#12 Spear Fighting

#13 Polearm Combat

#14 Slaver Method

#15 5 Elements Fighting

#16 12 Fold Path Sword Work

#17 Whiskey Stick Dance

#18 Speed Fighting

#19 Dream Blade (also Dream Staff)

#20 Discipline of the Forms

#21 Sword and Dagger

#22 Longsword Fighting

#23 Spear and Shield

#24 The Hala

What people are reading on my blog

I tend to write whatever I feel like. After all this blog is just for fun and not making me a dime, so the only audience I absolutely have to please is me.

I went through the most list and took advantage of Google's excellent analytic tools just to find out what people are reading.

The number #1 most viewed pots was my short SOPA protest post. It had well over 1000 readers and to y'all I say, thanks. You helped all of us save the Internet (for now anyway)

Now on a more focused note my readership is first and foremost here for casual talk about Old School. These hit decent numbers and often elicit conversation.

Stuff about me, house rules, chat about stuff I am playing that kind of thing, seems to do pretty well too. Its odd to think that anyone cares. The number #2 most read post, my old Pathfinder/3x class list fit here with well over a hundred reads as did the #3 post , an old school house ruled character of all things.

What people don't read is anything Midrea related. This does not surprise me. People rarely buy worlds and in my estimation rarely care much about most of them. There are exceptions with fan bases (Realms, Greyhawk, Arduin) but as a general rule, don't bother with your world unless its for your peasure. No one but you and maybe your players will care.

Also Pathfinder posts don't do well either, again not a surprise either. Most of the cool blogs sending traffic are old school and thats what people are here for.

A last curio, GURPS folks seem to like my blog. I get a lot of GURPS hits on my rare articles, maybe from the SJ Games forums or from some of the other blogs. Regardless its something to consider.

Anyway there you have it, what peopel are reading.

As for me I want by readers to enjoy their few moments here but push to shove "its my bloggy and I'll post what I want too."

OK that was silly, anyway I'll try to get more old school and less Midrea (at least after the one post in the hopper) and maybe a bit more GURPS too.

If any of y'all have things you want to see feel free to chime in too. The blog is really better with us not just me.

Thanks for reading

Confession: I haven't Bought Dice in Years

Grognardia was having an interesting conversation about dice and the feeling the engender over here and while I understand the nostalgia he is feeling I just don't have it any more.

Now I certainly use dice in GURPS (3d6 for most games, a few more for high powered fantasy, modern or SF) and in Old School (the usual suspects) they are just tools to help make them game fun and bring home the real reason I am there, to hang out, eat, drink and laugh with other nerds. What the dice look like doesn't matter.

In truth, I could care little about dice and the last set I bought was years ago, an enormous novelty set of six siders at a 99 cent store . They did get used oddly enough, for GURPS because I oculdn't find my others. That was fine but its not like even with weekly play they wear out all that fast.

Heck a lot of times I don't use any dice no matter what side of the screen I am on. When I run Buffy or Angel, I don't roll anything (its all fixed values) and use no dice. The players each need a single D10 or one for the group will suffice in a pinch

As a player, so long as its fair I don't need to roll either . In the the current game I am playing Lone Star Brotherhood, using the Fallout TTRPG rules the GM is rolling all the dice. And while this is new to me I really don't mind. Its one less thing to keep track off and its no less fun. Anyway given the tabletop game emulates another medium (the Fallout video game RPG series to be exact) it feels fine.

This doesn't mean I am a no dice snob or anything, I am not going to throw away my games for Amber Diceless or something , after all they serve a need and in an old school game they are actually pretty important, randomness being part of the play experience its just the physical object holds no nostalgia for me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Added a New Blog to the list

Mesmerized by Sirens. Catacomb Librarian's blog

This is an interesting blog that covers very obscure old school games. Its kind of a unique niche and as such deserves the coverage.

Plus it covered my grail game Melanda which is super cool.

So What is your Grail Game?

You know the one you are on a quest for that you'll probably never get.

For me that Melanda Lands of Mystery

Its the ancestor to Fudge and Ars Magica basically/

Mesmerized by Sirens has the most discussion I've ever seen on it with a second post here

Now this game can be had on E-Bay from time to time but there is a snowballs chance in the City of Brass I'd pay over a hundred for it. I like games but I have better uses for a Franklin.

As a side note I wouldn't terribly mind having Bifrost RPG either but only if I could find all 4 books. Thats not going to happen. Even if it did (which would require an infinite improbability drive or time machine I think) I suspect after I read them I'd be vaguely disappointed and end up selling them Catacomb Librarian (the blogger at the above link) much as I sold my OD&D books to ENWorlds resident OD&D grognard a while back.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Such Cool Pictures: Old School FRP

This beauty is a tumblr blog I discovered while searching for articles on The Fantasy Trip.

It has catalogs, art, game covers and all sorts of stuff from what the author calls "The original golden age of fantasy role playing games. "

Now normally I wouldn't post a picture blog but this is like OSR pron ...

So nice and well stocked...

Excerpts from the 5 Stones House Rules/Retro-Clone Traps

Another excerpt for your enjoyment. As in the other post woodcraft abilities will be explained later

Trap Finding.

Most traps in D&D are found in roleplay,that is “I tap the wall with my 10 foot pole or I examine the keyhole with a magnifying lens” and this doesn't change. However the “find/set/remove” traps ability allows several special actions.

1St, its functions as a trap sense. The DM should roll upon even simple examination , I.e. bend down to the chest” to detect any traps. Failure means the trap is found through roleplay only.

In addition traps can be disarmed with a simple roll without any RP. Unlike opening a lock, failing a trap removal roll will trigger the trap.

As per locks, some traps may be harder or easier than others and inflict corresponding bonuses or penalties. In addition thieves tools or a trap set works as in lockpicking.

Woodcraft proficiency can be used to set outdoor traps such as snares or pits ,

Trap Ability however can be used to set any traps including small ones and to reset defused traps. This is not especially dangerous however and such traps are only triggered on a critical failure if the Rogue didn't originate them.

Lastly magic traps and glyphs can be defused at skill-100

Excerpts from the 5 Stones House Rules/Retro-Clone Lock Picking

These are a couple of bits from my Version 1 of 5 Stones Rules.

This is pertaining to Rogue (and yes I use Rogue not thief,) class abilities Lock Picking and how they work, the additional "critical" rules will be explained in another post.

The rules below are inspired by Philotomy's Musings , Delta's D&D and Real Life, more or less.

Lock Picking:

D&D Locks are not true medieval locks which served mainly to stop crimes of opportunity. They more closely resemble later 17-18th century locks which require a bit of skill to pick.

However lock picking is not that hard of you have the time. A regular Joe can open many inexpensive modern locks such as a bicycle lock with improvised tools and a bit of luck and these would be harder to open that D&D locks.

To make lock picking more useful in game , more fun and more realistic I do the following.

To pick a lock open a character needs Thieves or Locksmiths Tools and the Open Locks Class Ability.

A single attempt takes 1 minute (this rule taken from GURPS for lack of better data and the fact it fits neatly being either 1, 6 or 10 rounds)

If it is a critical success the lock is opened as if a key is used. On a critical failure roll 1d6, 1-2 nothing 3-4 lock jammed 5-6 picks damaged. Damaged picks or tools are at -10 to all rolls as are improvised ones and being damaged again ruins them.

Superior Picks or Tools may be available and add a +10 to all rolls. Picks damaged results render the picks "normal" . Magic versions of these may exist with different effects however in general they can ignore picks damaged results

If a roll to pick locks is an ordinary failure, the player may roll again with one round per attempt until they either succeed or critically fail.

Note that some locks are easier to open gaining a bonus to rolls and others more difficult than normal and may inflict a penalty on attempts.

If the net chance is zero or less, its beyond the ability of the character. This will be known with one attempt, roll normally than inform the player the lock cannot be picked at that skill level. Also some locks are designed to trigger if picking attempts are made. Such locks open as per normal but any failed attempt renders the lock unpickable. These can stack with each other. If the net chance is 100% or greater, roll as normal but any result other than a critical success opens the lock.

Any rogue with over 100 in open locks may make one attempt to open a magical locks at skill-100.

Whats goin on.

Its been a little while, no heck its been too long since I've made a post so I'll let y'all know whats going on. Four things


I am currently playing a weekly game using the Fallout Tabletop system of all things called "Fallout Lone Star Brotherhood" Our GM is new but lives and breathes Fallout so we are having fun. Whats especially cool is we have a giant pad of grid paper (1 inch squares baby) and some modded Space Marines and assorted figures that look Fallout. Its a blast. Being the oldest member of the gaming group I am also playing the oldest character "Sarge" who is old enough to be my own father.


I am reading most of the retro-clones I have acquired. I have skimmed most of them but I've hardly given them a full read and so its time to remedy that.


I am tweaking my game world and creating a more traditional and modern "Secondary Fantasy World" styled version of it that leaves out the Gates and the wahoo stuff

and #4

Last but not least I am fooling with making a sorta of of house guidelines /retoclone. Its not a full rules set but a series of tweaks and hacks of of established systems for my own amusement. I might release it when done but unless things change, its a freebie more in line with a house rules document than a product.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An actual Old School Post *GASP*

This is the rough draft of the intro for my upcoming OSR campaign.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Old School. We'll be playing “undecided” rules using some classic D&D modules and my usual improvisation . You'll have opportunities for exploration, combat, RP, dungeon crawling, hex crawls, city adventures and more. If things go well you'll even get to enjoy the old fashioned end game and tackle a few of the high level modules.

Starting PC's are inhabitants of the village/town of Dunmer. Its a mostly self sufficient farming and fishing village with a population of nearly 250 freemen, located on the river Argan. Dunmer is famous only for its excellent knife works and its blades, knives and dagger not swords are exported quite widely. Other than that its like hundred of other villages and small towns in the Middle Kingdom.

Every half century or so there Argan River has a serious flood usually mildly This years flood, a few years ahead of time was particularly severe. While the mess has been cleaned up and the King's Relief has been sent the village will be some time recovering.

Now is an ideal time to set out for adventure. Not only will this take the strain off the limited resources you might be able to have a shot at real wealth.

You and some zero level friends and companions have come across a map that is purported to show a nearby bandit treasure, so grab your gear, adventure awaits ….

Monte's Leaving WOTC, my take

Hearing this makes me a lot less interested in 5e.

If a designer I know is quality is willing to turn down contract work with a prestigious employer on a prestige product in this job market over matters of opinion that bodes ill for the solidarity a project this scale needs.

Now there are going to be some quality people on board no doubt but losing Monte is not good at all

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Human Ethnic Groups of Midrea

These groups were formed over a millennium from the original groups as placed by the shapers. Magic and such aside, human migrations have been a bit static as compared to Earth mainly do to the sheer dangerousness of Midrea.

This list can give players an idea of what peoples are like and help them select a nationality for their character. While Midrea is mostly Caucasian in skin tones, skin color and race haven't proven to be much an issue as there are Elves to hate

Peoples of Midrea

Senn Humans.

Ilaski -- The Moon Folk

Izaro -- The Islanders

Itsaso -- The Sea Folk

Vara -- The Stoics

Galan -- The Schemers

Shan -- The Mid Folk Zaldi -- The Horse Nomads

Toulani -- The People of Hooves and Manes

Makatza -- The Wild Tribes

Astiya -- Witch Folk

Chun -- Savages

Hajasani -- Decadent Folks

Vai -- Horse Lords

Delan -- Imperials

Skadi -- The "People"

Hyrkan -- The Rebels

Eledrian -- The Common Folk

Amachians -- Scattered People

Escane -- Rovers

Vala -- The Beautiful People

Hunzun -- The Scholars

Other Humans

Steel Cities People (aka Shipfolk)


Terran Folk

Nihon -- Japanese

Honsi -- Singaporean and Chinese mostly from Hong Kong

Freefolk -- Mixed

Alban-- Mixed English and Commonwealth

Midlanders -- Continental especially Germans

West Folk -- American

Brin -- Colonial and some early modern Americans

Galli -- French Extraction

Inish -- Irish

Scota -- Scots

Northfolk -- Swedes, Netherlanders, Danish, Norway

East Folk -- Eastern Europeans

Domainers -- Feminists

Tinkers -- Pavee

Firhom -- The Luxembourg of Midrea

Ashara-- Ren Faire,, S.C.A. and Wiccans (Aradian and Ashanan)

South Folk aka Ladan-- Spaniards, Portuguese and some other Latino peoples

Afra -- Black Africans Americans and others

Sansa -- Indian folks

Semit - various Semitic peoples

Midrea Gates Updated

This is an update of an old old post with Midrean background

Cosmology in Midrea

Most of the details of Midrea'n cosmology are known to anyone with a decent education and at least a 14 or better Intelligence and/or any ranks in Knowledge/Religion or Knowledge/Planar. I usually assume that all PC's know these basic things just to keep things simple.

Midrea is in a pocket realm in the astral plane. It was was created about 2000 years from campaign date by an alien race called the Shapers who planned to use it as place to engage in their perpetual wars called “Strivings” without destroying themselves. This failed and the Shapers ceased to exist leaving only artifacts and ruins.

The planet is Earth sized and Earth like with s two satellites, a moon roughly the sizes of Earths and smaller asteroid. There are no other planets in the system although a star field with 13 constellations is visible.

Dotted Magic is a product of the 13 gates the Shapers used to soften space time and to allow beings to be summoned to the planet via spell. Each gate leads to a different world and someone with rare gate key or another access method can use the gate to travel to that world. In addition, certain spells can allow for planar travel though do to the nature of the world, only the gate realms are accessible.

It was thought that the elemental gates were failed attempts at Gates but later research (i.e I changed my mind) has proven this to be false.

7 of the Gates correspond to colors

#1 Red Gate.

Location: Under a giant flowstone dome in the Vinyar barrens.

Destination: Gothic-Steam-Earth This world is kind of Ravenloft meets Edgar Rice Burroughs It feature a habitable Earth, Mars, Venus and a number of exotic and dangerous technologies.

#2 Orange Gate

Location; Deep within The Chun controlled jungles near Qadesh

Destination: A decaying dying world under an sun bloated near to orange where dinosaurs have returned. Its kind of Dinotopia meets Jack Vance with a smidgen of Gene Wolfe

#3 Yellow Gate

Location: The Eye of Sand in the Stehl Mountains

Destination: Gothic Space ala 40K, the Outsider and Dune

#4 Green Gate

Location: Halfling territory

Destination: The Arboreal world forest of the Halflings

#5 Blue
Location: Firhome at the stronghold of the Royal Academy of Magic

Destination: Something like the Earth of Call of Cthulhu.

#6 Indigo Gate

Location: Lanpon capital of the Empire of Taran

Destination; The Hall of Mirrors on The Shan home world Senn . This is a generic humans only D&D fantasy world more or less.

#7 Violet

Location: The Elven Woods

Destination: The Elven home world commonly called Faerie

4 Gates lead to Elemental Planes


Location: Hellheart Volcano

Destination: City of Brass


Location: The Arian Trench

Destination: A cave just outside Atlantis on the Plane of Water


Location: Deepest part of the Underdark

Destination: Dead Stone Cave, Plane of Earth


Location: Bottomless pit of Tokal

Destination: Elemental Plane of Air

2 Gates lead to allegedly spiritual realms

White Gate:

Location: The Throne of the Gods, World Roof

Destination: Realms of the Gods of Men

Black Gate:

Location: Hell Gate Keep, the border of the Dead Wastes

Destination: The real of the Adversaries, demons, devils, deonads, slaad

In addition there are two failed gates once in the Machine City, leading to the Machine Subrealm and another that leads directly into Astral Space which is in a contested area of the Stehl Mountain range

Monday, April 23, 2012

Apologies for the edit

I hope the posts are readable. Blogger just made some changes so I am still getting used to the new layout tools. Big Blocks of text are not good.

Clark's Law Applied

In my last post I mentioned the possibility of wahoo character types. I'll demonstrate how this works We'll start by noting that the current game is 6th level, Pathfinder 20 point buy. A new player joins wanting to play a stranded space pilot kind of like a Colonial Viper Pilot from Battlestar Galactica named Hawk . The other players are fine with it and given that such thing do happen on Midrea, I OK it. The first thing we have to do is make an equivalent. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Given this guy is human and a fighter pilot and that he is not going to have access to his fighter, its pretty easy to do. Human, Fighter . Since he needs skills we'll use the tactician archetype. Stats are up to him, the player decides on ST 14 IQ 14 WS 10 DX 14 CN 12 CHA 14 Next comes traits skills and feats. As a general rule if it won't happen in game I don't charge for it and so while Hawk is an able pilot and gunner, he doesn't need to list them as they won't get used. Being weird does cost a trait (outworlder) so he selects that and one other (reactionary) skills feats are the same and so selects ones that make sense to him. The outworlder trait is mandatory but he'd take it anyway as it allows him access to a skill (offworld lore) ad to use tech items, he grabs 5 others and 6 feats, deciding on point blank shot, precise shot, far shot ,improved initiative, target of opportunity , shake it off and enfilading fire. These fit the flavor and are universal enough to work for most settings. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Next comes the hard part, technical items. The player decides Hawk should have a combat jumpsuit, 2 comlinks, automed kit and a freeze pistol with a light mount (its tacticool) along with some space food, a food sterilizer and a solar powered vapor canteen This is where Clark's Law comes into play What makes this work is that each of these items can easily be transfered into a magic item equivalent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jumpsuit becomes magic studded leather The comlinks were a little tricky but I find a set of magic earings in the Magic Item Compendium thats a good fit (yes its 3.5 close enough) automed kit, treat as a box of potions (healing, remove poison, cure disease) space food, its just rations the canteen, after some thought it becomes a 1x daily create water item Food sanitizer 3x daily purify food and drink ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- last comes the freeze pistol , the mounted light is easy, its about as good as an Ioun Torch so thats that. But how do you make a freeze pistol ? Given that a gun is roughly the same as a wand I decide that the freeze ray ought to be modestly powerful, say a L2 spell. I go digging and pull up a wand of a 3.5 spell ice knife. That gives him a 2d6 cold attack (with dex damage and a burst option) I offer him a deduction of 20% cost for the need to be reloaded every 10 shots (4 magazines) or he can take a 20 shot with 3 magazines for full cost. Hawks players chooses the later and now he has a freeze ray with 2 extra clips. Later as the game continues and more treasure is found I simply repurpose some of the usual amount he'd get at each level into new tech items allowing him to keep the flavor. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Viola, instant balanced space pilot ...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Midrea Notes: Part 1 of Series Clark's Law

I am starting a new mini series about my game world Midrea and its cousin Eradim. This series will be a series of design bits, why I did X vs. Y that sort of thing. Hopefully it will be of interest to world builders and my readers but if nothing else articulating these design choices will help me clarify my own thinking. Because I wanted a fantasy world with occasional bits of space in the old school vein ala Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Blackmoor and others that was accessible I needed to have a means to make it fair for the other players. I decided on an application of three rules #1 Clark's Third Law namely that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." #2 Stats are balanced, not fluff and as such if the campaign is at a level that allows it, balance won't be hurt. #3 If it weird we all have to agree its O.K and I'll shoehorn it in. Applying these three things allows a player to enjoy almost anything they can think of without screwing up the game.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Some Music from Kemper Crabbe

A lot of folks have never heard Kemper Crabbe mainly because he was pigeonholed "Christian" music back in the early 80's.

His album the Vigil is awesome by any means so here is one I particularly like, an ancient song They That God Down to the Sea in Ships

Happy Holidays

Its a four-fer on the Holiday front

Happy Easter to secular folks , the Gaming Gang and any Christian Readers, Happy Passover to any Jewish readers and have a happy Feast of Eostra for my Pagan readers.
May today be blessed for whatever faith you hold.

Last Nights Game

We had a really good game last night. As we have been doing a lot, we improvised. This time we put into to play some Space Marines modified to look like Brotherhood of Steel (from Fallout) the most awesome pad of paper ever which is a huge pad of one inch squares perfect for gaming and tossed some dice.

We played a Brotherhood of Steel after a fusion battery for our anti-ghoul picket gun. We found the batteries and an experimental weapons lab to explore later. Major fun.

Our GM, E. was awesome and even the three newbies who had never played Fallout had a blast. One Mrs L. decided to buy Fallout New Vegas and give it a try.

All in all this is going to be our "standby" game and I couldn't be happier.

Fallout rules and good gamers rule harder.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Been Studying for the upcoming Old School Game

I think I may be running Old School D&D with some newbie players quite soon and as the ambassador its even more incumbent on me than usual to bring on the awesome.

In perpetration I have been studying world building for hex crawls, initiative systems and more.

Its all enough to make my head hurt though I am pretty sure it will be worth it when I combine it with my improvisation skills.

Thinking of Dave Arneson

Going gaming in a bit and I'll be thinking of Dave Arneson , the co-founder of the hobby I love.

If our lives pass in the hereafter I just hope I can tell him "Thanks for everything, Dave."

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Tome of Manly Things

I usually avoid reviewing Pathfinder stuff these days as I am focused more on Old School for my D&D fix.

However being a sucker for free stuff I decided to download Little Red Goblin's Tome of Manly Things

Its a DTRPG freebie (here) that was meant as an April Fools product.

However its quite clever as it uses a variant of the gunslinger Grit mechanic to allow people to play "the Most Interesting Man in the World" or Burt Reynolds or whoever those guys in the Vegas commercial were

Being a joke product there were a few bugs, a small lack of clarity on how many man cards a person gets (how awesome is not a number and as such I recommend 1+ charisma modifier) or any discussion of what the Man Code is. Of course that kind of realistic since no in reality knows what it is either. ;)

However despite the flaws this is actually a cool class and renamed Hero or something is not only playable but fun.

Definitely an interesting and offbeat add to the game I can recommend.

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque Compendum is Cool

If you like Ravenloft or any kind of Gothic Horror and play and old school game or if just want a grab bag of new free goodies, spells, poisons, a cool system, optional rules, monsters and more (and yes I did say free) Go grab the tales of the grotesque and dungeonesque compendium here

Its very cool.

Between this and the Lands of Ara I mentioned earlier you'll have hundreds of pages of neat stuff to enjoy for free.

So get, go get them. I'll be here when you get back.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some small changes to the Blogroll

This sis really a filler post but I've removed a coupe of blogs that haven't updated in a few months (Dungeons and Digressions and Asshat Paladins) and am proud to add a couple of new one , the excellent Lands of Ara and Cyclopeatron.

I've also changed my profile picture to a public domain image of the Five Stones at Duddo at least till I can make one I like better


Lands of Ara Compendium Free

Lands of Ara is another great blog I probably should have in my blog roll but don't.

They have a collection of their work from about 2009-2011 for free. Its got a lot of cool old school stuff and a gorgeous layout.

You can get it at the site here

Check it out. Its cool and did I mention it was free?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Dice? So How Do You Play ?

In tonights session (Frozen Convict Post-Apoc) we had a little conundrum, no one me included remembered to bring dice or cards or any kind of decent randomizer

I suppose I could have made chits but that was more trouble than it was worth. We tried coin tosses to but the odds were too hard to compute.

What I did is use number guessing. I'd pick some numbers between 1 and 10, one for every ten percent chance of success and if you guessed my number you succeeded. This worked like a virtual D10.

All in all the players got it quickly and found it pretty workable. Its n substitute for actual dice but it was more or less (probably less) random, fair and fun which is all we could ask for,

My Group is Incredibly Versitile

Like most gaming groups we have occasional "real life" intermissions and bumps along the way to campaign land.

What sets my current group apart from many of the others though is how we deal with it.

No one in the group is just afraid of making something up or just going with the flow.

With the Fireflyesque game on hold we and our switch to Modern Fantasy 70's style delayed we were at a loss for something to do..

Last weak, down three of seven we did "S.V.U.-Horror" set in L.A. , this week we did Post Apocalypse Prison Break with frozen convicts, next week who knows...

And you know what despite us not having a system or this time even dice we all had a decent time. I don't think I could ask for anything else.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3d6 In Order A heckuva game

No not the undead fallen cleric ...

Lets start with the basics.

R.E.B Tongue at Antediluvian Press sent me a review copy of the PDF and I am glad he did. Its very much a worthy addition to my OSR library.

Physically I have a a plain 91 page PDF with clean efficient art that remind me of realistic art with a smidgen of Elmore, I quite like it.

The game has a nice index, a clean font and a good layout. Its easy on the eyes, easy to read and play ready.

Most importantly it has real value as game,

The author describes it this way

This game began as a joke. No, I'm quite serious. My original idea with this book was to produce a set of 'house
rules' for Swords & Wizardry, White Box, that my group could use as the basis for a campaign I was about to run
– with the conceit that it was an early edition of the 'Hackmaster' game. I got about half-way through it when I
realised that I was doing something on a rather grander scale than that; I had made a lot of changes to the rules
as I went, to the point that it was almost becoming a separate game in its own right. A friend of mine pointed
out that given that I was doing all this work...I might as well go a bit further and publish it as an actual game.

Well it may be based on Swords and Wizardry but in my book with one little tweak (a much needed intro to Role-playing paragraph) its the rightful successor to Holmes Blue Book.

Yes you heard me, Holmes Blue Book.

3d6 in order is easy to understand, comprehensive enough for long games but with plenty left open for creativity with the right kind of vagueness that is the signature of Old School.

Now it has its flaws and eccentricities, the Thief and Assassin are weak, the hit point progression includes single digits in the middle of the progression instead of at the end as is customary and there are a limited number of spells.

It also has its excellences the Fighter class is really good (having rapid attack , great HP progression and leadership) and the alternative custom caster classes (Pyrocaster and Healer) include things people really want to do or just need in a party without religious or other baggage. Healing and Blasting are always welcome. As an added bonus the spell lists are designed for random roll which is just plain smart.

All in all nothing is missing. Grab the book, some dice a few freebie dungeons and play.

Now this game is meant to appeal to existing gamers and it does a great job there but if the market demanded it could easily be the basis for a new starter box. All it needs is an intro paragraph, an intro dungeon ,a buffed Thief and Assassin class and a nice boxed set with dice and a module and its the son of the clone of the Avenger of Holmes ready for the 21st century

So if you are looking for a starter game for the kids or just something cool for the shelf, grab a copy. You won't be disappointed.

You can get the book here at Lulu in PRINT for the crazy low price of $12.

M.A.R. Barker has passed

I'll link to Grognardia for this one.

Professor Barker was one of the founding fathers of our hobby, maybe not as well known as Gygax and Arneson but quite important in his own way.

His creation, the fabulous alien science fantasy world Tekumel showed the power of world building and imagination in new lights and that Role Playing is not all "Western"

That world was never my cup of tea, but his novel Man of Gold was excellent and the joy of craft could clearly be seen in his work.

He will be missed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coming Soon

I've been a little preoccupied with things of late. Work, running GURPS and embarrassingly Fallout 3 Game of the Year edition have kept me away from the blog.

What should be up is a review of 3d6 In Order (a very cool game BTW) , some musings on Midrea vs. Eradim and speculation on a putative 5 Stones Retro-Clone.

Its like the man says

I'll Be Back

Friday, March 2, 2012

So What Kind of Old School will you Run?

I'll probably run a couple of classics by younger players (early 20's) have never tried, B1, X1 that kind of thing using one of the many cool systems.

As for what system I just don't know. The OSR has an such embarrassment of riches its awful hard to choose.

I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it

March Begins

Well its March. I am still running GURPS (tomorrow in fact) . In a few months I suspect they'll be weary of it and I am going to take a break and play.

It'll probably be GURPS though either Dino-Apoc or some kind of Pulp Fantasy. As a few players have started to be interested in Old School after that, well who knows.

Until than I'll just enjoy GURPS. Like the bard said completely out of context to this "The Play's the Thing."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Musing: I've never used a Dragon

I was thinking back on the various games I've run and I realized that I've never used a Dragon in a game.

There are a lot of reasons behind it, length of my early games, preference for low level play, fear of party TPK and the fact I don't care for Color Coded Dragons but I think maybe its time to change that.

Next D&D games, there is gonna be a dragon.

Oh yeah and in case anyone asks, yes I do use dungeons. I love em.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lets Play 20 Questions

Like a fair number of other OSR bloggers I tend to eschew the latest memes.

However Brendan's 20 Questions are quite good so here are my answers and good show Brendan.

Ability scores generation method?

Two Methods

#1 4d6 drop low with option for rerolling lousy characters

#2 Set stats to class minimums than roll 4d6 drop lowest in order, use roll only if higher.

How are death and dying handled?

KO's at 0, dead at -con

What about raising the dead?

Banned usually.

How are replacement PCs handled?

Worked in as appropriate

Initiative: individual, group, or something else?

Players Choice

Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?

Nope. However a 1 always misses and a 20 always hits.

Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?

Under construction.

Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

Only if you miss in which case compare your to hit roll -4 vs friends AC to see if you hit.

Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?

Run. Run. Run Away or sneak when you can.

Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

Nope. I prefer 3e methods

Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?

Not sure.

How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?

Somewhat Strictly in D&D . Its part of the fun. In other games, not much at all.

What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?

Happens automatically during downtime. This includes automatic spells as well.

What do I get experience for?

Facing Challenges and Spending Loot.

How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?


Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?

Up to the players. Usually BtB.

How do I identify magic items?

Wizards get this as a class ability as do Clerical types for "holy" items

Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?

This depends on the game. Usually in Auld Skool I make them work for it . Potions and one use items can be bought however.

Can I create magic items? When and how?

Spellcasters can create items in downtime. What they can create will depend on their level.

What about splitting the party?

Sure. I am pretty good at managing this if I do say so myself.

Its all been done before

I was thinking about some of the changes that have come about in 3x and 4e D&D and while they may seem monumental, in retrospect many of them are not that different than the house rules we used to play with back in the 2e days.

The examples that most stuck out for me were

#1 Weapon Finesse.

We allowed dexterity modifiers to be used in melee to hit (but not damage) way back in the early part if 2e. This house rule was developed buy a gaming group I was briefly in(apologies to them if they are reading this as I cannot remember which one) to give rogues a little combat boost as the DM and players thought they were a bit underpowered. Everyone seemed to like the rule and given the big TAHC0 differences between rogues and warriors, even the warrior players were fine with it since it didn't hurt their niche any.

#2 3e Critical Hits

A version of this rule was in use apparently back in 1e by a So-Cal DM. we all called D. Balrog. Basically crits (counting as double damage) happened if a natural 20 was rolled and followed with a successful to hit roll "backed" in their parlance. It was not quite as sophisticated as the D20 version but it very similar and when I started on 3e I had zero learning curve

This group was rather interesting in many ways as they had gamed since the 70's and had a heavily hacked D&D variant that included this rule along with a ton of other materials that were shared only DM to DM. Given I played and DM for some of these guys I got a peak. And yes that restriction was kind of Hackmasterish . The group did have a cloistered, gamist and adversarial play style and if you had met them they were very much like the Knight of the Dinner Table.

#3 At Wills

This late 3e and 4e development showed up in 2e as well, in Dragon 221 as The Little Wish. Amusingly we played briefly with a variant that allowed Read Magic and Detect Magic to be used as At Will. It didn't prove to show any balance issues but I'd probably nix the Detect at will for the annoyance factor.

I am sure that if I looked hard enough I'd find others but as the old saying goes, nothing new under the sun.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some Random GURPS house rules

I've been running GURPS for some time now and have not been focused much on old school, fantasy or to tell you the truth this blog.

However in honor of all the GURPS I have been messing about with here are my general house rules.

These rules will be used in most every game regardless of setting however they do not include whats in a setting or anything genre specific.

#1 Disadvantages and Quirks are worth no points. You don't need to worry about the points, their figured in to the starting point numbers instead you take whats appropriate and play what you like.

#2 Since I am not using a map or minis I am winging things like distance for ranged weapons for simplicity. I tend to fudge in players favor though.

#3 If your opponent makes his attack by the exact number needed you take only half damage, If you fail your defense by one, you also take half damage. If both these are true take quarter damage.

#4 If any given skill roll including bonuses is 16+, you do not need to roll unless its a combat roll or other opposed roll.

#5 In most games I am not tracking money. You have your wealth level and may spend that as appropriate.

#6 Techniques are not in use for simplicity though I may use a few minor bits from martial arts or other expansion books.

#7 The skill “Erotic Art” may appear on a character sheet as a placeholder for “boinking” skill but it is never rolled in game as my games are PG or PG13.

#8 The Contacts Advantage now represents local contacts with a field of expertise like a Contact Group in core. Costs remain the same. The Contact Group Advantage is now global. Cost also remain the same.

#9 Edge protection and Low Tech armor weights are in use,

#10 Fate Points may be used on a campaign by campaign basis. How many are granted will vary . One point can be spent to gain one success on any roll, 2 points for a critical success. The effects of fate points cannot be used adversely on anyone else who has them and such points and those blocked by GM Fiat will be refunded.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My take on the fading of the D&D hobby

Back before the Internet or even before SF was mainstream D&D was a huge fad. It was sold everywhere, toy stores, Sears, hobby shops and tons of people played. Heck what else was there to do in 1981 when you were a geek

TV sucked, and while art and whatnot was there and some of us had video games (go Atari 2600) and computers unlike D&D these things weren't social. D&D was awesome for bored suburban kids.

However like all fads, it eventually started to fade.

My best guess as for the fading time line are these three intervals,

#1 1989 ish with 2e splat books, at this point the model of the game had changed and it was moving from focusing on the DM as primary customer to the player. This made sense from a business POV but part of the "heart" of D&D was wounded as the game moved away from Old School.

#2 1993 ish with Magic and White Wolf. People played a lot of other games by preference and the CCG, Magic well it ate D&D for lunch.

#3 1997 with the Bankruptcy. The company was toast.

Now the release of 3e and the OGL in 2000 would give the game a lift That was about an 8 year boost that would help revitalize the brand till 2008 or so. Now it wasn't quite as big as the 80's but it was healthy and fantasy being in the mainstream and D&D players now having some editorial clout really kicked the game off.

That would last till 2008 or so when a combination of the world wide economic issues and some frankly strange design choices in 4e would start to shrink the market. I'd guess overall money spent was down on account of the economy and as a double whammy what money was spent was divided with Pathfinder. Ouch.

Now WOTC is making 5.0. How this will play out is anyones guess. I'll certainly look at it though but than I've read every edition. I am not sanguine as I smell design to meet impossible specs by a committee but the people working on it are very good and I may well be wrong.

No matter what I'll still dabble in Old School and if things don't pan out with 5e hey more time for 3x/Pathfinder.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Because this is a cool song and its been a while since I've done a music post

So what Happened to Old School?

Well gaming happened. My group loves GURPS, I like GURPS so we play GURPS. Besides GURPS is Old School its from 1985 after all

I am just kidding a bit with you, besides old school is as much an attitude as a rules base.

To tell you the truth I use a lot of what I have learned playing old school anyway, you wouldn't notice that big a difference in Labyrinth Lord or Farther Stars or Angel or anything else. Some capaigns focus a bit differently but the basic old school idea, the rules are not there to get in the way of fun is in every game.

What matters to me is that GURPS brings home the fun for my players, 6 cool people (including a new guy!) willing to sit down and play together almost every week and have fun doing it.

In that case, well to paraphrase Chumbawumba

The truth is, I thought rules mattered
I thought that system mattered.
But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter

Presenting the Crew of the ViVi

I thought y'all might enjoy a brief intro the the PC in my new GURPS Firefly-Eque game

The remaining three players made it this week completing the crew. I have a habit of "casting" the various PC's actors ala the Buffy and Angel RPGs. This works to increase immersion a bit and helps people visualize

The first three casting are player approved though the last three are subject to change as I picked them.

we have

1-Face-Merchant-Captain and ersatz leader famous for his good looks and antique wearable computer. Played Dirk Benedict

2-Doctor-Ex Soldier-Falsely Accused Ex Con Played by a young Jeff Bridges

3-Russian Sharshooter and Cargo Hand played by Timothy Olyphant

4-Sicilian Engineer and Laser Nut played by John Leguizamo

5- Pilot and Sophisticate played by Micheal Weatherly

6- Registered Companion with a Jewish Tom Boy side played by Bar Raefelii

Monday, January 23, 2012

About that Fireflyesque Game

I thought y'all might like to be interested in it.

The elevator pitch

Its , 200 years from now, with tech about that of Firefly but with a stable wormhole near Pluto for Transit. It'll take several years to cross the verse.

There are different cultures and colonies but no aliens except for the Transhuman Badguys "The Polity" who are still technically kind of human.

Themes come from Alien, Runaway, Outland, 2300AD, Firefly, Cowboy Bebop, Star Frontiers Blue Planet and maybe a smidgen of Even Horizon

The first adventure "Starfall on the Lost Planet" is based very loosely off an old Star Frontiers one.

That pretty much it. Now all that remains is a bit of editing on my backgrounds, putting together a soundtrack and some prep work.

Back in the Saddle or Cowboys in Space

It looks like my plans for an old school D&D game are once more thwarted, this time by placers with a surfeit of Skyrim.

I can't blame him really, between playing and modding all the time, burn out is a real possibility.

Instead the general consensus was "Something Sci-Fi" I offered Star Trek Away Team, Last Men on Earth, Travelling, $500 Hyperdrive and "something Fireflyesque"

The Firefly type setting won out by a decent margin with Post Apoc coming in second

For systems I offered D20 Modern, Cortex, Unisystem and GURPS.

My players being rather fond of GURPS chose that.

So I'll be running a GURPSA Fireflyeque game it seems. This will be a 1st for me so I am looking forward to it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Protest Post

Though my posting has been lax of late, I and going to break with tradition and am joining the anti SOPA and PIPA protests.I've even altered my banner to join in.

If you need more information on why you should oppose this heinous legislation, go to Google or any of the other sites and click on the information links.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Thorny Issue of Minors at the Table

As a general rule I prefer to game with adults, preferably in their twenties or older. This is not a hard and fast rule though and as gamers are often scarce hereabouts, any good player can be welcome under the right circumstances. Also teaching games to youngsters can be rewarding and is a necessary part of our community work. However do the paranoid times in which we live there are some special guidelines for minors.

#1 The Group has to say OK

#2 Parental permission is a must

#2 All minors (this being 16-17) require an adult chaperon (this can include a game shop employee in the case of an in store demo game) of some kind till fully vetted by the group and the group is approved by the parents. This has to be done by the parents in person and is only done in exceptional cases.

#3 Minors under 16 are only allowed at in store or other structured and approved demo games in public places with an adult chaperon present .

#4 Any minor is allowed if the parent is present and a part of the gaming group and #1 and #2 criteria are met.

This protects my group from concerns on unwarranted accusations, eases parental concerns but still allows up to teach gaming to youngsters as needed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

About the LDS Thing

I mentioned the other day that my gaming is predominately, 6 of 8 I think LDS (aka Mormon) .

This is largely an accident (my buddy brought in his friends from church and school) as I am not a member myself.

In case anyone is wondering what effect thats had on gaming. Well its been a pretty positive one.

The religion hasn't crept into play other than one the whole, the players trying to stick to the "good" as vs the neutral which is a benefit in my opinion.

Also many of the players had been on Missions (that the part where the guys looking like IBM sales reps go door to door to spread the Gospel) and had a good idea how to work and play with all kinds of people, it made the game go much smoother. That travel also made them bit more erudite than many Gamers.

Because of that and the fact that their parents and faith encourage education it makes for a very good group, especially for people I've only known a short time.

So in the event you guys (and ladies!) are reading, I appreciate y'all. You make gaming a lot more fun.

DM's and the Novelist Impulse or The Play is the Thing

Its my contention that many GM's have the impulse to be novelists , some are frustrated novelists, some dabble and may have this or that published and others are actual novelists (Kerr, Butcher, et all) .

This is not a bad thing unless it creeps too far into your game.

The fact is when it comes to gaming, what really matters is what goes on at the table, not your flavor text or game-fic. Unless you are an actual novelist, maybe.

Still there is a place for both of these and that place is making play better.

As an example, if I were to read 5 or 6 paragraphs about the nature of Neo-Hellenic magic and how spells worked in my Angel 2075 game, my players eyes would glaze over and everyone (that is the other six players) who is not playing the Neo-Hellenic_Goth-Witch would be bored silly.

This TMI habit dates to the early days of gaming where information was limited to a few books and we had no Internet and had to walk miles in the snow to get to school and fight off angry dogs (literally in my case).

Back than people couldn't just Google it and as such, those paragraphs had a lot more value.

Now however, its a lot simpler to let interested players do their own research and just get playing.

What i do is trim information dumps to a minimum and allow the illusion of flavor to creep in.

In the case of the Angel game it was by renaming a prosaic list of spells with cool Greek style names, saying one statement about it.

#1 you are part of the Hellenic Pagan revival, something happening in the real world. You mostly worship Hecate in Ancient Greek BTW but give respect to the other Gods as well.

Boom thats enough to get started and L, the player can research more or make stuff up or just ask if she wants.

After that I took her spell list and renamed it.

The basic list utility spells, common to many games

Radiant Armor
Lighting Bolt
Solar Blast
Speak With Dead
Dispel Known Spell

they became

Aegis of Glory
Hecate's Mirror
Borrowing the Thunder of Zeus
Tasting the Presence of Apollo
Plea to Persephone

viola, 1 paragraph and a few words and everybody gets the Greek thing without a lot of time investment.

This allows me to give other players more attention, concentrate on actual play and still give the illusion of immersion.

The same rule can be applied to the history of a land or any other facet of a game. More on that in a follow up post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2011 Gaming Wrap

I played no D&D of any edition or any simulacrums in 2011.

I did play a GURPS campaign with some old school flavor that ended on an up note after about 12-15 sessions. The characters hit roughly name level and retired.

Now had I payed a bit more attention to my players burgeoning interest in the Shapers (a lost alien culture from Midrea) I probably could have continued but thats OK, we had a good time and I got slip in a few old school-isms like Rulings not Rules and Puzzles.

After that I started and managed a basic intro to Angel 2075. This is the 3rd or 4th game I've run in the Post-Apoc setting and all in all the few sessions we managed were fun and decently successful.

The group, minus a member now on his Mission (my group is predominately LDS) and another player seems to be down to a more reasonable 5. We may be gaining a player or two more but I can cope.

Who is running what however has not been decided as of yet however.

All in all, it was not a bad year for gaming . Here is hoping 2012 will be even better.

So 5th Edition

I'll check it out when its out and if its good I play and buy, if it isn't I won't.

OK, OK so you need more I get it.

Well, uh 5e so far its sounds like the very good development team has its hands full with trying to be everything to everybody. Hopefully the brass won't screw this up with too many contradictory requests.

I would caution anyone from Hasbro who chances by the blog, take the poor economy into account when you look at sales. Right now a good chunk of the buying demographic is has below average disposable income and a lot of competitors for what dollars they do have.