Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

This blog has been enjoying the proverbial long winters nap but have no fear my loyal (all 67 of you terrific folks) followers, more content such as it is shall come soon.

Thanks and to all a most Merry Christmas!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

RIP Jack Vance

Jack Vance, one of the great inspirations and supporters of early D&D has died at the ripe old age of 96.

Probably lost control of a Sandestin along the way.

Anyway, thanks to Mr. Vance for his part  in making this best of hobbies and for some great literature

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

for appreciation day How I came to know my group is ready for old school and how I came to choose S&W

 Well its Wednesday on the other coast and its S&W appreciation day . How I came to know  my group is  ready and how I came to choose S&W is my   topic

A couple of campaigns down the line I'll be running a lightly mutated form of swords and wizardry, think a cute  polydactyl kitten version not some three headed Cowthulu variant here.

 I don't know if my methods would work for y'all but as Rick Hunter used to say "Works for me."

It starts like this, our group like many groups has people that sometimes can't make it to sessions

 . On those nights when too few of us are available to run the main game we have something we call Robot Chicken Night

I don't know why its called that and someday we might  even come up with a decent name but for know its that and  how this works is simple, we make something up that seems fun.

Some people play, some people GM. They are always one shots and they can be anything, we've run supers, space intrigue, fantasy, horror, post apoc, all sorts of things. Rules are usually improvised (we used d12's last week, the time before d20s)

During one session I used (from memory mostly) the S&W rules (yes memory, my PDF's were forgotten) and the players took right too it and even liked them.  At that point I knew the rules wouldn't be an issue.

I put that on hold and a few months later the players requested a "survival based" game where they could play well survivalists.

The game went well, very well and during this time they displayed the improvisational analytical and problem solving skills required to play in the old style. Not only did they do well but they had fun doing it, felt challenged and were enthusiastic.

A that point I knew the Old School would work for these  Generation Six gamers with a Generation 2 DM (theory from Cyclopeatron) and its game on.

so why did I chose S&W for the new game ?

First, I like Labyrinth Lord and the others  a whole lot and would cheerfully play them and steal ideas from them but in the end they lost out as "first OSR RPG for my playgroup". There are three big  reasons

#1 The saving throws.
This system is simple, elegant and doubles as a universal skill system  in the superb variant, Crypts and Things. What's not to like? It allows me to have a coherent set of rules that deals with some of the aspects of older games (that nasty percentile thieves skills) in an elegant fashion

#2 Its rules light
I am kind of allergic to heavy prep and S&W is simple enough to allow me the fudge factor I like.

#3 Its free
Here of course.

Now granted so is Labyrinth Lord but S&;W requires a little less study time than LL does and my players  are not from the generation that devoured rulebooks  like Talmudic  study. They'll read them but mainly just want to get down to play and S&W is faster and easier for them

So there you have it, one S&W campaign just waiting to be cooked up and a new generation of gamers weaned on GURPS and Pathfinder ready, willing and able to play Old School thanks in part to Swords and Wizardry.

So give it a try, maybe your group will appreciate S&W too.

Where did the S&W post go?

Sorry about that.  I thought it was S&W appreciation day so I posted ahead of the game. Danged time warps

Console yourself with some Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Things I learned from my recent failed GURPS game

My GURPS campaign just wrapped up by my request after about 10 sessions. I can't say I am entirely disappointed though as it was a learning experience and we did have some fun along the way.

I'd like to share what I learned

#1 I am allergic to heavy prep.

I simply do not enjoy the tedium of creating stat blocs, drawing maps or any of the admin work that is part and parcel of games. Heck though I have plenty I rarely even use minis. This is product of me being spoiled by the Buffy RPG and needs to be unlearned for other games.

#2 I was overly ambitious.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Style meets Inusyasha was too much for my level of skill at GURPS 4e

#3 GURPS really needs fast play support material.

IMO a nice book of blog standard simple stats and basic maneuvers for common NPC types and critters would be a great asset. This is not a bestiary in the “you can play that with these stats” sense but a big book of things to smack. And yes Dungeon Fantasy does have some of this. I am not interested in buying a bunch of books or virtually thumbing through them for just some stat blocs.

#4 GURPS combat can be amazingly cool if and only if the players are interested in learning how to do their part.

Mine players just just want to kick some butt and would be better served with simpler rules. GURPS lite combat isn't any more interesting than any other system and is less interesting than some. I actually thing D&D HP attrition is better for these guys (as is class/level but thats another post)

#5 Neither my players nor I really care for my game world.

Midrea works as intended, its a very kitchen sink setting but its just not interesting and because of the divergent power levels, the guns and lasers and whatnot are a poor fit with GURPS. They work but they feel wrong.

#6 My players aren't very good and sandboxes

In my opinion they get bored easily, don't ask the right questions and aren't as motivated as I thought they were. Don't get me wrong they are fabulous roleplayers and good reliable players but the “Game” aspect of the RPG trinity just isn't their best bit. They honestly do just as well with no rules or rules on the fly and don't even mind being railroaded. This is a new thing to me and we both have some adjusting to do.

#7 Next time I need a fate point system to help get the players more into the game.

The players love them and I like them too . GURPS does have several in fact, one in the defunct on-line pyramid and of course Power Ups 5 Impulse Buys we are getting that next time.

#8 I don't like the GURPS baseline magic system.

We didn't use it much this time but in past games when we did the game before this , it was complex and unsatisfying. If I had preplanned better and the players were on the ball this might not have been an issue. The trick is getting there .

#9 The game balance works.

The GURPS point systems are roughly balanced vs one another. Its a masterpiece of game design.

#10 To really make GURPS fly requires a lot of tracking of fatigue and HP and maneuvers and such.

This can can be short cutted (I see a Pyramid article in the offing) but I can only get one of my 6 players into it. This rules out a lot of the excellence of GURPS martial arts, GURPS combat and makes GURPS core magic not work right either.

#11 All of the players need steady power ups and rewards.

GURPS can provide this but it doesn't do it as well as D&D or other games do. Also its easier to get the players to level up than to allocate points. I think it just feels more rewarding to them and maybe familiar as well (they are younger than I am having started with 3.5 D&D and GURPS as vs me with Holmes and AD&D) I can adapt as I have a number of old school adventures they haven't played. Ghost Tower of Inverness anyone?

#12 I make good NPC's including bad guys and nifty magic items

The players like them, I enjoyed them too.

and last the appropriate 12.5 or is it dum dum dum dum 13...

I am addicted to fairy tales. I can't stop using fae and enjoy RPing dragons, goblins and all the panoply of European Fae more than any other monster. I think what I need a Grimm's Faerie Tales with a dose of Thieves World. Any recommendations?

Well thats that. A least I learned some things , got some GURPS on and got to hang out with some awesome gamers. Maybe the game wasn't all that it could be but it was fun with peoplewhose company I enjoy and thats all one could ask for. In the event you are reading this, thanks ya'll for being great..

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sorry for the lack of posts

Been stuck with real life stuff and haven't had the go juice to think of anything.

Thanks for hanging in.

Friday, January 11, 2013

1o Reasons past is a foreign country D&D 1970's edition edition

Something to consider, D&D was invented in 1975.

This was a very different time in many ways, I'll list a few

#1 It was culturally and racially much more homogeneous. we all saw the same three channels, heard the same pop music in our limited interest sphere and mostly saw the same movies and such. Books were where most of the differences were though many fewer were published than especially in Sci Fi and Fantasy

#2 It was an industrial society where men worked and most women didn't not a post industrial one were women are starting to outnumber men in the work force

#3 People matured faster and there were fewer socially maladapted gamers

#4 Vietnam had just ended and the US was undergoing major cultural turbulence

#5 There were essentially no personal computers and in fact up till the mid 90's it was plausible for everything in a campaign to be in a notebook.

#6 There was a lot less game material out there will well into the 80's . Even a mediocre issue of Dragon would be prized

#7 There was some Sci Fi (Star Wars wouldn't be out till D&D was 2) and very little fantasy, few enough that it would be perfectly plausible to have read the entire appendix N. Everybody knew the same stuff and there wasn't much of it.

#8 History especially material history in the US was laughable. Very few people had any idea about the past. A lot of people didn't really care though, they just ate whatever was in the book and played the game.

#9 D&D original designers grew up in the age of westerns which has a strong influence on D&D, In many respects D&D, especially Greyhawk is a post apoc western with medieval and magic trappings

#10 The psychedelic movement and such was still out there and it had an occasional impact on D&D and as I understand it, D&D was originally a stoner thing not a nerd game.

Rulings not rules and the inventors of D&D were middle aged

As odd as it is to consider for some, the original inventors of the game, Gary and Dave and everybody were full adults as was Dr. Holmes of Blue Book fame (the first truly mass market D&D in my opinion) , who was a respected surgeon . they were in modern terms were middle aged men in their 30 with careers, families and all the markers of adult hood.

This maturity allowed them to have very light rules, and to just in the words of Old Geezer (at 17 the youngster of the time) To Make up Some *bleep* they thought was fun

They were grown up enough to handle it.

And because they were grown ups not teen or shudder young teens, the cognitive skills they needed were well developed and as such "rulings not rules' worked.

This approach won't work with some player with maturity issues (there are lots of these alas) with with some kids and with some teens but no one considered kids much till the early 80's (Blue Book started it but B/X really took off)

I am guessing TSR s assumed that it would be imaginative adults that would play.

That of course changed as the hobby grew and and in the fullness if time D&D changed evolving into its opposite "rules not rulings" in 4e.

Now 5e from what i can tell is rolling back a bit either because they figure Old Grogs will be the main buyers or they realized that modern kids can in fact figure this stuff out and don't need to be spoon fed. Either way i am happy to see the game get back to its roots as in this mans opinion, the old way was better.

Bah, get off my lawn ...

My Pirate Name

Tis True, Maties ..

Thanks to Gothridge Manor for the idea.

My pirate name is:

My pirate name is:
Calico Sam Flint

Often indecisive, you can't even choose a favorite color. You're apt to follow wherever the wind blows you, just like Calico Jack Rackham, your namesake. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So what on the horizon for 2013?

2013 looks to be an interesting year for me. I expect to run GURPS in Midrea for the second time, some Angel/Buffy and maybe some Old School D&D (hopefully)

I have no idea what they guys have planned RPG wise but I'll play it whatever it is.

Our group will also do a lot of freeform games, little mostly systemless based on just whatever idea comes to mind.

No every group can do this but my group cam handle it well and even managed 2 non violent mini games in a row to close out 2012.

I suspect though that the battle lust will be catching up with them and I'd better give them a good fight soon before they mutiny.

As far as writing, I have some projects to play catch up on and if I have any discipline at all and Fallout NV or Skyrim don't eat my time I might manage an OSR bit or two.

I'm working on a setting that could be described as D&D without the Eldritch . Drop much of the 70's stuff and the Howard, Leiber, Lovecraft and Vance .

Don't get me wrong I love all these things but its time I think for a something new.

Call it the Anti-Lament of the Flame Princess if you like. And no disrespect to James Raggi here, LOTFP is a great game. Its just want something a little different and a little less weird and dark.

More Faerie Princesses and no Cthulhu. We'll see.