Thursday, March 31, 2011

Click... Click... Boom!

Motivations are Killing Me, Shoot me now!

Richard of richardthinks, wrote about weekend reading: D&D as heist, were he talked about the "...assumptions behind the play style", where a character would delve off into a dangerous setting for what equated to "...a long string of Russian Roulette spins."

What motivates a person (character) to risk playing or taking a potential series of life risking endeavors? Where is the motivation?

Richard linked to 's blog, The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, where he discussed, what I perceive as motivations, in the form of capers (The Acererak Caper), or heists, in the RPG settings.

This is great stuff, presented by both. Richard points out the lunacy of playing Russian Roulette style adventures, and Michael gives a motivation as to why to do just that. The motivation is however one-sided IMHO. I mean, yes, once you are committed to going after 'X' in the final sandbox climax adventure, granted levels of experience later, motivation is established. But, what kind of setting does such motivation birth?! This is a setting level motivation, where is the character level motivation?

Choo choo, hop on the thought train. Yes, "We need the Scepter of Sphinxster to save whatever", but why? A couple of options are; the world is a terrible awful mess - everyone knows it - and the PCs want to fix it - or - the world appears to be hunky-doory to most inhabitants - but the PCs know better - and want to fix it. Either way, how does this become an individual's motivation?

Greed is often an unwritten character background motivation, but if so - a weak one for reasons I will explain - or a player motivation. If greed was a strong setting motivator, the halls of every tomb would be littered with the bodies of the oppressed and poor when the characters entered. Why is the riches there anyway?! I think it is more a player's motivation. We get things from the game that we might not in real life. We can, through are character, become; rich, famous, leaders, etc. Again, that is fun motivation for the player, but why is the character's motivation hand-waved?

Granted, I have played in games where extensive backgrounds were required, to games where none were. Even with extensive backgrounds, none that I recall, were sufficient for the in-game life exhausting mission of perpetual Russian Roulette. Too often, IMO, character motivations are assumed from player motivations. I want to be rich! I am not gonna rob a bank (read, delve into a dungeon) because I don't want to pull the trigger! I'm scared to. But my character isn't! "To the Mines of Misery!" But what makes my character different than me? I think too often this is glossed over. Is, "Well, he is a hero...", sufficient?

Rolling into Discovery Station. I think this is where I fall way short at being a great GM. I discover the more I think about it, that I am a good GM, but not great and why 'Sandbox' Settings allude me. With a sandbox, you can't railroad that motivation. You have to take that, "I want revenge on the Black Bark Brigands for stealing my family's savings and forcing my mother into prostitution and my father into suicide!" into, "That's great, but to do that you have to plunder the Dungeons of Diabolic Dispare." I have to find the 'why' here, and often do not! What is the connection between the Dungeons of Diabolic Dispare and being able to have their revenge on the Black Bark Brigands?!! As a GM, I am detracting from the immersion of the player into the character that they want to play. Or, so I am beginning to believe.

IDK, maybe I am just waxy philosophical, or perhaps I am just losing my mind. I often wonder if the few people that read this are interested in what I have to say, or swing by to see if I have finally been consumed by ranting mental issues...

Found It! The motivation is always The Girl!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Inspiration and a Challenge.

While posting over at The Yaqqothl Grimoire blog about how the author seems to be in a similar boat, as I. I had to put in one of those scramble words (aka Captcha) to be able to post my response. I got to thinking, 'What kind of monster would the word be?'... Subdolec

The Subdolec is a large bipedal tail-less reptilian monstrosity, standing between ten and twelve feet tall. Its chest is considerably larger than its abdomen and its long muscular arms end in three webbed digits. A row of small blade like, bony plates protrude from its back as well as a single short thick horn from the top of its head (ground and sold as an aphrodisiac; 40-50gp). Covering the Subdolec are a myriad of fist sized parasitic pods that have a finger size round opening in them. When struck (max damage is rolled), these pods produce a fine fungal mist that causes prolonged bouts of coughing and fatigue.
Subdolec: HD 5; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d6+1) or 2 claws (1d6-1); Move 9; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Non-lethal fungus, +2 to save, or -1 Constitution and 1d4 days of coughing. Additional failed Saves does not worsen effects, but does extend them if the duration (1d4) is longer than initial exposure.

Let's see what monsters you encounter while posting to others blogs...


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Epiphany, Obsessive Compulsive, or Attention Deficit?

Started slogging away at the mini-gazetteer and got to staring at the screen. 'This is not what I want. This is not what someone else wants,' kept popping into my head. Then, for inspiration, I turned to the net. Low and behold, I find three posts where I had a 'eureka moment', when I found 's blog entry on RPG Settings: Show, Don't Tell. This lead me to the source, How I Want To Hear About Your Setting on the blog, Playing D&D With Porn Stars. Mentioned in the remarks, of one-or-the-other, was 's reply on the Trollsmyth blog where he talks about Minimalist Setting: Timeline Example and the originating post, Zak Offers Up Another Plate of Sacred-cow Burger.

So, what do all these links mean to me? In reflection, I just had a similar but unrealized moment a few days back, when I was reviewing The Majestic Wilderlands. The thing I loved about the book was the mechanical implementation of the setting; the Character sections, the rules for Orders, Sects, and Culture, rules for Magic, etc. That is what I remember, not the overall fluff, but rather how the fluff was brought to life with just enough 'rules spin' to make it unique.

I think something else that I should keep in mind, as I continually develope Ukarea, is the success I had with a 'Rumors at the Inn' Microlite20 one-shot that turned into a somewhat serious campaign, though it flopped miserably trying it via Play-by-Post. Basically I drew a quick map for this one-shot and said, "Alright, your in the inn, having some drinks... yadda yadda... and you hear someone mentioning... what?" They all looked puzzled. So, I encouraged them to think up rumors that they were hearing as they sat there. It took a bit, and they started off slow; "I heard there were giant spiders in Ol' Man Bidnee's Stable..."  I scrambled for my pad, and pencil, and jotted that down, puting a 'F' after it. The players had no idea if what they were 'hearing' was true or false. If I put 'F', I thought up reasons why the rumor wasn't true. "Ol' Man Bidnee's business partner was spreading this rumor to reduce business so he could buy the place cheap." I had no in depth fluff, other than what the characters came up with sitting at a table in an inn. Before long, elaborate tales were being cast and local history evolved; "Well if Ol' Man Bidnee hadn't had skipped on his responsiblility to help the town with the Goblins two summers ago...", etc. You can't make the stuff up that they came up with, and been able to present it the way it came out. It wasn't my setting, it was ours. I would overhear them between the few sessions that we had, talking about what rumors they thought true and why, what to investigate next, and how could Ol' Man Bidnee have left with a stable to run... and a baby on the way... keeping up with them was the hardest part. As I recall, this was just after I read the Western Marches experiments.

In short, GMs aren't going to want to run my setting and Players don't want to play in it either. They want, or so I am led to believe by the first links, something unique that they can make there own. I had developed setting before, and the group went along and played it. It wasn't until they were 'co-developers' that we really had fun I suppose. Developing a setting for release isn't as easy as I had originally thought.


Ok, This Is Just Plain Cool!

An awesome random map creator! 2D, 3D, the works. No telling how long it will last on the internet considering it was built by students... Check it out before it turns into vapor.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Derailed Again By ADD!

While working on my first barony of the mini-gazetteer, I was fishing for a good stat block and ran across another Bat in the Attic post that I had bookmarked for an alternate alignment system. He blogged about the Four Humors, which now has me looking into them.

I never got Alignment, to me, most things "good" or "bad" depend on which side of the line you stand on. Now, don't get me wrong, some things are universally bad, but for role-playing games I'd rather look at disposition and motivations. Especially when you are considering an NPC stat block.

The search for the Four Humors brought me here and showed me this:
Now that is handy! Eight adjectives aligned top to bottom screams, "1d8!" to me. But, Melancholic, Choleric, Snquine, and Phlegmatic, did not even speak to me. I am just not that intellectual. So off I went... which led me to the Five Temperments. I found a great site for the Five Temperments, that broke it down into actions in short paragraphs for me. Better, but not quite what my 'tween' kids would want to dive off into...

Ah ha! Ureka even! In the age of texting, I find this....
 Now that is something I can work with. I can even emoticon them for stat blocks!

Supine  < )  Servant-Leader "I answer to a higher authority."
Sanquine  > )  Fun Loving Attention Grabber "All the world's a stage."
Meloncholy  < (  Idealized Perfectionist "Artist-Poet in search of kindred soul.."
Choleric  > (  Control-orientated "When I say jump..."
Phlegmatic  = |  Reserved, Quiet, Peacemaker "Aummmm"

Supine/Sanguine  = )
Sabguine/Choleric  > |
Choleric/Meloncholy  = (
Meloncholy/Supine  < |

Nice, now I just have to come up with some motivation, or rather motivations for my NPCs.

Off to Google!

A Thought Experiment I Never Published For The Mini Gazetteer

Tobelark Estate
  The Tobelark Estate sits just West of the West Crossmouth Village, and is ruled by Thastmorus Tobelark. The Estate is bisected, West to East, by Pawson's Creek, that swells in early Spring and late Fall from the rain that creates intermitant streams from the Flaxon Hills in the South, that feed into it. The Creek retains water throughout the year, and is the main supply for the Manors and the livestock. The Tobelark Estate's main exports are lumber, grain, cattle, and horses from Lord Tobelark's Manor stables.

  Tobelark Manor
  Lord Tobelark is a reservered compasionate man who can often times be seen tending his own fields. A farmer by trade, Tobelark found himself within the forces of the Baron after the death of his wife to raiding Orcs. He spent two years in the service of the Baron, repelling the Orc'n raiders. While doing this, he left his three, then young, children in the care of the wise-woman , in West Crossmouth. Upon his return, he was rewarded with his own manor, and appointed governance of all five manors within the estate. Since vengance of his wife's death was Tobelark's main concern, and he desired nothing more, he performs his governing duties when required, but does not take a proactive role in it, rather preferring to allow the other Lords to manager their own affairs.
  The Tobelark Manor's main export is the Draft and Warhorses that Lord Tobelark raises, toughted to be the best in the barony. This in turn is subsidized by some cotton fields and goat herdes. His manor relises heavily on excess grain from the other manors within the estate.

  Tobelark Manor Forces: 
Lord Tobelark commands undying loyalty of his troops due to his hands-on-approach to managing the manor (if he is present, their Morale is 12, instead of listed value.) He maintains a strong bond with Sir Bloakang Drongthur, his deseased wife's only brother, whom he fought in the Baron's army with. Due to this kindship, and the unrequited love interest of Madam Poisha Hilon, thier relationship is strained but professional. Lord Tobelark's affections lie elsewhere, namely with the wise-woman of Crossmouth Village.

Lord Thastmorus "Lord Thast" Tobelark
S16 I10 W11 D11 C16 Ch12
AC 2[17], F-4, HP 17, MV 9, BthB +2, SV Fighter-4 [11], ML 12, Temperment (: |) AL L, Background Farmer; Platemail, Magical 2-Handed Sword +1 (1d6+3), Dagger (1d6), Ring of Poison Resistance +5, Ring of Protection +1, 140 gp in belt pouch [Large man with dark shoulder length hair, red beard, reserved, quiet, peace maker]

Sir Bloakang Drongthur
S11 I7 W9 D11 C16 Ch8
AC 2[17], F-3, HP 13, MV 9, BthB +2, SV Fighter-3 [12], ML 10, AL N; Platemail, Lance (1d6+1), Longsword (1d6), Dagger (1d6-1), Scroll of Elemental Protection, 82 gp, [Young man, short brown hair, green eyes, outspoken, and opinionated] 

Madam Poisha Hilon
S14 I8 W8 D17 C10 Ch12
AC 1[18], F-3, HP 11, MV 9, BthB +2, SV Fighter-3 [12], ML 11, AL L; Platemail, Shield, Lance (1d6+1), Flail (1d6), Dagger (1d6-1), Rope of Entanglement, 47 gp, [Attractive woman in her mid-twenties, brown hair, blue eyes, scared forearm, wants respect and praise from peers] 

Squires (x4 Light Horsemen)
AC 4[15], F-2, HP 7,6,5,3 Move 12, BthB +1, SV Fighter-1 [13], ML 9, AL N; Chainmail, Shield, Spear (1d6), Longsword (1d6), Dagger (1d6-1), 23 gp in a belt pouch.

Men-at-Arms (x10 Footmen)
AC 5[14], F-1, HP 7,6,5,5,5,5,3,3,2,2 Move 12, BthB +0, SV Fighter-1 [14], ML 9, AL N; Chainmail, Shortsword (1d6-1), Dagger (1d6-1), 16 gp in a belt pouch.

[1] Lord Thastmorus "Lord Thast" Tobelark
AC 2[17], F-4, HP 17, MV 9, BthB +2, SV Fighter-4 [11], ML 12, AL L; Platemail, Magical 2-Handed Sword +1 (1d6+3), Dagger (1d6), Ring of Poison Resistance +5, Ring of Protection +1, 140 gp in belt pouch
[  ] Large man with dark shoulder length hair, red beard
[  ] Knight / Farmer / Equestrian
[  ] Reserved, Quiet, Peace Maker
[  ] Phlegmatic  (= |]
[  ] Marry the Wise-woman and let the other Knights manage their own Manors
[  ] Position his brother-in-law to take his place
[  ] [#] Wise-woman of Crossmouth, [#2] Sir Bloakang Drongthur, [#] The Baron of Malvethan

[2] Sir Bloakang Drongthur
AC 2[17], F-3, HP 13, MV 9, BthB +2, SV Fighter-3 [12], ML 10, AL N; Platemail, Lance (1d6+1), Longsword (1d6), Dagger (1d6-1), Scroll of Elemental Protection, 82 gp
[  ] Young man, short brown hair, green eyes
[  ] Knight / Noble's Son
[  ] Outspoken and opinionated
[  ] Supin  (< )]
[  ] Become a Vassal Knight like [#1] Lord Tobelek
[  ] Prove himself in battle
[  ] [#1] Respects Lord Tobelark but thinks he needs to be more proactive, [#4/#5] Other soldiers of the Manson force,

[4] Squires (x4 Light Horsemen)
AC 4[15], F-2, HP 7,6,5,3 Move 12, BthB +1, SV Fighter-1 [13], ML 9, AL N; Chainmail, Shield, Spear (1d6), Longsword (1d6), Dagger (1d6-1), 23 gp in a belt pouch.

[5] Men-at-Arms (x10 Footmen)
AC 5[14], F-1, HP 7,6,5,5,5,5,3,3,2,2 Move 12, BthB +0, SV Fighter-1 [14], ML 9, AL N; Chainmail, Shortsword (1d6-1), Dagger (1d6-1), 16 gp in a belt pouch.

More Mini-Gazetteer Development

Further development on the mini-gazetteer that sprung from the Mapping Population Experiment post. I narrowed down the central settlement and cordoned off the various manors into Baronies. To be honest, this kinda goes against previous experiences I have with the BECMI and Rules Cyclopedia, where a Barony was a 24 mile hex. I guess I can live with this, it is my world after all. Plus issues that might arise doing this can do nothing but help me with Ukarea...

((Edited 3/24/2011 for the sake of my OCD Sanity!))

Introducing, The County Barony of Malvethan!

Based on the guidance, again from The 25 Mile Hex blog, an individual can only rule either five holdings or vassals. So I went to lumping the manors present into groups of five by what made sense. I did make some smaller for originality. This gave me the eight baronies Estates, designated with dotted lines. The Eight baronies Estates could not be managed by a single Lord Vassal Knight, so I am assuming that there are two Viscounts Vassal Knights (?) who are then governed by the Count Baron living in The City of Yorkcast. I am planning on giving each Viscount Vassal Knight (?) a Keep, one in the North and the other in the South. As well as flesh out the humanoid / monster population once I get the political portions done.

Heading straight to the first Barony write up...


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fantasy Demographics Made Hard

Based on data from The 25 Mile Hex blog, I threw together the following table, which I haven't really proofed. It is basically somewhere for me to start:

Settlement Area Req ZoE Workers +/- Population +/- Supports
Farm 1, 1 mile hex None 2 (all rural) 10 ppl 1 Urban Family
Thorpe 4, 1 mile hexes None 12 (all rural) 55 ppl6 Urban Families
Hamlet 7, 1 mile hexes None 21 (all rural) 95 ppl 10 Urban Families
Manor 1, 1 mile hex 1 Shared 100 (rural) 400 ppl 50 Urban Families
Village 1, 1 mile hex 1 Not Shared 350 (250 rural, 100 urban) 1,575 ppl 25 Urban Families
Town 1, 1 mile hex 2 Not Shared Variable (all urban) 2,000 - 5,000 ppl No Urban Families
City 1, 1 mile hex 2 Not Shared Variable (all urban) 5,001 - 12,000 ppl No Urban Families
Capital 3, 1 mile hexes 2+ Not Shared Variable (all urban) > 12,001 ppl No Urban Families

It's late and I guess I will map out some examples tomorrow, so until then...

Happy Gaming,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Image Hotspots Are Hotter Than Elf Chicks!

This morning I posted about trying to figure out how to put multiple hyperlinks into an image (aka Hotspots). I have since been successful! So now what do I do with it? Well I was thinking that I could put a map at the top of my blog and hyperlink areas, towns, regions etc to individual blog posts on the corresponding hotspot topic. A Gazetteer Blog if you will. This all stemmed from me trying to figure out how to organize Ukarea and my post about the Narrator's Helper.

My initial feeling is that it might work well for a Gazetter style writeup, but not so great for a full Setting. I would love to hear some thoughts on it.


Experiment: Trying to put an image map (hotspot) in map below

The Narrator's Helper

Once again I am looking at a pile of notes on Ukarea and realize that I have to organize them. Back when I was heavily into True20, particularly the Blood Throne setting, I discovered a great tool to organize my notes with. After some searching, I found it again; The Narrator's Helper.

It is basically a standalone wiki, or one html file, that is described thusly, "This self-contained wiki-format website can be easily used as a repository for all the notes, media, and other planning tools that go into running an RPG." Things like maps, images, hit point boxes, dice roller, and many more are already built in.

A little tiddlywiki language savvy, which really isn't hard, and you are on your way, once you copy the linked site above, to your system.

I am consider even releasing Ukarea as a self contained tiddlywiki file instead of a PDF. Thoughts? (Please at least check the site out before smashing this idea though.)


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Majestic Wilderlands (Conclusion)

I had begun a chapter-by-chapter review of The Majestic Wilderlands by Robert S. Conley in my previous two posts, but do not believe I can adequately capture all the detail that the product is immersed in. I finished reading the product today, all 140 pages of it. Though not as many pages as some tombs, the detail and depth is intense (for lack of a better word). You surely have to see to believe.

So, I will provide my overall opinion of the setting and rules, granted without having actually played in it, by providing the follow image:

The Good: Too much to capture in a simple review.
  • An expansive setting that provides ample background for a myriad of types of campaigns to be set in; from Oriental to Fantasy Western.
  • In depth social structures in the form of Orders, Cultures, Sects, and many others.
  • Well thought out and interesting character classes that do not coddle to balance, but rather are designed to support and reinforce the setting and locals. Classes are intriguing enough to garner even the most munchkin player's attention to select a class based on role-playing potential rather than any mechanical advantage.
  • Though the setting has a strong fantasy base, Rob has managed to bend traditional fantasy tropes just enough to make it not feel like a canned fantasy setting. This is where the life of the setting emerges in my opinion and is, as mentioned earlier, supported by the iconic character expansions.
  • Additional rules, for the most part, are not added just for the sake of adding something new. They appear to have been included to strengthen a certain feel. Where this is not the case, the rules have been identified as 'optional'. Such as a short entry on helms.
  • I really can not encapsulate the wealth of inspirational goodness that is shoe-horned into this book.
  • A small issue I normally have with PDF purchases, but that grates on me terribly, is executed with perfection within this release: hyperlinking. It may seem like a small thing, but when I read a PDF with hyperlinks that drop me at the wrong page, mid paragraph, etc. It grates on me. All tested hyperlinking took me straight to the top of the desired information. Bravo!
The Bad Unfortunate: Though minimal / trivial, there are some.
  • Some of the 'flow' of data could have been arranged differently for my personal tastes. For example, Setting geographical and history first, then characters. Or corresponding character types in said setting section. Example, "Character Classes, and Ability Bonuses" on page 65 might have worked better, for me, up in the "Character:" chapters.
  • Sparse instances of missing words or gramatical flow. Nothing that ruined the experience, but noticable.
  • Though designed, in my opinion, to be taylorable by a GM for their own campaign, I would have loved to have seen a small area of the "The Main Campaign Area" section drilled into with more detail. Perhaps displaying some of the author's legendary maps? In that vein, "Cultures and Religions" and "Regions" occasionally covered similar ground. Reducing the scope of the world, or its writeup, and expounding on the section that Rob's campaigns took place in would have made this product five stars for me. Basically, I believe he mentions having changed the scale of the setting map. I would have rather seen 5 mile regional hex description, than 12.5 mile world hex description. If that makes sense?
Over All Assessment: 4.5 of 5 stars with an expected 'Red' result on the 'Fun Meter' for actual play! Amazing setting with integrated rules. A little less in the expanse of the world and a tad more detail in the core campaign area, would have made it the best setting I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Cudos Rob Conley. Wish I would have purchased months ago!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Majestic Wilderlands (Part Two)

Where I continue on, from where I left off...
  • Characters (Clerics): Clerics explained here, use the existing (Sword & Wizardry) rules, with additions. This hearkens back to by question in part one. I like the idea of Clerics being 'governed' by their deity. Though powerful, Clerics can be reigned in by the GM if needed. Can't wait to see if there is a mechanic for this other than stripping their powers.
  • Characters (Clerics): Perhaps a bullet for all magically inclined characters, it is interesting to note the inherent magic resistance within these classes. Makes magical duels less prone to happen, and if they do, could turn out to be long drawn out slug-fests. More reading may clarify this for me.
  • Characters (Clerics): Once again, the 'animosity' between two sets of characters is mentioned (see part one of this review - Characters (Fighting Men), but a viable reason to work together is broached. One or the other, may see the other as 'evil', but all collectively disdain demons. I have a soft spot for non-Law-Chaos alignment system. Alignment, and the acts performed by different Alignment members, are purely speculative depending upon which side of the line you find yourself standing, IMHO. *golfer clap*
  • Characters (Clerics): Clerics indeed appear quite powerful, and again, I don't mind. I think that the author (Rob Conley) has provided enough interesting, unigue, and individual classes to this point in the book to make even the most die-hard munchkin chose a character class based on roleplaying potential, over mechanical ability / advantage. (run on sentence, but crap, I want to play a Cleric! Which is quite the divergance for me. Edge weapons FTW!)
  • Characters (Rogues): Not one, but many types. It appears that there are some form of Thieving abilities present within The Majestic Wilderlands, but past a mechanical bonus, have not been explained how they work (up to page 35). Not sure why Rob chose to use non-traditional Rogue Abilities though. Legerdemain anyone? Locution? The final variant, Merchant Adventurer, seems forced somehow into the Rogue class IMHO. Merchant Adventurer is an interesting take however on the conical role.
  • Non-Adventurers: Ranging from skilled Craftsman to Scholars, this section provides for quite a variety of, well, non-adventures. Suitable to fill your cities and towns. Pretty straight forward, but I am still anticipating how skills or abilities will work withing the setting / rules. But perhaps I will hit that mark in.... Part Three!
Best, and really enjoying reading The Majestic Wilderlands thus far.

Review: Majestic Wilderlands (Part One)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have purchased a PDF copy of this setting / rules set by Rob Conley, of Bat in the Attic renown. Here I will present my thoughts on the setting / rules, as I read the material, in bullet form. Following that, I hope to roll my collective notes up into a more traditional review.

  • Introduction: "No attempt has been made to balance these rules in terms of game mechanics." ~ Right off the bat, I like this! It appeals to my thoughts on not tailoring settings, rules, and especially encounters to the character. To a lesser extent even character to character. Can't wait to see how / if he incorporates this into the setting / rules.
  • Characters (Fighting Men): Several variation of fighting men are presented, and captured nicely, with associated rules. As promised, these classes of fighting men, under initial scrutiny and without play-testing, do not appear to be balanced with each other. I phrase it that way because, though one character may outshine another in more areas than one, the 'offending' class is harder to acquire do to minimum attributes, quests, and such. I personally like this and mention it because, though it may fall right in line with 'old school' play, players of later version may protest.
  • Characters (Fighting Men): The Fighting Men presented seem to be well thought out and presented in a fashion to give a strong feel for the setting, even though I haven't even gotten that far (setting material), I get very strong Legends of Paksenarrion vibe from them. This is awesome in my book, being someone who likes the works of Elisabeth Moon. Granted, I may have made this connection because Rob recently posted about the same.
  • Characters (Fighting Men): One thing that concerns me is the mention of one type of Fighting Men being the "traditional enemy" of another one of the Fighting Men presented. This immediately throws the old, 'why are we working even working together?' question at me as a GM, which I hate to hear. I think this, unless presented differently later in the book, could have been worded differently for my tastes. Perhaps toned down, but not removed. Perhaps 'being at odds' would have been more apropos?
  • Characters (Magic-users): With this section, a question arises, do the 'original' Sword & Wizardry classes exist? I am assuming they do, though the Fighting Men section jumps straight into unique Fighting Men classes, while the Magic-user section just briefly mentions what I think are 'traditional' Magic-users. They are described as "lone practitioners of magic outside of any of the established orders", then the book proceeds to cover several orders. Not sure on this, but think it may be a GM call, or covered on the author's site by now. I believe the initial confusion I got is do to the mention of Magic-users in passing at the beginning and then the first 'Order' being very similar to a conventional Sword & Wizardry Magic-user.
  • Characters (Magic-users): This section is well written, consistent internally, and online with the presentation of the Fighting Men section. There are a couple minor typographical errors within the section, but nothing significant,or detracts from the rules.
  • Characters (Magic-users): Magical 'schools', called Orders, are expansive and diverse. The Orders, rather than having their access limited by minimum Abilities like Fighting Men, are limited by trials at various levels. Do to this I see the optional Fighting Men classes presented being more unique than a Magic-user associated with an Order within the setting. It appears that non-Order Magic-users are suppose to be 'secretive' in nature, whether sought for indoctrination or extermination, it is not clear yet. This combined with the benefits of the various Orders makes me wonder why someone would chose to be a 'traditional' Magic-user. In short, it is interesting to see the Fighting Men classes appear to be presented as unique, while the Ordered Magic-user being the norm within the setting.
  • Characters (Magic-users):  As previously mentioned, many of the Magic-user schools require tests or challenges to progress. In theory this is interesting and adds an interesting feel to the setting. I am just concerned on how best to handle these tests in the contexts of gaming? Sure, role-playing is the goal, but how will such tests be perceived by non-Magic-users within the group. Individual sessions would be ideal for this purpose, but are not always possible. GM fiat might also be an option, but this IMO will forgo an interesting part of the experience of The Majestic Wilderlands, as I see it. Play tests are in order! = )
Part one of my review covers the first 27, of the 139 pages, of the book. Thus far I may have appeared overly critical, but that was not my intention. Mostly it is just thoughts as they appear to me as I read through the book for the first time. Thus far, it is a very solid product, and if I read no further I got my $7 worth.

Part Two to come,

Majestic Wilderlands: I Have Some Reading To Do!

Just wanted to let the world know that I finally sprung for the Majestic Wilderlands PDF.

I hope to one day have the book, but until then, reading pixels will have to suffice. I have been a long time follower of Rob Conley's blog; Bat in the Attic, and based on the goodness found there, could not hold off any longer on my purchase.

I hope to be able to do a writeup on the PDF as soon as I have read it, or perhaps as I read it.

Based on other's reviews, I hope not to be disappointed, but will approach my review with an honest, open eye.

Ok, I'm wasting time... off to read!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mapping Population Experiment: Part Four Alpha

After about fifteen minutes, I changed the map to what I feel is a more Bat in the Attic feel.

All land within two to three hours travel from the Central Settlement will be patrolled and farmed by the local populace. This is where I diverge from his mapping / setting style. I tend to go for settlements protecting their own and think this approach is feasible, though maybe not historically accurate as his Manorial setup.

Central Settlement main populace (ABM = Able Body Men):
73 one mile hexes at .865sq miles per hex is 63sq miles, give or take. Divided randomly based on my personal whims; 40sq miles of agriculture (20160 ABM), 15sq miles of herd animals (7500 ABM), and 8sq miles of swine (6400 ABM). This translates, if I did the math correctly, to the Central Settlement able to self sustain 34060 ABM. This creates a HUGE population in my mind, especially if you consider 4.5 people in a household. Granted not all of the 34060 would be part of a household, but still. Even at 70% of self sustainable max (23842) we are still in the Metropolis range. Add in a 10% tax of goods and services to the outlying villages, and Manors, the total climbs back up.

I realize, after looking at the map, that I did take the 'best case scenario' for what the settlement could farm, which in my mind would be an older, established, settlement. Cutting it down to what a newer settlement might look like, gives me this:

This would be what a younger settlement would look like in my mind. Still patrolling out a few hours, but without the benefit of a ferry or other river fording devices, it would be confined to terrain to the North-East of the settlement. This area consists of 26 one mile hexes (22sq miles). A strictly agricultural settlement, at 100% utilisation, could sustain 7040 ABM. Divide up into roughly equal venues, it could sustain; 11sq miles of agriculture (3520 ABM), 7sq miles of herd animals (3500 ABM), and 4sq miles of swine (3200 ABM), or 10220 ABM. Figure in a 4.5 member household, with half of them married with households, and the total populace jumps back up over 20000 people.

I don't know. Maybe I am doing something wrong, or missing something critical? This methods gives my OCD a warm and fuzzy, but until I can figure it out, maybe getting some feed back from Rob Conley, I should go with the Third Population Mapping Experiment?

Hey Rob! Help a brother out here?  = )


Mapping Population Experiment: Part Four

More mapping population experiments.

Part One: Making the map.
Part Two: Hodge-podge of both The 25 Mile Hex and Bat in the Attic suggestions.
Part Three: Done solely with The 25 Mile Hex guidelines.
Part Four: Here it comes baby...

Another look at the map:

Yes, I added some things. Adding up all the 1 mile hexes that have production land, I came up with 91 one mile hexes (20 center settlement, 29 manors, 42 for the seven villages). Taking 91 one mile hexes and multiplying it by .865 (The square miles in 1 one mile hex, per The Welsh Piper) I got 78.715 square miles. I will call this 79 square miles for simplicity.

I image that this land is equally good for both planting and live stock. I decide to say 60% (48sq miles) is agriculture, 25% (20sq miles) herd animals, and 15% (11sq miles) swine.

Agricultural takes 30 ABM (able bodied men) to work and can feed 320 ABM. This leaves a net surplus of 290 per sq mile. 290 x 48sq miles is 13920 (10440 at 75%)

Herd animals take 50 ABM to herd and will feed 500 ABM. This is a surplus of 450 per sq mile. 450 x 20sq miles is 9000 (6750 at 75%)

Swine take 100 ABM to care for them and will feed 800 ABM. This is a surplus of 700 per sq mile. 700 x 11sq miles is 7700 (5775 at 75%)

Total number of ABM that can be fed, above and beyond the required care takers, is 22965. Now how to break that down over 29 Manors, 7 Villages and 1 centralized settlement? Not to mention that I just noticed that I missed the listing for Manors: 1 historical manor will need 70 able bodied men for labor and will feed 750 people, when I went to see if there was guidance on this.

I think if I would have drawn the map differently, the Bat in the Attic formulas would have been much easier and would have resulted in a different feel for the setting. But, I drew the map with the layout guidance of The 25 Mile Hex first. Perhaps I will go back and do a map that I think would work better with Bat in the Attic's formulas. I think it would be more similar to his maps if I did do so.

To be fare to both, I want to go back and do just that. Off to hexographer...

Have fun... go map!

The Wondering Mind.

Last night, when I couldn't sleep, I started thinking about making the 25 mile map that I did for the Mapping Population Experiments posts (which I haven't finish and intend to today) into a small Gazetteer. (Perhaps my mind wondering is why I couldn't sleep) But, the train of thought was interesting none-the-less. It started with me looking at the blog stats and seeing what people were looking at. I want to work on Ukarea, but I want to put out interesting material too. What's the point of putting it on a blog if no one reads it? I could just as easily do it in a three ring binder. I noticed heightened interest in the Sara Bellum, an Elegia Character, post that I statted up for that rules set.

Glancing over the post to see if I could discover the interest, I noticed that there was something that I liked: Attribute Checks. With this in mind, and an attempt to put myself asleep reading the section on creating settlements in the 3.5 DMG, I thought this might work well for NPCs, to represent their 'skill'. I don't care for a full blown skill system, but a trade/background system might work well. Perhaps for every 5 years of experience a +1 modifier to the Attribute Check would be in order. This could also be utilized to represent the quality of equipment/materials that a 'professional' produces. Perhaps the Attribute Check roll represents the 'save' for that material item. "Ol' Thomas weaves the best ropes in four Baronies...."

Just getting my thoughts down so they, hopefully, won't keep me up tonight.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Background Image

My blog now has an awesome new title image thanks to Ze Bulette releasing a great picture, that he took, to the public domain over on his blog. Thanks for sharing Ze Bulette. Hope he approves of the use.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Leaning on Freeform

Thanks to  Talysman telling me where to find what I sought in my last post, I now have more to think about. I want to finish my Population Mapping Experiment first before I delve too deeply into it, but for now, I will throwout my initial thoughts on the Free-form Magic System he linked to for me and how I might want to adapt it to the Ukarea setting:

  • Magic will probably follow the verb-noun format commonly found in such free-form magic systems, and may include adjectives for additional oomph.
  • Magic is rare and scorned in Ukarea for the most part.
  • Magic will be difficult and taxing for casters. Modification of DCs, not common in OE/Basic D&D, should be addressed.
  • Not sure if I want to retain separation between Mages and Clerics, or even if I want to keep a traditional Cleric in the setting at this point.
  • Magic will be primarily elemental based, do to the setting history (which I realize I may not have even covered on the blog yet.) Using magic directly on 'life forces' is going to have to take mastery in the magic to do, as it is a culmination of all the elements.
More to come, once I have finished the Population Mapping Experiments,

I know exactly what I am looking for....

There was once a set of rules for non-vanciant magic that was more free form and allowed you to add up modifiers based on varying difficulties for range, area, etc. and then successes were used for effects (or effect dice). The writeup, as I recall gave an example of a mage trapped in a cage near a campfire of sleeping guards and how he could escape.

If anyone knows what I am talking about, and can give me some direction where to find it, I would be forever grateful. I know it sounds kind of 'four by five' system-like, but even Googling that, I can't find what I am looking for.

Please help,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mapping Population Experiment: Part Two (found)

Found it! This and that, might make a complete Part Two! Other Part Two removed to reduce confusion.

The next phase may look confusing, but it was quite easy and intuitive. I took the preceding map, and based on the information on The 25 Mile Hex which say, "Thus, towns and cities occupy one 5 mile hex in total... In any settlement larger than a village, the entire population is considered urban and totally reliant on imported food from the country side." I filled in what I thought would be acceptable homelands for the city populace. As can be seen, I figured that 20 one mile hexes are associated with the town/city in the center 5 mile hex (I only counted half hexes as full if they were on the river, and three I deemed unsuitable based on how the river ran through it.)

Twenty, one mile hexes is 17sq miles (20x.865=17.3 rounded down for the river). I think this is where I will depart from the good, but general, ideas in The 25 Mile Hex blog and consult some data from the Bat in the Attic blog. He has some great data on pastoral and agricultural demographics that I want to play with. If I assume that the city raised up from a village to a town, to a city, as would be expected, then at least the original village population would be self sufficient. If I take a SWAG at the pastoral to agricultural ratio, then I can figure that out. If I assume 1/3 of the surrounding land is pastoral (herders) then the rest (2/3) is agricultural. Braking the land down like this gives me 5sq miles of pastoral and 12sq miles of agricultural farms and fields around the city. 12sq miles of agriculture will feed 3840 people (320x12) at 100%. I want to divide the 5sq miles between swine and other domesticated beasts; say, 2sq miles for swine which will feed 1600 people at 100% and 3sq miles of cattle, goats, and sheep which will feed 1500 people at 100%. So this land has the potential of feeding 6940 people at 100% productivity.

100% productivity is unrealistic, so... to the dice. The percentages of productivity come out like so; swine 51%, cattle, goats, and sheep 90%, and agriculture 99%. My mind is racing with potential dominion game rules at the moment. Stay focused... stay focused... So for the year; of the original 100% totals, 816 people will be fed by pork and it takes approx. 200 people to raise them (200 rural - outside the city walls feeding slop, leaves 616 urban city dwellers), 1350 will be fed with other domesticated animals which takes approx. 150 to raise (150 rural, 1200 urban), while another 3801 people will live on agricultural produce which takes 360 people to raise (360 rural, 3441 urban). That puts 710 people rural (outside the city proper) with 5257 urban (within the city proper). This seems high so far, but as I look at the map, it does seem like a rather productive area for the city. If I would have used the 13 one mile key terrain rules I used for all other five mile hexes, it probably would have limited this down quite a bit. Perhaps a redo once this is in order is called for? This, however, still only puts it squarely in the camp of a average sized Town based on S. John Ross's Medieval Demographics Made Easy. So, no worries yet.

On to surrounding Villages, which there are 7. Going back to guidance from The 25 Mile Hex, I placed villages where they had a full seven hexes to occupy without modifying the underlying terrain. It was intuitive once I started, or at least felt like it. I didn't mind delving off into the math for the core populace of the central settlement, but I don't want to go that far with the supporting settlements. So if The Hex Master says there are 350 able bodies people in a village then all I want to do is apply some randomness. To the dice bag...

d4 (1-2 minus, 3-4 add)
d20 (percent of change)

Village One: 350 minus 8% = 322 able bodies (92 urban, 184 rural, 46 surplus)
Village Two: 350 plus 17% = 410 able bodies (164 urban, 328 rural, 59 surplus)
Village Three: 350 minus 3% = 340 able bodies (97 urban, 194 rural, 49 surplus)
Village Four: 350 minus 12% = 308 able bodies (88 urban, 176 rural, 44 surplus)
Village Five: 350 minus 16% = 294 able bodies (84 urban, 168 rural, 42 surplus)
Village Six: 350 plus 15% = 402 able bodies (115 urban, 230 rural, 57 surplus)
Village Seven: 350 minus 2% = 343 able bodies (98 urban, 196 rural, 49 surplus)

Totals are divided by 3.5 to ascertain urban, double urban is rural, the difference of the total, minus urban plus rural, is the surplus in able bodies that can provide for the larger town or city. This replicates the 250 to 100 ratio he uses on the blog, though it is inverted here.

So now I know that there are a total of 346 surplus providers throughout the villages. At a 2:1 ratio, they are providing for an additional 173 productive (able bodied) people in the central settlement, above and beyond what the central settlement's core is providing for. If each able bodied person, of the 173, is supporting 5 (average number in a household) then an additional 865 people can live within the walls of the city. The original 5257 inhabitants, plus 865 more, gives us a subtotal of 6122 for the city proper.

Now to see how many additional people can be added to the central settlement with all the Manors' surplus kicked in to support them. There are 27 Manors filling the remaining usable space when adhering to the "zones of exclusion" guidelines. The 25 Mile Hex says there are 100 rural able bodies in a Manor, or 2700 in this case, which can support another 1350 at a 2:1 ration.

We are looking at a Large Town with 7472 people give or take... about the same as doing it wholey with The 25 Mile Hex rules.

That's about it for now. I will work on some tables; military forces, village merchants, key personnel... basically turn it into a Mini-Gazetteer, as time permits. I also want to try the same two different ways; strictly by The 25 Mile Hex and strictly using Bat in the Attic's figures to see which appeals more to me for Ukarea.


Mapping Population Experiment: Part Three

After a horrendous Blogger meltdown in my last post I decided that, though fun, the way I was approaching it was needlessly complicated. To that end I want to see what the central settlement will turn out to be based on The 25 Mile Hex approach vs the Bat in the Attic tables.

First up: using The 25 Mile Hex.
  • 7 Villages = 100 urban and 250 rural able bodies (ea. has a surplus of 50 able bodies which can support 25 others, for a total of 175 able bodies in the central settlement.) 1
  • 29 Manors = 100 urban able bodies (since they are all rural, they can support 50 able bodies ea. for a total of 1450 able bodies in the central settlement.)
Total: 1625 able body adults in the central settlement. Or, a total population of 7312 (Large Town)

(1) I still have a question out to The Hex Master as to whether the numbers on his blog are inverted. He has 250 urban and 100 rural able bodies to a village, which in my mind does not make it 'self sufficient' as described if it follows the 2 rural:1 urban formula.

That took all of 5 minutes and came up with a total population of the Town close to what I had originally. I can also easily extrapolate the military force within the 25 mile hex... This method does have some potential.

Stamped: [The Bane Approved!]


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mapping Population Experiment: Part One

So, I have the Bat in the Attic: Manors vs Farms Blog and The 25 Mile Hex: Mapping and Population Blog pulled up for quick references. I also pulled up Hexographer and created a 25 mile template with sub hexes. I wanted to see what I could come up with as far as a population goes. Once I had the template made, which I can share if there is an interest, I threw in some rough terrain:

I followed the suggestion that a minimum of 13 hexes should be the overall next hex up primary terrain feature. The big hex, 25 miles, is clear so a minimum of 13 of the five mile hexes should be clear and at least 13 of the one mile hexes of its should share that same dominant feature. Assuming I counted correctly, I came up with this:

Not that inspiring I will admit, but it should give me a good random base to see what size city this 25 mile large clear hex can support. I intend to plunk a city icon in the center and start expanding out with a population. Based on how many able body rural people I can smash into the country side, I can deduce how many able bodied urban people can be supported in the city at a 2:1 ratio.

This is extremely geeky I know, but for some bizarre reason I enjoy doing this kind of stuff.

Now I now, base on what has already been done at The 25 Mile Hex, the largest population density would be supported by an arse load of Manors. But where is the fun in that? Besides, I kind of think that the city would have some form of military presents, so the populace immediately around the city wouldn't cluster into Manors or Share Cropper groups. The farther you go out, the more the commoners will need there own security, turning to share cropping and manors. I guess it will be easier to show what I mean than explain, so watch out for part two, where I start adding the masses...

Best and keep mapping,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Greywulf Has Done It Again!

Greywulf, on his Blog, has introduced me to CorkBoard.Me! Awesome, had to share! Check out what he suggests you can do with it!


Oh the Horror! More Ramblings...

I stayed home today and have been reading some blogs that I follow in my blog list. I have realized that I have a penchant for Dark Fantasy. This is nothing new. I have always lean toward the Gritty, life is fragile, type of D&D adventures and settings. I never subscribed to the theory that Player Characters had a right to survive and that encounters should be balanced, though I continually fight my own OCD to do so. In short, High Fantasy isn't my thing. I believe this is why I never really got into later versions of D&D, where characters are Uber and perform world shaping feats.

I mention this just so you might have some idea from where I am coming from when I read the following. Over on the Dreams in the Lich House blog, Beedo wrote about Horror in Dungeons & Dragons, and then again in Horror Revisited. I hadn't thought of Dungeons & Dragons as using horror elements, but some of the suggestions that he gave made me think that this is the type of thing that I wanted to do to make my games more 'gritty'.

Then I spun off of that, from a link in one of his posts, to the Lamenations of the Flame Princess blog where James blogged about how D&D is a Horror Game. This brought this all together for me. Earlier versions of the game were 'Horror Games!' Back in the day, we were disappointed when a character succumbed to the hazards of adventuring, but the 'death' did not diminish our fun. Several moments later, we were up and adventuring again with a new character. No fuss, no muss. With this in mind, it was the best IMHO when a character got up to 9th+ level. That one-in-many character was a true hero! It made it that much more rewarding. If someone had a 'name level' character that they advanced from 1st level it was a source of awe and admiration by others. I would argue that adventuring with such an invested character was even more of a horrific experience. Loss of such an investment was scary!

There were alot of good comments to the LotFP post. One that caught my attention was by Superhero Necromancer, who said, "... I rarely hear reports that the deadliness of (say) Call of Cthulhu just leads players to make cardboard characters they don't care about, but I do hear of it happening in D&D. I rarely hear about people reacting very poorly to their character's death in CoC, but I do hear about it in D&D. Why? I think part of it is right there: expectations." 

This is interesting and on par with what I observe when I GM. Newer generations of D&D players expect 'High Fantasy', in my definition of the phrase anyway, and are occasionally disappointed to the point of quitting when their character dies. Thinking that I "surely wouldn't put a dragon here if we can't defeat it!" is a mistake in my games.

Now, the crux of my train of thought where I hope to be brief, to-the-point, and concise:
For universal understand, let's assume my take on Gritty Fantasy as being all about individual character survival adventures while High Fantasy is about world shaping survival adventure. In very loose terms anyway.

Observations / thoughts:
  • Though both earlier and later editions of D&D can be played in either a Gritty or High Fantasy setting, earlier version rules lend themselves better to Gritty Fantasy (ease of getting back into the game) and later version rules lend themselves to High Fantasy (more intricate character rules to enhance survivability, IMO)  better.
  • Typically older edition players, based on various polls  that I have read around the internet, prefer lower level games. Most like 1st to 3rd, some like 1st to 6th, and less still like 1st to 9th. The majority of the polls I read, show a significant drop after 'Name Level' play. This lends credibility to, in my mind, that we favor challenging individual survival play over 'save the world' type story arcs.
  • With High Fantasy play, survivability is more paramount to the success of an Epic Heroic High Fantasy adventure, hence the expansion of character rules detail, IMHO. New generation players are accustom to long survivable story arcs with 'save points'. It's more about the world changing story than simple character survival. Perhaps this is why later versions of D&D had such an impact on console and PC games?
  • When an OE party got to the point of being heroic, again IMO, it was that much more rewarding due to its rarity.
  • In my experience, when a character dies in a newer version game of D&D, there is a higher chance of the game concluding as opposed to earlier versions. It seems older versions were more conducive to bringing in a replacement character than later versions. You could bring in a lower level replacement character in moments and with the lack of required balance, it wasn't that much of an issue. Heck, it was even more or a 'horrifying' experience for that player. Spinning up an equal level character, to maintain balance, in later editions is time consuming requiring an extended pause, if not complete halt in play.
Well crap, I am rambling again and unable to codify my thoughts. But, I will leave you with a couple questions - considering that 'expectations', as Superhero Necromancer pointed out, may indirectly influence choice of rules, which intern supports style / type of play;
  1. Are we nearing the end of Gritty Fantasy being viable? Considering the emergence of the "Entitlement Society / Generation" that has spawned recently? I believe it just might be.
  2. Could this be the reason for the OSR? A form of backlash to said social changes? With that, is the OSR sustainable? Sure we can introduce new longer players to older version of the game, and they may like it, but as they develop and become aware of 'entitlements', will their desire to play world shaping level games emerge and as a result they switch to more 'modern' rules sets?
  3. If #2 is correct, is this why a preponderance of older version players are either young (say < 15 or 16 years old) or old (the age where people become disheartened with 'entitlements' and expect people to survive on their own)?
Wow... Did I ever get mentally deeper than I was able to ever convey while righting this! What a rabbit whole I have found for myself!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Elegia: Character

I have been interested in Elegia for some time. It might be something that I will look into as a rules base for Ukarea instead of Dark Dungeons. It is a bit lighter than DD, weighing in at svelte 42 pages. To check it out, I created the following character in minutes....

Sara Bellum
1st Level Female Rogue Hob

Strength: 7   (+0, 3-in-6)
Dexterity: 9   (+1, 4-in-6)
Intelligence: 6   (+0, 3-in-6)
Willpower: 7   (+0, 3-in-6)

Hit Dice: 3 (16hp)
Skills: Craft 1, Stealth 2, Perception 1
Resistance: +1
Move: 5"
Gold: 10

Equipment: Broad Sword (D+1, 15G, 1/4st), Dagger (D-1, 5G, 1/8st), Bow-Short (D, 30G, 1/4st), Arrows x20 (20G, 1/4st),  Leather Armor (DF7, 20G, 1st)  1 7/8st

Hob Bonuses: +1 Resistance, +1 Attack w/ Missiles, +1 Stealth, Surprised 1-in-6
Hob Penalties: Movement 4", Limited to 4 Stones + Strength Mod, Min Willpower 6, No 2-Handed
Rogue Bonuses: Wield Any Weapon, Crit on Natural 11&12 for +2D Damage, Unencumbered +1"
Rogue Penalties: Restricted to Leather/Chain,

I am sure I missed some of the minute' with the character, but I can live with that...


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Windows Woes

It appears that I decided to buy a laptop at just the right time. My trusted desktop, which I have run Ubuntu Linux on for years, has bit the dust. I got a laptop preloaded with Windows7 on it and thought I would keep it thus-ly so I could play some of the old D&D-esque games on it that I have lying around - Can you say, "Diablo?"

Anyway, I have found that much of what I have amassed during those years are no long compatible with my latest OS.  = (  GIMP is no longer an easy option (doesn't appear to have a stable x64 Window$ release), and I have no desire to fork out the cash for Photo-Shop, etc. I guess I will have to see what I can salvage from my external before I decide if I want to; keep Window$, dual boot, or go whole hog and change it to Linux...

Until then, I have been rebuilding a new Ukarea in Hexographer, which I am pleased with thus far, while skimming old blog posts in my blog list to see how I want to continue... If nothing else, trying to figure out how to recreate what I have done with the new OS has inspired me to push on with the project.