Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monitary Mapping

Over on Telecanter's Receding Rules, Telecanter spoke of The Pre-Mapped Dungeon and its effect on game play.

Introducing pre-mapped dungeons in the form of Player handout maps is an interesting topic for discussion. But past; whether it should be done, how accurate they should be, and the effects to game play, I had to wonder, 'Where do they get them?'

It would be assumed that either; the map is completely fraudulent (source had never been there), or if accurate, that the dungeon had been plundered by the cartographer at, or before, the time of the map's creation. Both could be circumstances that could lead to in-game disappointment for the Characters, and to a lesser extent the Players.

But what really got me was, "How did they get such a map?" One would assume that it was made for profit, as making a personally plundered map for oneself seems cost prohibitive unless it was used to extricate oneself from same.

So, assuming it was made for profit to be sold to others, how much would it be worth? Why don't Players ever try to sell their maps? Why don't big-wig NPCs hire Characters to map locations, even their regional terrain? And, if this was prevalent, should Characters receive experience for a successful cartography exploration?

A myriad of questions I must ponder upon!

Happy mapping,

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Messing Around With Wacom...

Just wanted to show off my new toy! Yes, I am not very good. I have been reading tuts and sketching all day and this is the best I have to show for it....
Much practice in my future, but at least I won't feel bad about crumpling digital paper and throwing it in the digital trashcan.

Constructive critism is fine, lay it on me.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Microlite20: Stats

Moving on, I have decided:

There are four stats the represent you Character;: Fortitude (FORT), Reflex (RFLX), Will (WILL), and Comprehension (COMP).
  • Fortitude (FORT) measure your character's ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. It is often referred to as Strength in may RPGs. (Strength of Body)
  • Reflex (RFLX) is the speed associated with the body and your character's ability to dodge attacks. It is often referred to as Dexterity in some RPGs. (Speed of Body)
  • Will (WILL) is your character's resistance to mental influence as well as many magical effects, often thought of or referred to as Wisdom in other RPGs. (Strength of Mind)
  • Comprehension (COMP) is the act or action of grasping with the intellect, and how fast the mind can process stimulus. It is thought of as Intelligence in other RPGs. (Speed of Mind)
Rolling for, and assigning, Stat scores:
Players should roll three six sided die, annotated as 3d6, and assign them to one of their character's Stats after being totaled, before rolling for another Stat. At any time the player may take a total rolled and assign it as their character's starting gold roll (discussed later).

Calculating Stat bonuses/penalties:
Each exceptional or sub-par Stat will either produce a bonus or penalty, respectively,  to rolls during play. This bonus or penalty can be calculated by subtracting ten from the Stat score and dividing by two, rounding down.

Stat bonus = (STAT-10)/2, rounded down.

There, procrastination complete and OCD fended off... for now.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Village Of Nickime

A quick post to show the Large Village of Nickime that I created from the "It's All About The Quarters" post I did yesterday. Again I want to thank Talysman, for the motivation/inspiration. I haven't gotten into digesting his response on the last post, but soon will.

*Edit: Roger, over at Roles, Rules, and Rolls, took creating settlements with coins even further with several interesting twist!*

Without further ado, here is the map of Nickime:
A Keep was placed for the quarter, and merchant/craftsmen got a larger building. Then I just added ten houses per fifty cent piece. Here is what the original map looked like, if you missed it:
I was initially worried about the placement of the Church/Shrine, but when I did the rough map I think it turned out okay.


Friday, December 16, 2011

It's All About The "Quarters"

So, while perusing blogs, I stumbled on Talysman's latest post: Mapping Towns and Cities During Play.

There, I saw a link to: The Quarter System. I thought, 'Cool... That would be neat!' So off I went, Mozilla buzzing, to find it was not what I had thought. It was 'Cool', just not what I anticipated.

This, is what I had in mind:
Coinage! Quarters!

That lead to this:
Where I started with a Quarter to represent the Castle/Keep. Inspired again by Talysman, here, I quickly decided that dimes would be crafts, nickles would be multi-entity establishments, quarters the controlling interest, and half-dollars would be homes.

I placed the Quarter, then a dime, figuring that the controlling entity would want them near. To support that, I needed homes. Each additional coin had to touch at least two others and homes had to touch the establishment it supported. Each craft/merchantile had to be as close to the 'hub' as I could get it, then its supporting homes. When at all possible I shared the edge of the homes with another half-dollar to represent how homes tended to cling together...

And bingo a rough Large Village was created, again based on this.

I will assume that there are three entrances into the Castle/Keep at each of the dimes, and for the most part that each coin that touches another has a major thoroughfare connecting it.

Now that I know what each can represent, I should be able to pick up some coins (the amount based on the size of the settlement) and have a ready made establishment.

What to do with the penny?... Ruins or Slums! Done.

Hope you like it, it is rather 'outside-the-box' for me, and it is all because Talysman blogged about quarters!


*The only thing I had a problem with was the Church/Shrine. It probably should have gone NE or SW of the Controller, but I didn't want it near a Stable or a Blacksmith.*

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Trying My Hand At Silhouettes

Wanted to try it out myself since Telecanter makes them look so cool!

First One I did took me about fifteen minutes. And it looks like it...

Learned a valuable lesson. Not all poses look right. This fellow in the original was setting up for a backswing. In the Silhouette, it appears that he is going for a forehand swing... meh.

Second one was this one, which took me about ten minutes.

You loose the pick-sword in Silhouetting him, but better. The outline doesn't look as jagged with this technique.

Fun though,


Monday, December 12, 2011

Microlite20: Stats Start To Solidify

**Edit: My 100th, and I missed it**
Thanks to the author of Beacon, Todd's response here, got me over the mental block I was having. Now I didn't take the suggestion as is, but the result is worth thinking about. The question I have to answer is, "Do the changes that I would make add to the game, based on my design goal, or detract from it?" Answer, "I don't know yet."

I am fairly certain that converting to Fortitude, Will, and Reaction is a solid decision. The vernacular is familiar enough to the 'old hands' that I don't feel it would be distracting, and might as I suggested, add to the feel I am going for. A fair tradeoff, if not a slight advantage for making the change.

But what about 'Comprehension'? Comprehension: 'capacity of the mind to perceive and understand; power to grasp ideas; ability to know'. Or in my laymen's terms, 'speed of mentally processing stimulus.' I like the symmetry. You have the toughness and speed of both the body and the mind in four stats. Combining each individually with a M20 skill results in a large pool of Saving Throw options.

My concerns are that a) it might alienate conventional D&D players by going too far afield, and b) comprehension is not 'commonly' used enough to be understood in this context.

In retrospect, I used Charisma primarily as the strength of the Mind stat, when I used it. But 'Will' is more fitting. So, in this, perhaps what Todd said is correct, "As a proponent of Charisma I would convert it to Will and come up with something else for the MIND stat (or just go fortitude, reflex, Mind and Will.)" This is how I had used Charisma in the past, but my OCD will not release the symmetrical beauty of the option discussed earlier in this post...

Okay, maybe it has not solidified, but I am vigorously mixing it around in my melon! Come on Jello!!!


Question? What question?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mirolite20: Considering Stats

Not having gotten any feed back from my initial discussion of Stats for the conversion of Microlite20 to the system I want to use for Humanity's Reign & Ruin, I flipped a coin and decided to move on by expanding on the assumption that I would use Fortitude, Reflex, and Will as the default Stats. These will equate to Strength, Dexterity, and Mind of the standard Microlite20 rulebook.

As I mentioned in the proceeding post, Charisma is an often added stat for Microlite20 (simply M20 for here on out). Though I usually play with this added stat, I am apprehensive in trying to add it, based on my current decision to switch to the fore mentioned; Fortitude, Reflex, and Will stats, because there is no save in this capacity found in the source material (d20 SRD).

Proponents of the, "Don't use Charisma, just make it a Mind save" for conventional M20, have a point, considering my choice to change the default stats. Though I did not like the idea of using Mind as a charismatic save previously, it does makes a bit more sense to me now as a Will save. Even so, I have been toying with the thought of adding some form of 'Composure' stat, and relating save.

On Stat Values: Determining stat values vary from incarnation to incarnation of M20. Purest Essence, which I consider to be the default version, has Players roll 4d6 and drop the lowest and assign them as they are rolled. I had been thinking that I would drop Stat values altogether, but have reconciled that notion to my pending True20 project of M20. So how do I want to generate Stat values? Neither of these approaches appeal to me for this iteration of rules. The convention of 3d6 in order is suitably 'old school', and has the advantage of being gritty especially considering my adaptation of Feats, which I will blog about in later post. Though I want gritty, I don't feel compelled to gimp the Players out of playing the Class that they want to play. This is a rather weighted decision because of the possible perception that I am limiting Players on Race, which again I will address in subsequent posts. The short of it however, is that in Humanity's Reign, Humans will be the primary Race and in Humanity's Ruin, Demi-Humans will be.

So, currently I am planning on going with having Players roll 3d6, assigning the highest to the 'Prime' Stat for their Class and the remaining two scores (three if I decide to go with a 'Composure' Stat) go in order for the other two (or three) Stats.

On Stat Bonuses: Like Stat Values, Stat Bonus calculations vary widely on their mathematical determination depending on version of M20 you are playing. Purest Essence says, "Stat bonus = (STAT-10)/2, round down." On the high side, this could grant a +4 bonus with an eighteen Stat Value ((18-10)/2). Though this corresponds to the source material, I am much more partial to the normal spread found in older versions of the game, ranging from -3 to +3 with the bell curve resting on a +0 for the 9 to 12 range.

So, do I want to stick with the convention established with Purest Essence and the SRD, or do I want to tone it down and flatten the bell curve  bit? This is a harder question to answer in my opinion, and one that I am not ready to decide upon at this time. Advantage goes to flattening the bell curve for the gritty feel I want, but unlike changing the Stat names, changing it adds one more hurdle for compatibility.

I hope you have enjoyed watching my head implode over what might be thought of as trivial decisions, but I would REALLY like to hear some input, or thoughts, on the matter.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Making A Pocketmod Book

While I sat and ruminated on my last post I considered how I was going to release it. I really like Pocketmods, but for a book, even a small one, more than one would be required. How would I break down the data? Some folks have released four to five Pocketmods, each with its own topic. For example; one for character creation, one for Divine Spells, one for Arcane Spells, one for Monsters, etc.

Looking at my computer desk... I would lose 'em! Sure they are easy to print out, cut, fold, and enjoy, but I wanted something all-in-one. Then I found this:

Instructions can be found HERE. Which utilizes four individual Pocketmods bound with kite string into a single book. That might just work for what I have in mind! That is thirty-two pages of Microlite20 goodness right there. Depending on font, it could work, if legible.

Then I found this from the same author, icspots:

Yep, that is 50+ pages! Her instructions for this little beauty can be found HERE.

What say you?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Am Truly Torn...

About what I should/want to be doing. I just got done watching an... 'interesting' movie, The Lost Future. Surprisingly, it wasn't terrible, but I digress. At the moment, I am considering whether to go play Oblivion, Blog about how I want to implement Microlite20, or read the latest version of Beacon (release 5, as of this post).

Life seems to answer many of my questions for me as I procrastinate; the living room (where the Xbox is) is full of kids watching T.V., and though I need to read Beacon before my pending play-test, I don't want it's greatness to influence my first decision on how I want to tweak the system to give the setting its own feel.

So to get started, for those that aren't familiar with Microlite20, "it is a trimmed-down, subminiature version of the Primary Fantasy SRD rules (see license for more info) that has been designed to be quick and easy to play. The goal was to create a simpler game, but one where all of the resources of Primary Fantasy SRD (monsters, spells, adventures and equipment) could be used without conversion."" ~ Microlite20 Purest Essence.

Basic Microlite20 kicks things off with Stats. It only uses three of the six 'common' stats you would find in other fantasy role-playing games, and its source SRD; Strength, Dexterity, and Mind. Charisma is a commonly house-ruled stat, though I am somewhat torn on its use myself. But, I am not sure that I want to use any of them for this incarnation of the system to represent adventurers in Humanity's Reign & Ruin (referred to as simply HR&R from here onward).

My intention for HR&R is for it to be gritty and low magic. How can I reflect this through the rules even now, as I approach "putting pen to paper"? Stats. Perhaps, rather than be conventional, I can convey the gritty feel now. As I skim the basic rules, something caught my eye. Something that always catches my eye, "Note that there are no “saving throws” in this game; use Physical + STR or DEX bonus for Fortitude and Reflex saves. Saving against magic (Will save) is usually MIND bonus + your level."

Everyday in HR&R should be a day to save versus something, so why not just use these commonly removed items for stats? Perhaps I should just use; Fortitude, Reflex, and Will, instead or Strength, Dexterity, and Mind. If players have a preconceived notion of this verbiage being associated with 'saving their proverbial bacon', then could having them as stats convey the gritty life threatening nature of the setting I want to produce? Or, as I fear (1), this would be too large a step away from the conventional?

Well that is the first small stumbling block in my path to getting underway, getting what is in my head and in a small mound of written notes, into a congealed setting and rules set.

I would love to hear some thoughts on this.


(1) Thought on Fear as I wrote the above post: How to project it into the game, by implementing some mechanic that makes sense?

Pocket Encounters...

Digging this... A modifiable Pocketmod of Telecanter's silhouettes, for encounter booklets!

Sorry, just wanted to give this a quick 'shout out'. Probably gonna post more tonight about Microlite20, so if you like that kind of thing, stay tuned.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's Got Me!!!

Yep, my addictive personality had me go out and buy the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion game for Xbox because my cheap personality waits for Elder Scrolls: Skyrim to be beaten by youngens, so I can pick it up on the cheap, used....

Well, now I am fully addicted to it! Too bad the 3d person view stinks on ice! Thankfully, the nausia I get from 1st person limits my play time, or I would get NO sleep.

Back to bashing baddies...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not Sure Why I Am Posting This...

But, since I posted a while back what I like: Mounted Characters, I thought I would post about what I don't like, or at least what doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Putting this down in a blog kind of surprises me - since they may be construed as being non-old-school.

  • Dungeons. Yep don't like 'em. They make no sense to me what-so-ever. A small one under a castle for prisoners, sure, but a large one for whatever reason... nah. Natural caverns, sure. A mega-dungeon? Not in my worlds. I can even go with some Dwarven mines and some billeting for the miners, but a conventional dungeon.... Why is it there? Specially when most have no rhyme or reason for their shape? Pass!
  • Vancian Magic. Another of the love-it or leave-it topics. I will just have to leave it. I feel so dirty... I guess it falls into my love of low-magic preference, but something as... incredible as magic, leaving your conscience after you cast it... nah.
  • Hit Points. Okay, I don't not like them, but the idea of them being 'wounds' is outside my level-headed obsessive compulsive comprehension. The best I can succinctly refer to them as, at this moment, is Resolve. I guess 'damage' falls into the same sphere. The best way I can explain my take on it is that it isn't damage to your opponent, but rather Advantage for the attacker....
  • Treasure. Not that I don't like it, but it makes no sense to me in the grand scheme of things either. I mean, why does a clan of Goblins have 'treasure' in the form of gold. Sure they are somewhat intelligent, but I just don't see them hording it either. What use do they have for it? I don't see them bartering with humans or demi-humans with it. It just seems to me that a society of chaotic, dungeon dwelling, defecate in the corner of their own 'living room', type of monsters wouldn't give... well two copper for the gold that humanity puts so much value into. If they are "intelligent" you would think they would push it all out under a tree or something to keep the big mean adventurers from ransacking their home. Now a bag of fungus spores... now that is worth fighting for!
I'll stop there before you think I shouldn't be allowed to blog about classic gaming and leave it on a high note:

Mounted Dwarves!! (Yes, again, pic used without permission and I have completely forgot where it originated from, but as always it can be removed should the originator request)


Monday, December 5, 2011

Critical Hits...

Something about -C's post here, has me thinking about an easy way to do Critical Hits. The post there really only mentions Critical Hits in passing, but something made me think, 'taking a penalty to hit should equate to something like a called shot, which in turn should cause more damage.' It was probably the similarities of how HPs started higher than other games at first level for Hackmaster. Same is true with my current rules preference; Microlite20.

This lead me to the following, which is not currently play-tested:

Taking a negative modifier to hit (say -3) will reduce increase the chance of a Critical (usually a natural 20) by an equal amount (17-20 in this example).

Typically in Microlite20, Critical Hits equate to max damage, but considering the inflated HPs that a character starts off with (typically Con Score, plus modifier, plus 1d6) we are looking at a rather large beginning threshold. I think to play-test it, a critical will do max damage + damage die roll (keeping in mind that my version of said mechanics will be 1d6 HP and Damage dice, exclusively). This could lead to 2d6 or 2-12 points of "damage" on a critical, which I think will scale well with the increased HP at 1st level

Part of me wants to make the damage die roll exploding as well, similar to what is described in the above linked post mentioned with Hackmaster.

I hope this will dovetail nicely with other alternate rules that I want to interject, such as Shields Shall Splinter (need to find link to originator) and some other choice bits.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think...

PS - I hope the new style is acceptable. My old eyes don't care much for black print on white expanses much anymore.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Help Me Find A Site...

Googling my arse off and for the life of me I can't find it! It was a 'random nemesis success' table. Each 'x' amount of in-game time, you rolled to see what success or failure a particular nemesis, protagonist, villain had. You had to acquire enough points (totals of your rolls) before the arch-villain could move on. It was a 'ticking clock' in the background so-to-speak.

Anyone know where I can find this?


Firmly In The Less Is More Camp...

Minimal systems are currently my preference. My Gamer ADD/OCD tends to have me wondering, so rules heavy systems don't seem to last. An example of a borderline too rules heavy system is Savage Worlds, that I began mulling over a while ago. I stopped then on page 78 and haven't returned.

I am currently fully entrenched in Microlite20, but what factoids I have gleaned from developing Savage Worlds - Plot Point Settings are interesting. For example; Plot Points, Set Pieces, and Adventure Paths and Delving into Design: Echo of Dead Leaves (Part II) (interesting reads if Plot Point Settings appeal to you). I am planning to attempt a similar tact while pushing ahead on a Microlite20 house rule set for Humanity's Reign & Ruin.

As I had mentioned, I envision Humanity's Reign & Ruin as being two settings, a before and after kind of thing. Humanity's Reign, as a middling magic, human-centric, middle-ages - with monsters, affair. The subsequent setting; Humanity's Ruin, a demi-human-centric, pronounced magic, humans are rare, dark and gritty - with monsters, affair. They tie together with my, for now only in notes and mind, game history.

Currently my approach to presenting these two, tied together, settings is going to be a short paragraph about each and allow the Rules, Tables (thanks to Zak's How I Want To Hear About Your Setting), and Plot Point Setting adventures to speak for themselves. I have a mental image of what, and how, the world and things in it coalesce, but have no desire to put out an expansive Setting PDF on it that no one wants to read. I think a simple Gazetteer focusing on the above, with maps, should suffice. Then six to eight Plot Points, with all the entail, for adventure.

At the moment, I am speculating on whether a Plot Point Zero adventure is in order? I think it would be interesting for the first adventure to be the 'lead-into the fall of Humanity' and have the Plot Point Setting Adventures lead up to that experience that the Players would have already experienced.

Thoughts on a Plot Point Zero for Humanity's Reign & Ruin?

Hopefully this is a beginning to an end...


Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Awesome Free, No Download, Table!

This has to be seen to believed!!!

It's called Taeble, and yes it is intentionally spelled wrong, but it rocks!

You can save it, host a game on it, and best of all customize it by bringing in maps and pieces from your PC or the Web! Nice! And it already comes with all standard D&D dice...

I so want to try this out with maybe Skype....


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Shout Out

To the players of the 4e Darksun game "Sun Burn: Wealth and Death in Athas"

Something I threw together since I found The Bunny Kit on a RuneScape Forum. Kit used with permission from Ethan Wykes creator of TheBunnyKit, which can be found at

Looking forward to our next game!


Monday, November 28, 2011


Over on Stargazer's World, I caught a whiff of a variant d20 OGL game named Legend by Rule of Cool. 

"The Legend system core rulebook is now available! Until December 9th, it can be accessed on a pay-what-you-want basis. All proceeds from the book go to benefit Child’s Play." - quoted from site.

Check it out, donate (it's a good cause), and download. It is an interesting take on the conventional d20 rules set, with subtle changes that reflect an interesting take on the OGL (through pg30 ATM). Perhaps a review once I finish Savage Worlds. Also, additional material is promised as financial goals are reached.


Why do I think...

...Mounted characters are cooler? Case in point: Dwarven Warrior, or this?!  (Note: all images used without permission and I will gladly remove them at the request of the artist.)

Or even this?

Place a character on a mount and they get infinitely cooler in my book, for some reason. Maybe it is the added power the mount gives them, though I have never professed to be a min/max power gamer. Past that basic observation, the rationalization of the epic awesomeness - that is mounted characters - eludes me.

My take on the best mount for some of the fantasy staples include;

Dwarves on Dire Bears
Orc on Dire Boars
Goblins on Worgs
Halflings on Raptors (Wolves/Dogs are alright, but come on, Halflings really need something epic IMHO)
Gnomes on Ostriches or Mountain Goats (terrain dependent)


Another must, in my book, is pets. I know where this philosophical predisposition comes from though. From an image I can't seem to find on the webs, that I saw when I first got interested in D&D, of either an Orc or Hobgoblin (Shaman I think) with a staff and two Dire Rats on chains, as pets. Then there was a module that had an image of a man in studded leather loosing his two war dogs. Think he was a warehouse guard or something...

Am I alone in this? Or, as suspected, I have finally lost it?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Adventures In Dark Sun 4E

Tonight was the first official meeting of our new 4e group, and I think a good time was had by all.

Scott: Evil DM
Chris: Shah - Male Genasi Bladesinger
Jeff: Torin - Male Dragonborn Warlord (*Edit* Found out it is Torrin)
Kim: Sadine - Female Human Rogue (*Edit* Found out it is Sadime)
Myself: Finnan - Male Halfling Ranger

[Note: I may have spelled names wrong and gotten the exact Race/Class wrong, but it is what I understood at the time. I also slip in and out of first and third person a lot... sue me.]

The following recap is based on my tired recollection, from the perspective of a corn-rolled  black haired, heavily scarred, beaten, and mad (read psychotic) cannibal Halfling....

We started off with an introduction encounter to learn the ropes. It was an ambush encounter along a path in the woods, by some "Ambush Spiders" - eight to be exact - if I recall correctly. Kim and I were the only two left standing after the encounter, and I think it could have been a TPK if the DM would have played the spiders to the hilt. Being used to older editions from years ago, I wanted to push just how far I could take the new rules and the DM. Seeing the Genasi, a race that I - nor my character - were familiar with, become a translucent form of sandman and sand-step across the battlefield, I had to try it! They all looked at me as if I were mad, and maybe they were right. I told the DM I wanted to do what he did, and describing myself spinning like a dust devil and trying to 'slide' across the sand. I rolled well, as I recall, and went into an attack were I then rolled a '1'. A critical fumble based on the house rules...Dizzy is what I got! good times!

But, basics were learned and lessons taken away...

Primer out of the way, cards were handed out to individuals that set the stage for our current predicament. I still don't know what the others cards read. Mine explained that following the events of my self created back-story, where I was kidnapped by Tri-Keen slavers, I was sold to a Templar of Tyr named Gorix, where I was badly beaten. A Human Female named Shantee sheltered me and took care of me while imprisoned as a slave. For whatever reason, I was packed up and shipped out in a caged caravan heading to who-knows-where.

Arriving at an oasis in the desert, our caravan housing; Torin, Sadine, and I, stopped to trade with another caravan who held Shah. Our caravan leader, a nasty Tri-keen, began to barter with the caravan leader of the other caravan, who was Elven.

Mid negotiations, a desert storm kicked up blinding us and choking us out. When we came to, we prisoners were all that were left alive. Shah sand-shifted through his bars, Torin ripped his cage apart with brute force, and Sadine picked the lock of her cage. I tried to kick the roof out of my cage to no avail and went a little Halfling mad, bouncing around my cage like a wild chimpanzee.

Seeing Sadine (a Human Female) scavenging the bodies outside my cage, I telepathically asked her to help me out. I suppose I shouldn't have referred to her as "Shartee" when I did though.... after some role-play, I believe she thought me mad. As they were about to depart they discussed what to do with me. Reluctantly Sadine picked the lock to my cage and set me free. I knew nothing of the group dynamic from a character perspective. I had spent my time rocking in the corner of my cage until freed.

I gathered my gear and discovered that Shah had appointed himself as guide and leader of the group while taking all items from the Elven caravan as "his personal" equipment. He is a smug SOB in character... Anyway, I kinda took a shine to Sadine, aka Shantee to me, and when Shah asked me what I could provide to the group I suggested I could help carry some gear. He wanted more, but I just stared at him. He asked again. I just moved my mini over behind Kim's, gave her a 'puppy-dog' look, and stared back at Shah's Player. Sadine didn't come to my aid, but Shah finally relented and allowed me to "tag along", and leading, headed out South-South-West....

"Wait! We're going the wrong direction." I say. I had looked at the map earlier. Tyr was South of the Wildernes Mountain Ridges that I was from. South of that was desert, and more desert. We didn't know how long we had been in the desert, but I knew (or wasn't told by the DM) about going through the mountains either. So based on this, I assumed we were heading deeper into the desert... Sadine was not too excited about going back to her home of Tyr, nor was Torin too keen on returning to his place of origin either. Figuring Shah was a self professed 'desert guide' they followed him, and I them. So, we followed Shah.

After several hours of travel we setup camp in some rocky outcroppings. Torin volunteered to take first shift and Sadine suggested that we work in pairs. I moved my mini to hers, but the group agreed that I would stand watch with Torin. Nothing happened our first five hours and we switched out. Just a half hour later, Shah perceives something. Torin, wearing just his shield as a blanket, and I, in my studded leather, got caught in a surprise assault of two large scorpions that came scuttling out of the darkness toward us. Sadine snuck around an outcropping to come in on their rear, but they moved faster than I thought they would.

One each attacked the Dragonborn and I. Getting a buff for the one that Torin had stood to attack, I rolled so as to not be attacked by the scorpion on me (5' shift), and dual attacked the one that he had bloodied. It went down the next round, either by Torin or Shah's Magic-Missile from above (he had taken watch from the outcropping above that we had sheltered under, but not before it grabbed me. So now I am held by a large dead scorpion while Torin got dressed no less!

Sadine sneak attacked the other and it turned on her. "No you don't" and I rolled back the other way toward it, after freeing myself, stating I was going to grapple the tail before it stung her. BAM! a 20! I immobilized it just about the time another GIANT Scorpion climbed up on the outcropping to attack Shah. Shah moved down and over onto another smaller outcropping to engage the larger scorpion when he discovered that it was "a beast" of a monster. Far worse than the "LARGE" ones that began the assault. It came over the edge for the three of us after Shah's retreat. I managed to pull off great rolls on a daily power; Sure Shot and Shah popped it with another Magic-Missile. Down it went.

Shah catches sight of another GIANT scorpion coming in from the other direction and Sadine moved to intercept. It grabbed her and Shah hit it with a Magic-Missile. Sadine broke loose as Torin closed and I tried to fire off a dual shot. Natural '1'!  (In Dark Sun weapons break. I could have tried a re-roll, but if I missed, my bow was toast. I chose not to risk it. Torin then gets caught up in the pincers of the Scorpion as he blocked for Sadine, and Shah closed, receiving a second attack attempt from the pinned Warlord's buff. It missed. Having the Scorpion 'bloodied', Torin decides to spit his acid breath on the giant scorpion! Template attack, and Shah is caught up in the attack but saves taking no damage. The Scorpion went down in a rig-goring pile of carapace and jellied entrails!!!

I still think we are going the wrong direction, but at least I am halfway to 2nd level!

*Que victor music*

All-in-all, great role-playing! Interesting using minis, which I wasn't used to, and combat didn't take as long as I had feared it would. Three large combat/role-play scenes between four and ten o'clock, with about a half-hour break to order pizza. It should go faster now that we all have a good grip of our character sheets (a must IMHO for fast combats in this version of D&D). Koodoes to Scott, the DM, for making all the role-play possible and not letting it be the 'board-game on steroids' I thought it could be!


Friday, November 25, 2011

It's Savage I Tell Ya!

With me playing in a new 4e game, with a new group tomorrow, what do I find myself doing? Going over the rules? Checking out my character so I can hopefully recall the multitude of things he can do? Nope! I am reading the Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF that I just bought in a bundle with Suzerain Pocket Universe on RPGnow! for $19.95.

I don't know if I will do a write-up on it as a review. There are plenty of those out there already I think. I will say that I was leery of buying it for its apparent necessity for miniatures. Then, when I read a review online about the Deluxe version having suggestion on how to get around this, I caved. Also, at 161 pages it is digestible... at least so far. I am on page 68.

Game on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Locked" In Combat....

Yes, it has been a while. I am tired, lacking individuality, and creativity at the moment. But, I have to get back to blogging....

I just wanted to expound on something I thought of while reading through, and cleaning out, some blog posts in my bookmarks. Namely on these from Zak and Telecanter back in... April, I believe.

Procedural Lockpicking - by Telecanter 

Making Picking Locks Fun, Disarming traps + Die Drop Fumbles - by Zak 


I think based on reading these and my current project, I wonder how cool it would be to make this into a combat mechanic? Something like:

  • (1) Bump = Block
  • (2) Probe = Thrust
  • (3) Rake = Slash
  • (4) Twist = Dodge
Need to take out a goblin, roll 4d4 and read them as what must be done to take them out: (2-Thrust, 4-Dodge, 4-Dodge, 3-Slash). Once the Player 'unlocks' the necessary move combination they get to describe how the Goblin is taken out. If they miss by one, they are 'stiff' and all unsolved dice are re-rolled (randomized)? If they miss by two, they are 'jammed', take a wound, and all unsolved dice are randomized?

In the spirit of Trollsmyth's "Shields Shall Splinter", perhaps getting 'jammed', the character could sacrifice a shield or some armor to avoid it like Zak's "Get out of jam free" cards?

I have NO idea what I am talking about actually but the idea sounds interesting... Not very Old School, but... hey, I'm blogging again!

As always,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Was Bound To Happen

It has happened again... I have had a mind jarring revelation when I should be working/writing on my latest projects. Based on a small fact, that I am sure others are already aware of, when it comes to role-playing; I am Lex Luthor.

First allow me to brain dump the sources of this epiphany before I elaborate:

Zak talked about, "Sandboxes And The Roguish Work Ethic"

Beedo commented that, "Story Matters, But Loot Pays the Bills"

Answers, in part, to my earlier "Click... Click... Boom!" post about Motivations. Both address Player motivation more, but they do give me some insight. 

I grok why and how to get a Player to push headlong into a dungeon of traps, mystery, and dark, but I am still floundering why the Character would do so without it being a game of Russian Roulette...


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where Did I Go?

Not sure anyone has noticed, but I have disappeared lately. I have fallen into the Clockworks of Spiral Knights and refuse to come out! I am 100% addicted to this game! It is F2P, for the most part, and is Java based (yes, I used to hate java games too, but this one is pretty high tech). You are limited by the amount of Mist Energy you get (takes Mist Energy to adventure into the 'dungeons')

To the left you can see my character, Baines. His is decked out in Magic Hood, Magic Cloak, Owlite Shield, Bomb and Sword in this particular SC. I have gone almost pure bomber currently with bomber armor and equipment.

If you check it out and make it out of the training area called The Rescue Camp and into Haven, add me as a friend and mention the blog. I will do what I can to help you out. It can be challenging in the beginning getting "self sufficient".

The Bane

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weathering the Weather

Over on Roles, Rules, and Rolls, Roger blogged about 'My Take on Damage from Travel.' I have seen, and used, many rules that pertain to environmental challenges. Some worked, some didn't. I thought about the ones I liked and bounced it of his 'requirements':

  • Players traveling in less than ideal conditions should risk daily damage to Hit Points.
  • The damage must be real Hit Points and heal in the standard manner - no extra bookkeeping. 
  • The damage should scale, so that high level characters do not outlast low level ones to a ridiculous degree.
  • Easy to remember.
and decided for me the easiest approach to cover these areas and 'get-the-job-done' would simply take what is already there and use it: Elementals. Make it combat against the Elements, which it is in a sense. Cold? Through some Water and Air Elementals at them. Just describe it as a cold wind that cuts through their clothing and slices to the bone. Rain and mud slogging conditions? Water and Earth Elementals. "Attacks' would be building a fire, finding shelter, layering/removing clothes, etc. Give them a chance to hit with a d6 damage every time they take proper precautions or actions to circumvent the effects.

Base the AC of the 'Elementals' on how well the party is prepared for the condition. HPs based on how 'strong' the conditions are to over come.

Well, just a tip from your 'Uncle Larry',

Sunday, May 8, 2011

City Crawling (pt2)

So I finished with the city. Ok, it might not be finished, but it is usable (I think). Just don't feel motivated to do anything else to it:
It looked better before I merged the layers down in GIMP. There wasn't all the white lines between the 'buildings'. Does bring to mind the cities I have been running in on Assassin's Creed.


Edit: No Background

City Crawling (pt1)

I have been enamored with Zak's Urban Crawl Rules for Slacker DMs since I found the post. I am not one for a lot of 'round' lines in an urban environment map, so I squared everything off using Libre Office (Open Office split since the buy out) Impress so I could quickly copy/paste the words and numbers. Again, just a thought experiment that I want to play out while I blog.

I am going to try this for the Manors, Villages, and Town/City of the Mini-Gazetteer I have been fiddling with. Zak started with Ten neighborhood and represented them with the words 'ONE' thru 'TEN' randomly written on a sheet of paper with varying colors of marker. This is a large City in my view, and was wondering how big various urban areas should be for a more 'medieval' feel. Ok, too much thinking, again. Go random, it is all the rage anyway:

Manor: 1 Neighborhood
Village: 1d4 Neighborhoods
Town: 1d6 Neighborhoods
City: 1d8 Neighborhoods
L. City:1d10 Neighborhoods

I am considering a single 'Neighborhood' as a flat 'footprint' of the urban area. It could, and probably should, have several 'levels' for larger urban settlements. I mean, If I roll a 1 on a 1d10 for a Large City, that small of a footprint will not house the populace. It would have to be built vertically instead of horizontally to do so.

Rolling a d8 for the City of Yorkcast I got a 4. So, four neighborhoods. I could arrange the words; one, two, three, and four for the neighborhood layout, but I don't want every city to have the same number words. So I want to roll a d10 for times to find the number words I will use for this exercise; four, eight, three, and three.

Off to copy/paste the words into a new slide... Done, but how should they be positioned? Starting with the first number, four, I decide that another random roll is in order: 1d4 (1 normal, 2 +90, 3 +180, 4 +270). A 2, so rotating the 'four' ninety degrees... Now the 'eight'... a 3, so one-hundred and eighty degrees... place on the 1d4 side of the 'four', starting at 12 o'clock as position 1 and going clock wise... a 4, or left side... now for the other two 'three's...

I moved some stuff around and added a protective wall:
Somethings just scream out at me now, as a visual thinker. For example, two entrances, one in the South connected to the 'T' in 'THREE' and one to the West connected to the last 'T' in 'EIGHT'. Add some towers, etc... (and trim the image so it doesn't take up a huge white chunk of the blog!)
Next I will overlay a random number (1-0) over each letter of the neighborhood to show back alleys and such. More to come after I watch some 'Merlin'...


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nine Pages of Awesome!

Over at GreyWulf's Lair, he has graciously provided a 9 page PDF of Undungeon. Though I have been too busy to post recently, I had to take a moment to link this. I really like it!

As the title suggests, nine pages of awesome.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Making Variable Damage Make Sense To Me.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, 1d6 or Variable Weapons Damage, I have made the switch to 1d6 for personal preference. But, if I continue on with my train of thought, supported by the previous poll, that HPs are a representation of stamina and ones ability to defend ones self while the Strength, or even Constitution, attribute takes the physical blood letting wound damage, I can progress.

**Random Thoughts**

Perhaps defending against daggers and quicker weapons reduces the opponent's Stamina faster than the less rapid form of fighting with heavier weapons, but heavier weapons do more damage than the lighter quicker variants when they hit?

Dagger 1d10 to HPs (Stamina), 1d4 to Ability (Wounds)
S. Sword 1d8 to HPs (Stamina), 1d6 to Ability (Wounds)
L. Sword 1d6 to HPs (Stamina), 1d8 to Ability (Wounds)
2H. Sword 1d4 to HPs (Stamina), 1d10 to Ability (Wounds)

Critical hits (usually on a natural 20, though some versions span this out for some odd reason to 19-20, 18-20, etc. depending on weapon) could go straight through to Ability wounds.

In a system where level approaches something akin to experience, perhaps it could play a part in the by passing of taxing the opponent and just 'going for the kill'? Maybe the difference between the level of the attacker and the level/hd of the defender is the range for potential critical. Where a 4th level Fighter attacking a 2hd Monster would crit on 18-20?

 But isn't this already addressed with most systems having some form of attack bonus as they level, and how does it play-out?

Perhaps the advantage of level experience should be on the backside of the hit adding the attacker's level, or level difference, to the Ability damage.

I don't know which to start with for play-testing, but I like the general concept and think it lends itself to what I envision as an exchange in combat. I think the difference in level to level or level to hd for additional damage is more what I am looking for, but do you add it to the reduction of Stamina too?

Too many questions to speculate on at the moment. One that just occurred to me is, does this diverge too far from core old school sensabilities?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1d6 or Variable Weapons Damage?

Over on the Blood of Prokopius blog, the discussion of Variable Weapons Damage using Holmes & Cook. Now, not one to get involved in various version discussions, I was compelled to address Variable Weapons Damage vs. a straight d6 damage model. As I stated there, I grew up on BECMI D&D and have recently switched to S&W:WB. One of the reasons, and as my previous poll alluded to, is that I no longer see a successful 'hit' as a blood drawing wound. So, if I don't, then why make a larger weapon do more damage? I can easily see a dagger wielding foe causing me to 'dance' from a flurry of slashes and thrusts in a round much more so than the swipe of a large axe. Granted a large axe will probably kill me faster when it does connect, as opposed of a death of a thousand cuts from a small blade.

All that said, I had been planning on going with a HP = Stamina / STR = Wound combat exchange anyway, so why not take it a tad further? What if a fast dagger wielding foe did 1d10 'damage' to my Stamina (aka HPs) but only did 1d4 to my STR once real 'wounds' started flowing? And a battle axe flailing barbarian does 1d4 'damage' to my Stamina and 1d10 to my STR?

Or at least something resembling that, should I ever have the desire to go back to Variable Weapons Damage.

Please, go check out my ramblings on Blood of Prokopius, where I might have made more sense, and have a look around. Nice blog if you haven't been there. Tell 'em a rambling idiot sent ya.  = )


By the way, I am heavily sedated on bed-rest at the moment, so please bare with me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mini-Gazetteer: Work in Progress...

Suppose to be studying for my Security + exam.... bah! more Mini-Gazetteer! Trying to figure out how I want to present it...

Barony of Malvethan: Background
This newly formed barony sits on the Northern border of Aerialdon. It was formed just forty years ago when Sir Deniam Yorkcast, leading a force of Aerialdon troops, pushed out the Goblin occupation that was raiding Aerialdon, and other lands to the South, from these lands. As a result Sir Deniam Yorkcast and a select few of his men were given estates within the lands now known as the Barony of Malvethan. Though the pre-existing independent towns and village were unable to work together to handle the previous Goblin infestation, some local inhabitants still do not like the current occupation any better under the current rule of Baron Deniam Yorkcast and his Manor Knights.

Barony of Malvethan: Populace 
  • Bytenyr Estate (2 Manors): This small estate sits on the Northern boarder of the barony's lands and is the first line of defense for Baron Yorkcast.
  1. [#4018] Ruler: Sir Enem Bytenyr, (Manor Knight | F4); Align: C (Supported); Motivation: Greed; Pop: 106; Resources: 2/3 Herd Animals, 1/6 Timber, 1/6 Copper; Forces: Hvy Cavalry x2 (F3-Knights), Lt Cavalry x4 (F2-Squires), Cleric (C3), 12 Med Footmen (F1) 
  2. [#4020] Ruler: Sir Toldat Oldpol, (Knight \ F3); Align: L (Ambivalent); Motivation: Duty; Pop: 98; Resources: 2/3 Grain, 1/3 Timber; Forces: Hvy Cavalry x2 (F3-Knights), Lt Cavalry x3 (F2-Squires), Friar (C1), 10 Med Archers (F1)
1 To the East, [#4517] a hungry dragon eats the flesh of man. (T&F)
2 Sir Bytenyr is planning to assassinate Sir Oldpol (F)
3 Sir Bytenyr's has dug too deep in the mines and has awoken a Wraith [#4117]. (T&F)
4 Sir Bytenyr is not well. (T)
5 Sir Oldpol wants to protect the village of West Minoford [#3721] from raiding Orcs! [#3422] (T)
6 A young girl went missing at the bend of the road East of West Minoford (T). She was swollowed whole by a giant snake that lives in the River Minoview there! (F)
7 Sir Bytenyr has promised riches to his serfs that will dig in the mines. (T, but has no intention of paying up)
8 Gazing into Minoview on a full moon will cause you to turn into a werewolf! (F)
Random Encounters: Day / Night
2  Wyvern / Wyvern [#4517] 2.78  Special
3  5.56  V. Rare
4  8.33  Rare
5  11.11  Uncommon
6  Foot Patrol (Squire, 2 Archers, 2 Footmen) / Horse Patrol (Knight, 4 Cavalry) 13.89  Common
7  16.67  Typical
8  13.89  Common
9  11.11 Uncommon
10  8.33  Rare
11  5.56  V. Rare
12  2.78  Special

  • Ognurlar Estate
  • Tobelark Estate
  • Rethysek Estate
  • Ganut Estate
  • Haverosse Estate
  • Urullik Estate
  • Codamor Estate
Village of West Minoford, Neutral
Village of West Crossmouth, Lawful
Village of Oakandria, Lawful
Village of East Witvale, Neutral
Village of Swordburgh, Lawful
Village of Satunbee, Neutral
Village of Witwarren, Chaotic

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Writing Actually Begins!

My Decleration of Intent seems to have gotten my mind right! The writing has begun and the big change for me, other than scrapping a large chunk of the bad fiction, is that I have decided to use Microlite20 as my go-to-rules set. I realize that many might not consider it 'OS' to use an SRD derivative work, but playing with Microlite20 with my girls sure has the old style vibe for me. Take it or leave it, I am confident that I have made the right choice. Especially after working on something as small as the Mini-Gazetteer using S&W:WB.

Just a rough mockup for a cover. Though, I am not sure what more I would want in one to be honest. Alot of my layout inspiration is coming from Beacon at the moment.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Declaration of Intent

Wow, what a week!

I haven't done much blogging this week, but I have been thinking some. Mostly about two things; what house-rules do I want / need to get the feel of the setting that I am trying to convey, and to a lesser extent, what rules should I use to base it on? The second, surprisingly, for me got answered thinking about the first, for the most part.

Design considerations. I wanted something that gives the feel of older style play, rulings not rules. I have two distinct settings / feels within Ukarea history that need to be covered. Produce something! - I have been ruminating on this for years, time to finally get a product out. Show, don't tell - it is more than just a presentation goal - time to put something down in digits from the myriad of notes. Scrap 80-90% of my notes! It is mostly bad fiction anyway. Less reading, and more writing. The more blogs I read the more 'great ideas' I have, but the less writing / development I do.

Ok, this blog post may not mean much to anyone reading it, but it is a major step for me I believe. More to come on my decisions and why. But for now, I am just excited to have finally made some solid decisions.

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bookmark Clearance

While digging through a multitude of bookmarks, to see what I could dislodge from the browser, I found two that I had forgotten about and would like to share:

Dawn of Worlds: a minimalistic world creation game that allows you and your gaming group to build a full fledged setting from ground up. Roll some dice, spend the points on anything from terrain creation to cultural explosion and wars. When the evenings over, you should have a map, time-line, and a lot of fun!

The Mule Abides: 9 Minute Campaign Design. An old post from Nov 2009 that asks questions to assist in describing your campaign setting in '9' minutes...

Nope, I can't do it either. But interesting none-the-less.


Poll: Every Hit Point of Damage is a...

Seeing a few of the recent posts on 'critical hits' and 'damage below 0' tables, I pulled up an old Trollsmyth bookmark: Playing with Death and Dismemberment. Why I had bookmarked it in the first place wasn't for a critical hit table, but for the novel idea of helm affects that were presented. Something that actually gives a reason for writing 'helm' on the character sheet in Oe D&D!

Now in retrospect, I like the idea of how it strengthens the idea that hit points are not necessarily physical, or at least not major life changing physical, until you get to below zero. I have often toyed with the idea of changing the name of Hit Points to something else, but just could not find the right noun. Besides, I might be burned as a heritic.

With this however, I imagine that armor would be better suited as DR. I don't know. What I am curious about is how do you envision/play-out hit points in your game?


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mini-Gazetteer: Thought Experiment

I got side-tracked doing research for Ukarea and thought I would take a break and work on the Mini-Gazetteer. I have the map I created earlier, and wanted to work on populations and how they corresponded to each other before adding a bit of detail to the notable NPCs. I started with this:
Originally I had some ideas, but none near enough to get a feel for the whole setting. So, I turned to some randomness and color:

1d6 (Ruler is:)
1-2  Lawful  (Yellow)
3-4  Neutral  (Green)
5-6  Chaotic  (Black)

1d6 (Ruler is X by Populace:)
1-2  Opposed (Red)
3-4  Neutral  (Blue)
5-6  Supported  (Lt Green)

I was going to elaborate on the results, but think that I will leave it up to the interpretation of any GM that might want to use it.

Immediately things jump out at me; take the Haverosse Estate in the South-East. The estate's Vassal Knight is Neutral and opposed by his populace. The other two Haverosse Knights are Chaotic and the populace is ambivolant. Perhaps the Vassal Knight's people are unruley do to the success of the other two Haverosse Knight's? Perhaps, if the Chaotic Haverosse Knights throw in with the supported Chaotic Knight in the Urullik Estate, they could overthrow the Lawful Urullik Vassal Knight there? The supported Neutral Urullik Knight would probably not interject, and the Neutral Haverosse Vassal Knight could be usurped, turning the two estates 'Chaotic' and against the Baron in short order? As long as the populace in Haverosse did not change their oppinion of their rulers for doing so. (Reaction Roll please...)

I like it. Falls into the inspirational, without giving too much mind-numbing detail, I believe.

(other than my spelling sucks: Blogger doesn't seem to want to assist me with it today)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Getting Carried Away

More GIMP Goodness: I was messing with the peel-back of the last image I had done, and suitably darkening up the Humanity's Ruin pic, when I decided to try something else...

Kinda wish I could figure out how to have the before/after knight showing rather than the castle before/after. But, I am digging it.

Messing around...

Come again,

Humanity's Ruin Image: A New Beginning

So I started messing around with the Humanity's Ruin image and the OCD and ADD kicked in:

Humanity's Ruin: A New Beginning

Not exactly what I set out to do, but....



While I was posting the above, I had GIMP minimized and when I returned to it, this was there:
Strange Results
I can't explain it... perhaps my keystrokes were still effecting the image? It was the only layer and was called Copy#8. Strange! If I could only do this to the 'Humanity's Reign' image!

Images for Ukarea

I got to thinking I wanted some images for Ukarea. Searching the Internet I found this in the public domain:
Very nice for the human-sentric first half of Ukarea's history: Humanity's Reign (TM). I started looking for an image for the second half of Ukarea's history: Humanity's Ruin (TM)... Not so much luck. Then I got to thinking edit what you have! So I came up with these:
Reign 1
 Reign 2
 Reign 3
I obviously have some work to do on the Ruin image. I don't like how the light on the leaning knight hits him, and want to add some shadow to the ruins.

I would love to hear which of the 3 Reign pictures I should use though...


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.