Wednesday, August 19, 2009


So, I have a friend who owns a used booksore/comic store. He used to own two, but just had to close one, because as you can imagine, selling used books is becoming a dying art. Anyway, I had to go by his store today (to pay my annual football pool fees 8). I poked around for a while, shot the breeze, bought a bunch of valueless comic bundles for my classroom. As I was leaving, I saw a copy of DEITIES & DEMIGODS up on the wall. I said, that wouldn't happen to be the version with the C'Thulhu mythos stats in it, would it? Sure enough, it WAS. And is GOOD shape... no torn pages, a couple pencil marks, not much discolouring of pages, cover binding is still awesome and unscuffed and unstained. Not believeing my luck, I asked him, how much?


As you can imagine, I almost set the money on fire, I got it out of my wallet so fast.

I have been trying to acquire one of these for YEARS, but they always got bid out of my league at the last minute on eBay. But now... IT IS MINE!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I shouldn't go shopping on my own...

So... I had some spare time at the end of my holidays today, so I went a questing. My primary stop was to hit the new locaion of Pendragon Games.... it was an old gaming store that I haven't been to in over 15 years (ever since they man my friend and I out on the accusation of trying to rip them off... long story short, my buddy bought a copy of WHITE DWARF while the person at the til was on the phone. She was paying more attention to the phone call than us, so when my buddy gave her a $20 to pay for the WD, she put it in the till without giving us change, then forgot she had done so. She asked for the money, we said, "We just paid you... we're waiting for change,", she told the manager who wandered out to see what was up we hadn't paid, he screamed at us for trying to beat him for $7, threw us out, and I never went back). Anyway, Pendragon is the only TRUE gaming store left in the city. So, I went fo a visit...

... and walked out with a copy of the Cyberpunk v3 rules, and the SAVAGE WORLD OR SOLOMON KANE hardcover RPG. I almost bought DARK HERESY as well, and was thinking of buying some of their used stuff, but I think they were getting their prices off eBay ($10 for a copy of ISLE OF DREAD that looked like it's been chewed by rats? $25 for a book of hex mapping paper? $375 FOR A USED COPY OF X11!?!?!? No thanks...). I looked at picking up ARKHAM HORROR too, but at $75, I declined.

However, I was surprised and heartened to see how much stuff they carried.I saw copies of SWORDS & WIZARDY, and tons of other little RPGs I've been reading about... Ironically, however... no Warhammer/Warhammer 40K stuff AT ALL.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A realization

So, I think I finally realized something today. I've been slogging along, preparing my Greyawk campaign. I've been coverting B1 to fit, and to do that, I've basically been cut and pasting the text from the original module, and then adding some stuff. I was getting bored, because I started finding it tedious. "Oh, to be creating dungeons like the one-page dungeon formats..."

Then it hit me.

I am making this WAY too difficult. I keep writing my modules or adventures like they're a BOOK, or a story. I'm trying to put the same detail I would as if I was writing a novel. I think back to all the old TSR modules I used to love, and I loved READING them more than PLAYING them. ut... why am I doing this? I don't need to be writing novels for my games... I should try to have less is more, and do more winging it. Let the game develop organically. And I credit all the reading of blogs and old-school gamers for this sudden revelation.

So, I'm going to go back to mhy B1 retro-fit, and redo it. I'm going to write a few paragraphs of general overview, and then redo the room contents with a much, MUCH simpler description. Hopefully, I won't get burned out as quick while preparing stuff.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Keep on the Borderlands: From TPK to eternity...

So... we FINALLY got to play tonight! A small group, only three players... my buddy Mike, my buddy Steph, and my buddy Tim's son, Zac. All have various experiences with AD&D of various flavours, but non thought they had ever played Basic before. I just wantd to PLAY dammit. We started making characters at 7, over pizza. 3d6 in order, but we used the Basic rule of being able to drop 2 points in some abilities to raise your prime requisite by 1. Went quite well... Zac had a fighter with 18 STR, but only 6 INT. He ended up named Ugh. Steph went with a mage, named "The Character Formerly Known As Prince".... so we just called him Prince. Mike made a female elf, name A. As expected, the TPK occured quickly. We started out rather silly... arguing with the men at arms in the tower, attacking gates (which didn't go well), and deciding to journey to thCaves without even looking around the Keep. Since they left late in the day, I actually used wandering monster rolls, and decided they ran ino the bandits south of the Keep at sundown. Outnumbered three to 1, they of course decided to fight. First round, lousy initiative, 2 dead characters. 2nd round, I gave the last character a chance to surrender. He declined, but managed to get one of the bandits horses to throw him, killing him in the fall when he landed on his head. Of course, the elf died shortly thereafter. Less than 2 hours door to door.

So, now that they knew I was going to school them if they got stupid, we tried again.

New characters. Now we had... another female elf named Mama Chopita (don't ask), a cleric named Brother Joseph, and a cleric named.... Brother of the character formerly known as Prince.... who became known as Brother Prince. This time, they actually poked around the inn and the tavern. After hearing a few tales, they tried to recuit some local yokels. The leader of the yokels declined, but to btohers, Zeke and Zebekiah, signed up. Zeke had such a positive reaction (a natural 12!) that he suggested their other brother Ulflucase (they called him Luke, everyone else called him Ulf) join them. Zeke and Zeb signed on for 3 gp a day, plus leather armor and a dagger. Ulf (a level 1 randomly generated thief, with a +1 longsword but only 2 hp) joined on as well, giving us six characters. They journeys to the caves, and decided, at random, to enter the ogre cave first. After awakening the ogre with a Magic Missle (which did little more than awaken him), they attempted to parlay, but when they couldn't meet his demand of 20gp to forget he saw them, melee ensued. In the first round, poor Zebekiah bought it when he failed his morale check, turned tail to run, but being in the front row, he couldn't get away... and got squashed by the ogre (3 hp, hit for 11 damage). A highly chaotic fight ensued, marked by pathetic rolling, and an enraged Zeke finishing the ogre by doing 8 points of damage with 2 well-placed dagger strikes to finish him off. By the end of the battle, Zebekiah was dead, dead, dead, Ulf was at -6 (healed to 1 hp and unconsciousness), and everyone was battered. A quick investigation revealed treasure in the small side cave, and also the secret door. However, the incautious party roused the suspicions of the goblins on the other side of the door. The first who stuck his head through the door was promptly slain by an enraged Zeke, but then the other 5 piled through the door. The quick witted Brother Joseph doused them with the brandy found in the room, and a well placed DEX check allowed Mama Chopita to light them on fire. Some spectacular damage rolls later, 4 of the 5 goblins died in the conflagration, and the last ran around the room wildly, on fire, until put out of his misery. The party quickly carted out the dead and wounded, along with all the coins except for the bag of copper. However, upon returning to camp, the pary basically attempted to screw Ulf out of his promised share, saying his share was left back in the cave, plus they owed him for the multiple Cure Light Wounds spells and carrying his near-dead unconscious ass out of the caves. They managed to return to the Keep, but while the party got their coins counted and converted (although the Bank wasn't happy about them trying to rip them off with the fake gold coins), Uld appealed to the Captain of the Watch for succor. An impromptu trial occured in the bank, the result of which was Ulf giving up his share of the treasure (the bag of coppers left back in the cave), and receiving 30 gp for his troubles. What the party doesn't realize is they now have a VERY bad rep amongst hireling, and can expect to have NO help, unless they get lucky and encounter a random adventurer in the tavern.

At this point, we had been playing for 6 hours, so we divided up the XP, and called it a night. I hope to turn this into a monthly event (even if it means trying to drive back in to Winnipeg once a month once school starts, which will be tough when I will have volleyball tourneys every weekend to help coach). However, I had a BLAST tonight... once I got back into the swing of things, it went pretty well (considering I had 2 laptops in front of me, instead of screens 8). I look forward to next session!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things continue apace

So much for global warming. Summer has been a bust so far... cold and wet weather makes hanging out at the beach difficult.

However.... been plugging away on my AD&D campaign, but also doing some prep for my one-off B/X game. I think I'm gonna run them through B2 straight up... if we actually go beyond that, I think I'll run them at B7 Rahasia next (or maybe flesh out B1 for them), and then, if we're STILL running, either tackle B4 or X1. I'm really excited.

I've also started thinking about creating my own world... so far, I've been doing some thinking of some creation cosmology. I have come up with a rather unique take on things, that would not only explain halflings.... but make them more like the elves always end up being in other games. Maybe I'll start posting the bits and pieces of the story on here, when IO get it straight. It's quite good, is I say so myself. 8)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day

I didn't win the One Page Dungeon contest. I didn't even show up on the radar. I'm not upset about this, but the anal-retentive perfectionist in me can't wait to see what DID win, because I HATE losing, and not getting any feedback on my entry will drive me crazy.

Otherwise, things continue apace... another school year in the books (thank GOD!), summer is finaly arriving, I'm working little by little on redoing B1 as part of my campaign (basically, I took the idea of Quasqeton being linked to the Caves of Chaos via a tunnel from RttHotB, drew up a whole bunch of caverns between the keep and Quasqueton, and drew upon the idea of the cult and bandits now using Quasqueton as a staging ground to go after the Keep). Lots of running around for the next couple weeks, then I plan to spend an uninterrupted month readin at my cabin. Life is good.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Narrowing things down

I spent tonight watching Best of Japan 2001 puroresu tapes, and norrowing down what house rules I'm going to try and implement in my upcoming campaign. Well, I also watched Pittsburgh hammer the Red Wings first, and even though I HATE Pittsuburgh (as a lifelong Flyers fan), I want them to beat Detroit and win the Cup. Go figure.

Anyway, here's what I'm going to work with...

* I'm still debating about coming up with a unified experience point table. Basically, if I do, then that means I'm using free multi-classing. If I don't, I don' think I'll allow any multi-classing. Right now, I'm leaning towards unified XP table, and free multi-classing.

* I'm also toying with the idea only allowing fighters, clerics, mages and thieves to multi-class. In other words, you can ony multi-class using the four core classes. Previously (I think), I put down my thoughts here on multi-classing, with who can be what, and restrictions, like you can't take a paladin level if you have a hief level, and stuff like that. However, this way makes it a LOT easier to keep track of.

* I'm still juggling what to do with non-core classes. I think I'll keep rangers and druids for sure, and probably paladins. No one ever plays bards, so I'm not worred about them, and as much as I love monks, I'm still debating how to fit them in. Since the ability requirements for most of the classes will make them hard enough to qualify for anyways, I'm thinking I will allow them, but only if you start as that class, and that means you can't multi-class them. I really want to just roll druids into a specialty cleric class (like illusionists and mages), but I'm not sure yet. Maybe I'll make druids as specialty clerics who follow the Old Faith, and ONLY those druids can be "druids".... other druids are simply specialty priests of nature deities, and get none of the "druid" abilities.

* I'm allowing my magic-users to use edged weapons of up to long sword size without penalty. I'm also going to allow them to wear padded, leather or.... elvish chain mail armour without penalty. I figure that if the elves are so attuned with magic, then you should be able to wear the unencumbering armour and cast spells as well. Clerics can use edged weapons if allowed by their faith... otherwise, they can only use common weapons (staff, club, flail at BEST... no mace, no morning star).

* Magic-users and clerics have two options for casing spells. If they choose the traditional (Vancian) route, then they have to select and memorize their spells each day, BUT they can have extra spells as determined by high INT or WIS. Spontaneous casters can use a "spell point" system to freely cast any spell which is in their spell/prayer book withough memorization, but they cannot use exra spells from high INT/WIS. I am also giving spontaneous casters a bonus: spontaneous mages can opt to attempt to counter opposing mages' spells (INT check to identify opposing spell; if they succeed, they can expend a number of spell points equal to the spell's level to counter it; if they fail the INT test, then they either can't identify the spell, or misidentify it, leading to guessing how many points to use, and wild surge hilarity ensuing), while spontaneous clerics may atempt "prayers of desperation" (casting spells not in their prayer book; WIS check to be allowed to cast it, failed WIS check means CON check or lose ability to cast further spells until rested). I'm really interested in seeing how this works out.

* I'm going to use my skill check / proficiency system. Characters can determine their starting proficiencies, bu after that, pretty much ANYTHING they want to attempt will be governed by skill checks (with appropraite modifiers). Proficiencies will basically operate as skill check modifiers. When a characetr has succeeded at enough skill check of a certain "proficiency", then they get a level in that profinciency. Easy as pie... I hope.

There's what I'm using so far. I'm also thinking of timkering with the spells available for mages and clerics, making for a very low magic feel (only having maybe 6-12 commonly known spells/prayers per level, and making all other harder to acquire, especially named spells). I also want to make my magic items a little more unique, so every weapon has SOME sort of history or legend attached to it (even the lowliest sword +1... maybe it's more of a masterwork-type item).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Slow down

As with everyone else, it seems, I've been slacking on the posting lately. Nothing major... just trying to get out and walk more on the (few) warm days, oh, and I've been playing DAWN OF WAR 2 like it's crack. 8) But, I finished the campaign now, and I'm back to working on my campaign... been working on the blown-up map of the hex I'm using. Right now, I'm using Kellri's Old School Encounters and inspiration from FIGHT ON! #3 to draft the details in short form about other locations on the map. I've drawn up some catacombs that I have to populate that will connect the Caves of Chaos to Quasequeton, and I have to populate Quasqueton, but then I should be ready to go. 8)

Monday, May 11, 2009

A question of scale

So, I finally sat down in earnest and started working on my Yeomanry campaign. First off, I poked around with Return to the Keep and In Search of the Unknown a little. I have decided that the connecting tunnel mentioned between the Caves of Chaos and Quasqueton exists, but I have decided that it runs through lots of natural caverns, which housed other bugaboos, who have prevented said tunnel from being used very much. I'm also going to use these caverns to explain just what happened to the two heroes from B1.

I've also been doing some wilderness mapping, but here's my hitch.... I'm using the Living Greyhawk metaorg map of the Yeomanry as my guide (minus the location of Slerotin's tunnel and Dark Gate... these don't exist). Each of the hexes on this map is said to equal 30 miles. I started mapping by drawing a gigantic blown-up approximation of the starting hex (where I am placing the Keep, the Caves, Quasqueton and a small starting town), but I'm having trouble with my scale. I'm using a numbered hex map to represent the larger hex, but I can't wrap my head around the scale. Is 1 hex = 30 miles mean 30 SQUARE miles? Or that each hex is 30 miles North to South in distance? Right now, I have it so that, if I assume that each large hex is 30 miles N-S, then my smaller hexes are each about 1.25 miles. I went with that, but then I kind realized... I think this is WAY wrong, because it makes that hex HUGE. BUT, if I consider 1 hex = 30 SQUARE miles... then that doesn't leave a hell of alot of room in each hex for extras.

My original plan was to map out about 8 of the larger hexes in detail, and use that as a "sandbox" for my game. But now, I'm not so sure. Anyone got any advice?

(Cross-posted to the CANONFIRE site, for help from the 'Hawkers. 8)

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Own Private Appendix

If everyone else is doing it, why can't I?

My own version of the famed Appendix N

* JRR Tolkien's THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy
* Weis and Hickman's DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES trology and "Test of the Twins" trilogy
* TSR "Endless Quest" books, esp. RETURN TO BROOKMERE and DUNGEON OF DREAD
* Stephen King's THE STAND and SALEM'S LOT
* Leiber's Fafhnard and the Grey Mouser novels, esp. SWORDS AGAINST DEVILTRY
* Terry Brooks' Shannara books, especially WISHSONG OF SHANNAR and THE SWORD OF SHANNARA
* H.P. Lovecraft
* Robert E. Howard
* Miyamoto Musashi's THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS
* George Alec Effinger, esp. his Marid Audran novels
* Bruce Sterling, esp. HEAVY WEATHER and ISLANDS IN THE NET
* Brian Daley's Han Solo novels, esp. HAN SOLO AT STAR'S END
* Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy of STAR WARS novels, esp. HEIR TO THE EMPIRE
* Michael Stackpole's X-WING: ROGUE SQUADRON novels
* the original STAR WARS trilogy of movies
* Monty Python and the Holy Grail
* the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA tv series
* MILLENNIUM tv series
* THE X-FILES tv series
* LOST tv series
* THE PRETENDER tv series, esp. the first two seasons
* DARK SKIES tv series
* the first season of DARK ANGEL tv series
* Toho GODZILLA movies
* the ILLUMINATI game
* the ARKHAM HORROR boardgame
* Queensryche's OPERATION: MINDCRIME and RAGE FOR ORDER albums
* Front Line Assembly's TACTICAL NEURAL IMPLANT album, esp. the video for "Gun"
* Radiohead's THE BENDS and OK COMPUTER albums
* Pop Will Eat Itself's DOS DEDOS, MIS AMIGOS album
* the art of M.C. Escher
* the art of H.R. Giger
* Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run on THE UNCANNY X-MEN, esp. "Days of Future Past"
* Mike Grell's run on GREEN ARROW, and JON SABLE, FREELANCE
* Mark Waid and Alex Ross's KINGDOM COME
* Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's original WOLVERINE mini-series

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Examining XPs

So, as part of my home rules, I was doing some number crunching today with XPs. As I've said before, I'm thinking of making a single XP table, much like there is in 3E. So, I sat down tonight and crunched the numbers, through 20th level. What did I find? MAN, there's some WHACKY XP requirements for levels in 2ed. For instance, clerics and druids (which are, more or less, a specialty cleric), are pretty much on a parallel until you hit 6th level. Then, things start going whacky. It suddenly becomes AWFULLY expensive to be a cleric - to the point where, by 12th level, you could have 3-12th LEVEL DRUIDS for the XP cost of 1-12th LEVEL CLERIC. However, things swing back in line pretty quick, as within 2 levels, Druids have made up that gap, and within 3 levels, you could now have 2-15th level clerics for the cost of 1-15th level druid. Plus, druids kinda get screwed once they get to Heirophant levels, where their numbers go WAY out of line. Also, thieves are cheap in every sense of the word.

I did some averages for all classes, core classes, and alternate classes (considering paladin, ranger, druid, bard, and monk and assassin from THE SCARLET BROTHERHOOD as alternate classes), and got some interesting results. It's actually CHEAPER, on average, to be a "specialty" class until 13th level. Then, the XP creep finally catches up with you. All in all, druids and thieves REALLY screw any attempts at averaging out an XP table, because druids are unnaturally cheap at early levels, and thieves are just plain cheap. You would think, if you were going to use the XP for gold rule, that thieves should maybe be MORE expensive, since they would benefit from this the most.

For instance, at 40,000 XP, you could have a 6th level fighter, paladin or ranger, well on their way to 7th level, about one and a half 6th level clerics or monks (1 cleric/monk who is a little short of 7th level, or a 6th level cleric/monk and a 5th level assistant), two 6th level druids (or a 7th level druid nearing next level), one 6th level wizard, or two 6th level thieves, bards or assassins (or one 7th level thie/bard/assassin). At 1,000,000 XP, you could have a 12th level fighter, an 11th level ranger or paladin very near to leveling up, a 12th level cleric or monk, THREE 12th LEVEL DRUIDS (or one druid halfway between 13th and 14th level), a 12th level wizard close to leveling up, or TWO 12th LEVEL THIEVES AND AN 11th LEVEL THIEF (or one thief just under 15th level). Just think... you could have 3 TIMES THE AVAILABLE SPELLS by having three 12th level druids, or THREE BACKSTABBING MACHINES by having three high level thieves. It seems a little... unfair.

For some reason, thieves and druids are WAY out of line here.

The thing I found the most is how odd it is that the XP tables start out as routinely doubling for most classes, but then at some point,it simply become adding a set amount on top of the previous level. In a way, it encourages outrageously high level characters, because when you reach the top level, it starts to plateau, instead of an even exponential increase (is it even an exponential increase? I teach English, not math).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hollow World

Anyone know how many books were in the D&D HOLLOW WORLD box set? The Acaeum isn't much help to me on this matter. Also, anyone know how many HOLLOW WORLD modules/sourcebooks came out?

You know what I hate?

When you start reorganizing your stuff after a breakdown, and realize that SOMEWHERE, you accidentally deleted your digital copy of the COmpanion D&D Module THE ENDLESS STAIR. Doesn't that tick you off? And it's not like a copy will ever magically appear in the inbox of suprunown at gmail dot com.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Being thinkative

I happened to be looking through the Basic edition character sheets today (long story). Anyway, when I go to the spell lists section for M-U's and clerics, I was struck at how few and simple the spells were in B/X. And that gave me an idea.... I think I'm going to steal those basic spell lists, and use them for my campaign. Each level has about 6 spells (maybe 8) that are readily known, and these are what you're going to have a chance to learn when you want a new spell. And they will be VERY basic spells. Anything else, and the mage has to do some wheeling, dealing and journeying. Anything with a person's name in it will be EXTREMELY hard to get ahold of. I haven't thought about how this will work with clerics yet... I'm thinking of leaning more towards the idea of clerics spells are less spells, per se, and more prayers/invocations/rituals. This, there will be some commonly known prayers
, but for others, you would have to consult with a higher up in your church (because some of those rituals will be more like heretical witchcraft, don't you know). In both cases, he more you invoke magic/the power of the deity, the easier it is to tap into this resource, which would explain how magic-users or all stripes advance. I now realize that this is subconsciously a lot like rituals from 4ed, but since I haven't read 4ed, and don't know how they work, I'm blissfully ignorant. 8)

Not only do I feel this puts the "umph" back in magic, but I can tinker with the magic limitations too. Instead of having mages memorize spells, I can more easily swtch to a spell point type of system, because if you only know 3 first level spells, you shouldn't need to constantly rememorize them. It makes magic much more "organic", which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing. It also makes sense that if a cleric knows the prescribed prayer for a certain situation, then they should be able to use it any time. I have't quite figured out a rationale for prayers yet... I was thinking of something along the lines of you need to invoke the proper words for the deity to take notice. I might allow clerics to try and invoke prayers ("spells") without knowing the proper prayer, but having a HEFTY chance of failure.... or perhaps the chance of offending said deity with your presumptuousness, and never being able to invoke that prayer again.

By the way, I'm thinking this all out loud, because it helps me visualize my ideas. 8)

So, for mages....there would be six basic spells in every level, representing the most common manipulation of magic. I'm thinking, straight coversion of spells, with a first leevl spell costing 1 point, a second level spell costing 2 points, etc. Then, I just convert the spell table, by adding up how many points the available spells per level would equal. So, while it means you may be able to cast stronger spells earlier, or MORE stronger spells, the drawback is A) you would have to spend more time tracking down the spells you would want to use, B) you would likely end up casting fewer spells per day, if you cast more higher level spells, and C)I would think that your master would not reveal higher-level spells until the appropriate time (ie. if a mage doesn't usually get access to say, 4th level spells until say, level 7, then any 4th level spells he has beofre level 7 will have to be ones he finds on his own.... he won't learn the invocations for the 6 regular spells until 7th level). I think this might work... it's pretty straightforward.

In other news, I'm thinking of starting my campaign by using the Retrn to the Keep on the Borderlands in the Yeomanry. I have the text document that "fixes" the keep to make it a little more useful, and when I was reading it, something caught my eye. The reference to turning Nergul into Nerull is fine, but instead of making Erishkital a demon queen... I'm going to change her into the Raven Queen. It works, and maybe I can do something usefull with that down the road. I'm going to use her as a heretofore unknown minor goddess of death, make her real obscure. Just for fun, mostly.

Time to start writing down all these house rules... I've already decided I'm going to test-run the campaign with some old gamer friends n the summer, work the kinks out, and then run it in the fall with the group I want to indoctrinate. 8)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Page Dungeon

Well, things are going well. I had an idea for a WICKED trap to base a dungeon around. I currently have two maps going... one small one that focuses solely on the dungeon, one larger one that has a little more going on. I have to decide which will be able to have justice done to it with only one page. 8)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Taking a big step...

So, I've decided to whip up something for that One Page Dungeon Contest everyone is so high on. It will be my first attempt at making a dungeon in almost 15 years. I thought long and hard about what to do, and came up with a seemingly good idea. I already have the map roughed out (plus some room to expand), and some ideas for the dungeon itself. Now, I just need to decide how deadly to make it, and what stock it with.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My take on the whole WotC PDFgate

I was organizing my gaming files, after finally getting around to grabbing my portable drive where I store all my downloads. I had a legally-downloaded version (from Paizo's website)of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia on there.

It is corrupt, and won't unzip.

Thanks, WOTC!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A question on miniatures

Although I've never been a fan of using miniatrues in a D&D game, I'm thinking I might try it with this campaign, even if it's just to help the newbies. However, I have no figs (well, other than a MILLION WH40K space marines 8). Does anyone know if I would be able to find some lots of figs on eBay for a reasonable price? What companies are even still selling them? I know Reaper is in the game, and I think Citadel too, but I'm kinda clueless. I was hoping to find a selection of basic adventuring types, and maybe a mass of gobbos/orcs and some oher "basic" mosters, as cheap as possible. Anyone got any suggestions?

Monday, March 30, 2009

My new crack

When DAWN OF WAR, the WH40K RTS game came out, I didn't have a computer that could run it. That didn't stop me from buying it, and all of the supplements. And DAWN OF WAR II also.

I finally got around to installing everything on The Terminator this weekend (my cranked-up Dell XPS gaming laptop rig). I started playing the tutorial tonight.

I believe I have found my new crack. 8)

Why I hate the modern world: the boardgame rant

In the town where I live, I often volunteer at the rec center on the weekends. Usually, when I'm working, I'll bring over my copy of RISK, and we'll spend a few hours kicking each other's butts. I've been trying to find a copy of RISK to donate to the rec center, so I don't always have to drag mine around. I've been to every toy store here around, and you know what I've found out? Parker Brothers SUCKS. They've taken all the "classic" board games of my youth, and messed them up. You can't get RISK anymore, the way god intended it... no, now, RISK has a different map, and different units, and "mission objectives", and fortifications. It's like a cross between Monopoly and Risk. And don't even get me started on the future version of Risk, or STAR WARS Risk, or God Storm Risk. Why can't I just get RISK?

Same thing with CLUE... they screwed it up too. New characters, new rooms, new weapons, new game mechanics. And other games, like the card game Mille Bornes? No longer produced.

Ebay is no better. $25-$35 for a used copy of Risk, and $25 to ship it? Forget it. Every copy I try to get my hands on, the bidding goes psychotic. Or the shipping is psychotic.

It's almost enough to make a man give up. Almost. 8)

Games I'd like to run...

YAY FOR SPRING BREAK! A whole week away from the little terrorists will hopefully be just what I need to recharge my batteries. And maybe even write some stuff down here.

I've been thumbing (in some cases, electronically so) through a bunch of my gaming stuff, thinking about the old days, when I had a regular gaming group. I would be working on some kind of campaign (usually AD&D or Cyberpunk), my buddy Scott would be working on whatever the game of the week was (sometimes DC Heroes, sometimes Palladium, sometimes TORG, sometimes AD&D, or something else). His brother Dave would be working on either a Twilight 2000, Traveller, AD&D or Top Secret campaign, and all of us would get together once a week to sit around and paint miniatures. Man, I miss those days. However, the bug is biting me again. Here's what I would like to run.....

1) AD&D 2nd Edition GREYHAWK campaign: all my campaigns have been in Greyhawk. I know it, and it's my favorite. I still have my big C'Thulhu meets Greyhawk campaign in the back of my mind, but right now, I'd just like to run ANYTHING, so I'm still chugging away at my quasi-sandbox game set in the Yeomanry (for now), where I will be training new players. I also want to run a one-off session this summer, with all my old-school gamer friends, crawling through TOMB OF HORRORS or another one of the classics.

2) UNKNOWN ARMIES: I love this game. It's so dark and weird... how can you not love it? I have some notes about running a UA campaign based loosely on the tv miniseries THE LOST ROOM. It would involve having to find the artifacts and figure out the room, while interacting with other occult underground groups. Weird and cool, bu since my core groups of gamers right now will likely be some of my high school students, I think an adult-themed game like this is out of the question for now.

3)FALLOUT: even since finishing the excellent FALLOUT 3, I`ve thought what a cool RPG this would make. I`ve been thinking about running something like this, a campaign based loosely on the FALLOUT games, probably using the GAMMA WORLD rules, or MAYBE D20 Modern (but that`s pretty iffy). Gamma World seems like a much more natural fit.

4) STAR WARS: old-school D6 WEG Star Wars, probably set in between SW and ESB, or maybe between ESB and ROTJ (although that would mean no chance of running into Han Solo 8). I used to have this RPG, then traded it off sometime int he distant past for a crapload of WH40K stuff, but I have since reacquired almost EVERY D6 book from WEG (thanks, eBAY!), and hope to one day run a Star Wars campaign, just because I love SW so much.

5)HEROES: ever since I read ``Days of Future Past`` when I still collected X-MEN, I`ve wanted to run a real dark, gritty super hero campaign. No flashy costumes, no cartoon violence... real issues, and more real life. I would still LOVE to do this, and HEROES has given me some ideas about how to do this (well, that and SMALLVILLE). Not sure what system I would use... I don`t think any of the Marvel iterations would work, nor would DC Heroes. I have Villains & Vigilantes (which I have some familiarity with), Mutants & Masterminds (which I would have to read), and I *think* I have some Hero System stuff around here somewhere. I think this would be super fun (no pun.... okay, pun intended 8).

6) CYBERPUNK 2020: I love this game. I have EVERYTHING for it. I`ve only tried running campaigns for it twice... once was an online one on an old BBS, which never got off the ground. The other was with my old gaming group and some friends from work... and resulted in the equivalent of the TPK in the first adventure, when one player decided his character was going to tick off Arasaka goons ASAP. Needless to say, Arasaka dropped on them like a nuclear hammer, and after one adventure, they were all dead. Sigh. I would use CP2020 for this... Cybergeneration has SOME appeal for me, but CPv3 sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks. I`ve toyed with the diea of taking my palyers, having them make 2020 versions of themselves, and go all cowboy, but we`ll see.

7) CALL OF C`THULHU: I have recently acquired a metric ton of CoC gaming stuff. I used to have this game, and I love Lovecraft. A friend has the ARKHAM HORROR board game, and we have blown MANY a day playing that. One of my buddies used to run a fairly regular (albeit weird as shit) CoC campaign, which I played in once, and had a blast. I would love to run a dark, scary, horror-inducing game, and make everyone crazy. 8)

8) DEADLANDS: this game is just too weird to NOT want to play.

9)"Eternal Champion" campaign: this si another weird idea I had in my head. What about a campaign with a bunch of different game systems, but the characters (assuming they live) are all incarnations of the same character? Kind of like QUANTUM LEAP role-playing. I was thinking of linking AD&D/D&D, STAR FRONTIERS, and some stuff in the middle (maybe CoC, maybe CP2020, maybe something else), with characters being approximately the same across all the games. Would be an interesting concept.

These are my big ones. That`s not counting what I would love to PLAY in... I want to play in a 3ed campaign, just to see what the system is like. I would LOVE to be in a CoC campaign, or an old-school Traveller campaign. Also, this doesn`t cover the stuff that I may want to run... for instance, I`d also like run a Traveller or Star Frontiers campaing, but the vision I have for those campaigns could also be done in Star Wars (well.... maybe not the Traveller one 8).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Legends of the Yeomanry

[NOTE: I'm putting to paper some of the ideas that I have rolling around in my head for possible plot hooks in my upcoming campaign. Feel free to steal liberally. 8) ]

The Sunken Castle of Lu-Mar

Tales tell of the ruins of a castle, found deep in the darkest parts of the Escarpment Swamp. Curiously, all that remains is the very tops of the tower battlements – it is as if the ground rose up and swallowed the castle whole. This is the doomed castle of the mad warlord Lu-Mar. Lu-Mar was great in his impudence, and although warned that his attempts to build a stronghold would lead to great suffering, he stubbornly raised his castle in the heart of the swamp, seeking to subjugate all he came in contact with. Angered by his impudence, the gods caused the earth to open, swallowing up his castle until only the top of the keep and castle walls remained. Undaunted, Lu-Mar rebuilt his castle on top of the ruins of his old castle, sneering at the forces of the unseen world. In payment for his lack of faith, the gods again caused his castle to be swallowed by the earth, only this time, Lu-Mar was also dragged down by the spirits of his followers, killed when the first castle was destroyed. Occasionally, rumours come back of adventurers, lost in the swamp, who come across the ruins of Lu-Mar’s castle. They say that one can still get into the castle through the half-buried towers which rise from the swamp, and venture not only through the towers and keep of Lu-Mar’s second castle, but even deeper into the depths of the original castle, where the undead followers of Lu-Mar endlessly wander their imprisoned castle. Some even say that Lu-Mar can be found in the deepest depths of the bottom castle…. Some say he has become the undead leader of his former minions, while some say he is still alive, endless tortured for his folly…

The Crystal Veil

In the days before the Twin Cataclysms, there was a trading route over the Crystalmist Mountains, known as the Crystal Veil. The route went through the highest parts of the mountains, and was watched by a regular series of watchtowers and castles along the route. The dwarven clans oversaw the peace, and lived sand traded in harmony with the Suel caravans who travelled the routes. Then came the Cataclysms. Fearing for the lives, those Suel who could make it passed over the Crystal Veil. Driven by paranoia and fear, the Suel felt the only way to protect themselves from being followed and killed by the Bakluni would be to kill everyone along the Crystal Veil. As the panicked Suel advanced, they slew all the came across, including the dwarven tribes who manned the series of watchtowers. In the depths of the Crystalmists, an army made from the remnants of the remaining dwarven protectors stood against the oncoming Suel refugees, standing in vengeance for their fallen comrades. The valleys ran red with the blood of man and dwarf that day, and travellers along the Veil spoke of the sounds of the dead echoing through the nights ever after. Travel along the trail began to die off, and stories of haunted towers, where ghosts of both Suel refugees and dwarven warriors warred with the living became more frequent, until the trail was abandoned all together. Memory of the trail was soon forgotten, but stories still can be heard of mountain travellers who come across the ruined, abandoned watchtowers of the Crystal Veil. Some even say that nestled amongst the highest peaks of the Crystalmists can be found some of the oldest fortresses, full of abandoned riches…. and the restless dead.

And lo, the dark clouds parted,,,

Spring is trying to fight its way through the frozen hell that winter has laid upon us, so that means the juices are starting to flow again. I'm finally coming out of the funk, and starting to think anew. I've ben scouring resources for my campaing.... the Greyhawk box set, FtA box, LG Gazetteer, and even some old MERP modules (as I clean up my RPG archives on my hard drive... how did I accumulate 100 gigs of RPG stuff?). The recent fascination with megadungeons has not been lost on me, but trying to find a way to legitimize the presence of such a beast in my campaign is the problem. When I thought back on it, my D&D experiences really didn't encompass a lot of dungeon crawls. The first DM I played with, we went through most of the classics... D1-2, D3, Barrier Peaks. But when I started playing with the group I had the longest residency with.... well, I don't think we played a single dungeon on any of those campaigns. Our adventures were mostly wilderness treks, interspersed with town mayhem or political wrangling. I have some ideas for sticking a bunch of smaller dungeons into my campaign.... including an idea I got from watching MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL again ("So I built a castle.... but it fell into the swamp!"). I just need to start pulling stuff out of my head, and putting it to paper.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life interrupts

Update: the desktop is fixed. I just have to reinstall all the software on it. HOpefully, by the end of the weekend.

So.... sometimes, life interrupts. In the past week, I have had 2 of my former students pass away. One was 15, and was dumped off (by the drunk parents of a friend)drunk at home, without a jacket, wallet, keys or cel phone. She wandered off and froze to death.

The other one was from the last school I taught at, a reserve. Last time I saw her, she was a wonderful little 7 year old, who used to hug me every morning and call me "Uncle". She hung herself on Saturday night. She was 12.

So, right now, I don't have a lot of drive for RPGs. I have a funeral to attend on Saturday, and no a lot of motivation right now. But I shall return.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Character Background

On the blog
Legends in Their Own Mind, there was a discussion today about using a character's background. I have been mulling some thoughts on a similar idea, namely, how much background is too much background? The campaign I am working towards would feature people who have absolutely zero exposure to any kind off p&p RPGs. I am already planning on making a pool of pregen characters for them to choose their starting character from, but I'm struggling with how much background to go into for the characters. I am leaving the choice of alignmen up to the players, but should I just use a bare bones place of birth, age, little background model, or go into a little more detail? In my head, all the pregens I'm making are connected in some way, so that if characters die, I can just have them choose one of the other pregens to drop in if they want to, rather than rolling a new character. However, as such, I envision some character traits or "roleplaying hooks" when creating these characters, that the players may find constricting, or useless. So, how much is too much?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Location, Location, Location

UPDATE: my desktop is dead. Blown mobo, blown chipset, probably going to have to replace the power supply too. And the RAM. And the video card. At least I can salvage the capture card and the modem card.

I've been deciding where to run my planned campaign. Part of me was leaning towards a sandbox world, but knowing what an anal retentive goof I am, this wouldn't have worked (well, not for right now). Since I have EVERYTHING for Greyhawk, I decided to use Greyhawk as my sandbox. My plan is to run a modified version of Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, and I also have In Search of the Unknown that I can throw in, and a few other ideas. I am becoming less attached to my "big story" idea, and thinking of letting the chips fall where they may. I might still be able to use elements of my big story, but I won't force it as much.

Anyway, it looks like I'm going to use the Yeomanry as my starting point. I perused some of the Living Greyhawk materials I could find, to get ideas of locales, but I wasn't terribly motivated. Then I started thinking that there's a lot of dangling plot threads and REALLY over the top locales I'm not interested in using. So, my Greyhawk is going to be pretty sandbox, with LOTS of new open exloring ideas.

Come to think of it, the more I think about this, the more I start thinking maybe I should run the campaign using D&D B/X rules. I haven't read them in years, but I have.... ahem, *copies* of the Mentzer B/X/C/M rules, the Rules Cyclopedia, the Moldvay/Cook B rules, and I think I have OSRIC and white-box S&S that I would have to read. It's kind of daunting, in a way... in the old days, you played what you played, because often, that was all you could find. Now, there's so much choice, it's almost paralyzing.

Still wondering what would be the better system to run virgin RPGers through... 2nd Ed AD&D (with which I am most familiar), B/X D&D (which I used to know quite well, but would need to do some refreshing on), or something like OSRIC (which I'm sure is fairly compatible, but I would still need to read up on first).


Saturday, January 24, 2009

On Magic Users and Multi-classing

Ever since reading about Gandalf weilding the magical sword Glamdring, I've always wondered why mages can't use swords. I suppose I've understood the argument about too much metal, but I thought it was kind of silly, if the iconic magiciain in literature can carry a sword. So, I'm thinking of lifting the restriction on edged weapons for mages in my campaign. They still can't wear metal armour - that much cold iron around their body will mess up magic's ability to function - but I'm thinking of allowing mages to use swords of a size up to a longsword without penalty. However, the trade off is, they don't get to use their STR damage bonus with any weapons, unless they take a level as a fighter somewhere down the road. I've also been thinking about the idea I saw on a blog (I really need to start archinving this stuff when I find it) about magic-users being able to counter spells. If cold iron is what hinders magic, then a magic-user using an iron sword to help disrupt the casting process of another mage makes sense to me.

I've also been thinking about my homebrew mutli-classing rules. I'm thinking of stipulating that players can't multi-class until they hit level 4. In other words, they have to stay with the class they start with for 3 levels. When they hit 4th level, then they can start to branch out with other classes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Sorry for he lack of new content recently... my primary desktop computer blew up last week. My house is extremely dry, and super-staticky, so I arced my desktop when I went to power it up one day. Thank GOD the hard drives were salvagable, but the mobo, RAM and sundry other parts (video card, etc.) are garbage. So, I'm running on backup systems right now, so I might be scarce until I can get stuff fixed. I'll try to post some thoughts... maybe after LOST finishes. 8)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

House rule thoughts

So, I've been starting to think about what house rules I want to use in my campaign. I plan on using 2nd Edition rules, because they have a few tweaks from the 1st Edition rules I know and love, but not as much chaos as 3rd Edition. I thought about going with B/X rules for a while, since this is going to be a group of people who have never played ANY RPG before, much less D&D, but I'm more comfortable with AD&D, so that's what I'm sticking wth. Anyways, here's my thoughts...

1) first thing I want to do.... I'm thinking of taking the XP totals from all the various classes, adding them up for each level, and averaging them, so that I have one XP Level progression table, like they do in 3ed (which is one of exactly 3 things I liked in 3ed). Reasoning for this is because....

2) I'm thinking of getting rid of the multiclass hindrances, so players can take a level from any class, like in 3ed. That's what the unified XP tables would help. Here will of course be some restrictions (see below), but has anyone tried this with 2nd Ed? I don't want to rip the 3Ed XP table off totally, because I like that you need more XP for levels in 2nd Ed.

3) As starting classes, I am allowing Warrior, Mage, Cleric, or Rogue. Rangers, Paladins and Druids are allowable later on, but will be rare to encounter (and I may do some changes with them too... see later). Monks are ultra-rare, but could be allowed later. Since this is a group of first-timers, I'm keeping it simple off the start. Also, my monks are going to be a little different... all monks must be a deity of physical perfection. Monks are meant to be the pinnacle of human ability, and not seen as religious warriors... that's paladins.

4) I'm thinking of putting some restrictions in, to keep from having a character with 8 different classes. Here's what I'm thinking:
- if a character has any levels in classes other than cleric or warrior, they cannot select paladin levels. Conversely, once they select a level as a paladin, they may no longer select levels as a warrior. If they take a level in any class other than paladin or cleric after their first paladin level, they may never select a paladin level again.
- once a character selects a level as ranger, they may no longer take warrior levels. If they subsequently select a warrior lev el after taking a ranger level, they may no longe take ranger levels.
- once a character takes a level as a druid, they may only take further levels as druid or a ranger. If they take a level in any other class, they may no longer select druid levels.
- a character who wishes to take a level as a monk may only have levels in warrior or mage. Once they take a monk level, they may not take a level in anything other than monk, mage or warrior, or they may no longer selectt monk levels.
I know that is a lot of deatil, but we'll see how it works.

5) Every character in this campaign is going to have a mentor, to whom they must pay a stipend in turn for their support and training. Also, instant adventure hooks!

6) I think I'm going to use an XP for treasure rule, but I'm not sure how much yet.... 1 XP = 10 gp? 100 gp? Thoughts?

Also, one other thing I've been thinking about.... I'm going to make a bunch of pre-fabbed characters for the players to choose from to start, so we can speed things up. My question is... I want to have SOME background for the characters (to explain how they all know each other), but how much background is TOO much? I want to have room for these players to make the characters their own... as such, I'm letting the players select the alignments, after I explain what the alignments mean. Should I just make some real loose background connections between the characters, or go into some detail?

I fear my love of detail will bog this down... must learn to love less. 8)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What I learned from RPGs

This is just to fill time until I have a chance to make a real post (I'm adminstering the provincial English Language Arts exam to my grade 12 this week, so I have no time for fun and frivolity. Other than FINALLY finishing FALLOUT 3. And now wanting to start it again, only this time, be a GOOD guy)

What I Learned from RPGs

1) If you take over a starship in TRAVELLER, don't call the rest of your party from the bridge saying you need help to fly the ship when you don' have complete control of the ship yet.

2) If you're playing TRAVELLER, and you're an Aslan, and a giant suction tube pops out of the ceiling to suck you away to somewhere else, don't say, "I pop my dewclaws and sink them into the tube material so I don't get pulled away."

3) When you're playing a fighter/magic-user/thief in AD&D, don't try to burn through the ropes holding up a rope bridge with a Flame Finger spell, hoping that you will have an opportunity to pick someone's pocket when the bridge suddenly lurches.

4) Advice for dealing with stolen tanks in Twilight 2000: if you're driving ouside an occupied town, and you find a radio band where someone is constantly updating coordinates, and ends with the phrase "Target has stopped" when you stop your tank...... GET OUT OF THE TANK.

5) Never climb in a Winnebago with a crazy ex-hippie in a Call of C'Thulhu game.

6) If you're playing Top Secret, and you come home to find a lightbulb burned out, but when you go to change it, instead you find a rolled-up piece of paper in the socket that says, "BANG! You're dead"? You probably are. Damn Russian double agents.

7) Cyberpunk 2020 tips: in your first session of a new campaign, if one of your fellow players has his character try to pick the pocket of Arasaka riot police who show up at a club.... just start rerolling your character. Also, as a corollary to this tip.... if Arasaka riot police walk up to your party, and flash a picture of an absent party member and ask, "Have you seen this person?"....... don't say, "Yeah! That's my best friend!"

8) Life expectancy of characters named "Bill, Brother of Tim the Elf"? Surprisingly short.

9) It is considered bad form to kill the guards of the local Polish warlord in Twilight 2000 and stash them in the storage compartment of your APC, especially when other members of your group are meeting with him, and eventually ally you with him.

10) If you really hate your Traveller character's rolls, make him a belter. They never survive...... except when they do. And then they become the WORST characters EVER.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Welcome to my humble abode

Greetings, and welcome to the Badger King's Den. I decided to start this blog as a way of not only musing on various gaming ideas I may have, but also as a journal of my attempt to get back into live, face to face role-playing anfter being out of the hobby for many, many years.

This first post is just a little background on me. I first became aware of the plethora of gaming blogs earlier this year, when a message board I frequented pointed out an excellent article on Grognardia. After reading the article, I began exploring the links to other blogs from there, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My gaming background goes back about 29 years. I was 8 years old when a friend of mine introduced me to D&D. Ironically, even though it was my first experience, it was already a homebrew - he modified it heavily and used the rules to help tell stories for his incredible selection of Micronauts toys. At the time, we were using the B/X rules, but often running them in AD&D modules. After a few years of exclusive D&D/AD&D playing, I moved on to junior high, where my obsession began in earnest. My best friend and his older brother were both hardcore gamers, and I feel in with this reprobate crew of gamers. Now, we played not only AD&D, but Traveller, Top Secret, Twilight:2000, James Bond, DC Heroes, Marvel Heroes, and dabbled in almost every game we could get our hands on. At one point, I took part in an AD&D campaign that had 2 groups of 7 players, all working on the same campaign from different ends. We also had a massive T:2K game which featured a dozen players in one group, and some very memorable Traveller and Top Secret campaigns. My role-playing slowed a little in high school, as my friend's older brother and his friends fell into university, and I ended up going to a different school than the rest of my gaming group; even though, I fell into a new group, who exposed me to the joys of Car Wars and Cyberpunk. As I moved into university and beyond, our core gaming group grew progressively smaller. I still bought games like a fiend (Star Wars RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, WH40K, Call of C'Thulhu), but our opportunities to game became less and less. Eventually, the group broke up, as the winds of fate moved us around the country. Since about 1996, I have not played, much less even thought about, RPGS.

Then, last year, the itch started to hit me again. I had always kept up with gaming, buying games that struck my fancy (Unknown Armies), and at least keeping an eye on D&D (for the record, D&D stopped being D&D after AD&D 2nd Edition), so it's not like I was ever totally out. I was now teaching in a little farm town in rural Canada, and with the opportunities for creative minds being EXTREMLY limited, I started to explore the possibility of introducing a new generation to RPG games. And that's how I got here.

Anyways, that's enough of an intro. Hopefully, I'll have some content up here fairly regularly.