Monday, August 22, 2011

SCORE! redux

Hey everyone. Long time no post. I know, I know... I'm bad for it. I've been reading lots of blogs though. I haven't forgotten about you all. 8)

Haven't done a ton of gaming anything this summer... it's been kind of a crappy summe, with me spending most of my time prepoping for next school year. Sigh. I have been catching upn on my reading of FIGHT ON! back issues, and I snagged a copy of OSRIC and MUTANT FUTURE.... and LABYRINTH LORD..... and the ADVANCED CHARACTER COMPANION... and the ORIGINAL CHARACTER book... and some Traveller Classic stuff. So gaming is not finished!

Concerning that... I visited my good friend's used bookstore today. I always check his gaming section, although there hasn't been aything in it for a long time... UNTIL TODAY! SOmebody dumped a whole mess of old TSR and other stuff, which I quickly snapped up. All of it was anywhere from $1-$3 each.

- Dragon Lords Monster Manuscript - a monster compendium, based on the old Grenadier Dragon Master miniature lines. IN pretty good shape, too. Off to eBay you go!

- LANKHMAR, City of Adventure - a little water damager, but with all the maps intact and in great shape! Woot woot!

- LANKHMAR: Swords of the Undercity - in almost perfect shape. If I can't find something to pillage, I'll sell it on eBay

- LANKHMAR: Swords of Deceit: - again, minty shape. Pillage or resell.

- T1 The Village of Hommlet - I already have a copy, so this could be a resale special, especially with all the recent potential shown in the module in the OSR blogosphere lately

- C3 Lost Island of Castanamir - I always wanted this module, for some reason. Let's see if it can be useful.

- N3 Destiny of Kings - Another one that looked like it had pillaging potential. If not... yo ho ho and a bid on eBay!

- DL1 Dragons of Despair - I put this in my buying pile accidentally. They also had the next 5 modules, which I might go back and grab, so I can sell the lot on eBay.

- M3 Twilight Calling - Never seen this module, so I picked it up for scouting purposes. It's Tom Moldvay, so it HAS to be good. 8)

- Thieves' World Companion - I may llot this for ideas, but I can think of a few people who might want this. 8)

- Grimtooth's Traps: again, pillage for ideas, or maybe resell.

- The Palladium Book of Weapons and Armour - never even heard of it. Worth a look-see

- Monster File Number One, by Dragon Tree Press - I'm pretty sure this is kinda rare, and definitely old, and I'm sure I can make mroe than the $2 I paid for it. In MINTY condition.

If anyone in interested in working a deal for some of this stuff (if I am amenable), drop me a line at suprunown AT [gee-mail] DOT com.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cleaning out the cobwebs...

Sorry I haven't posted much. To make a long story short... I have been fighting to save my family's summer home from floodwaters on Lake Manitoba since, oh, MAY. Still fighting.

Anyway, I haven't even had a chance to do much gaming stuff. My newest addiction is..... getting back into Magic, sorta. I sold ALL my cards years ago, but some friends of mine and I had gotten into buying the Magic Workbox each, and just making some decks for fun. Of course, I subsequently found the Dollar Stores near me sold mixed repacks of 10 cards for $1, and bought, oh... 500 cards. Plus some cheap stuff off eBay. Anyways, I have a few semi-fun decks I can play with now, and a ton of cards to trade stuff for.

I was in a local card / gaming store I frequent the other day, and we started to talk a little about 4th Edition D&D. I wasn't ragging on it, just mentioned how I prefered to play B/X or BECMI, and that started a debate. The guy at the store felt the need to defend 4th Edition to me, and to try and counter every one of my points about why I preferred B/X. The point is... who cares? Why does everyone feel the need to constantly try to proselytize for the "newest" edition? I guess it's in his financial interest, but really, after I said, "I'm just not interested in anything to do with 4th Ed", wouldn't it be smarter to just let it go? Or perhaps find out more about what I DO like (like LABYRINTH LORD), and see if you could start bringing it in?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ancient Aliens

Does anyone know if the History Channel's ANCIENT ALIENS series is available on DVD? Otherwise, I'm going to have to try and find a torrent of all the eps to donwload. So many stealable ideas for campaigns. 8)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The things you find....

I was at our local rec center tonight for a meeting (I'm the rec commission chairperson). We have a lending library which depends on the kindness of local citizens to provide books. You can trade one for one, or buy books for a quarter a piece. I occassionally check out the books, mostly out of boredom, but tonight (during a lull in the meeting), I noticed three new boxes of books, so I decided to check them out.


Here's what I scored for a quarter a piece....
- a SPACE: 1999 novella from 1975
- a Doc Savage novella
- a book on Irish myths and fables
- a copy of Joseph Conrad's THE POWER OF MYTH
- an illustrated book on the Tower of London (complete with MAPS!)
- an illustrated history of Scottish clans, complete with tartans and clan costumes
- a copy of FROM TOLKIEN TO OZ: THE ART OF GREG HILDEBRANDT. Hildebrandt is no stranger to anyone who read DRAGON magazine in the 80s, but did you also know he was the cover artist for the Black Sabbath album MOB RULES? He also did one of the iconic STAR WARS movie posters....

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z(ed) is for Zzzzzzzz

(Author's note: today's title comes mostly from the fact I got up at 3:30 am yesterday to watch the Royal Wedding before I went to school, so my body's internal clock is ALL out of whack now. So sue me. 8)

Well, the grand challenge has come to an end. Frankly, I didn`t think I would make it. I couldn`t see myself actually lasting this long. So, I am very proud of myself for making it through to the end.

First off, it`s HARD to force yourself to think up a topic for each letter of the alphabet. Had I just been required to come up with 26 blog posts, I think it would have been a little easier. It really forced me to get creative for a couple of the letters of the alphabet (even if that really isn`t that big of a challenge). It also forced me to think about RPGs in a few new ways to get the required 26 entries out of out (even if I feel a few of my entries are still cheating…).

How do I feel about what I have accomplished? That’s a little harder to determine. Quite frankly, I had hoped that my posting would drive a few more comments and discussion (but what can I expect from only 28 followers?). Part of the reasons I love blogs is because, for better or for worse, they prompt discussion. Sadly, very little of what I said prompted much discussion, but I’m not sure if that’s because people just like to lurk, or because what I said is mostly meaningless shite. 8)

Finally, what will come of this? Well, for openers, I plan to steal an idea that I saw on someone else’s blog (I think if was Jeff Rients’ blog?), where I take a single issue of a DRAGON magazine, and try to develop an entire campaign concept simply from getting creative with what was given in the confines of the one issue. I don’t know if I will start this RIGHT away, but very soon. Other than that, I plan to try and post the occasional gaming digression… maybe I’ll talk a little more about my “nostalgia moments” of favourite games, instead of just focusing on new ideas. And hopefully, I can spawn some discussion. Oh, and I can’t guarantee EVERY post will be about gaming on here… most, but not all.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you have enjoyed your sojourn to the Badger King’s Den.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Your Mission (Should You Choose To Accept It)

I think that, as I approach the end of this blogging challenge, I have thought a lot more about gaming than I have for a long, long time. I’ve been reading other blogs as well as chugging along with mine, and there has been a lot of food for thought over the course of this month. Frankly, I’m a little surprised I actually managed to finish this challenge (my ADD must be getting old 8). In a way though, this has inspired me to “get serious” about gaming again. Firstly, I want to attend a con… a real, honest-to-goodness con. I know there used to be a monthly meeting of the University of Manitoba Gaming Club, because I can remember going there to trade Magic cards (more like, get HOSED on trades of Magic cards by people who had access to the Internet before I did), as well as watching some WH40K games, and playing in one of the most memorable games of my life.

(Okay, I can’t leave that hanging, so here’s another aside: I used to play Blood Bowl when it was still a table top game. At the time, I played the Darkside Cowboys, the Dark Elf team, but I was a little crazy, and I would routinely field a team with TWO chuckers, and a bunch of FAST receivers. My strategy was, instead of going for long bombs, I would have half my receivers and one chucker head to midfield, and the other half of my receivers head for the endzone. Then, I would just lob a pass to midfield, hand it off to my other chucker, and then fire it into the endzone receivers. Seemed simple enough. Anyway, a friend of a friend also played Blood Bowl. He had the Chaos All-Stars, which was basically an UBER-team of all hero-like personalities. He spent a TON of money buying and painting all the distinctive figures, and he has amassed quite a reputation with his team. He used to play every Games Day, and would take on all comers. At the point when I played him, he had a 12-0 record that season, and usually won games by injuring enough of his opponents’ players that their team couldn’t continue. Needless to say, he was confident the Darkside Cowboys would be just another notch on his belt.

Needless to say, I CLEANED HIS CLOCK. His team relied on huge ogre blockers and other tanks that were slow to start, but would steamroll his opponents with devastating efficiency. He used a few fast players to lock down his opponents’ receivers, then won through attrition. But, when he faced the Cowboys, he got mauled. First, the Dark Elves were one of the fastest teams in the league, so I could usually run away from his tanks, thus preventing the “crush”. By running the double chucker offence (which, while unconventional, was completely legal), I left him with more targets than he could cover. I used my team’s speed to stay away from his tanks, running away from his blitzers and blockers, and set up the pass to my midfield chucker. Then, he was caught. The first couple plays, he stuck to my second receiving core – so I just ran the ball in for the score. After that succeeded twice, he started to try and cover my second chucker squad. Then, I would either pass to my sure-handed receivers, hand the ball off, and throw again before he could catch up to me, or I would simply throw the long bomb to the other receiving corps, knowing that even if I missed, the ball would end up on the pitch closer to me than him, so I could just pick it up and scamper in. He had absolutely NO answer for my strategy, and I ended up winning 5 scores to 2, handing him his ONLY loss. And I retired undefeated 8) )

Anyway, back on topic… I know that there’s a science fiction convention in Winnipeg, but there is not a ton of role-playing that goes on (mostly Arkham Horror, tactical boardgames, and CCGs). I suppose I could try to run a game there, but from what I’ve heard about the organizers, they are pretty flaky, and I would rather get some gaming time under my belt before I start running something after years of not running anything. The only other con I know is a WH40K tournament, and the LAST thing I need is to get back into 40K. So, I am establishing a plan… a mission, if you will.

1) I want to attend a con. Not necessarily Gen Con (although that would be nice), but I think I’m going to need to try and find a con somewhere nearby (preferably in Canada, and fairly close by), just to soak up the atmosphere, and maybe get some gaming in.
2) I want to try and come up with a plan to maybe, MAYBE, run a game at a con next year. If they don’t have games to play, maybe I can get a game up. I know a couple of my friends who would play for sure. I was thinking (having seen so many people do it) of running the Keep with LL, so that I could just constantly add new characters as the death toll rises.
3) I want to try and establish… something. Something to promote gaming (not even necessarily old-school gaming). Maybe I can convince the Rec Center in town to give me a night next winter to run a campaign for some of the kids at school. It’s worth a shot.

And I encourage all of you reading this… come up with your own plan. Let’s see if we can’t take the synergy this blogging challenge has created to try and do something to promote gaming again, like the old days. It’s worth a shot.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for THE X-FILES

The X-Files was a great resource for me when I was planning Cyberpunk 2020 campaigns. I liberally stole a whole bunch of ideas from this series (as well as from The Pretender) when designing my campaigns. I actually started a CP2020 campaign that saw the characters all as members of the FBI. They weren’t exactly assigned to the “X” files, but they were assigned to some pretty weird stuff. Sadly, the campaign devolved very quickly into stupidity and power-gaming, and I never really got to develop the plots I had been working on. In my outline, I had found a way to connect the events of Cybergeneration (ie. Nanotechnology infiltrating humanity like a virus) to the campaign as “alien experimentation”, which was being tacitly approved by the US government. I also found a way to tie in some psionics weirdness with a European corp working on making “mind soldiers”, in a bizarre mash-up of THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL and THE PRETENDER.

I miss the X-Files…. well, MOST if the X-Files. The last couple seasons (after David Duchovny decided he didn’t want to play Mulder any more) became an disorganized mess, leading to possibly the most disappointing series finale I can remember. There were still some moments of brilliance there (like when Mulder came back to finally (sort of) lay to rest what had happened to his sister, Samantha), but the BEST parts of the series were from about season 3 to season 7, where they really hit their stride with being able to weave together their standard “weird” episodes with the ongoing mythology episodes involving the Smoking Man. Even when they played up the camp for a few episodes, it worked. That’s why I think the X-Files is a great resource for a gamemaster to rip off ideas from.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Warhammer 40K

After my earlier posting about Gamma World miniatures, I thought I would press my luck, and go on to talk about Warhammer 40K. When I was younger, I got into WH40K not for the game, but simply for the miniatures. At first, I bought a wide range of GW figs, just because they looked so cool, and were fun ti paint. Although I did eventually buy the original ROGUE TRADER and BOOK OF THE ASTRONOMICON books, we didn’t really have any inkling of actually PLAYING WH40K for many, many more years. In fact, I don’t think I played my first game of 40K until around… 4th edition? Or maybe 3rd. Until them, I was happy collecting an painting their wonderfully detailed figures. I had quite a few Eldar, even more Space Marines, and a mishmash of goblins, orks and Chaos warriors.

Eventually, however, I settled in to the idea of collecting Space Marines. This was at a time when it was actually CHEAPER to order the figures directly from GW UK and have them shipped to Canada, so every couple of months, my friends and I would put together a list of figures (obtained by pouring over my buddy’s collection of WHITE DWARFs), and order a shipment from England. As a result, I have a LOT of old, OOP figures in my collection.

I was always into the Marines. My buddy had a reasonably-sized amount of Chaos Warriors, and I think another friend had some Eldar. However, we never really found time to play, mostly because we didn’t have an area big enough to game on. It wasn’t until many, MANY years later, when a friend had a condo with a garage, but no car, that we finally had a space big enough to game in. We spent many a hot summer night sitting in an unairconditioned garage, playing WH40K. Sadly, my buddy was also a Marine freak, so it was Marine on Marine warfare. Then, sadly, his girlfriend flipped out, and he left the province…. But not before selling me almost ALL his stuff for a song.

Subsequently, I now have a SIZABLE collection of WH40K stuff. I did one fairly major sell-off a couple years ago, which netted me a lot of money for not a lot of figures (except for the two land raiders I ended up selling to two different guys in Spain…. Long story short, the land raiders never showed up, and I had to refund their money. I never got the land raiders back, or an email saying they had showed up and them offering to repay me, which kinda soured me on overseas selling on eBay, because those two land raiders cost me nothing, and sold for about $75 each 8/ ). I am now at the point where I want to divest myself of the rest of the collection. The problem is, I have too much stuff to sell it as a package, because the shipping would be STUPID expensive (I have a BIG plastic tub, like the kind they use for recycling container blue boxes, only taller, FULL of figures, paints, modelling supplies and bits and pieces of scenery), but I don’t really want to piecemeal it out, because I don’t want to be left with anything. I imagine most of it would go, but I know I’ll be left with odds and sods, and I don’t know what to do about that. Most of it is assembled (I sold all my unopened boxes two years ago) and primed, but I also have a lot painted (an old lead dreadnaught, a 10-man vet squad, a 10-man scout squad, and my HQ with a Lieutenant, Librarian, Medic, Chaplain and Techmarine). I also have a lot of stuff that is old, and out of print (well, unless you buy it through the Citadel Archives) – stuff like first-cast terminators, and many of the old Marine characters (that are now TOTALLY illegal in play because of their weapon payloads – one has a shuriken catapult, one has a lasgun, one has double power fists…). I also have a couple of highly customized figures (a customized Multi-Melta trooper, and a REALLY nice force commander in Terminator armour with a kitbashed power sword and plasma pistols). I used to love just painting this stuff, but now, since I don’t really have any plans to ever play, and no room to display it, it’s just taking up space, and I’d like to get rid of it. However, I also know how much I spent for all this stuff, and I don’t want to get rid of it for nothing. Sigh.

My biggest complaint with WH40K is the fact that, like everything else, they see the need to constantly change the ruleset. With every new edition of WH40K, I found half of my old miniatures were now ineligible for use on the table, and I had to buy more figs to support my force, and the prices went higher and higher. I got tired of it. At the end, I was playing WH40K using 2nd and 3rd edition rules, because I found them much more fun (with things like the Overwatch rules, the expanded psyker abilities, and expanded wargear, with Blind and Vortex grenades). I suppose I understand the theory – it’s the same as with D&D. By constantly changing the ruleset, you force people to buy stuff all over again. However, for the same reason, that’s why I don’t buy or play anything from TSR any more, and haven’t since the proliferation of 3rd edition splatbooks hit.

I’m not going to post pictures of my figs, as that would take up WAAAAAY too much space. However, if you are a WH40K Marine player, and you are looking for some distinct figures, some bits, or maybe just a few figures to beef up your force, drop me a line at suprunown AT gmail DOT com, and we can talk. 8)

Monday, April 25, 2011

V is for Very Bad Things

It will be nice to try a sandbox style campaign for when I create a D&D campaign, because in almost all the D&D or AD&D campaigns I have run, I have always had the big, bad, over-riding evil force. I know the Greyhawk campaign had Tharizdun as its C’Thulhu clone, but I was always trying to find a way to actually shoehorn C’Thulhu into Greyhawk. Actually, the last campaign I was working had a HUGE, overarching plot, that lead through a whole RAFT of adventures, taking characters from 1st level to very high levels, all in trying to present an evil cult from basically bringing C’Thulhu into Greyhawk. I had this massive plotline, with a whole mess of interconnected modules that I shoehorned in to Greyhawk, that would have sent the party chasing after both the cult and the source of their activities, that would have ended up in a huge showdown to see if C’Thulhu started munching on Oerik or not. However, in retrospect, while the idea is still kinda cool, now that I look at what I was doing, it’s TOTALLY railroady, so I don’t think I would do this campaign. Not without doing a lot of rethinking first.

Thinking about this made me wonder, though… why do I need to have an over-arching Evil Dude in my campaign? I think I could probably come up with enough “very bad things” if I just use smaller bad guys. I guess the theory is, as character advance in levels, then they need a commensurate threat, hence the “Big Baddie”. I think it would be much more interesting to try and run a sandbox game without the one gigantic threat looming in the distance, and just see if a whole bunch of smaller threats, when taken together, could cause the same level of consternation as one evil mastermind directing the puppets. What say you?


In reality, I don’t have a ton of RPGs. Back in the day, I can remember between my buddy Scott and his brother, they used to buy just about every RPG that came out. I was a lot more discerning (HA!), and tended to focus on a few core games. Today, I really only have 5 core games in my collection – 1st/2nd Edition AD&D, B/X D&D, WEG Star Wars d6, Cyberpunk 2020, and UNKNOWN ARMIES.

Unknown Armies was one of those left-field games for me. I knew nothing about the game. The only reason I found out about it was from talking with an acquaintance who worked at a FLGS. We were talking about THE X-FILES (when it was still on TV), and he said, “Well, if you like the X-FILES, you should check out this new game, Unknown Armies.” As it happened, they were on sale (plus, I had a discount because I knew everyone who worked at the store, so I used to go in and do painting demos or play Magic games to get a discount 8), so I snagged the rule book, the ONE SHOTS adventure book, and one of the supplements (Post-Modern Magick, as I recall). I loved the game from the moment I started reading it, and quickly snapped up everything I could. (As an aside, I have everything that was published for this game, thanks to Paizo selling off Atlas Games stock, which enabled me to FINALLY get ahold of the Break Today, To Go and 2nd Edition hardcovers. I have recently discovered that original printings of the rulebooks and sourcebooks for this game are going for OBSCENE amounts of money. We were just discussing on the Unknown Armies mailing list that a couple online retailers have copies of Post-Modern Magick going for $225+!!! I am now torn… should I try and sell my collection for what would likely be a VERY pretty penny, and survive with the PDFs I have *cough*acquired*cough*, or hold onto my beautiful books like grim death? So far, I am leaning towards grim death 8) ) Unknown Armies had everything going for it… from a very unique character creation process (I loved the skill system… your skills were entirely dependent on the names you came up with to describe them), some innovative (if occasionally confusing) play mechanics, and a general atmosphere that was one part C’THulhu-ish horror, one part Conspiracy Theory paranoia, one part Beat Poet observationalism, and one part Quentin Tarantino stylized violence. My biggest regret is that I’ve never had a chance to run a game… it has a rather “mature” character (one of the schools of magick is pornomancy – you can imagine the details), and since most of my pool of eligible players are all in their teens (and my students to boot), that kind of rules it out.

However, IF I ever run an Unknown Armies campaign, I already have an idea in my head. A few years ago, there was a weird little 3-episode mini-series called The Lost Room. The premise (as best I can figure out) has to do with some sort of supernatural event that occurs at a hotel in the Nevada desert, that ends up ripping the room and everything in it out of the space-time continuum. As a result, the “relics” of this room, all endowed with their own supernatural powers, are spread out around the world. Two groups are tasked with the retrieval of these items – one group wants to reunite the items with the room, as they think it will lead to… something (a new age of enlightenment? The apocalypse? I haven’t watched it in a while, so I don’t remember), and the other group seeks to keep these items out of the room. It has just the kind of weird paranoid feel that would make a perfect UA campaign. Once I figure out how I can shoehorn the other elements of UA into this (like archetypes, Godwalkers, and the various cabals involved), I might start working on this….. someday……

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Perils of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

The only downside to this challenge is... I now have about 7 or soe new followers, who will probably be expecting a semi-regular outpouring of material on my blog after this contest is over. I can't guarantee I'll be posting EVERY day, but I will try to keep up the insights after this contest ends. 8)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Thievery

Thieves seem to be another “choke point” for old-school gamers. To many, the sacred triumvirate of Fighting Man, Cleric and Magic-User is the be all and end all of classes. However, for me, I grew up in an age of RPGs where the thief was not only part of the gang, but one who was used quite often.

One of the chief complaints I’ve seen about thieves in RPGs is the fact that a lot of what thieves do should be possible to ANY character class – things like climbing walls, opening locks, hiding in shadows. The funny thing is, in all the years I played D&D in all its various incarnations… I can’t remember a single occasion where a player complained that they should be able to do what a thief could do. I can recall that I think we had a “handwave” rule that, if your character was with a thief attempting to Hide in Shadows, and he succeeded, then you both hid in shadows. Your character would benefit from the thief’s experience. We never worried about locks we couldn’t pick… we would either break down the door, or go looking for someone with a key. I can totally understand why people complain that ANY character should be able to do some of the thiefly things (and I’ve even considered how to work this point of view into future campaigns), but honestly, I’ve never thought of it as a problem.

Furthermore, a lot of people say that the thief as an archetype isn’t needed in RPGs. To that, I would strongly disagree. If anything, I would argue that the difference between Magic-Users and Clerics is one which should be done away with instead. Look at the source literature…. The three most common archetypes are Warrior, Thief, and Wizard. Until the Dragonlance books, the idea of a cleric in the literature (or at least, in the literature *I* read) was unheard of. Thieves have been a part of thievery genre for years. I mean, heck, even Conan was basically a pumped-up thief in the second Ahnold movie. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser? Thieves first, barbarian and wizard (respectively) second. The whole THIEVES WORLD series? Duh. Even in modern or science fiction genres… Han Solo was basically a thief. Hell, Pacino and DeNiro have made CAREERS out of portraying ne’er-do-wells.
So where does the OSR problem with thieves come from? Is it the trickle-down effect from years of moral hectoring from all sides? Is it an attempt to sanitize the future? Is it a conscious decision to downplay something that is still extremely prevalent in our own modern world? I don’t have the answer, but I think the question is…. Why not thieves?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for STAR WARS

Originally, I was going to do S is for Saints, and recycle some content I had posted before, but I thought, that’s a cop out. If I can’t come up with something new, then I shouldn’t be doing this.

I first saw STAR WARS when I was six years old. My aunts had seen it, and figured it would be right up my alley, so they took me to see it. (Yes, I had VERY cools aunts) I forced my dad to find a theatre in Grand Forks, North Dakota that was showing THE EMPIRE STRIKE BACK the day it came out (we were down there on spring break), so I could see it. I remember sitting through a triple bill of all three movies at the old Met theatre downtown. I remember almost getting trampled in a stampede for seats the night the Special Edition of STAR WARS opened.
More than ANYTHING in my life, perhaps even more than RPGs, STAR WARS has impacted my life. I have been a Star Wars since since I first saw the movie. I bought all the toys. I collected the comic book. I bought the video games. I bought the books. I saw the movies in the theatres… MANY times. (I think, at last count, I had seen Episode 1 in the theatres 3 times (back to back the day it came out), Episode 2 three times (again, back to back), Episode 3 twice (back to back… sense a pattern?), Star Wars (NEVER Episode IV) 7 times, Empire Strikes Back 5 times, and Jedi… 4? 5? times) I own the Star Wars Holiday Special. I own both Ewok movies. I have THREE different versions of the original three movies, and will have four when the BluRay edition comes out. Up until January of this year, I religiously bought EVERY Star Wars Del Ray hardcover or paperback release. I have one entire bookcase (6 shelves) devoted to Star Wars novels, and WEG Star Wars RPG stuff. I even have Darth Vader’s autograph.

I know that George Lucas did a lot of reading of Joseph Conrad in creating these films, as well as a lot of working with transcendent archetypes. I think maybe that’s why these movies work for me. Or maybe it was the fact that they came into my life at a very formative period in my own development. For whatever reason, the original three movies imprinted on me. My favourite character was always Han Solo – the rogue whose conscience always pointed him in the right direction. He was the epitome of cool to a pre-teen boy… that black vest, his own space ship, and a sasquatch as his sidekick. What wasn’t to like? To be honest, I didn’t even like Luke until RETURN OF THE JEDI… he was too whiny in the first and second movies, and it wasn’t until he showed up as a true Jedi in the last movie that I could respect him. To this day, I often find myself thinking like Han Solo – trying to be mercenary, but often, ending up following my conscience. In the same way, I hope to be more like old Ben Kenobi in my old age – the wise master, wandering the wastes, protecting the weak and defenceless.

In the same way, STAR WARS has affected my RPG life as well. Just about every character I ever played (Lekon being a notable exception) has had an awful lot of Han Solo’s personality in them. In any game I game-mastered, I often cribbed plot elements from the Star Wars movies. Any time a party went into a bar, in my head.. I had the Cantina Scene from STAR WARS running. Every wise old elder spoke like either Yoda or Ben Kenobi. And every epic sword fight, in my head, had the clang of swords replaced with the hiss of lightsabers. I think I could do a lot worse than using STAR WARS as my exemplar for campaign creation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

R is for Religion

I’ve never really been a stickler for religions in my D&D games. I was always content to simply have clerics worship nameless gods of good (and, perhaps, evil as well), in the interest of moving the game along. Eventually, I started forcing players with clerics to have a patron god, but since there was so seldom clerics in my campaigns, it wasn’t usually a problem.

Now, I see the need to have at least an IDEA of organized religions in play. I must admit, that I do like the idea of simplifying churches down to “the Church of Law” and “The Church of Chaos”, possibly leaving the neutral church as the Old Faith of the druids. In one respect, this is a lot simpler for organizing things, but I also find it… well, a bit drab. I have always been fascinated by the stories of the Greek and Roman gods, and their attendant myths, but I find it rather… daunting? unnecessary? to come up with an entire pantheon. I also like the idea of allowing “specialty” priests, complete with different spell lists and weapons of choice. But, I have also come to believe that that is a mechanic perhaps best left to a more advanced game.

I think it was my Catholic upbringing that first made me consider the idea of using saints as deities in my campaign. As I said in one of my previous posts, in my campaign world, humans are going to be the only race that can use clerical magic, because they are the only race that understands what “faith” can do. From there, it was easy to start thinking that each sphere would be controlled by a different saint. The beauty of this is, it would allow me to be creative in that spheres could have different patron saints, depending on where a character hailed from. The other perk in using saints is, it gives me a simple way to customize clerical magic. The way I envision it, each clerical spell is a supplication to another patron saint. For example, need to heal the wounded? Instead of Cure Light Wounds, you would have to offer up the Prayer to St. Seraphina. Cure Moderate Wounds would be the Orison to St. Seraphina, and Cure Serious Wounds would be the Benediction of St. Seraphina. Need a Bless spell instead? Then you would instead relate the Kyrie of St. Maximus. Instead of having a “spellbook”, a cleric would have a prayer book, which would contain the necessary “prayers” to invoke the benediction of the appropriate saint. I think of clerical spells like prayers and orisons… you need to address your prayer to patron saint of the sphere you seek aid in, and you must know the proper benediction to draw their favourable attentions. This would go a long way to making magic much more “magical”. Just as mages have to seek out rare and unique spells, so too would clerics have to seek out knowledge of the different patron saints of the differing spheres of influence, as well as discovering the prayers which will enable their pleas to be heard.

I have also been toying with some ideas of ancestor worship as part of the worship of the saints, but I haven’t thought about this enough yet. I have a list of Nature Spirits as well, which would be responsible for granting the spells of druids (or, alternately, of simply clerics… I am also toying with the idea of just shipping druid spells {if I use the Advanced Character Companion] into the cleric lists, and simply saying if you want to be a druid, you simply choose Nature spells, and I might change the clerics Turn Undead ability to Turn Wildlife, with a druid instead being able to “turn” different types of aggressive natural wildlife at low levels, and eventually adding SOME magical creatures, and perhaps even fey creatures).

Q is for Questions

The obvious one to do for Q was Quests, but instead, based on something I read this week, I am going to go with Questions instead.

I happened to be perusing an online repository of old Sage Advice articles, from old Dragon magazines, I found an interesting exchange. The question that was asked was can elves and half-orcs be Raised from the dead? The answer, surprisingly, was, “No, they cannot. They do not have souls, and therefore a wish must be used to bring them back”. The implications of this response were what got me thinking.

The first implication that I get from this is that elves, who are not subject to Raise Dead spells and have no souls, are not really “alive”. I take this to mean that elves cannot die (unless by unnatural causes). I suppose that this is not a shocking revelation, as elves have been seen of at other times as being immortal. However, the raises some interesting questions. Does this make elves completely invulnerable to anything which could affect the soul (say, Magic Jar or Trap the Soul spells)? We already know they are immune to Sleep and Charm spells… does this have anything to do with their lack of a soul? If an elf has no soul, then what exactly DO they have that provides that “spark of life”? There are, as far as I can tell, an awful lot of possible implications to this, involving healing and survival of elves. Because they lack a soul, does this mean, no elves can EVER be raised from the dead via other means like Reincarnation? (Obviously, a Wish would put all bets off) Some interesting food for thought.

Similar questions arise from the implication that half-orcs have no souls. How does THAT happen? Humans, obviously, have souls. Does this mean that orcs have no soul, and as such, pass this quality on to half-orcs? If that is true, then does this extend on to other humanoid races? Exactly what DOES qualify one for having a soul? Does this mean there are many races would have invulnerabilities to certain types of possession magic? Or an inability to be affected by raising magic? This could really turn a campaign on its ear!

As I perused the Sage Advices, I found a few other food for thought things as well… for instance: did you know that paladins will only associate with parties which are good (but not LAWFUL good) aligned on a “single-expedition basis”? This would make it EXTREMELY difficult to use a paladin in an extended campaign, as you would have to have a group that is completely Lawful Good, which I think is pretty rare. Another interesting point: in a discussion about Girdles of Giant Strength, it notes, “while the strength of a giant is given, the giant’s innate toughness is not conferred upon the wearer. This means that while a giant could smash its fist through a wooden door, a human would break bones when doing it. While a giant could hurl bars apart, a human would rip flesh in the attempt.” I think that this makes Girdles of Giant Strength a lot less appealing. Does it not imply that, while you might have the strength of a giant, trying to lift something substantially heavier would likely crush the hapless user, as they would be trying to lift enormous weights with spindly little human bones? It kind of makes the Girdles a lot less appealing. Another question: when explaining a Hold Person spell, it says that literally every muscle in a person’s body is rendered motionless, even to the point of being unable, “to expel the breath that carries the sound forth from its source”. So, does that mean that someone who is subject to a Hold Person spell is unable to breath, or that their heart stops beating? Would this not be an easy way to kill someone? The final thought I pondered while gleaning the Sage Advice columns concerned a question about why other classes couldn’t imitate thiefly skills like Hide in Shadows and Climb Walls. The response was, “Even though the thief abilities have rather unimpressive, mundane names, they are indeed special abilities and can be successfully performed only by someone who has had, and continues to take, training in the thief profession. In a standard AD&D campaign, there can be no deviation from this rule — and it is a fact of “life” as much as it is a rule of the game. Only thieves can employ abilities described as unique to that class, just as clerics can do only what clerics are described as being capable of.” It went on to cover a fairly clear and specific explanation about why thieves and ONLY thieves should ever be able to do the things thieves do, including THIS gem of a phrase: “Any DM who settles for less than this attitude from player characters and still allows them to rise in experience levels as if nothing was amiss is doing the playing group and the game a disservice.” Again, I can sort of see the rationale for this, but I can also see the rationale for allowing regular characters to try this stuff. It definitely made me think of how (or IF) I would handle this in my own campaigns.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Poker

Originally, I was going to take this entry to do an aside on another of my favourite gaming pastimes, poker. However, seeing as though the US DOJ cracked down on online poker sites this week, and shut down all online gaming to American players, it makes my idea look that much more prescient (or, much more like riding on someone’s coattails).

I see my role-playing career as very much like my poker career. I have loved poker almost as long as I have loved RPGs… and I get to play it about as often as I get to role-play. I first started to play poker, like most people, as a kid. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it was fun. Then, once I hit 18, I started to play occasionally in my dad’s monthly poker game. Now, when I say “poker”, I’m not talking hold ‘em. I’m talking 727, Iron Cross, Hi/Lo Chicago, 5 card draw, 7 Card Stud, Woolworth’s, Screwy Louie, Suicide, Homicide, Blind Man’s Baseball, and any number of variations (and if you know what any of those are, then you are a “true” poker player 8). It was still mostly for fun, but the rush you get from winning money is like a drug. Then, once I hit my early 20’s, I got into a group who had a semi-regular game in the winter. I didn’t get rich, but I wasn’t broke either. I just loved playing, and the strategy involved. I think of it a little like a much shorter-term tabletop strategy game, with a lot more luck involved. When I moved up north to teach, I did no gaming, but I had a degenerate group of card players who I played with twice a week. I did make some money off this bunch. ;) Once I moved back south, I still play occasionally, but not enough to satisfy my itch. Just like role-playing.

Just like with gaming, I went through a period where I had a group who was very into playing poker, but as we have drifted apart, I have found my opportunities to play poker becoming less and less, just like my gaming opportunities. Furthermore, the lack of a high-speed connection where I live have made it more difficult to play poker online, just as I have little opportunity to game online. The only difference between my two hobbies is, at least I’ve been to Vegas a few times, where I have yet to get to Gen-Con (or any con, for that matter).

I must say, I was a little surprised that the US DOJ finally brought down all the online poker websites this week. While I understand that the way Americans were getting around the gambling regulations of their country involved an awful lot of smoke and mirrors, I figured that the government HAD to be making money off them somehow (and if not, I was sure the lobbyists for credit cards companies would make sure they kept their $2.50/deposit service charge safe). I think this may lead to some interesting times in the near future – the sheer volume of US online players (especially those who have money tied up in the sites they shut down) means I can see the issue of gambling laws in the US being a new point of scrutiny in an upcoming election. The bonus for me is, being Canadian, the only way I am affected by this is the fact that it is EXTREMELY difficult for me to get money into and out of poker sites now. Not that I had any money in them. I would much rather play in a brick and mortar card room… I make more money there than online.

I’ve always wondered if many other RPGers are into gaming like poker. In many ways, the experience is very similar…

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Old School Renaissance

I know that the OSR is one of those topics that tends to divide most people, but for me, it is a bit of a watershed moment. Until about a year and a half ago, I had not even THOUGHT of RPGs for a long time. When I was in high school, my clique was heavily into RPGs of all types. As we drifted apart, so did my playing of RPGs. I would play in the occasional (VERY occasional) sporadic C’Thulhu campaign. I still bought the occasional gaming book (mostly UNKNOWN ARMIES). I still had the odd friend who role-played on occasion, but once I moved up north to teach for 6 years, I was engaged in zero gaming outside a computer or my PS2. I didn’t even have my books with me… they were all in storage at my parents’. I even sold all my old B/X stuff on eBay (including B1-4, X1-2, B1-9 supermodule, and the B box set and X rulebook… of COURSE I subsequently rebought almost all of it, for way more than I sold it for).

I don’t even remember how I found James Mal’s GROGNARDIA blog. I *think* I saw it mentioned somewhere else, or a friend told me to check it out. Once I started to read that blog, I realized there were all sorts of old gamers like me, out of the hobby for years, but still with “the itch”. I started to cruise the blogosphere. I discovered Canonfire and the Oerth Journal, to sate my Greyhawk sweet tooth. I found all sorts of wonderful blogs, with very erudite and creative people behind them (like Jeff Rients, Michael Curtis and many, MANY others). I started to take advantage of some of the wonderful free resources people were making available (like anything Kellri or Taichira does), and you know what? I rediscovered my love. I played a couple of one-shot sessions. I started getting interested in gaming again (although living in a small country town makes that difficult, and lack of high-speed makes doing anything online almost impossible). I started to support the new stuff that people were making (like LABYRINTH LORD), as well as trying to find the old stuff I got rid of (like all the Star Wars d6 material I could get my hands on 8).

The thing that I find hardest to understand is… who CARES about Old School vs. New School? I mean, I can understand why the old man at the only gaming store I visit dismisses LL as “that Internet game that no one cares about… that just rips off old game systems”, because he’s not going to make any money selling it (although, that being said, seeing some of the OUTRAGEOUS prices he charges for used BECMI and B/X materials, you’d think he would WANT people playing the old systems, so they would come in looking for the stuff he has…). But as for people on the nets…. Who cares? I just laugh at the people who mock the OSR movement – did people mock people playing bridge and crib when poker became the big craze in card-playing? So some of us like using older systems… lord knows we’ve spent enough time and sunk enough money into them to justify that. I guess it’s the same as people complaining about new versions of Windows… I know Windows 7 is out there, but my desktop still runs on XP, because it works best for me. I’m just excited that people are TALKING about the hobby, even if they’re talking about the older versions of the game. Yeah, people may complain about people “ripping off” old ideas, but look at the movie industry today… 95% of movies are remakes. So people like the originals, some people like the remakes. Shrug. I’m just happy that people still cared enough about the old games to keep talking about them and supporting them, because that’s what brought ME here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An aside: the things your learn from reading

So, I was going through the online collection of Sage Advice clumns at today, when I cam across this question from DRAGON #33...

"Q: Although the Players Handbook does not include them in the description of the Raise Dead spell, may elves and half-orcs be raised from the dead?

A: No, they cannot. They do not have souls, and therefore a wish must be used to bring them back."


Elves and half-orcs do not have souls.... okay, I can MAYBE wrap my head around elves (MAYBE), but half-orcs have no souls? What? Would someone care to explain this existential dilemma to me?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Newbies

(YAY! I made it through "Hell Week" without missing a post!
... what's that? I will be out and about two more days next week?

I am at the point in my gaming career now where, living in an isolated small town, I don't have an especially large pool of available players. So far, the only playing I get done is when I come back to the big city, and play one-offs with my old friends. Hence, I've been thinking of how I can get a new generation of gamers started in my small town.

One of the problems I find with newbies today is lack of focus. THey have become so used to the constant action of video game RPGs, that they expect a similar experience with a PNP RPG. And THAT... is not something I am willing to do. My games have always been part story-telling opportunity, part game. The story is just as important as the game itself, as far as I'm concerned. So, my struggle is trying to make the game interesting enough to keep their focus, without moving along at a breakneck speed which sacrificies some of the descriptive elements. (And yes, this is why I ABHOR 4th Edition D&D... any time they TELL you to handwave over all the stuff between encounters as unimportant, I start getting antsy. Some of the most fun I've ever had in games has been the little vignettes in between the action. Also, if I WANTED video game mechanics, I would PLAY video games. End rant.)

The other thing I find is, they have very little patience for learning new mechanics. That's why I have gravitated back to B/X D&D / LL for campaigns... rules lite. I suppose if I REALLY wanted to make it simple, I could go for MicroLite or something like that, but at least I have some familiarity with B/X. Conversely, I don't think I could ever run a Greyhawk campaign with B/X rules.... it's just not the same flavour. Using B/X makes for a much more simplistic set-up, so to me, that means a much more simplistic style of campaign. Very black and white, not much shades of gray. Villains are VERY BAD PEOPLE.... heroes are very GOOD people, not the tortured anti-hero. Maybe once I have them trained through D&D, I can start working in AD&D elements, and switch to Greyhawk. For now, though... sandbox it is.

I think the idea of focusing on making the experience meaningful for noobs helps in a way. It makes the "just in time" planning concept I talked about before much more meaningful - there's no point in making grand, elaborate plans if the characters won't get to them because they're still learning the simple mechanics. It also makes sandboxes a much better idea, I think.

Hopefully, I'll get to put this into action some day soon. I have a few candidates coming up through the ranks as possible players in the near future... one very adventurous, very smart little boy in grade 5, and another brainiac girl in grade 5 who is a complete Star Wars NUT (I think she's read my copy of the STAR WARS ENCYCLOPEDIA cover to cover 3 times... she can QUOTE TEXT VERBATIM from that book), which means I might be thinking about how to apply these ideas to a STAR WARS d6 campaign in the near future....

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Miniatures

Originally, I was going to talk about my favorite class, magic-users, but lately, miniatrues have been on my mind.

I know that this hobby of ours developed out of old-style tabletop wargaming. But, for me, I've never really used miniatures EVER when playing RPGs. The only time I've ever used figs is to play WH40K, which is a whole other barrel of fish (that being said, I have a whole hell of a lot of bait from that kettle I need to sell.... maybe W will be for WH40K Figure sale? 8)

The only thing I ever appreciated miniatures for was painting them. When I first started, my painting was VERY primitive... unprimed lead figures, painted with Testor's model paints. Over the years, as my exposure to WH40K showed my the error of my ways, I started to paint more figs, but really, other than Space Marines, the only thing I can ever remember really painting was a Blood Bowl team of Dark Elves, and the odd Warhammer Fantasy goblin figure.

Later, with the advent of Heroclix, and prepainted plastic figures, I see how miniatures really made a comeback. Sadly, they turned it into a collectibility thing, but really, what did you expect? In a way, I miss some of those old figures. I recently came across two packages of old Grenadier AD&D figs (Elementals I and Djinn & Efreeti), as well as an actual, honest to goodness Grenadier WIZZARDS & WARRIORS blister (the Dungeon 01 pack, which has about 8 figures in it), and I am torn between selling them ASAP on eBay, and actually painting them. I also know of a sizable supply of old RAFM lead figs, waiting to get purchased.

I guess what I'm asking is... just how important are minis to your old-school campaign? I know they're kinda required for 4th Ed (what with all it's intricacies), but has anybody out there used miniatures regularly in an old school D&D / AD&D game, and found them to be extremely useful? Also, is it possible to find those new plastic ones cheap and plenitful enough to be a good modern stand in? Maybe I just never got this, and it puzzles me.....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Lekon

( I was going to reproduce the character sheet for the one character I've had to survive the tests of time, Lekon, but since I'm away for an inservice, and I forgot to put it in the laptop bag, that will not be happening. Instead, I will simply talk about him in geenral terms, and his genesis, or at least, what I can remember. 8)

Lekon Bodgarn, 16th level arch-mage (under 1st edition AD&D rules)
STR 10
INT 18
WIS 12
DEX 16
CON 12
CHR 10(-ish)

Lekon was, and remains, the only long-term character I ever played. He survived NUMEROUS adventures, between a large variety of campaigns. At first, I simply played him like an average guy, who was a little bewildered at his ability to use magic. Over time, however, I started to play him smarter. He was never afraid to take part in combat, but would usually fire off a few offensive volleys of spells first, wade into combat for a round or two (even when he was only weilding a Dagger +1), then drop back to provide cover support for the cleanup. As he got to higher and higher a level, he adventured more and more. He was never the "pointy-hat" kind of mage. He was the "dressed like everyone else" kind of mage, wearing Cloaks of Protection and Boots of Speed to get him out of tight situations. While he doesn't have a TON of magic items, he does have everything a good mage would need... high-level Ring of Protection, Staff of the Magi, Ring of Wizardry, Boccob's spell component pouch and spellbook, and a half-decent dagger. [At one point, he also possessed Queen Ehlissa's Marvelous Nightingale. On one hand, this was acquired at the tail end of my gaming days, in a one-on-one Monty Haul campaign, who's sole goal was the get ahold of this artifact. While I don't claim on the last character sheet I had to possess this anymore (I changed it to a Prison of Zagyg instead), he still bears the ill results of his encounter with it (aged 10 years, hair turned white] Lekon cut his teeth as a low-level mage with some high-level friends, going through the Isle of Dread as a first level mage. He was later put through the varuious Against the Giants modules, as well as the Secret of Bone Hill. I remember he was actually killed during the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (a mishap tryiing to figure out how to work one of the fire arms), but was in the company of a cleric of high enough level to cast Raise Dead. Later on, an encounter with the kuo-toa in D1-2 left him at death's door with one hit point, after a critical hit to the left thigh svered his hamstring (damn DM made critical hit tables). He survived, but still bears a limp to this day.

Towards the end, Lekon finally settled down. I paid out the vast amounts of gold to have hium build a stronghold, a tower, in the mountains surrounding the Duchy of Geoff. In hsi last cmapaign, we figured out that a small settlement had arisen around hsi tower, with Lekon acting as a kind of unlanded gentry to the peole and demi-humans of the area. He also has some giants as friends, as we ran through a heavily-modified LIBERATION OF GEOFF as his last adventure, and he befriended some giants (stone, I think) that lived in the area (it involved helping get rid of a dragon). He also had a memorable adventure that made a permanent enemy of Set, the Egyptian God of Serpents (don't ask).

Now, Lekon sits in blissful retirement. If I ever get another Greyhawk campaign running, I guarantee that near the borders of Geoff is the tower of a powerful mage, that the party may one day find itself working for....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is The Keep On The Borderlands

This is probably my all-time favourite module. I remember getting it as part of my red box B/X Basic set, and I remember reading the hell out of it. Oddly enough, although it served as a major inspiration, I didn’t actually play it for years. It’s kind of perverse just how many squandered role-playing opportunities I had in my youth, although in my defence, I did get to play most of the classic AD&D modules (except the one I always WANTED to play, Tomb of Horrors). In any event, the Keep on the Borderlands is still the gold standard of modules, by which I judge all other modules as well as the things I create myself. I think the best thing about the Keep wasn’t necessarily even the dungeon itself, but just the possibilities that the keep itself presented. I think the best example of what this module could be actually came out of something pretty dismal – the TSR line of Greyhawk novels. These were the ones that came out much later, based on iconic modules like The Keep On The Borderlands, Against The Giants, White Plume Mountain and others. I managed to get my hands on a few of these novels, and found most of them to be… disappointing. (Actually, let me qualify that… they were AWFUL. I only managed to read Keep, Against The Giants, and…. I think I read parts of White Plume?). However, the Keep book actually had SOME redeeming qualities. Namely, it did a good job of covering what adventures around the keep could be, what with detailing the encounters with bandits and lizard folk living around the keep, as well as the interaction between the castellan and the party in getting them to explore the caves. Although I was left ultimately unsatisfied by the book, I at least see what its possibilities were.

Even today, every time I start a new campaign, I always find a place to drop the Keep into it. It *is* the ultimate dungeon for me, and it’s so easy to go in and out of with all those entrances, unlike a megadungeon, where backtracking your way out would be difficult at best. I also like all the built-in intrigue that the module has. One thing I was NOT fond of, however, was the Return to the Keep on the B orderlands. Trust WOTC to screw something awesome up. Although I did like some of the little touches (like the Cynidicean NPC), ultimately, they took some great, and made it crappy. Although I have stolen some ideas from that module, I tend to only use it along with an article I found somewhere (Canonfire?) called “Fixing the Return to the Keep on the Borderlands”. It’s the only thing that can make it palatable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J if for Just In Time Planning

Originally, I was going to make this entry a piece of short fiction, but since I’m already running behind this week, I decided to pick another J topic. Maybe I’ll get back to that at another time….

Instead, I think I will take this opportunity to talk about the “just in time” school of D&D planning. I must admit, this is an idea that I only recently came across in my return to gaming. Back in the day, when I used to game much more regularly, I found that I was always engaged in LOTS of preparation ahead of a gaming session. In some respects, I think at times, I put perhaps too MUCH preparation into getting ready for a session… I always wanted the gaming experience to be the best I could make it, and as such, I tended to plan meticulously. Even if it was something as simple as reading and rereading the module I was going to be using, and making copious “author’s additions” to make sure I understood exactly how it fit into my campaign, I did it. The concept of “just in time” preparation seemed completely anathema to me. Part of the whole “gaming process” was the DM prepared… that’s just the way it was.

Did it make for a better campaign? In all honesty, I don’t think so. I can’t recall a single occasion when I said after a session, ”Damn, I’m happy I spent all that time prepping”. (And trust me, the irony that now, as an English teacher, I have never said, “Damn, I’m happy I spent all that time prepping” is not lost on me.) I think part of the whole idea of prepping was the fact that there is some small part of me that fancies that I’m a writer, so the idea of writing copious notes to prepare for a session was much like me “writing” my own module. In a way, it’s kind of funny that I felt the need to explain everything that could possibly happen in minute detail – I mean, after all, I was the guy coming up with all this stuff, wasn’t I? Did I not trust my memory or something?

One of the things I’ve learned from the OSR blogosphere is that, it’s OKAY to wing it. A lot of the campaigns I read about on these pages are very prep-lite. I’m happy I took the opportunity to take part in last year’s One-Page Dungeon Contest, because it got me thinking about how simplicity is its own virtue sometimes. I also appreciate things like Michael Curtis’ STONEHELL DUNGEON, because it follows the same Idea – very minimal initial explanation of the dungeon, and then expanding on the detail afterwards. Even though, I still have trouble at times not “telling a story” with the very descriptions of rooms or encounters in adventures I detail. I think it falls back to the fact that, so often, the campaigns I would run would collapse under the weight of their own expectations after a few sessions, so I started to write all the detail into things, because I would never get the chance to expand this detail in an actual session. However, as I continue to journey deeper and deeper into the blogosphere, and think more and more seriously about trying to get a game restarted, I think I am coming to realize that maybe I should just go description lite. After all, that is a big part of the reason why I chose to start planning using the simple B/X rules… why make things needlessly complicated, when any game I run will likely be populated by newbies who will be learning the game system as we play?

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Inspiration

(Editor's note: damn... a few people doing the same topid. Oh well, great minds think alike... 8)

I know everyone always talks about the infamous Appendix N. Like everyone else, I have had a ton of inspirations, for a variety of games. I’m just going to riff off a whole list of books, movies, TV shows and movies that have inspired me, in no coherent order.
- Robert E. Howard’s Del Rey omnibus series
- Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser books
- Terry Brooks’ THE WISHSONG OF SHANNARA, The Scions of Shannara Trilogy, and the first three books of the Magic Kingdom For Sale: Sold! Series
- Glen Cook’s Black Company series
- Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Rifles series
- J.R.R. Tolkien, especially THE HOBBIT and THE SILMARILLION
- The first six Dragonlance books by Hickman and Weis
- William Gibson
- George Alec Effinger’s Marid Audran trilogy
- John Ostrander’s run on SUICIDE SQUAD
- John Byrne and Chris Claremont’s first run on THE UNCANNY X-MEN
- Any Timothy Zahn or Michael Stackpole Star Wars novel (admission: I have a bookshelf in my room, which has 6 shelves on it. ALL of them hold STAR WARS novels (well, the last shelf holds my Star Wars d6 RPG stuff, and my Star Wars Encyclopedia). Up until earlier this year, I had EVERY Star Wars novel released (not the young adult or kid ones though), including the three Daley Han Solo books, the three Lando Calrissian books, and Splinter of the Mind's eye, and most of them in hardcover. I also have the complete run of Marvel's Star Wars comics (well, I DID... I sold them, but still have *cough* e-versions *cough* of them. I am a bit of a Star Wars junkie. Lately, I have realized, however.... most of the new Star Wars novels are SHITE. Too many based on video games, or just generally poorly written stories. I no longer want to buy shitty books. I have not read all of them yet, either... I read all the Rebellion era stuff (except for a couple that have come out lately), and I've read all the NJO stuff. I started reading the Clone Wars era stuff, but I have yet to find one I like. I haven't read any of the two timelines that come after NJO, even though I have all of them)
- The THIEVES WORLD novel series, especially the first three
- Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil, and the HARD BOILED mini-series
- Kevin Smith’s GUARDIAN DEVIL run on Daredevil

TV Series
- THE CAPE (it's WAY better than HEROES. Sadly, I have a feeling it's being cancelled....)
- BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (both versions)
- BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (well, mostly the Paracelsus arc)
- SPACE: 1999
- STAR WARS trilogy
- INDIANA JONES trilogy (THE CRYSTAL SKULL, not so much…)
- KILL BILL, VOL. 1 & 2

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Man, this blogging thing is tough!

Well, I've survived the A-Z Blogging challenge so far. It has been an education. This is just a head's up... I have a crazy week this week, between having to travel to school sports to take pics for our yearbook, then having to go to an inservice away for two days, so whiel I am *hoping* to keep up with the posting, I might get bogged down for a couple days.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for House Rules

(Damn... busy day. I almost forgot about this post. 8)

Some of the house rules I plan to use in my Haume campaign:

*I’ve always been partial to allowing mages to use swords, like Gandalf, so what I plan to do is allow mages to use any magical sword at 4th level and higher. I am also toying with the idea of simply allowing them to use ANY magical weapon at 4th level or higher, except for ones allowed by the class, which they could use at 1st level.

* Only humans will have clerics, and those that worship certain saints will be allowed to use edged weapons.

* I saw something on a blog the other day that I’m going to steal to use with thieves. I think I will allow any character class the opportunity to do things covered by thieves’ skills, but the percentage represent a “second chance” that thieves will have if they fail the initial role. I was thinking ability checks for these activities, with heavy modifiers in most cases, but thieves could get a second chance, without modifiers, using their percentages if they fail. There will also be some instances that regular classes cannot succeed at. For instance, some locks will have NO chance for normal characters to succeed at , but thieves will have a chance.

* I think I’m going to use the B/X rules, along with John Becker’s B/X Companion. That being said, I also just got ahold of a hardcover of the LABYRINTH LORD and ADVANCED CHARACTERS rules, and I also have PDF’s of both The Rules Cyclopedia and Dark Dungeons, so those might get incorporated too.

* I will be using the “XP for treasure” rule.

* I will make it an ability check vs INT to understand a spell before copying it into your spellbook, and I will likely steal the max # of spells per level idea from AD&D. Magic is going to be a lot rarer in my campaign…. Each level will have a small list of commonly known spells, but most of the spells will be closely-guarded or highly personalized magics. I haven’t figured out what I’m doing with magic research rules yet.

* Demi-humans are EXTREMELY rare as players. Mostly, I’m thinking humans.

I’m sure I will come up with others ideas later (especially if I see steal-worthy ideas on other blogs), but this should do for now.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

G is for Gamma World Miniatures

So, here’s a slight diversion that might actually benefit some of my readers out there.

There’s a FLGS store in my old home city that I haven’t visited in years. I mostly haven’t visited because the guys who runs it is a rather….. ABRASIVE fellow. The stories about MIGS could fill a post on their own. Anyway, last year, I rediscovered the store, and since there is almost no gaming stores left in Winnipeg (in fact, there’s only one other one that I can find), I started to visit. Most of their stuff is horribly overpriced, but they do have the benefit of selling some used stuff. Anyways, I was going through their bin of clearance lead figures one day a couple months ago, when I came across FIVE blister packs of original Grenadier GAMMA WORLD miniatures. Knowing the love of the OSR community for Gamma World (along with Encounter Critical and Mutant Future), I snagged all five. Even as “clearance” items, they were still $5-$8 each, but I figure that was worth the cost for their incredible rarity.

Then, last week, I went back to visit the store while I was visiting my parents over spring break. As I perused the store (after being scoffed at for playing Labyrinth Lord… after talking to the store owner, his response was, “That must be one of those Internet games that nobody cares about. To each their own… why you would want to play something that just rips off an old game system is up to you…”), I checked out the clearance bin.. and lo and behold, there were 5 DIFFERENT packs of the GAMMA WORLD figs in there, for $5 a pop. I quickly gobbled these up as well. When the owner saw me grab them, he said, “Do you actually want those?” I said I didn’t, but I knew others who did. He replied, “Do you want some more?” He went into the back, and came out with a box with 20 MORE DIFFERENT BLISTERS of the original GAMMA WORLD figs. He said he had bought out the stock of one of the other stores in town that went belly up. To make a long story short, after some haggling, we settled on a price for the whole lot. The end result?

I now own 32 of the 52 blisters of GAMMA WORLD Grenadier figures. There is only one duplicate blister in the bunch. Some of them are very LARGE creatures, and I even have 2 of the 3 different “Build Your Own Mutant” blisters. Here’s the actual list of what blisters have:

2 blisters of G-2 Human Adventurers 1 , G-3 Human Adventurers 2, G-4 Grens/Woods People , G-5 Serfs Mutant Men, G-6 Orlens Mutant Men, G-7 Healers, G-8 Restorationists, G-9 Knights of Purity, G-11 Brotherhood of Thought, G-13 Iron Society, G-14 Tribesmen Human, G-15 Barkskin Tribesmen, G-16 Mutant Tribesmen, G-17 Tribesmen Mutants #3, G-18 Women Adventurers, G-20 Villagers, G-22 Partial Armor, G-24 Herps & Parns, G-25 Soul Besh & Cal Thens, G-26 Hissers, G-28 Menarl & Blight, G-31 Hoops (MUTANT RABBITS!!!), G-32 Centisteed, G-33 Brutorz & Rakox, G-34 Podogs, G-42 Ground Cars, G-45 Weapons Pack 1, G-46 Medical Pack, G-47 Mutant Do-It-Yourself 1, G-48 Mutant Do-It-Yourself 2, G-50 Yexil

This is where YOU, my gentle readers, come in.

Although I could make a killing on eBay (theoretically) with these things, I would much rather see them go to someone who is actually going to USE them for the purpose God, Grenadier and TSR intended them. So, here’s my proposition… before I put these on eBay, I will entertain offers for trade or purchase. To be honest… I would probably rather trade these for other gaming materials, but I would also be willing entertain monetary offers. In terms of trade, here’s what I would be interested in (and NO, I’m not on crack, I do not expect this to be a 1-for-1 kind of deal; I know what they cost me, I know what I would need minimum to break even. I don’t expect to get rich here, but I would like to try and make a small profit, or at worst, get a lot of gaming stuff I want that is of about the same value): a decent copy of the B/X Basic rulebook, any B/X modules (except for Keep, Isle of Dread and Master of the Desert Nomads, which I have, but especially B1, B4, B7, B1-9, X2 and X..5? [the followup to Master of the Desert Nomads]), a complete copy of the BECMI Masters Rules box set, any of the C/M modules, a copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, print copies of issues 2,3 and 4 (does it exist?) of KNOCKSPELL magazine, a hardcover copy of the Dark Dungeons retroclone rulebook, Star Wars D6 materials (mostly modules or some hardcover soucebooks… I have all the Galaxy Guides, although there might be one or two I want the Revised version of… e-mail me for details), Traveling Tales for the Savage Worlds Tales of Solomon Kane game, and anything Call of C’Thulhu. I am willing to entertain offers of other stuff, however. Money is also good.

If you want any more details, please email me at suprunown AT gmail DOT com.

UPDATE: Aaaaaaand I managed to sell the entire lot at a satisfactory price. Nice to see them going to someone who will love them. 8)

F is for the Faerie War

F is for The Faerie War

After the universe was cast into the Void by the Father came a period known as The Banishing. As the universe flew through the Void, it attracted the attention of powers better left ignored. And so it was, when the universe finally came to rest, that these powers which lived in the dark became aware of Haume, and the creations of the Mother, the Father, and the Child.

After the Banishing, the elves of Haume knew that the time had arrived for them to seize their destiny, and to take over Haume. The elves began to organize the races of Haume. At first, all was well with the world. The dwarves helped the elves rebuild the world, using their skills and the elves’ magic to make many wondrous cities and other marvels of the world. The Halflings were content to dwell in their woodland abodes, singing songs of the great wonders of their Faerie brethren. Only the races of Maan were not welcomed into the circle of life. While some of the races of Maan were accepted by the Founders (as the races of elf, dwarf and halfling came to be known), and even began to learn the secrets of arts, culture, magic, and crafting, many more races were not accepted because of their passionate, warlike nature. So it was that these abandoned races came to find camaraderie with the only ones who would accept them – the Voices of the Void. While some of these Voices were well-intentioned, most we bitter and twisted by their isolation in the Void, or jealous of the gifts given the races of Haume by the Faerie Queen and the Great Maker. As the races of Maan fell under the sway of the Voices of the Void, they learned terrible secrets Maan was not meant to know. Over time, these races of Maan were corrupted by the influence of these evil spirits. Over time, these races became as twisted as their dark masters. Driven far from the civilized realms by the other races of Haume, these races dwelled apart, in societies ruled by strength and violence. They came to be known as the Forked Ones, for their decision to branch away from the other races. Over time, they became even more twisted in the dark places, gaining strength. The greatest of the Orcs (as their name eventually became corrupted) were known as the Overgrown (which would be corrupted into Ogre).

The other races of Haume ignored the Forked Ones, thinking of them as misbehaving children in need of correction, until one day, when the whole of Orc society showed up on the borders of the Civilized Lands, in numbers greatly outnumbering the other races. Within weeks, their savage forces had slaughtered all the encountered, driving back the Founders, and those races of Maan who stood with them. It came to pass that a great conclave of the Founders was held, where they discussed what should be done. The debate raged for many days, but at the end, the elves convinced the other races that, with their magic, they could make an army even mightier than the Orcs, using savagery to defeat savagery. Great was the opposition to this plan – many felt that it was dangerous to put their faith in savagery, and in magic, which only the Elves and Halflings had mastered. However, the Elves convinced the other races that there was nothing to fear, and that they would be able to control that which they created.

And so it came to pass, that the elves took other elves, as well as halflings, dwarves, and even humans, and worked their great magics upon them, to create even mightier warriors than The Forked Ones. For many days, the night skies were lit with unnatural fire, and the earth groaned in protest. And when they were done, the elves stood back and marvelled at what they had made.

But it soon became apparent…. that the elves had failed.

Where they had tried to create swift, cunning scouts by altering the brave halflings, they instead created the crawling darkness of the Goblins (so named for the mewling, gobbling sounds they made) and Kobolds (whose name was a corruption of “cold-blooded”, for they were merciless, cold-blooded killers). Their attempts to strengthen the races of Maan into great leaders instead twisted and corrupted them into the savage warrior-races of Bugbears (the “ugly heirs”) and Hobgoblins (the “human gobblers”). The steadfast, indefatigable dwarfs became Trolls, twisting their unbreakable spirits into unkillable bodies. And their fellow elves, who secretly sought to rule the other races under their thumbs, were twisted into the races of the Giant-kin.

The other races were horrified at the failure of the elves. The dwarves, furious with the failure of the elves, vowed to destroy whatever abomination they could, swearing a blood oath against these corrupted races. The humans, horrified at what their brethren had become, and terrified at what the elves might do to repair the situation, fled into the wilderness, isolating themselves from both sides. The elves, secretly ashamed at their failure, vowed to try again, refusing to accept failure. The Halflings were so horrified at what had become of their brothers, that they abandoned magic, for they saw it, not the elves, as the great failure. It was eldritch forces that had corrupted the Forked Ones, and it was eldritch forces that the elves had use to corrupt the Founders. The halflings begged the elves to reconsider their reckless magical experiments, but the haughty elves, convinced of their own superiority, refused to believe they could fail again. And fail again they did. This time, the elves tried instead to alter the beasts of nature with their magic, not understanding that they were tampering with a fundamental force. This time, their failures created the abominations which became known as gnolls, lizard-men, snake-men, and other horrors. The dwarves, seeing the nightmares the elves created beginning to work alongside the Forked Ones, gave up on the Founder brothers, and retreated into the darkness, where they were the undisputed masters of their realms. The halflings, finally realizing that the elves would never be convinced that failure was an option, simply disappeared, returning to live in the deepest, most untouched parts of the land, overcome with grief and regret. They vowed to never tamper with forces of magic, instead preferring to live in the moment, conscious now of how quickly life could change. The elves were chastened, but unrepentant, continued to believe in their own superiority, and continually dabbled with forces best left untouched, trying to atone for their secret shame.

For the humans, besieged now on both sides, and no longer trusting any of the Founders (for they had been abandoned by the dwarves and Halflings, and no longer trusting of the elves) struggled to survive, at the same time continuing to study the paths of magic, either in hopes of finding a way to repair what the elves could not, or power to harness what the elves had created. The only thing the humans had which the others races lacked, was faith – faith that things had to get better. Faith that things WOULD get better. And it was from this faith that the humans found something the other races never have… the healing power of magic.

However, by then, the damage was done. The world of Haume was ravaged. Where once, the Founders had created great cities, temples, and other wondrous places, now there was only dead, abandoned ruins… destroyed not only by the ravaging Forked One, but by the elves’ own failed creations. The dwarves lived in darkness, keeping only their own council. Their lives revolved around constantly trying to rebuild what they had lost, and fighting to destroy what had been created. The dwarves had little time to rehash the failings of history. The Halflings, grieved by what had become of their beautiful world, lived only for today, unencumbered by the past. The elves chose to ignore their past, in hopes of expunging from history the record of their failure. And the humans, with the shortest lifespan of all the races? Although they tried to remember, as time passed, it became harder and harder to accurately remember history, as pieces began to be missed, and fall victim to the sands of mortality.

Today, the Faerie War is mostly forgotten. Some say that the dwarves have carved the history into the walls and pillars of their great city, but none have time to read them. Others say that there are some elves that have kept the history of Haume, although it is unsure whether the history they have kept is how it happened, or how they want the Founders to THINK it happened. It is said that the Halflings remember all, and spend as much time trying to forget all. Of the Forked Ones, and the other degenerate races, there is little likelihood that they remember anything other than violence, fear and death. Of the humans, there exist bits and pieces of history spread out across all of creation. If it could all be brought together, in one place, then perhaps there would be a history, but for now, the story remains incomplete. However, the oldest and wisest of all the races say that there are some great watchers who have kept a history of the world, through all the days of light and darkness….. that the trees, and the few Faerie creatures composed entirely of magic who dwell amongst them, still hold the truth; that in the deepest pits, where dwell the dragons, the most powerful of the creatures of magic, the knowledge of all the Founders successes and failures is still held; and in the highest of mountains and amongst the clouds, where those of the giant-kin whose spirits were uncorrupted by the elves dark magics dwell, a record has been kept with the knowledge that there will come a day of reckoning….

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E is for Elves

(Dammit! I think EVERYONE is doing elves today)

The elves of Haume are an interesting race. They appear as most elves do, tall and willowy, and have a longer lifespan than many races on Haume. Most elves living in the range of 150-175 years, with those reaching 200 years of age considered exceptional.

(Author’s note: yes, I am already contradicting myself. After posting my Creation Myths, I realized that the stuff I posted there [which I cribbed from something I’ve had brewing for a while for my campaign] contradicted the stuff I was coming up with for this task. So, I quickly did some rewriting of this stuff, I think I covered all the changes and stuff , but you might find some inconsistencies between this and what I have already posted.)

Unlike other races on Haume, elves do not consider themselves as being “created” by a divine being. Instead, they see the elvish race as being created when Aeleisha, the Mother of All, The Faerie Queen, willed herself into being from the Void. She bore the first elves, and the race continued from there. (It is interesting to note that while the elves claim that the name of the father of the elivish race has been lost to time, other myths indicate that perhaps the father is actually the Great Maker, the creator of the dwarves, Durrak. Bringing this up in the company of elves would probably get you killed, or at least seriously harmed, by any elves in attendance) Accordingly, elves actually see themselves as gods, so to speak. They do not worship any other divine being, for they consider themselves to BE divine beings, descended directly from divinity. As such, elves tend to worship abstract ideas, such as Truth, Beauty, and Justice, instead of personified ideals of these qualities. Because of this, elves are perceived as quite haughty by all other races, and elves consider themselves to be above all other races on Haume. Elves, in fact, believe that they created all the other races of Haume, and as such, are the rightful masters of the world.

Elves seek perfection in everything they do, whether it be art, music, writing, magic, or warfare. Elves are in constant practice and contemplation of their art, and rarely journey out to have contact with the outside world. Elvish settlements are few and far between, and guarded very well. No one “accidentally” stumbles on a elvish settlement – if they find one, there is a purpose for finding it; otherwise, the elves would have killed any interlopers long before they got close to the settlement. The elves consider their facility with magic to be a sign of their superiority over the other races, and are equally fascinated and repulsed by humans and their ability with magic. The absence of worship of divine beings means elves are unable to use clerical magic (although, if you ask an elf, they will claim that elves could replicate such magic if they so desired – it’s simply considered gauche to use magic for such a common thing as to heal one’s mortal shell). While elves consider humans as primitive barbarians, toying with the tools elves have sought to perfect, they are secretly horrified that humans would tamper so recklessly with magic which would appear beyond their ability to control at high levels.

Elves are rarely encountered outside of elvish society. Those that are encountered are often renegades, who have either chosen to leave elvish society or been cast out, in search of new and different challenges to home their skills against. Lately, however, more elves have been encountered in the lands abroad, leading some to speculate, coupled with the scarcity and extreme secretiveness of elvish settlements, that the elves are a dying race, and are seeking the secrets of magic held by humans to held revitalize the elvish race. It is not uncommon to find elves gravitating towards human places of worship, or travelling with clerics, in order to observe their magic in action.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Dwarves

D is for Dwarves

I don’t tend to stray too far from source material in my campaigns. As such, my take on dwarves in the Haume campaign is pretty straightforward. They are short and stocky, often with surprisingly ruddy features for a race which lives primarily underground. Most dwarves live to the age of about 100, with those living into their 130s considered to be exceptional. And no…. female dwarves do NOT have beards.

Dwarves worship The Father, aka The Great Maker, aka Durrak (to the humans). They have few other deities, and the few they do have are thought to have been some of the first dwarves created by the Father. Curiously, dwarves do not have a highly organized religion. Dwarves have no inherent magical ability of any kind, supposedly because the Father was more interested in making a race that would be able to survive through their strength and their hands, not something as intangible as magic. While most dwarven settlements have small token shrines to the Great Maker, there is no organized priesthood. The dwarven race see the Father as being consumed with creating, and as such, isn’t terribly interested in interceding in the lives of his creations.

A by-product of the dwarves inability to use magic, however, is their utter fascination with magic items. Dwarves could care less about those who can manipulate magic, but as craftsmen, they are almost obsessed with how these magical energies can be infused into crafted items. As such, dwarves often appear greedy to other races, as they are constantly seeking to amass fortunes of precious metals and gemstones. However, dwarves are driven to this avarice because of their innate need to acquire magic items to study, in hopes of being able to replicate the abilities of such items through sheer craftsmanship. Dwarves are more interested in magic items that are both magical and beautiful… things like swords, armor, rings, jewelry, weapons, and intricate devices. Potions and scrolls hold little interest for dwarves. Because magic items are of more interest in being researched than used, it is rare that one will encounter a dwarf with numerous magical items, for dwarves find it difficult to overcome their natural tendencies to research a magical item and put it into everyday use. Often, dwarven strongholds will have sizable hoards of magical items which are being “researched” by dwarven sages, metallurgists and alchemists.

Most dwarves are serious and taciturn. They don’t trust elves because of the Faerie War (more on that later), and will be noticeable bristly around them. They tend to get along well with Halflings, when they encounter them, which is rarely. They tend to view humans with a combination of wonder and caution – wonder because humans are able to use more magic than any other race on Haume, but caution because of the sheer amount of violence humans have been responsible for in the past.

Dwarves are often found living in vast, underground cities in mostly inaccessible mountain ranges. A dwarven city will honeycomb an entire mountain, often with the smelters and forges of the dwarves found at the top of the mountain, which makes for easier venting of exhaust (and occasionally causing these cities to be mistaken as active volcanoes). The middle levels contain vast warrens of rooms and personal residences, as well as workshops. Dwarves are also known to employ vast natural caverns for raising a variety of fungus and vegetables, as well as herds of lizards and rodents which they raise for food. The bottom levels of a dwarven city contain the mines, where they acquire their raw material for construction. There is often limited contact between dwarven cities and the outside world – the notable exception is for timber products (although the dwarves have created miniature varieties of trees which thrive underground, nothing can compare to the lumber of surface trees). Most dwarves encountered in the surface world are either those who have been outcast from dwarven society for some crime, or those who are considered unfit for functioning in regular dwarven society.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Creation Myths

C is for Creation Myths

There are many myths which have come to be associated with the creation of Haume, and its many races.

According to the elves, Haume was created by the Faerie Queen and the All-Father. The first elves were direct descendents of these great beings, and they created the other races to as “drones” to help manage the affairs of the elves upon the planet. Accordingly, all elves on Haume feel that they are, in actuality, gods themselves.

The dwarves instead tell a tale of the First Maker, who carved the world out of Chaos, and created the races in his unending quest to create the perfect being.

No one is quite sure what the Halflings believe. Whenever talk turns to things of religion or the past, halflings get a look of great sadness on their faces, and become very quiet. Some say that they are the only race that knows the true origins of the races, and that knowledge is a heavy burden.

However, amongst the races of man, they tell a different tale…

In the beginning, there was the Void. The Void was Everything, and Nothing, all at the same time. Eventually, that which was Void reshaped, and reformed, until there was the Mother, and the Father. The Mother and the Father complimented each other in every way, and yet they contradicted each other at the same time. For many lengths of time, immeasurable to mortals, the Mother and the Father existed, together and yet apart, and after a long while, after they had explored everything together and apart…. they grew bored. And so, the Mother and the Father decided to create another. They chose the best parts of each other, and they created the Child. And for many more passages of time, life was good, as the Mother and the Father explored the Void with the Child, imparting all of their knowledge.

However, eventually, after they had finished exploring the Void with the Child, the Mother and the Father found that the Child was always looking for more to do. Although the Mother and the Father enjoyed spending time with the Child, they needed some time alone, to contemplate great truths that were still beyond the understanding of the Child, or even time alone with each other, to ponder other truths. And so, the Mother and the Father decided to create playthings for the Child. And so, they took parts of the Void, and formed and shaped them, and they created the Universe, and all the stars, and all the planets, and then they took some small parts of themselves, and mixed it with the Void, and they created all the lands, and the seas, and the plants, and the animals, and They gave them to the Child. And the Child was delighted, and took great pleasure with its new playthings. This allowed the Mother and the Father time to go back to exploring and contemplating the Void.

However, after another period of many passages of time, the Mother and the Father noticed that the Child was spending most of its time playing with one plaything more than any others. “What is it you have named this toy?” the Mother asked the Child. “I have decided to call this, my favourite toy, Haume, because all those things which I love are united on this one world,” the Child responded with a smile. “And why do you enjoy playing with this toy more than the rest?” asked the Father. The Child answered them, “I like this toy the best, because of all the creatures that You have created for Me. If only….” With this, the Child momentarily looked away, and the Mother and the Father said, “You need only to ask us, our Child… what is it You want?” The Child replied, “I only wish that you had created something that would surprise me. All the creatures that are part of this toy behave as dumb creatures do… they have no free will. They always do the same things. I grow weary of watching them. I wish to have creatures who do not do what I think they will!” The Mother and the Father thought about this for a time, and then they said to the Child, “We have thought about what You have said, and We have decided to create a new plaything for you, which will behave with its own free will. We will make them as we have made You, with equal parts of Ourselves.” The Mother and the Father took parts of Themselves, and mixed it with parts of the Void, and They created the Halved, so named because they took half their totality from the Mother, and half from the Father. The Halved took their beauty and peaceful nature from the Mother, while from the Father, they received their small stature, which reflected their Child natures. The Child was delighted with these new playthings, and spent many more passages of time observing the Halved as they learned about their new world.

One day, the Mother and the Father found the Child, staring forlornly at the Child’s toys. With great concern, They asked the Child, “What is the matter, Our Child?” The Child replied, “I am sad, for although my new toys please me greatly, I feel their sadness, for they are alone on their world, and have no one with which they share their existence, as I have You, Mother and Father.” The Mother and the Father considered this for a time, and They said to the Child, “We have decided that We do not enjoy seeing You in sadness. So, We will create new playthings for the Halved, so that You will not suffer from their sadness.” But, the Mother and the Father could not agree on what to create. So instead, They both took parts of the Void, and parts of Themselves, and They created two more new playthings for the Halved. The Mother took beauty and intelligence, magic and the air and the water, and all the bright parts of Her creations, and created the Fey. Meanwhile, the Father took strength and resolve, and skill and fire and earth, and all the most solid, well created parts of His creations, and created the Dur. The Mother and the Father placed these new creations with the Halved, and again, the Child was delighted, and watched as the races of his world learned to interact.

Many passages of time passed before the Mother and the Father again saw the Child, sitting forlornly, looking at his playthings. “Oh Child, what is it that troubles You now?” they asked. The child replied, “While I am happy that You created new playthings for Me and My world, they are being most cross! They started out playing together, but over time, they have become most independent!” When the Mother and the Father looked down, They saw that what the Child said was true. Although the Mother and the Father had tried to create suitable playthings for the Child, the fact that They had not undertaken this endeavour together, but separately, meant that Their new creations were imperfect. For, as the Mother looked down, she found that the Fey could not relate to the Halved, because they were far more beautiful than the Halved, and possessed of more intelligence, and more of a connection with magic, and nature. The Fey had retreated into the forests and across the waters of the planet, to contemplate things which did not interest the Halved, who lived in the softly rolling hills and the wide open plains. Meanwhile, the Father found that the Dur could not tolerate the childlike innocence of the Halved. The Dur were far more serious-minded, and they gravitated towards the dark places under the ground, where they worked their crafts and practiced their martial prowess, which repulsed the innocent Halved. The Mother and the Father were upset – They had not forseen such events. At this time, the Child asked them, “Why can I not make my own playthings? I have seen and known almost as much as You have!” Allthough They were not fond of the idea, eventually the Mother and the Father relented, and they allowed the Child to create Its own toys. So, the Child took some of the Void, and some of Itself, and created Maan. The Child tried to create Maan as it had seen the Mother and the Father create all the other races, but the Child had never worked with the Void before, and the Child had not spent as much time creating playthings as the Mother and the Father had, and so, Maan was created flawed. The lifespan of Maan was shortest of all the races, and the Void used to create Maan remained unstable, leading him to be the most passionate of all the races. However, the Child was pleased, and the Mother and the Father were pleased that the Child was again happy.

Time passed, and the races of Haume lived and learned, were raised up and laid low, and interacted in ways which greatly pleased the Child. The Fey continued to dwell apart from all the races of Haume, only interacting with them when required. Although they possessed some of the childlike innocence of the Halved, their intelligence gave them insight that told them this innocence was but fleeting. Because the Fey possessed more innate magic than the other races, a gift from the mother, they tended to see things much differently than all the others, and as the magic also allowed them to live longer, they took a longer view of affairs than the shorter-lived races. The Fey dwelt amongst the wild places in the world, holding their own council, but also realizing that they would need to accommodate some of the ways of the other races. Thus, the Fey journeyed far and wide, learning much, but keeping their motives their own. The Dur continued to toil away in the dark, practicing their crafts. Because of their serious nature, they tended to grate upon the more innocent, fun-loving races, and so they remained in the great underground halls, where they would get together, discussing their crafts, and showing off their strength through martial competition. However, some of the Dur found themselves possessed of more of the Mother than the Father. These Dur developed personalities more in keeping with the childlike innocence of the Halved, and with a greater desire for open spaces and bright lights. These Dur began to live above ground, never quite accepted by the Halved and other races, and never understood by their Dur cousins. These became known as the Nomed, for the Dur called them “no-homed” for their curious ways. The Halved lived the most peaceful existence of all nations. They were completely peaceful, content to simply sit and enjoy each others’ company. They had not the worries or concerns that knowledge cursed the Fey with, nor the seriousness and desire to work that possessed the Dur. Although appearing childlike and innocent, they Halved were really wise beyond their years. That left the race of Maan. The race of Maan was the most curious, as they were the most imperfectly-created. They possessed great facility is using magic, but because of this, they possessed a short lifespan. Unlike the Fey, who dwelt in the water and the trees, or the Dur, who dwelt on the bowels of earth, or the Halved, who dwelt in the plains and hills, Maan lived everywhere. Maan dwelt in the places shunned by the other races, as well as alongside all races. They felt more than any other race, and were subject to wild emotional swings. Most importantly, unlike the other races, Maan was created with the capacity for what would be considered Evil. Maan often did things that were wholly unexpected, which while interesting for the watching Child, would ultimately prove to be the undoing of this world.

One day, the Mother and the Father came upon the Child, crying inconsolably. “What is the matter, Our Child?” The Child wept bitterly, and told the Mother and the Father, ”When I went to look upon my Haume, I found everything in turmoil! I do not understand what is happening, but I feel….. fear. And anger!” The Mother and the Father were distressed at this, and looked upon Haume. There, they found that the paradise they had created… had fallen. For the race of Maan had turned upon the other races, and had brought the knowledge of Murder and Death into the world. The Void in them had manifested in unexpected ways, making Maan subject to violence and brutality. They had turned on the other races. Maan had slain almost all of the peaceful Halved and Nomed. The Fey, seeing this bloodshed, had retreated to their forests, and the waters, and all the places Maan could not get to. The Dur instead retreated into the earth, where they fought with Maan, and prevented him from entering their realms. And when Maan, could find no race to fight with, Maan turned on himself.

The Mother and the Father looked on, aghast. Never had they thought that this would be the result of Their efforts. And They, too, knew anger, and shame, and disappointment, and sadness. The Mother and the Father and the Child no longer wished to look upon this, the perversion of Their perfect creation. The Child was petulant, and wanted nothing to do with this Universe. The Father, angered as He was, took up His mighty hammer, and prepared to destroy the Universe. However, the Mother intervened. Saddened as She was, She could not stand to see all Their work destroyed. However, the Mother no longer wished to look upon this corrupted creation either. Finally, She convinced the Father that, instead of destroying this Universe, They should cast the Universe into the farthest, darkest corner of the Void, where They would never have to look upon it again. And so, the Father hefted up the Universe, and with a final heave, threw it into the deepest, darkest, most untouched part of the Void, never to be seen or thought of again….

To be continued…?