At the end of the D&D 3.5 era, there are still interesting offerings to be had.
Not much seems to be going on at Necromancer Games. And Clark Peterson has announced his strong support for 4E.
Anybody I should be checking out?
I’m sort of interested in what Expeditious Retreat Press is doing because of their one-on-one line  and because of their flagship A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe (which I still haven’t bought) (a 2nd edition of the book was recently released).
I think settings require a high buy-in. That’s just not the kind of DM I am. I’m totally focused on adventures, right here, right now. Settings are dreamlike visions that help you write adventures or flesh out backgrounds. I’d rather buy more adventures, I think. Necromancer Games’ CityOfBrass, for example, is about the limit of how much setting I can take. The box is about ⅓ urban setting with shops, names, locations, ⅓ adventure with rooms, npcs, (tiny) maps, and ⅓ NPC stats and monsters.
Oh, and I’m still hoping to quell the urge of having to buy more adventures than I will be able to play in a lifetime!
I guess this should be advice but I basically just lifted it from a EN World thread called Trap an Egyptian-Style Pyramid. Celebrim’s answer stood out from the rest of them when I read through the thread. Celebrim is also behind the The Explicatae Incompositae - Being A Bestairy of the Sometime Lords of Chaos – Slaad Lord goodness! Anyway, this is what he wrote:
Ok… high level traps.
Remember that before this can work, you’ve got to be an order of magnitude more lethal than Tomb of Horrors.
Weird. I just discovered a Skype API Plugin for Pidgin/libpurple/Adium. It doesn’t really speak Skype: It requires Skype to be running in order to interface with it, apparently. Not quite what I was looking for, but I might give it a try anyway…
Update: I deinstalled it again because it required Skype to be running, and because chatting in Adium generated a duplicate chat window in Skype with the exact same content. I think I’d rather not use Skype on the Mac Mini where I don’t have a headset anyway!
None of the players liked the idea of there being a real timer or the DM hustling the players along.
Time for a podcast update… Last update: 2007-07-28 More Roleplaying Game Podcasts .
Check out RPG Podcasts if you’re looking for more.
I keep thinking about Spirit of the Century by Evil Hat Productions. It’s a game that uses the Fate rules, and Fate is essentially Fudge. I was in love with Fudge in the days when all we had was Gopher servers and Usenet… I think. I don’t really remember any details. I reviewed Gatecrasher by Grey Ghost Press on 1998-01-06.  Ok, maybe we did have the web by by then. But still. I wrote that over ten years ago… Time flies.
Anyway, Fudge, Fate, open gaming… Fate 1.0 apparently was a particular rule set based on the Fudge toolkit, Fate 2.0 was a rewrite using the OGL, and Fate 3.0 was used for Spirit of the Century. And with that, we’re finally back on topic!
I was considering buying Spirit of the Century. But I don’t think I’d find enough people around here interested in trying a Fudge game. That’s why I’ve been able to resist temptation. USD 30 for the 420 page softcover and PDF + USD 16 for shipping… Yikes!
What I’ll do is browse the SRD, think about it, check to see whether anybody is interested, wait a little, and figure out what to do.
Open gaming rocks.
If only shipping weren’t so expensive.
I have an embedded link to Google Analytics on this site. Here are some interesting stats for the last month:
With all that talk about IE still being the market leader… I don’t know. Perhaps this means that corporate people are stuck with IE but at home people use Firefox?
I wonder what “organic” means in this context. I don’t post a lot to EN World but apparently my sig has some enticing links. The mediamac.comon.dk referrals are due to a Danish person posting a link to 2008-03-21 Send iTunes Tracks To SqueezeBox.
I guess the two D&D campaign pages come as no surprise. The iTunes page we already mentioned. The rest are surprise: Oddmuse and WebDAV? Yikes, that was a lot of time wasted! And I haven’t played any Atlantis in years, nor have I used Slackware…
Oh well. What do I learn from all this?
Uhm… I dunno. What do you use Google Analytics for?
I suggested American Gods by Neil Gaiman to the English bookclub a while back  and I’m reading it right now. Unfortunately I have a German translation because the German publisher did not translate the title. I visited Amazon Germany, searched for American Gods, and ordered a cheap copy. And it turns out it was German. Oh well.
I’m nearly through, and I’m not too enthusiastic about it. Somehow there’s just not enough going on in the book. Hanging from a tree and references to old mythology can be great. Just look at The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ll finish the book now that I’ve nearly made it. But I don’t think I can recommend it.
Lately I’ve been thinking about prestige classes and new feats. I’d really like to get a lot of bang for my buck, and I’m not sure I like what I hear about the Complete series by Wizards of the Coast. Blackdirge Publishing has a few PDF products out there for around USD 2 each containing prestige classes (the Master at Arms series). The Order of the Stick forums have a review of some of the prestige classes.
Hm… In Peter’s Dragon Coast game I’m playing a swashbuckler and apparently I’m going to be the “tank” – this is not going well from a powergaming perspective, I can tell. 😊 :D
One player is in Brazil, another is sick, and a third can’t come. It’s just Marco and Claudia! All three of us went to the same bakery to get croissants and bread or cake, and we spent two hours on the balcony eating breakfast and basking in the April sun. Good times.
Belflin and Corian decide to investigate the missing body up in Bostwick and with Flax’ help they discover the secret passage down into an old crypt. Behind a secret door they find the bones they were looking for, a fresh corps, and four ghouls. An easy fight!
Behind the double door they find an Unholy Blight trap and two wraiths. They retreat as fast as they can, organize Jeffar and “mayor” Wycheck (even though the two don’t seem to like each other). Together, they beat the wraiths and discover the amazing Rod of Death. This rod would be worth about 75,000 gp to a priest of Nergul, god of death.
A 150 ft drop into the Underdark is ignored.
The party then turns south and decides to investigate the missing workers in the Thorfax mines. I had planted this seed myself in order to introduce a beholder outpost. But with only two characters in the party (a ranger level 7 and a sorcerer level 8), I had to switch plans. I had already been toying with a cloaker outpost, Belflin already hated cloakers with a passion, and KoboldQuarterly #4 featured a “Cloaker Ecology” – I hadn’t really read the article, but there it featured stats for a so-called dread cloaker. Cool.
So I quickly invented some caves and let the party know where five miners had disappeared in the last few days and weeks. I figured that these miners had been kidnapped (“grappled” by a cloaker and carried away) and they had tried to drop some of their items, trying to lead their fellow men to the cloakers. It turns out that the end result was too confusing and I pointed them towards the caves with extra high ceilings. Corian knows the Fly spell so finding a tunnel leading towards a separate set of caves with the five miners and five cloakers was no problem.
The party fought one cloaker guarding the access to the caves, another cloaker guarding the miners, and three cloakers pursuing them. The last fight was a very close call. When one of the cloakers had the archer paralyzed I wondered what to do – coup de grâce? Then I figured that it would try to enslave Belflin instead. It carried him back to the slave pit, took all his gear, and moved away. Beflin was unable to stop it.
In the mean time, Corian was fighting the last cloaker with the help of his fourth level cohort. The sorcerer prevented the cloaker from grappling him, withstood a stupor moan, and brought the cloaker down with some Magic Missiles and Flax flanking. Who would have thought that we have such a tough sorcerer in our party?
The party brings the miners back to safety, get an ordinary longbow and some arrows for Belflin, and the next day they go looking for some cloaker butt to kick. It doesn’t take them long to find the dread cloaker in his lair. They beat him eventually…
Challenges overcome: Four ghouls CR 1, two wraiths CR 5 (XP shared with two NPCs), trap CR 4, five cloakers CR 5, a dread cloaker CR 7.
For anybody who loves to watch people talk, to think about all the crap people blather, who likes to join dysfunctional conversations with nonsensical comments and find out that they are a perfect fit, I recommend:
I used to be subscribed to Scientific American. I stopped reading it when I realized that I still didn’t get the articles on Physics where as the articles on Biology seemed boring and trivial.
As I grow older, I might have to take it up again. 😊
I’m listening to A Distant Mirror: Comparing the 14th Century to the 20th by Barbara Tuchman. eMusic had a promotion allowing me to download 25 songs and one audiobook. This was the audiobook I picked.
I like history, but I’ve never been too interested in medieval history. But I’ve slowly been working my way up from AncientHistory to Byzantine history and on to the medieval ages. My renewed interest is certainly also due to the incredible 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast.
Maybe I should look at the Medieval Sourcebook again. Back in the days – when the web had just started – this was an incredible collection of links.
Also note how lousy it is to name your files as follows:
Barbara W. Tuchman_A Distant Mirror_359_Part 359 of 541.mp3 Barbara W. Tuchman_A Distant Mirror_35_Part 35 of 541.mp3 Barbara W. Tuchman_A Distant Mirror_360_Part 360 of 541.mp3
I’m listening to the audiobook on my iAUDIO instead of my iPod because I didn’t want to import the entire 700MB of the book into iTunes. The reason being that I want to keep my iTunes library on my primary harddisk because the external disk’s ventilation is just so damn loud. The primary harddisk has only 60GB of space, and the iTunes library is already taking 33GB. Hence the complication. I’m assuming this would not have bothered the iPod. But then again, who knows. My iPod still has tons of free space. But I can’t copy the audiobook to it without breaking iTunes synchronization. I think. Maybe I’ll look into this again.
With the PDF market so big, and gaming time so limited, many people depend on reviews. I do, too. And when a product gets nominated for an award, or gets an award, or makes first place, that is important to me. That how I pick how to spend my gaming bucks.
Via Crothian , who has been a judge for many years.
So I clicked on that “Custom” button in iTunes for the encoding rate. I used to have it set to 160 kbps. Apparently this meant CBR. The new dialog offered VBR, various quality settings, and so on. So I started googling and once again I was told that LAME was the only encoder to use. But… I have a Mac! I like iTunes!
Well, it turns out that there is a LAME bridge for iTunes! Which I installed. And now I use
--alt-preset standard understanding as little as before, but feeling much better about it.
LAME rocks!! :D
Oh man, look at these pictures!
I’ve decided to pick up an old version of the D&D rules. Check out the Editions of Dungeons & Dragons and look for “Red Box” and the “Rules Cyclopedia”. We’re going to use the Labyrinth Lord rules, which reimplement those rules. When I bought the Rules Cyclopedia PDF, it turned out that the quality of the PDF was not too exciting. That’s why I’m picking this OGL (en) reimplementation. It can be printed without problems.
But back to the Red Box.
I fondly remember my astonishment back then. A Canadian friend called Jason Burford introduced us to AD&D and that was our system. A while later a guy called Igor Simonides invited us to a game of D&D using the Red Box rules. There was no distinction between race and class! There was just 3d6, in order! It was weird. We didn’t want to play it. But now I really want to take another look.
The irony is that Gary Gygax wrote the AD&D rules where as the Red Box was a revision by Frank Mentzer of a revision by Tom Moldvay of a revision by John Eric Holmes of the original rules by Gygax and Arneson…
And we’re going to play Palace of the Silver Princess. In fact, we’re going to play the original, orange-cover edition of that adventure by Jean Wells. I’ll have to check it for playability, though.
I’m going to prepare a few spellbooks, some standard equipment, a few options, and a few sets of arms and armor to make character creation quick and easy.
This is going to be fun!
In the idle hours of spring, the mind wanders… There’s a slight difference between the English word “Sodomy” and the German word “Sodomie” – even Wikipedia mentions it: “From this biblical narrative the word ‘Sodomy’ is derived and has henceforth come to be synonymous with anal intercourse (particularly between two males) and sometimes also to describe human-animal sexual intercourse (also known as bestiality or zoophilia); this is the primary meaning of the cognate German language word Sodomie.” 
Anyway, today I was looking for music by The Pogues. One of their albums is called Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985). Today I also looked at the iTunes store. And guess what they call the album? If you guessed “Rum Sy & the Lash” you win as many laundry machines as you can carry.
There’s even a Wikipedia article about the album: Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash – Wikipedia claims that the title is “adapted from a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill” and provides this quote: “Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers, and the lash.”
I love it.
The quote. I’m talking about the quote.
Update: Finally I found that Churchill did not utter these words. On Wikipedia’s page on The Pogues there’s a note pointing to Quotes Falsely Attributed To Him by the Churchill Centre, which says that “Churchill’s assistant, Anthony Montague-Browne said that although Churchill had not uttered these words, he wished he had.”
Today we spent a few hours playing through the orange-cover Palace of the Silver Princess available for free from Wizards of the Coast using the Labyrinth Lord rules. These rules are a “retro-clone game system” designed to take us “back to the basics of old-school fantasy gaming”. The rules are dedicated to Tom Moldvay, author of the Basic Set. Check out the nice list of D&D book covers by Robert Fisher to get some context.
The party managed to steal the ruby in the end!
I had three players. We started with Belfin the elf, Darn the elf, and Marcus the cleric, all on first level. Belfin hired three retainers and promised them that they got to keep the padded armor and short sword he bought them if they came along for this adventure.
Beflin got replaced by Solarus the cleric, Darn got replaced by Darn the second, also an elf, and Marcus got replaced by Wilford the Witless. Later Solarus got replaced by Grump the dwarf, Darn the second got replaced by a nameless cleric, and Wilford got replaced by Archibald the Wise. We lost count of the retainers we lost. Often the party had as much as nine people in it. Ordinary humans came along for armor and weapons, elves and clerics came a long if they got a share of the treasure. Many a cleric died before being able to cast a single spell. More than one retainer ended up turning into a PC. The system is DEADLY.
The last party got to level up in the caves by popular vote of the players. Not much later they found the lair of a harpy that owned over 6000 gp. Remember how the orange book had many empty rooms that you had to stock yourself. I had added this one myself, thinking that the random treasure I had rolled would help them level up. Well, the nameless cleric ended up on level three, so hopes were up again.
The rules left me with some questions. Maybe somebody can help me out.
Other stuff I noticed:
It was fun for a one-day adventure. We’ll be happy to return to D&D 3.5 in our next session.
The following is stuff I didn’t write in my EN World post.
If I were to compare it to D&D 3.5 directly:
A while ago Paizo ran a contest to find the “RPG Superstar”. Today I was looking for unique magic items and wanted to go back to those contest submissions. They have been taken offline.
Yes, I know that the contributors basically signed off their rights to Paizo when they made their submissions. That gives Paizo legal protection against others taking the submissions. There’s no need to prevent non-publishers from taking these submissions for their own games, however.
The status itself was sent to a Twitter Bot via GTalk, who posted it to Twitter, which got picked up by TwitterAdium and set as the status message for all my accounts in Adium, which in turn was picked up by a JabberLand bot I had added to my contact list, and included on that first page I linked to. Scary.
I’m sort of looking for the way to set all my status messages from a single place. This seems to work!
I still don’t get the Twitter craze, but perhaps I need some more friends on Twitter to appreciate “it”.
A long time ago I had a proof of concept using a programmable bot that did the same thing for Oddmuse.
Things that make me uncomfortable:
I must be a really old fart, inflexible and set in my ways. When it comes to The Pogues I still love Sodomy, Rum, And The Lash and If I Should Fall From Grace With God and as I listen to all these other discs I find that I don’t really like the new singers (does one say “vocalist” these days?) – Shane MacGowan was teh bestest!
To bad he had (still has?) such a drinking problem.
And I love Wikipedia. <3
Belflin, Silas, and Auroleva delve into the Underdark, looking for the temple of Belphegor, the evil god of fire.
On the first day, they meet some Gnolls, but using sign language the two groups pass each other. During the night, the gnolls come back. The party feigns sleeping, and the gnolls decide to attack! The fourteen gnolls did not last long and a chest loaded with 1300 gp was discovered. Some sort of tribute to be paid, maybe?
On the second day, a wraith was fought and bested, and a group of Crushed Skull orcs was met later that day. One of the orcs knew Giant and gave Belflin directions to the ogre caves. The party followed the directions, got overtaken by the orcs by nightfall, but again nothing happened.
On the third day, the party reached a big cave and discovered a red dragon called Thuskamasker in an abandoned Belphegor temple. The dragon graciously agreed to a gift of 1300 gp in a wooden chest and let Belflin go.
The party also found a secret door with an Infernal inscription but did not investigate.
And the party got into a fight with some ogres. Their surviving leader Klusko offered to find a hexagonal gem for 1000 gp after all but two of his clan were killed. Belflin, growing suspicious, decided to search the premise and discovered the very key they were looking for in the ogre’s treasure chest.
The party also befriended a lonesome & lost hobgoblin and finally arranged for him to become Crus’ servant.
Challenges overcome: thirteen gnolls CR 1, one wraith CR 5, ten ogres CR 3, Klusko CR 7, hobgoblin CR 1
From time to time I get the urge to rip some old CDs and listen to them again in a sort of “genre completion” action. I listen to some old grunge music used for Levis’ ads decades ago (Inside by Stiltskin I think) and realize there must be another CD somewhere with a Levis track (Spaceman by Babylon Zoo). That leads me to look for another CD produced by Tori Amos: Pet. And then my mind travels to Nirvana, Bon Jovi, Jimmy Hendrix (weird, eh?) and ends up with a weird collection of CDs. And I realize that I can no longer find a CD by Mano Negra – the band Manu Chao belonged to before he started singing like a sissy. I must have given it away. I faintly remember giving it to zeno.
Old music is weird.
Getting older is creepy. It always creeps me out if ordinary people – co-workers, actors, clients – are born in the eighties. Where were they when I listened to Stevie Wonder wagging his head and singing I just called to say I love you... (dominating the charts for week after week after week).
And here’s another creepy thought: Thank God the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunited, for Tschirner grew up in East Berlin. I remember feeling old when my little sister didn’t know what the Iron Curtain was. Before long I will have to admit that I was born in the last millennium!!
But you have to admit, it is hard to resist these rabbit guys.
Anyway, I sort of recommend it as light entertainment. Depending on how expensive your local movie theater is, you might want to join a DVD sharing club instead. Here in Switzerland I recommend runDVDrun.