Whoa, is 2010 the Year of the Boxed Set?
I’m confused, but in a good way.
I think treating Bioware’s computer role-playing game Dragon Age as “a fantastic opportunity to bring new gamers into the hobby”  is a great move, and I hope it succeeds! Many people have complained about a missing boxed set to present to friends and relatives – specially since most people seem to have started gaming somewhere between ten and fourteen – as have I! At that age, I would have never started playing a game requiring me to read four hundred pages of rules or more.
I’ve been playing Dragon Age on my Xbox 360 these days, and I like it. I’d love to see people pick up the pen & paper game and join our hobby. I’m not a big fan of licensing deals like these, but if the original game is good, and the pen & paper rules are well written, short, and they come in a boxed set with dice, then I’m intrigued. I feel like buying the Dragon Age RPG.
I don’t really understand why James Edward Raggi IV of LotFP has to make a boxed set. He mentioned that “it will be made with complete beginners in mind”  which I support. He also mentioned that it was supposed to help his adventures get into distribution since otherwise they’d depend on Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord being in distribution.  I don’t really have an opinion about that. I don’t know whether it’s a valid concern, and I’m perfectly happy with old school gaming being a not for profit hobby. I guess I’m biased because my Free Software endeavors are also not for profit.
Also, I could go on talking about how I feel that my hobbies and making money don’t go together well. Money seems to corrupt the things I love doing, transforming “fun” into “work”.
Anyway, I’m intrigued because I’d like to hear what James has to say to new referees. But then again, perhaps Michael Shorten’s Swords & Wizardry Quickstart Rules already cover that?
I also understand the old school renaissance making a move and applaud John Adams of Brave Halfling Publishing. But I already own Labyrinth Lord, a German translation, Swords & Wizardry, Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, Ruins & Ronin, the two volumes of B/X D&D, and the Rules Cyclopedia. If all he does is republish the rules, then I cannot convince myself to buy it. I’d love to see it, and I’d love to see it succeed! After all, I loved the purple Labyrinth Lord box.
I guess I want to have it because it’s cool, but I have too many very similar rules already!
I need to figure out if I want to buy any of these boxed sets. My wife plays in my D&D 3.5 Alder King game, and I’ve played a handful of Labyrinth Lord solo sessions with her. I don’t really need a new boxed sets.
Instead of buying more and more stuff, I should just play more! Since I’m already playing on at least eleven days every month, finding the time might turn out to be difficult. Also, I promised myself that my next campaign would be all weird. The boxed sets are not weird enough.
I think I’d like somebody else in the area to buy the Dragon Age RPG boxed set and run a campaign!
Meeting Creative Commons Switzerland – if you’re in Switzerland, and interested in copyright law, and Free Software or Creative Commons, this meeting is for you.
18.1.2010, 19:00, ETH Zürich, HG F33.5.
Looking around for some books on medieval arms and armor – including details about polearms, and not necessarily with gaming application – I found the following books via Amazon. What do you think? Other books you want to suggest? Warnings? Is this series from St. Martin’s Press good?
Or start with some books from other lists? 
I got recommendations for Gary Gygax’s World Builder and The Palladium Book of Weapon and Armour via Twitter. What do you think of these?
Yesterday I played some Labyrinth Lord with my best friend and his three kids aged five to ten.
I think we’ll try and get those two hours of gaming once a month. I’ve added the campaign to the long list of campaigns I’m involved in.
That means I'm looking for some judges! Five to seven would be a good number, I think. Last year we got a bit under 120 submissions. If you read four submissions every day, you will still need thirty days to read them all. And that’s what we’ll have: A full month to read all the submissions. Or look at it another way: If you need ten minutes for each submission, you will spend a total of twenty hours reading. Interested? Let me know!
My basic plan is for people to write submissions in February, judges to read submissions in March, and winners to be determined in April… Can it be done?
Don’t forget Design A Dungeon Room Contest 2010 – all entries are due January 31st, 2010.
Ready for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2010?
If you’re looking for inspiration, you can look at the submissions to the One Page Dungeon Contest 2009, or you can look at some of the fabulous map threads and blogs out there.
Any other threads or blogs you want to recommend?
I’ve been running Rise of the Runelords for my biweekly Monday campaign for a while, now. Last year, I already mentioned how I felt that the adventure paths were providing too much detail. They are overwhelming me with notes!
I looked at old school dungeons, and started to like what I saw: a lot less text! At first I thought these dungeons were boring hack-n-slay expeditions, but I started to realize that this doesn’t have to be true. The most important points were the monster reaction table where you roll 2d6 and add a Charisma modifier, and morale checks where you roll 2d6 at appropriate times to see whether the enemies retreat or flee. That changes many combat situation into social situations! And suddenly the referee has to do a lot of improvisation.
I was scared of the improvisation, but two things converted me anyway. Taking notes after the game instead of preparing notes before the game, and the one page dungeon phenomenon of 2009.
As a referee, preparing less material, taking notes during the game, and writing them up on a Campaign Wiki has opened my eyes. The world ends up being rich and detailed, but I don’t have to prepare ahead of time and railroad my players through the detailed plot. I can wing it, react to my players, and write it up afterwards.
Then the second thing happened: One Page Dungeon Contest 2009. I discovered that other people were doing just the same. I wasn’t alone! Until then, I had felt bad. I had felt lazy. I had set myself limits because I was too lazy to spend more time on it. Suddenly everything came together:
And with more than a hundred entries to the One Page Dungeon Contest, I could learn from other people. I saw that other people were drawing maps just as I was. They had dungeons just as I had. Some did not fit my style. Others I loved. I could learn from these, and be a better referee.
That’s why I started organizing another contest. One Page Dungeon Contest 2010!
January 27, 19:30 @ Café Schober, Napfgasse 4, 8001 Zürich.
Suggested as an alternative to In Defense of Food by the same author. This non-fiction book was suggested by Alex based on a friend’s suggestion. A book on the origin of food. Apparently written with a strong American bias, but it’ll be interesting for us here in Switzerland none the less. See the author's page about the book and In Defense of Food on Wikipedia.
Comment from Valpuri: I’ve read this, and it’s fine, lots to discuss, but I’ve heard that The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by the same author, is better? Maybe something to consider?
Comment from Alex: The person who gave me the book said the same thing, but since he didn’t have it… I’m fine with getting The Omnivore's Dilemma, though. Wikipedia says: