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2011-06-01 Tables to Generate Setting

Page 1
My first draft where I try to gather ideas.

Page 2
The second draft turned out to be a road block. I could not get past it.

I’m working on a dungeon level for Fight On that is more akin to a small underworld. At first, I wanted to map it all. Then I realized that I really wanted to keep everything short. I was thinking of the One Page Dungeon model. My first thought was that I’d have a map of important locations because I love maps, and then I’d write on the map itself instead of writing a separate map key. In a way, that’s what my Water Temple (SVG) does, even if it isn’t such a great dungeon to adventure in.

With all the talk about Vornheim, though, I’ve started thinking about using tables to generate an entire region. Instead of having a spatial map with a room key and a small table of random encounters, have a vague and inspiring map, practically no room key, a small number of very important random encounters, and perhaps an interesting NPC or two per region.

I really should get a copy of Vornheim to see whether this is how Zak does it. Also, check out his Hack This Book Contest.

So now my goal is this:

  1. a read-aloud sentence for the arrival—as short as possible but enough to buy the referee some time
  2. a very short description—preferably in bullet list form for a referee to skim
  3. an interesting NPC—usually a leader with information relevant to the various things players might want to do
  4. a point or two of what can be gained here
  5. an inspirational little sketch
  6. a random table for interesting encounters—these can be small such as a group of enemies leading to a fight
  7. events—these can be large such as invasions from other factions or changes the party might effect

I had some sketches already, but nothing solid. Today I started writing stuff up using this concept. What do you think—does this look like a format you would use at your table? I think it would work for me, but I haven’t tested it.

Bubbling Stench

“The river opens out into a kind of lake and soon you see gas bubbles bursting and you smell sweet rot.”

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5308/5787157242_a6a5d529ed.jpg
To do: a decent scan and some post-processing.

Theme: frogs, floating eyes, stench

  • the river Styx widens and widens
  • loose sight of one or both shores
  • big cave pelicans glide over the water
  • gases start bubbling up
  • the stench of rotten fruit and excrement
  • eyes of giant frogs are watching
  • worse, eyes are bubbling up and floating away
  • big, snake-like creatures move in the murky water

Encounters:

  1. a raft with 2d6 boglings (HD 1; AC 7; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); MV 4/15; submerged they surprise ⅚, jumping charge), they fear and hate foreigners, too afraid to attack, may act as guides
  2. a green glow at the shore outlines the toad fane occupied by 5d6 boglings and run by Onbog, the undead servant of Tsathoga (HD 7: AC 4; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); MV 12; horn of frog birth will summon thousands of frogs and green fog from the surrounding ground, amputating meat cleaver will cut a limb on a 20 (roll 1d4 to determine arm or leg) which Onbog will eat the next round and then flee)
  3. a camp with 1d6×10 boglings built around the decaying carcass of a Styx whale cut open, grubs everywhere and an invitation to a poisonous feast (save or contract a debilitating gut rot giving you a -2 on all your rolls)
  4. a giant ancient eel attacks (HD 8; AC 8; Atk 1 bite (3d6); MV 15; will grab a victim off the boat on a 20 and dive next round; victims save vs. death every round or die)
  5. underneath the lake an eye tyrant sorcerer named Valkhazar dreams and as he does, eyes pop out from the lake floor, bubble up and weave what they see into its dreams—but sometimes these visions demand investigation—such as now (HD 15; AC 4; Atk 1 bite (2d6); MV 9; disintegrating gaze (save vs. rays or take 3d6), paralyzing gaze (save vs. paralysis or be held and helpless while the gaze does not waver), canceling gaze (save vs. spells or be unable to cast spells and all magic items loose their power while the gaze does not waver), charming gaze (save vs. spells or be charmed for a day))
  6. orcs on air sharks throwing bottles containing green slime at any of the above (see shark den for more info about the orcs)

Bogling Names: Slap, Niwash, Blair, Darp, Oort, Karg, Ashzwash, Mort

Onbog was a priest of Mitra that got corrupted by Tsathoga ages ago. Now he maintains this fane along the river Styx, hating himself, and everybody else. He enjoys the control he has over the frogs and likes nothing better than the hope of corrupting others into the service of Tsathogga in order to share his well concealed misery. Onbog is also afraid of meeting Bilapudee, a frog demon ruling over the eternal swamp. Possibly that would reveal how minuscule his power is.

Events:

  1. if the river runs dry (see fortress dam of iX) this will awaken and antagonize the eye tyrant sorcerer and aggravate Onbog—and if thus cornered he will reveal the passage to the eternal swamp where the elder frog demon Bilapudee can be found
  2. if a ghoul company marches along the shores of the lake, they will avoid the muddier sections because of the weight of the cart; they will also fall upon any boglings and turn them into ghouls in order to replenish their ranks

See also: 2011-03-31 How To Organize Adventure Notes.

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Comments on 2011-06-01 Tables to Generate Setting


lior
I really really like the Bubbling Stench. Onbog, the dreaming eye tyrant and the frog demon are great ideas that make me want to go there!

Using distinct areas with random encounter tables is very much to my liking. Some thoughts I had reading your post:

  • Instead of rolling to see what encounter happens next, have the GM roll after a fixed time interval, so that another encounter starts while the first one is ongoing. This way you may not only have the encounters consecutively but interacting with each other and the players. Image you are dealing with the boggling raft when the giant eel attacks! Or your fighting with Onbog raises the attention of the eye tyrant?
  • What happens when the eye tyrant dreams? Does that somehow change reality, maybe in another part of the dungeon? Or does he sleep-walk? (sleep-float?) Do the Bogglings know that they should be quiet and do they row with their raft towards noise to shush or otherwise silence the source?
  • How about one intro text per area, not only as introduction for the players but also as an impro-help for the GM?
  • Over-the-horizon-causality: Do encounters in one area affect future encounters in another? Implicitly via the fiction of the dungeon as interpreted by the GM? Or explicitly via instructions or mechanics? Like: “If the party slays or otherwise defeats Onbog, Tsathoga will try to replace his servant by corrupting one of the party characters in room X by doing Y”. Or: “If the party acts violently while watched by the eye tyrant his dreams will turn blood-thirsty and his minions in area X will have a bad sleep and wake up grumpy and aggressive.”
  • Then again, having things happen for reasons the players do not understand is probably pretty worthless.

Really cool stuff!

– lior 2011-06-02 18:02 UTC


I have Vornheim and will bring it next time we play together. It’s cheap enough to just buy though.

– Harald 2011-06-02 20:07 UTC


And re: Tables themselves, they’re a very efficient way to present setting; to say it’s generated by them is somewhat misleading IMHO.

– Harald 2011-06-02 20:10 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I like the idea of improvisation help for the referee –- what would you like to see? A small list of hypothetical questions of the kind you provided? (“What happens when the eye tyrant dreams?”) (Excellent question.)

I definitely like the idea of events in one area affecting other areas. I’ll have to remember to add such entries to the list of events for each area.

Thank you for the feedback and the kind words.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-03 01:29 UTC


Having things happen for reasons the players/characters can figure out is pretty awesome!

– Harald 2011-06-03 13:31 UTC



lior
As I see it, impro-help for the GM can come on three levels:

A) Fluff-level: color/fluff like the intro texts, maps, illustrations etc. This helps put everybody into mood, but I think as the hours go by the effect wears out and the GM is on his own. B) As directives: “You should…”, “Think about…”, “Try to…”. This tells the GM more precisely what to do, but it still remains abstract and often vague about how to do it. Having the GM answer questions as prep goes would be this level. C) As procedures: “If X happens, add N tokens to …”, “Whenever Y is used up, roll Z…”. This really helps/forces the GM to react in certain ways and can give a flavor and depth to the scenario that the GM would otherwise have to imrpovise on his own under time pressure.

As I have said before, I really like to see/develop GM help on procedure-level (C). How in this case? That’s hard! The best I came up with so far:

For the eye tyrant: each time his dream-eyes see the party, the GM decides what they see: choose one of Blood(violence,anger..), Joy(merriment, singing…) or Magic.

  • Blood makes the tyrant giddy with energy. He starts dreaming up weird magic effects that bubble up the water (or pop up in another area). Throw 1d6 and consult the “bloody dreams bubbles” table…
  • Joy makes the tyrant jealous and aggressive. He starts to tremble violently in his sleep, causing all sorts of tectonic mayhem. Throw 1d6 and consult the “merry dreams mayhem” table…
  • Magic makes the tyrant happy and creative. He starts to dreams all sorts of semi-prophetic, informative or deceptive scenes which show up on various wet surfaces throughout the dungeon. Throw 1d6 and consult the “magic dreams prophecies” table… Bonus rule: If the tyrant dreams the same kind of dreams three consecutive times, then something particularly powerful and bad happens… For three Bloody dreams X. For three merry dreams Y… Bonus rule: The Bogglings know they eyes mean trouble and hide from them or, when seen, try their best no to show any emotions. They readily tell the party about the “eyes of the lake”. But they have not figured out the rules for what happens when and where the eyes come from. Bonus rule: If the party somehow manages to get to the eye tyrant at the bottom of the swamp, he is almost impossible to wake as long as he is submerged in water. When attacked he will dream up all sorts of defensive measures, choose one fitting event from the dream tables per round, but have each effect persist for as long as he is attacked, so that the party is confronted with more and more trouble each round.

For Onbog: if the party has left the Bubbling Stench, evaluate the contact they had with Onbog (directly or indirectly via his minions) and choose one of Destruction, Friendship or Neglect (whatever best describes nature of the contact). Follow the instructions:

  • Destruction: Tsathoga isn’t amused to see the wretched should of one of his servants back in the netherworld. In any subsequent area he will resurrect N dice of creatures killed by the players and send them after the party. The resurrection happens as soon as the fight is over and the party starts to reorganize/loot/heal etc. The resurrected creatures are Zombies, Skeletons etc - whichever fits best. If spoken to, they will readily channel Tsathoga’s angry voice and Onbog’s twisted accusations. This will go until 30 HD worth of undead have risen or until the party substitutes a body by ritually sacrificing a (willing or unwilling) living and more or less intelligent creature at location X. If the party successfully sacrificed a creature, you can switch to the effects of “Friendship” if it seems fitting to do so.
  • Friendship: If the party has parted friendly with Onbog, then he will mention the PCs favorably in his prayers to Tsathoga. Choose one PC to be Tsathoga’s favorite. Whenever that character is near a corpse or remains of a sentient creature, Tsathoga talk to him through that corpse and will try to seduce that character into his service by offering him bargains from table “Tsathoga’s twisted bargains”. This will go on until the character has either agreed to a bargain or declined three times.
  • Neglect: Onbog is offended that he has not had the opportunity to personally meet and or kill the party. He sends a team of 3d6 Bogglings after the party to capture and bring them to him. At the beginning of the next three encounters, if they are in a neighboring area, throw 1d6: On 1, the boggling expedition reaches and attacks the party while the PCs are engaged in the encounter. On 2: The Bogglings will follow the party, (unseen if they manage to) and ambush the party at the next opportunity. If the party was captured and brought to Onbog, don’t forget to reevaluate this this list again accordingly.

Phooo… That was my brain dump. Pick out what you like if you want to.

– lior 2011-06-03 15:42 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I love it. The only drawback I see right now is that it would take up a lot of space in comparison to the other stuff. I’d have to try it. Perhaps it is fitting to spend that much time and space on NPC interactions, after all.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-03 16:35 UTC



Jonas
Looks awesome!

Jonas 2011-06-03 16:38 UTC



lior
About the presentation, a wild idea: Even though you have areas with random encounters instead of location with fixes events, you can still draw all N possible encounters into the map - each indexed with a number. They just do not represent precise locations. The Bubbling Stench would have the Boggling patrol’s raft, Toad’s Fane, etc. drawn into it. Old maps often include details showing the monsters to be expected in the area, local peasant occupations etc.. Those could be interpreted as visual representations of encounter tables:

http://espliego.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/1500px-carta_marina.jpeg

The secondary random tables can be drawn the same way too. Historic maps often include cartouches with details and scrolls with text:

http://alteagallery.com/jpegs/largeimages/10352.jpg

Of course, the whole text will not fit on the map and will have to be provided separately. But once the GM read through the text the map should be enough to remind him of the table items.

To see that would be so cool! Let me know if I can be of any help (or if you’d rather want me to shut up ;-)

– lior 2011-06-03 17:47 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I find your feedback very inspiring and definitely want to see more! I will make an effort to push myself and write up more stuff because I now need to figure out what works and what does not.

For the moment I have a sketch of the intro map that shows how the regions all link up. Adding more small info pictures and little keywords.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3356/5793022199_2622f9b031.jpg

I think what would be work is if I posted each area as it reaches the 60% mark (no editing, no nice pictures, no play testing) and I will try to incorporate feedback such as the one above with the curses, reactions, etc. And if it gets published, I’ll add you name as a co-author. ;)

Another map example I did for somebody else in Fight On #9:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1066/4599297648_5e50bf3f2c.jpg

That at least looks much cleaner than a previous sketch of mine where I tried mixing inspirational map and lots of labels:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2184/4195476858_d76961a1f5.jpg

A cleaned up version of the above did make an appearance in Fight On… 2010-03-18 Session Preparation has more info but strangely enough the cleaned up version is still missing. I should upload it one of these days.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-03 21:39 UTC



lior
Suggestions:

  • Each area is: {list of random encounters} + {1-3 NPCs with secondary tables/rules} + {background mechanic that gives each encounter in the area a unique, weird, interesting twist}
  • Each area has some encounters that “leak” by affecting following events inside or outside the area (like the outcomes of Onbog’s contact or the dreaming eye tyrant’s visions)
  • The “leaking” is not in the form of “if X happens here than door Y opens in Z”.
  • There are several opportunities to get to the cool stuff, even after the party left the area - like Onbog’s Neglect clause that tries to get the Party meet Onbog. Or: “The party has to fetch the ‘Bone Toothpick of Yuck’ from the Altar of Shmuck. GM: Which cool feature did the party miss that you really want to show off? The altar is in that area!…”. Invest in cool features, but make sure the players have a good chance of seeing that feature.
  • Continue this dialog in wiki?

– lior 2011-06-04 09:56 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Note that you can always click Edit this page at the very bottom and just edit this wiki page like any other – including old comments. Do you think continuing this conversation via email is more productive? I’m not sure who else is following it. Either way is fine with me. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-04 14:29 UTC



Adrian
Orcs on air sharks?!?!?

Adrian 2011-06-06 14:25 UTC



AlexSchroeder
This adventure is made of win! :D

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-06 14:44 UTC

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2011-06-06 Labyrinth Lord Party Level 12

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2214/5794443059_4667305a5f_m.jpg

I’m getting to play test my Styx Underworld with three friends. What sort of party should they bring along?

I rolled up seven arrays of stats and assigned them each one of the seven classes from the Labyrinth Lord book and gave them 600’001 XP. Then I went to the treasure tables at the end and rolled on some of the tables and assigned the magic items as I saw fit. After everything was distributed, I went over the stuff and gave little bonuses here and there.

My own campaign uses the house rule of rerolling all your hit dice when you gain a new hit die. So I gave them all the best of three rolls: 7 hit dice, 8 hit dice, and 9 hit dice except for the halfling who got one die less on each roll (the halfling level limit is 8).

My own campaign also uses the rule of limiting the spells known to the spells per day which is why they have open slots in their spell books. That’s where they will scribe new spells if they meet spell casters that will teach them new things.

attention work in progress attention

Class Level Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha hp AC
Cleric 13781091211423
plate mail (AC 3), shield, staff of striking (19 charges) w/ continual light 60’ radius, ring of fire resistance, decanter of endless water
special abilities: true oath, anybody holding a hand into a flame will not get hurt and only be able to speak the truth or not at all
spells memorized (cleric of Mitra):
1. cure light wounds (memorized 4×), detect magic (memorized 2×)
2. bless, find traps, hold person, silence 15’ radius, speak with animals
3. cure disease, remove curse, striking (memorized 2×)
4. cure serious wounds (memorized 2×), neutralize poison (memorized 2×)
5. raise dead, cure critical wounds, commune
6. heal, stone tell
Dwarf 11115138121155-1
royal dwarven plate mail +3 (AC 0), matching shield +2, dwarven axe +2 w/ continual light 60’ radius, potion of treasure finding
Fighter 1216131498361-3
special abilities: trained to deflect arrows in Taipur, save vs. paralysis once per round to avoid an arrow
dwarven plate mail +2 (AC 1), matching shield +2, wolf bane sword +1, +2 vs. lycanthropes w/ continual light 60’ radius, ring of fire resistance, potion of speed
Elf 101116131491637-2
sword of the wild hunt +1, +3 vs. undead w/ continual light 60’ radius, elven plate mail of the crab +1 (AC 2, allows wearer to hunker down and look like a natural stone ⅔ of the time), matching shield +1, philter of love, spell book
spells known (student of the sea elf queen Gerdana):
1. charm person, sleep, read magic
2. detect evil (memorized 3×), continual light (not memorized), (open slot)
3. lightning bolt, protection from normal missiles, water breathing
4. polymorph self (memorized 2×), remove curse, (open slot)
5. telekinesis (memorized 2×), (open slot)
Magic-User 10812111081627
dagger w/ continual light 60’ radius, spell book, potion of ESP, wand of detect enemies, scroll of stone to flesh, reincarnation
spells known (student of Ubon):
1. magic missile, light, read languages
2. invisibility (memorized 2×), detect invisible, continual light (not memorized)
3. lightning bolt, fly, hold person
4. polymorph self (memorized 2×), polymorph other, (open slot)
5. conjure elemental, contact other plane
Thief 1271581268224
ring of x-ray vision, feathered spear of the sea elves +1 w/ continual light 60’ radius, elven leather armor +1 (AC 6), cloak of protection +1, potion of poison, lock picks
Halfling 811131591110420
short bow, 3 arrows +3, 15 arrows +1, 22 ordinary arrows, sun sword of the sea elves +1 w/ continual light 60’ radius, plate mail (AC 3), shield +1, eyes of the eagle, potion of heroism (grants a temporary fighter level 10), thieves’ tools

The party owns some standard adventuring gear as well: pots, trail rations, 4×50 ft. of rope, 4 grappling hooks, 20 spikes, hammer, 2 manacles, pick, shovel, ink, pen, 10 sheets of parchment, 6 vials of holy water, garlic, bedrolls, backpacks, several large sacks for treasure.

The party also owns a treasure map for the crypt of George Crowfeather, Vulture Lord of Rainburgh, who apparently escaped the dungeons of Dis but had to leave his mythical armor, sword, and helm behind. The map shows how enter the dungeon via the river Styx and where to find the secret stash.

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Comments on 2011-06-06 Labyrinth Lord Party Level 12


Adrian
I like the Cha 3 fighter :)

Does the cleric really have a faster XP advancement table than the thief?

Adrian 2011-06-06 14:12 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Apparently so. The thief will reach level 13 with an extra 10’000 points because he gets 5% bonus XP for high Dex.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-06 14:46 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hm, the session resulted in the following feedback: make sure all characters have daggers (the elf needed one while fighting underwater), all characters need trade goods—jewelery, gold, rings (make it easy to pay for services), the elf needs a longbow and arrows.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-06 20:38 UTC

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2011-06-07 First Play Test Results

Two players chose a character each from the list. J. picked the magic user and F. picked the elf. The framing story I had presented involved them searching for the secret stash of loot left in the prisons of Dis and they were going to try to enter the prison from the water—from the river Styx.

The game started in the region called Eternal Swamp. I didn’t have many notes beyond a few visuals. Predictably, the feedback was that the beginning of the adventure needed more of a challenge for players to overcome, or a riddle to solve, or a dark secret to uncover. Good points and something to keep in mind for the next session in 14 days.

Most of the time was spent exploring the Bubbling Stench. My take on the evening was the following:

  1. the boglings as described (“they fear and hate foreigners, too afraid to attack”) have no reason to interact with the party. The afterthought of “may act as guides” required me to ignore the first part, so that needs to be changed. Curious? Greedy? Want to lead visitors to the toad fane in order to be sacrificed?
  2. Lior had been writing up some developments based on the actions of the party. Basically the referee was to figure out whether the events deserve a label such as bloody or joyful leading to more specific random tables of events. I love the idea, but in play the connection between action and resulting event was too tenuous.
  3. Role-playing the important NPC at the fane was no problem, but I failed to tempt the players to sack the temple and loot it. It needs more flaunted wealth, or the priest needs to better insinuate the wealth.
  4. In fact, the areas need treasure just as much as they need random encounters. The bogling camp needs treasure. The dreaming tyrant at the bottom of the lake needs treasure. The toad fane needs treasure.
  5. The pregenerated characters need trade goods such as rings, bracelets, jewels, gold coins, and the like.
  6. Printing what little material I had (which I assume to be around 15%) I already needed 10 pages without the images! This is way too long. I’d fill all 88 pages of Fight On! with this dungeon. Not good.
  7. I really appreciated the lack of a solid spatial map. The simple sketch was good enough. Although I realized that the river Styx flowed in the opposite direction than what I imagined. Must place the toad fane at the other end!

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3356/5793022199_2622f9b031.jpg

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2011-06-08 Importance of Facebook

What is Facebook for? I use it to keep in touch with a new category of relations. Before Facebook, I had family, friends, acquaintances, and people I lost contact with. With Facebook, there’s a new category between acquaintances and people I lost contact with – now there is a very faint link online. This category of “online friend” is for people I have never met, people from work – and since I’m not a person that likes making phone calls – it is also for friends that have moved away or family that lives abroad. And I’m ok with that. :)

That doesn’t mean I like the various ways in which my privacy is being invaded. :(

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Comments on 2011-06-08 Importance of Facebook


AaronHawley
Viva freedom box.

AaronHawley 2011-06-08 20:33 UTC

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2011-06-08 Party Size

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2792/4323125615_6c3b20c197.jpg

I’m catching up with some old episodes of RPG Circus and liked a segment about group size and Henchmen in the party. I sent them an email with some thoughts and decided to cross-post. Here are two points regarding group size, player types, and henchmen.

The first point is about the difficulty of providing equal spotlight to all players in large groups. In my groups of up to seven players, I usually have one or two really quiet people. When I ask them, they say they enjoy the game. I figured that they are either casual players that just enjoy the company and the chaos at the gaming table, or they just like imagining the events without necessarily feeling the need to share what is going on in their head. That’s how I stopped worrying about unequal spotlight. The only thing I pay close attention to is when shy people want to say something but they get interrupted all the time. I’ll make sure that everybody gets their say, and if necessary that means we’ll go around the table, player by player.

The second point is about NPC characters in the party, or secondary player characters. In my D&D 3.5 campaign with up to seven players, I still encourage people to create secondary characters. I have a house rule saying that all player characters will turn into NPCs of the campaign setting when they reach level 10 because I don’t like how the rules slow combat down at higher levels. I also have a house rule saying that new characters start at level one. Thus, there is an advantage of bringing in secondary characters: if your primary character dies, or gets taken out of the game, your secondary character is no longer on level one. I had read about this so-called Entourage Approach in the old school fanzine Fight On. Secondary characters get half XP and that really works for me.

On his blog, Jeff Uurtamo also asked how to find players for old games. I find that in order to get new players for my old school D&D game (Labyrinth Lord rules) I had to recruit new players that had never gamed before, I had to start playing in a group that is interested in playing many different systems, and I had to end my existing D&D 3.5 campaign. Every one of these steps gave me one or two players. Together, I finally had a group big enough to run it.

Finding others to run the old school games for me has been impossible.

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Comments on 2011-06-08 Party Size


Marshall Smith
Hey Alex! This is Marshall, from the podcast. Loved your email, so thanks for that.

My point about spotlight wasn’t so much about inequal spotlight as just insufficient spotlight. We all get our turn to shine, but those turns are short and far apart. I’m an admitted spotlight hog, and it frustrates me.

Mostly, though, I wanted to comment about your awesome system for handling NPCs and replacement PCs. While I personally think that handling that many support characters likely cuts down on the role-playing specifically (I am of the opinion that RP really needs a one-player one-character connection), I think that your system has some fantastic advantages for maintaining a strong and reasonable continuing story.

Marshall Smith 2011-06-10 17:06 UTC



AlexSchroeder
You are right, sometimes people get confused when too many characters are present in the party. There are a few factors that help, though.

When running D&D 3.5 a few levels difference between primary and secondary character make sure that the secondary characters try to keep out of almost all fights and necessarily have little to say — so most of the time players will be role-playing their primary character only. That is one of the main benefits of the half XP rule. It provides secondaries with a background to explain how they got their starting level without forcing the players into dividing their attention in game too much.

In addition to that player characters end up showing up in generations. When the primary reaches fourth or fifth level, people start thinking about a secondary character. Inevitable, the primaries are now the old hats, the veterans, and the secondaries are the newbies.

If we want to give the secondaries more spotlight and develop them further, we can have side adventures for the secondaries only. Within that adventure, they act as primaries, getting full XP and all that. And they don’t detract from the primaries.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-11 00:05 UTC

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2011-06-09 Delays

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2122/5814288567_cda6dbbd80.jpg

As I was idly wasting time online, I wondered about my Slumbering Tsar subscription. I went to the Necromancer Games messages board and found the Release schedule for ST thread.

However, the conversion schedule is about to hit a snag. First let me reassure that all of ST including the big book at the end will be coming out, it is done, it is NOT vaporware, but we may not be able to meet our one-a-month guesstimate that we made last summer. I know I said we were still shooting for this a week ago, but the limited FGG resources are getting retasked for the moment…for a good thing, but admittedly not likely to make our loyal ST subscribers happy. For this I apologize. – Greg A. Vaughan [1]

I still remember the Razor Coast delays. (I got a refund.) Having ordered both The Complete Tome of Horrors and Slumbering Tsar, I don’t feel too good. The sad thing is that the lesson I should be learning here is that I should not pre-order. Unfortunately the reality appears to be that small companies are unable to take financial risks and therefore are unwilling to bet on their products, relying on pre-orders instead.

June 1 is when the pre-ordering for the Swords & Wizardry Tome of Horrors will be ending, and it’s a somewhat important deadline because not very many additional books are going to get printed. – Matt Finch [2]

In addition to that, I find myself unwilling to spend a lot of money for role-playing game products as I realize how little material I actually read and use – even though I play around ten times every month.

I really need to find a way to disconnect from the market: Not read press releases, not read blog posts eagerly awaiting this product or that, not read forum threads where all the excitement is building.

Strange, that. I used to be proud of myself for having disconnected my television from the networks. No more ads, no more endless zapping, no more longing for useless  stuff. And now I find that the web is exhibiting similar properties, except it’s all hidden in social media. Excitement building on Twitter and the blogs, product information reaching me via forums and Facebook, endless zapping on my feed reader, the regular shopping experience in bookstores and malls has been replaced an endless stream of subscriptions, fanzines, eBay purchases, Amazon buys and small-press preorders coming in at an indigestible rate.

Stuff I pre-ordered and now I feel like I should not have done it because I have the D&D 3.5 Monster Manuals I–V and I don’t think I’m going to run Pathfinder or an adventure path any time soon:

Stuff I am subscribed to even though I feel I should cancel:

I’m falling behind in reading the books and I’m not running a Pathfinder game and I have difficulty imagining a way of integrating the adventures into my D&D 3.5 or Labyrinth Lord sandbox – and currently I feel that running a Sandbox is my preferred mode of play.

Stuff I managed to cancel reluctantly because I figured that sticking to Fight On ought to be magazine enough:

Stuff I bought even though I wasn’t sure I needed it since I’m not running a Pathfinder game:

Stuff I managed to avoid even though I was tempted:

Stuff I managed to avoid even though I am still tempted:

I guess writing this list and linking all the stuff was a bit of a penance. Now I feel bad for tempting you, gentle reader.

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Comments on 2011-06-09 Delays

Your observation about the web becoming more like tv in terms of advertising is spot on. There have been several stories [1] [2] about the ever growing importance of online and social media to advertisers. Just a heads up, you may want to disconnect your phone next. I don’t know if you have a smartphone or no, but as phones have become more interactive and web accessible, guess where the advertisers are looking next?

The picture of your book collection brings back memories. I too had a bookcase and a half of rpg stuff until I sold most of it Ebay a few years ago. It was way more than I could use or possibly need. Now, everytime I hear about something from Frog God, Paizo, Legendary, or one of the other companies whose stuff I like, I have to rein myself in and not purchase….one…more…cool…supplement.

One closing item, Tsar is starting back up again. ST9 should be releasing either the end of this month or early July. If you continue looking in the Necro thread you pointed folks to, later on, Greg Vaughan comments about finishing what was started. FGG is aware that there is a lot of ill will out there due to some subscription projects from other companies that were not finished, and they are trying to insure that ST is finished by the end of the year. In ST’s case, it was the marketing driven need to get a big product (ToH Complete) out at GenCon that caused the delay.

TheBax 2011-06-16 14:21 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Thank you for those links. Regarding smartphones: I own an Apple iPhone and definitely see the business model of selling an application, and offering the same application for free, with ads. Should it be possible to measure the pain of advertising in dollars by comparing the ratio of free+ads to paid users? There are probably other considerations (reduced functionality, loyalty to developers), but generally speaking it seems to me that this should work: if 1% of the free+ads app buy the real app for $1, then the pain is worth one cent?

I definitely look forward to seeing the huge Slumbering Tsar hardcover. I wonder whether Frog God Games will continue making this sort of book? In a way it is similar to Ptolus: a big book, a big price, the entire pre-ordering process basically makes it a custom book for a small circle of enthusiastic customers.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-16 16:48 UTC



TheBax
The short term answer to your question for 2011 and early 12 is yes. Check out the Northlands Saga and Splinters of Faith if you haven’t already. I am really looking forward to how the Northlands Saga develops. Vikings, a bit of Cthulhu, and a touch of the 13th Warrior would seem to be excellent ingredients for a strong series of adventures. Long term though, I have my doubts. It seems unlikely that Vaughan or anyone else will be writing any more 500,000 word mega-adventures anytime soon. Given the relatively small base of buyers (dm’s that like PFRPG or are willing to do the heavy lifting of conversion), the costs and financial risks seem too great. Then again, Bill is supposed to be announcing Black Monastery at GenCon or sometime after, so while it probably won’t be ST in length, I’m looking forward to another big, deadly, oldschool FGG adventure.

By the way, how is ST9? I know subscribers already have it, I’m waiting for Bill to put the pdf up on the website for sale.

TheBax 2011-07-20 20:22 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I have been filing the PDFs away for later use. I don’t think I can read adventures in PDF form. And I also prefer reading stuff if and only if I’m actually going to run it.

AlexSchroeder 2011-07-21 19:26 UTC

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2011-06-10 Writing a New RPG (Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG)

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Some call it the Old School Renaissance (OSR) echo chamber, others call it a conversation. Here’s my contribution. :)

I read Dan Proctor’s Observations and Comments about the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role-Playing Game (DCC RPG). He’s somewhat critical. I found myself nodding along as I read his post. Some hours later, I realized that even though I might not be playing the DCC RPG, it exhibits some properties that I’d be adding to my own (hypothetical) old school RPG:

  1. funky dice – back when I started playing with Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye), it came with a d20 and three d6. When I later moved on to AD&D, I was excited to see all these new dice. Thus, if I were to design a new game, I’d use as many funky dice as I could lay my hands on. Back then it wasn’t easy to get the necessary dice, but that didn’t stop us. Plus, I already belong to the Order of the d30. ok
  2. lots of line art – I love line art. If I could, I’d commission sketches for all my adventures, all my characters, all my locations. If you are in fact an artist and would like to help me draw the stuff I need for my Caverns of Slime Adventure, please contact me! This is for Level 13 of The Darkness Beneath, the megadungeon published in Fight On. I already started with some sketches, but I’m going to need about four or five times as many. But back to the game: Some of the pieces look very familiar, but I like them anyway. ok
  3. random character generation – I don’t like the character generation mini-game. Random character generation is how I roll. ok
  4. wild magic – I’m not too attached to Vancian magic. Das Schwarze Auge used a form of Mana points, and it worked just as well. What I don’t like are the dry and lame names for the spells. I’m not sure I like the random tables for each spell, but I do concede that one of the Sword & Sorcery tropes is that sorcerers are usually evil or insane or both. Sorcerers are rarely protagonists. Perhaps this would work for me. I’d have to try it. ok

Not bad, thus far!

The main problem, of course, is that I don’t have the time – and not enough friends – to play everything out there. I must also confess to a certain anti-consumerism ideology. I’m sure I read too much To Have or to Be? by Erich Fromm. Thus, while I like elements of the game, I probably still won’t buy it. I’m not going to ask myself: is this a good game? I’m going to ask myself: how much better is this game than my current favorite? My current favorite is Labyrinth Lord, but any of the other old school systems out there already sets a pretty high bar. I’m thinking that maybe the difference is small enough to not be worth the cost, the shipping, the discussions with potential players, the time it takes to learn about the differences.

We’ll see.

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Comments on 2011-06-10 Writing a New RPG (Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG)


David
I don’t even have enough time to play the stuff that’s on my shelf, let alone everything else that’s out there!!

David 2011-06-10 14:09 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hehe, point taken. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-10 23:50 UTC


Despite my dislike for LL I decided to check out the beta rules for DCC and wow, I was really surprised! Nearly all of the things I dislike about the old D&D rules were changed. I just wish they would also get rid of that weird thief skill table (at least they use only D% and not some other dice mixed in for no apparent reason) and make Elf and Dwarf more different from Warrior and Mage. Besides that though? Certainly a System I would like to play. :)

– Florian 2011-06-12 21:40 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Haha-in the league of non-D&D Fantasy games that are more or less light we now have one more alternative: Dragon Age RPG, Barbarians of Lemuria, Dungeonslayers and Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I guess in your case, Florian, the question would be: which elements of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG are better than Barbarians of Lemuria-and are they worth the hassle of switching system, again?

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-12 22:28 UTC


None! BoL still crushes the other systems when it comes to playing brawny barbarians who cant be bothered to buy proper clothing… But if I would ever run my own hex-map based exploration sandbox campaign it would be on my short list, together with Pathfinder and Dungeonslayers.
Out of curiosity though: Ist Dragon Age RPG good? I just heard the name a few times but never anything specific…

– Florian 2011-06-14 09:18 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Having only read small parts of it and heard about it online, I’d say Dragon Age RPG is good. It is short, flavorful, light on mechanics, with a cool stunts system. At the time I read the three Design Diary pages on the Green Ronin site (The Dragon Age Begins, The Heart of the Game, Character Creation). That was an excellent overview. Further reading: a review on RPGnet, a comparison with D&D 4E, comments from a guy that does not know the computer game.

For me, however, the problem is similar to the one discussed on the blog post: the question is not whether the game is good—I assume it is!—the question is whether the game significantly better than my current favorite. As far as I am concerned, and not being interested in the Dragon Age setting, it is not.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-14 13:28 UTC



rorschachhamster
I don’t know if I agree on the notion of the DCC to be rules light, with all the extra tables. It is sure without a skill system, but a roll on an extensive table every time something happens (like critical fumble or hit, spellcasting etc.) sounds like something more in the line of rolemaster from reading…

rorschachhamster 2011-06-17 11:37 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I did not like the Rolemaster character generation. That took way too long. But I don’t mind using the attack and the critical hit tables. I guess I don’t consider a simple look-up table to be a lot of rules.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-17 12:36 UTC


Florian, you can borrow Dragon Age from me. DA is not an old school simile like LL or DCC, but a “modern” take on the idea of a “simple” game. I’m still waiting for the second box to come out. I am still buying games, but my choices became way more eclectic over the last years …

– Harald 2011-06-18 10:06 UTC


Thanks for the links Alex, was an interesting read. I am not really sure if I would call it “modern” but I would like to borrow DA some day Harald to take a look.

– Florian 2011-06-20 08:11 UTC

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2011-06-16 Session Reports Are Read Just Once, If At All

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I recently started listing to the Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. It took me a bit to get used to the occasional belching. Does it have to be into the microphone? Anyway, one of the guys, Stu, also runs the Douchey DM blog, and there he wrote about using Obsidian Portal to keep his notes. He also notes that his players did not seem to interested in actually reading the stuff he writes on the wiki. In fact, one of his commenters writes the following:

I feel your pain about players not paying attention sometimes. I’ve emailed them pdf’s of campaign notes and all that good stuff. Then about a quarter of the way into the first session, I start getting some blank looks. “You didn’t read any of the stuff I emailed you, right?”

“No.”

I recognize the situation. Here’s what helped me cope:

  • Don’t write session reports for other people. Write as much as you need for yourself. If a few notes in a notebook are good enough, then just do that unless your players ask for more. If they don’t appreciate what you wrote, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Don’t do that.
  • Don’t expect your players to read what you wrote. Some people just want to sit at a table with friends, roll some dice and play pretend. They didn’t sign up for homework, reading assignments and your newsletter. As a player I was shocked when DM James at one point started posting the menus available at the various taverns in Cauldron. That was way more detail than I cared for, on the wiki. I did not mind if he managed to make it relevant at the table, though. Except the menu never turned out to be relevant at the table.
  • Make it short. That makes it easier to write for you, and it makes it easier to read for them. In fact, I often use bullet lists and bold words to make it easy to skim.
  • Start the session by providing a short summary of what happened and by asking the players about events. It’s a moment of collective remembering. Some people may have taken notes. Let them shine. Some people may be reading stuff off the session report on the wiki using their smartphones. Let them read the interesting parts aloud. It will help the others remember. It will also tell you about the parts players do not care about. It will help your realize which hints and plot hooks may need reenforcement.

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Comments on 2011-06-16 Session Reports Are Read Just Once, If At All


Adrian
I really want to reiterate your first point. Whenever I wrote session reports for our Shackled City campaign, I wrote it mainly for my personal enjoyment. If anyone read it and commented on it, then that was just gravy.

Adrian 2011-06-16 21:12 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Another aspect of writing for yourself: Claudia writes copious notes while playing. Once the game is over, however, she just can’t find the time to transcribe her notes onto the wiki. She’d love to, but it just doesn’t happen. At the same time, she really loves checking my session report for omissions using her notes, and she really likes summarizing recent events for the other players at the beginning of the next session. She likes it this way, and that’s fine. There’s no point in me trying to push her towards the wiki.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-16 21:40 UTC


Oh, what I wouldn’t do for a one-time read! Great advice here, and spot on, in my opinion. Players come to the table for many reasons. Most GMs come to the table as storytellers. Few players seem to share that focus (else they’re GMs themselves.)

I’ve started to regard the Obsidian Portal wiki as an in-game tool more than a player resource.

– Anarkeith 2011-06-16 22:42 UTC



Bevin Flannery
I’d like to add a “me too!” to this. Multiple members of our group take turns as GM. One of them lamented that he didn’t know what to put on the wiki that would make the players read it/add to it. I gave him this very advice: do only what you want, and what you enjoy. Anyone else’s use of the wiki is gravy. That’s how I approach my Obsidian Portal wiki – it’s great if the players read it or contribute to it, but in the end, I do it for myself.

Bevin Flannery 2011-06-17 01:26 UTC


I usually read session reports twice: once when they’re posted, once before the follow-up session. That’s an upper limit.

– Harald 2011-06-17 05:46 UTC



Thaumiel Nerub
I also have read that some GM’s are annoyed about the fact that players don’t learn rules themselves. But there is similar point, some players want to sit down, have their few hours fun and get back to their life. They want to enjoy the game, not do homework.

And I love the picture! It’s always interesting to see other fellow GMs’ personal notes on paper.

Thaumiel Nerub 2011-06-17 06:44 UTC


The Obsidian Portal guys say the same thing. http://www.jennisodes.com/podcasts/obsidian-portal/

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-21 14:14 UTC



Shane Mangus
All great pieces of advice, Alex. I am not sure why, but it is nigh impossible getting players to even read my blog. Even when I was posting the house rules we would be using for the game at that time. I have even tried offering extra experience points to anyone who would take the time during the week to stop by and take a look around at my recent posts. I have yet to give out any extra XPs to any of them… :-P

Shane Mangus 2011-07-15 02:22 UTC

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2011-06-21 I Prefer Traditional Games, I Think

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I was reading Don't be afraid of Nostalgia by Stefan Poag and noticed this awesome quote:

Pure and simple, for many, D&D represents a lost age: It was an individualized, user-driven, DIY, human-scaled creative space separate from the world of adults and the intrusion of corporate forces. As Allison rightly noted, D&D recalls that day “before orcs and wookiees were the intellectual property of vast transmedia corporations.” Back when you had lots more free time than money—before girlfriends, job, kids. Life. – How Dungeons & Dragons changed my life by Ethan Gilsdorf

I noted it on Google Reader and Lior commented on Google Buzz “Would we not be better off if, just every once in a while, we would also mention RPGs other than D&D? Maybe one of those games which is not about inherently geeky tropes and is not structured around campaigns of 30+ hours and constant player groups?” [1] He lamented the missed opportunities, and I have to agree. There are many people left behind because of obligations and distractions. Traditional games are demanding in terms of time and effort.

Speaking for myself, however, I have noted the following preferences:

  • we play new systems in a biweekly game, and even though we have tried to set most of the sessions in a vaguely Mesopotamian setting of our own devising, I miss recurring characters and a stable campaign world
  • I have played in a few one-shots and where as I enjoy the freedom they provide, I still long for the passion that emerges from weekly or biweekly play
  • having tried Burning Wheel for a total of 15 sessions (two very short campaigns and two one-shots), I noticed how the social conflict resolution system and the meta game aspects leave me cold; I tentatively assume this means I should focus on combat rules and ignore story-telling systems or systems that place a lot of emphasis on rules for non-combat situations
  • Dogs in a Vineyard, In A Wicked Age and My Life With Master pointed in the same direction; I loved the stories we generated in play, but I’m not sure that this was my preferred mode of play – our games ended up being too meta, too short, too episodic
  • I loved Mountain Witch, but it does not seem suited for long term play
  • I played a few one-shots of Spirit of the Century and moved my Traveller game to Diaspora, and still was unable to uphold my interested in FATE games and Science Fiction settings; 
  • my experience playing D&D 3.5 has shown me that I dislike complicated character generation and complex tactical rules

Thus, while I am still interested in toying with other systems – Lady Blackbird, Solar System (The Shadow of Yesterday), Polaris – my interestes right now point towards old school, traditional games. I’d be interested in Legend of the Five Rings, or GURPS, or Warhammer 2nd ed. All of them are traditional role-playing games. They need long term, regular play.

So yes, the game style I currently prefer leaves many people behind. Given these preferences, and given the list above, I’d rather try and solve the problems with my preferred play style:

  • find ways to ease newbies into the geeky tropes
  • enable busy people to join occasionally
  • play with a shifting team of players

The last point is a bit problematic for me right now. On the one hand, recent years have been blessed with a gazillion opportunities to play. On the other hand, summer has come and people prefer to be doing other things. I’ve had to cancel a few sessions, lately: if there is a large pool of five to eight people, it is usually not a problem to find three of them willing to play (three being my lower limit). The drawback is the ugly truth of discovering that other people might have different priorities on short notice.

Something about sending those emails a day or two earlier asking who will be playing and the slow trickle of responses, further delayed by people unable to read their email during the day, the uncertainty associated with the entire process—I think this is sapping group morale. I’ll have to think about this some more.

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Comments on 2011-06-21 I Prefer Traditional Games, I Think


lior
I hear you. I too have not found a game that really convinced me that it can be played over long duration, with low buy-in (simple rules, fast char-gen). I also want to see some kind of story generating feature, as seen in Mountain Witch and BW (but one that is less painful to me than BW please). What I want is a game that is A) flexible in its session structure, B) easy for the player to play but C) gives the GM lots of tools to create fun situations easily, without long preps. I understand your preference for OSR in as much as it partially covers with my preferences too.

I’d offer to try out my current game design project (current working title: ‘atomic’) which is supposed to do just that: Simple player-side mechanics, all the more GM-side tools. But the lack of interest at the Monday circle towards trying out new developments and the total lack of any response (nada! sniff) to another game idea I sent around once makes me cautious about proposing to play unfinished material… Anyway, atomic is just a crude list of rules and ideas right know.

– lior 2011-06-21 13:09 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hehe, selling a game to the group is hard. I remember writing Grofzg as a teenager and being very disappointed when my players didn’t think it was teh awesome sauce. :D

I think game design and the interest in game design is separate from the joy of meeting up and trying various games. So if you have some alpha rules, and you offer to run them, and we play, awesome. I’m less sure about getting together and spending a lot of time refining, reviewing, or jointly working on a new game in the time slot reserved for playing the game. Expectations will be different.

I know that my game design interest usually ends after the addition of some house rules to my game. I’d be more willing to meet for coffee, enjoy the weather, smalltalk, and spend half an hour or an hour taking about a new game, however. Somehow the packaging makes all the difference. It’s weird, but looking back, I think that’s how it works for me.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-21 15:09 UTC


I’m probably going to get flamed for it, but you should really give 4E Essentials a try. It contains the best ideas of 3.5, simplified and streamlined, a great skill system, and gameplay resembling 3.5 at levels 2-8 or so, before all the magic overkill inherent in high-level D&D.

Essentials especially simplified character generation quite a lot. The one thing missing is the random element in character generation…

– Jonas 2011-06-22 14:35 UTC



Adrian
YES! Someone recommends 4E and it wasn’t even me :) In all honesty though, I know Alex’s particular stances on D&D in general, and while I think Essentials was definitely a good step towards streamlining 4E and rekindling some of the nostalgia of old-skool D&D, it is still a long way from the simplicity of B/X or BECMI.

Adrian 2011-06-22 15:13 UTC


I think that many people color their memories of the past. In many aspects, B/X or BECMI are simpler, but then you also have tons of tables for random stuff that really shouldn’t be there in the first place, and some arbitrary complicated rules and exceptions. This, and having all the information needed in a nice, standardized format on your character sheet really cuts down on the time spent looking up spells etc. in rulebooks.

– Jonas 2011-06-22 16:00 UTC



Adrian
I suppose that, when I say ‘simpler’, I am referring to the tactical combat and character creation mini-games implicit to 4E, whether Essentials or not. I realize that pre-3E versions of D&D often had weird rules subsystems and look-up tables that felt tacked on.

And if Alex decided to play 4E AFTER I left Switzerland, I would be so MAD!

Adrian 2011-06-22 16:13 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Haha. :)

As for the coloring of my memories: I never played B/X D&D, played BECMI D&D once, never played RC D&D. I think I can safely say that nostalgia has nothing to do with it.

Since D&D 4E keeps Feats, many of which refer to tactical combat, the combat system affords the kind of combat I don’t enjoy. I also don’t like skill systems in general.

The phrase “arbitrary complicated rules and exceptions” makes me think of AD&D, specially 1st edition. The real point of my article, however, was that I preferred long term, traditional games to episodic, indie games. In this respect, D&D 4E Essentials is in fact something that satisfies many of my requirements.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-22 16:28 UTC

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2011-06-24 The Priest of Law Said…

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Telecanter’s The Priest of Chaos Said… inspired me to the following:

“Alone we are weak and life is a valley of tears. Together we are strong. Together we build our homes. Together we till our fields. Together we defend our towns and villages. Together are we strong.

“We build dams against the flood. We build aqueducts against the drought. We build canals against the plague. We drain the swamps and push back the fever. We fill our granaries and defeat famine.

“We punish treachery and reward loyalty. We ensure law and justice. Even if the corruption of chaos and anarchy are on the rise, we have our heavenly order from the highest gods in heaven down to the lowest devils in hell. They make sure that punishment and rewards are not forgotten—not now and not for all eternity.

“In our world everybody has a place and there is a place for everybody—including you. See these books: the knowledge of the elders, the scriptures and tablets of our ancestors. This is our inheritance. Learn as much as you can, work as hard you can. Lift your head, rise! Be a true member of our proud community.”

Too bad it’s not as poetic as the chaotic counterpoint. Perhaps that is just as well. Law prefers lists of things rather than poetic allusions.

I now use these two points to explain alignment in my campaign to new players (in German: Gesinnung).

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Comments on 2011-06-24 The Priest of Law Said…

Chaos is the creativity needed to create, the spark, the idea.

Law is the persistence to actually complete, the sweat and hard work.

– Jonas 2011-06-24 15:48 UTC



Telecanter
Very, very nice. I like the way the focus is on community and what we can achieve together. The elves don’t build cathedrals.

It is also fascinating to see something I wrote translated.

Telecanter 2011-06-24 23:55 UTC



lior
I wrote a post on alignments in my new blog. I thought about it and decided that I don’t see the usefulness of alignments.

lior 2011-06-26 12:15 UTC

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2011-06-25 Gesinnung

Es gibt genau drei Gesinnungen in meiner Wilderlands of High Fantasy D&D Kampagne alter Schule: Ordnung, Chaos und Neutralität. Das letzte Mal wurde ich von zwei Spielern zum Thema Gesinnung ausgefragt.

D&D hatte ursprünglich ebenfalls nur drei Gesinnungen und war ganz klar von der Idee beeinflusst, dass Ordnung und Chaos wie bei Michael Moorcock im ewigen Konflikt stehen. In meiner Kampagne wollte ich das ebenso halten. Und ich wollte darauf achten, dass Ordnung nicht zwingend Gut und Chaos nicht zwingend Böse sein muss. Das wäre langweilig.

Anfangs war ich von Jeff Rients’ apokalyptischem Gesinnungstest sehr angetan: Ragnarok hat begonnen. Auf der einen Seite stehen Thor, Odin, usw. Auf der anderen Seite stehen Cthulhu und Shub-Niggurath. Wo stehst du?

  1. Ich kämpfe für Thor! → Ordnung
  2. Ich kämpfe für Cthulhu! → Chaos
  3. Für wen ich kämpfe? Spinnst du? Ich haue verdammt noch mal ab und versteck’ mich irgendwo! → Neutralität
Ordnung Chaos
Städte, Strassen und Regierung Ruinen, Wildnis und Anarchie
Mutiger Aufbau grosser Reiche Dekadenter Niedergang
Dämme, Aquädukte, Kanalisation Sümpfe, Flut, Dürre
Arbeit, Bildung, Disziplin Ausgelassenheit, Wahnsinn, Ekstase
Götter, Engel, Teufel, Himmel, Hölle Dämonen, der Urschleim, das Nichts, das Vergessen
Auf der Seite von Thor und Odin Auf der Seite der Midgardschlange und des Fenriswolfes
Auf der Seite von Marduk Auf der Seite von Tiamat

Zum Thema gab’s dann auch noch ein paar andere Interpretationen, aber grundsätzlich blieb ich bei dieser Frage: Thor oder Cthulhu? Nach einer Weile wollte ich noch pro oder contra Zivilisation einbringen und habe eine Tabelle angefangen. Doch als ich Telecanters Chaos Priester fand, dachte ich, dass hier endlich jemand das Wunderbare am Chaos niedergeschrieben hatte. So sollte es sein! Eigentlich sollte es für jede Gesinnung eine Art Predigt geben, die einen davon überzeugt.

Also schrieb ich einen ähnlichen Werbetext für die Ordnung. Was folgt ist das Resultat für meinen Kampagnenwiki.

Die Priester der Ordnung sagen:

Alleine sind wir schwach und das Leben ein Jammertal. Gemeinsam sind wir stark. Gemeinsam bauen wir unsere Häuser. Gemeinsam bestellen wir unsere Felder. Gemeinsam verteidigen wir unsere Städte und Dörfer. Nur gemeinsam sind wir stark. Wir bauen Dämme gegen die Flut. Wir bauen Aquädukte gegen die Dürre. Wir bauen Kanäle gegen die Seuchen. Wir legen die Sümpfe trocken und drängen das Fieber zurück. Wir füllen die Kornspeicher und besiegen den Hunger.

Wir bestrafen den Verrat und belohnen die Treue. Wir sorgen für Recht und Gerechtigkeit. Selbst wenn das korrumpierende Chaos und die Anarchie um sich greift, bleibt uns immer noch die himmlische Ordnung von den höchsten Göttern im Himmel bis hin zu den schlimmsten Teufeln in der Hölle. Sie sorgen dafür, dass Strafe und Belohnung nicht vergessen gehen – jetzt nicht und bis in alle Ewigkeit nicht.

In unserer Welt hat jeder seinen Platz und es hat einen Platz für jeden – auch für dich. Sieh diese Bücher: das Wissen der Altvorderen, die Gesetze und Tafeln unserer Ahnen. Es ist unser Erbe. Lerne soviel du kannst, arbeite hart und erhebe dein Haupt. Steige auf! Werde ein echtes Mitglied unserer stolzen Gesellschaft!

Chaos Die Chaos Priester sagen [1]:

Das Leben ist Chaos. Unkraut wächst im Feld. Der Obstgarten verwaldet. Die Küste wird ins Meer gespült. Das Chaos sind die tiefen Muster dieser Welt. Die Wolken gleiten jede für sich im stillen Tanz über den Himmel. Der Fluss fliesst in tausend Windungen zum Meer.

Die Elfen leben in den Bäumen, ohne sie zu fällen und zu töten, sie in Bretter zersägen und diese dann morsch werden und faulen sehen. Nein, die Elfen beobachten die Muster, nach denen die Bäume wachsen, formen sie langsam, leben mit ihnen. Der Baum lebt. Der Elf lebt.

Die Ordnung ist die Hybris zu glauben, dass man der Welt seinen Willen aufzwingen kann. Sie verdammt Mann, Frau und Kind zum Joch. Chaos ist nicht das Niederbrennen der Städte sondern die Einsicht, dass es eine Dummheit war, sie überhaupt zu bauen. Chaos ist nicht Gesetzlosigkeit sondern die Einsicht, dass Menschen, wie Bäume, eine eigene Art zu leben haben. Wer Gesetze aufstellt, ohne dies zu bedenken, heisst Menschen töten und sie in Bretterkisten begraben.

Komm mit! Ich weiss nicht wohin wir gehen, aber wir werden auf dem Weg so manches lernen.

Wer sich aus diesem kosmischen Kampf heraus halten will, bekennt sich zur Neutralität.

Es gibt keine Priester der Neutralität.

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2011-06-27 Älter Werden

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5310/5878311579_29248f918d.jpg

Irgendwann, so in den frühen dreissigern, ist mir zum ersten mal aufgefallen, dass sich etwas an meinem Körper geändert haben musste. Ich konnte nicht mehr essen was ich wollte ohne etwas anzusetzen. Ich war über zehn Jahre lang einfach 78 kg schwer gewesen. Plötzlich merkte ich, dass Claudia und nicht einfach jede Woche einen Liter Eis essen können.

Dann hatte ich nach langer Zeit wieder einmal eine Verstauchung und musste erleben, dass ich Wochen und Monate lang schmerzen hatte. Früher, so schien mir, waren Verstauchungen so schnell verheilt, dass ich mich mehr daran erinnere, je eine gehabt zu haben.

Jetzt, in meinen späten dreissigern, merke ich, dass der Körper Abnützungserscheinungen zeigt. Beim Laufen tat mir ab und zu der grosse Zehen weh. Plötzlich tat er mir auch im Büro mal weg. Ich liess mir Einlagen für hunderte von Franken machen, liess Röntgenbilder anfertigen und erfuhr, dass die Knorpelmasse langsam am schwinden sei. Der Beginn einer Arthrose. Mir wurde Physiotherapie verschrieben.

Anfang dreissig war mir aufgefallen, dass ich nicht lange mit dem Laptop auf dem Schoss am Boden oder auf dem Bett arbeiten darf. Wenn ich das tue, schmerzt mir nachher tagelang an den Schulterblättern ein Muskel.

Schleichend bemerkte ich, dass ich morgends Rückenweh habe. Ich kann nicht mehr lange im Bett liegen und dösen. Dann wurde es stärker – morgendliches Kreuzweh. Vor zwei oder drei Wochen war es nach einem Veloausflug besonders schlimm: Eine Woche lang verdammte Rückenschmerzen beim Liegen, wie wenn ich ein Bandscheibenvorfall hätte. Ich hatte Angst. Der selbe Arzt wie beim grossen Zehen sagte mir dann, dass ein Bein um 2.5 cm länger als das andere sei, sich der Körper aber angepasst habe, die Wirbelsäule entsprechend etwas krumm sei und mir wurde mehr Physiotherapie verschrieben.

Man könnte also sagen, dass mein Körper bis dreissig einfach automatisch fit war und nun zwischen dreissig und vierzig hat sich das Blatt gewendet. Nun muss ich den Körper pflegen und trainieren, damit er mir nicht verfällt. Ich muss mich pflegen und trainieren, damit ich nicht verfalle. Ein beunruhigender Perspektivenwechsel.

Mehr Sport! Mehr Längen schimmen. Mehr Velo fahren. Mehr Physiotherapieübungen daheim. Regelmässiger ins Aikido gehen.

Morgen Abend ist Aikido Prüfung für den 1. Dan.

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Comments on 2011-06-27 Älter Werden


lior
Wünsche dir viel Erfolg heute Abend! Auf dem Foto siehst du ja schon mal sehr meisterlich aus.

– lior 2011-06-28 07:03 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Danke, hat genützt. :) ok

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-28 20:27 UTC


Dass sich die unterschiedliche Beinlänge (2,5 cm) beim Velofahren mit Rückenschmerzen bemerkbar macht, das hat mich nicht überzeugt. Beim Gehen und Laufen, kann ich mir das vorstellen, aber beim Radfahren.

Die Devise lautet also jetzt: mehr Bewegung/Physiotherapie, vielleicht auch mehr Sport, wenn es der Richtige ist. Ich wünsche dir viel Erfolg! Wie war die Aikido Prüfung?

– Helmut Schroeder 2011-06-30 02:42 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Die Prüfung ist erfolgreich bestanden. :)

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6015/5881892835_87e3180772.jpg

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-30 07:56 UTC


sieht cool aus: beherrscht, ruhig, fokussiert… so isses richtig! Parabens, mama

– MOM 2011-06-30 10:35 UTC


PS weiterhin regelmässig yoga machen! Wieder vegetarisch essen, aber wie es sich gehört mit linsen, kichererbsen etc den proteinmangel kompensieren. übrigens keine sprossen, he he…

– MOM 2011-06-30 10:37 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Bin in beidem unentschlossen:

  1. Yoga ist Dienstag Abends, wo ich auch ins Aikido könnte. Vorteil Yoga: Ich gehe mit Claudia. Vorteil Aikido: So würde ich zwei Mal in der Woche gehen.
  2. Auf der einen Seite würde ich gerne auf Fleisch verzichten, doch seit Claudia ihren grossen Eisenmangel hatte und der Arzt meinte, dass es in Einzelfällen möglich sei, dass so der Körper die Fähigkeit verlieren könnte das Eisen aufzunehmen oder zu speichern, nehmen wir immer wieder mal im Restaurant eine Portion Fleisch.

AlexSchroeder 2011-06-30 12:10 UTC

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2011-06 Book Club

What: “Boy Meets Girl, The End” by Gregory Tkac

When: June 22, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Aquarium

This special edition is for an unpublished book, and the author will be present at the meeting looking forward to discussing his book and getting some feedback on it. To read it, go to zenahora.com where you’re welcome to download it in either PDF or MS Word format – but please respect the copyright.

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