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2013-08-05 Character

Recently, Jason Morningstar was wondering on Google+ about characters having independent lives from their players. I guess I didn’t really understand what he wanted to get at. It did remind me of two things I’ve been doing in recent years, however.

When playing a Pendragon character, a high trait score (16 or more) will force players to roll in appropriate situations. And once they roll, the roll determines the character’s reaction. Sir Aliduke, for example, is so proud that in any given situation where pride or modesty are relevant, 80% of the time he’ll pick proud. My players come from a D&D background and they all adapted to this way of playing without complaining. Most felt it was a refreshing change of pace.

In addition to that, I enjoy the moment where I, as a player, realize that this particular character would never or always do something particular. I like the realization that the character is not just the player. As a player, I like a certain randomness at first. As things happen and my character reacts in insignificant ways, I take note. As play continues, I treat these fragments as prescriptions (not just descriptions). I’ll note “ORDER AND PROGRESS!”, for example, once my character shouted a vapid phrase in response to a crisis. And suddenly the character was discovered in play to be a buffoon that repeats vapid phrases and likes to shout them in critical situations. The important parts, I think, are not designing or building a character this way, and to write down early random moments as prescriptions.

I few years ago I wrote about this process thinking about “front-loading” character creation: Character Backgrounds.

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2013-08-06 The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3820/9402917638_614db6546c.jpg

I wrote this on Google+ and it grew and grew and now I think I should put it on my blog as well.

I’ve been using Vincent Baker’s The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions to work on an upcoming adventure (which I haven’t finished, yet). Before buying it, I had heard that it was “organized into fairly poorly designed tables and lists and multiple choice locations that make the creation of these dungeons harder and slower than they need to be while not gaining a lot from being presented in that format” [1], the layout was “atrocious” and that almost all tables ended with “or another of your own creation” which was said to be “irritating”. [2] (A full quote is on the comment page.) Others just said “all I hoped it would be and more” and “super fucking cool” without exactly saying why. [3] [4] [5] Here’s why I think you might want to buy it.

James Raggi said that the layout worked very well in the physical book, i.e. a two page layout. I tried reading the PDF on my tablet using the “two pages, with cover page” setting and it worked very well. The columns flowing across pages didn’t bother me. The tables also had enough options such that “or another option of your own devising” didn’t bother me.

Unfortunately working through the Seclusium doesn’t provide you with material on the level of an old school dungeon crawl. There are no maps, no stats for monsters, no ready spell books to find. If those are concerns for you, I think you’ll be happy to find lots of maps to start with at Paratime Design Cartography. Thank you, Tim Hartin. As for monsters, I’m sure you’ll be able to use any monster manual or creature generator such as James Raggi’s The Random Esoteric Creature Generator. Personally, I stick to the monster manuals. Finally, spellbooks. If you need some non-standard spells, I’ll suggest Theorems & Thaumaturgy by Gavin Norman. Having all the scrolls be from a dedicated strange and new school of magic works for me. I don’t think I’ll require magic users to switch class to use them. After all, I use the restrictive interpretation of the B/X spellbook rule: Magic users and elves may only know or master as many spells as their spells/day.

That leaves the question of prep efficiency with The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions.

I agree, reading the tables and rolling or picking entries, writing down the results, then rolling on further tables takes a long time. I entered my endeavor with some notion of what I wanted, so perhaps that helped. You only roll for the parts you’re missing. Even then, it’s slow. You’ll discover that there is a keeper of the pantry and buttery still around. Later, there’s table for mundane people in the seclusium, ouside of the seclusium, magical entities, and so on. It takes a lot of rolling and leafing around if you want to do it by the book. How much better would a huge “all in one” table be with type, job, attributes as columns notes – roll once and use the entire row or roll multiple times and combine. That would have been faster to use. Is that how Vornheim does it?

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions doesn’t work like that. It’s more of a workbook, helping you think it through, methodically. Do you care about the looks of the wizard? The eyes? Did you consider the outhouses? The people who worked there? The guests? Prisoners? What about magical entities? How about geographical features? Portals? Artifacts? Did you consider any drawbacks they might have? Does your seclusium contain an inner sanctum reserved for the wizard? How is it protected? And so on. It’s slow reading because it works like a checklist. Did you think of this? And this? How about this? And if your inner voice says “hm, didn’t think of that, but this could be cool…” then the book goes on to provide you with a table of 12 or 20 things to use.

Yes, not all of the things might seem immediately useful. I don’t really care about the eyes of the wizard nor the quality of their vestments, nor for their hairdo. Then again, perhaps I should. Perhaps it will change the way it all plays out. It pushes me to places I haven’t been before.

I don’t know about you, but here’s something I’ve hardly ever mentioned. There is a moment of shyness in my imagining. A fear of being an idiot. Of repeating myself. Of mundane and boring encounters, of cheap shots. This fear is fed by improvisation at the table. Sometimes I need something quick and I don’t mind and I spew forth NPC names and corridors and magic effects and I love it. Later, I’ll wonder whether these things are not all pale shadows of the same ol’ Alex game that I’ve been running ever since I learned about roleplaying games. Am I repeating myself? This is why I like to use material by other people. It pushes me to places I wouldn’t have thought of. Even if the ideas presented by other people are mundane and boring, they’re different from my own mundane and boring.

Here’s another thing: I prep “just in time” and therefore it’s always possible that the players venture into territory I didn’t prepare. There will be no random encounter tables for this region, no lairs, … and I improvise quickly. But perhaps I’ll improvise something level appropriate? Something everybody expected. Something boring. Again, using other people’s products provides a sort of external reality to my fantasy world. If The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions says that most of the wizards have access to other worlds, then I feel good about it. On my own, my suppressed id can’t express itself. It’s all tempered by years of “traditional” fantasy. I’ll read up on the gate spell and on permanency and I’ll bog myself down. I’ll forget about the free form rituals and pacts that take are unconstrained by the rules. This is where a book only slightly constrained by the rules (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) shines. It pushes me and tells me “it’s OK.”

Anyway, The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions works for me. It’s a workbook, not a generator to be used at the table. It helps if you are slow and methodical like I am but would like to be pushed like I’d like to be pushed.

Addendum: 2013-08-19 Skills Inspired By Apocalypse World, where I talk about the house rules presented in the appendix. 2013-08-21 Moldvay Dungeon Stocking vs. Seclusium, where I talk about the procedure being extremely slow, unfortunately. A review on Save vs. Total Party Kill, a review of the magic item creation rules on Necropraxis, opinionated review by by Bryce Lynch.

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Comments on 2013-08-06 The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions


Wayne Rossi
For purposes of thoroughness, I want to post my (originally private) comments which are link #2:

  1. The layout of this book is very ornate but in practical terms it is atrocious. There are gaping chunks of whitespace, and items within tables go across columns and pages (sometimes continuing on both sides of what will be a printed page). There are six totally blank pages to make sure each chapter starts on a new page, and thirteen pages are taken up by the same graphic - effectively this is a 141 page book with 19 pages of padding. The art is sparse but of reasonable quality.
  2. The three seclusia provided in the book are not fleshed out; instead they make the mystifying choice of providing multiple options for every facet of running them. The magic items are somewhat interesting, but the rest of the section is absolutely useless since it mostly duplicates the charts presented later on in the book, with fewer choices. Each seclusium could have been done in less than half the space without losing anything.
  3. The charts at the end of the book could be quite useful. They are still poorly laid out, and there are literally 72 charts in the book that end with the phrase “Or another of your own creation.” This is irritating. But the charts themselves are actually usable and could generate an interesting random environment, some people in it, and some magic items. This is the meat of the book.
  4. The maps at the end are sub-useless. It’s not clear what they represent, but it certainly isn’t a wizard’s seclusium. I am going to go so far as to say they are the worst maps I’ve seen in an OSR product.
  5. Part one of the book is cool, and gives it a bit of a weird fantasy vibe. It’s somewhat followed through in the magic items and the portals, which have a pseudo-Vance feel.
  6. D. Vincent Baker failed to design an OSR module. There is almost no system material here, and as such the NPCs are just bland text. This is a generic product that might as well have been systemless. No harm using it in old school games, though. The “House Rules” are crap.

Overall: If the layout were better, and this book was just Part One and Part Three, I would say it was a good book. That’s about 70 pages of the actual final product, or half of it when you discount the padding. Part two has some half-formed ideas that aren’t really worth following up on. The maps are awful. As a whole, I’d say it’s worth getting in PDF so that you can reference the useful parts.

Wayne Rossi 2013-08-06 22:36 UTC



JYB
I think the “maps” are actually supposed to be blank sheets for the DM to draw on.

– JYB 2013-08-06 23:24 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Interesting comment on Google+. More about improvisation on Roles, Rules & Rulings.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-07 22:14 UTC

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2013-08-07 Magic Swords

Jeff Rients was looking for magic swords named after rock ‘n’ roll songs, “preferably metal.”

Looking at my most played titles on last.fm, I don’t see any heavy metal songs. We’ll see what we can do anyway.

High Lonesome
Sword +1/+3 fighting alone; if you do fight alone, a dirge starts playing softly as soon as you draw the blade.
The 59 Sound
Glowing sword +1; once the sword is drawn, every damage roll of 5 or 9 increases the energy level of the sword; once the energy level reaches 10, a huge flash of light erupts from the blade and thunder rolls across the landscape; everybody within 60 ft. including the wielder needs to save vs. paralysis or drop unconscious for one turn. The energy level drops back to zero when sheathed or when not used in combat for one turn.
Meet Me By The River's Edge
Sword +1/+3 vs. former loved ones; allows wielder of unsheathed sword to walk on water while fighting; allows wielder to draw a line or a circle in the water causing a wall of water to rise: save vs. dragon breath or take 1d6 damage and be stunned for one round (the line extends for 100ft if a line is drawn).

The energy level of 10 needs some play testing, I think. Should the energy level drop after a flash or should those that don’t fail their save be able to pick up the glowing sword and continue blasting? What about the envious sword “vs. formed loved ones” – I’m sure that doesn’t happen too often in a game.

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2013-08-08 Looking for New Games

For a while we had a biweekly game of one-shots going where we usually played some indie games that Lior brought. (Campaign:MontagInZürich.) Then I grew tired of it and felt like perhaps we needed a long-term campaign. Harald started running his Campaign:Karameikos for us. Weeks have passed and slowly I’m recovering from my indie burnout. I'm looking for new games!

I basically stopped caring after Apocalypse World and Fiasco came out. I remember a session of How We Came To Live Here and Monster Hearts. People had started talking about Dungeon World. I remember hearing about the Napoleonic role-playing games Duty & Honor and Beat To Quarters.

Things I’m currently interested in:

What else should I be looking at?

I don’t think that I need more dungeon explaration games on my list since I’m happy with classic D&D as it is. Thus, no Dungeon World variants, no Torchbearer.

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Comments on 2013-08-08 Looking for New Games


lior
Sagas of the Icelanders +1

Primetime Adventures? Sundered Land? D&D Next?

– lior 2013-08-08 14:09 UTC



Ynas Midgard
I really enjoyed My Life With Master and 3:16, and am currently running Monsterhearts (and it’s awesome). I can also recommend Mouse Guard, Don’t Rest Your Head, Poison’d, and In a Wicked Age (although I haven’t personally run them, just read ‘em).

Ynas Midgard 2013-08-08 19:41 UTC



AlexSchroeder
A ton of interesting suggestions also on Google+.

Lior, too bad Sagas of the Icelanders isn't out yet. PTA doesn’t fascinate me that much because I hardly watch any TV. All the TV specific details are wasted on me.

I have heard nothing about Sundered Lands, so why not.

As for D&D Next, the problem it faces is that it has to be significantly better than the existing editions of D&D I am playing. At the moment I doubt this is the case.

Ynas, we played a few sessions of My Life With Master, it was OK; we played one session of 3:16 and it wasn’t very popular; we played one or two sessions of Monsterhearts and I didn’t enjoy it very much. I think I just don’t appreciate teenage Angst and romance. Mouse Guard we tried and it wasn’t very exciting even though it looks gorgeous; Don’t Rest Your Head we tried once, it was a strange and weird and I felt that we just didn’t know what to expect, what to do. It was just weird and we had no purpose. We played two or three sessions of Poison’d and it was great and it was terrible. I hated myself for doing all the evil deeds and in general the story we experienced left a bad taste in my mouth. I think this game makes it too easy to play the kind of story that I don’t want to experience. We played a lot of In A Wicked Age. It ended up being our default game if we didn’t have any other plans. I still like it very much. All in all I think I’m really looking for games that were published after Apocalypse World because for a while we were very active and played a lot of different games.

I think I need to make a big list of all the recommendations on Google+ and find all the reviews and stuff.

Also, I just saw a few pictures from the gorgeous Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok. And I read a review of Fate of the Norns: Fafnir’s Treasure. Damn. I think I’d like the art and the setting, but the system… I don’t know. Looks like D&D 4E with runes? Oh well, I ordered Fafnir’s Treasure…

Ok, some of the suggested games from the Google+ thread.

The Quiet Year is a “map game”. I wonder what that means. In a way I’m interested in peaceful building games, then again I didn’t like How We Came To Live Here too much.

G x B has “dating sim style play, including love confessions, dialogue choices and more!” Since I never played the Sims, let alone a dating sim, I must assume that I’m outside the target audience. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try for a one-shot, however. Perhaps I’d have to drink a glass or two before play. There’s also a Star Wars option: Jedi x Sith. Perhaps we should play that instead? That reminds me of the Star Wars Lady Blackbird hack that we never played. Or did we and I just forgot about it?

Vast & Starlit is a science fiction game “under 445 words long”. I don’t exactly know what the game is about, however. Plus, I’d have to physically mail the author two dollars and do some drawings in order to get it. I think that’s funny, but at the same time I’m also lazy…

The Sundered Land is “a series of 5 single-page games plus 2 supplements set in the Sword & Sorcery ruins of the future.” From the looks of it, it seems more like each game is “an encounter” of some sort? Or more of a story telling game like 1001 Nights: a game of enticing stories which didn’t excite me too much when we last talked about it.

Murderous Ghost is a two person game and therefore probably not suited for our “system curious evening” unless we use a setup of multiple pairs of players. Would it be too weird?

Psi*Run sounds weird, but the play report sounds interesting. I’m interested.

Night’s Black Agents is spies vs. vampires with a GUMSHOE system, ie. investigations. The review has more. Somehow the investigative games just don’t excite me.

Novanta Minuti is “a game for 3 players about the relationship between a father and a son, and what could be their last chance to meet.” I think three players is not enough for us…

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is “a slapstick fantasy storytelling game about helping people and getting into trouble.” It uses black and white stones, keywords, and other weird mechanics. I’m interested!

The Daughters of Verona, a comedy based on the Montsegur 1244 framework. I’m interested.

Burning Opera, a sad story telling game about actors dying in a fire

AlexSchroeder



AlexSchroeder
I’m still interested in Torchbearer but weary of the Burning Wheel family of games. They failed me at the table, I felt. Here’s a good review by Gus L.

AlexSchroeder 2014-03-08 11:20 UTC

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2013-08-11 Chilling Effects

Yesterday I wanted to google for a cartoon in order to show it to my wife. I joked that the keywords would probably get me on a watch list. My wife said I was a fool to use those search terms. Did I need to “prove” myself by googing those terms? When I said that if I stopped looking for information using those terms, I was already accepting that the police state is real. She said, thanks for making it harder for me, should I want to visit the United States again.

Needless to say, the argument was a bit longer and a perfect Saturday was ruined with a late night discussion about the current state of the world surveillance society.

Recommended reading: Restoring Trust in Government and the Internet by Bruce Schneier.

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Comments on 2013-08-11 Chilling Effects


Sean
Yeah, I’m taking you off my blogroll.

– Sean 2013-08-12 01:22 UTC


Sounds dramatic but don’t you see the debate as renegotiating the bargain struck by a democratic society? How we’re going to get to there from here is probably going to be messy.

Alok Singh 2013-08-12 02:58 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Absolutely. The debate is about renegotiating our values. The problem with a surveillance society, of course, is that debate concerning the surveillance itself can be problematic. I also wanted to point out that chilling effects happen on a very personal level, long before we can talk about censorship or self-censorship.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-12 19:35 UTC



Akiyama
The UK government is going to require everyone to “opt-in” to be able to access porn on the internet. Which I think is a good idea in theory, but what worries me is that it seems that if you don’t opt-in it’s not just porn that is going to be blocked but all manner of other stuff too.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2013/sleepwalking-into-censorship

P.S. I just found out about your Old School RPG Planet site last week. That’s very useful, Thank-you!

– Akiyama 2013-08-13 10:57 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Janne Jalkanen wrote about the slippery slope from anti-porn activities to more dubious activities in Finland. It was along time ago but it’s still pertinent. At the time it didn’t seem that all your failed attempts to contact various sites would be recorded. The Panopticon at work. :(

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-13 11:49 UTC



Akiyama
In today’s news - the British Library’s wi-fi filter blocks people from accessing Shakespeare’s Hamlet due to “violent content”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23680689

– Akiyama 2013-08-14 07:40 UTC



AlexSchroeder
As Kristian Köhntopp likes to say on Google+, “All the hands of all the gods of the hindus cannot facepalm enough…”

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-14 14:33 UTC

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2013-08-14 Comments on this Wiki Blog

I’ve done a few changes. Let’s see whether it works out.

  1. when viewing ordinary pages, previous comments and the comment form are shown ← this is what I wanted to add
  2. people who follow the RSS feeds will therefore easily find the obvious comment form when following the link ← this is what I hope to achieve
  3. when leaving a comment, you end up on the comment page, which might be confusing
  4. when looking at RecentChanges, which has some extra magic associated with its name, the comments are not shown
  5. when looking at older revisions, the page history, and many other variants, the comments are not shown
  6. when looking at a journal page such as Diary, the comments are not shown
  7. when looking at a journal page such as Diary, you can still see links to inline the comment page
  8. inlined comment pages don’t come with an automatic comment form—you need to click on the “Add comment” link at the end
  9. comment pages are still excluded from the usual feeds (I wonder whether I should change this)

I think the Wiki + Blog combo still works. I’m just trying to make it less weird. :)

Source code for your config file, if you’re an Oddmuse user. The source code below also includes my Google +1 setup (Oddmuse:Google Plus One Module) because my code needs to avoid the situation where a page shows two +1 buttons. As for comments within journals, I use Oddmuse:Dynamic Comments Extension.

# Google +1 list

push(@MyAdminCode, sub {
       my ($id, $menuref, $restref) = @_;
       push(@$menuref, ScriptLink('action=plusone',
				  T('Google +1 Buttons'),
				  'plusone'));
     });

$Action{plusone} = \&DoPlusOne;

sub DoPlusOne {
  print GetHeader('', T('All Pages +1'), ''),
    $q->start_div({-class=>'content plusone'});
  print $q->p(T("This page lists the twenty last diary entries and their +1 buttons."));
  my @pages;
  foreach my $id (AllPagesList()) {
    push(@pages, $id) if $id =~ /^\d\d\d\d-\d\d-\d\d/;
  }
  splice(@pages, 0, $#pages - 19); # last 20 items
  print "<ul>";
  foreach my $id (@pages) {
    my $url = ScriptUrl(UrlEncode($id));
    print $q->li(GetPageLink($id),
		qq{ <g:plusone href="$url"></g:plusone>});
  }
  print "</ul>";
  print $q->end_div();
  PrintFooter();
}

# two step Google +1 button to protect your privacy
# http://my.opera.com/QuHno/blog/adding-the-google-1-button-to-a-webpage-without-violating-the-users-privacy

*MyOldGetCommentForm=*GetCommentForm;
*GetCommentForm=*MyNewGetCommentForm;

sub MyNewGetCommentForm {
  return MyOldGetCommentForm(@_) . q{
<script type="text/javascript">
function loadScript(jssource,thelink) {
   var jsnode = document.createElement('script');
   jsnode.setAttribute('type','text/javascript');
   jsnode.setAttribute('src',jssource);
   document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(jsnode);
   document.getElementById(thelink).innerHTML = "";
 }
 var plus1source = "https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js";
</script>
<p id="plus1">
  <a href="javascript:loadScript(plus1source,'plus1')">
    <img src="/pics/plusone-h24.png" alt="Show Google +1" />
  </a>
</p>
<!-- <g:plusone></g:plusone> -->
<div class="g-plusone" id="my_plusone"></div>
<script type="text/javascript">
  document.getElementById("my_plusone").setAttribute("data-size", "medium");
  document.getElementById("my_plusone").setAttribute("data-href", document.location.href);
</script>
};
}

# make sure journal pages set a global variable which we then use to
# hide the comment form

*MyOldPrintJournal = *PrintJournal;
*PrintJournal = *MyNewPrintJournal;

my $MyPagePrintedJournal;

push(@MyInitVariables, sub {
       $MyPagePrintedJournal = 0;
     });

sub MyNewPrintJournal {
  $MyPagePrintedJournal = 1;
  return MyOldPrintJournal(@_);
}

# list comments and comment form at the bottom of every normal page

*MyOldPrintFooter = *PrintFooter;
*PrintFooter = *MyNewPrintFooter;

sub MyNewPrintFooter {
  my ($id, $rev, $comment) = @_;
  if (!$MyPagePrintedJournal
      and GetParam('action', 'browse') eq 'browse'
      and $id and $CommentsPrefix
      and $id ne $RCName
      and $id !~ /^$CommentsPrefix(.*)/o) {
    my $target = $CommentsPrefix . $id;
    my $page = '';
    $page = PageHtml($target) if $IndexHash{$target};
    print $q->div({-class=>'comment'},
		  $q->h2(T('Comments')),
		  $page);
    # don't include Google +1 button twice
    print MyOldGetCommentForm("$CommentsPrefix$id", $rev, $comment);
  }
  MyOldPrintFooter(@_);
}

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2013-08-15 Webhosting in Switzerland

I’m considering the move of my web space to Switzerland. Any recommendations?

I’ve had the following recommendations:

  • Geekserver by Cyon at 39.–/month (25 GB disk, 1 GB RAM, 1 TB traffic, Debian)
  • Virtual Private Server by hostfactory at 24.10/month (20 GB disk, 512 MB RAM, unknown traffic, Debian), increase to 31.70/month (25 GB disk, 1 GB RAM, unknown traffic, Debian)
  • VRS Micro by EDIS at 1.45€/month (2 GB disk, 256 RAM, 0.5 TB traffic , Debian), increase to 8.00€/month for Basic (24 GB disk, 1 GB RAM, 4 TB traffic, Debian)

Currently 1.00 CHF is about 1.07 USD, apparently.

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Comments on 2013-08-15 Webhosting in Switzerland

looks very expensive ….http://www.edis.at/en/server/linux-vserver/switzerland/ and http://www.edis.at/en/server/kvm-vps/switzerland/

– Pierre Gaston 2013-08-20 10:29 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Thanks! I need to investigate which servers are 100% under Swiss law. It’s something I’d be interested in.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-20 21:59 UTC

Update: As this page seems to attract spammers, I’ve locked it.

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2013-08-19 Skills Inspired By Apocalypse World

Recently I was writing about The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions and forgot to mention the house rules appendix at the very end. On those two pages, Vincent Baker introduces his favorite form of perception test—essentially a skill system.

Example:

When you size a situation up, roll 2d6 and add your Wisdom modifier. On a 10+, ask me three questions. On a 7–9, ask two. On a 3–6, ask one:

  • Who’s in control here?
  • What’s my best approach?
  • What’s my best exit?
  • How could I assert my own dominance?
  • How could I disarm the situation?
  • If the situation proceeds unaltered, what will happen?

On a 2 or less, you stand gawping.

You can ask more, or questions of your own devising, if you’re willing and able to stand musing while the situation unfolds. If you have a positive Wisdom modifier, you can also ask one question without rolling, and roll only if you decide to ask further.

This write-up follows the famous Apocalypse World approach that has been used for a gazillion indie games. They all offer a number of “basic moves” (skills) which anybody may use and a number of moves from “your playbook” (your class-specific skill list). You roll 2d6 and add a modifier. 10+ is a success, 7–9 is a lesser success, everything else is a failure. The ones I am concerned with come with a list of possible results and players pick one or more from the list depending on their degree of success.

Here’s an example basic move from Apocalypse World. As you can see, the list of possible results only comes into effect on a lesser success. It’s a way to suggest possible partial successes—a list of possible compromises, if you will:

When you go aggro on someone, roll+hard. On a 10+, they have to choose: force your hand and suck it up, or cave and do what you want. On a 7–9, they can instead choose 1:

  • get the hell out of your way
  • barricade themselves securely in
  • give you something they think you want
  • back off calmly, hands where you can see
  • tell you what you want to know (or what you want to hear)

I like it very much! I like how we can agree on a list of possible results and depending on how successful we are, one or more of these results can be picked by the player. It takes automatically forces people to compromise and if the moves are well written, they will often involve difficult choices.

Unfortunately I still don’t like skill systems.

  • sometimes they encourage players to stare at their character sheet when faced with a problem
  • sometimes they change our default assumptions (the famous example of knights falling off their horses as soon as a Ride skill is introduced)
  • sometimes I prefer to handle social situations by talking or as simple puzzles

However, there still is a decent amount of rolling the six sided die in my game in order to find traps and secret doors or to attempt funky things I personally find implausible. Perhaps it would be cool to have a number of these lists of possible results and giving players the option to choose?

If you want to disarm a known trap, roll 2d6+Dex bonus. Pick three results on a 10+, pick one result on a 7–9. Unless you choose to avoid it, the trap will be triggered and the referee will check for wandering monsters.

  • you are quick and avoid the wandering monster (if any)
  • you disarm it (allowing anybody to bypass the trap)
  • you arm it (useful after having disarmed and bypassed the trap)
  • you extract the poison needle or gas-filled glass bottle (if available)
  • you know who built this (kobolds, dwarves, elves, humans)
  • you know how old this is (when it was built, when it was armed)

Perhaps I’m reinventing Dungeon World? Apparently that’s a D&D variant built using the Apocalypse World “engine”. In fact, the InDesign source files are on GitHub and look like readable HTML. For those that already own Apocalypse World, check out the Dungeon World Hack.

The trap disabling equivalent in Dungeon World is this:

When you pick locks or pockets or disable traps, roll+DEX. • On a 10+, you do it, no problem. • On a 7–9, you still do it, but the GM will offer you two options between suspicion, danger, or cost.

The above example seems less specific than what I would like. Perhaps I just started out with the wrong example?

The skill system introduced in the house rule appendix from The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions is the most interesting skill system I have found because of the compromises it suggests for lesser successes. I’m not sure that’s enough to make me add it to my own game. It’s enough to make me consider playing a game of Apocalypse World or one of its variants (“hacks”).

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Comments on 2013-08-19 Skills Inspired By Apocalypse World


AlexSchroeder
In a recent session, I used a free form alternative of the system:

When wondering about something, roll 2d6 and add and appropriate modifier. On a 10+, ask me three questions. On a 7–9, ask two. On a 3–6, ask one. On a 2, you don’t get to ask any questions.

It was used to figure out whether there was a drug trade in this town, where it was being shipped to, and to figure out who was involved in it, for example. When I asked my wife after the session, she said she liked it.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 10:45 UTC



Ynas Midgard
One of my main problems with Dungeon World is that it tries to be both D&D and some other game that is more concerned with the characters’ personalities and their evolving; it becomes a true heartbreaker… However, the idea of using the Apocalypse World engine for a non-story game is neat for, as you said, it involves compromises and difficult choices, keeps (and enhances) player agency, and even avoids DM fiat to a degree (by not letting him arbitrarily choose the result, I mean).

Your version of disarming traps looks great, actually better than the one in DW.

Ynas Midgard 2013-08-26 15:12 UTC



Ynas Midgard
The Fighter’s “use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle” can be re-written for D&D-compatibility. I thought it would be too short for a blog post, so here it goes:

When you force a door open, roll +Strength; on 10+ choose three, on a 7-9 choose one. Note, that forcing a door open normally necessitates a wandering monster check.

  • the door is forced open (the door is bashed and effectively destroyed, it also takes 1 turn)
  • the door is not “destroyed” in the process
  • it takes less time (it takes 1 round)
  • it is not noisy (no wandering monster check)

Ynas Midgard 2013-08-26 20:35 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hah, exactly!

Perhaps I’ll make a collection of these and give it a try in my game.

Here’s another example.

When you steal something that is guarded, roll +Dex; on a 10+ choose three, on a 7–9 choose one. Unless you choose to avoid it, your attempt at thievery will be noticed immediately and an alarm will be raised.

  • you get the thing you were looking for (if any)
  • you get something else (a handful of coins of appropriate value is the minimum)
  • you aren’t noticed (but the victim may still discover the theft within seconds)
  • you delay discovery of the theft for you to make a safe escape (but the victim may still have noticed your suspicious demeanor)

I guess I’d have to change how thieves advance. Instead of getting better at it, they get to add more “moves”.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-27 14:21 UTC



Josh W
That’s a good move, perhaps you could change the first two options on the move to:

  1. you get just the thing you’re looking for
  2. you get something valuable (choose this and the one above if you’re looking for something valuable, unless you’ll settle for a damaged or cheap version)

and add note to the end (if it’s been already established that there’s nothing valuable there and nothing your looking for, you can’t pick the first two options, in fact why are you even stealing anything?)

– Josh W 2013-09-12 20:01 UTC



AlexSchroeder
That looks like a definite improvement!

AlexSchroeder 2013-09-12 21:20 UTC

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2013-08-20 Public Key Fiasco

I got my first encrypted email in years. I use GnuPG.

  1. I didn’t have the necessary secret key available. I found it in an old backup I still had available.
  2. I didn’t know the passphrase required to use the secret key I just found. I tried guessing for a while, to no avail.
  3. I wanted to revoke the secret key or change it’s expiry. That requires the unknown passphrase.

This is stupid. #fail

Sad story from the distant past: In 2005 my old keys appeared not to work when I tried sending email to a friend. When we don’t use these tools every now and then, we won’t be able to use them when it’s required of us.

As I considered my setup, I decided I might want to upgrade my GnuPG 1.4.9 installation. Building it myself… it requires libassuan, libksba, the GNU Portable Threads Library, iconv, and libgpg-error. Starting all the jobs and realizing that iconv doesn’t install. Fuuuuuu!

I think I will do a Backup of the system and install Homebrew. And then, at last, after many hours, no doubt, I’ll brew gpg.

As the backup is being made, I discover an old revocation certificate for the damn key without a passphrase. And it works!

On the key servers:

gpg: suche nach "kensanata" auf hkp-Server keys.gnupg.net
(1)	Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
	Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex.schroeder@openlaw.ch>
	  1024 bit DSA key 89D0FBCC, erzeugt: 2006-06-26 (widerrufen)
(2)	Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
	Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
	Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.com>
	  1024 bit DSA key 353AEFEF, erzeugt: 2002-07-10
(3)	Alex Schroeder (Kensanata) <alex@gnu.org>
	  1024 bit DSA key 23AAC850, erzeugt: 2001-04-12

Key status:

pub   1024D/353AEFEF 2002-07-10 [verfällt: 2015-08-20]
uid                  Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.com>
uid                  Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
uid                  Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
uid                  [jpeg image of size 5665]
sub   4096R/363A61EE 2013-08-20 [verfällt: 2015-08-20]

pub   1024D/89D0FBCC 2006-06-26 [widerrufen: 2006-06-26]
uid                  Alex Schroeder <alex@emacswiki.org>
uid                  Alex Schroeder <alex@gnu.org>
uid                  Alex Schroeder <kensanata@gmail.org>
uid                  Alex Schroeder <alex.schroeder@openlaw.ch>

pub   1024D/23AAC850 2001-04-12 [verfallen: 2002-04-12]
uid                  Alex Schroeder (Kensanata) <alex@gnu.org>

353AEFEF and 363A61EE are the ones to use. :) ok

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2013-08-21 Moldvay Dungeon Stocking vs. Seclusium

I had recently commented on The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions, noting:

It’s a workbook, not a generator to be used at the table. It helps if you are slow and methodical like I am but would like to be pushed like I’d like to be pushed.

Some days have passed and here’s what happened. I knew an elven ruin was to contain a seclusium and and started working on one, using The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions as my workbook, naming my seclusium the same, but not using the most fleshed out seclusium in the book of the same name. I was starting from scratch. I wrote a lot of stuff. Then I started sketching a map. Or was it? It’s more of a doodle, I guess. And I wrote notes, I read the book, I rolled some dice, walked away, came back, did it again, did it again. It was slow.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3689/9560177325_0edbc75ec3_c.jpg

Finally I decided that drawing a detailed map was going to be a major pain and started writing about the non-player characters still present. I ended up with interesting characters, but I was starting to grow suspicious. It had taken me an awful lot of time. And I started to feel that these dense scribbles would require a rewrite in order to be usable at the table. Too much of this text wasn’t going to be useful or was going to obscure the important bits.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2834/9560177751_a8999cf3ee_c.jpg

I guess some people might say that writing about these characters can be seen as “familiarizing myself” with the characters, getting to know them better, being able to play them better.

I decided that it was taking too long and switched to one of the semi-prepared seclusiums. I wondered: would I be saving time? I knew that some of the things were going to need rearrangement on the page, some things needed to be highlighted, so I tried keeping my notes more organized.

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5486/9562968872_a981cc12fd_c.jpg

Soon, however, I started wondering about a map. Should I just draw a flow chart? Or simply have a list of locations and allowing player to move at will between the various sections—much like I use my hex maps. Move at will between locations, distance is proportional to the number of potential random encounters. I decided I was going for a few details on some larger index cards. I was tempted to draw more details, doing it the old school way. I tried to counter this by drawing sloppily. And no take backs, no pencil. Use the pen.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7292/9563077772_925640596d_c.jpg

I wasn’t happy. I left it lying around for another day or two. Game day was coming up. And I had nothing.

In the two hours before the upcoming session, between preparing dinner, talking to my wife and munching, I decided to just pull out one of the maps by Paratime Design Cartography. I don’t always like the maps, some are too simple, some are awesome and intimidatingly complex for an hour of stocking, but I finally settled on half of Dungeon Map 80 which you should find on page 4 of the Dungeon Map gallery.

I started with a list of random encounters. This was supposed to be a temple to the god of the dead and the diseased, Nergal, lord of the Underworld. The temple itself was being run by wererats keen on poisoning wells and spreading lycanthropy. I used my pen to add more steps, add mud and pools. It was fun doing this.

Then I pulled out Moldvay Basic Dungeon Stocking table (Michael Curtis at one point discussed its genius) and had my wife roll like crazy. As she called out “Empty! No treasure. Monster! Treasure!” I scribbled like crazy.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3753/9562968592_d59ecc0024_c.jpg

As you can see, I still had two specials, three monsters and three traps to provide, but I felt ready to rock and roll!

This works.

The irony of preparing for a session is that players don’t do what you expect them to do. They don’t even do what we agreed upon doing by email a few days ago.

  1. they skip the dungeon I had frantically stocked in the two hours leading up to the session
  2. they visit the elven ruin where I had planned The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions.

I was going to find out whether my premonitions were correct. And they were! The wall of scribbled text was impossible to read—I basically limited myself to the map doodle and whatever I had written on it. The non-player characters came up but I could have characterized them with four words each and it would have worked just as well.

I end up agreeing with the quick review written by Zak S. Going forward, I will “raid it more than use it.” Maybe it makes good material for the special rooms indicated by the Moldvay dungeon stocking procedure.

(Damn, scanning and cropping all these images took way too long!)

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Comments on 2013-08-21 Moldvay Dungeon Stocking vs. Seclusium

Excellent post. I always use the Moldvay dungeon stocker, though in its BECMI iteration. Random generators work.

noisms 2013-08-21 16:11 UTC



Brendan
Thanks for posting this. I’m really impressed by the discipline that goes into creating a game notebook like that, too. It will end up as a fascinating artifact of play by the time it is filled up. In contrast, my notes are scattered all over the place, on scraps of paper, and various files all over my computer.

Brendan 2013-08-21 17:47 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Thank you both.

As for the game notebook, I think the key is that you need to have it (having an empty notebook lying around makes it easy to pick it up and write there instead of some random scrap of paper), to liberally glue any other notes you made into it, to use it at the table as well: start with the list of characters present, use it for monster hit-points when fighting, add your notes about things you need to check after the session (updates to the campaign wiki, for example). I’m not scanning those pages because they look far less impressive. Then, when you prep for the next session, just keep using the notebook. Review stuff, write some new things. Compared to a wiki, it’s hopelessly disorganized. Compared to a binder, it’s inflexible and cannot be reorganized. But it’s the One Book to rule the campaign. This works particularly well if you run multiple campaigns. Each has its own notebook.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3671/9569321696_8295d02a09.jpg

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 08:01 UTC

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2013-08-21 One Roll Dungeon Stocking

When I stocked my dungeon yesterday, I used the Moldvay Dungeon Stocking procedure. To be honest, my wife used it. The two tables are somewhat confusing.

Moldvay:

CONTENTS TREASURE
d6Result d6Monster Trap Empty
1–2Monster 1Yes Yes Yes
3Trap 2Yes Yes No
4Special 3Yes No No
5–6Empty 4–6No No No

I couldn’t find a blog post translating Moldvay’s dungeon stocking table into a single table. I’m sure I saw it somewhere. That would have helped us. (Edit: I guess I was remembering this discussion of the OD&D restocking procedure by Sham.)

Let’s do it ourselves, then. Writing out all the results:

     1   2   3   4   5   6
 1   M$  M$  M$  M   M   M
 2   M$  M$  M$  M   M   M
 3   T$  T$  T   T   T   T
 4   S   S   S   S   S   S
 5   E$  E   E   E   E   E
 6   E$  E   E   E   E   E

Counting occurences:

#Contents and Treasure
6Monster and treasure
6Monster
2Trap and unguarded treasure
4Trap
6Special
2Unguarded Treasure
10Empty

Transforming this into a d36 table:

d36Contents and Treasure
1–6Monster and treasure
7–12Monster
13–14Trap and unguarded treasure
15–18Trap
19–24Special
25–26Unguarded Treasure
27–36Empty

Or divide it by two to get a d18 table:

d18Contents and Treasure
1–3Monster and treasure
4–6Monster
7Trap and unguarded treasure
8–9Trap
10–12Special
13Unguarded Treasure
14–18Empty

Too bad there is no such d18. We should change that to a d20 table. Let’s see if we can do it using Labyrinth Lord.

d100ContentsTreasure
01–30Empty 15%
31–60Monster 50%
61–75Trap 30%
76–00Unique var.
 We just multiply the percentages from the table:
ContentsWith TreasureNo Treasure
Empty 4.5%25.5%
Monster 15%15%
Trap 4.5%10.5%
Unique25%

We could simplify the above by rounding to increments of 5% and translating this to a d20, reusing the order from the d18 table:

d20Contents and Treasure
1–3Monster and treasure
4–6Monster
7Trap and unguarded treasure
8–9Trap
10–14Special
15Unguarded Treasure
16–20Empty

It’s very close to Moldvay, I’d say. And it’s probably less confusing. I can’t count the times I got confused by the Moldvay tables. :)

Reordering it for excitement, I guess:

d20Contents and Treasure
1–5Empty
6Unguarded treasure
7Trap and unguarded treasure
8–9Trap
10–12Monster
13–15Monster and treasure
16–20Special

I need to stick this into my campaign book.

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Comments on 2013-08-21 One Roll Dungeon Stocking


Rorschachhamster
I would… ah, nonsense, I will change the special to a little less and the empty to a little more. Just because. ;)

Rorschachhamster 2013-08-21 17:02 UTC



AlexSchroeder
“Special” needs a bit more work, that’s true. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 08:40 UTC

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2013-08-22 Cyclopedia is Best

Remember Ode to Black Dougal and his series “B/X is my Favorite”? I linked to all the articles in my Ode to Ode to Black Dougal. Today I stumbled upon an old series on Greywulf’s site. I was reading on Rob Conley’s blog how his players had One Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Orcs Slain and how he had used AD&D’s 1st ed. Battlesystem to do it. I googled for it and found Greywulf’s series talking about the War Machine rules. And then I started reading the entire series.

Let’s start with just the facts, ma’am. The D&D Rules Cyclopedia is a 300-page hardback book released in 1991 that collated the vast majority of the Classic D&D rules from the Basic, Expert, Companion and Master rules (and other supplements) into one single tome. Unlike 3rd Edition’s Rules Compendium, the Rules Cyclopedia contained everything you need to play – and when I say everything, I mean….. everything. From complete character generation for all levels of play from 1st to 36th (and beyond) to monster stat blocks, a complete game world (with colour hex maps) and more, the Rules Cyclopedia has the lot.

Basically, if it’s in D&D, it’s in this book. Want a Druid class? Paladins? Wandering Monster Tables? Planar Travel? Castle building? Seige combat? Naval combat? Manscorpions? Treasure tables? To get the equivalent content in 3rd Edition D&D you’d need all three Core Books and many other supplements to boot. By my reckoning, to equal the Rules Cyclopedia’s $24.95 value, you’d need to invest well over $200 in any other edition to even come close. Oh, and that $24.95 was the cover price back in 1991. Now, you can get all that goodness for around five bucks as a PDF from RPGNow. What’s not to love?

– Greywulf

His series made me return to role-playing games back in 2006. This caused me to discover the world of ebooks. These days, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia PDF costs $10.

Anyway, here’s what Greywulf wrote:

  1. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day One introduces the Cyclopedia and talks about race as class
  2. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Two talks about classes
  3. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Three talks about alignment, the planes and immortality
  4. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Four talks about combat and attack tables and THAC0
  5. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Five talks about mass combat (this is the blog post I mentioned above)
  6. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Six talks about the setting, the Known World
  7. RPG Week: D&D Rules Cyclopedia Day Seven finishes with some pictures of muscle cars instead of talking about Weapon Mastery :)

Hehe, I just read my old review again. :)

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Comments on 2013-08-22 Cyclopedia is Best


greywulf
Thanks! :)

There’s currently a petition afoot for WoTC to reprint the Rules Cyclopedia. Definitely a good thing.

greywulf 2013-08-22 12:22 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Hah, reminds me of Jeff Grubb’s A Game Divided Against Itself, where he argues that D&D has forever been about two editions being available (and fans arguing). I imagine D&D Next and the Rules Cyclopedia being at odds. :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 13:15 UTC



Cirsova
True, it’s a great value for the money, but, oh, god, who really needs those extra 16-22 levels and ascendancy paths? I wonder what percentage of gaming groups have actually played extensively beyond the scope of the Cook/Moldvay levels. Frankly, these days, players who want to play with characters that powerful are probably better off playing 3.x.

Still, the Rules Cyclopedia has some really great art, and if you love charts, it has charts in spades.

Cirsova 2013-08-22 18:23 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Perhaps the dream of achieving immortality is part of the lure. I think it’s part of the game’s promise of ever changing gameplay. Did you see the reviews for the M1, M2, M3, M4 and M5 modules? The dangle in front of me like the damnedest lure!

Those quibbles aside, Talons of Night stands as a truly impressive adventure that stands head-and-shoulders above others in the same publishing line. I’d like it to serve as a model for what high-level and extra-planar D&D adventures should look like.

– Delta, in the review of M5

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-22 19:31 UTC

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2013-08-22 Qelong vs. Points of Light

When I heard people say online that Quelong by Kenneth Hite was a great module, I was interested. 48 pages of A5 is my kind of size.

Until now I kept saying that Rob Conley’s Points of Light (4 settings, 42 letter-sized pages, reviewed on Dragonsfoot) and Points of Light 2 (4 settings, 59 letter-sized pages, also reviewed on Dragonsfoot) were the perfect hexcrawl products. The size was right. That’s about 25 A5 pages per setting. Thus, Qelong is about twice the size of a Rob Conley setting. If you want to get a feel for the Rob Conley settings, take a look at the Southland PDF. It’s available for free.

How does Qelong compare to the top hexcrawl? Here’s what I think.

Both provide a handful of pages of background, history, the major factions, how to integrate it into your campaign. The usual stuff, but short. I like short. I also like to know what the author intended to convey with the setting so that I can read the rest with the right mind set. I like to know whether it’s “hellish southeast Asia” (Qelong) or “embattled forces struggling to establish a home” (The Golden Shore, in Points of Light 2).

One thing I noticed was that the Qelong introduction referred to more faction details: “Myrmidons deranged and misdirected chew through the land, laying eggs in the river dwellers to hatch out more warriors. (See p.28 or [sic] details on the myrmidons.)” The effect was that while I was reading the introduction, I already eagerly leafed through the book, looking up details. It introduced me to the factions and made curious for more. Well done.

The Qelong introduction also has a table of 50 rumors and lets each character start with a random rumor; spending a handful of coins will let players roll again. I like it.

The Qelong introduction also features elaborate disease and magic poisoning rules that require purify food and drink, cure disease and remove curse spells. I think it’s very atmospheric but I’m not sure how well these poisoning rules work in play. We don’t keep track of rations, how will we keep track of poison levels?

Both Points of Light and Qelong describe geographic features. These are entire areas instead of single hexes with a specific description. In Points of Light most of these areas have one paragraph each, which is short. Qelong has more. It starts with a bold paragraph that could be read aloud or just provide the “in game” view. This is followed by another paragraph of background information that you don’t need at the table but which helps the referee understand what’s going on. And then there’s what I love: each geographic feature comes with a bullet list of suggested encounters.

Last year I posted an example from my Caverns of Slime module (free PDF) which used the same format. Here are some examples of varying size from Qelong:

  • A sampan with its bottom staved in. A Tinkering roll could repair it.
  • A carnivorous fish lives underneath the lotus field. Armor 13, 2 Hit Dice, bite 1d6. Or a school (2d8) of them.
  • The characters’ boat approaches a sunken tree. Anyone actively searching for dangers in the  water will notice it in time to take evasive action; otherwise it tears out the bottom of the characters’ boat, doing 1d10 shp [sic]. If the Referee wants to be a jerk, there is an ambush party of 1d6 naga-kin at the bottom of the river under the tree, waiting  for their dinner.

In addition to that, Qelong has a different random encounter table for each hex type. This is excellent.

Qelong also comes with its own monster section to describe the various new creatures. This is also excellent.

Qelong comes with a table of names (family names, female and male first names). Very useful if you’re providing us with a new culture.

Quelong also comes with a small list of new ships and including required crew, sailing miles/day, rowing miles/day, cargo (tons) and ship hit points—these must be the shp mentioned in the encounter with the sunken tree in the list above. I like it.

Is there anything Qelong doesn’t come with?

Both Points of Light and Qelong come with a list of locations. In Points of Light, these are sorted by hex coordinates: “1604 Unicorn Pool”. There are a fair number of them. Southland, for example, comes with 38 hex descriptions. Each one consists of one to five paragraphs, many settlements come with a little overview map (to be copied and handed out to your players, perhaps?). Characters only have class and level indicated: “Lord Mayor Thomes White (Ftr3)”, monsters just have their hit dice noted: “Clak and Frull, hill giant (9HD) brothers”, and in Points of Light 2 they have some D&D 4E descriptors as well: “rust monsters (level 5 controller)”.

In Qelong, which is about twice the size of a single Points of Light setting, there are only ten encounter areas. Each has two to five paragraphs, some come with extra information about important non-player characters or unique monsters. If characters or monsters are described in more detail, any treasure they have is also listed. I like the detailed Qelong encounter areas and even if there are only ten of them, I think it works out because Qelong, unlike the Points of Light settings, has an optional end to it.

Wow! I really must recommend Qelong. I agree with Zak’s review: “So yeah, Qelong is fucking good and stuff.”

The only thing I would have liked is no watermark on each page. Points of Light also has it, but it’s lighter. The Qelong watermark is dense in the bottom quarter of the page and slows me down when reading it. That’s the sum total of all non-badass points I have. ok

star star star star star

I have yet to add it to my running campaigns and I have no idea of how to do it. It would seem like a major break from current events.

Addendum: A review by Save vs. Total Party Kill; a review by Dungeon of Signs. Qelong in Play.

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Comments on 2013-08-22 Qelong vs. Points of Light


Tarin
Same problem here - I have no idea, how to set Qelong into my campaign without giving up too much of it’s feel and spirit :)

Tarin 2013-08-23 14:56 UTC



AlexSchroeder
I think I will need to use planar travel.

AlexSchroeder 2013-08-23 20:52 UTC



Belchion
You can always put it into a dormant volcano, where it has been isolated from the rest of the world for centuries.

Belchion 2013-09-29 12:29 UTC



AlexSchroeder
Starting coming Tuesday, my players will be looking for a passage to Qelong… :)

AlexSchroeder 2013-09-30 06:40 UTC

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2013-08-25 Safe Browsing

Today I installed HttpFox, an extension for Firefox which tells me which resources have been requested, what the responses where and so on. I noticed that I got a request for safebrowsing.clients.google.com. Hm. I checked Google Safe Browsing and wondered. I decided to deactivate it. Visit about:config and search for safebrowsing*enabled and set them all to false.

What do you think—overreaction? I didn’t find it on the EFF site. I wonder why.

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Comments on 2013-08-25 Safe Browsing

The first time I actually saw “google safe browsing”, I thought “what an excellent idea!” – and then I realized that the name is very misleading, and that it actually does the completely opposite thing…

Radomir Dopieralski 2013-08-26 08:23 UTC

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2013-08-30 Nergal Tempel

(Meine Spieler müssen weg schauen! ;))

Dungeon für die 3. Stufe, falls viele Gefolgsleute mitgenommen werden. Fairerweise sollte die Gruppe versilberte oder magische Waffen dabei haben. Vorbereitung des Spielleiters: Im Raum 22 gibt es Aufzeichnungen über geplante Brunnenvergiftungen in unschuldigen Dörfern aus der Umgebung.

Bei der Karte handelt es sich um den unteren Teil der Dungeon Karte 80 welche man auf Seite 4 der Dungeon Map gallery von Paratime Design Cartography finden kann. Diese Karte ist von Tim Hartin mit Anpassungen von mir, Alex Schröder, und untersteht der CC-BY-NC-SA 2.5 Canada License. Die Monster stammen aus Labyrinth Lord und dem Advanced Edition Companion, entsprechend gilt für die Monster die OGL. Die Monster gelten als “Open Content”. Was weder Karte noch Monster ist, habe ich geschrieben und darf ohne Einschränkungen weiter verwendet werden.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3689/9625659989_15dc1c93c3_b.jpg

Abkürzungen
TW: Trefferwürfel, alternativ dazu direkt LE: Lebensenergie, RK: Rüstungsklasse, NM: Normaler Mensch (Krieger Stufe 0), ML: Moral, BW: Bewegungsrate in 10 Fuss/Runde, EP: Erfahrungspunkte, RW: Rettungswurf

Monster: Jedes Verlassen eines Raumes, jede längere Aktion (Suchen, Lauschen), jede laute Aktion (Türen aufbrechen, Fallen auslösen, Kampf) hat eine ⅙ Chance, Monster herbei zu rufen.

  1. 2W4 Seuchenopfer TW 2 RK 8 1W6 F1 ML 8 BW 12 EP 29 – wie Zombies
  2. 5W10 Riesenratten LE 1 RK 9 1W6 NM ML 5 MV 6 EP 6 – ein Angriff pro 10 Ratten, 5% für eine Krankheit, die in 1W6 Tagen tödlich endet, Opfer: RW gegen Tod oder hinfallen und diese Runde nicht kämpfen
  3. 1W8 Werratten TW 3 RK 7 1W6 F3 ML 8 BW 12 EP 95 – ⁴⁄₆ Chance ihre Gegner zu überraschen; verliert man 50% der Lebensenergie, wird man mit Lykanthropie angesteckt; wer kein Mensch ist, stirbt daran in 2W6 Tagen; heilbar durch Kleriker der 11. Stufe
  4. 1 Ocker Schleim TW 5 RK 8 2W6 F3 ML 12 BW 3 EP 500 – Säure zersetzt Lederrüstung; Blitzschlag oder Waffenschaden teilen den Schleim in 1W4+1 kleine Schleime: TW 2 RK 8 1W6 F2
  5. 3W6 Gläubige TW 1 RK 9 1W6 NM ML 5 BW 12 EP 10 – normale Menschen
  6. 3W6 Rattenmenschen TW 1-1 RK 7 1W6 H1 ML 7 BW 9 EP 5 – wie Halblinge
  7. 1 Grauer Wurm TW 6 RK 6 1W8 F3 ML 9 BW 6 EP 570 – verschluckt Gegner bei 19–20: 1W8 autom. Schaden und es kann nur mit -4 und Dolch gekämpft werden
  8. falls der Boden nass ist: 1 Riesenegel TW 6 RK 7 1W6 F3 ML 10 BW 12 EP 570 – beisst sich fest und trifft ab dann jede Runde automatisch
    ansonsten: 1 Insektenschwarm TW 4 RK 7 NM ML 11 BW 3 EP 135 – verursacht jede Runde autom. 2 Schaden

In der Raumbeschreibung steht der Pfeil → für “weitere Untersuchungen zeigen…”

  1. Grosse Halle der Mutterratte → grosse Statue mit leuchtenden Augen → Kerzen hinter farbigem Glas. Zwei Wächterstatuen beim Eingang, sehen aus wie Rattenkrieger. Seitengänge → vorne rechts angeschrieben mit “Abufalia”, vorne links mit “Spenden” und Guckloch, hinten rechts siebenköpfiger Schlange → ein Zeichen für Set, hinten links mit acht Ratten → ein Zeichen für Nergal
  2. Tür ist angeschrieben mit “Schatzkammer” → Türangeln voller Schleim und Pilzen: diese Türe ist schon sehr lange nicht geöffnet worden → stechender Geruch am Türrahmen. Aufbrechen der Türe lässt giftiges Gas ausströmen: RW gegen Gift oder man wird ohnmächtig für 10 min. Türe aufbrechen und Falle auslösen: zwei Chancen für Monster! Ohnmächtige werden von der Hexe gefangen genommen und in #3 aufbewahrt
  3. viele leer stehende Käfige, viele davon hängen an Ketten → Bärenfallen am Boden sind mit Käfigen gekoppelt. Wer hineintappt: 1W6 Schaden und RW gegen Drachenodem oder man wird vom einem herabfallenden Käfig erwischt: weitere 1W6 Schaden
  4. Malereien schwarzer Tannenwälder und bedrohlicher Silhouetten an den Wänden → gegen #6 hin sieht man dunkle Schlitze links und rechts → darin stecken mehrere versilberte Sensen, welche mit Bodenplatten gekoppelt sind: je 1W6 Schaden für bis zu sechs Opfer; die Sensen entsprechen 1000 Silbermünzen, Mechanismus für die Sensen hat hochwertige Bestandteile: Zahnräder für 10 Gold, Stahlfedern für 50 Gold
  5. Studienzimmer der Hexe Abufalia TW 8 RK 9 2W6 F8 ML 8 BW 9 EP 1560 – nach Belieben: Schlaf, schwarzes Geschoss 2W8, Verwandlung in einen Troll: 1W6/1W6/1W10, Schädel, Tisch, Kräuter
  6. Altar der Hekate, Malereien von Trollen, dunklen Nadelwäldern, grauer Nebel
  7. vier menschliche Sklaven der Hexe graben eine Grube beim Eingang; hier entsteht ein Erweiterung ihrer Räumlichkeiten
  8. Türe von #1 angeschrieben mit “Spenden”. Guckloch → dahinter mit ⁴⁄₆ Chance nichts zu sehen → 8 Werratten TW 3 RK 7 1W6 F3 ML 8 BW 12 EP 95 – ⁴⁄₆ Chance ihre Gegner zu überraschen (Lykanthropie siehe oben); Regal mit versiegelten Tontöpfen → darin die gesammelten Spenden: 10000 Kupfer → die Hinterwand des Regals ist verputzt → dahinter eine uralte Steinmauer, welche man durchbrechen kann
  9. hinter der uralten Steinmauer eine Gruft mit 4 Sarkophagen → darin 4 Mumien TW 5+1 RK 3 1W12 F5 ML 12 BW 6 EP 860 – beim Anblick RW gegen Lähmung oder gelähmt, bis die Mumie entweder angreift oder geht; Grabbeigaben: goldene Zepter und goldene Kugeln im Gesamtwert von 6000 Gold, die Schriftrolle “Auflehnung des Imix” → Schutz vor Elementargeistern
  10. Tür von #8 angeschrieben mit “Abfall”; der Raum dahinter ist aber leer, die Tür zu #14 verriegelt
  11. Tür angeschrieben mit “Kein Feuer” → der Boden vor der Türe mit Spuren von Russ; der Raum gefüllt mit Gas: Kontakt mit Fackeln oder Laternen führt zu einer Explosion mit 6W6 für alle im Gang, RW gegen Drachenodem für halben Schaden → Erdspalt, aus dem langsam Gas austritt
  12. Gang und Raum mit knöcheltiefem Wasser, Kisten, Schlamm → stochern führt zu Knochen → darunter 1200 Silber und 200 Gold lose im Schlamm, Bergung dauert halbe Stunde: drei Chancen für Monster!
  13. Boden voller Schlamm, fauler Geruch
  14. Boden ein einziger Tümpel → ölige Flecken darauf, Schlamm → darin 1 Ocker Schleim TW 5 RK 8 2W6 F3 ML 12 BW 3 EP 500 – Säure zersetzt Lederrüstung; Blitzschlag oder Waffenschaden teilen den Schleim in 1W4+1 kleine Schleime: TW 2 RK 8 1W6 F2; Türe zu #15 mit Loch im unteren Viertel → erlaubt Durchkriechen ohne sie aufzubrechen
  15. wer durch das Loch in der Türe kriecht, wird automatisch überrascht: 1 Tentakelfresser an der Wand TW 3+1 RK 7 F2 ML 9 BW 12 – 8 Angriffe (!): RW gegen Lähmung oder für 20-40 Minuten gelähmt und später in Ruhe verspeist; ein toter Priester mit silbernen Waffen für 4000 Silber und einer Schriftrolle für Kleriker: “Psalm der Seeligen” → Schutz vor Bösem 10 Fuss Radius
  16. Schlamm → darunter rostige Krähenfüsse: 1 Schaden und RW gegen Gift oder Blut vergiftet (keine Heilung für eine Woche) → unter dem Schlamm eine Bodenplatte mit Grabstein von “Anselm der Rattenfänger” → im Grab 1200 Silber 200 Gold, Silberdiadem mit Saphiren 700 Gold, zwei Silberarmreife mit Saphiren je 1000 Gold, silberne Oboe 1300 Gold
  17. enger Gang → hohe Felswände → links und rechts neben der Türe hat es grosse Löcher an der Decke → Wurmspuren; im Raum 1 grauer Wurm (10m lang!) TW 6 RK 6 1d8 F3 ML 9 MV 6 – verschluckt Opfer bei 19–20: jede Runde autom. 1W8 Schaden, nur noch mit Dolch kämpfen, Angriff -4, Knochen und Abfälle → 10000 Kupfer, 4000 Silber, drei grosse Perlen je 75 Gold, Saphir 500 Gold, Smaragd 750 Gold, Silberring 40 Gold, schwarze Perlenkette 500 Gold
  18. viele Skelette um einen Brunnen, nähert man sich dem Brunnen, erhebt sich 1 Banshee TW 7 RK 0 1d8 F7 ML 10 EP 1490 – ihr Anblick löst Furcht aus: RW gegen Zauberei oder Flucht für 7 Runden; wer bleibt: RW gegen Tod oder ihr Heulen führt zum Herzstillstand
  19. erhöhter Boden und deswegen trocken
  20. Wasser knöcheltief, grosser Raum mit acht Statuen → acht Ratten der Apokalypse → Armut, Schwäche, Hunger, Durst, Seuche, Fäule, Gift und Tod. Nergals Racheflüche flüstern hier. Wer ihm Treue schwört und permanent einen Konstitutionspunkt opfert, wird Geweihter des Nergals (als Anfänger darf man eine Fähigkeit wählen: Wasser finden, Nahrung finden, Fäule, Herbeirufen von 1W10 Ratten)
  21. Grosses Nergal Heiligtum: Statue, Schalen, Töpfe → 1100 Silber
  22. 3 Werratten TW 3 RK 7 1W6 F3 ML 8 BW 12 EP 95 – ⁴⁄₆ Chance ihre Gegner zu überraschen (Lykanthropie siehe oben); Schreibtisch mit den aktuellen Plänen: Brunnen der Dörfer in der Nähe vergiften; unter dem einen Tisch Zugang zu einem kleinen, drehbaren Stein zu #23. Türe zu #25 verriegelt.
  23. Regale mit den Archiven der Nergal Priester → Namenslisten der Mitglieder in den diversen Dörfern der Umgebung, bezahlte Bestechungsgelder (meist in kleinen Rubinen)
  24. Geheimtüre von #30 ist von innen leicht zu sehen, Eimer und Seil, Wassertrog → daneben, ganz eng und kaum zu sehen: drehbarer Stein mit Geheimtüre zu #22
  25. Tür von #26 klemmt, wer sie aufbricht, ²⁄₆ Chance, 3m in die Tiefe auf ein paar Speere zu stürzen: 2W6 Schaden. Türe nach #22 von aussen verriegelt. Auf den Speeren eine Leiche mit versilbertem Helm: 1000 Silber
  26. leer, Türe nach #25 → unbenutzt und aufgequollen (Falle siehe #25)
  27. grosser Wassertempel mit Brücken über Kanäle, Schlangenstatuen → unter Wasser lauert 1 Wassernaga TW 7 RK 5 1W4 F7 ML 8 BW 9 EP 1140 – Zauber: Blitz 7W6, Illusion, Gedankenlesen, magisches Geschoss 1W6+1, Türen verschliessen, Schlaf 2W8 TW; die Echsendiener von #29 helfen ihr wenn möglich; Gaben: 10000 Kupfer, 8000 Gold, Silberring 50 Gold, Bernstein 250 Gold.
  28. Brutstätte der Echsendiener: Eier, Nester, warmes Wasser → darin Stolpergruben mit Speeren: 1W6 (²⁄₆ Chance hinein zu stolpern)
  29. Lager der 13 Echsenmenschen TW 2+1 RK 5 1W6+1 F2 ML 12 BW 6 EP 47; bewachen Brutstätte in #28 und Naga in #27; Anführer hat Trank des Gedankenlesens falls Bewaffnete Durchlass begehren
  30. grosser Brunnen ohne Eimer oder Seil → Wasser ist geniessbar → Baustil: Goblins; Steinwand zu #23 lässt sich hineindrücken und beiseite schieben
  31. Grabkammer mit 1 Gruftbewohner TW 3 RK 5 F3 ML 12 BW 9 – Treffer saugt eine Stufe! Kann nur durch Zauber oder durch silberne oder magische Waffen getroffen werden; sucht verzweifelt Zugang zur falschen Gruft im Osten und greift nur an, wenn er gestört wird
  32. verschlossene und ausgetrockneter Raum, in der Mitte ist eine silberne Glyphe gezeichnet → am Boden liegen tote Insekten; wer den Raum betritt: RW gegen Gift oder man wird Ohnmächtig und erstickt in den nächsten 10 min wegen fehlendem Sauerstoff; die Silberstücke, aus denen die Glyphe besteht: 1000 Silber. Wird die Glyphe zerstört, verbessert sich die Luft in einer halben Stunde: drei Chancen für Monster! Insbesondere der Gruftbewohner aus #31 fühlt sich schnell gestört.

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2013-08 Book Club

What: Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

When: 21 August, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Bistro Lochergut (tram 2+3 ‘Lochergut’)

I happened to read this book recently and very much enjoyed the story, the style and the complexity of South Africa as a nation. Later learnt that the author won a Nobel prize for literature.

Description by Amazon: After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy’s isolated smallholding.

For a time, his daughter’s influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

First suggested: May 2013 (Richie)

Supporter(s): Richie, Nela, Adrian, Nicole, Patty, Ruby

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