“Things will not work themselves out naturally. Oppression, prejudice, and discrimination does not work itself out naturally. […] I am not asking you to start a movement, raise money, or actually do anything requiring much effort. Just express your dissatisfaction with it.” – Greg Christopher, Into the Fray ✎
Indeed. If you feel uncomfortable in your gaming group because of homophobic, misogynist, racist or religious comments, say so. And if it doesn’t stop, leave.✎
In the Wilderlands of High Fantasy written for D&D 3.5 I found an alchemist described as a Wizard 5 / Alchemist 5 multi class. I assume that this is a very weak combo since the rule number one of min-maxing has always been to not loose caster levels. But still: my campaign assumes that rulers of remote villages and citadels will have level 5 or 6, not a character level of 10. Curious, I started to look around.
I found that Dragon Magazine issue 45 talks about alchemists and says that they have 10d4 hit points. That would explain the strange multi-classing.
I also found that the Labyrinth Lord✎ rules say nothing about character levels. Instead, the rules just mention that cost and time requirements for the brewing of potions they know are halved compared to magic users. In the back of the book it is suggested that potions should take a a magic user a week of brewing and cost 500 gp per spell level of the effect or something appropriate if there is no obvious spell level to be found.
Wow. A simple potion of Healing will therefore take a week to brew and cost 500 gp if a magic user creates it, and it will take an Alchemist half that long and cost half as much if he knows the potion. It will take an Alchemist twice that long and cost twice as much if he has to research the potion.
I think what I will do is this: Alchemists are ordinary zero level humans. They can brew potions. Typically they will know a few potions and offer these for sale.
The price list of the alchemist in question for my campaign:
|Poison (frogs)||500 gp|
|Water Breathing||350 gp|
The poison will be very weak and grant a +4 on the Save vs. Poison.
What do you think?
(I had to write this twice because when Safari crashes or reloads, the content of the text area is lost – unlike Firefox, which I cannot use on the iPad. Grrrr!)
I’d hope that it would be easy to convert into a PDF that can be uploaded to print on demand shops such as Lulu or RPG Now. I just don’t have the time and the nerve to do it. It would probably would involve setting up an account, paying a fee, splitting the cover from the rest of the PDF, some layout issues… I’m already getting tired just thinking of the steps involved.
You don’t have to do this for free, either.
Sure, making it available at cost would be appreciated by everybody. But the Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license doesn’t prevent you from making a buck or two in the process. And since I’m too lazy to do it, it would clearly be worth a buck or two to me.
Anyway, let me know if you’re interested.
You might also want to read One-Page Rip-Off, an old article by Justin Alexander and the discussion in the comments, as a kind of warning of what kind of discussion you could potentially get involved in. I hope it doesn’t discourage anybody from doing it, though!
At first I hosted the files from Dropbox until they temporarily locked the account because I had exceeded bandwidth. I then moved the files over to Wuala on April 23, 2010. There, it says that the file 1PDC 2010 Winners was “viewed” 2512 times.
What else do we have…
|Number of forums contacted||?||22||24²|
|Number of prizes||23³||34||50²|
|Number of sponsors||14||20||12²|
|Number of judges||6||7||7|
|Number of submissions||112||64||61⁴|
|Number of categories||21¹||18||?|
¹ In 2009 we only had three winners, the rest were “honorable mentions” and “runner-ups”
² Have suggestions? Let me know!
³ Including multiple bundles!
⁴ There is still time!
What do the numbers mean? How many gamers are there, how many dungeon crawlers? What is the ratio of RPG bloggers to RPG gamers? Nobody knows. I remember people joked about there being but 137 old school role-playing gamers out there — but I’ve collected 300 blogs on the Old School RPG Planet✎. Numbers don’t mean much…
Any podcasts you are listening to you’d like to recommend?
A bit over a year ago I wrote my first draft of the Character Generation Shortcuts✎ fold old school D&D with four backgrounds each for fighters, wizards and clerics. In a way I wanted to show that I didn’t need thieves, rangers and paladins – I wanted to model these classes using a base class with some appropriate background and equipment – and I wanted to speed up character creation by avoiding rolling for starting gold and shopping for equipment. Half a year later I increased the number of backgrounds to eight✎ and used it in a convention game I ran, but I still missed backgrounds for demihumans. The following is a list of four backgrounds each.
|1||you are a woodland hunter; you own an elven longbow with twenty arrows and a curved dagger decorated with silver runes; the lore masters have taught you the spell sleep to keep you safe while alone in the wilderness||you are a miner but it was dangerous work for little gain; you own a canary bird in a wooden cage, a small pony to carry your load, a lantern, studded leather armor and a heavy pick||you are a shepherd; you own a sling, a dagger, a woolen cloak, and a ferocious dog that will defend you in combat|
|2||you are a student of ancient lore; you own a ceremonial elven longsword in the old tradition and a set of chain mail; the lore masters have taught you the spell read languages to help your studies||you are a gem cutter by trade but decided to go looking for the real thing; you own gleaming chain mail, a beautiful two-handed sword and a jewel encrusted girdle handed to you from your father||you are a gardener; you own a hammer and a sling and some ill-fitting goblin leather armor|
|3||you are a spell singer; you own an elegant elven longsword, a dagger, leather armor, a wooden shield, a lyre and a silver flute; you have learned the spell charm person to keep you safe in human lands||you are berserker with warding tattoos covering every inch of your skin; you own a two-handed dwarven battle axe inscribed with old runes of death and destruction and battered scale armor||you are a scout and have travelled the wilderness; you own leather armor, a shield, a short sword and a sling|
|4||you are a fae knight; you own a white horse, a white steel plate armor, a shield, a lance, a long sword, a mace; your master taught you the spell protection from evil before sending out into the world||you are rune warrior and a defender of the realm; you own the finest dwarven plate armor, a heavy shield engraved with runes of protection and an axe.||you are a bored landowner but left your siblings in charge of it all; you own a short sword, a shield, light dwarven chain mail and a sling|
Over on the Hill Cantons blog, the author writes Who Killed D&D? and then goes on to talk about writing effective headlines.
I’m not so sure I like this. If I were writing a newspaper that tried to sell, sell, sell, then writing intriguing and provocative headlines might be good for business. But since I’m writing a blog and not earning any money, I don’t gain anything from readers that end up not interested in what I had to say. I probably don’t loose anything, either, where as the newspaper would have lost a sale.
In order to spare marginally interested readers the annoyance of reading my postings when they are not interested, I’m trying to write short and informative headlines that work as micro summaries of the article itself. At least that’s what I’ve started aiming for.
Am I succeeding? Regular readers – let me know!
I should look up some writing advice for the web and see what professional dudes say about this.
Ah, here it is:
Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox for September 6, 1998:
Microcontent: How to Write Headlines, Page Titles, and Subject Lines
Now I feel old because I remembered reading it!
Greg Christopher says that he’d like to see more GM Style Manuals. An intriguing thought. This would be something that is different from the mechanics, it would be an instruction manual on how to to run the games the way you do. I guess it will relate to your preferred campaign style✎ or a simple Know Your DM✎ flyer, but it would go beyond it: it would tell you and teach you how to achieve the desired outcome.
I wonder if I could write something like that. Others have, too.
Let me try. What would I tell a beginning referee if they ask for my advice?
I should find a catchy name for it! This is the… uh… the Swiss Referee Style Manual! I’m not Swiss, but I live here. Think of the Alps, the forests, the rivers, the valleys, the ruined castles, the army bunkers, the halberds and mercenary traditions, and… I dunno! It makes no sense! But it sure beats Running A Campaign According To Alex. (Does it?)
Anyway, I’d love to keep it short but it ended up being a massive wall of text. Sorry about that! At least it’s less than 300 pages.
(I’ve continued working on this style manual and decided to move it to a separate page.)
I am currently running three games in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (Necromancer Games). Much like Tim of Gothridge Manor the most visible change I have made to humanoids regards goblins.
When we started the campaign, I announced it as a “shadow” campaign. The players would start as the agents of the Alder King, a forest spirit that protected the goblin city of Grezneck. I stole this city from the third book of Rappan Athuk (Necromancer Games). On a whim I decided that goblins were possible starting options for player character.
I quickly invented some stuff to go along with it. Inspired by the birthing of orcs in The Lord of the Rings movie, my vision of earth blood being responsible for magic, infusing the underworld with eldritch energies, being the reason for the myhic underworld, spontaneous creation taken to the next level – inspired by all this I decided that goblins were sexless humanoids that spawned from underground mud, short-lived, venerating Orcus who promised to prolong life by unnatural means…
By playing goblin characters, my players have started shaping what goblins are. They are vengeful, cowardly, murderous, they lack empathy, scheming, they will bribe dragons, they will dabble in sorceries, if they don’t worship Orcus then they worship Nergal instead, and if not Nergal, then Set. Underworld and death, underworld and pestilence, or poison and death… Those are the goblins in our campaign.
The first Wilderland campaign uses D&D 3.5 and the two other campaigns use Labyrinth Lord✎. I’ll be using the goblin character class by John Wilson should any players in the other two campaigns want to play goblins.
A few days ago I revisited my Character Generation Shortcuts✎ and added backgrounds and starting equipment for demihumans. A reader wrote me an email to say that he liked it and used it when he played with his kids. Awesome!
This mail also pushed me to add another four demihuman backgrounds to bring the number up to eight and add a starting spell to all wizard and elf backgrounds. I updated the PDF file, too. Unfortunately I had to reduce the font size to 12.
In an effort to fight mediocrity (read the intro to Greg’s review of Lamentations of the Flame Princess), please let me know if I can improve spelling, grammar, layout, or the entries themselves if they didn’t work for you.
There still is no thief class.
In my games, magic users and elves have as many spells in their spell book as they can cast per day. Thus, they start the game with a single spell in their spell book.
I really should add a license to the file. For the moment, this notice will have to do: The two documents are made available to you under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 license. The font used for the titles is Behrensschrift, free for non-commercial use; the font used for the body is Garamond No 8, also free for non-commercial use.
Probier das Folgende auf alle Fälle mit Freunden aus bevor du es mit einem Chef oder anderen Leuten anwendest, mit deinen täglichen Aktivitäten auf Facebook nichts zu tun haben.
Es ist mühsam, ich weiss! ✎
Selber verwende ich sogar drei Listen: Eine Freundesliste, eine weisse Liste und eine schwarze Liste…✎
Die Idee hatte ich vom Artikel How-to: manage your Facebook privacy settings with three simple lists.✎
Once you spend some time reading about old school D&D you’ll note that many people will provide new classes for you to play with. Sometimes this will involve new advancement tables with new XP requirements. The canonical place to look for guidance in this respect appears to be Building the Perfect Class by Erin D. Smale.
Some people have used a different approach, however. They figured that as long as you stay close to the original classes, you can’t go wrong – and instead of designing a new class, they just mix and match.
In my case, the simplest example I have is a mere reskinning of a class: “goblin player characters are mechanically identical to halflings” (unlike John Williams’ three goblin variants in Goblin Character Class which use Smale’s suggestions).✎
Nicolas Dessaux aka Snorri (A Wizard in a Bottle) uses all the classes to build a variety of character classes (deer-folk, jackal folk, flying squirrel folk, turtle folk, shape changers, vulture folk, chameleon folk, cat-folk, lizard folk, owl folk) in the appendix to Creatures of Unknown Lands.✎
Two more weeks to go!
A map, an intrigue, monsters, treasure, enemies, allies – what does an adventure for your game night require? Whatever it is, if you wrote it up, you should send it in! The due date for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 is the first second of April 1, 2011, UTC. If you live in the United States, that means you may have to send in your entry many hours before the last day of March ends. What better way to make sure you don’t miss the deadline than sending your entry as soon as possible? Don’t worry, you can send in revisions up to the very end.
Submission must be mailed in PDF, Open Office, or Microsoft Word format to Alex Schröder → firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the sweet loot awaiting the winners of this year’s contest in the sponsor section of the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 page.
Best of luck!
Recently I posted about my goblins✎ – a player race that was shaped by the first two players picking it. In the same campaign, my wife has picked shadow elves. I had come across the term in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy Player’s Guide but didn’t like the idea very much: albino elves that look black from all the soot? No way. I also didn’t want to use Drow as-is because that would confront Claudia with a whole lot of expectations from the other players.
Since the race was to be “new” to everybody we agreed that they belonged to a small group of shadow elves (from which she would would draft more shadow elves for her entourage) searching for their ancestral home. Through play (and playing in the updated Caverns of Thracia) we discovered that Huvat Vex was in fact the long lost city of the shadow elves which was called Ankharat Pratnam in the ancient tongue. The shadow elves had in fact taught magic to the ancient lizard men…
Through play we also discovered that the shadow elves have red glowing eyes, are feared as forest demons by ordinary humans, love to drink a terrible green thing called Curse of the Viper – and they love to force it upon their friends and will be cross if they don’t like it! – and most of all, they hate insults and disrespectful behavior and will react with violence.
I don’t know where my wife hid away this vindictive and choleric part of her personality…
Recently this culminated in two of the shadow elves discovering that their cache in the goblin city of Grezneck had been plundered by the locals, and in an act of rage they killed a handful of innocents with a lightning bolt and went on a terror rampage to find the thieves until finally a goblin priest of Orcus arrived and settled the matter with 1000 gp. Apparently the goblin and shadow elf play characters will not be enjoying name levels in the same city…
This provided the kick the shadow elves required to finally take care of Huvat Vex – the reconquest of their ancient home. At the same time, the goblins killed the big ranger in town that had been agitating against them and learnt of a human layer of Orcus priests above Tribitz, high priest of Orcus and leader apparent of Grezneck. Interesting times await them!
Claudia was also confused at first because she felt that the goblins could murder at will without repercussions where as the elves were being spat upon and it took some explaining until she realized that this was actually just an in-game development. The goblins of Grezneck were treacherous thieves and ruthless racists. And the goblin player characters were obviously not concerned about their elvish friends’ loss of face…
As a DM I now get to figure out how to run adventures for goblin and shadow elf characters at the same time.
For the moment, luckily enough, they’ll be dealing with some corruption in the neighboring forest (Dungeon Crawl Classics #17: Legacy of the Savage Kings).
The picture above shows the shadow elf rogue Kishan wearing magic goggles made of Umber Hulk eyes and Displacer Beast tentacles that the shadow elf wizard Lordak is planning to create any time soon, now.
I just wanted to point out how awesome The Underdark Gazette is. James reports on all the stuff that is going on in the Old School Renaissance (OSR). People releasing modules, campaign settings, rule variants, magazines, contests, reviews, maps, map – it blows my mind.
Since I’m running the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011✎ I’m always on the look-out for news concerning it. The current issue of the Gazette links to GIMPing Monaco’s Belly which illustrates how the author cleaned up a map that was submitted to the contest.
Personally, I confess to using a different technique for my own maps:
If I were to do the Water Temple again, I’d add some more over and under elements, more shortcuts and bypasses, and some monster stats.
Anyway, all I wanted to say is that the The Underdark Gazette is awesome.
We played Archipelago II yesterday. I didn’t like it too much. When I sit down for my gaming session, I want to be entertained. I personally require some sort of struggle and tension for this to work, and Archipelago did not deliver. We did have a most illuminating discussion after the game, however.
I felt that the game was basically a 97% story telling game. We took turns in telling a story. Except that we’re not awesome story tellers like authors from books. Stories in a good book are subtle, deep, novel, surprising, emotional, surprising, and we are not. Maybe we could become better story tellers over time, but I don’t have much hope for myself.
I think this has to do with how my creativity✎ works. I like constraints. Random encounters, random abilities, a struggle against opposition. The story I prefer is therefore a side-product of player action, game master plans, random rolls, twists and opposition introduced by others – it is a necessary side-product, but not something that I want to deliberate with my fellow players, not something I want to plan beforehand. I don’t want the author perspective on the story. I want to discover the story as it unfolds.
Archipelago features a random element: On your turn a player can (and usually does) challenge you, forcing you to draw a card for somebody else to interpret. These cards have the famous Yes and or No but answers. Yes you succeed, or you succeed and something minor goes wrong, or it has unintended consequences, and so on. It’s what books like Play Unsafe by Graham Walmsley (@grahamwalmsley) try to teach the reader, except now you’re doing it instead of reading it.
Interesting, Archipelago works as a game master teaching tool?
I think it does.
Scene framing, saying yes, accepting cool ideas from the other people at the table, I agree!
Archipelago also has this element where every person at the table is responsible for one aspect of the game world (magic, geography, culture, history – broad aspects, all of them). This responsibility comes into play when a player draws a fate card when they are out of ideas or when they want to spice things up. The card usually calls upon another player to narrate something related to their aspect. So if Lior is out of ideas, he picks up the stack of fate cards, picks one and hands it over to Johannes to read. Since Johannes is responsible for the magic aspect of the world, his interpretation will probably involve magic.
This aspect (hah!) of the game is harder to translate to traditional games. Do I want a player to be responsible for the gods? The cities? I don’t think so. What I will do, however, is grant players narrative rights or veto powers over their home town, their faith or their race (such as my goblins✎ or my shadow elves✎). We’ll work something out. If I have maps or non-player characters to share, I’ll share some info with players from the location and I’ll let them add to it as far as possible.
This works like wises in Burning Wheel✎ and other Luke Crane games or certain skill uses in FATE✎ games – except that I don’t require dice rolls, nor do I require rules to regulate narrative rights like the ones Archipelago provides. I just offer the opportunity to my players. One or two might take me up on the offer, depending on inclination, interest and time available.
I like there to be 10% player empowerment and story telling in my games, sometimes using emails and the campaign wiki. What Archipelago offered instead was 97% player empowerment and story telling. Thus, Archipelago turned out to be interesting from an intellectual point of view, if not from an entertainment point of view.
The image above was randomly generated using Amit’s Flash Demo of his Polygonal Map Generation (Perlin, 2D slopes). I also removed a bunch of red lines using the Gimp: Select the area with the red lines, go to colors and saturation, pick red, and change the saturation to zero. Worked for me.
The OSR house rule wiki Links To Wisdom✎ arose out of The Jovial Priest’s post The future of OSR blogging... where he lamented the lack of memory in the blogosphere. Jeff Rients then suggested a wiki in the comments and finally I offered to host the wiki on my Campaign Wiki site.
Campaign Wiki is like a super simple, no frills wiki farm for role-playing campaigns in the vein of Obsidian Portal✎ and Epic Words✎. Thus, the infrastructure was already available. I just had to visit the Campaign Wiki main page and type the name (one word → LinksToWisdom), and copy and paste the outline The Jovial Priest had suggested in his post What do you think to an OSR House Rule wiki/blog aggregation site?
As The Jovial Priest said on his post the OSR House Rule Aggregation Site - LIVES, the vision for the wiki is this:
This is where everybody else come in: somebody needs to be doing the real work of actually adding the links.
I run an old school Labyrinth Lord✎ game with no battle map and Shields Shall Be Splintered✎ and Death and Dismemberment✎ house rules. Last Wednesday the elf Teeha lost an arm and a leg. The player wants to keep playing him anyway.
Back to fighting. Combatants can move anywhere they want on the battle field, they can retreat at will, they can attack anybody on the battle field… So how do you protect the magic user?
Determine who the bad guys are going to attack. I like the monsters to attack front line fighters that dealt damage first, or magic users, or badly armored people, or I just roll a die. Assume I decide to attack Delinorm the elf. Before rolling the d20 to hit, I ask is anybody going to protect the elf? If somebody is going to protect the elf, then the attack hits them instead.
This simple question before rolling the die worked really on Wednesday. You can have a Boromir taking all the hits and you can have fools being deserted by their fellow party members using this rule. I think I’ll keep it.
I like how this reduces the entire battle map minutia to a single strategic question: will you protect your friend right now, right here?
We’re getting very close to the due date – there are about 47 hours left. Right now I’m counting 37 submissions – can we get it up to 60 in the few remaining hours?
One sponsor wants me to sign a contract involving certain liabilities. In order to avoid any financial risk I created a non-commercial association according to Swiss law. A long time ago I tried to translate the essential elements to English, see CorporateMembership✎. Now I just need to print that letter, sign it, scan it, and mail it back.
Update: I have 61 submissions in my folder right now. This rocks!
I fear April because of the Blogging From A-Z Challenge April 2011. I’ve seen so many announcements on the blogs I read, and I’m barely keeping up already, and all these people are preparing their posts, I think I’ll be drowned in blog posts!
I’m curious, too.
No, I’m not participating. Self-imposed rules to push me towards something I’m obviously ill-inclined to do by myself will be aggravating me instead of motivating me. I’m just not wired this way.
To all of you who are participating: May you find the exact balance of inspiration and perspiration that is the basis for all writing endeavors. :ok:
A while ago I started noticing that I prefer short adventure material. Short is beautiful✎. I was having a hard time finding relevant information in the Paizo Adventure Path products, and I noticed how my improvisation was being stifled.
I do like their stuff: I have been subscribed to their module line and to their adventure path line since issue #1. It’s irrational, I know, because I’m unhappy about it at the same time. I’m sure there are people who enjoy all the material and get good gaming value from them, but personally I don’t enjoy reading RPG books. It’s just too boring. I’d rather read a book or a blog. The part I like about playing role-playing games is sitting at the table and doing it, or working on my campaigns by myself. Reading books is not on the list.
Anyway, I’ve been seeing some interesting new posts on the subject and decided to list them here in case you missed one or two of them:
The picture above shows how I prep for a game when I write my own adventure and have a lot of time. Most of my prep is about a fourth of that.
The deadline for your One Page Dungeon Contest 2011✎ submission is approaching fast. If you’re unsure about Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time, you can check one of the many sites online that will tell you what you need to know. I found this one via Google, for example: GMT/UTC on World Time Server.com.
If you never heard back from me after sending in your submission make sure to resend your submission.
If you’re curious, check out the blog post links to some of the submissions.
I currently have over sixty submissions. This is awesome!
Update: 70 submissions received!
Update: Plus one I had forgotten. Let’s hope it was the only one.
On Wikipedia: A Tramp Abroad
When: March 23, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))
All you ever need to know about Europe in one slim volume! Ok, not quite so slim and maybe not very up-to-date either, but much of it is timeless …
Full online text available here!
Define external redirect: CorporateMembership