Page Collection for ^2011-03

2011-03-01 I am with Greg

“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.

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Comments on 2011-03-01 I am with Greg

Love how you equate “religious” comments with “homophobic” & “racists” comments. Cuz nothing says hate like “God bless you.”

– Justanobserver 2011-03-01 12:05 UTC

I was thinking of islamophobic sentiments that I had heard at a table, actually. Then I started wondering what I should call those statements that offend people on religious grounds, and couldn’t think of anything short that would also include preachy religious references towards atheists and all that. So I just left “religious” in there. After all, the context was obvious, wasn’t it? I was talking about religious comments that make you uncomfortable. So there you go, dear anonymous comment writer. May God bless you. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-01 13:34 UTC

Greg Christopher
Where do you think the homophobia, racism, and misogyny come from, anonymous comment dude? Certainly it isn’t from atheists. We are not the hate peddlers. Every atheist I know is profoundly humanist.

I don’t like people feting preachy at the table either. So I think Alex was right to use that word.

Greg Christopher 2011-03-01 14:54 UTC

I don’t know any religious fundamentalists and I don’t know any white supremacists, maybe that’s a cultural thing. And yet I sometimes hear people making off-hand references to Jews being greedy, using gay as a synonym for lame, and using gay as a synonym for effeminate in a derogatory manner.

Thus, I cannot confirm that non-atheists are the source of our troubles. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-01 16:56 UTC

Greg Christopher
I live in the American South. I can confirm for you. ;)

Greg Christopher 2011-03-03 21:45 UTC

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2011-03-01 Old School Alchemist

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:

Potion Price
Healing 300 gp
Heroism 400 gp
Invulnerabiliy 300 gp
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!)


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2011-03-03 Publishing Last Year’s One Page Dungeon Contest Submissions

Megadungeon!? Is anybody interested in taking the PDF of last year’s winners (or all of the submissions?) and making it available as a printed product?

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!

attention: And don’t forget submitting an entry for the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011! :D


Comments on 2011-03-03 Publishing Last Year’s One Page Dungeon Contest Submissions

Raine Baines
Hey there! I’m on my phone right now & supposed to be asleep, but I’m interested (well, my fledgeling publishing company is) in this opportunity, and wanted to go on record as saying so. I’ll come back again when it’s after 7am for me and investigate further/touch base with you. Or you’re welcome to email me :-)

Raine Baines 2011-03-03 12:49 UTC

Send me some email! :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-03 13:31 UTC

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2011-03-04 One Page Dungeon Contest Stats

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…

Stat 200920102011
Number of forums contacted ?2224²
Number of prizes 23³3450²
Number of sponsors 142012²
Number of judges 677
Number of submissions 1126461⁴
Number of categories 21¹18?

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:)


Comments on 2011-03-04 One Page Dungeon Contest Stats

Interesting stats Alex. Glad to see your at the helm of the contest again.

Tim Shorts 2011-03-04 12:12 UTC

There has to be at LEAST 1337 old-school gamers out there ;P

You know, if you count people who play 1st edition and 2nd edition (doesn’t it seem strange?) I know about 20 of them personally and have witnessed another 10 in a single game shop at once. I’m in a medium-size town on a US coast (the only Tacoma in the world apparently) and I’d estimate there are at least 100 in my little metroplex (between Olympia and Seattle), probably 500 in the state. This ignores all the people who play 3rd edition, effectively, the ones who play out of print games.

While that’s a good number for coastal cities, inland cities have lower populations and are less urban. I assume that reduces tabletop gamership, but who knows? Let’s say based on proportion there are 6,000 coastal OS gamers and some 1,500 inland OS gamers in America. Again, I think these are low estimates. I don’t know how popular these games are in other parts of the country, or certainly in other countries.

I suspect there are more old-school D&D players than railroad modelers. Maybe more than DBA players. Who knows? We need to add some questions to the census ;P

1d30 2011-03-04 18:06 UTC

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2011-03-05 Podcast Update

It has been seven month since my last podcast list. I still walk to work and back, each trip taking maybe half an hour. I enjoy listening to podcasts while I walk.

  • The Canon Puncture Show – I still like the show. The Game Advocates episodes have inspired me to push for certain games in our all systems considered biweekly group. heart
  • Chronicles – I’m still listening to this Pathfinder discussion, review and interviews show. Episodes are around 4h long, which is terrifying. Once I start listening to an episode, that’s not a problem. I just continue listening where I left off. But I must confess that it scares me off when I haven’t listened to them in a while. The spoilerific section is always elicits mixed feelings: Should I skip it and hope that GM James runs it for us? Or should I keep listening? I also happen to think that podcast hosts should use their real names and not some forum nicknames. :)
  • Fear the Boot – I’m still not sure what attracts me to the podcast. I keep listening anyway. heart
  • The History of Rome – I haven’t listened to the podcast in a long time. There are 26 episodes queued up. :(
  • In Our Time – This continues to be the most awesome mix of science, philosophy and history. star
  • Material World – I’m not too happy with it, but not unhappy enough to stop listening. :(
  • Norman Centuries – I love these, even though episodes are rare and short. star
  • Roll For Initiative – I’m starting to loose interest in old school D&D podcasts. I can’t really say why. It’s just not as captivating. Not funny enough? Not informative enough? Not short enough? I’d try producing shorter episodes, maybe. :-/
  • RPG Circus – Still an interesting mix of topics. I guess the inherent tension of having old school, 4E, and Rifts on the podcast keeps me interested. :)
  • Save or Die – Similar to the RFI podcast, I find that my interest is waning. I’d love to provide some advice, but I don’t have any. Perhaps explore new territory: This is what happened in our last game, this is how we resolved it, use these examples of play as starting points for a discussion of rules, monsters, and magic items? That would provide some insight into the various modes of play for old school play. :-/
  • Sounds! – Eclectic music, Swiss radio. Win. star
  • Thinking Allowed – Social science good. But I haven’t listened to it in a while. :-/
  • 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction – I like their discussion of products, their retail perspective, and the tension between old and new school. :)
  • 3.5 Private Sanctuary – D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG win. (Currently on hiatus!) star

Any podcasts you are listening to you’d like to recommend?

I’d also like to promote the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 via podcasts. Should I just mail a host for each of the RPG shows I enjoy and ask them?


Comments on 2011-03-05 Podcast Update

Glad you’re still enjoying the show. :) Hopefully, the frequency of episodes is a little better lately.

Brian 2011-03-06 18:52 UTC

Besides the mentioned 2D6feet, Canon Puncture and Fear the Boot I listen to the following RPG podcasts:

– Florian 2011-03-10 14:14 UTC

Our episodes obviously don’t come out as often as many other podcast’s do. Mind you, the vast moajority of other podcasts don’t go through the same production length and post-production process as Chronicles:PFPC does, either. Still, if you have five lines to write about the show as compared to the others? We must be doing something right :P

I am a long-time regular on the ENWorld forums under that nickname. Same with the Paizo Messageboards and, going back in time, within the NWN community, too. It’s how people know me online in the gaming community and are able to “recognize” me, so it seemed wiset to use that nick on the show. If you’ve listened to the podcast often enough, you’ll know that we also end up using our real names half the time anyway – and that tendency will probably continue as time marches on and the whole “forum identity” becomes less important in being able to reach out to people with some passing familiariy.


Steel_Wind 2011-03-29 20:01 UTC

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2011-03-08 More Character Shortcuts

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.

1d4Elf Dwarf Halfling
1you 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
2you 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
3you 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
4you 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 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

We’ll see about adding more entries and revising the PDF when I have some extra time. :)


Comments on 2011-03-08 More Character Shortcuts

Typical – if you are elf, you can be awesome things like a hunter, spell singer, or fae knight, and if you are dwarf, you could be a rune warrior or berserker. But if you are a halfling, you probably used to be a gardener :)

Adrian 2011-03-08 18:00 UTC

Looks like Alex got a whiff of “implicit setting” here …

Harald 2011-03-08 19:54 UTC

Absolutely. One roll life-path, baby! :)

Actually, I’d love to brainstorm some more:

; Elf: a sea elf with trident, net, bow, longsword; a moon elf with a horse, a member of the wild hunt, a horn, a bow, a scimitar, a wolf hound companion; a shadow elf from a far realm, an illusionist with a spider companion and a dagger; a dark elf that lived under the hill, a member of the winter court, a forger of rings (lame easter egg?)

; Halflings: a crazy naked ferocious halfling cannibal; an escaped slave, broken by years spent in the darkness deep underground; maybe something crazy like a windling – those halflings that were picked up and blown across half the world by the five great storms; a fool that was sent on adventure by a wizard (lame easter egg?)

; Dwarf: Any ideas?


Dwarf - beardless outcast, apprentice brewmaster, grizzled campaigner (fought against orcs and goblins) Halfing - deputy shiriff

Adrian 2011-03-08 23:46 UTC

Nice! There’s also the Thief to think of… Cutpurse, burglar, harlequin or clown, dancer, rat catcher, assassin, contortionist (too much circus?), spy.

1d4Elf Dwarf Halfling
5you are a sea elf; you own a trident, a net, a longbow and a longsword; the captain of your first ship has taught you the sleep spell you are a surface merchant; you own a suit of chain mail armor, a shield, a hammer, a donkey, a cart, 200 gp in trade goods, and three gems worth 50 gp each you are a crazy naked halfling cannibal; you own a dagger, a femur bone usable as a club and a lot of blue body paint
6you are a moon elf and belong to the wild hunt; you own a horse, a horn, a longbow, a scimitar, a silver dagger and a wolf hound companion that will attack anything that flees; the lore masters have taught you the spell detect magic to aid you in your raids you are an escaped slave, broken by years spent in the darkness deep in a kobold mine; you own a pick axe, ill-fitting goblin armor, a serrated goblin dagger and a wooden shield
7you are a shadow elf from a far realm with a fist-sized spider companion; you own a billowing shadow cloak, studded leather armor, a black shield, a scimitar and a curved dagger; you have studied the spell hold portalyou are a brewmaster
8you are a dark elf from under the mountain and a member of the winter court, you own elegant flowing robes, a silver diadem worth 100 gp, a scimitar engraved with silver runes of banishment; you have studied the light spell you are a grizzled campaigner from the goblin wars, you own plate mail, a polearm (halberd), a hand axe, and a dagger

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-09 17:51 UTC

Gaah, need some dwarven background inspiration. Perhaps I should look at some Warhammer careers. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-14 17:21 UTC

A dwarf criminal, his beard shaved off and his face branded, fled to the surface and surviving as a ruffian. Leather armor, club or axe, dagger.

What about an apprentice smith? Seems like an obvious one. Nice hammer or axe, decent armor, some gold.

Adrian 2011-03-14 18:36 UTC

This will do. Thanks!

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-14 23:01 UTC

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2011-03-10 Headlines

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!


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2011-03-11 GM Style Manual

Fight On! 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?

My advice is obviously colored by my preference for old school D&D sandbox campaigns.

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.

Check it out → Swiss Referee Style Manual! :attention:

(I’ve continued working on this style manual and decided to move it to a separate page.)


Comments on 2011-03-11 GM Style Manual

Greg Christopher
Awesome post!

Greg Christopher 2011-03-12 01:14 UTC

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2011-03-14 My Goblins

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.


Comments on 2011-03-14 My Goblins

They sound like a vicious bunch. I like the idea of player making up humanoid characters to help develop the culture. That would be very cool.

Tim Shorts 2011-03-16 11:08 UTC

Yeah, they’re vicious when they can get away with it. And that’s how we learn more about the players of goblin characters, too. :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-16 11:38 UTC

Very true… :P

– Florian 2011-03-16 21:26 UTC

I should write about the choleric shadow elves one day… ;)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-16 21:43 UTC

Heh, that would easily fill a page or two.

– Florian 2011-03-21 10:52 UTC

It does:)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-21 15:12 UTC

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2011-03-15 Character Generation Shortcuts PDF

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.

Update: This also appeared in Fight On! #12. :)


Comments on 2011-03-15 Character Generation Shortcuts PDF

Harald Wagener
Access to the ODT file is forbidden

– Harald Wagener 2011-03-15 08:50 UTC

Permissions fixed. Thanks for the heads up.

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-15 09:14 UTC

Sometimes I wonder whether I should be adding (descending) AC to the armor and damage dice to the weapons handed out. And stats for the animal companions and familiars.

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-23 12:09 UTC

Descending AC? Seriously?

Adrian 2011-03-23 13:40 UTC

It works for the kids! :)

AlexSchroeder 2011-03-23 17:13 UTC

James Hutchings
Thanks for this. I might see if my players are interested in changing to it from the standard rules.

James Hutchings 2011-04-17 11:21 UTC

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2011-03-15 Eine schwarze Liste für Facebook

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.

Im Facebook:

  1. Konto → Freunde bearbeiten
  2. +Liste erstellen
  3. Name “Schwarze Liste” eingeben und Liste erstellen
  4. Konto → Privatsphäre-Einstellungen
  5. Wir wollen Benutzerdefiniert → Benutzerdefinierte Einstellungen
  6. Beiträge von mir → Benutzerdefiniert bearbeiten
  7. Das vor folgenden Personen verbergen → Schwarze Liste → Einstellungen speichern
  8. Diese Einstellung je nach Bedürfnis auch für die anderen Dinge machen, zum Beispiel so:
    Familie → Nur Freunde
    Beziehungen → Nur Freunde
    Interessiert an → Nur Freunde
    Biografie und Lieblingszitate → Nur Freunde
    Webseite → Alle
    Religiöse Ansichten und politische Einstellung → Nur Freunde
    Geburtstag → Nur ich
    Orte, die ich besuche → Nur ich
    Mich im „Personen, die jetzt hier sind“-Abschnitt anzeigen nachdem ich angegeben habe, wo ich mich befinde → nicht aktiviert
    Fotos und Videos, in denen ich markiert bin → wie oben: ohne schwarze Liste
    Kann Beiträge kommentieren → Nur Freunde
    Freunde können an meine Pinnwand posten → zugelassen
    Pinnwandeinträge von Freunden → wie oben: ohne schwarze Liste
    Freunde können angeben, dass ich mich an einem Ort befinde → Gesperrt
    und so weiter… :)
  9. Sehr nützlich: Vorschau für mein Profil – da kann man ausprobieren, wie das Profil für andere Leute aussieht! ok

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.

Tags: RSS

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2011-03-16 Very Simple New Classes

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).

Robert Stuart (Strange Magic) used the cleric to build a Bene Gesserit character class and the wizard to build a Mentat character class.

Brad (Skull Crushing For Great Justice) uses the wizard and cleric to build a Healer character class.

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.


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2011-03-17 Two More Weeks for 1PDC

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 →

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!


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2011-03-21 My Shadow Elves

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.


Comments on 2011-03-21 My Shadow Elves

Haha, I was wondering about the tentacles – I thought maybe some crazy Cthulhu stuff was going on. Now I am imagining the shadow elf wearing a sweet displacer beast tentacle headband :)

Adrian 2011-03-21 16:07 UTC

To be fair, the Goblins also didnt care about the loss of the group cache and it wasnt the best time to be associated with rampaging elves… :p

– Florian 2011-03-22 12:56 UTC

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2011-03-21 The Underdark Gazette is Full of Win

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.

Back in the days EN World was the place to get D&D 3E news. These days I go and read the Underdark Gazette.

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:

  1. I draw them by hand
  2. I scan them as black & white documents at 300dpi using the Gimp
  3. I save the file and import it as a bitmap into Inkscape
  4. I use the awesome trace bitmap to produce “line art” from my sketch
  5. add text as required and I’m done

The end result would look like my Water Temple.

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. :ok:


Comments on 2011-03-21 The Underdark Gazette is Full of Win

Thanks for posting your technique - I had bad luck working with Inkscape some time ago and haven’t tried it recently!

scottsz 2011-03-21 10:02 UTC

How do I get an invite to the Gazette???

– Doug 2013-02-14 22:21 UTC

The Underdark Gazette moved on to Dreams of Mythic Fantasy.

AlexSchroeder 2013-02-15 07:38 UTC

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2011-03-22 Archipelago is a Game Master Training Game

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 [BeingCreative 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.


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2011-03-24 Old School House Rules Link Collection

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:

  1. it’s a repository of links to blog posts or forum posts that clarify a rule or propose a house rule
  2. it’s organized around the B/X D&D by Moldvay and Cook table of contents
  3. it’s a wiki where anyone can add a link to a post

This is where everybody else come in: somebody needs to be doing the real work of actually adding the links. :)


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2011-03-25 Protecting Party Members In Combat

The simplest battlemap is the best

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?

The image shows how I run D&D 3.5 battles since I ended up not using my No Battlemap house rules. There were always enough players that preferred those super detailed fights.


Comments on 2011-03-25 Protecting Party Members In Combat

This really worked well. Staying in the back really paid off for Dellinorm …

– Harald 2011-03-28 10:00 UTC

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2011-03-28 One Page Dungeon Contest Progress Report

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! :shaka:


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2011-03-29 Fear Of April

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

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2011-03-31 How To Organize Adventure Notes

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:

  • How I Want To Hear About Your Setting by Zak S. where he says “give us the setting in the form of rules (and monsters and items and all that) and nothing else” and provides a random encounter table; and his follow-up More Speedy Setting Experiments where he provides a random answer to table for “Why Did That Happen?”
  • Zak Offers Up Another Plate of Sacred-cow Burger by Trollsmyth reiterates the point and links to some important factors (“a little cultural flavor, some solid maps, a few political outlines, a description of where the cultural fault-lines fall, and some good, inspirational art”); you’ll find some people in the comments arguing that D&D 4E did just that, reduce setting books to gameables “and the result is really, really boring”
  • Proof of Concept: Impressionistic Narrative Modules by Greg Christopher and his Landscape Version follow-up talk about replacing a typical module map, key and intermixed plot text with text fragments using layout, font-size and color to code information, making it easy to skim and digest.
  • RPG Settings: Show, Don't Tell by Stuart Robertson talks about the minimum information required to convey mood and how you should get rid of the rest; his follow-up post Cutting Monster Entries Down to Size takes a similar approach to monster listings and stat blocks
  • missed opportunities & brain strangeness by Jeff Rients has an example of his adventure “prep”; and following James Smith’s example, I have decided to make the following my motto: When in doubt, I ask myself What would Jeff Rients Do? – because nobody makes me want to game as much as he does

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.


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2011-03-31 One Page Dungeon Contest Deadline

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

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! ok

Update: Plus one I had forgotten. Let’s hope it was the only one.


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2011-03 Book Club

What: A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

On Wikipedia: A Tramp Abroad

When: March 23, 19:30 – RSVP on Meetup (optional ;))

Where: Aquarium

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!

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