Sunday, January 31, 2010

The new Red box for D&D 4e

Well it not just the OSR that is into nostalgia packaging.

Mind you this appear and emphasize appears to be a distilled version of 4e. This is the product page is here.

Apparently starting in late 2010 they will be starting a second line of D&D products called D&D essentials as well as continuing the present product plan.

The key element whether this will be one of many failed starter set or truly be enough of D&D to play a full campaign. Given how 4e is organized it may be feasible to have four classes with everything needed to play the heroic tier from 1st to 10th. Even less levels (like say from 1st to 5th) wouldn't be bad as long it is the full RPG experience rather than the stupidity of the various starter sets.

Why this is important for the OSR is that a healthy mainstream D&D drawing in new roleplaying fans benefits everybody. By increasing the raw numbers of roleplayers we have more opportunities to find players for the games we like.

So to Wizards and the rest of the 4e team good luck with this.

The rest of the essentials line looks like an alternate path to play 4e D&D. The old thing is what they are not saying. There is little detail other than cover blurbs. I am wondering if they are doing what I advocated and that is distilling 4e into something closer to the older editions for the general audience. For example it could be 4e but instead of having the huge variety of powers and feats they could have "builds" that has most of it preselected for you. It would feel similar to older character class system in this regard.

There is nothing that needs to be changed for 4e to do this. I done this for GURPS using templates that revolve around a specific organization like the Paladins and Myrmidons. Doing this makes an otherwise bewildering array of choices easy for a newcomer to pick up. Then as they get more experienced they can go "off-build" and start doing things the way they want.

Work through the entire 4e array of powers, feats, and monster then maybe you have a RPG that very easy for the general public to pick up and learn. But not make them feel like they wasted their money later one and doesn't short them of the full experience of roleplaying.

The rest of the essential line seems to adopt the old building block method of Mentzer's BECMI series. That should be interesting to see how that plays out.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Revisiting Weapon vs AC for Swords & Wizardry

One of the more infamous bits of D&D's history is the Weapon vs AC chart. As presented it is cumbersome to use and doesn't mesh well for monsters. Plus with the addition of new armor types in the transition from D&D to AD&D it can be argued it doesn't even represent what it was originally designed for. The fact that different weapons have varying effect against different armor.

Fortunately other RPGs have developed more elegant ways to simulate this effect. Most of them have one thing in common. They distinguish between three types of damage, a blunt mass, a edged blade, and with a point.

Using the ascending AC system of Swords & Wizardry

Chainmail is normally +5 to Armor Class
Looking at how the different damage type work the armor class probably look like this.

+4 vs Blunt - the chain mail spread out the impact of a blunt blow but it is flexible and doesn't offer much resistance.
+7 vs Edged weapons - this is where chain mail excels, blunting the impact of a edge across the wearer's flesh.
+3 vs Point attacks - chainmail doesn't do so well in this regard. Enough of an impact the links can be shoved apart, allowing the point to penetrate.

The above may be logical it is not practical for a D&D style game to have varying Armor Class. We can flip this around and turn it into modifier for a weapon attack.

The AC remains at +5. But for the attack his modifiers not look like this
+1 if attacking with a blunt weapon
-2 if attacking with a edged weapon
+2 if attacking with a pointed weapon.

Note that you will see in the armor chart that most armor offer superior protection against edged weapons. However remember using blunt and piercing weapons comes at a price of reduced damage. If you get past the armor with a hit your opponent is going to be hurt.

Here is the full armor writeup. The modifier are bonuses or minuses to the attacker's to hit roller.

Quilt +1 AC, -2 blunt

Soft Leather +1 AC

Hard Leather +2 AC, -1 Blunt, -1 Edge
The rigidity of boiled leather offer good protection against blunt weapons.

Ring +3 AC, +1 Blunt, -1 Edge, -2 Point
The metal rings on leather greatly improved protection against edged weapon. But it's flexibility makes it little better than soft leather, and no different for piercing weapons.

Scale +4 AC, +1 Blunt, -1 Edge, +1 Point
The scales increase armor protection overall especially against edged weapons, but it is flexible so while better than ring doesn't get the full benefit, and piercing weapons can slip in between scales with only the leather to stop it.

Mail +5 AC, +1 Blunt, -2 Edge, +2 Point
see above for comments

Banded +5 AC, +1 Blunt, -2 Edge
This represents various coats of plate, roman Lorica Segmentata, etc. Better than chain versus piercing weapons but more expensive.

Plate +6 AC, +1 Blunt, -3 Edge
Plate is the king of armor with superior protection to just about anything. Blunt weapons do the best as the broad impact allow the rigid metal to be bent more easily degrading the armor's ability to protect the wearer.

This is good for people centric campaign (like my own Majestic Wilderlands) but overly complex if you are dealing mostly with dungeons and monsters.

If using this system then for monsters treat their AC like soft leather with the Monster's AC equally effective against all weapons. If you think something is obvious (like a reptilian monster's scale) then by all means treat like one of the above armor.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gormmah Region and Settlement Patterns for Fantasy Games

So I am working on the game for next week and I want to work out what the immediate region of Gormmah looks like. Plus it will probably be wilderness travel as they will need to swing around the Barradine Mountains to the east and since the western route is blocked by armies fighting.

Like I mostly do in these circumstance I drew a map
a really big map.

The small hexes are 2.5 miles and the large hexes are 12.5 miles. The small hexes take about an hour to cross on level (light green) terrain.

The texturing is terrain with the light gray hills and the darker gray mottled area mountains. Then there are several large swamps. The color is vegetation. The light green is 50% or lower woods, the dark green 50% or high woods. The brown is alpine terrain with scrub no tree, and the white is ice and snow. The brown-yellow mottled area are croplands. On the full scale version you can see a light texture that looks like plow farrows.

The Solid Square is Gormmah a city. The solid circles are castle towns with pop between 1,000 and 500. The open circles are keeps with pops between 600 to 300, and the diamonds are village with between 100 to 250 people. The upside down triangle are mines, quarries, and lumber camps. The rightside up triangle are points of interest in this case legion posts on the border between the factions and city-state.

The village are manorial in nature and are at the center of a large estate running between 1,500 to 3,000 acres. By happy coincidence the 2.5 mile hexes are roughly 3,000 acres. So for every two hexes on level terrain there will be three villages. The pattern of settlement is dense population in a narrow area with the wilderness beginning outside of the area of cultivation. This is different the usual wilderlands setup where there is a single settlement then wilderness.

If your cultures are oriented more towards individual farms rather than manors then the pattern of settlement would change. Instead of a 3 small villages for every three hexes there would be a single large village or keep at the center of a large 12.5 mile hex. Each 2.5 mile hex would have about 100 households or 400 to 600 people scattered across numerous farms. The large village would have about 100 households for 400 to 600 population. Since each 12.5 hex has 25 smaller hexes this give a total population of 2,600 households or 13,000 people if the large hex is fully farmed.

The following shows the area I detailed out of the main campaign map.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Comments on Swords and Wizardry

Overall I am really pleased with how Swords & Wizardry played. The one serious combat was a snap to resolve taking about 20 minutes. With GURPS it would probably taken twice as a long.

I have to say Sleep is one useful spell.

I award XP for monster/challenges overcome and a roleplaying award. In addition I decided to allow players to spend money for training at a rate of 1d (silver penny) per 1 XP. The limiting factor is that you can only spend 1,000d per week.

The roleplaying award works by multiplying a factor time 200xp time the character level. I was going to go with 100xp but after talking I decided to boost it to 200xp. The factor is between 1 to 5 with 3 being average. I rarely award below a 3 in fact I can only think once where I had to do it and that was two decades ago. The max is 5 which is for roleplaying that will be remembered for years. 4 I award when there a great session of roleplaying.

So for last monday's game I awarded a 4 factor. Everybody did a great job roleplaying, staying in character and in-game. So that 800 xp then there was 260 xp for challenges and opponents overcome for a total award of 1,060 xp for the night. As everybody was hightailing out of Gormmah there was no chance to spend any silver on training.

As for my coinage system the basics are working out. The only trouble is making sure I charge the right amount for the D&D elements. When the characters went shopping for healing potions I had to come up with a price on the fly as I haven't gotten my magic prices settled yet. I just used the old price for GURPS Healing potion which was 30d per. Gormmah had only 16 between all the vendor so the players cleaned them out.

I just might keep it at 30d and factor everything else from that price. For example if say a Potion of Inviability was 10 times more expensive in most D&D editions I would make it 300d.

The Knight Killer Crossbow worked perfectly. A weapon used once in a combat that does a lot damage. Thanks to Dwayne's input I changed it from 2d10 to 5d4 to increase the minimum damage. It is +4 to hit due to superior accuracy and armor penetration. The downside is that it takes 6 round to reload.

When Tim nailed the Warden of the Madmen for 5 points I should have roleplayed the hit better. The guy was 5th level so 5 points was damaging taking him down from 25 hit points to 20. But I roleplayed it like it didn't even faze him. I should have come up with something to represent the guy twisted away a bit or dodging enough so it was a graze wound. On the bright side Tim caught on on fast that the guy was lot higher level.

I just slipped back into what I used to do for AD&D for combat. The basic action is 1/2 move and attack. You substitute anything reasonable for either half. For example drinking a potion and attack. Drinking a potion and doing a 1/2 move. And so on. You can always take a 5 step if you don't move either 1/2 round.

One thing I really like about Swords & Wizardry it the fact it is D&D distilled. There wasn't a whole of wrinkles with the combat game like there would been with AD&D/OSRIC. I like the idea of just having the spell caster go I cast X spell and not having to worry about segments or rounds of casting for the most part.

Plus when I ran that sample combat with Dwayne and the Rusty Battle Axe going down the tomb it was easy as heck to bring up some random monster and just drop him in. I would not like a true lite game, Swords & Wizardry + Majestic Wilderlands has just the right amount crunch to make tactical combat interesting yet simple and straightforward so I keep much of the rules in my head.

One thing I didn't like was the +1 for 13 to 18. I felt that higher attribute should be rewarded but not D20's +4 at 18 or AD&D range of modifiers. I asked the question over on at the Swords & Wizardry forums nobody gone higher than a +3 for 18.

I am going to change so that 13 to 15 is +1, 16 to 18 is +2 , if you get a 19 or higher because of racial bonus you can have a +3. In addition I will try to add little benefits to make having a 18 more significant than a 16. For example the thug increased damage bonus. Or the rule we have about dying at negative constitution. Note you start at dying at -3 at first level. It lowers by -3 for each level until it reaches negative constitution where it stops.

This post was a bit of a stream of consciousness hope you get some useful rules out of it. Next week should see a workout of Chigowiz's S&W Reference Sheets and the Wilderness Encounter charts. We will see if they make it to Hwath.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Majestic Wilderlands Session #1 Part II

Eoleander, Ashling, and Syrivald pooled their silver and made a list of what they needed for the expedition. Most of it was food, and healing potions at 30d a crack. They inquired where they can find the local lexigraphers where they can buy a blank codex. As it turned out Gormmah had only two lexigraphers, the first was addicted to drugs and had a very poor reputation. The second one didn't come with a great recommendation but was noted for his low prices.

(Point D)
So Ashling and Syrivald went over to Soltis of Virime to buy a codex. According to his entry in Shiran he was a competent scribe, but sells inferior wares. I had a lot of fun describing the general inferiority of his good. Tim asked how Ashling thought of one codex with intricate tooling. I replied, "Well It looks like he put a lot of work into it but it looks rather crappy." I think it was out of pity that Ashling bought it for 13d.

Eoleander was going out and buying every healing potion he could find. This turned out to be 16 potion total. Also he bought the rations the party needs. They now had ten days each weighing 20 pounds.

Dismayed at the inability of finding a decent codex to use as a forgery they hit on the idea of buying some from the Chancery. During the conversation with Soltis the Lexigrapher it came up that the Gormmah Chancery imported much of their vellum from Viridistan. So they headed over to Caer Shira. As the Chancery lies within the Castle courtyard the guard will allow only those with business to enter. Ashling fumbled his initial response but managed to recover with a bribe and some fast talking. The guard even told him which clerk to see, Peris.

They when into the Chancery and found Peris. Peris was all beside himself at meeting a real life elf. Ashling stroked his ego and had the clerk eating out of his hands. As it turned out he imports the codexs that Haradan writes in and had an extra around. So Ashling buys it for 35d plus throws in 2d for a tip.

The next two days are spend creating the forgery and copying. Finally the party is ready to execute their scheme.

First Eoleander head to Haradan's house. He had to talk his way in but Haradan finally agreed to meet him. Dwayne roleplayed the encounter pretty well manipulating Haradan feelings about his lost codex. Eoleander story was that he felt bad about the robbery so investigated it for himself. He found the journal in the street and is now returning it to Haradan. They eventually agrees to a gold crown (320d) plus another 100d as the finder's fee.

Then bombshell hit. The players thought the codex was this highly valuable repository of information. As it turned out it was really Haradan's notes on various ruins. Very useful but not something that worth the 10 gold crowns the Mardan was talking about. In fact what had happened is that Haradan came into an inheritance worth 10 gold crowns in stored it in his study. Apparently while Mardan and his accomplishes were trying to force their way into his study the exterior stairway collapsed. The inheritance was quickly banked with a moneylender after that.

Eoleander realized that Ashling was about to walk into a figurative trap with the Madmen. That they were not going to give two shits about what he had. He started running as fast as he could to the Green Wyvern.

(Point F)
While this was going on at Haradan's Ashling got ready to go to the Madmen's headquarters. It was located in an abandoned basilica near the Undercut. On the way he ducked into an alleyway and roughed himself up to make himself look like a badass. While doing this he missed Eoleander running by. Finally he gets to the basilica banishing a crossbow and having a I am not going take no shit attitude. Combination of that and him being an elf caused the teenagers guarding the gate to run away. (Note the Elves of the Majestic Wilderlands are inspired by Tolkien's elves and are considered a very tough race not to be crossed.)

He was met outside of the basilica's entrance by one of the lieutenants of the Madmen with three thugs. They talked about Mardan, about how much of a screw up he was, and that Ashling now has what the Guilds want.

Meanwhile Eoleander grabs Syrivald, Syrivald grabs his backpack and the two are running to the undercut.

The lieutenant takes Ashling into the basilica where he meets the Warden of the Madmen, their leader. Flanked on either side of the Warden are two thugs for a total of seven in the room. The two being talking, the Warden definitely doesn't appreciate being approached this way but is interested in what Ashling has. Warden agrees to see what Ashling has and so Ashling tosses him the sack. The Warden pulls out the two candlestick and the ornate box with the forged codex in it. With a look a disgust he throw it down to the ground. He refuses to give Ashling anything but is willing to let him walk out with his life. Ashling again demands that he at least gets the remaining 100d calling the Madmen thugs incompetent and why should he suffer for their mistakes.

One of the thugs steps out to challenge Ashling and the Warden say I will let you out alive but I don't think he will. Ashling then hits the entire room with a sleep spell downing everyone except the Warden. I ruled that Ashling had surprise so the sleep spell doesn't count as his action. Ashling rolls initiative and wins shooting the Warden with his crossbow. Unfortunately the Warden is a 5th level thug so the 5 points of damage are shrugged off. The Warden steps up and attacks dealing Ashling 3 points of damage. Taking him down over half of his hit points.

The next round Ashling wins again and runs. The Warden sends his thugs after Ashling. Meanwhile Eoleander and Syrivald make to the Undercut. They spot two thugs lounging. Eoleander walks up to one and levels his Knight Killer Crossbow at him. The Thugs start backing away. Eoleander shoots one doing 5d4 damage and tells the other to guide him to the Madmen's HQ.

As they walk up the street, Eoleander is reloading (a Knight Killer takes 6 rounds to reload). From out of a side street comes out Ashling. Eoleander turns and shoots one of the thugs killing him. Syrivald then cast Sleep bring down the two remaining thugs. By this time a crowd is beginning to form. Crys for the guard to come are starting to be echoed. With all their gear on them the three decide to leave Gormmah immediately and leave through Peden Gate. By the time the guards get organized for a search they are a 1/2 mile out of town.

They spend the rest of the day (4 hours) hiking north where they stop for the night. Syrivald and Eoleander try to first aid but Eoleander just makes it work causing an addition point of damage. Finally Ashling does it himself and gets one point back.

The map below so the campaign area and marks where they stopped at the end of the first session.

Columbia Game's Shiran is currently out of print. You may be able to find it at Nobles Knight Games or other outlets specializing in older games. It is found as part of the Cities of Harn. The Green Wyvern is part of the Inns of Harn here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Majestic Wilderlands Session #1 Part I

My latest Majestic Wilderlands campaign started off very well.

The roster for this game is

Syrivald - a human Mage from the Order of Thoth played by the Rusty Battle Axe
Eoleander of house Nimor - a Elven Fighter played by Dwayne from Gamer's Closet
Ashling Anubus - a Elven Mountebank played by Tim from Gothridge Manor.

The tricky part is getting the characters together. We have a pretty diverse lot here and I like to do this organically as possible.

My scheme was to play on Syrivald's interest in Elessarian Culture. I give him a lead on finding a formula for Pyracantha Oil. This is a the distilled essence of the berries of the Pyracantha plant and somehow makes armor more resistant to blows. Unfortunally the formula was lost during the fall of the Elessarian Empire 2,000 years ago. Even what plant the name Pyracantha refers to is not known.

But what Syrivald has is a letter and a entry from an old Elessarian Codex on herbs that point to the Circle of Hwath as where it was made. However like so much of Elessarian culture it too was lost when the Elessarian Empire fell. However the letter mentions the destruction being caused by the VI Legion of Viridistan. Syrivald believes that VI Legion records can be found in Gormmah.

So Syrivald goes to Gormmah to find those records.

Eoleander is a mercenary in the employ of Nino the Black. Currently Nino is in the pay of the Emperor of Gormmah. Eoleander is tiring of the Mercenary grind and is looking to get out.

Ashling is looking for adventure and excitement and currently gets a lot of it from associating with the criminal element among humans. He recently arrived in Gormmah after hearing of the general lawlessness of the town.

The map of Gormmah is below. I didn't have time to draw up my own version so I adapted the map of Shiran from Harn. One element I wanted was that a recent flood caused a change in the course of the river next to the town. The river is now eroding away the city bit by bit and if nothing is down the whole city will be swept away in a few decades. Shiran was the best fit out of all the cities I had. After the campaign I will replace this with something more original that I can publish.

The game started out with Syrivald crossing the Mandain Bridge into Gormmah proper. After playing 1d (d = silver piece) he was allowed to enter thru the Arna gate. He asked the guard for a good place to stay and the guard directed him to the Green Wyvern which is just up the road from the gate. The guard only asked that Syrivald mentioned to Orsin that Nordin sent him.

(Point A)
So Syrivald went over and checked into the inn. There he rented a private room for 12d/night and took dinner. I probably surprised the heck out of the Rusty Battle Axe when I pulled out not only a floor plan of the Inn but a picture of the Innkeeper. It was just dumb luck that he happened to pick an inn that had a Harn article devoted to it.

(Point B)
Meanwhile Ashling was relaxing in the worst inn in town the Rafter's Inn near the undercut. This section of Gormmah is crumbling into the river and now inhabited by gangs and the urban poor. A member of the Madmen gang named Mardan approached him about doing a job. He was willing to pay Ashing 100d now and 100d at completion. Ashling had to act as lookout and use his sleep spell if any guards was coming. The job involved something worth 10 gold crowns (3200 silver pennies)

(Point C)
Syrivald asked the innkeeper Orsin about where the Archives of the legion was. He was directed to across the road to the Chancery in Caer Shira the castle of Gormmah. He was told to find a clerk named Haradan who interests lies in history and old records. Syrivald went over and introduced himself to Haradan. After Syrivald agreed to pay a gratuity of 10d and a dinner, Haradin would met with him at the Green Wyvern and share what records he has.

(Point D)
Eoleander just got off of a training session when he was called to me with Captain Nino. Nino had a job for him, The Chancery Clerk Haradan needed a bodyguard to escort him to a dinner. The captain told him to clean up, gear up, and get over to Haradan's house on Chyn Way. Eoleander neglected the get cleaned up part and went over smelling rather ripe. There he was greeted by Haradan's wife and waited for the clerk in the court yard.

In the meanwhile Ashling met with Mardan and his accomplices; a Burgler, another Mountebank and a Thug. The job involved robbing Haradan's house! When they got there Ashling and the other Mountebank were positioned at opposite ends of the street to watch for guards. Maradan, the burglar, and the thug went around to a back alley and made their way to the house.

Haradan greeted Eoleander and the two left the house. They failed to spot Ashling. When they were halfway up the road, they hear a loud crash from behind Haradan's house and the scream of Haradan's wife. The two go running back. After to making sure that the wife and Haradan's daughter were OK, they investigate the crash. In the back they find the exterior stairway to the third floor tenement to have collapsed. In the wreckage was the unconscious body of the Thug. Eoleander sent Haradan out front to check for anybody fleeing and to call the guards. While doing this the Thug was beginning to awake. Eoleander cold cocked him with the butt of his Knight Killer Crossbow. This severely injures the thug taking him into negative hit points..

Ashling pushes further back in the shadow as the guard being called and chaos erupting around him. He spots Mardan and the burglar fleeing down a side street. He nails them both with a sleep spell and runs toward them. Before anybody can react or understand what was happening Ashling grabs the sacks and runs away from the area. When he finally stops to catch his breath he opens it up. All he finds are two silver candlestick, a ornate box with a small codex in it. Briefly reading it Ashling notes that about various ruined Trehaen Circles in the region. One of them he noted was the Circle of Hwath.

Note that from the crash on I was pretty making everything up on the fly. My original thought was that Ashling would follow Eoleander and Haradin back to the Green Wyvern. To my horror there was a big plot hole in that I gave no compelling reason for why Ashling would follow them. Luckily I realized this moments before so I improvised the crash and the resulting chaos.

(Point C)
After the City Guard hauled the Burglar, the Thug, and Mardan away, Haradan and Eoleander went to the Green Wyvern. Note the guard attributed the Thug's injuries to the fall. Once at the inn, Haradan and Syrivald enjoy a pleasant dinner. Haradan was able to help Syrivald in finding the location of the Battle of the Three Hill and giving him some tips on where to find Hwath.

During the conversation Ashling decides not to return to the Rafter's Inn and heads to the Green Wyvern. I really lucked out with this decision. It helped that there are only two inns in Gormmah. There he enters the inn and rents a room. Syrivald and Haradan are sitting at a table right next to the bar and when they mentioned Hwath, Ashling decides to order a drink and eavesdrop. Eoleander fails to notice that Ashling was seen fleeing the incident at Haradan's house.

The conversation winds down between Haradan and Syrivald. Syrivald starts talking about what he needs to do to travel to Hwath. The journey going to be made difficult by the fact that the northern half of Gormmah is under the control of Tarngol to the west. (Note this campaign is nearly 20 years after the events in Supplement VI) . Haradin recommends Eoleander despite his smell and introduces Syrivald to him.

The two being talking and come to a quick agreement that it would be profitable to adventure together to Hwath. During the conversation Ashling approaches them and offer them his services. Ashling rattled off the few facts he read in the codex and Syrivald was impressed. The two of them agreed to include Ashling.

After this the dinner broke up. Eoleander escorted Haradan back to his house while Syrivald and Ashling continue to talk. Ashling's original plan was to read the codex and pretend that he was an expert. This fell by the wayside when he realized that his knowledge of the terrain to the north was much more valuable to the party. He revealed the codex and the two agreed that it must be of considerable value for the Madmen to steal it. They agree on a plan to copy the codex. One copy would be a forgery and delivered to the Madmen. The forgery would be altered so that only the party would know where Hwath was. The second copy would be accurate and be retained by the party. The original would be returned to Haradan for a reward. The copying would take two days to do plus materials.

Everybody retired for the night and met the next morning at the Green Wyvern.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Campaign launches in the Majestic Wilderlands

You saw a bit of what I did for campaign prep with the Order of Thoth in this post. I created similar documents for the Elessarians, Viridians, and Elves. The campaign will be starting in the eastern half of Viridistan in the Province of Gormmah so I need to get some details straight about the Viridians. Two of the players are Elves so I wrote up that document. Finally the Rusty Battle Axe wants to know about Elessarians so I wrote up that one as well.

Now I didn't really write 10,000 or so words in the past two weeks. The benefit of having 30 years worth of campaign notes is that I have a lot of stuff to draw from. Much of creating these handouts involved cutting, pasting and editing. Right now the above are serviceable as first drafts and campaign handouts. They will need further work before incorporating them into projects meant to be published.

Some parts are overlong, I am still working out aspects of all three races/cultures. For example with the Elves an important part of their history were the Voyages of Sorrow. The fact that the voyages occurred , and that they were a result of the Crystal Wars were a part of the mythology of the Majestic Wilderlands since the mid 80s. But I never figured out exactly why any of them took place. So I worked it out when I rewrote the current revision of the elves. Now I have several interesting variations of the base elven culture.

With the Viridians, I lost 3,000 years of their history including the darn king's list. Just disappeared 10 years ago and all I have left are the earliest years. The annoying part wasn't that I lost all that stuff, but it was the only place where I recorded details about the First, Second, and Third Empire of Viridistan. How they were formed and how they fell. So I re-worked out those details with the new revision of the Viridian race.

I am sure by now some of you are wondering what kind of crazy loon I am for going into this level of detail. Generally how my best stuff is created is that it originates in a king's list or a time-line that for 99% of you would be pretty boring stuff. This includes my players. So I give them the reader digest condensed version of it. In the earliest days I didn't do a good job of condensing, but I learned. I kept at it over the years until the documents were useful and contained the best and more interesting ideas I had about the subject.

And sometime those old notes become handy when some obscure detail generate something really cool. Now you don't have to do this for your campaigns, but I do recommend that you keep a folder or notebook filled with idle thoughts, useless details, and other minutiae that you happened to come up with. It may be that two, three years down the line you will be able to create a really fun adventure out of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Random observation on the Old School Renaissance

What Old School fans agree on is that older editions are much fun to play today as they were back in the day.

There is nothing in the Open Game License that requires me to use the entirety of the d20 SRD. If I don't use feats, multi-classing, sorcerers, very long stat blocks, limit the monster abilities, etc; what is left is a game similar to the older editions. This is the fundamental foundation that underlies much of effort that goes into publishing for older editions.

I know these comments may seem like Old School 101 but after reading the Nth long winded discussion about the OSR I felt it would be good to restate the basics.

As for why people are writing and publishing Old School material I refer you to the quote in the upper right of this blog.

Then there is the Old School Primer which is helpful in learning how to make the minimal rules found in the oldest editions your own.

Finally the most important basic observation .. Have fun!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adventure/Supplement Format, a question

Several people stated that they liked my commentary at various points in the Majestic Wilderlands. Most of them were like designer's notes explaining why I setup things. Is this type of commentary useful? Should such commentary be inline with the text or set off in a sidebar or a text box.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Kindle to get active content.

Active content is a fancy way of saying that the Kindle will be able to run applications. Amazon has announced that in about a month it will release the Kindle Development Kit. There are a few restrictions mainly related to app size and the amount of traffic it will use on the Kindle's built-in wireless system.

Where I see this being useful is for interactive rule books and aids. Most of the aids needed at the RPG table are not that demanding in terms of graphics so the low refresh and greyscale only limitations of the eInk screens that the Kindle uses shouldn't be a limitation.

One compelling feature of this setup is long battery life of a Kindle especially if you don't have the wireless turned on. It book like form factor perhaps makes it a tad easier to use then a netbook or a laptop. The screen is way larger than a cellphone so that should work in it's favor over a iPhone or similar tech. Also it will be interesting to see how works with the instant-on feature of Kindle. Basically when you shut off the kindle and turn it back on you are back at where were last reading.

I may try to do something with this in between writing projects.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More on the Order of Thoth Part III

Continued from Part II

Demonic Corruption and the First Magewar.
The first version mirrored events in Ars Magica but my version always had the conclaves in Lenap being corrupted. Since the conflict with demons is central to my vision of the Majestic Wildelerlands I jettisoned the Ars Magica elements and retained the rest. This section is important for establishing to the player how serious the Order takes detailing with demons.

The Great Crusade and the Ghinorian Wars.
This section was added well after the original all-mage campaign and reflects the work I did on detailing present day (for the setting) Ghinor. During the all-mage campaign the upper hierarchy of the order based in Tula came across as very distant and impact little of what the players were dealing with. After detailing Ghinor I realized I had a reason for this.

This section is a possible source of roleplaying for the players. Do their character try to turn around the Order's focus on the Ghinorians or take advantage of the distraction to benefit themselves.

Salm-Lorin is intended as a cautionary tale against mage characters that would try to set themselves as rulers. It may seem contradictory considering that I want players to make a mark on the Wilderlands. However at high levels in most Fantasy RPGS (GURPS, D&D, etc) magic become very dominant. This explains why mages don't rule everywhere keeping the setting plausible and aiding suspension of disbelief. More importantly giving mage characters a more satisfying challenge than what the rule mechanics alone allow.

Recent Events are pure plot seeds for players to pursue. The one that I suppose will dominate the current campaign is the "land rush" for magical orders occulting in the remnants of the Viridstan Empire. I say suppose because it will be up to players to pick which direction they will go in. All I can do is supply the world.

Finally it ends up with the Code of Thoth which is the essence of what the mages of the Order of Thoth believe in. Note that there is five tenets. This reflects the Ghinorian origins of the founders who knew of the Fivefold Code of the Church of Mitra.

I hope this helps you write your own campaign handouts and to make them relevant to how your players roleplay their characters.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More on the Order of Thoth Part II

Continued from Part I

Next is the history section. Opinion is very divided about how much history to provide players. My goal is to give enough history to establish enough of the context in which the Order of Thoth exists to aid roleplaying a Thothian Mage.

The Ancient Past section estabilshes that the Order of Thoth arose out of Ghinorian Culture and why so much of the Order of Thoth is dominated by Ghinorians.

The story about the rise of the Order has two purposes. First it explains why the order was founded. The importance of the Code of Thoth to the order and the importance of the secret of the Shield of Magic.

Second it establishes that the Order of Thoth is an offshoot of Ghinorian Culture. This helps the player understand the hostility the Order experiences in lands dominated by Ghinorian Culture. This is reinforced by the first quote back at the beginning of the document.

The Early days of the Order further reinforces the Ghinorian centric nature of the Order and also gives the fact that while dominated by the Ghinorians there are many other cultures represented.

The second paragraph gives important background details about the Tula the City of Wizards. It also the first detail that may impact the player's roleplaying of his character. At some point he may decide to adventure to Tula and see what it has to offer his character.

The Grand Conclave give details on the most important institution of the Order. It also established that the Order is not into maintaining a strict hierarchy of mages. In the original all mage campaign that spawned much of this detail a lot the terms of Ars Magica was used. However in practice the campaign revolved around the problems and issues of one conclave, the Guild of Arcane Lore in City-State. The other conclaves played little part in the roleplaying or plot of the campaign. To get away from Ars Magica to my own original work I jettisoned the complex hierarchy of Ars Magica and substituted a more conclave centric vision.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on the Order of Thoth Part I

With help from Dwayne of Gamer's Closet and Tim of Gothridge Manor I updated the summary document I hand out to players about the Order of the Thoth. From the 19 page monstrosity I original created I whittled down to 3 pages. Contained in the document is the Code of Thoth

Code of Thoth
I will not use my art to the detriment of any member of my order.
I will hold no secret from my brothers, sharing my knowledge to benefit the Order’s power.
I will tithe the time and arcane power to benefit the Order.
I will not give aid to Demons Lords or their servants.
I will hunt, strike down, or summon aid against any those condemned as renegades by my Order.

You can download the rest of the document from here.

The primary goal is to keep the page count down so I don't hit the Rusty Battle Axe with the dreaded Info dump. So I had to carefully decide what elements were important to keep. Note I decided not duplicate many of the details found in the Majestic Wilderlands. That will change if I used this in a project to be published.

Also note that much of this originated in a GURPS campaign I ran where every character was a mage. This occurred around 1993.

First off, I included two first person quotes. I have a habit of doing this in my campaign handouts. Their importance is to give the viewpoint of a person living in the Majestic Wilderlands and helps transforms a dry handout into something representative of a living breathing world. Writing these helps me to consider the in-game consequences of what I am writing.

Next is an overview of the Order of Thoth. I try to summarize the whole thing in two paragraphs. This way even if I lose the reader later on I still impart the most important information.

Next I go into how the Conclave are setup. Of all the stuff I have about the Order of Thoth this is the most important as it impacts directly any player roleplaying a Thothian Mage. The Conclave is where much of the life of a Thothian Mage occurs.

Continued in Part II

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bat in the Attic Status Report #3

The bad news is that I am not going to have my article ready for Fight On! #8. Between work, family, and campaign prep I just didn't have enough time to a quality job. On the good side the preparation my upcoming Swords & Wizardry campaign is causing me to write a lot of stuff that will make an appearance in later products. Thanks to the Rusty Battle Axe choice of playing a Thothian Mage my venerable briefing document on the Order of Thoth has been rewritten. I eliminated all the overt Ars Magica references as well streamlining the history. Dwayne of Gamer's Closet helped create a new Code of Thoth that is original to the Majestic Wilderlands.

For Dwayne and Tim I will be creating new material on the Elves as well pulling together for the first time in 20 years my notes on the Viridians. The campaign is going to start in the fringes of the shattered Empire of Viridistan specifically the province of Gormmah.

I developed the major plotlines for the campaign. Basically the way this works that I create a sequence of events that would occur in the absence of PC intervention. From that I create a cast of recurring NPCs and locales that need notes. Some of the event have a wide enough impact that even if the PCs go far from Gormmah and the old empire it will still have plenty of preparation done. I will try to share as much of this as possible as the campaign progress.

In addition I went through my stack of modules and pulled out those that I could for locales during the campaign. This would cause problems if I ever want to publish the campaign but I just don't have enough time and desire to write up everything. My method is to use the module for the physical site. Then replace the cast of NPCs and background to fit the actual locale in the Majestic Wilderlands. When it comes time to publish I will have to come up with a new locale using the same background and NPCs that I created.

I am revising the title of my next product from the Beast of Kensla to the Scourge of the Demon Wolf. I have Tim of Gothridge Manor to thanks for this and appreciate him letting me use it. The adventure was inspired by the legend of the Beast of GĂ©vaudan particularly as it was told in the movie the Brotherhood of the Wolf. However my plot is unique to the adventure. What inspired me in that it was a lone creature terrorizing the villages and the protagonists had to deal the all to human problems of those they were protecting as well as fight the beast. With those themes in mind I created an adventure and a plot better suited for adventuring parties and fantasy RPGs.

I said in the last update I broke even in my sales of the Majestic Wilderlands. Now it is far beyond that point . Since many are interested in hard numbers I will share them with you.

RPGNow sales of Majestic Wilderlands PDFs - 70
Lulu sales of PDFs (both covers) - 16
Lulu sales of the Full Color Cover - 48
Lulu sales of the Original Style Cover - 39

Roughly I get 65% of the cover price which equates to $4.50 for PDFs and slightly less than $6 for the books.

I don't have a feel what the yearly total will end up to be.

The caveat I will add for using these figures that the Majestic Wilderlands was setup as a rules supplement which generates the most interest of any type of RPG product.

By all the ranking systems I been able to access it seems that the Majestic Wilderlands is a hit in the Old School market and I thank all of you helping to make it so.

Also if you are interested only in the PDF I strongly urge you to buy from RPGNow. I am able to update the product there with additional files. I done so two times now. Lulu seems more limited in this regard.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wizards and Society

There are lots of ways to setup the interaction of magic-users and the society of a fantasy setting. My take is influenced by the fact that religion and culture play a big part in the forces driving my campaign. The magic-users are not exempted. The key element to remember about the magic-users in a D&D world that despite their power they need time and resources in order to fully realize their potential. Without time to rest and study they will quickly run out of spells and lose what sets them apart from their mundane peers.

Wizards and Society
The magical Orders are a threat to the hierarchy of society since the magic-users bow to neither Patriarch nor Potentate. The Orders are powerful enough to deter rulers from attacking them openly. But the knight's courage and the priest's prayers have supernatural powers of their own, so members of the Orders rarely attack their mundane foes in open warfare. Those who cause undue conflict between the Orders and society are subject to punitive action.

Young magic-users often find the restraints caused by society annoying, and they sometimes skirmish with the powers of the mundane world. Older magic-users, find ways to pursue the arts of magic despite the desires of those who would control or destroy magic-users. They scorn those who do not follow their example. Most magic-users are wary of the outside world. They will go to great lengths to maintain the shaky peace that continues to the present.
Fanatics within the magical Orders and the various Churches have long called for an end to the truce. They desire a final confrontation to destroy each other. So far, voices that are more reasonable have prevailed.

Most magic-users realize that, while they wield great power, they have no defense against miracles. They stay out of the way of the various Churches and not draw attention to themselves. Were they to threaten society, the magic-users feel that they would suffer the fury of the Gods. To complicate matters, many in the Orders are believers and share the faith of many Churches. Typically misunderstanding and/or political intrigue are the base of any conflict between the magic-users and the churches, not moral antipathy.

The various magical Orders realize that aid to the barons and the churches will ease tensions. To this end, they offer their service and knowledge. The Order of Set has gone so far to become part of the triad that governs the Thule Empire.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Majestic Wilderlands Price List

I am not comfortable with releasing the full price list I use until I get rid of the stuff that comes from Harn only. However I did go through Swords & Wizardry and picked out all the items that came with Core rules and of course the weapons list I created yesterday. I also included some information on hirelings, weights & measures, and the coinage system.

You can download it from here. For those playing in my campaign I sent you the full price list via email.

While the coinage system derivative of Harn, Crossby and Columbia Games in turn got it from history. The basic idea is that you have one common coin. In my case the Silver Penny, and one really large valuable coin. In my case the Gold Crown which is worth 320 silver penny. Silver penny is abbreviated as d (for denarius). For example a Broadsword is worth 150d.

If you see the symbol f it is short for farthing, 1/4 of a silver penny.

I find this dual coinage system works better than traditional copper-silver-gold. It restore Gold to it's proper place as the king of precious metal as well as restore some of the value to silver.

Also my coins are much smaller than D&D's traditional 10 coin to 1 pound measure. In my case 256 silver equal one pound, and the gold crown weighs one ounce giving 16 to 1 pound. This is actually historical as silver pennies, drachmas, and denarius were minted in a size somewhere between a US dime and a US nickel.

My father inherited a coin collection from his brother and it includes a silver parthian coin from the 1st century, a silver roman denarius from the 2nd century, and a honest to god silver penny minted by King John of England. They are small and light and like the various internet sites say between a dime and a nickel in size.

As for the rest of the price list I plan on incorporating in a future Majestic Wilderlands product along with a bunch of other campaign support material I haven't released yet. I assembled a bunch of historical price lists and combing through them to make sure what I release is my own work and not Columbia Games. I will release it as a standalone download for free when I get done.

Errata the Knight Killer Crossbow does 5d4+2 damage not 1d20+2 damage.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Campaign Prep

If you been following Gothridge Manor and Rusty Battle Axe you been seeing some of the preparation for my upcoming Swords & Wizardry Majestic Wilderlands Campaign.

One thing I am currently doing is preparing my Referee Handbook. This is a collection of notes and charts specific for the RPG rules I am using. I had one for AD&D, GURPS 3rd, GURPS 4th, and D&D 3.0. Now I am creating one for Swords & Wizardry.

One of my chart is the Majestic Wilderlands Price List. Starting with the Harn Price List I folded bits and pieces from other sources over the years. You see the weaponcrafter section here. The main addition to this version of the price list will be making sure I have all the dungeon equipment listed from Swords & Wizardry. Finally I will need to add a hireling list combining the Harn wage list and the notes from Swords & Wizardry.

By a happy coincidence it turns out that one Swords & Wizardry silver piece is the rough equivalent of a Harn silver pieces so much of my price list will work as is.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Game Night at the Conleys

Tuesday is one of the night where I have primary responsibility for taking care of entertaining the kids. My eldest son is in Junior High School and is showing great interest in the various games I have. So I pulled out a copy of Axis & Allies War at Sea, a naval miniatures game, and setup a basic scenario. He then promptly blew my battleship out of the water with an incredible roll scoring 15 hits rolling 16 dice. (4 or 5 counts as 1, 6 as 2). My return fire did not so well. And the rest of the game was him chasing down all my ships and blowing them out of the water.

My youngest was being a bit rude trying to intrude himself into the game. So I told him to play on the other table and I will be glad to play a round after his brother and I were done. While getting blown out of the water, he was purloining dice out of my box and setting up a game of his own using Legos. When I finished I came over and found 16 assorted Lego figures and vehicles he built; lined up 8 on a side. In front of each side was four dice with the 1 side up.

The game consisted of rolling dice adding them up and moving a figure that many "steps". Then you fired on a guy. Each figure could move and fire once. He kept adding rules about shields and shooting weapons as the game wore on. I not sure who won but it was a lot of fun.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Variable Weapon Damage and other comments

A post by Fighting Fantasist got me thinking about this.

Variable Weapon Damage is more realistic and more importantly players understand it better as it reflect everyday experience. D&D combat may be abstract but it still grounded in reality. A target needs to be hit, that it will take damage after being hit.

If Hit Points measure the life expectancy of a character "under fire" then it will be reduced faster with hits by a two handed sword than a dagger. Whatever speed advantage smaller weapons have is far outweighed by the mechanical advantage and mass of larger weapons. For this reason many accepted variable weapon damage as a natural extensions of D&D.

Simpler and abstract combat systems appeal to many. And should be accepted as such rather than trying to hang a fig leaf on them. I seen too many over the years wind up complex combat rules because of referee's fig leaf. Because somebody said "You know Y is true because of X." From my view the d6 damage system of White Box only D&D doesn't need to justified. The elements of White Box D&D combine to produce a fun game with a specific feel that many enjoy to this day.

There are many who proposed a additional rules that work with the d6 system without sacrificing it. One of my favorites is where you roll 2d6 damage and take the highest to represent two handed swords and polearms. Likewise with dagger and other small weapons you could have a rule where you take 2d6 and take the lowest.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You say Myrmidon, I say Myrmidon

In my interview for RPG Circus and a brief discussion occurred before the show over how to pronounce Wilderlands. My group and I pronounce it Wild-er-land. Many others pronounce it Will-der-lands.

One that we unwittingly mangled for several decades was Myrmidon.

This is how we pronounce the word.


Then Dwayne of Gamer's Closet stumbles over a clip of Achilles addressing his Myrmidons in the movie Troy.

There the work is pronounced


I guess we dropped that middle m and made it rhyme with Paladin.

I hope you find this humorous. Of course your group can pronounce it however you like.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

RPG Circus Season 2 Episode 1

Thanks to Jeff, Mark, and Zach I was a guest on the first episode of 2010. You will hear some gaming stories about the Majestic Wilderlands. In addition they had me stay on for the rest of the program and we some good discussion about RPG Props, and board games that lend themselves to roleplaying. I think my age shows on the last topic. For me the games that I played that were like that were Battletech and to a lesser extent Star Fleet Battle. I had no clue what they were talking about when it came to the new games.

So catch the episode here and enjoy.

And thanks to Jeff, Mark, and Zach for having me on their show.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rolemaster Thoughts for Swords & Wizardry

Zachary at RPG Blog II is creating a series of posts on Rolemaster for 2010. Rolemaster, specifically Arms Law, was first developed as an extension of D&D. His latest post got me thinking on how to apply some of that to Swords & Wizardry and other retro-clones.

The first thing, other than copyright issues, is that as fun the Rolemaster tables are using them or something similar probably not appealing to the majority of old school fans. But following simple rule can capture much of the deadliness that the open ended critical roll gives.

When a natural 20 is rolled the attacker add maximum damage to his normal damage result. If he rolls another 20 he adds double his maximum damage, another 20 triple and so on until he fails to roll a 20.

For example Stump the Dwarf see an elder demon, fearing for his life he throws his battle axe. Rolling to hit he gets a natural 20, he roll again getting another 20, then yet another 20, finally is last roll is a 11. Doing 1d8+1 with his battle axe he does 8+16+24+1d8+1 damage or 45+1d8. Taking a fearsome blow the demon flees.

Like my ritual rule this changes the tone of a D&D game so it may not be for all campaigns. It give a more gritty and deadlier feel to combat. It is considerably less complicated than the rolemaster charts while giving some of the same deadliness. I think it will work better for Swords & Wizardry, both the White Box and the Core edition, with it's lower hit points totals.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

City State Region

While working on Fight On! article I ran into a bit of writer's block and decided to work out what the immediate region around the City-State looked like.

This is the hand drawn map I used for nearly 24 years.

Sometimes in the early nineties I stated out all the settlements in the main campaign area. Below is the data for the above map.

Fief Type Holder Loc. Manors Acres LQ HouseHolds
City-State City Overlord Lucius III City-State 0 0 1.03 4,100
Woe Keep (District Governor) Darkfield 7 17,500 0.98 225
Darkfield Castle
Darkfield 42 105,000 1.00 1,150

Darkfield 20 50,000 1.00 550

So I pulled up the regional template I created for Nho and started drawing away. Coming up with this.

As you can see the Majestic Wilderlands is more packed than the Wilderlands of High Fantasy where civilization exists. Instead of isolated settlements my Majestic Wilderlands is strips of civilization surrounded by wilderness. I find this ideal for my style. There are area dense enough to run the cultural clash plots I like to run a lot but the wilderness with ruins and dungeons is just a hop and a skip away.

City-State is the black square drawn in the middle. It is drawn to scale. The round keep system to the north is Woe. The black road with white going west is the Rorystone Road. The forest to the east is Dearthwood. The black road with white going SE from City-State is the Old South Road. The swamp to the north is the Troll Fens, the Swamp to the south is the Mermist Swamp.

The reason there is a bunch of villages between the swamp and the river is that the string of lakes is where it used to go. It shifted course a couple of decades ago during a series of bad floods forming an isolated district.

A series of chalk hills form the southern boundary of the Troll Fens. The land slopes upwards from the Mermist Swamps forming the hills when it drops suddenly on the Troll Fen (north) side. There are several good sites for mining and quarries which the triangle represent.

This topography also keeps the narrow strip between the large marshes well drained. It also a critical component of the defense of City-State as any army is forced to come straight at the city through a corridor 25 miles wide. Because of the fens and mountains and being at the head of navigation of the Estuary of the Roglaroon City-State is an ideal market for connecting trade between the Winedark Sea to the east and the interior of the Padizan Peninsula to the west.

The reason I created stats for the settlements in the Main Campaign Area is that many players in my campaign wind up owning estates or managing them. The following is a series of rough rules for calculating troop strengths and income.

Campaign Notes

Households average 5 people per.
You would have one knight equivalent per manor that averages 2,500 acres.

A Knight equivalent is 1 knight(hvy cavalry), 1 squire (light cavalry), and 3 footmen (assorted).
60% of Manors offer personal service for 90 days 40% will commute their service by paying a find of 90 gold apiece. If you want to get more complex some will offer more limited service for a fine of 1 gp per day not served.

Because City-State is urban it's figures are calculated a bit differently.
4% of the households are counted as Knights equivalent. For City-State this means 164 knights equivalents. Because City-State is a port this is split between land and naval forces.

Rough Income
If a noble owns a manor then he gets 3 gp per 10 acres plus 10 gp per household per year.
A vassals pays 1/3 of their income to their liege.

The trend in my campaign for the sovereign rulers to convert the feudal levy into money payments.. While called fines the Overlord and the great nobles of City-State prefers that their vassals pay fines rather than personally show up for service. This way they can hire mercenaries that are loyal to them and can serve all year long.

One problem tho is that the City-State nobility is still very much dominated by the ethos of the Tharians which places a premium on personal honor and strength. So the Overlord needs to keep calling on the service of a number of his retainers so that they continue to remain loyal. Luckily with the creation of the marches they owe loyal to him personally not to the great clans.

This is not an issue with the Ghinorians of Dearthmead or the Elessarians of Halnar. Dearthmead is happy to pay fines for most of their obligations in exchange for the Overlord leaving them alone. Because of the threat of the Kingdom of Antil, Halnar is a firm ally of the Overlord. But they rather keep their levies at home on the border with Antil so they are glad to pay the fines instead.

For those of you who went through the Brave Halfling's Ruins of Ramat at the conventions Hex 0106 is where I was placing it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Points of Lights and Majestic Wilderlands

A year ago I wasn't actively pursuing a license from Judges Guild. Then came a series of opportunities to work with Bob Bledsaw Junior and other Judges Guild folks. Out of that came the license agreement that allowed me to create the Majestic Wilderlands.

Prior to this I was working on a Plan B setting that took all the original material I created for the Majestic Wilderlands and used a new geography and new names for everything. Somethings like the City-State would have been recreated as a totally new locale. I started this 3 years ago after the necromancer boxed set was finished. But it kept getting derailed, first by Badabaskor and then by Points of Light. Then came the license which saved a lot of time for me by allowing me to use my notes directly as well as the original maps.

The reason for telling you this is because Points of Light and the Majestic Wilderlands are connected loosely. I plundered the Plan B notes to create the loose background that underlies the settings of Points of Light.

Sarrath is analogous to Set
Delaquain is analogous to Mitra
Veritas and Thoth are likewise drawn from my Majestic Wilderlands although the relationship between the above four gods is original to Points of Light.
The Blood God of Wildlands and Azartac of PoL II are analogous to Kalis.

Of the eights settings in the two PoL books; the Swamps of Acheron is directly taken from my Majestic Wilderlands. The Paladin Artos that is imprisoned in a tomb in the midst of the swamp is the lost Ruling Prince of Nomar. William Enderil (Dwayne of Gamer's Closest) and Draco-lindus (Tim of Gothridge Manor) were responsible for Artos' rescue in one of my campaigns. William Enderil also personally saw that the Boglings were able to escape Acheron and found them a place to live in the Majestic Wilderlands.

The Blood Forest/Twilight Forest/Queen Saravell plot of Southland are taken from the Dearthwood/Loshain plot in the Main Campaign Area of the Majestic Wilderlands.

The Grand Kingdom, Bright Empire, and Ochre Empire are all original to Points of Light.
So for those of you that own both Points of Light and the Majestic Wilderlands hopefully this information is useful in combining the two for use in your own campaign.

As for the fate of the Points of Lights I don't plan on abandoning support in favor of the Majestic Wilderlands. I think there is still much to explore in creating small easy to use settings.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looks like it is inline stats for modules

I appreciate the input given so far. Inline stats with the encounter descriptions still looks to be the be majority choice. Luckily for the Old School Renaissance the stat blocks we use are far more easier to detail with than say d20 or 4e.

As for the MW versus Core quandary, I think the best solution is offer two versions, aka Brave Halfling's Ruins of Ramat, with one version with Majestic Wilderlands stats and other with Core D&D stats. Finally have both set of stat blocks as an appendix in each version. This way if the print buyer changes their mind later they have both at their fingertips. And the get the advantage of Hackmaster style battle sheets for those who like that. With RPGNow PDFs I can just offer both in the same package.

Again thanks for everybody comments.

Modules Stats inline or at the end?

My preferences for stats in modules has been to have a battle sheet at the end of the module that I would tear out or photocopy. But the vast majority of adventures have them in-line with the encounter description. Granted that with retro-clones the stat block are minimal but I am curious what all of you thought about the matter.

This is of interest to me because I would like to have my adventures stated up using the Majestic Wilderlands rules but also have a sheet using just the core rules so that the supplement is not required.

Monday, January 4, 2010

More on Tolkien's Legacy

James at Grognardia has written an interesting post on the professor's legacy here. I would add is that given enough time, enough campaigns, a setting will wind up looking like Middle Earth in terms of organization and detail.

While Middle Earth was never roleplayed by Tolkien, he built Middle Earth piece by piece starting with a few notes on a language and a tale before World War I. The process is detailed in the History of Middle Earth series complied by his son Christopher.

Blackmoor and Greyhawk (the original version) were likewise built up the same way. Starting with a castle and a dungeon the world grew around them piece by piece.

It seems that the best settings are those that grow in this fashion rather than spring full flower from an author's mind. I am still trying to figure out the best way to help people jump start this process without having to go through 30 years of campaigning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Majestic Wilderland Character Sheet

I created a character sheet for the Majestic Wilderlands. It can be downloaded from here. It was inspired by the Basic D&D sheet found on
It designed to be printed double sided producing two sheets; one for a spell using class and the another for non-spell users. The only major difference between this and the other Swords & Wizardry character sheets is that I added a place you can record the ability bonuses of a character.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

To all a Happy New Year and an exciting 2010 for Old School Gaming.

I hope everybody gets a good of a roll as those Gamescience Dice.