Friday, July 30, 2010

Some Random Tables for Swords & Wizardry

Since I started DMing Swords & Wizardry (with Majestic Wilderlands) I been collecting random tables like mad. To make them easier for me to use I been coding them up for NBOS's Inspiration Pro. While Tablesmith is the grand daddy of this type of program I find Inspiration Pro far more flexible to code for.

Among the tables I created I have two I can release now. The first allows you to pick a Dungeon Level and it will roll a random encounter. The second will roll up a random spell book. You can download them both from here. Just unzip and copy into the Generators folder of Inspiration Pro. I keep them in a sub folder called S&W.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alien and Wierd Names for your game

And they are pronounceable too. Probably one of the best random names generators I seen.

The site is here. Just refresh it if you want a new set of names. You will need to scroll down to see the different set of names.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XV

Part XIV

This is the fourteenth in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. Today's post will cover part of the following step.
Pick the 4 or 6 most important Population locales and draw a quarter page sketch map of the settlement.
From Step VIII

0404 Carra (hamlet) Human
On an island in the middle of East Bay is the fishing hamlet of Carra. This hamlet is home to 75 humans living in mud and wattle huts. Conditions here are wretched and these people are among the poorest on the island. The headman of the hamlet, Moran Loder is also the leader of the small Piall thieves’ guild. While he rules Carra with an iron hand severely punishing anybody cooperating with Helmar and his yeoman.

  1. This is the home of Moran Loder the headsmen of Cara and the leader of the small Thieves Guild of Piall Island. He is a ruthless leader many of enemies have disappeared into East bay never to be seen again. His grown son, Dodson, lives in Mikva overseeing his father's interests. Moran is noted for his big ears, few comment about it and survive. About his belt are numerous tally sticks. To outsiders they appear to track what the village catches but in reality they are a record of his criminal empire.
  2. Geran the Marked is the village's boatwright. Unusually he was raised among the dwarves of Southpoint where he learned from an expert woodworker. His skills are put to good use by Moran in the building of boats complete with secret compartments for smuggling. His body is covered with vivid tattoos of scenes and figures from dwarven legend.
  3. Kals the Stench is the village salter and tanner. He also acts as Moran's fence often packing goods to be sold in smelly barrels of cod, and herring.
  4. Orsin is the leader of the largest gang of fishermen in the village. He is also devoutly religious often quoting from the Canticles of Veritas while fishing or acting as Moran's enforcer.
  5. Pog the Crafty is Moran's lieutenant. He is often away from the village dealing with thieves guilds on other islands in the Kingdom and even in the Empire of Po. He also uses these trips to find a way of restoring the magic power he lost when he was a youth. He was not born on Piall and was briefly apprenticed to a mage. In an encounter he doesn't talk about his natural ability was burned away. Chance brought him to Piall and into the service of Moran. He was instrumental in Moran seizing control of Carras and the Piall Thieves Guild 20 years ago. He has little interest in the guild itself.

For Carras I decided to take a similar tack to work I did on the Brotherhood of the Lion and focus on making a memorable cast character to populate the thieves guild of the Isle of Piall. I was helped by the excellent NPC tables from Paizo's Gamemastery Guide I coded them up for Inspiration Pad Pro. This is what I rolled.

Background: Inadvertently saved the life of a future villain
Goal: Solve a murder
Physical: Big ears
Personality: Makes listes and check things off
Secrets: Owes the local moneylender substantial funds
Reward Follow someone for you:

Background: Raised by members of a different race
Goal: Continue to live in family estate despite danger
Physical: Covered in tattos
Personality: Easily angered
Secrets: Knows command word for a magic item
Reward Bury or high something dangerous:

Background: Comes from a long line of tanners
Goal: Become the recipient of a actual miracle
Physical: Homely
Personality: Speaks with great formality; never used contractions and employs bigger words than necessary.
Secrets: Was a very different creature prior to reincarnation
Reward Buy you a small gift:

Goal: Go on a pilgrimage
Physical: Shaved head
Personality: A connosseur of find food and drink who insists on lecturing about it
Secrets: Knows why no on swims in the millpond anymore
Reward Compose a poeon praising your prowess:

Background: Pacticed magic before a traumatizing accident
Goal: Get A good night's sleep
Physical: Glass eye
Personality: Propositions any even remotely attract person encountered but makes panicked excuses should somebody accept the offer.
Secrets: Knows command word for a magic item
Reward Provide shelter:

Note that I don't use all the entries. I just scan them and use what leaps out at me.

When making Sandbox campaign a good set of random tables are invaluable and Paizo's Gamemastery Guide has several that work well in coming up with ideas.

That it for part XV next is Part XVI which will be the final village in this series.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inception: Mini Review

I went and saw this on Sunday. The short of it is that I liked it. It has a bit of everything wrapped up in a whole lot of surrealism. I also liked as it was party film, as in adventuring party. You could see players rolling up those characters and forming that group.

I am not going to give any spoilers away. I didn't have a particularly hard time following the plot even with my hearing loss causing me to loose a sentence here and there. (Hearing aids help but like glasses there are limitations). Just think of levels in a Dungeons that you access by falling asleep and it all make sense. Including, I think, the final sequence.

The only part that struck a wrong note with me was a freefall segment. And it only born of my familiarity with all things space. The basic issue is that while it looked spectacular and utterly seamless the one they got wrong is when the guy positioned himself to do something. In real freefall it is extermly hard and tiring to do anything less you are using anchors like foot rests, arm loops, etc. Imagine you floating along and you grab something to stop. What happens is that your forward motion does indeed stop but your body begins to rotate around your hands. On the ISS the astronauts learns to pivot to slip their feet into an anchor so they can keep their hands free to work.

It is a very minor issue in an otherwise visually stunning sequence. I only bring it up for it's trivia value. Eugene Cernan, Michael Collins, and Richard Gordon on Gemini IX, X, and XI all suffered from this issue until NASA came up with a scheme of foot rests, rails, and arm loops that Buzz Aldrin proved out on Gemini XII.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett has always been one of my favorite historical fiction about the Middle Ages. Set during the Anarchy of King Stephen of England Reign it tells the story of Prior Phillip, Jack Jackson, Aliena, and others centered around the building of a new cathedral as Kingsbridge.

Now it has been made into a mini-series and if you have Netflix or Starz you can view it. I watch the first Episode, and it tracks the story pretty close and the costuming seems spot on for that period of Medieval history. If it has a fault it feels a bit rushed as they omitted some of the initial setup. I suppose they are choosing to focus more on the middle and ending the book.

They filmed it pretty straight. It is not as stylized like Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I will let you know how future episodes go.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

For I dipt into the future....

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;

Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
-Locksley Hall, Tennyson 1842

No particular insight, just liked it. It brings vivid images of Traveller style sci-fi to my mind.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Scourge Preview

The Scourge of the Demon Wolf is both an adventure and a sourcebook. The adventure portion occupies most of the front half and the sourcebook most of the back half. I designed the sourcebook to complement the adventure portion with added details if the referee wants it. Otherwise it can be used a source of locales for your own campaigns if you don't use the Majestic Wilderlands. I do include Majestic Wilderlands abilities and classes in the stat blocks but as you will see you can still easily use them if you don't own the supplement.

It unedited so it is a bit rough.

1) Kensla Green
The festivities, meetings, and trials of the villages are conducted on the grass of Kensla Green. Location A is a natural amphitheatre in the center of which is a large flat stone used by those speaking. Location B is the village stock which is used for a more serious punishment than fines. 10% chance per week of it being occupied. Location C is one of the village’s communal wells. 2d6 persons are found here in the early morning, noon or late afternoon gossiping about what going on around the village.

2) The Broken Keg
This open air tavern is where many of the villager congregate after the day’s work. It is built like a modern day picnic shelter with one side enclosed to protect the kegs of ale and the drinking ware. The Broken Keg gets its name from the broken half of a keg sitting on the wide bar. Visitors and the wealthier villagers are expected to pitch a penny or two into the barrel to pay for restocking the ale. Poorer villagers contribute their labor to repairing the tavern or going on the monthly run to Denison’s Corner to carry back full kegs for restocking. The Beadle Swaefred keeps an eye out for anybody getting drunk on a weekday.

A permanent fixture is Old Hanwald. He is 67 years old and lame in one leg. The Reeve Tomas has placed him in charge of watching the tavern during the day. He has an opinion on everybody and everything. He is noted for sweating a lot when he retells one of his old war stories. If he takes a liking to one of the characters he will confide with them where they can find the best fishing spot on Artane Stream. (It’s a mile upstream to the southwest). If the players succeed in killing the Demon Wolf they become part of his rotation of stories (sweating and all).

3) Manor House
This is the home of the Bailiff of Kensla. Due the death of Sir Anson Jerol it is currently unoccupied. Sisara, the wife of Sir Anson, has left with her children two weeks ago to be with her family in Goodnap. Currently Ocberht, his wife Beburh, and their three children tend the Manor House. Ocberht’s family have been servants of the manor for the last three generations.

When Ocberht was young he ran away to fight in the war between Nomar and the Skandians. He returned after four years and doesn’t speak of the experience. However he developed a habit of excessive blinking that is unnerving to watch. He takes great pride in keeping the manor well repaired and guests well cared for.
Visitors on good terms with the Reeve and the villagers will be offered lodging in the great hall of the manor.

4) Village Reeve
This is the home of the Reeve Tomas, his wife Fara, and their five children. Their eldest son, Hobert is currently in the service of the Baron’s Guard at Westtower. Tomas became the Reeve, seven years ago and is noted for his leadership ability. Unknown to the villager and his wife is that he is the bastard brother of Sir Crosin of Ardale. When Tomas came of age, Crosin’s mother forced him to leave Ardale. However, Tomas’ father put in a good word with the baron which helped secure his election as Reeve several years later. He tries to keep his knowledge of courtly manner to himself.
Tomas, Village Reeve; AC 9[10]; 4th level Craftsman; HP 4; HTB +0; ATK 1 DMG 1d4; MV 120’; Save: 17; ABL; Profession(Farming): +5, Posses: Dagger, Pitchfork, 5d.

5) Tanner
Beorn was always the weakling and was made the butt of jokes by the village kids. But fortuitous friends with the old tanner led to an apprentice. When the old tanner died without an heir Beorn inherited the franchise. Beorn is now the wealthiest villager in Kenslas. He has a lucrative trade in vellum, and parchment which fetches high prices in City-State. He is noted for his exaggerated politeness accompanied by elaborate bows. He generally supports Tomas. The tannery is located well to the north of the village with the winds carrying the smell over the North fields.

6) Yeoman (Archer)
Inghelm lives here with his wife Aebba, his adult son Cermund, 18, and a younger daughter. Inghelm was a squire in the service of a knight. However he was disgraced and was forced to leave. He wandered for a few years serving in various guards and militia until he was able secure a freehold in Kensla. Now his biggest desire is that Cermund become a squire. If he thinks a character can do this he will invite them to dinner to make his case. Despite being a skilled fighter Cermund is indifferent to the idea, being more concerned with the village girls. He was very loyal to Sir Anson Jerol, the former Baliff, and desires revenge against his killer. He will support the Elder Anselm cries of vengeance.
Inghelm, Yeoman; AC 8[11]; 1st level Soldier; HP 5; HTB +0; ATK 2 DMG 1d6; MV 120’; Save: 17;, Posses: Long Bow (70 ft), Shortsword (1d6), Dagger (1d4), Quilt Armor, 13d.

Cermund, Yeoman; AC 9[10]; 1st level Fighter; HP 6; HTB +0; ATK 2 DMG 1d6; MV 120’; Save: 17;, Posses: Long Bow (70 ft), Shortsword (1d6), Dagger (1d4), 3d.
7) Smithy
Hegist is the village smith. A big man with a jolly face he well liked by nearly everybody and is a favorite of the village children. If he some scrap iron he will take the time to forge some small toys or trinkets and give them out to be played with. He also noted for being the hairiest man in the village. He lives here with his wife Gwen, and five children.

His eldest, Ingnar is a bit of a rake whose troubles causes Hegist rare bad moods. When this happens Hegist goes down to the Broken Keg and drinks himself into a stupor. Hegist doesn’t like politics and goes along with the majority of the village. Ingvar hangs out with his gang and goes along whatever looks to be fun or the least work.
Hegist, Village Smith; AC 9[10]; 5th level Craftsman; HP 6; HTB +0; ATK 1 DMG 1d8+1; MV 120’; Save: 17; ABL; Profession(Blacksmith): +6, Posses: Warhammer, 20d.

Ingnar; AC 7[12]; 1st level Thug; HP 4; HTB +0, ATK 1 DMG 1d6; MV 120’; Save 15; ABL: Athletics +1, Area Know +1, Intimidation +1, Locution +1 Possession, Leather, Club (1d6) 6d.
One thing that has been helping is Harn Manor and the NPC chapter from Paizo's Gamemastery Guide. I use Harn's village generation table and Paizo's NPC tables a idea generator for the individual entires.

I find that I have a dozen or so good ideas for a locale but when I need more I need a little jog to my imagination. Often what comes out is unexpected and causes the place to be more interesting than it otherwise would be.

For a map of the village see this post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Some good tips on writing up a Sandbox.

Alexander Macris of Escapist has a good article and tips on writing up a sandbox setting. You can find it here. It part of his Column, Check for Traps, and one of a series on world building.

Also Escapist has several columns devoted including one that James of Grognardia contributes too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Realistic (and gamable) Space Travel

The biggest thing that I learned from Orbiter Space Simulator was how to accurately represent space travel realistically in a RPG.

The two key terms you need to know it delta-vee and time.

This represent a change in velocity. For example to get into orbit you need to have enough fuel and thrust to go from zero to 7.8 km/sec. Sure if you doing it for real you have to have the right ascent trajectory so that when you hit the 7.8 km/sec mark everything is right to have a stable orbit. But for gaming all you care about is whether the character makes his piloting roll (or navigation depending on the system) and whether there is enough Delta-Vee to make that change in velocity.

All space maneuvers have a cost in delta-vee. So if you rate your fuel in delta-vee (instead of liters or kg) then you know how many of these maneuvers you can make. So if you on the moon of Alpha Leonis and want to goto Alpha Leonis. It may take a DV of 2.7 km/s to get into lunar orbit. Another 1.5 km/s to a trans-lunar trajectory to get to Alpha Leonis, and then a 3.5 km/s maneuver to achieve stable orbit around Alpha Leonis. So if you have fuel with a total of 7.7 km/s Delta-Vee in it then you have enough to make it the trip.

Many Sci-fi systems have antigrav or some other superscience means of propulsion. In this case the limiting factor is time not fuel. In that you can only change your delta-vee by so much in X time. Normally this isn't a factor but if you are trying to catch someone that trying to escape that in a different orbital plane then it becomes critical.* Or if you coming in hot and trying to make a stable orbit in 2 minutes you may finding that you wished that you bought that 6G maneuver drive back on Efate.

*Changing the plane of your orbiter (the degree it is tilted to the planet's equator) requires 10 times the amount of delta-vee then simply raising and lower your orbit's altitude. This is why when there are mission to other planets or the ISS there is a window for the launch time. Mission Control is waiting for the orbital plane of the target to cross the launch site. Generally there is a couple of minute leeway on both sides. But the further you are off the more fuel (or time) it will take.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The best of quote of the evening

This time I am the culprit with the best quote of my Monday Swords & Wizardry game.
It moves to the side and squeezes its balls.
I am sure many are familiar with this particular giant crab.

Believe me that was not what I intended to say.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Orbiter Space Simulator 2010

I have another hobby (currently moribund while I work on publishing stuff) that involves programming add-ons for the Orbiter Space Simulator. This is not a game persay but rather a simulator similar to Microsoft Flight Simulator.

It can be used by people of different skill level and interests. The trick is that many of the default vessels are semi-realistic in that they are way overpowered compared to what we can really build. So they are lot more forgiving for novices getting the hang of orbiting and travelling in space. A realistic Space Shuttle is included as well as an orbiting International Space Station.

There are huge variety of add-ons at the Orbiter Hangar from my ultra realistic Mercury and Gemni to the fanciful. Note that Orbiter 2010 just has been released and many of the add-ons, my own included run better on the previous version Orbiter 2006. It still avaliable for download.

Best of all it all free.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Does mapping has to be boring? Nah!

Jason Sholtis is a local artist (NW PA) that along with his friend John Larrey did the illustration. Late in the project Jason came up with some ideas that I went with. Instead of adding more money to the contract we decided to do a trade; maps for art.

I met Jason and John at a convention held in Erie. There he was running a module set in the The Unfathomable Underworld. The adventure was a bit of a funhouse and very well done. There were one eyed dinosaurs, fungus men, and I think a city in miniature (correct me on this). Definitely Jeff Rients style of gonzo with a touch of Cthulu creepy crawlies.

Well it turns out Jason is publishing this in the next issue of Knockspell. So as part of the trade I did his map. Now his original was pretty good but it was pretty large being drawn to battlemat scale of 1" per square. Normally I do everything on a map but there was just some things that had to come over from the original so Jason drew up some of the "bits" that I placed on the maps. A dead giant, a tyrannoclops. and so on. It worked out pretty well.

In the finishing up process I created a master legend. I thought this module needed something extra. This adventure didn't need the usual legend.

Here is a sample of the map you will see in Knockspell.

Enjoy and remember mapping doesn't need to be boring.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Holy Cow I made the ballot of the Ennies.

Thanks to everybody who voted me into the ballot for best publisher for the Ennies. Especially to my friend Tim of Gothridge Manor who seem to got the ball rolling.

Be sure to vote for James Raggi's Grinding Gear for Best Adventure. And also give consideration to

Goblinoid Games, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Mythmere Games, and Pied Piper Publishing while voting for best publisher.

Again thanks folks. I plan on having the Majestic Wilderlands and some other products in next year Ennies. So next time you have more to vote on.

From the Attic: IUP Gaming Society.

Back in the late 80s I was one of the founders of the IUP Gaming Society. Our bread and butter for fundraising was running Battletech tournaments. The main advantage of the society was reserving rooms in the Student Union building which was easy for organizations not so easy for individuals. I believe most of our funds went into prizes for tourneys. I am not sure if we tried building a game library. There are some real impractical issues with maintaining a communal stock of games.

This was taken back in 1988 or 1989. I am in the lower right corner. Since then I told my barber to shear the hair off the top of my head.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Princes of the Brotherhood of the Lion

The Brotherhood of the Lion is the formal name of the thieves guild of the City State of the Invincible Overlord. It originated among rebel Ghinorians after the Tharian Overlords took control of City State over a hundred years ago. Since then their ideals of liberation has turned to thoughts involving Mammon instead of Mitra.

In the mid 90s I ran a slew of what I call them campaigns. Basically everybody played a member of a group or organization in the Majestic Wilderlands. In this campaign everybody played a member of the Brotherhood of the Lion. Because Dwayne of Gamer's Closet insisted on playing a mage the idea of foggers was born which evolved into the Mountebanks of Supplement VI Majestic Wilderlands.

These campaign required details of the organization which fed as background into later campaigns. Because the campaign was effectively a playtest involving players the result was something better then if I created it as mere background for an adventure.

While cleaning up I found a notebook detailing the Princes of the Brotherhood. The ruler of Ghinorian Realms were known as Princes; the Brotherhood being what it is co-opted the title for their own use to designated the bosses of bosses.

Like most of the stuff I did with the Majestic Wilderlands I didn't throw away Mr. Bledsaw work and incorporated what he wrote about the thieves guild into my version.

Kaflatela "Hound of Death" Grand Prince
  • can be found at the Guildhouse in the Dagger's Noose (a tavern that acted as the front)
  • fighting style is like Slice. (Slice Handler was a fighter ran by Tim of Gothridge Manor who was noted for using daggers ... lots and lots of daggers.)
  • very fond of dogs
Krevos the Successor
  • My immediate boss. (I guess I meant the player's both specifically Tim's character Dane)
  • can be found at the Pleasure Dome or the Singing Skald
  • Hiristimiles is his mage. (A high level Montebank)
Andrid the Pilferer
  • a true noble
  • can be found at the Wild Flail Inn or the Bath of Blissful Paradise
Zorm the Gristle Dome
  • can be found at the Water dog flop house
  • deals with children criminals and general low life
Vainak the Thief
  • can be found at the She-Devil Tavern or the Happy Harpy
  • likes to have woman dominate him
  • collector for the Brotherhood
Fassith the Tight Lipped
  • can be found at the Goblin Reservation
  • pockfaced and greasy
  • harem of goblin females
  • known to betray friends for favors
  • only known friend is Slevyous
Slevyous the Scoundrel
  • scarfaced and one eyed
  • can be found at the Silver Eel Inn
  • a slaver
  • always has a slave girl and crippled slave boy with him
  • beats the slave boy in public
  • mysterious (yeah a bit terse but this was the one prince that the players never messed around with)
  • has a falcon named Banshee. Trained to attack
  • newest Prince, won the title by bloody battles with his predecessor.
  • can be found at the Dragon Head Inn (formally the Red Pearl Inn). (Shadowhawk was a minor part of a previous campaign involving Tim and Dwayne character's Draco-lindus and William Enderil. They may a tacit alliance with Shadowhawk and allowed him to use their tavern).
Blue Dolphin Gang (Out of the Blue Dolphin Inn)
Red Axe Gang (out of the Red Axe Inn)

You can see a pdf of the original notes here. And read more of the Brotherhood here. And for those new to my blog I have a long standing website with a variety of Majestic Wilderlands information here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Arggh! Technology Advances

Just after I was wowed by the iPad, Amazon comes out with a better and cheaper DX.

You can read about it here.

It will be a couple of months before I can save enough to buy either one so I guess I will see where things stand then.

One thing I forgot is that there is a iPad app for reading your Kindle Books so I won't lose anything by switching. In fact if it anything like my Kindle for the PC the books illos will automatically be of better quality.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The best quote of the evening

Tim of Gothridge Manor had the best quote of my Monday Swords & Wizardry night game.
Anybody can kill innocents with a fireball.
It takes style to kill them with Giant Beavers.

The Old School Renaissance is a mess!

The OSR is messed up.


It means that the freedom of the Open Gaming License is working. There no gatekeeper, no one publisher that authors are beholden to do the stuff they want to do. You get good stuff, and you get crap. You get nice folks and well... not so nice folks. Older authors get a second chance to make things their way, new authors get a chance to make things.

It is a glorious mess and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

iPad, Kindle, and Gaming

No I didn't buy one (yet). But I got to play with one extensively yesterday with the wireless turned on.

The short of it it is amazing. Particularly for multimedia content, pictures, pdfs, and movies. As a computer it is so-so Apple (and Jobs) are too obsessed with created a walled garden for the iPad be outstanding as a computer. But with the multimedia stuff the future is now.

I was able to open up full color PDFs and effortlessly read them zoom in an out at will. Even with the full page filling the screen it was readable for the most part. Images were great, I was able to open up some of my maps and be able zoom in and scroll around in full glorious color. The Safari web browser was pretty good. I liked how it handled multiple web pages. You can hit a icon on the top and a screen opens with multiple pages that you viewed. You can create a new slot and fill it with a page or just touch one of the other pages and immediately go to it. Very nice indeed.

With the right applications the iPad can be a killer device for gaming. The key is to use the touch interface to have multiple stuff loaded and be able to switch effortlessly between them.

Like the Kindle in the beginning the price is too high to be of general use but it will drop. When it get under $200 I predict it will start picking up steam.

I also got a look at the Kindle 2 last week and it is improved over the first version I have. The increased number of grays it can display really helps. Plus it can show PDFs natively and has the ability to switch orientation when you rotate the display. Plus certainly the price is way better now with it being at $189. Barnes & Noble Nook is even lower at $149.

All of this happening a little faster than I thought instead of 10 years I will go with the prediction that within 5 years we will see devices that will make a major change in how we buy and consume gaming products. For example for D&D 4e fans imagine a setup that now only has your three books loaded but also had the entirely of DDI loaded as well. And it displays like a regular character sheet.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy: Monsters 1

Sean Punch, SJ Games GURPS line editor drops the title in his weekly GURPS Update here. All I got to say it is about time and looking forward to it when it is released.

GURPS: Social Engineering mmmmmm.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stormbringer returns!

Over on RPGNow Mongoose has released several Classic Moorcock products including 1e Stormbringer and 4e Elric! in PDF. You can check it out here.

While I never used Stormbringer myself I always enjoyed reading the books. Like other Chaosium RPGs of the time it is based on Basic Roleplaying. Also from what I heard let's hope they release the Corum supplement as supposedly it makes for a kick ass general Swords & Sorcery RPG once stripped off it's setting specific elements.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Well it only took 25 years

My monday night campaign is set in the Viridistan, the city-state of the World Emperor. A big problem is that I can look on the map and find the entry in the text, I can't do the reverse. Look in the text and find the place on the map. You need both to do an effective city campaign.

I kinda of started it back in the 80's and now 25 years later I completed it. Should make things go much smoother monday nights.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Points of Light Ad

My newer readers may not know that I am the co-author of Points of Light I and Points of Light II: The Sunrise Sea. Dwayne of Gamer's Closet, myself, and with more than a little help from Tim of Gothridge Manor produced two supplements for any edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game.

The both consist of four mini-settings. Regions roughly 125 by 95 miles. They are presented as hex maps with a list of locales keyed by hex number. The idea that the regions are small enough to be dropped into just about any fantasy campaign. Also a light background is provided so that those who want to can tie them together into a larger campaign setting.

Points of Light
Wildland: The fall of the Bright Empire left warring factions in its wake. As savage barbarians and wicked humanoids roam the land, the last bastions of civilization cower behind their crumbling city walls. A dark age has come, and none may live to tell the tale.

Southland: On the frontiers of the Great Kingdom, the nations of men, elves and dwarves join together against the wicked elves of Nighportal Keep and the Orcs of the Bloody Fist. A realm is yours for the taking, if you can carve it from the wilderness.

Borderland: Two factions clash over war-torn fields, battling for dominance in a civil war that that has torn a once-mighty empire in two. When brother strives against brother, and blood runs in the streets, who will emerge to unify the broken land -- and at what cost, peace?

The Swamps of Acheron: In the Outer Planes, amid fetid swamplands and ice-choked mountains, the fell god Sarrath holds court. In a realm where gods stalk the earth, will you dare to take a stand, or will you succumb to evil's siren song and take up the Serpent Banner?

Points of Light II: The Sunrise Sea
The Golden Shores: A land in the midst of being colonized, where adventurers can encounter unknown cultures, old enemies, and battle a darkness that has haunted the land for millennia.

Amacui: A frontier land with only a single trading post representing the civilized world, but there are many ruins to explore and new civilizations to discover.

The Misty Isle: The greatest threat to exploration is not the natives or ‘things man is not meant to know,’ but enemies from the old world. Here in the Misty Isles, enemies from different realms and factions fight amid the jungles and islands.

Mazatl, the Realm of the Bat God: Rising from the vast Jungles of Zaracar is a massive shield volcano. Here the blood god, Azartac, lives in the city of Mazatl in the volcano’s caldera.

As for a Points of Light III, IV, etc? I can't really get into details but the good news is that the settings are still owned by me. So I will be able to continue the series under a different name in the future. But there is a bunch of other stuff in the queue first.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Solving the mystery of the dead orc

If you show me a dead orc all I can tell you that it is a orc and that it is dead. If you tell me that you found it in the middle of a cave then I can say it is adventurer's kill, if you said that it was found in a hill giant's kitchen then I would say it was a meal. What I am talking about is context. By looking at the context, the story of what happened can be told. The difference between an adventurer's kill and a meal.

The same with building strongholds. If all you go by are the rules, then folks are crunching numbers, with some adventures as they clear out the region hex by hex. Boring to some. However add culture and religion into the campaign then building strongholds becomes something more. The interactions between the different cultures, religions, and the players will generate conflict, conflict means adventures; epic adventures.

The addition of culture, and religion provides the context to make the building of the stronghold meaningful. If this is part of your campaign from the beginning then by the time that players are building their strongholds then they are invested in one or more of the factions that make up the various cultures and religions of your setting. They will have ready made reasons for building that stronghold, and to expand it.

And you don't need much either. You don't need to write the equivalent of the Similarrion and the Appendixes to the Return of the King. What important that you write down the right ideas, the ones that lead to conflict, the ones that lead to adventures. And add enough to make the proceeding stuff make sense so that the player can connect the dots on their own without you having to spoon feed them.

At low level, adding this stuff allows you to give treasures other than gold and magic items. The favor of the king can be just as useful as the +1 sword found in the dungeon. It makes your hireling and henchmens more interesting by giving details about their background.

If you not interested in culture and religion then building strongholds will be boring as hell. Better to come up with a different endgame like tripping out to the planes.

This post was prompt by this thread on Knight-n-Knaves.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Imagining the hell out of the Majestic Wilderlands

James at Grognardia has a great post on creativity and worldbuilding. In he relates a story about M.A.R. Barker the creator of Tekumal. Basically James got to talk to him and was relating the story of one the NPCs that James created for his campaign. The good professor surprises him by going "Oh I know this fellow" and supplies additional details that eerily fits well with James own ideas.

This is not unfamiliar to me in regards to the Majestic Wilderlands. The trick, for me, is to use fantastic realism. Aside from a few fantastic premises the foundations of the Majestic Wilderlands are the same as our history. Around 1990 or so the foundation of the Majestic Wilderlands came together pretty much in it's present form. From the premises I extrapolated everything else.

Of course it didn't came to me all at once. However what happened that from time to time I ran into an idea that that just seemed Majestic Wilderlandish. And so I incorporated it, adapting the idea to the specific circumstances of my setting. What make something Wilderlandish for me was whether it followed from the premises I laid out for the setting. The reast of the stuff mainly consisted reading a lot about history including trying to dig into how people thought and acted in various ages.

Also of equal importance was my players. The vast majority (including the current bunch) are good roleplayers and their actions and reactions helped to add many details to the setting. Even used some situations in various live-action events I ran (modified for the setting that the NERO Larp Chapter used). The results of that were interesting to say the least.

As remarkable as M.A.R Barker's genius is, it rests on a foundation that any of you can learn and adapt for your own setting. So while initially it may seem mysterious with a little time you can be spinning detailed tales of your own NPCs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mixing it up with Classes

This blog post on Gothridge Manor about taking abilities from other classes has turned into a nice little discussion and includes some tidbits by me on the Majestic Wilderlands campaign especially the magic system.