Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Fate (rpg) of the Majestic Wilderlands)

I just ran a Fate one-off. I used an adventure created for the Majestic Wilderlands and the character were created with a quasi medieval fantasy world in mind.

High Concept: Bounty Hunter
Failed Merchant left debt
Ladies Man
Big Spender

+4 Fight
+4 Fight
+3 Athletics~ Physique
+2 Contacts ~ Investigate~ Notice
+1 Empathy  ~ Rapport    ~ Stealth~ Will

Because I'm tough as nails I get a +2 advantage when fighting with my sword

Because I have a Magic ring goblins tend to trust me.

Wizard College Dropout
I can do that if I wanted to I just don't Care
I think I can figure this out.
Never without a Map
This is just like that game I played when I was young

Will +4
Lore +3 Fight +3
Stealth +2 Athletics +2 Deceive +2
Contacts Empathy Notice Provoke +1

Because I have an elven cloak, I get a +2 when I gain an advantage by hiding
when I'm in a natural environment

Because I accidentally summoned something, once per game I can teleport to a place of the creatures choosing.

My impression is that for a one off adventure Fate is mediocre. Those who have read my Scourge of Demon Wolf know that while I have opportunities for combat and treasure the adventure itself revolves round roleplaying with NPCs and this was no exception.

It involved the rescue of a kidnapped Baron's daughter by a coven of warlocks. Involves the party entering the warlocks three level cliff side dwelling. Inside there are slaves, visiting orc chieftain, a pair of summoned captive demons, a talking dragon skull, the warlocks, and a bunch of captured children.

The magic system was basically using the Lore skills to perform one of the four basic Fate actions with the condition that anything beyond a single target or a single area would be very difficult to accomplish. Other than the I encouraged the mage character to make up his spells.

Combat was relatively quick one of the faster method of resolving combat I have used. The make up your own spells didn't get out of hand. The use of aspects and stunts was constrained by the pool of fate points. For this game the characters had 3 fate points.

Unfortunately there wasn't a lot of opportunities to earn fate points. In the post game discussion it was agree that we could have tried but it would been forced and probably some thing that was silly and very improbable.

We all felt that Fate was better suited for a regular campaign than a one off adventure. That if we to use Fate 'as is' we would flesh out a lot of things especially the magic system. As it was it felt like to much like metagaming. We plan to look at Legend of Angleterre and see how that holds up.

We all liked the use of Fudge Dice and how it added on top of a skill. How opposed rolls were handled. I mention that I am in the midst of making a rule system using Fudge as the foundation.  We also talked about the Fate jargon that littered the rule book.

I am still leaning more towards Fudge and a traditional approach but I am glad I got to run a Fate session.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So what did you download?

Two days ago I organized all the files I posted to blog in one handy list that you can get to by clicking Stuff in the Attic above.

I got a fair amount of hits and it is interesting to see what people were grabbing.

The top ten Letterman style

#10 Ruin Generate
25 you were brave enough to download the source code my Ruin Generate program. It is the raw project although there is some complied EXEs embedded in it.

#9 OSR Primer
28 of you downloaded the OSR Primer a short (shorter than my post yesterday) foldable overview of the OSR hobby. For the record this is what I would use or say if I trying to get somebody to PLAY as opposed to telling what you need to do run a older DnD game.

#8 ADnD Treasure Types
29 of you downloaded ADnD Treasure Types. Normally deep analysis of the mechanics doesn't interest me but it was nice to see that there was a little bit of a pattern to how ODnD and ADnD Treasure Types were allocated.

#6 tie Magic Item Price List
32 of downloaded Magic Item price list. You heathens! How dare you have magic shops in your campaign! In all seriousness I am in the magic shop category mysself and I recognized the ability to buy magic items is one of those big divides from the earliest days of the hobby.

#6 tie  Elf Lord's Temple
32 Good to see one of my rough adventure getting a lot of downloads. This adventure has been well received whenever I run it. One thing I didn't mention is that the map I drew for this dates back 30 years. I have a computation book (not composition) which is a big huge durable book of graph paper used mostly by engineers and scientists. They are expensive but boy they last a long time. As far as I am concerned it is the gold standard of graph paper. The only thing that rivals it is a poster size sheet of 1/4" or 1/5" graph paper.

#5 Hill Fort Battle Map
Interesting that 33 of you downloaded this but only 25 downloaded the Hill Fort Adventure. Miniatures is another of those big divides that stems from the beginning of the hobby. For the record I am also a heavy user of miniatures even in my ODnD games. Dang, magic shops and miniatures I must gunning for being a serious old school heretic ;-)

#4 Magic Wilderlands Price List
40 of you downloaded this. Interesting that only 14 grabbed the short list. A couple of notes on this. First this and the magic creation costs are designed to be printed as a booklet. I recommend Adobe Reader for this. Second if you have people roll up characters for a convention game use the short list if all possible otherwise they will get lost especially when looking for dungeon equipment.

#2 tie Fantasy Demographics
46 of you downloaded this. Nice to see some interest in this. I have found that S John Ross method is about the easiest AND logical method of rolling up the shops in a village. Other methods may be slightly easier but they produce too many weird results. Weird is OK but in moderation. Also 23 of you downloaded the Paris Tax Roll. Way to go and make sure youbust those scofflaws holding out on the king!

#2 tie Adventure Handout (Traveller)
46 of you downloaded this campaign start handout for Traveller. I will look at my original files and see if I can make something editable so it is easy to replace the last section with the particulars of your campaign.

and the #1 download is.....

Friday, September 20, 2013

D&D Next Final Playtest Packet is up.

You can download it from here.

I plan to read it through and will post my thoughts.

The Greyhawk Grognard is concerned about the lack of news on third party license. My feeling is that if Wizards pushes the reuse of older adventures and older styles with D&D Next then it will be a non-issue. Yes it would be nice to have an official stamp. But I think DCC RPG, Castles & Crusades and the diversity of OSR RPGs shows that the difference is a matter of inches and everybody is plundering everybody else material for their campaigns.

To flip it around, Paizo and their Pathfinder line is about as open of a game line as they come however much of has gained little traction among the OSR. Not because they don't produce good stuff of excellent quality but more because the type of game they are aiming doesn't mesh well with what the OSR does. Most of the useful stuff for the OSR they produce are their accessory products like Chase Cards, battle mats, etc.

The take away what going to matter is not the open license but that how Wizards presents their game. Don't get me wrong I would like to see both. Wizards having a nice third party publishing program AND publishes adventures that dovetails nicely with the variety of material the OSR produces. However of the two I think the latter is more important.

Onto the playtest documents and let see if we can clear the tea leaves up a bit.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Explaining the OSR to a novice

How I would explain the whole mess to a person knowing little of the OSR or even tabletop roleplaying games.

The OSR has several games where you can attempt anything that your character can do using mechanics that are simple to play and to setup yet have enough detail for many sessions of play.

Unlike computer games or board games these OSR games, like all tabletop roleplaying games, feature the ability for the player to attempt anything that their character can do within the setting. With their actions adjudicated by a human referee who uses the player's input, the rules and his adventure notes to make his ruling.

Most RPGs released by the OSR community revolve around the fantasy genre. They feature mechanics that have been played and supported since the release of the first roleplaying game in the mid 70s.

Most fantasy OSR games defines characters in terms of six attributes, a class defining that character's profession, and their equipment both mundane and magical. Characters are quickly generated with many folks ready in 15 to 30 minutes.

For the novice referee the most straight forward setup is to draw a small town with a few shops. Then just outside of the town in a out of the way place place a dungeon. The dungeon consists of a maze with rooms. The rooms are either occupied by monsters, have traps, have treasures, something unusual, or any combination of the proceeding. It is recommended that you have a few empty rooms or long passageway to spread out the occupied areas.

A dungeon can be setup "realistically" with various rooms occupied logically by those who inhabit that area. It could be setup as funhouse where anything and everything can be found in the various rooms. Often justified as the work of a mad archmage or wizard. Or any combination between.

Dungeons are organized into levels where the deeper you go the more difficult the creatures, and traps are. But the treasure is also correspondingly more rewarding. Within each levels you can have areas of related inhabitants. You can also setup these areas as competing factions for the players to learn about and take advantage of.

The prime role of the players during the game is to act as if their character sare really there. To listen to your description, respond to your NPCs, and act accordingly. Some players will act out a different personae while other will essentially be "themselves". Either method or anything between will work the only requirement is to interact with the setting you created as if they are there.

The various fantasy games produced by OSR support this mode of play very well due to the legacy of the mechanics they inherited from the first roleplaying game ever made. However the dungeon is not the only type of adventure possible with these game. The mechanics are flexible enough to support just about any type of adventure you can imagine those character are capable of doing.

There is a wealth of supplements and adventures to draw on for when your time or imagination is in short supply. Also many of these products expand the type of possible characters and give further support to specific types of adventures.

Many of these products are free both in terms of cost and creativity. Much of the OSR is bluit on the ideals of open gaming where the only thing asked of folks using their materials is to in return share what they created under the same term. This is regardless whether the work is just for fun, non-commercial, or commercial.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Attic is organized! Useful files and utilities for GURPS and classic editions of DnD

I added a page to my blog that organizes all the downloads I have made available over the years. I hope this doesn't crush my website.

Stuff in the Attic.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bat in the Attic website back up

When you sign up with a website provider they give you a link to point your domain at so that the Internet can find your hosted content. Well my provider changed it and I missed the notice. But I got it straightened out and the Bat in the Attic website is back up. While the site itself is pretty basic, little more than a brochure to my products, it was an important driver to my stores on Lulu and RPGNow. A fact driven home by the drop in sales over the past month.

Just as important is the restoration of access to the variety of useful files I posted.

And my long time collection of GURPS Wilderlands notes.

Friday, September 13, 2013

So D100 (Runequest, Legend,BRP) or Fudge/Fate?

I have two issues with GURPS first is the comparative lack of ready made content and second the comparative lack of a third party publishing program. Now to be clear about this I inserted the work comparative because GURPS does have ready made material, and does work with third parties. The problem is that for both those areas alternatives are not just easier to work with they are a lot easier to work with. 

So why D100 and Fudge? Because both are skill based systems with options for detailed combat, and featured extensive character customization. Well suited for how I run my campaigns. Both have open license that I can choose to take advantage of. And both have a sizable audience as far as RPGs goes.

This this the way I feel about the two at the moment and note I haven't had the opportunity to put these two games to the test.

Basic Roleplaying, Runequest 6, Legend, and OpenQuest are all close relatives. All feature a large library of creatures, NPCs, magic, and items. The work is coming up with religions/cults that fit my Majestic Wilderlands along with deciding which of the myriad options for magic to use.

This is a system with a growing audience. The game simple mechanic allows for a large range of results at various level of details. Like GURPS it primarily a toolkit to make your own game. And it a lot closer to how GURPS work than D100 is. Which makes sense given the origins of the game and its initial community. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to deal with another toolkit RPG after my years with GURPS and Hero System. 

But as I collected material and kept at reading and rereading the rules I am impressed with how it all hangs together. Compared to D100 I have to put a lot more work implementing it for my Majestic Wilderlands. If I use it the result would be game more "crunchy" then how most people I read play Fate or Fudge. And will it probably be more Fudge than Fate.

Open Gaming
In Fudge Dice terms both are +0 to each other. How much more open can you get with Legends or OpenQuest? With Legends it doesn't stop with the core rulebook either. The Fudge and Fate SRD are available as well as a lot of third party products with varying degrees of open licenses.

Ah hell I just might work with both given time. So what your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reading the Tea Leaves: D&D Next Sept 2013

Reading it and playing it a little, DnD Next comes across as yet another variant of classic D&D. Something you would expect from a D20/OSR publisher. While that may seem like faint praise I think that is a good thing after the debacle of 4th edition.

Because of that they may just have a shot of regaining their market lead versus Pathfinder. Not because the system is more innovative, etc. Because rather they seem to be focused on making a system that is as quick to setup and play as classic DnD but with new school options. By and large they I feel they succeeded with that in the playtest.

However this same focus means that the rules themselves really doesn't have any more (or less) to offer than any other variant of classic D&D. It not worse nor it is better.

It will make a big difference in going against Pathfinder. Again with the 4th edition debacle in mind they will probably take a soft line with this and it will come out more in the reviews and actual play reports. In addition there is a good chance that supplemental products (adventures, settings) will be far more useful than d20/Pathfinder products. You can see this by their consistent use of restating older modules for use in the playtest. A good test of the above goals.

What unknown is the presentation of the rules, adventures, supplements, and settings. If there going to a major problem it will be here. There was nothing about the design of 4e that required to be a 24/7 High Fantasy RPG focused on combat scenarios. But because Wizards chose to present it that way for much of its product life it condemned DnD 4e to be a one note RPG.

I am awaiting to see what kind of third party program they come out with. If it something that I can work this then I will be more active in playing the game and following what they do. If it is not then I wish them the best luck and hope that the supplements will be useful enough for me to buy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fate Fudge Dice are in!

Fate is a popular system to use for many RPGs. It part of the Fudge family of RPGs and developed a large following of its own. Recently it has concluded several kickstarters, a new Fate Core, and Fate dice (which are perfectly suited for Fudge as well).

Fudge/Fate is one of those system that always in my "I will get around it" bin. So the price was good on the kickstarter so I got in for a single pack of three sets of dice.

That one barrier down to running a Fudge/Fate game as I have extra sets to for players to use.

The following picture shows the dice I got alongside a white set of Fudge dice I had since the late 90s.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Random ODnD treasures

Five randomly rolled ODnD treasure hordes for each type. I wrote a random generator when I did the Wild North for Fight On! Magazine.

For a breakdown of what monsters gets what (original booklets only) look at this post.

6,000 CP; 6,000 GP; 
10,000 GP; Gems: 4 x 50 GP; 15 x 100 GP; 2 x 500 GP; 
Jewels: 1 x 600; 1 x 800; 1 x 900; 5 x 1,000; 1 x 1,400; 1 x 2,000; 3 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 2 x 6,000; 1 x 7,000; 1 x 9,000; 1 x 10,000; 
9,000 GP; Map To (40,000 SP; 15 GP; Gems: 6 x 10 GP; 8 x 50 GP; 34 x 100 GP; 12 x 500 GP; Jewels: 2 x 1,000; 1 x 1,300; 3 x 2,000; 1 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 1 x 9,000); Map To (20,000 SP); Cursed Scroll, Transported to another planet)); Shield +1
Lawful Sword +1; Lawful Sword +2, Drain Life; Scroll of 2 Wizard Spells

A (Water)
Jewels: 1 x 1,000; 1 x 1,300; 2 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 3 x 6,000; 1 x 9,000; Map To (Potion of Control Stone Giant; Armor +1; Scroll of Prot: Magic)
Gems: 10 GP; 3 x 100 GP; 5 x 500 GP; 5,000 GP; Jewels: 1 x 600; 1 x 700; 3 x 900; 9 x 1,000; 2 x 1,100; 1 x 1,200; 2 x 1,300; 2 x 1,500; 1 x 1,600; 6 x 2,000; 2 x 3,000; 5 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 8 x 6,000; 1 x 7,000; 1 x 9,000; 2 x 10,000; Map To (Shield +1)
Jewels: 2 x 1,000; 2 x 2,000; 4 x 3,000; 4 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 4 x 6,000; 1 x 7,000; Map To (30,000 SP; Gems: 3 x 10 GP; 2 x 50 GP; 5 x 100 GP; 8 x 500 GP)
Map To (13 GP)
17,000 GP; Gems: 4 x 50 GP; 14 x 100 GP; 2 x 500 GP; Jewels: 3 x 1,000; 1 x 1,100; 1 x 1,600; 1 x 2,000; 4 x 3,000; 2 x 4,000; 5 x 5,000; 1 x 6,000; 2 x 9,000; 

A (Desert)
6,000 GP; Jewels: 1 x 900; 7 x 1,000; 1 x 1,400; 3 x 2,000; 2 x 3,000; 4 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 6 x 6,000; 2 x 8,000; 1 x 9,000; Lawful Sword -2, Cursed; Shield +4; Potion of Poison
6,000 GP; Potion of Diminuation; 8 Magic Arrows +2; Lawful Sword -2, Cursed
Jewels: 10 x 1,000; 1 x 1,400; 1 x 1,500; 3 x 2,000; 3 x 3,000; 4 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 3 x 6,000; 1 x 7,000; 1 x 10,000; 
2,000 CP; 3,000 SP; Potion of Flying; Lawful Sword -2, Cursed; Potion of Human Control

Gems: 10 GP; Jewels: 1 x 1,000; 1 x 5,000; 
2,000 CP; Jewels: 1 x 1,400; 
5,000 CP; Jewels: 3 x 1,000; 1 x 2,000; 1 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 
Jewels: 1 x 2,000; 1 x 4,000; 2 x 5,000; Neutral Sword +1, +3 vs Trolls
2,000 SP; Gems: 50 GP; 3 x 100 GP; 500 GP; 

Gems: 2 x 100 GP; 
1,000 SP; 
Jewels: 1 x 600; 
Gems: 10 GP; 2 x 100 GP; 

Gems: 2 x 50 GP; 3 x 100 GP; 500 GP; Scroll of 2 Wizard Spells; Scroll of 2 Cleric Spells; Potion of Speed
1,000 GP; Gems: 500 GP; Scroll of Prot: Lycanthropes; Map To (10,000 SP; Gems: 2 x 10 GP; 50 GP; 7 x 100 GP; 4 x 500 GP); Potion of Plant Control
5,000 GP; 
12,000 SP; Gems: 10 GP; 3 x 100 GP; 500 GP; Jewels: 1 x 600; 2 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 2 x 6,000; 
9,000 SP; Gems: 100 GP; 

6,000 SP; 5,000 GP; Potion of Super-Heroism; Shield +4; Shield of Missile Attract -1; Scroll of Prot: Elementals
Armor +1, Shield +1; Rod of Cancellation; Armor +1; Scroll of 1 Cleric Spell
3,000 SP; 5,000 GP; 
7,000 SP; 1,000 GP; 
6,000 SP; 7,000 GP; Potion of Treasure Finding; Potion of Growth; Lawful Holy Sword +5 with Detect Gems, Locate Secret Doors, Empathy; Ego 9; Scroll of Prot: Magic

19,000 SP; Map To (Lawful Sword, Flaming +1; Lawful Sword +1, Locate Objects; Potion of Healing; Potion of Longevity); Wand of Magic Detection; Potion of Fire Resistance; Potion of Longevity; Scroll of 1 Wizard Spell
9,000 GP
15,000 SP; 7,000 GP; Potion of Diminuation; Scroll of 7 Cleric Spells; Potion of Clairvoyance; Potion of Human Control; Scroll of Prot: Elementals
4,000 SP
10,000 GP

2,000 GP; Potion of Polymorph(Self); Armor +3; Map To (30,000 SP; Gems: 2 x 50 GP; 7 x 100 GP; 500 GP); Potion of Undead Control; Scroll of 7 Wizard Spells
4,000 GP; 
9,000 GP; 
30,000 GP; Gems: 2 x 50 GP; 5 x 100 GP; 500 GP; Jewels: 1 x 900; 1 x 1,400; 2 x 2,000; 1 x 3,000; 1 x 6,000; 1 x 8,000; 
40,000 GP; Jewels: 2 x 800; 1 x 900; 1 x 1,300; 1 x 2,000; 1 x 4,000; Shield +1; Scroll of 1 Cleric Spell; Ring of Contrariness; Scroll of Prot: Elementals; Scroll of 2 Wizard Spells

17,000 CP; 40,000 GP; Jewels: 2 x 700; 1 x 800; 3 x 1,000; 1 x 1,100; 3 x 1,400; 1 x 1,500; 5 x 2,000; 3 x 3,000; 6 x 4,000; 3 x 5,000; 4 x 6,000; 1 x 7,000; 2 x 8,000; 3 x 9,000; 2 x 10,000; Map To (Armor +1, Shield +1); Potion of Invulnerability; Potion of Oil of Slipperiness; Map To (20,000 SP; 15 GP; Gems: 4 x 10 GP; 10 x 50 GP; 34 x 100 GP; 14 x 500 GP; 5,000 GP); Potion of Delusion, Potion of Control Silver Dragon; Scroll of Prot: Undead
10,000 GP; Neutral Sword +1, Locate Objects; Map To (11 GP; Gems: 10 GP; 2 x 50 GP; 8 x 100 GP; 3 x 500 GP); Potion of Growth; Scroll of 2 Cleric Spells; Potion of Undead Control; Scroll of Prot: Elementals
35,000 SP
18,000 SP; 10,000 GP; 
Jewels: 1 x 600; 1 x 800; 2 x 900; 6 x 1,000; 1 x 1,200; 1 x 1,300; 1 x 1,400; 1 x 2,000; 3 x 3,000; 2 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 

Gems: 100 GP; 
Gems: 100 GP; Jewels: 4 x 1,000; 1 x 2,000; 1 x 3,000; 1 x 5,000; 1 x 6,000; 
Jewels: 1 x 1,000; 1 x 1,200; 2 x 2,000; 1 x 3,000; 3 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 2 x 6,000; 1 x 9,000; 
Jewels: 1 x 1,100; 1 x 2,000; 2 x 3,000; 1 x 4,000; 1 x 5,000; 
Gems: 500 GP;