Thursday, February 25, 2010


Not gaming related, but after nearly two weeks of watching the olympics I've seen these commercials enough (oh god not again) to mock them mercilessly... but not as good as this lady does:

Link here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The High Fantasy Campaign

I think after so many years of having game companies focus on "High Fantasy" themes (Dragonlance, Greyhawk Wars, to name a couple), its only natural that the OSR, so far, has typically swung in the other direction, favoring darker Sword & Sorcery themes and inspirations. A quick glance at Gary's infamous Appendix N reveals that Sword & Sorcery was a far bigger influence in "the beginning" than High Fantasy, and motivationally, the game rewards picaresque edpisodes far more often than grand quests anyways.

But that's not to say that High Fantasy gaming is without merit. Far from it. Enough folks enjoy the genre that I suspect its only a matter of time before the OSR starts to produce some cool material to specifically support High Fantasy themes oo.

In the meantime, here's a quick and dirty method to develop your own High Fantasy campaign:

Episode 1: Red Dawn. In this adventure, the PCs are generated, and are considered to be relatively naive villagers going about largely peaceful lives. Then the forces of the "dark lord" appear and the party must band together to help defend their homes in a running set-piece battle. Whether successful or not, something must be done about this villain!

Episode 2: We're off to see the Wizard. This would be a short wilderness adventure, wherein the PCs get to see firsthand the deprivations the dark tyrant's forces are inflicting upon the lands, on their way to consult the wise loremaster.

Episode 3: I wonder if he means old Ben Kenobi? The PCs meet with the wise loremaster, the Elrond of the campaign setting, who fills them in on the dark lord's history, the obligatory prophecy of his fall, and where to find the great artifact that will enable his downfall.

Episode 4: Excalibur! In this adventure, the party must travel to the campaign setting's premier dungeon, and plumb its depths to recover the great artifact.

Episode 5: One does not simply walk into Mordor. In this wilderness adventure, the party must venture into the lands of the dark one, hounded at every step by his most powerful servants, who by now should be aware that the powerful artifact is in the party's hands.

Episode 6: Nottingham Castle. Not wanting to deal with the huge evil army camped out in front of the dark lord's abode, the PCs must win their way in through duplicity or through a back door. The basements and sewers of the dark tower may be a dungeon adventure in their own right.

Episode 7: There can be only one! The final part of the campaign, a magnificent set-piece combat wherein the PCs at last face their nemesis and his most trusted guardians. Will they save the realm, or doom it?

There you have it, seven easy steps. Two set-piece battles, two dungeons, two wilderness adventures, and some cool "show off my campaign world's history" exposition thrown in for good measure. Some DMs might enjoy letting the characters level up after every episode, rather than tracking experience the traditional way, a method perhaps justified by the narrative they are participating in.

Keeping the episodes as fast, open-ended, and loose as possible will go a long way towards avoiding too much of a rail-roady feel, as well as letting the players know up front what sort of a campaign they're in for. Avoid planning too many details in advance, and you can even enjoy a bit of the shared worldbuilding so well facillitated by sandbox play. Also, if the party's quest is successful, you might get to enjoy another neglected element of D&D, the "endgame" where they set up their own baronies to help rebuild their shattered homelands.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gold Pieces

New Judges Guild stuff on the Horizon?

New Judges Guild Stuff on the Horizon?

There are rumors...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Random Table - Quick NPC personalities

It can get tiring trying to come up with personalities for every Tom, Dick, and Harry man-at-arms your party hires, so here's a way, with a couple of quick rolls, to turn them into Tom the Impartial, Dick the Bewildered, and Harry the Depressed.

Ah, that's better! :)

Quick NPC Personalities (d6)
1-3 Table 1
4-6 Table 2

Table 1 (d100)






















Table 2 (d100)


Friday, February 19, 2010

Dungeon Crawl Classics, the RPG

You've probably read, by now, the reports of Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG in development. Judging by the quality of work they've done on the DCC modules line, they've got a pretty good idea of what makes something "old-school", from the art and classic layout, to the site-based nature of the adventures, to the fairly reverent Greyhawk-homage of their campaign setting. I think an original system is a good move on their part, even though everyone and their mother seems to have an "old-school" RPG in development right now.

One of the big strengths of the various retroclones (and, of course, their source inspirations) is that you can pretty much mix-and-match stuff from every game with little or no conversion required. That is to say, you can use the Swords & Wizardry "engine", with OSRIC classes, while playing through a classic TSR module like "Keep on the Borderlands", and its no strain on the GM or players whatsoever to make things jive.

Goodman Games would be wise to try and follow the same ethic, to as great an extent as possible. There are certainly "D&D-based" games out there, like the new Hackmaster Basic, for instance, that would not be easy to use with all that other stuff, due to some idiosyncracies like hit point "kickers", skills, and such, and I think such sytems suffer for it. Comparatively, something like Castles & Crusades is remarkably compatible with just about anything, while still retaining its own identity and flavor. How much more appealing is a system that is usable with stuff you already like, as opposed to something that is almost compatible? There are only a limited number of steps away a game can take from what most of us consider to be "D&D" before you might as well pick up something really different like GURPS or Rolemaster.

I posited a question last year about whether anyone would have a chance of producing "one clone to rule them all". To have a fighting chance, lets hope Goodman Games keeps the compatibility issue in mind.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

For you Glen Cook fans

Here's a link to an interview (from last year) with Glen Cook. Cook doesn't do lots of interviews, but this one is a typical example of his irascible personality, and offers some cool insights (the man likes Inuyasha!) and a peek at some of the stuff he is currently writing (new Black Company book!).


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Warriors of the Red Planet Preview - Monsters!

Wha...two WotRP previews in one week!?

Here's some monsters to terrorize your valiant red warriors and courageous Earthmen with:

AC 6[13]
HD 4
Atk Bite (d6+1)
Save 13
Special Teleports
Move 12
CL/XP 4/240
Vranx are translucent, insectoid predators with razor-sharp mandibles. It is rumored that their green, glowing, many-faceted eyes can see into multiple dimensions. They can teleport short distances without error and attack, often from behind an opponent for +2 to-hit, all in one action.

AC 8[11]
HD 4
Atk Pseudopod (2d4)
Save 13
Special Paralysis, immune to electricity and cold
Move 6
CL/XP 5/240
Argoroi are non-sentient, transparent, amoeba-like creatures created by the scientists of a lost city to serve as guardians. Long ago, they turned on and destroyed their masters, and have since multiplied and greatly expanded their hunting territories. Their bodies are highly acidic and they exude a paralytic poison, immobilizing victims who fail their saves for 1d6 turns.

AC 5
HD 4[15]
Atk 2 claws (d6) or longspear (d8)
Save 13
Special None
Move 18
CL/XP 5/240
Half-man, half-beast, the gray-hided Mantaurs are wild, tribal predators that brook no trespassers in their territory. They wear broad, leather sheaths containing a dozen or so longspears they can weild in melee or expertly throw as needed. They possess a sort of savage honor, however, and will sometimes accept barter or friendly combat between appointed champions.

AC 9[10]
HD 1d2
Atk Bite (1hp)
Save 18
Special Paralytic Poison (+4 to save)
Move 13
CL/XP 1/15
These fleshy, purple-skinned swarms of predators run about surprisingly quickly on their seventy-seven legs. Their toothy bite injects a mild paralytic poison (save at +4 or be immobilized for 2-5 rounds) as they like their prey living while they feast. There is also a giant version of this horror!

Past Previews

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gygax on Basic and AD&D

From Dragon, March 1980:

"Most of the personnel at TSR took part in design and development in years past. As we realized that “Original” D&D (the first three booklets and the supplements) wasn’t anywhere near adequate for the needs of the readership it was attracting, it was decided that a simplified,clarified, introductory piece was needed. Shortly after this was decided, as if by divine inspiration, J. Eric Holmes got in touch with us and actually volunteered his services for just such an undertaking. All of you know the result, of course.

All of you also know why something had to be done. The “Original” work had been aimed at a small audience, one (wrongly) assumed to be highly conversant with military miniatures and basically non-critical. The booklets were hastily put together in late-night and spare-time hours, by and large, with little or no editing. Each supplement further-more reflected development and evolution of the game, so there was contradiction, duplication, and vast areas of ambiguity and non-direction.

I saw this as a second problem, one well known to you also. D&D was too flexible and unlimited, in my opinion. The game was actually unrecognizable as played from group to group in the same locale, let alone different regions of the country! As plans of reorganizing and rewriting D&D were developed, I began my own work on Advanced D&D, and this kept me busy for some three years, more or less. By the time the final manuscript from Eric was in our hands, the rough of the Monster Manual was also finished, rough outlines of Players Handbook and Dungeon Masters Guide were typed up, and several portions of both works were likewise in manuscript form. We had two choices to consider with the new Basic Set: As it took players only through three experience levels, they could thereafter be directed to the “original” works, or we could refer them to AD&D. This put us on the horns of a real dilemma. Sending them into the morass of “Original” D&D put us back on square one, with all the attendant problems of rules questions, misinterpretations, and wildly divergent play. Yet there was no time to undertake a revision of the remainder of the “Original” works immediately—that was a project to take place sometime in the distant, dimly perceived future, when TSR could actually afford the luxury of a staff of designers!

On the other hand, Advanced D&D, even then obviously a different game system, could be offered as a stop-gap measure. Its classes, races, characters, monsters, magic, spells, and so forth were similar to, but certainly not the same as, those of D&D. Was it better to send enthusiasts into the welter of the “Original” material and let them founder around there? Or would it be better to direct them to AD&D, even if it meant throwing out what they had begun with the Basic Set and making them start a fresh?* Faced with a choice between chaos and a clean slate, we opted for the latter. (Although there are occasional letters from irate D&Ders who refuse to move into the new system, that is far preferable to what would have happened had we directed readers to the “Original” volumes!) After we selected what was actually the lesser of two evils*, things went into high gear.

Pieces and parts of the various components of AD&D were grafted into the Basic Set rules manuscript so that D&D would be more compatible with the Advanced game. Readers were directed to AD&D throughout the Basic Set, with muttered prayers accompanying these directions, I am sure, as our production people had no idea then just how well it would all work out in the end, because much of the AD&D system was still on rough notes or in my head at the time. It turned out to be relatively acceptable as an interim measure, too."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The side-tracking powers of random charts.

So the plan was: get the party from Malikarr to Modron (JG Wilderlands) so I can get them into Matt Finch's cool Tower of Mouths (from Knockspell 3). Its a short enough adventure that I figure we can finish it off in one session or so. All the group has to do is travel the 5 or 6 days by sea, so they board the trusty caravel Red Corbie and head south across the Winedark Sea. A quick check for wind conditions:

Wind Conditions(d8, determines % of normal speed sailed)
1. Doldrums (0%)
2. Calm (75%)
3-5. Light, favorable winds (100%)
6. Strong favorable winds (100% plus d100%))
7. Light headwind (50%)
8. Strong headwinds (50% minus d100%)

And we get light favorable winds. The first couple of days go great, and the Red Corbie leaves the Valon hexmap and enters Map Five (CSIO). This is hex 4701, if you're following along at home, btw. This is where I get a random encounter and upon consultling Chgowiz's S&W Reference Sheets determine it to be a Basilisk, which I announce to the players as a great, winding sea serpent with cerulean scales, a spiny crested head, and glowing green eyes. This great terror of the sea lanes coils itself around the ship old-school style, snaps one sailor in half with its needle-like teeth, and sets about turning the rest into convenient stone anchors (PC's Otis and Tesmer get lucky and make their saves). The battle gets ugly, with the PCs weapons bouncing harmlessly of the serpent's barnacle-encrusted scales again and again. A max-damage magic missile from Tesmer eventually turns the tide (14 pts!) though Tesmer himself is badly wounded in the battle. Eventually, the serpent realizes it is beaten and flees.

The Captain of the Corbie, an experienced whaler, takes a small bribe from the party to chase the beast so they can finish it off. The chase goes on for the next three hours, with the frantic serpent managing to stay just out of crossbow range the whole way. Eventually, the ship is forced to stop at the edge of a wall of sharp rocks jutting up from the sea (hex 4601 now), and the PCs follow it aboard a dinghy into a series of sea caves. Cornered in its lair, the beast turns agressive again, and the PCs flee back out of the caves, rowing frantically, and leading the serpent right past the ambush set up by Otis the dubious dwarven thief. The PCs discover the basilisk has lined its bed with coins, though the greed soon turns to dismay as they realize they've got about 35k copper coins to collect (along with 2k silver and a hundred or so gold coins).

Exploring around a little, they discover a massive, sunken, skandik knorr in a nearby sea cave, and are able to glimpse several chests submerged in the broken hull. Sadly, they also discover the four(!) giant octopi dwelling there. They make some tentative attacks at the creatures, but after some lengthy deliberation and planning realize they are tremendously outclassed by these monsters. They spend some more time charting the area as extensively as possible and decide to return with men-at-arms, nets, harpoons, and possibly water-breathing magic when they have finished their job in Modron.

The Red Corbie sets sail again, and I consult the weather charts, coming up with a natural 20(!) and a 10. I inform the players that the temperature is dropping rapidly. Within an hour, it goes from the mid-60's to the mid 20's and the howling winds become filled with snow and sleet. The hardy caravel is battered by the storm, but the crew manages to keep the ship from going to pieces and ride it out (though two sailors are sadly swept overboard). When the air clears the next morning, the lookout spies a coastline just to the south, and they assume it to be Brezal Isle, where they should be able to effect some repairs. Out go the oars, and they head for shore.

Another successful random encounter check and I get "Fighters". The party spots red sails on the horizon and realize to their horror that they are not off the coast of Brezal Isle at all, but have instead been pushed into the territory of Warwik (a state currently at war with the CSIO, and thus authorized to pirate all allies). The crew rows frantically for shore, but are quickly overtaken. The Red Corbie is searched and inventoried, and the PCs do their best to negotiate or intimidate the Warwik captain into leaving them alone. Eventually, despite some humorous mishaps, they achieve a measure of success, and the Warwik ships depart with seven heavy chests of copper coinage and four extremely detailed stone statues of Valonian sailors!

The ship beaches on Wormshead Point (hex 4305) and the crew begins to secure lumber for their repairs. The process takes (1d4) 2 days, and yes you guessed it, yet another random encounter (I begin to think my d6 is only capable of rolling 1's, and make a couple of test rolls just to check). This time its Gnolls (which I describe as dog-headed headhunters festooned with plumage, bone fetishes, and carrying blowguns and spears), and a lot of them, so the PCs and the sailors flee, screaming, back to the dinghies amid a hail of darts and arrows.

Forced to make do with incomplete repairs, the ship limps back into the sea lanes, and makes it slowly to the great Estuary of Roglaroon and the hoary old city of Modron without (excepting a brief and harmless but terrifying sighting of Maelstron) further harm. After some negotiation with the wharf-master, some shopping, retaining an Inn, and some carousing, the session was over.

I'm sure we'll get to the "adventure" next time (hmmmm) without further distraction. Right?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Warriors of the Red Planet Preview - Random Ruins

One of the important parts of the Sword & Planet genre is the constant presence of reminders that grander civilizations have fallen. No proper ocher wasteland or purple fungus forest would be complete without a smattering of bizarre monuments, relics, and ruins. Thus the following charts:

Ruin type (d6, then roll on corresponding table below)
1. Monuments

2. Relics
3. Settlements

4. Vehicles
5. Buildings
6. Unexplainable

Monuments (d20)
1. Quartz pillar, pulses with purplish inner light.
2. Obsidian pyramid, inscribed with hieroglyphics (10% of secret door).
3. Small dome of smoked glass, no vegetation for 1 mile radius around it.
4. Stainless Steel Statue of a warrior with four arms, each holding a blade.
5. Featureless, crimson, stone cube that seems to throb gently.
6. A cliff face with a bas-relief of an eyeless god.
7. Sculpture made of bone reinforced with some shiny, reddish metal.
8. Gray stone monolith with seven hand-sized recesses.
9. Twenty-foot-square brass plate set into the ground, covered in symbols.
10. Pitted, wooden dolmen crawling with glowing green insects.
11. Ring of rusted iron pillars surrounding a pool filled with molten glass.
12. Tomb set into a hill with a circular door decorated with painted eyes.
13. Sculpture of a brooding face carved from a natural stone outcropping.
14. Outline of weird creature cut into the ground, best viewed from the air.
15. Great stone basin filled with rusted ornaments, jewelry, and baubles.
16. Fifty-foot-high pillar of greenish salt, humanoid faces faintly visible within.
17. Enormous, petrified skeleton of dragon-like creature covered in tribal inscriptions.
18. Wide glass bubble with a giant fetus-like reptilian creature floating inside.
19. Barren, scorched area of ground with a day-old bouquet of weird, alien flowers laid in the center.
20. Sixty-foot long marble hand, seems to have been broken off at the wrist of some impossibly huge statue (nowhere to be seen).

Relics (d20)
1. Engraved wooden case containing a pistol-like weapon.
2. Tattered banner bearing the insignia of a lost kingdom thought to be mythical.
3. Massive humanoid skeleton pinned to a hillside with silver spikes.
4. Partially buried row of gold-tipped lances, each inscribed with hieroglyphics.
5. Small, sad-looking humanoid skeleton curled up in a cave with silver ornaments.
6. Scorched plain dotted with bones and broken weapons.
7. Huge steel cave broken from the inside.
8. The sun-bleached figurehead of an airship, depicting a beautiful princess.
9. A hill topped with the moldering remains of ancient artillery.
10. Empty tent of silvery metal stands beside a dried-up oasis.
11. Skeleton of a jewel-collared predator, leashed to a stone outcropping.
12. Ancient husk of a trader's wagon, once brightly painted.
13. A man-like figure made of metal parts overgrown into a petrified tree.
14. Smashed pottery littering a rocky field, an intoxicating mist hanging over it all.
15. Seven rolled-up tapestries depicting battles stashed in a shallow cave.
16. Row of nineteen skulls placed carefully around a quartz outcropping, staring outward.
17. Partially buried stack of copper plates covered in indecipherable symbols.
18. Magnificent sword in a shoddy leather sheath laid beside a weathered tombstone.
19. Vine-covered suit of armor made of pieces of spiny insect carapace.
20. Beautiful wooden scroll tube filled with love poems to a mysterious priestess.

Settlements (d20)
1. Burned-out village, the huts filled with strange green goo.
2. Wide valley dotted with the foundation outlines of a lost city, all giant-sized.
3. Three shattered crystal towers that vibrate tunelessly in the wind.
4. Walls of a ruined fortress overgrown with eerie fungus-like growths that stink of carrion.
5. etc...

(See Warriors of the Red Planet for the rest, coming soon!)

Past Previews.
Princess via the amazing Thomas Denmark!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Setting w/ System - the Matching Game

Its funny how over the years I've come to associate certain campaign settings with specific systems. Never mind that I've experienced most of them (the settings) with multiple systems (especially Wilderlands, which I've actually used every official edition of D&D with), I still have a vague impression of the system each setting "should" be run with, and suspect that those impressions may even influence how I run different systems with each setting. Anyway, here's my list of common associations:

Blackmoor - OD&D (LBBs)
Arduin - OD&D plus Arduin books
Wilderlands - OD&D plus supplements
Mystara - B/X
Greyhawk - AD&D 1E
Forgotten Realms - AD&D 1E plus Unearthed Arcana
Dark Sun - AD&D 2E
Ravenloft - AD&D 2E

Anyone else make these associations? Or make them differently?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

PC Events: Illusionist

PC Events: Illusionist (1d12)

1. A letter has arrived to you from an infamous rival, but the pages are blank. There must be more to this than meets the eye.
2. Your dreams have been unusually vivid lately; most featuring a disturbing individual with depthless black eyes. Who haunts your dreams?
3. The arcane energies that fuel your illusions have been unusually potent lately. Each of your conjurings has a 10% chance of being real!
4. A beautiful young woman has come to you seeking apprenticeship, and is not above using seduction to get her way. Yet something her.
5. Some bizarre magical affliction has stricken your books of spells. The words and symbols dance meaninglessly before your eyes. You must find a way to restore them!
6. A new door has appeared in your room, invisible to all save you. Dare you enter it?
7. An illusory being or creature you created long ago has apparently become real and appears at your door, demanding its creator's attentions.
8. When you look in the mirror, the face you see is not your own. Could your magic be corrupting your own flesh, or is this merely some residual illusion?
9. A strange new substance has come available on the underground market. When ingested, it gives the user vivid hallucinations. Could this be a doorway to the mystical paths between worlds, or a doorway to a crippling addiction?
10. You are slowly coming to believe that the world around you is nothing but an illusion. You run the risk of spiraling into madness and delusions of godhood if you can't find something soon to ground you more firmly to the" real" world.
11. Spiders! They're all over you! All the time!
12. Your old master has fallen prey to the temptations and whisperings of an imp familiar. How will you save his soul before it is too late?

Next up: The Magic User

Last time: The Fighting Man

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Mapless Maze

I dislike mapping out mazes, so I use this little random maze generator instead. The PCs enter at area 1, and pick where to go from there, but the results are randomly generated on a d6 (for instance, the players say "we take the door on the left", and you roll a d6 and consult the table to see where they actually end up). Whether you allow players to backtrack or roll for yet another random location is up to you!

The mazes are unique every time, and can be very short or never-ending depending on the luck of the dice. Feel free to substitute new area descriptions if the originals get stale. And its fun seeing what the players come up with when they map it out.

Keep in mind, mazes of this sort do not obey natural laws, and are best placed in locations that abut the Mythical Underworld. Magic of the trail-finding sort is largely useless in the maze, but more potent divinations allow the use of a 1d4+2 instead of a d6, which will usually result in a shorter maze.

Area 1 - You enter a 20' square room, with doors strait ahead and to the left and right. Each of them is marked "entrance" in dwarven, orcish, and common. (Roll d6: 1-2 ( go to Area 2), 3-4 (Area 3), 5 (Area 4), 6 (Area 5)).

Area 2 - You enter a 60' long hallway, which ends at another hallway running left and right. (Roll d6: 1 (go to Area 1), 2-4 (Area 4), 5-6 (Area 6).

Area 3 - You enter a 40' long corridor that beds slightly to the left. Just beyond the curve, the hall ends in a wooden door. (Roll d6: 1 (go to Area 1), 2-3 (Area 2), 4-5 (Area 4), 6 (Area 5).

Area 4 - You enter a 100' long hall that dead ends. A trap door is visible in the ceiling just above the dead end (and a secret door is off to the left). (Roll d6: 1 (go to Area 1), 2-3 (Area 7), 4-6 (Area 9).

Area 5 - You enter a 40' hexagonal chamber with a low ceiling painted to look like a constellation-filled night sky. There is a door in each wall, including the one you came in. (Roll d6: 1 (Go to Area 2), 2 (Area 3), 3 (Area 6), 4 (Area 7), 5 (Area 8), 6 (Area 9).

Area 6 - You enter what appears to be a 100' long natural cavern with (1d6) natural alcoves leading off in different directions. Pale lichens glow on the walls and ceilings, and a pool has formed in the center. (Roll d6: 1(Area 2), 2(Area 3), 3(Area 7), 4-5(Area 8), 6(Area 10).

Area 7 - You follow a winding 80' corridor that ends in a stairway going (d6: 1-3 up, 4-6 down). The stairs are slippery with blood! (Roll d6: 1(Area 1), 2(Area 3), 3(Area 6), 4(Area 7), 5 (Area 8), 6 (Area 9).

Area 8 - You enter a 60' circular chamber carved in bas relief of marching soldiery. There are two doors opposite you, a trap door in the ceiling, and a stairwell spirals down from the center of the floor. (Roll d6: 1(Area 4), 2(Area 5), 3(Area 6), 4(Area 7), 5(Area 8), 6(Area 9).

Area 9 - You march 60' down a corridor to a crossroads, where corridors head off 60' in front of you and to the left a right (50% chance of secret door here too). (Roll d6: 1(Area 1), 2(Area 2), 3(Area 3), 4(Area 6), 5(Area 8), 6 (Area 10).

Area 10 - You enter a cobweb-filled 30' chamber. An iron-bound door opposite you (50% locked, 50% stuck) reads "Exit" in dwarven, orcish, and common. (Roll d6: 1(Area 1), 2-6(Exit the maze!).

Friday, February 5, 2010

In Honor of the Gamer-Friendly Wife (or other Significant Other)!

With Valentine's Day coming up soon, I wanted to take a moment and mention how great it is to have a "gamer-friendly wife".

The amount of bull$%^& she puts up with is simply amazing, including (but not limited to):

-Several tons of Gaming books cluttering the house.
-Several libraries worth of scifi, fantasy, and history books cluttering the house.
-Me typing away at the blog, message boards, and projects until the wee hours.
-Me constantly talking about all of the above.
-Often devoting at least one night a week of our busy lives to a gaming or writing group.
-Helping to rear children that are starting to exhibit signs of wanting to paint miniatures (God help us).
-Me driving off to other states to enjoy games and conventions.
-Going with me to see yet another bad science fiction flick.
-Humoring my idea of a date night being walking around a huge bookstore (ok, she like this too, but still its no sunset walk on the beach) with a cup of coffee.
-Having to know how to separate my toys from the kids'.
-Helping to rear children who are starting to exhibit signs of not wanting to take their toys out of the wrapping because then they're less collectible (God help us some more).
-And so on, ad nauseum!

So thanks, hon!

Anyone else with a gamer-friendly significant other, please give them a shout-out in the comments section :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In related news...

Mike Mearls, old-school devotee and a lead designer at WotC for 4E, exhorts folks wanting to design great 4E adventures to "Build your adventures in OD&D":

"Compelling locations, mysteries, puzzles, weird phenomena, *stuff* that the PCs can poke, prod, and inspect. These are all the things that make D&D compelling. They show off the spontaneity, immersion, and creativity that arise in the exchange among players and DM.

In Search of the Unknown is a great example of this effect in action. The dungeon in that adventure is empty of monsters and treasure. The DM is supposed to add that stuff. Instead, it features an overgrown garden of massive mushrooms, a chamber of mysterious pools, hidden chambers, details and color that suggest the dungeon's history, and other elements that make it an interesting place to explore. Reading the adventure, even without monsters and treasures, is fun. You want to know what's in the next room."

More at the link.

Might I suggest WotC re-release some classic editions to help us with that? ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Don't think the OSR makes waves?

Then take a look at that (above).

That's the forthcoming "red box" edition of what's being called "4E Dungeon's and Dragons Essentials". Ostensibly, "Essential D&D" is going to be a stripped-down, basic version of 4E D&D, with its own players', monsters, and DM's guides to follow to augment the new line. Just how stripped-down its going to be, and whether it will be the introduction to a truly more-rules-lite version of the current edition of D&D, remains unclear.

What is clear, is that this whole old-school gaming thing is getting increasingly noticed. While I'm sure its more fashionable to be cynical and decry the whole "Essentials" thing as merely an effort to sell more splats, pre-painted minis, and trading cards, I'm going to opt for optimism and think that someone, somewhere, at WotC has been doing a little research on what made our hobby the accessible and casual-gamer-friendly phenomenon it once was. Not that I'm predicting it will ever attain early-80's level popularity (like the Rubix Cube and Champale, those days are gone), but its not completely impossible that they're taking a step in the right direction.

Coke "Classic" still outsells every other "exciting new!" soda the Coca-cola corp releases, after all...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BtBG Reader does some Epic shopping!

I had a few minutes between meetings downtown today, and got the chance to run into a bookstore I've often passed by but never actually gotten to visit: the Old Editions Bookstore.

What a treasure trove of great old pulp scifi and fantasy! I really was impressed with the collection they have there, and unlike many "used" bookstores, they know what these venerable little books are worth (is that fortunate or unfortunate?). For instance, they had a little Ace double (the kind with two books, back to back and upside down, in one volume) consisting of Leigh Brackett's Sword of Rhiannon backed by Conan the Conqueror for $30!

That's not to say there were no good deals to be found in the store, however, not by a longshot. They had a pretty nice collection of old stuff packed into a "cheap" shelf that I'll have to dig through some day when I have more time to kill.

Of course, I didn't walk out empty handed. In fact, yours truly walked out with a near-complete collection of Epic Illustrated, something I've been dreaming of scoring for years now, for far less than cover price! I've got a lot of reading to do...:)

Monday, February 1, 2010

A modest link.

Go on, you know you want to click it!


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