Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Day Two - Gaming Mats
Many RPGs use miniatures for tactical situations and combats.A vinyl gaming mat is always a useful tool for a GM to thrown down and sketch out an encounter on. Chessex makes some of the best in my opinion. Most are double-sided with squares on one side and hexes on the other. They also come in a variety of sizes. Don't forget to throw in some overhead projector pens to use for drawing on the mat. Do NOT use dry erase markers or anything else.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Gamers can be hard to shop for. Over the next 12 days I will try to make gift suggestions that will hopefully please even the pickiest gamer on your list. Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
5th Edition Tunnels & Trolls is one of my guilty gaming pleasures. Even with all of its warts, the game still brings a smile to my face. Years ago, I undertook the task of 'fixing' some of the things that I didn't like about the game, including multiplying attributes for non-humans, using strength to power spells, etc. but I never finished.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The latest printings of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook* and Monsters & Treasure* are now up on DriveThruRPG*. The editing, art and layout has come a long way IMHO since the first printings. I picked up both books in dead tree form at Gen Con this year and I am very pleased with them. You could run a very satisfying campaign with these books and nothing else (although getting the Castle Keeper's Guide eventually sure would be nice!).
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Just picked up the PDF of Knockspell #3 from Black Blade Publishing. The content is pretty nifty for fans of the old-school stuff like me. Tim Kask has another cranky editorial. There is an OSRIC/1E treatment of the anti-paladin (Dragon #39 was the second issue I ever bought!). And there is lots more, including two adventures for Swords & Wizardry.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Ok. It's not a 'real' Kindle book, but I did manage to convert my Swords & Wizardry Quick Start PDF and put it on my Kindle. Aside from some obvious glitches in the graphics, it is quite readable and I am happy with the results.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Then I read the following post yesterday on the DDI forums (emphasis mine):
So last week we announced that we were working on a set of Campaign Tools with the intention of helping players manage and run their ongoing games and campaigns. These tools will focus on encounters, monsters, mapping and adventures.
Previously, we focused all of our energies and effort into making the Character Builder the best tool it could be. We're going to continue that focused effort as we move forward - we're just shifting our attention to the Campaign Tools. This means that we're not actively working on any other unreleased tools, which includes the game table and the character visualizer. Once we have the Campaign Tools out and we're as happy with them as we are with the Character Builder, we'll have a better idea of what our next step is.
This means that the game table will not be seeing the light of day anytime soon. Just DAMN.
On an unrelated note, Wizards finally posted a gallery of all 18 miniatures from the Player's Handbook Heroes Set 1. While I haven't seen them in real life yet - color me unimpressed.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The fact remains that WoTC is a VERY big fish in a VERY small pond. They can basically do whatever they want and their fans will continue to support them. They sell D AND D and their customers want to play D AND D - no questions asked. For all intents and purposes, Wizards of the Coast IS the 'roleplaying industry'. Everyone else a ripple in the pond.
For a little perspective, point your browser to Google Trends sometime and do a search for terms like 'roleplaying game' or 'dungeons & dragons'. The results are very enlightening. As for me? I could care less. I love roleplaying games and I will continue to play roleplaying games. I made up my mind about (not) continuing to play and support 4E several weeks ago, however, so the decision for me is an easy one...
Thursday, April 02, 2009
They also have the revised City State of the Invincible Overlord, but oddly I do not see City State of the World Emperor.
*I also noticed that cut and paste is disabled in the PDF...caveat emptor.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wow. I can't believe Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) magazine has almost reached issue #150! I started reading with issue #38 and the magazine has only gotten bigger and better. In fact, it's (at lease that I am aware of) the ONLY 'general purpose' gaming magazine left.
If you haven't ever read KoDT or haven't read in a long time, you might be interested to know that, while the general format and content have remained the same for quite awhile, there have been some tweaks. The layout is slightly different and some features have been removed and others added. It also looks like the fonts have been altered. All in all, I am pleased with the changes. The magazine is clean looking and easy to read. Now, onto the contents of issue #149.
This issue has seven strips. You have the Knights of course, the continuing saga around Hard 8, and the Black Hands continue their CattlePunk Campaign. I won't spoiler any of the particulars. but there is a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of the last strip, which I assume will be resolved in issue #150.*
As far as the rest of the issue's contents, I thought they were a mixed bag - and that's a good thing. While I never like every article in an issue of KoDT, I almost always like at least some of them. In this issue, forinstance, I really enjoyed the Web Scryer. It has a healthy dose of internet resources for the World of Darkness. I am thinking about working on a Vampire: The Dark Ages campaign at some point and so that information is useful to me. On the other hand, I have no desire to game in the universe of Quentin Tarantino and so Gaming the Movies held little interest for me. The regulars are all here too, including Bait & Tackle, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, and Lost Game Safari. You even get a complete fantasy d20 adventure; Tomb of the Frost Kings.
I really like Knights of the Dinner Table. The strips are always entertaining and every issue has at least some content that is interesting and/or useful to me. If you aren't reading it or haven't read it in a long time, I would recommend picking up. And don't miss issue #150. It contains a free copy of DAWG: the Role-Playing Game - hoody-hoo!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Time to eBay my 4E books. I just wish that I hadn't gotten rid of all my 3.5 books, except for my Player's Handbook. Most of them are wicked expensive on the secondary market. *SIGH*
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Do I think 4E is a bad game? No. I just think it might not be the game for me. so, if not 4E, what should I be playing? 2nd Edition AD&D? 3.5 D&D? HARP? Something else? I just don't know right now...
Monday, March 23, 2009
What really did me in was the fact that the first encounter took over TWO HOURS to complete! I know that four of the five players were new to 4E and the characters were 9th level - but that's ridiculous. I don't think the players took excessive time to choose their actions and the game flow was ok. It just took way too long to grind the monsters down. The second encounter was not as bad, but I made a stupid error when I forgot the beholder's aura. We never got to the third encounter.
I am definitely going to take some time to mull this episode over and try to decide whether or not I am going to sink any more time and money into 4E. I play roleplaying games because they are FUN and based on the amount of time that I put into preparing and running the game Saturday, I can't say I got much fun in return for my investment.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
While that may sound boring, it looks like a FANTASTIC way to speed up a game. The PDF is colorful, laid out well and chock full of content. I can't wait to use it for my next session. I believe it was a $1.95 well spent...
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
The counters are pretty neat. The art is slightly 'cartoony', but does a good job of representing each 'heroic tier' creature found in the 4th Edition D&D Monster Manual. I also like the little spot on the counter for writing a number. Very useful for keeping track of that horde of minions.
I mounted mine on plain old pasteboard box style cardboard. This seemed to work out pretty well. The tiles are light, but thick enough to pick up easily.
If you are looking for a cheap and attractive source of counters for your 4E game, i recommend that you check Counter Collection 4th Edition Heroic 1 out. I am very pleased with my purchase. And the price was right!
UPDATE: For those of you that would prefer the convenience of a pre-printed version, Jason of Fiery Dragon Enterprises reminded me that they now offer a boxed version of the 4E counters that are already diecut for your convenience. Check them out HERE.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Now I just have to figure out the best thing to print them on. I might try packing box cardboard or foamcore. Time to download...
Friday, February 27, 2009
However, if you DO care and just have not voted or commented yet - please do. I look forward to reading your comments!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Player character rogues and thieves seem to want to pickpocket random NPCs at the most inopportune times. This can be a headache for you, the beleaguered GM, if you need to come up with something interesting for the pickpocket to lift than just another bag of 10 gold pieces. To ease the burden, I have compiled a list of nine items for the prospective pickpocket to steal. The items look innocuous when first inspected, but, at your discretion they can serve as adventure hooks. Have fun with them.
A Small Book
The pocket-sized journal is filled with handwritten notes, diagrams, maps and prayers – to a particularly vicious evil deity. The book’s owner might be the leader of an underground cult that worships the deity and is recruiting members in the area. The notes in the book provide clues to the owner’s identity, as well as to the location of the cult’s hidden temple. Of course, if the pickpocket asks questions of the wrong people or starts snooping around, he might well find himself a leading candidate to become the cult’s next sacrificial victim. The book might also have been carried by a religious inquisitor that is working undercover to hunt down the members of the cult. Of course, the inquisitor will probably want the book back and might be willing to take it by force.
A Metal Box
The box appears to be made of steel and is about an inch long on each side. It has no obvious openings, but rattles when shaken. The box can be opened with magic or perhaps a great deal of physical force. When finally opened, it’s found to contain a small red bead that has cracks all along its surface (perhaps from all that shaking). The bead is actually a ‘demon ball’ and the cracks in it have started to release its contents - a very angry extra planar creature. Fun for all involved will surely follow. (Yes. The Wormy reference is intentional.)
A Brass Key
The brass key is finely crafted and appears to be designed to fit a complex lock. The lock is on a vault owned by a prominent merchant. A crest on the key can be used to identify the merchant. The merchant has important papers in the vault that he desperately wants. They might be needed to close a sensitive business deal or perhaps for something more sinister like blackmail. He wants the key back badly enough to pay handsomely for it. On the other hand, if the pickpocket is too greedy or slow to deal, the merchant might be content to send an assassin to retrieve it.
A Piece of Bread (Wrapped in Paper)
The bread is just a piece of moldy bread. The paper, however, appears to be an old and faded piece of parchment torn from a book. The writing might require translation or even magic to be read. Once it is, the parchment is found to contain directions to the location of an ancient crypt. The crypt might contain any number of treasures – and terrors or it might have been emptied long ago. As an added complication, if the pickpocket uses an NPC to translate the parchment, the NPC may tip off another group of adventurers that might be interested in exploring the crypt themselves.
A Wooden Whistle
The whistle is simply carved from animal bone. When blown, it makes a high-pitched, almost imperceptible tone. The whistle could summon a guardian animal of some kind that might – or might not be friendly to the whistle’s new owner. It might even magically summon a horde of small animals or insects. Alternately, the whistle might be the key that unlocks a secret door or even a portal to another plane.
A Sealed Letter
The letter is folded and closed with a wax seal. If read, it is found to be a steamy love letter from a well respected (and married) female member of the local nobility to a much younger captain of the local guard or militia. She is very keen to not have the letter become public of course and is willing to pay a reasonable amount of blackmail to prevent it. Of course, she also might pull some strings and have the pickpocket arrested and thrown into the local dungeon until he turns it over.
A Dirty Handkerchief
The handkerchief is made from fine silk. Unfortunately, it has also been heavily used. Even more unfortunately, the owner was infected with some sort of contagious disease that the pickpocket has now contracted. As a less dangerous alternative, handling the handkerchief might leave the pickpocket with a strange red rash on his hands. The rash is harmless, but of course the pickpocket won’t know that.
A Mysterious Marble
The marble is approximately an inch in diameter and appears to be made of glass. It is initially clear when found, but as it is examined later it will turn various colors and even appear to glow from within. It is actually just a toy created by a mage to amuse a child, but the pickpocket might well mistake it for something else. And of course it might very well be something more powerful (or sinister) at the GM’s discretion.
A Yellowed Fang
The fang or tooth is nearly six inches long. A character with the proper skill can identify it as the incisor of a large animal or monster. It is yellowed and dark and looks smooth as if from years of handling. The fang might be the component for a spell, a spell focus, etc. It might even turn into a powerful monster if the proper spell is cast on it or perhaps if it is planted in the ground, ala Jason and the Argonauts. Of course it might also just be an old tooth and nothing more.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Finding the Lair
You enter the edge of the forest, determined to find the hidden lair.
Setup: To successfully complete this skill challenge, the PCs must make their way through the forest and locate a hidden lair.
Level: Equal to the level of the party.
Complexity: 1 (requires 4 successes before 2 failures).
Primary Skills: History, Nature, Perception.
History (moderate DC): You remember details about locations in the forest that might serve as a lair.
Nature: (easy DC): You are able to locate a trail in the forest that leads you closer to the hidden lair.
Perception (moderate DC): You notice a trail sign or spoor that leads you toward to the lair’s location.
Success: The PCs locate the lair.
Failure: The PCs are unable to locate the lair. If they only accumulate 1 or 2 successes before 2 failures, they are also lost in the forest. If they accumulate no successes before 2 failures, they are ambushed and immediately enter a combat encounter.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
We should be constructing our skill challenges (at least the more important ones) so that not only does success or failure have tangible consequences, but there is a broad band of consequences for that success or failure. I will try to create an example of this soon and post it for your comments...
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
NOTE: Yes, I realize that I have a choice and I can say 'NO' to anything that I don't want to include, but the whole concept does tend to enforce the conspiratorial notion the WotC has a not-so-hidden agenda to subconciously force me to buy every D&D product that they release...
Monday, February 02, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
DEITRIK CR 3
Male Human Ranger 3
CG Medium Humanoid
Init +2; Listen +4, Spot +6
Languages Common, Goblin, Elven
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12
(+2 Dex, +2 armor)
hp 16 (3d8)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1
Melee weapon Unarmed Strike +5 (1d3+2) and
Longsword +6 (1d8+2)
Ranged weapon Longbow +5 (1d8)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +3; Grp +5
Combat Gear Unarmed Strike, Longsword, Longbow, Leather
Ranger Spells Prepared (CL 3, +5 melee touch, +5 ranged touch):
Abilities Str 15 Dex 14 Con 11 Int 14 Wis 11 Cha 13
SQ Track, Wild Empathy (Ex), Endurance, Favored Enemy: Humanoids (Goblinoid) (+2 bonus) (Ex), Combat Reflexes
Feats Armor Proficiency (Light), Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency - All, Martial Weapon Proficiency - All, Track, Endurance, Animal Affinity, Weapon Focus - Longsword, Two-weapon Fighting, Combat Reflexes
Skills Climb +6, Handle Animal +9, Heal +4, Hide +8, Listen +4, Move Silently +8, Ride +10, Search +6, Spot +6, Survival +6, Swim +6
Track You can track opponents.
Wild Empathy (Ex) Improve the atttitude of an animal, as if using Diplomacy.
Endurance +4 to a variety of skill checks. Sleep in L/M armor with no fatigue.
Favored Enemy: Humanoids (Goblinoid) (+2 bonus) (Ex)
Combat Reflexes You can make extra attacks of opportunity.
Very, very cool...
While preparing for my series on Campaign Building I have been doing a lot of thinking about the poor job that I have done in the past with building 'realistic' religions for my campaigns. I have read some good things about The Book of the Righteous from Green Ronin and I am thinking about picking it up. Has anyone else had experience with it? Comments are welcome!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The whole process was a real pain and I consider myself pretty darn computer savvy. What do you think the 'average' user would have done? I don't think this bodes well for future electronic releases from WotC, but I'll just have to wait and see...
Tony Reyes said...
I've been looking into HARP for the past few weeks. Testimonials of the rules set's value make me really interested in buying the book. I have a question, how would you compare it to Rolemaster Express ( which I know HARP is a simplification of)?
I can't speak for the designer (Tim Dugger), but I think of HARP as a reimagining of Rolemaster, rather than just a simplification. I own Rolemaster Express too and it is more of a straight cutdown version of the full Rolemaster.
Thanks for giving us that NPC writeup. Can you tell us how long it took you to create that NPC? One of Rolemaster's problems was that it took the better half of a day to create NPCs.IMHO HARP is a good alternative for D&D but it's much overlooked by the roleplaying community. I have to admit that even I played it only a couple of times.
I agree that creating NPCs for Rolemaster was a pain. The process is not as hard with HARP, but I think that I actually used an auto-calculating spreadsheet that I got in the downloads section of the HARP website to create this one and that eased the process even more.
Thanks for all your comments about the HARP post! Maybe I will put up some more NPCs or even a short adventure or two. Stay tuned...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Hagetha – Human Hedge Wizard Level 4
Hits: 43 PP: 69 Init: +6 DB: +0 BMR: 8
St: 30 -6 Sd: 65 +3
Co: 45 +0 Qu: 50 +0
Ag: 55 +1 Re: 70 +6
In: 70 +6 Pr: 65 +3
Weapon Skills: Quarterstaff (2) +5
Key Skill: Endurance (3) +18, Foraging/Survival (2) +22, Healing (6) +42, Herbcraft (7) +47, Lore (Region) (3) + 27
Universal Sphere: Minor Healing (6) +39
Cleric Sphere: Calm (4) +29, Dreams (6) +39, Neutralize Poison (7) +44
Description: Hagetha is a human female who appears to be in her mid-fifties. Her face is weathered and brown from years of sun and wind. Her eyes are green and bright. Her gray hair falls well past her shoulders and she keeps it pulled into a neat pony tail. She is usually dressed in somber shades of green and brown, and she often goes out wearing a vest and breeches, a fashion usually only worn by men of the hamlet.
Background: Hagetha lives outside of the hamlet proper, but residents often visit her to trade for herbs or to ask for help treating some malady or injury. She is a loner and she can come across as a bit of a curmudgeon, but she is willing to offer assistance even to strangers if they approach her in an open and friendly manner.
Plot Hooks: Hagetha can certainly be useful if an adventurer is wounded or poisoned since she is the only real source of healing in the hamlet. She is also a good source of information about the area around the hamlet since she has rambled far and wide in her search for herbs and medicinal plants.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
EDIT: I tried to be a good boy and go through the WotC Help system to report my problem. I followed the link, input my credentials and the following popped up:
A technical error has occurred. Please close your browser and try again
Monday, January 26, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Before we get down to the nuts and bolts of drawing maps, we need to make some high-level decisions about our new campaign setting. I am going to provide them without much background comment, but I will explore that further in future posts.
Campaign Setting: The East March
Geography/Climate: Similar to Bavaria/Southeastern Germany
For the campaign’s initial home base, I plan to map out an area of approximately 2500 square miles (50 miles X 50 miles) around a settlement that I am calling Ostburgh. You will note the ‘Germanic’ influence already and this is intentional. I always find it easier and more comfortable to lean a little on the real world, especially when it comes to subjects like names. Pure fantasy names always sound a little contrived to me. I don’t intend to go overboard with it, however, and I won’t try to follow any actual German language rules for naming or whatever.
Of course, there are lots of other decisions to make. I haven’t touched on religion, political structure, prevalence and location of non-human settlements and lots more. For now, here are some ideas that I have been knocking around:
That’s about it for now. The next post should go up on Monday, January 26th. At that time we will make some more decisions about our new campaign setting and prepare to draw a regional map. I would love to hear some feedback from you the reader about this series! Comment with your likes/dislikes, what you would like to see, etc.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The 2nd Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide is infamously not very helpful when it comes to campaign building, but the Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide by Paul Jaquays and William W. Conners has lots of useful advice and tidbits. I also like A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe for its healthy dose of real medieval flavor. In a similar vein is Life in a Medieval City by Joseph and Frances Gies.
Of course, you can't ignore the numerous resource on the internet. Wikipedia is not 100% authoritative on every subject, but it's at least useful for a 'snapshot' of most topics. For instance, I used it to research the term 'margrave' in preparation for this campaign series. Another neat resource is S. John Ross's Medieval Demographics Made Easy. It's a really cool way to 'realistically' determine campaign world details like the number of guards in a city.
The next post in the series should go up on Friday, January 23rd. In that one we will start making some hard choices about weighty topics like religions and forms of government. Stay tuned for more campaign goodness!
Friday, January 16, 2009
An approach that compromises between top-down and bottom-up is to map out a hamlet or small village and a nearby dungeon. You fill in enough details to keep the PCs occupied for several sessions of play and then expand from there. Classic 1st Edition AD&D ‘village and dungeon’ modules include T1: The Village of Hommlet and N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God. This is the approach that I will be taking with this series. I think it is the best choice for the novice Dungeon Master. The amount of work is not terribly daunting and we should be able create enough material to keep the players busy for some time.
In our next installment, we will try and answer a few initial questions about the campaign world. After that we will get down to the nuts and bolts of drawing the maps for and populating our little village and dungeon.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
- Rules set is core 2nd Edition D&D - I realize that 2E is the red-headed stepchild of D&D, but that's what I'm going with for a variety of reasons. I may consider including suggestions for adapting it to other rules sets in the future...
- 'Sandbox World' - I'm not trying to create an epic Story Path. This will be no metaplot or major world-changing events planned, etc.
- Generic with personality - I want the setting to appeal to a wide variety of tastes and play styles.
- Useful stuff included! - I will be including detailed NPCs, fleshed out encounters and actual mapped dungeons. This is a project with an eye toward usability and not just theory.
As the project goes forward, I plan to include lots of notes and suggestions to help other DMs create their own worlds. If you have suggestions or input please comment! This is not a truly collaborative project, but all feedback is appreciated.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part One: Begin from the Beginning.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Now, I realize that the book and its author have gotten flamed pretty badly by some historians and reviewers and I am not vouching for its historical accuracy. However, I am DEFINITELY going to use some its descriptions of what life was like in the Middle Ages for my next 4th Edition D&D campaign. Some of the ideas and details that I plan to gleefully use (read that as rip off!) include.
- A land that is heavily forested with only small pockets of open area for fields and towns.
- An illiterate peasantry that never travels far from home and is always one bad harvest away from famine.
- A population that is spread out in lots of little villages that contain only a hundred people or so.
So, check the book out and see for yourself. It may not be the best history of the medieval period, but it is definitely an enjoyable read and filled with ideas that you can mine for your own campaigns. I reccomend it!