Friday, October 21, 2016

Review - The Petal Hack

   The Petal Hack is +Brett Slocum 's inspired recasting of the Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT) using the mechanics from the Black Hack.  For those who aren't familiar with it, Empire of the Petal Throne is the original RPG, beating D&D 0e into publication.  Not that it was developed in a vacuum, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson wrote the forwards to it.
   My own introduction to it came just before my 16th birthday when a friend (who had a driver's license) and I saw a notice of a wargaming club being formed at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.  When we showed up that weekend, we were introduced to a large number of SPI and Avalon Hill board games, like Panzer Leader; I lost handily the first time I tried playing Go and I sat in (completely bewildered by the concept) on this pen and paper game where you rolled dice to create a character and then who got killed in the arena.  That was Tekumel, the world of the Petal Throne.  Sadly, I never played again, I was more interested in the tactical wargames that were produced in volume back in the the 70's.  But the idea did inspire me to look for RPGs at the FGS across the state line.  I didn't find EPT, but I picked up Chivalry & Sorcery  at that point.  It wasn't until sometime in the last 10 years or so after I had moved back to the state that I obtained a PDF of the 1987 reprint.  That's when I learned that Professor Barker had been teaching at Minnesota at the same time I attended.  What a missed opportunity!
   As to the Petal Hack, it's an outstanding port of the original game system.  Obviously the mechanics have changed, attributes are rolled 3d6 instead or d100 - necessary for implementing the core Black Hack mechanic of rolling under your attribute using a d20.  And it follows from that the combat and magical mechanics have all changed.
  The other huge improvement from the original game is the editing is simply smashing in comparison.  It's well organized and concise - I found it more useful for translating terms I found in Professor Barker's novel Man of Gold, than the original manuscript was.
   But the mechanics were never the core of EPT.  The game has always been about Professor Barker's World of Tekumel.  A world of the future rotated out of time and space, throne back into barbarism and populated by the descendants of many star faring races and some very hostile indigenous remnants.  All of these have been ported over, along with the wonderful list of techno-magical items like the 'Eye of Joyful Sitting Among Friends', which acts as a Charm Person spell on your enemies and is coincidentally the name of Brett's blog.  And here is where the port is, necessarily I think, weaker - the original rules have lengthy descriptions of each monster, god and magic item, along with a gloss of the thousands of years of history of Tekumel since it was rotated out of the knowledge of man.  The Petal Hack has distilled the monster and item descriptions down to basically one sentence descriptions that capture the essence, but not the flavor.  No evocative mention of chiming and the odor of musty cinnamon indicating the presence of the dreaded Ssu for example.  I suspect this was necessary to keep with in the licensing provisions.
   I think this work will be of great interest to anyone who wishes to explore the World of Tekumel, but they will need other resources, such as Brett's blog, the World of Tekumel site and the Tekumel Foundation before they can begin the exploration of  Professor Barker's unique world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

2.5D Tile - 10x10 Intersection

My first attempt at building 2.5 dimensional dungeon tiles out of paper and cardboard.  I'm using the PDF images and instructions kindly provided by +Kristian Richards at The Crooked Staff.  I started cutting with a box cutter, but found that using a Dremel rotary cutter works faster, easier and better. Just remember to put scrap wood under it, the blade will go right through any thin plastic cutting board.  I've also switched to a glue stick, instead of a glue gun as it's easier to spread a smooth layer.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Dragonewts: Mystery of the Tail

Looking through the Classic Reprint, as I'm working on a generator for RQ2, I'm struck by the unaddressed changes of the Dragonewt Hit Locations.

Dragonewts (and Newtlings) don't have individual Hit Location entries and being upright bipeds would seem to fall under the standard Humanoid Hit Location template.

Right Leg      01-04
Left Leg        05-08
Abdom          09-11
Chest                12
Right Arm     13-15
Left Arm       16-18
Head              19-20

Yet, Newtlings are stated to have a (delicious) tail and "are very like a crested dragonewt in stature and can be mistaken for one at a distance."  From which I infer that crested dragonewts also have tails.

This is the dragonewt illustration from the book.  It's holding a spear and a Klanth, (which is too heavy for most Crested Dragonewts to wield) so I believe that this is meant to be a Beaked Dragonewt.  Again it has a substantial tail.

The next stage is the Tailed Priest, by definition it would appear to have a tail.

There's no physical description of the Full Priest, but in the final stage the dragonewt is "revealed as the Inhuman King, gaining wings and, again, a tail."  Indicating that the Full Priest is the only tailless stage of Dragonewt development.

Given these deductions I will be adding two Hit Location templates to my RQ2 work.  Crested, Beaked and Tailed Priests, along with Newtlings, will use the first template, Full Priests will continue to use the Humanoid template and the Inhuman King fittingly gets its own template.

Dragonewt & Newtling                     Inhuman King
Right Leg      01-04                             Right Leg      01-04
Left Leg        05-08                             Left Leg        05-08
Tail                   09                               Tail                   09
Abdom          10-11                             Abdom          10-11
Chest                12                               Chest                12
Right Arm     13-15                            Right Arm     13-14
Left Arm       16-18                            Right Wing       15
Head              19-20                            Left Arm       16-17
                                                            Left Wing         18
                                                            Head              19-20

Monday, January 11, 2016

Late Christmas - RuneQuest Classic PDF Rewards Start Arriving

Just filled out my BackerKit questionnaire and downloaded the first PDFs - Player Handouts, GM Screen and the RuneQuest Classic rules book.  It's a true delight, a spot check against the errata in my old RQ2 dead tree version shows that the errata has been inserted in the proper places, it includes changes such as moving Sapienza Mk 4A character sheet from the back of the book t right after the Mk4 and a new feature of rule discussions from Wyrms Footnotes and Rambling Rune Questions providing background and rule variants.  The Luise Perrin frontspiece is now in gorgeous full color instead of my old red line.  Looking forward to the hardcopy leatherette book as well as a treasure trove of PDFs including TrollPak and the soloquests!

Hmm, think the packing slip will have a note from Treasure Trove Hurbi?

Thanks +Rick Meints  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Floor Plan 1

I found a book of digital floor plans, bought one into GIMP, then played with it adding the Cellar and Attic along with a 5x5 grid.  Based on the fact that no bath is shown, I'd place the plans before 1900.  Perfect for Gaslight adventures or with a quick renovation for 1900-1930 noir/Cthulhu  RPGs.   Really, I'll probably end up using it somewhere I need a random house.

Leave a comment if you have interest in getting the original image or a downloadable format.

Two to four bedrooms on the second floor and two rooms for servants in the attic.  The dashed line in the attic indicates where the ceiling height lowers to a 6' due to the slope of the roof.  The cellar features a modern coal fired boiler and a small secret room.

Friday, November 27, 2015

RuneQuest Kickstarter Launched Today

My slightly foxed copy
of RuneQuest 2.
The folks over at Chaosium/Moon Design launched a Kickstarter to re-print RuneQuest 2 this morning and it's already 4/5ths 90% fully funded in less than 5 hours.  This may be one of the safest Kickstarters ever, as they've already got the book ready for publishing and the goal is only $30K with stretch goals in the form of classic RQ2 supplements kicking in at $40K (Apple Lane), $50K (Snakepipe Hollow) and so on up to $300K (Questworld).  After the first two, the stretch goals become unlocked in the form of add on PDFs for a nominal sum.  Many of these are currently available in PDF form under their Gloranthan Classics line .  I'm personally hoping they get to $250K, so they re-print  Sandy Petersen's Trollpak.  Hard copies of RuneQuest 2 reprint start at the $30 "Initiate" level.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Free digital topographic maps

From the US Geologic Survey, digitized maps for downloading.  For you Call of Cthulhu buffs, how about an 1894 Newburyport map?
Wish I had time to pull some of these into GIMP to play with.