Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 28

Most important lesson I learned from D&D?

The ability to role play.  Often we find ourselves in a position where the ability to put on an act helps us communicate.  This is because the role we assume is a common one that the other parties in the conversation can relate to.

I've been fortunate to work with kids off the reservation or out of the cotton field; to individuals who listed their occupation as managing the family fortune.  By assuming an appropriate role, I fit into their world view and was able to better influence their opions and actions.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 27

What would I do differently, if I started over?

Probably nothing as the decisions I made were proper for the time and information I had.  If you postulate foreknowledge, there are other choices I would have made professionally, but nothing that impacts gaming.  This is just a hobby to me, not the core of my existence.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 26

Do I still game with the group that introduced me to the hobby?

No, in the sense that I haven't gamed with the UMD group since I left northern Minnesota for college; I never played D&D with them though. It was more war gaming, with the occasional EPT session .

 Yes in the sense that when I moved back to Minnesota, I hooked back up with one one of my college group who got me into D&D proper.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 25

Longest running gaming group/campaign.

Well, my current group has tolerated me since 2000, so fourteen years.  They were playing together before I moved back up.

The longest single campaign during that time was a four year 3e campaign I ran that took them from 1st to epic levels.

One of the players is from my college and early Navy group, so we've been gaming together for about 35 years.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 24

First movie I associate with D&D?

I don't?  I know there were a couple of D&D movies and of course Legend and The Brother's Grimm.  But I don't really associate them with D&D, they're standalone stories.

LoTR and The Hobbit movies I associate with Tolkien, obviously.  But despite his overwhelming influence on the hobby, I don't think about them in terms of gaming. 

I don't want to run in a setting based on a movie or a book, stories are railroads, they're going to a particular destination and I like to go off roading while I'm playing.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 23

First song I associate with D&D?  Monster Mash, our college DM, Chris, played it for a special Halloween dungeon he ran us through.

It's also the only song I relate to D&D.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 22

First D&D novel. Quag Keep, by Andre freakin' Norton.  That's right, the very first D&D novel was written by a nationally recognized author, not some kid in college.

The novel itself isn't that good, despite the claims on the back.  D&D players magically transported to Greyhawk and go on a quest.  I didn't find the plot, story or characters at all compelling. I understand a collaborative sequel was published posthumously.  I'm not looking to read it.

I've tried reading other D&D stories, Salvatore and Greenwood's efforts come to mind, but in the end they're one shots not worth another look. 

Norton did play D&D with EGG before she wrote the story; and since it predates publishing of The World of Greyhawk Gazeteer, she either had access to his notes or did an extensive interview on the campaign background.

Still here's the cover and the front piece from my old paperback.

Cover by Jack Gaughan


Front piece unattributed artist

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 21

First time I sold some of my D&D books?  I don't think I have. Although I can't find the Psionics Handbook.  I have all of my 1e and 3e books. Along with Traveller books. All of the 1st edition Shadowrun; I even picked up a friend's 2nd printing Runequest when he got rid of somethings.

That's the beauty of government moves, you never half to throw things away.  Although, I did have a (broken) VHS player and some handtools not make into and out of New York.

But the game books -<a href="About That Box in the Basement"> they're in that box in the basement.</a>

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 20

First non-D&D RPG I ever played?  Regular readers probably think I'm going to say Chivalry & Sorcery.  But that was the first one I bought.

The first one I played was Empire of the Petal Throne in 1977, at a war gaming group  at UMD.  I've never found a group that played it again, but it stuck with me. 

Of course that might have been the effect of a pre-internet 16 year old coming across this picture while reading the rules.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Right Way to DM

I had a comment on Communicating with the Players where the reader thought I was prescribing a 'right way to DM' that was at variance with the way everyone has done it for 35 years.  Well, I first DMed in '77 and have done it many different ways.  I never have said which is the right way. But since you ask....

Let me start by clarifying what I meant by skill rolls overtaking role playing to the detriment of the game.  Here's two variations on a scene.
While the rest of the party fishes the fighter out of the pit, the elven M-U/Thief announces he's going to search the rest of the room for traps. A clear statement of action.

Example 1
Player: I roll a 18.
DM : You found one.
Player: 20 on Disable Device
DM : OK, you disabled it.

Example 2
Player: I roll a 18
DM : You find a suspiciously square area on the floor.
Player: I prod it with my staff.
DM: It gives a little and sounds hollow.
Player: 20 on Disable Device
DM: You noticed that the arm of the adjacent statute started to rise as you prodded the floor. Unlike the rest of the statutes in the room, this one's shield is on the floor.
Player: I'll replace the shield
DM: It's made of stone, you'll need a strength check to lift it by yourself.
Player: I rolled a 7, maybe I'll just mark the floor so no one steps on it.

  The first example is in accordance with (Pathfinder) rules; "If the check succeeds, you disable the device." The character's actions are completely abstracted into a die roll.  The player has no agency.  The second is the way I run the skill, success tells you how it can be disabled (immobilize the arm), the player has the ability to decide how the character accomplishes the action. Or to think out of the box for another way to remove the threat.  I know which I prefer, but your mileage may vary.

Rod's Rules for DMing

Actually you just need to answer two questions to determine if you are DMing the right way.
Are you having fun?
Are your players having fun?

If everyone is enjoying themselves you're doing fine. Save agonizing over doing it 'the right way'  for when you're involved in a land war in Asia or engaged in a battle of wits with a Sicilian with death on the line.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 19

First gamer who annoyed the hell out of me?  I was just reminiscing with an old friend about this guy earlier this month.  We had a pretty tight group who played together in college, but a couple of times, Mike who still games with me took me along to another group he gamed with occasionally.  There was this kid (mind you, I was only 19 or 20 at the time, but lack of maturity made him seem much younger than me).  He had both the Grand Master of Flowers and the Great Druid as characters.

My memory is that he had just rolled them up at that level, because he could.  Mike argues that the group he played with were Monte Haulers, who went through the published modules with a vacuum cleaner and never missed a copper.  In either case, this kid had these super powerful characters, which he couldn't play.  He didn't know how any of the special abilities worked and he was just generally obnoxious to have in the group.  A my way or the highway sort of guy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 18

First gaming convention?  Never been to one.  Unless I made it to Con of the North.  Didn't have funds for GenCon in it's heyday and not a whole lot of interest since.

And I didn't make it to Con of the North either. Plowed across town (south rather than west to the con) to have dinner with a couple of old Navy buddies (and gamers) and their wives.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Communicating with the Players

Hack & Slash has a nice post on DM's preventing players from unknowingly doing something foolish.  He ends it with a FAQ explaining why it's not spoonfeeding the players when the DM explains the likely consequences of their character's proposed action.  But I think he's missed a point, the communication gap has two sides. While the players perceive the DM's description In their own terms and have only a finite amount of time to ask questions to obtain more information; the converse is also true. The DM cannot see the character's heads turn to examine bushes where the orcs are hiding. So we rely on statements of intent and action to learn what the characters are paying attention to.  In response we provide the players with more information, which may cause them to rethink their actions.

  I had a good example crop up in the last session I ran.  The party entered a large room containing a large number of goblins via a door in the corner.  The party's attention was on the goblins, so I described them in detail and only mentioned in passing that there was a curtain covering the end of the room.  No one paid attention to the curtain until the M-U was backstabbed through it.  When the player announced he had stepped back and was going to torch it with Burning Hands, I provided a detailed description of the tapestry. He subsequently decided not to burn it, instead lifting the bottom with Mage Hand to locate his attacker.

Was I telling him he'd lose a valuable treasure if he went through with his stated action? No, his stated action gave me information about what the character was looking at, which then 'unlocked' more information for the player.

That's the point I wanted to expand on.  I fully agree with the post, particularly with the assertion that the communication gap has led to the rise of character skill gaming. The attitude of I don't care what it looks like, what's the skill and DC - let me roll to see if I made it, I believe has taken much of the richness out of the game.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 17

First time I heard D&D was "evil"?  That started going around in the early 80s while I was in college.  I think the first time I heard the claim was in a quote about a student in Michigan[?], who had been what we would now call LARPing in the steam tunnels under the university. 

The last time was around the first Gulf War, in Virginia Beach.  I wrote a letter to the editor, saying how stupid the thesis was, but it wasn't published as far as I know.

They are entitled to have and express their opinions.  After all, I spent twelve years defending every American's God-given right to make a complete ass of themselves in public.  And two of my boys, who are both gamers, have spent time doing the same.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 16

Edition wars?  I didn't participate in them.  As I said in yesterday's Blog Hop post, it's the players and characters I enjoy, the mechanics are secondary.

I will admit that I find later editions progressively less appealing, but more because of how they're played (min/maxers I'm talking to you) than because of the actual rules.

Let's face it, when was the last time someone brought in a Magic User with a 9 intelligence to play?  That was one of the more challenging parts of the way the early editions ended up being played. Sometimes, as in what we laughingly refer to as 'real life'; someone has a passion for a field where they have no talent.  Their short lived  triumphs and foreseeable endings are more compelling stories than that of the generic wunderkin I see around the table now a days.

I blame computers, too easy to build a spreadsheet or write a quick script to produce six random rolls all on the far end of the curve.   Not to mention that computers had their own edition wars twenty years ago.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Firearms in Fantasy Campaigns II - Technology by era

  As I pointed out in an earlier post, when I build lists I group and stratify the elements in order to impose order on the individual list entries.  I use the same approach in analyzing  firearms in order to reduce the variables I'll need to treat in building home rules.

Era Approximate Time Period Ignition Rifling Method of Manufacture Gunpowder formula Gunpowder milling
Primitive 1200-1450 External source and vent None Hand made High variable Poor
Matchlock/Wheellock 1450-1720 Slow match/Flint, pan and vent Very Rare Made to pattern Consistent Fair to Good
Flintlock 1610-1862 Flint, pan and vent Rare Made to pattern Good quality Good to very good
Cap and Cartridge 1810-present Percussion cap and centerfire cartridge Common Factory made Optimal, smokeless Excellent

Going across the top Era and Approximate Time Period are simply labels to help the reader put the technologies into context.  Note that the eras overlap in time periods.  This represents the gradual proliferation of the technologies over the period.

Ignition is the method by which the gun is fired.  A vent is a hole in the barrel through which the flash travels to set off the main charge.  It also allows propellant gasses to escape, lowering the range of the weapon and making misfires potentially more serious.  A pan was a small chamber which held the priming charge of powder, sparks from a flint or the lit end of the slow match were applied to the priming powder, which sent a flash of fire down the vent to the main charge.  Pan's were more exposed to the weather and made firing the weapon problematic in windy and rainy or otherwise wet (at sea) conditions.Percussion caps and their descendants, center and rim fire cartridges enabled the priming charge to be combined with the propellent charge, eliminating the vent thus making the weapon longer ranged, more rugged and less prone to misfires.

Rifling is the cutting of lands and grooves inside the barrel of the weapons, which impart  spin on the bullet.  Spinning bullets have a more stable trajectory, thus flying further and more accurately.  The downside of early rifling was the extreme expense of doing the cutting before high quality machine tools.  And more importantly, rifling requires a tight fit between the bullet and the barrel.  With muzzle loaders, the tight fit made for longer load times as the weapon was used between cleanings.

Method of manufacture - this controlled not only the design but also proliferation.  Primitive firearms were tubes on a stick, each one individually built, repairing one meant building a new one.  With the rise of mass armies armed with gunpowder weapons, the firearms began to be made to set patterns which decreased logistical issues.  However just because the parts were made to the same pattern didn't mean that they were interchangeable between weapons.  Repairing a patterned weapon required filing to fit and bashing the replacement part into place.  True factory made weapons have interchangeable parts and are therefore easier and cheaper to maintain - if you have a parts supply.

Gunpowder formula - Classically gunpowder is a ratio of saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur of 15:3:2. However many formulas have been used with varying effectiveness.  The earliest Chinese formulas weren't explosive, although quite flammable.  On top of that local sources of materials and the processes used to purify them led batches of gunpowder which were less effective than they could have been.  This reduced the range of weapons charged with it and increased the chance of hang-fires and misfires.  Often catastrophically.

Gunpowder milling refers to the size and uniformity of the grains.  Initially, gunpowder was mixed by hand resulting uneven grain sizes and reducing effectiveness by up to 2/3rds.  Again this speaks to range and the possibility of misfires.

Previous posts on Firearms
Firearms in a Fantasy Setting I

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 15

What was the first version of D&D I didn't enjoy? Why?

Tough question, I was inactive from 1991 - 2000.  I came back in when I returned to Minnesota at that point and hooked back up with an old friend.  So I hit the tail end of 2e; which didn't seem like an improvement over 1e. We moved to 3e; but skipped 3.5e due to budgetary constraints on some of our group and just converted to Pathfinder tin 2012.  We have no particular interest in 4e or 5e.  Personally, I'd like to move back to 1e or a retro-clone like ACKS, but don't think I could get the group to go there.

I've enjoyed playing all of them, but it's the group and the characters, not the mechanics that I like.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Firearms in Fantasy Campaigns I

  Introducing firearms into a fantasy campaign can destabilize the balance of
the game, as it allows a 0 level with. 45 caliber wand to take out a 20th level
fighter with one shot.
  Often firearms are handled through exclusion from the rules, when they are
included they tend to be shoehorned into being just another ranged weapon.
When modeling firearms for inclusion in a game, firearms need to be defined
in terms of rate of fire, accuracy and damage. Rate of fire and damage are 
supported across game systems, which explains why firearms get 
shoehorned in.  However, accuracy (to hit) with firearms and the way they 
do damage are are significantly different than bows and hand hurled 
weapons, requiring more finely tuned mechanics to model their behavior.
Technology is the biggest factor affecting these terms - the technology used
 in the manufacture English Civil War matchlocks is as far from the 
technology used to manufacture US Civil War Springfield Muskets as that 
technology is from current firearms.Not simply the firing mechanisms, but 
the quality of powder and shot available has a huge impact on the firearm's 
The next factor to consider is occurence - how common is that type of firearm
 in the culture, not specifically tied to how many guns are available, but rather 
how widespread is the basic knowledge of firearms?  
Finally, we need to consider playability, a complex set up of rules and tables 
that worked fine in boardgames becomes kludgey and unworkable in a role 
playing game.

I'll be discussing these aspects in a series of posts, starting with a discussion of 
firearms technologies by era

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 14

Did I meet my significant other while playing D&D?  And does she still play?

Considering the male to female ratio of gamers (yes, I realize that's not a requirement of the question as stated) - not much chance of that.  Actually, I met her standing on a street corner.  She wasn't a gamer then and isn't now.  She did sit in on a few Chivalry & Sorcery games earlier in our marriage, but she' was never into it and hasn't rolled dice in a quarter century or so.

I should say that we honeymooned in Delevan, Wisconsin on the other side of Lake Geneva from the town of Lake Geneva.  My bride of then about 30 hours and now almost 30 years, did allow me to drive through lake Geneva looking for TSR's offices.

Con of the North
starts today.  I mean really on Valentine's Day?  Is this a horrible joke or an irresistible cliche?  (Image from Hereticwerks, who is running a couple of sessions)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 13

First miniature I used for D&D?  I picked up a bunch for use with miniature army rules in Chivalry & Sorcery.  Did a lousy job painting them.  Traded them to a friend sometime around college for some Judges Guild stuff he had.

However before he left college he'd painted and given me this figure for use as my ranger.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 12

First store where I bought my gaming supplies?  I dunno, George.

It was over 30 years ago in Superior Wisconsin, I've steamed (literally) around the world since then.  Probably some local bookstore.  In college, it was Games by James the  local game store and head shop. They're pretty much out of the RPG business, they went upscale at the Mall of America, two floors above home plate at the old Met Stadium.  They did have some Pathfinder last time I checked; I always have to fight an impulse to ask the clerks if they knew the placed started out selling bongs.

We also went down to Lake Street to the old Little Tin Soldier.  I think that the wooden soldier from there is now at The Source in Roseville.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Arrived! - Castle of the Mad Archmage Review

That was quick.  I ordered +Joseph Bloch 's megadungeon on the 2nd and was warned to expect 2-3 weeks for delivery.  I have to say the service was fantastic.

I'll also say that those plastic covers are COLD when they've been sitting on my doorstep in sub-zero temperatures all day.

And that I was surprised by the small size of the Illustration book, but that's because I didn't read the large print on the Drivethru RPG website.

I read through the PDFs before the soft covers arrived and the this is one impressive work, the first level alone has over 100 rooms.  The monsters are intelligently placed and with reasons for their placement.  The traps are neither over-present nor over-lethal.  Don't be misunderstand me, careless or unlucky players will end up with dead characters.  But the traps only occur often enough to keep a party paranoid.  They won't wear the party down with saving throw after saving throw.

The tricks and puzzles ranged from easy to solve to real head scratchers.  There's one I had to think about after I read the solution and I'm still wondering if I understand it correctly.  If your players are like my group and don't do well with puzzles, well, there are NPCs in the dungeon they can ask - for a price.

The maps and the adventure key by themselves would be worth the price.  The Illustration book is a wonderful bonus, it takes dungeon features out of the Theater of the Mind and allows the players to see them through the eyes of their characters.

Is there anything I don't like about it?  Yes, the books are only glued and making them lie flat so that I can see the interior margins threatens to destroy the bindings, especially with the Map book.  When that happens, there isn't enough room to punch holes in the paper to add them to a ring binder. I'll have to try to find the type of plastic binder that has been holding together my copy of The World of Greyhawk Gazetteer for the last thirty four years.

I'll still give it five skulls.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 11

First splatbook I asked the DM to approve?  OK, I had to look up the term.  I figured I knew what Stellios meant, but wanted to be sure.

Based on that you'll probably guess the answer is 'None'.  And you're right, I never have.  As a DM, I've allowed some and disallowed others, more precisely I've allowed some elements and disallowed certain pieces.

But I've never bothered to run a splat class myself.  Frankly, I haven't come near to exhausting the possibilities of the basic classes, so I'm just indifferent to the allure of odd variants.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 10

First Gaming magazine I ever bought.  ANother easy question after my rummaging through the boxes in the basement.  SPI's Strategy & Tactics - a new board game in every issue.

Before you say that doesn't count, please keep in mind that in the late 70s there was very little separation between the military board gamers who were supporting Avalon Hill and SPI; and the RPG community.  Indeed, a high school friend, Brian Sorvik, and I had seen an ad for a war gamers group starting up at UMD (University of Minnesota Duluth) in 1977 and went and joined that.  That group played everything from Go to Empire of the Petal Throne.  I remember that one of the local TV stations did a quick piece on it, asking why we played war games in the face of all the "anti-war" sentiment of the time.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Domains at War Kickstarter Update

Received an email update from Autarch saying they're getting closer and the reason for going dark on the project for the last several months.  While the finished materials are accumulating in a warehouse, they still don't have a ship date, as not everything is ready.  Email is below the jump.

On the otherhand, I received an email late last week that the soft covers of Joe Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage have printed and shipped.

Kickstarter is a way for people passionate about what they're doing to get initial funding to produce professional results. I don't think that you can rely on that model to build a long term customer relationship.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 9

First campaign setting I played in?  Easy, TSR's The World of Greyhawk, 1980.  Chris, our DM bought a copy, then we poor starving college students bootlegged it.

Prior to it's publication we were already playing a campaign, although we didn't use the term.  We were just going on adventures one after another, playing home brewed adventures intermixed with TSR modules.  Most f the group had gotten together before I moved south and joined them  I know they had done the Temple and the Giants, but I got there for Vaults of the Drow.  Of course, I may have my timeline confused over the decades.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Origin of Species - Manticore

Continuing the series on the origins of the classic monsters, we come to the Manticore. 

  From Volume 2 Monsters and Treasures:
MANTICORAS: Huge, lion-bodied monstrosities with men's face, horns, dragon
wings, and a tail full of iron spikes. There are 24 of these spikes in a Manticora's
tail, and they can be fired 6 at a time in any one direction with the range (18")
accuracy and effect of a crossbow. Their favorite prey is man.

The illustration is Trampier's fronts piece from the 1978 Monster and Treasure Assortment.  Note the head is fully human ad the wings just stick out of the body in an unnatural fashion.

Pliny Natural History Book 8, Chapter 30

Ctesias informs us, that among these same Æthiopians, there is an animal found, which he calls the mantichora; it has a triple row of teeth, which fit into each other like those of a comb, the face and ears of a man, and azure eyes, is of the colour of blood, has the body of the lion, and a tail ending in a sting, like that of the scorpion. Its voice resembles the union of the sound of the flute and the trumpet; it is of excessive swiftness, and is particularly fond of human flesh. 

The illustration is Sullivan's from the Monster Manual.   DCS has taken a lion's body, a spinal ridge, added somewhat more natural looking wings and given it the head of Rutherford B. Hayes.

This is one of the few subjects that both illustrated, and the real reason for the post.

Except for the tail, the manticore's description in the game marches with Pliny's from the time of the Apostles.  Making the tail a wyvern like stinger instead of the  spikes the players expect would be a nice surprise to them.  And the description of it having a body the color of blood, either in Theater of the Mind or in a painted mini would be quite unusual.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 8

First set of polyhedral dice?  Got them right here still.  Well most of them.  The d12 seems to be MIA and I could have sworn I had another d20.  The old fashioned kind that was number 0-9 twice.  We used crayon to color in one set (you can see the red crayon on the brown die to the left) or else rolled a d6 to determine high - low.  The white d6 in the foreground is actually a d3, again 1-3 twice.  The red d6s are wooden dice I had salvaged from childhood game - Parcheesi maybe?  And converted them to 2-3-3-4-4-5's for Mercenary morale rolls in Chivalry and Sorcery.

The d4 is the only one that still sees regular rolls, but they're all out behind the screen when I'm the DM.

Friday, February 7, 2014

About That Box in the Basement

'It's in that box in the basement' is a running gag at our house; it's the answer to every question that starts 'Have you seen..?' or 'Where did we put...?'    It stems from our history of packing up and moving, as in we moved ten times in the twelve years I served.  With all the moves, some things just never got unpacked between moves, like a complete set of Depression Ware dishes or the books my father-in-law gave us when he cleaned off his bookshelves.  Now we've dropped anchor in the Twin Cities for going on fifteen years, yet we still haven't unpacked some of those boxes.

  I was looking to see if I could unearth the first D&D book I ever bought for the Day 7 Blog Hop.  I failed, but look what I did come across.

Ogre - the original Microgame version from 1977.  I think the little cardboard pieces (this long predates the minis) are in the bottom of the bin.  There were a couple of other little booklet games too, more on the sword and sorcery side.  I'll have to look for them later.

D&D Supplement IV.  Forgot I even had bought this.  From 1979, so I know I picked up about the same time I bought the AD&D Player's Handbook.  At Games by James, now a respectable little shop at the Mall of America.  Then it was a head shop in Stadium Village next to Stub & Herb's - by the University of Minnesota.  I bought some, ah, paraphernalia there too.   I'll have to redo my post on Deities & Demigods, adding this into the mix.

The official D&D Monster and Treasure Assortment for Levels 7-9 in your dungeon   That Manticore on the front is a piece by Trampier, it's quite different from the Sullivan illustration in the Monster Manual.  The monsters run from 7-42 bugbears to a 10 headed hydra.  It has tables for random determination of treasure's container, guard and Hidden by.  These are the same as Tables V. H-J on page 171 of the 1e DMG.  Exactly the same for Containers and Hidden By entries.  Printed in 1978

 Judges Guild, Judge's Guild, wherefore at thou Judges Guild? - My apologies to the Bard.  Second only to TSR for canonicalness [is that a word, it should be as it's quite cromulent] Judges Guild was a big influence on gaming in the late 70's & early 80's.  Here we have random tables for building types - by government type.  Odd in retrospect. Also random village name generator tables and no less than 47 villages laid out on hex grids.  Village Book 1 - 1978.

Another entry from Judges Guild, the map for the City State of Tarantis.  I found the blank player's map too, but didn't see the book.  I picked up this one from a friend from college and fellow gamer, when we were both stationed in the Norfolk area  in the late '80s.  Published 1983.

 And the only actual AD&D piece in the bunch.  T1, The Village of Hommlet.  Precursor to the Temple of Elemental Evil, this is the 1981 printing.  I must not have picked it up until fall of 1982 or early 1983.  I remember my roommate and I ran our characters through it after the rest of our original group had graduated and gotten their commissions.  This has the maps printed in the 'uncopyable' light blue of the era.

So what treasures have you found while looking for something else?

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 7

My first D&D product I ever bought, was the Psionics rule book for 0e.  Even though I didn't own the other books, I had heard of the game.  As I recall I bought it in a store in Superior, Wisconsin.  The D&D books themselves were out of stock, so I picked up this one and then I saw a big soft cover book on the shelf.  It advertised itself as a unique role playing game with everything you ever needed in one volume, so I bought Chivalry & Sorcery too.

I know where my copy of C&S is, I think that the Psionics Handbook is in "a box in the basement".

Later - I didn't find that but what I DID find!!! Check back later for that post.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thoughts on Dwimmermount

Dwimmermount, the cautionary tale of this corner of the blogosphere.  I understand that an update has been posted on the Dwimmermount thread on th RPGsite.  I am not a disgruntled backer, so other than the human fascination with train wrecks, I don't have an interest in the situation.

Except, that James M's old Grognardia blog is one of the reasons I became involved blogging.  I always enjoyed his posts on old games and modules and I loved his game reports.  That's one of the reasons I post mine.  His blog was my gateway into the community.

With that in mind, I have to say I feel sorry for James, whatever he's doing now. Not only did he lose a family member as I recall; but he cut himself off from what had been an important part of his life.  The backers suffered a financial loss, albeit on a speculative investment; and we all lost a leader in this community.

Remember, you must be at least 10th level to throw a flamestrike in the comments.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 6

My first character death in D&D didn't happen until about 2008 or 2009.  We were in 'The Prime Dungeon', where all the rooms were numbered in an unknown script, with the important rooms being prime numbers.  Of course we turned the wrong way, so we didn't hit the rooms in order, so we never figured that out.  Anyway, getting back to my paladin, the party was about to enter the room and the plan was, if they're too tough we'll back out quickly - Unless (there's always an unless), that !@#$ wizard is in there.  Well, we popped open the door, paladin in the lead and there was the wizard with overwhelming force.  Being the paladin, I cut straight for him, I think the rest of the group did back out, but I stuck to the agreement and attacked.  I always felt it was an appropriate way for that character to go.

My first RPG character to die was a Traveller character, the ship's doctor.  He took an RPG, as in rocket propelled grenade, through the dash of the Air/Raft and through his chest I might add.  Even back then I wasn't upset, it's only a game.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 5

My highest character was a 1e Ranger that made it to 10th or 11th level.  As a DM some of my players made it from 1st to 20th over the course of about four years of monthly gaming.  The other DMs in my group tend to run shorter campaigns, focused on levels 3 - 8.

I loved that ranger, he was a classic 15 Wisdom, with 12 points in reserve type - straight out of Fineous Fingers.  Had a helmet made out of the dragon head from a chimera and he had builta keg of holding into the saddle on his pegasus .  He filled  the keg with Everclear which he created by casting purify food & water on a barrel of wine.  He also had a price on his with every orc, since he was in the habit of desecrating altars of Gruumish.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Pickup - Castle of the Mad Archmage

I picked up Castle of the Mad Archmage Sunday - I waited until AFTER I ran the February session.  Otherwise, I would have been distracted.  Oh look a squirrel! This is the re-imaging of Castle Greyhawk by +Joseph Bloch . Which as I was one of the people TSR ripped off with their re-imaging of it, I was very happy to come across.  If I can find taht one in a box in the basement, perhaps I'll do a compare (there isn't any) and contrast piece on them.   So far I've read down to level 5, haven't gotten to the Maps and Illustrations books yet, but it is very well done.  I picked up both the PDF and the soft covers, so I should have a package arriving in a few weeks.  At this rate ,looong before Autarch gets my Domains at War Kickstarter book to print.

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 4

My first dragon slaying was at the end of the war with Iuz. Not the TSR 3e reboot, this was in our college campaign just before the DM graduated.  Ancient huge Red dragon, flying straight at me, killed in one shot; it crashed and destroyed  the wall I was standing on - but it doesn't count as the DM had given my character an Arrow of Law (as chaotic as that ranger was, I was worried about holding it) which was a Plot Device to make the story unfold as he desired.

My first real one was a young green dragon, that my gnome Assassin/Illusionist and his friend the monk subdued so that they could use it to haul out it's own hoard for them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Shark has been Jumped...Repeat, the Shark has been Jumped

We're in our second session of  my new campaign using the Pathfinder rules.  I called for initiative rolls and one of the players pipes up he was on 30.  I let them start their characters between 2nd and 5th level and I knew he had a 4th level character, but I didn't remember him having bought anything that would boost his initiative that high so I asked, 'just out of curiosity how did you get that?'  Not really doubting him, he's one of the DMs in our group and has DMed for the local Pathfinder Society, he knows the rules better than I do. Being a smart alec, he responded 'I rolled a 19'.  Then we started breaking down where he got +11 at 4th level.  Improved initiative +4, high dexterity +3 and then he trots out this trait -'Reactionary' which gives a +2 initiative bonus.
   What the h3ll?  Shouldn't the improved initiative feat trump that?  Not in Piazo's world.  When the game is so set up to reward playing the mechanics rather than playing the character, I've lost interest completely.  I just can't bring myself to care.  I'll continue to DM and play Pathfinder with the group because of the group not the game, but from now on all characters will be rolled straight 3d6 in order.  Anybody in The Cities have an open seat at an OSR game?

February 2014 Blog Hop Day 3

My first dungeon?  Beats me, it didn't have any name that I can remember, nor does the actual play stick in my head the way that running through the Vaults of the Drow did.  Of course down there someone's paladin had a ring of cursed wishes, the DM was using the dictionary to find random results.  Were we lucky when he said "I wish someone was here to help us and Bahomet showed up instead of any other named being in the Monster Manual.