“The Rancor” – A Cautionary Tale On Out-of-Character Outbursts

During a long series of play, we called “Dungeon Wars” (One big dungeon/cavern complex with several skirmishes and battles, and no clear winner.) The DM described a creature, later learned to be an annis, in a way that lead me to picture a Rancor. If you have seen “The Return of The Jedi”, you know that the big hungry monster in Jabba the Hut’s basement is a Rancor. Robert, the DM and my brother, described the annis as eating a man in two bites. I think he overestimated the size of the mouth of an annis, as they are about 8 feet tall and basically humanoid.

That inspired me to say, out of character, “The Rancor”, and make my best imitation of the roar of the rancor.

Later, whenever we encountered a big and tough monster, I would blurt out, “The Rancor” with the same rancor roar.

My brother is a very creative individual, and decided to teach me a lesson to limit my use of such out of character utterances. That is to say, he was tired of “The Rancor” and my roar.

During an adventure that saw all of the players of the major PCs and a major NPC wizard go after a magic bookstand. We all owed favors to this wizard and he called in each of our favors to go get it. Robert set the stage and when we got to a very large room and we knew it had a big, bad monster in it. As if on cue, I said, “The Rancor” and roared.

Suddenly, Robert reached down and pulled a toy Rancor out of a paper grocery bag and set it on the table. We all cracked up, and it was several minutes before we had composure. Only to learn that the Star Wars toy was the actual monster we faced. Griswald was in the front and the Rancor grabbed him and rolled high enough that he swallowed Griswald whole. Robert then picked up my miniature for Griswald and stuffed it down the mouth of this toy. (Scale-wise, a 25 mm miniature is about half the height of Luke Skywalker, so this creature was huge.) Griswald was limited in what he could do, and managed to pull out a dagger to do internal damage as the rest of the party tried to kill the monster without also doing in Griswlad.

Robert gave it like 100 hit points, which was not too many for the rest of the party to wail on it in a few rounds before Griswald suffocated or took damage from stomach acid.

Anyway, lesson learned. I do not make continued out of character noises or references that are annoying to the DM. However, I must say, I deserved it, my character did not die, and we all had a great laugh and still laugh about it today.

What creative ways have you or your GM used out of character statements or actions as plot points in an adventure?

WotC Fan Site Policy Uproar

WotC’s Fan site Policy, as many have pointed out, is actually a license. It prevents you from using some images on your site, yet if you use it, you assign all your writings over to WotC. Not a fair trade, in my opinion. I will continue to write about what I want to write about, the way I want to do it. I will not use copywrited images or material to do it, so WotC has no fear from me. I do not plan to buy 4e, but would buy more PDFs of AD&D and OD&D, if they are ever made available again. If not, then I will make due with what I have, or use one or more of the retroclones.

Greywulf’s Lair [old link: http://blog.microlite20.net]  has an interesting idea, about a “Happy User Policy” [old link: http://blog.microlite20.net/2009/08/07/dearest-wizards-these-are-my-terms-conditions/]. This sounds like an idea related to Net Promoter Score. NPS is the current focus where I work, and the idea is to make customers so happy with you, that they tell all their friends, such that they are a free sales force. It also requires converting disgruntled customers to ahppy ones. Basically the idea is, don’t jerk your customers around, or they will find a vendor who will treat them right.

The level of quality Greywulf is asking for, is on the same level people keep asking for from Microsfot Windows. An OS that does not crass, get viruses, or slow down with time. Like so many have turned to the OSR instead of 4e, many in the computer realm, have turned to Linux and other free alternatives. Surprisingly, in the realm of Operating Systems, free has what the fee-based Windows has not been able to do. Microsoft gives the impression that they care more about money than customers. WotC gives the same impression. I am not a lawyer, but a smart lawyer could draft a license that does not stir up a hornet’s nest. WotC needs to get a lawyer with knowledge of the internet. Look at all the fury over Facebook’s license/policy change. Facebook had media coverage, the whole D&D thing will probably not get much traction in the media.

There is also a petition to WotC to drop this new license. I do not think this will have much traction with WotC. The numbers who agree to the license will be a stronger determinant. If it is only 100 people who have low traffic websites, WotC will take notice. However, if it is 100 very high traffice sites, then WotC may see it as a win. As with everything, time will tell how this plays out.

I do not see WotC listening to fans who do not agree with them. I hope for the sake of the hobby I am right. As it is, I don’t plan to spend the money or time to learn a new rules variant, so 4e and its successors will have little direct impact on me. If I can’t find a local group to play with my rules of choice, then I won’t play. I can spend my time polishing my campaign setting, or I can go read a book. I like writing about my reminiscences and ideas. It helps me flesh things out. If no one reads this blog, I am okay with that.

The Story Behind “Follow Me, And Die!”

First, it is all how you say the phrase. It should be: “Follow Me!” in a dramatic, heroic voice, with a pause, then “And Die!”, also in a dramatic, heroic voice. This is the way my brother mocks my character’s ability to live through the incidents that eliminate 0-level cannon-fodder, er, troops.

There were several grand incidents that we all were aware of, and then one day, as an out of play aside, in reference to my character’s lack of success in finding more troops to hire, blurted this out. From that moment on, he, and other players would interrupt the course of play by blurting this out. Such tangential occurrences are one of the things that make RPGs so fun. There is shared history that informs the hilarious things we say that have us in stitches because we are laughing so hard. Without the shared group experience, the rest of the world just looks at us like we’re crazy. Even over board games, something happens or is said that does not come out right, and we are rolling on the floor, and even years later, we can make reference to it and those in the know still laugh.

My brother’s campaign is low magic. There are wizards, but a first level magic-user is called a wizard by those who can’t do magic. After years of playing, one player’s character is finally nearing 18th level, with the use of an Ioun stone.

My character is Griswald Stewart, Duke of Stewart. He is a half-elf. His father, a human, was the Duke of Stewart when the Buchanan clan kicked the Stewarts off the throne and drove them out of the Kingdom of Carbaen Moor. This kingdome is based upon highland Scotland. His father fled across the plains to the Elvish wood, and was found by an elf-maid, Griswald’s mother. On a stats note, Griswald is mediocre in his stats as some would see it, his high score is a 14. To overcome this mediocrity, Griswald is a Fighter/Cleric/Magic-User. A fighter because that is what his father wanted, a cleric because that is what his mother wanted, and a magic-user because that is what Griswald wanted.

Griswald starts off thinking his father is the next in line to the throne, so he is thinking that if he can become powerful enough, he will one day be king. It turns out that he has 6 royal cousins all preceding him in the succession. Once he joins up with his cousins and their band, The Red Arrow (long bowmen), with judicious use of cunning and well-rolled dice at critical times, Tameus (the true king) is convinced that they are ready to take back the throne. The problem is that Griswald knows that he is far from a wizard, but no one will listen to him. So he gets the Elvish Army that is part of his home temple to help out in exchange for exclusive rights to build temples for our Elvish diety in the Kingdom of Carbaen Moor. Griswald then goes to one of the small clans that stayed loyal to the Stewarts and have suffered under the Buchanans the last 50 years. Through a judicious use of a command spell, that the DM ruled can not be used that way again, the clan lord declared for the Stewarts. Griswald then found some mercenaries who would fight for us in return for land for the payment for the officers, there were about 1000 troops. The 200 or so Red Arrow, 500 or so Elves, and 2000 or 2500 Cavendish troops were all Griswald could scrape together. He did manage to hire 63 troops, plus his father a 7th-level fighter. The Stewarts had about 4500 troops to the Buchanan’s 7000. Griswald also went to the most powerful wizard he knew of, Moran Redbeard, and got some scrolls with potent spells to help them in the battle. This cost him a personal favor to the wizard to be paid back later. The scrolls contained a spell my brother came up with, “Battlemagic Fireball”. It is a third level spell, but the area of effect is tripled, so instead of a 30 foot/yard sphere, it is 90 feet. Those, plus the archers of the Red Arrow, and the Elvish Cavalry broke the morale of the Buchanan troops, and the Buchanan pretender, his sons and other high ranking nobles were captured. Tameus personally beheaded the Buchanan pretender and pulled the bloody crown from his severed head. Tameus kept the skull and had it made into a drinking cup.

We then marched to the capital city, Horn of Stone. When we showed up, the guards at the gate failed their morale when Tameus showed them the severed head of the former king.

The incidents that lead up to this are: The Battle of the Plain, where 63 troops and Griswald’s father were killed in our brutal house rules large battle rules. We only used those rules one other time, if I recall correctly. They were harsh, but the results were known quickly. My character’s side of the battle had magic, so we did  a lot of damage. Griswald and his father both got a saving throw as “leveled” individuals vs. death. My brother the DM ruled that since Griswald made his save and that his father did not, that his father threw him to safety and killed ten men before he himself was slain.We won the battle and Griswald’s cousin, Tameus, was returned to the throne as the rightful king.

Next was a battle vs. the Temple of Arok and the House of Buchan in the streets of Horn of Stone, the capital city. We discovered that Lord Buchan and others were trying to get Mr. Buchanan, who was next in line of the pretenders to the throne, help them regain the throne. The Elvish Army took the Temple and a well-placed Stinking Cloud and a failed saving throw lead to the capture of the High Priest. Griswald lead the troops against Lord Buchan’s house. Lord Buchan was a 9th level fighter, who was laying low the low level humans who were in front of Griswald, when Lord Buchan and his henchman were trapped in a tower. Lord Buchan had a healing potion, so he was able to step back and come back to the fight almost as good as new. He also had a steel sword. (In my brother’s campaign, iron and steel and the knowledge to work them are rare, so Bronze is what is most common.) Griswald’s sword broke, so he had to pull back and rely on his magic.

Next was dungeon wars. In the dungeon to the King’s castle in Horn of Stone, Griswald detected evil, so the King ordered it sealed. That worked until two scullery maids disappeared. Then we proceeded to a long protracted dungeon war with orcs, ogres, ghouls, annis, and a temple of Gruumsh. Griswald got good at using fireballs underground, and only hurt one of his own troops, and never since. Unlike some of the other spellcasters in the campaign. Griswald and the forces he could scrape together were not enough, so he had to call in other PCs for help. Even that was not enough to clear out the dungeons. The DM got tired of it, I think, as a convenient Earthquake put an end to the dungeon.

Next was Battle of The Gap. This was the second large-scale battle in the campaign. Griswald and the King’s troops verses Lord Gordon, who took over a section of the kingdom in the chaos following the defeat of the Buchanans. The Gordon Clan is the largest clan after the Buchanans. Our forces met and due to well placed spells and the archery of the Red Arrow, the Stewarts were about to wipe out Gordon, when an insect plague from a cleric henchman of Gordon went off, hitting many of Gordon’s own troops. That ended the battle, and allowed Gordon to get away with the remains of his force.

Next was fighting orcs in the Stewart lands. Following the Battle of the Gap, the previously mentioned earthquake hit, with the epicenter at the site of the Battle of the Gap. This was a huge earthquake that damaged most of the Kingdom, and Horn of Stone collapsed. This also affected Gordon and minimized the threat from him. Also affected were the orcs in the ancestral Stewart lands. Griswald helped his ducal cousins reclaim some of their ancestral lands, and then he went to reclaim his own patrimony. Through various battles and mini-campaigns of a few battles, Griswald managed to reclaim his patrimony, and kill or chase off the orcs  in it, and fight the orcs in the surrounding territory. He was quite successful, and destroyed or nearly destroyed several orc tribes. These tended to be the smaller tribes, and were far from peak strength due to the earthquake.

Finally is the situation that is like the movie “Zulu”, where we have yet to see if Griswald and his patrimony survive. The two largest orc tribes in the western Stewart lands, were unaffected by the earthquake. These are the Blue Fang and Vile Hand. They teamed up to come down on him hard, as they know they have to strike before Griswald and the Stewarts go after them. This scenario was on hold for about 15 years, and we finally started playing it over Memorial Day weekend. This is when I found out just how bad it is. None of the other high level PCs/wizards are immediately available, and the closest one is a three day march away. The orcs set the small forrest on Griswald’s land aflame, so the smoke will be seen for many miles. It is possible that Griswald’s amazing luck and reputation could pull his bacon out of the fire, but that remains to be seen. After 15 years, both the DM and I had a lot of notes and plans to consolidate and agree on, and we only played 12 hours or so of game time. Now we have to wait until I can travel back to Missouri from Michigan, and find out if he lives.

What is funny is that two mid-levels PCs that are known to have survived this battle do not yet know how they survived. They were “set-back” to their levels from that time frame, so it is an interesting situation to watch. There are things going on in the game that Griswald is ten years behind on the time line, that it will make a difference if Griswald and any of his henchmen and troops survived.

Robert, my brother, the DM mentioned that he was going to have his son, Steven help him play out the scenario. While the plan was to retire Griswald and he become an NPC, Robert never acted on it. I think because he likes the creative ways I have managed to play Griswald getting out of  so many tight spots. Will Griswald’s creativity and amazing luck hold out? Will the orcs overrun the walls and eat his head?

Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure update….

Where Do You Get Good Miniatures?

Back when I was really big into RPGs, Ral Partha was the brand that we mostly turned to. I do not recall others off the top of my head.

Since then, Ral Partha and several contemporary companies that made miniatures for fantasy gaming have gone out of business.

Now, it seems that over sized (bigger than 25 mm), cartoon like figures are the standard. They are also expensive! The local comic/game store has some of these miniatures, and they are $3 or more each! In my day, I might pay $1 for a really good figure that was something I really wanted, but most were 75 cents or so. Packages of 6 of  the same figure, could be had for $3 or $4. Of course, you had to paint them, etc.

Now, in trying to Google up miniatures and to follow up on miniatures recommended on RPG related blogs and sites, I find pre-painted miniatures that are $5 or $6 or more each!

I can understand people wanting to have someone paint their miniatures if that is the thing they want.

I would like to find a reasonably priced source of “realistic”, well-done, and consistently sized miniatures. I think that finding a miniature to represent players, or a major NPC adds flavor to the game, and can be used to illustrate the position of encounters. Instead of making Jim be the red six-sider, when he wants to be the ruby d20, etc. can be avoided. Yes, we can use our imaginations to suspend disbelief and let any object be our placeholder, but with enough players in the mix, a table can have a lot of dice, etc. It is nice to have miniatures to represent the main players in a scene, especially for the more complex encounters with combat and magic in the mix.

I have played with and without miniatures, and with and without some object or mark on a page to represent characters.

For those of us who are visually oriented, having s physical representation on the table can eliminate confusion and arguing over position and who can see/hit what or be seen/hit by whom.

I am not interested in spending a fortune to re-enact Helm’s Deep, or any other large-scale action. While it does have a certain coolness factor to it, I just want a reliable source of miniatures at a reasonable price. Both for players to find representatives for their characters, and for the DM for major NPCs or a large gang of orc/goblins/zombies/etc. The one nice thing about a large gang of monsters, is that we can use 20 orc figures to be goblins, zombies, etc. In time, perhaps have 20 of each, but time, space, and finances all have to come together for the gradual acquisition of a large collection.

Pantheons in Roleplaying

I do not like the idea of using the pantheons of real, yet dead religions, such as the gods of the Greeks, Vikings, Sumerians, etc.

There are several reasons for this. D&D already has a bad name and is wrongly associated with devil worship. Invoking the names of the gods of other religions, some of who are mentioned in the Bible, Apocrypha, and historical writings, just adds fuel to the fire. Both the Monster Manual and Dieties & Demigods/Legends and Lore, use these historical names. Tiamat, Mephistopheles, Zeus, etc. are all from historical religious writings.

While one could use a the structure of those historical pantheons, for their ready made stats in various game source books; change their names, to avoid continuing the stigma. It takes a lot of effort to come up with a religious structure from scratch. Yet, there has to be some framework of dieties if a player wants to be a cleric. For the humanoids, I go with the materials in the various source books. For the humans, I am torn between finding the time to develop my own, or just picking and choosing a few from the Greyhawk setting. After all, keeping prep time to a minimum, to maximize play is the key. A DM does want a life outside the game, right?

As a Christian, it does bother me to speak the names of historical deities while roleplaying. Roleplaying is not the same as having a literate discussion of the religion of the ancient Greeks.

That is one aspect of roleplaying where I think we should draw a line. Granted, we are all free to run the rules as we see fit for our own group. For my campaign in the works, I will avoid the use of any historical religious names, for both a clean conscience and to avoid the appearance of evil, for those who would judge our preferred game without all the facts.

Some may view this as a naive view of the world, but if we want our game of choice to be an option for the people of faith in our communities, or at least move them to a neutral and accepting frame of mind, we should keep such things in mind. Granted, there have not been a lot of movies about the dangers of D&D like in the 80s. However, I still do not feel comfortable discussing D&D with those who are more likely to look down on it.

While I have not run into outright anti-D&D sentiment in a long time, I have been an “in the closest” gamer for years. It was really bad when my wife questioned my beliefs when I mentioned that I like D&D. She like many from the 80s, bought the line of the movies and sensational headlines.I think I finally have her convinced it is not devil worship or evil, as she has not complained about having my books openly displayed on the shelves in our computer room. Yet she did state she did not want me spending hours wrapped up in those books. (She understands the time sink problem.)

How does your family, friends, and community react to D&D?

Time Sink

Rather than decry D&D as evil in itself, a college roommate, who is now a missionary to Russia, said that the biggest problem with D&D (and all roleplaying games) is that they are a time sink.

It takes a lot of time to put together an adventure, and then a lot of time to get together and play a session. There are any number of activities and hobbies that are also time sinks, so it is not just roleplaying games.

One can spend too much time watching TV, or on the computer, or fixing the old car in the garage.

Back during the First Great Awakening, playing cards, and parlor games had a bad name. From my reading on it, it was a problem for the Christians to partake in those activities more because as a believer in the reality of Hell, any activity that was not directly related to saving souls was of the devil. I think the one thing those who thought that way were missing, is that we all need to step back and have periods of diversions from everyday life. Even Jesus took time away from his earthly ministry to get away from the crowds swarming to get a miracle or hear him preach.

(Yes, I am a Christian who likes D&D. I am not trying to convert anyone, just pointing out that we Christians can get too caught up in our agenda and lose sight of the world God created, and the people whom we are to serve. Here is another disclaimer – I was a pastor for ten years. I did not mention my like of D&D, as some could not handle it when I mentioned that I liked “The Simpsons”. After 3 years of seminary, one can theologize about anything.)

It does not matter what the activity is in which one is engaged. There is nothing evil with having fun and blowing off steam, in a responsible manner. (I know some of my fellow believers would call me a heretic for that statement. I am not sure what Bible translation they would use to back that up.)

The problem comes with lack of balance. If you are in a job that demands a lot of time aware from family, even if you can bring the work home, if you are not “present” with them in an engaging way, what message are you sending.

Striking the balance of being a good spouse and parent, while still having individual “me time” is tough and takes making priorities and tough choices. Does one choose to follow one or two TV shows for each night of the week, and spend a couple of hours on the computer each night, or find activities to do as a family?

Just asking some reflective questions, and proving my point to myself. I can do better.

Writing things out is something I picked up in college. Once I write until the pen stopped, and whatever was on my mind was laid out, I could set it aside and forget about it and get to sleep. I do not do that near as often, over twenty years later, but I should, as it is so unburdening.

This is not a tell all, or Oprah moment. While I am not perfect, I do make an effort to be engaged with my family. Like all fathers, I have my “Cat’s In The Cradle” moments, when the stresses of life consume my thoughts. I know that I am far from the worst father in the world, but also far from the best. I do have moments with my sons when I know they truly appreciate me. I know it will get better as they get older. As I often tell them, “Your parents get smarter the older you get.”

Time flies so fast. I find it hard to believe that I am in my mid-40s. It is already August! I know why so many men fail their families and chase after younger women, they cannot accept who and where they are, and are chasing after youth. While a younger women might be exciting, you lose the benefits of having a woman your own age, who can relate to your life experiences. I see that with my children when I make a cultural reference from my youth, they look at me with blank stares. It is hard enough to keep up with changing technology at work, let alone all the things on hundreds of channels and millions of web sites. Life is too short to drop the life you chose in the past, for a “newer and better” life. I could not keep up with the culture in my high school days when we only had 4 or 5 channels, and dozens of radio stations. I can tell you if certain songs are from the 80s, but I may not know the name of the song, and many times won’t know which group.

As the subheading of this blog says, “Ramblings of an Old Gamer”. This one was all over the map. A combination of stress, tiredness, and a cold coming on, plus the late hour. I want to keep going with a post a day for as long as I can, with some relevance to gaming. This post took an idea and found the quickest tangent I could fine, being nearly all stream of consciousness. I hope I made some sort of point here.

Now if I had a bunch of monsters to go kill, that would alleviate some stress!

Trivial Pursuit

My wife won’t play Trivial Pursuit with me anymore since she can never beat me. If we ever played with a group, she would probably insist on being on my team. In college, I once played a game of Trivial Pursuit where I must have got every questions where the answer was Hamilton.

I can’t help but pick up random bits and facts. I see connections in things that no one else sees, and sometimes have a hard time articulating how I got there. My wife will roll her eyes when I mention something I was thinking, and she’ll ask me what made you think of that. My explanation of how I got from here to there reads like a story treatment for an episode of the old PBS show “Connections”.

In high school, my brother Robert, would make fun of my knowledge of esoterica, and after I mentioned something at the school lunch table we shared with out friends, he would pound the table and proclaim loudly, “Yet another entry in the ‘Book of Worthless Facts and Useless Information’!” I think I’ll use that for the title of my autobiography, or at least a chapter. 😉

How Do You Pronounce Paladin?

When we first started playing AD&D and had the new character class of Paladin, we had never encountered that word, so we did not pronounce it correctly.

We said it “pAl – a – din”, like “Aladdin”. We said it the wrong way for a long time. I am not sure which of us found out the correct pronunciation.

We were too young to see the original “Have Gun Will Travel”, and it was never in re-runs when we were growing up. It might have been my mom who corrected us, because she remembered “Have Gun Will Travel.

I do not think there was any other terms that we mangled so badly. We were all well read, and had read “The Hobbit” and “LotR”, and many others, so words were something we knew.

Magic Battle Standard

Robert, my brother, and I were at a game store that had a huge miniature  collection. I believe it was one of the times we made it to Kings Crown in Overland Park, KS, which was about an hour drive from home. I was 16 or 17, so about 1980-81 time frame.

They had a large terrain map, that as I recall was at least four 4×8 sheets of plywood. This was the central focus with the counter and displays around it. There were several “old guys” probably in the 30+ age bracket.

They regaled us of stories with their battles and talked of Magic Battle Standards. They gave their bearer and units that fought under them additional bonuses and protections. The more victories a unit won, the more powerful the standards became, until they were intelligent and could actively participate in the battle.

I wrote up some description for battle standards in my game, but no real stats yet. One thing I came up with was Greater and Lesser Standards. A Lesser Standard is magic, but does not grow in power, and has limits to how much of a unit it can protect. A Greater Standard, grows in power, etc. Using a variation on the rules for intelligent swords would be useful. I envisage them having alignments, so that will affect the kinds of things they can do. Perhaps even “holy” standards dedicated to a particular deity or pantheon. Another feature I came up with for Greater Standards is a bag of the same fabric attached to the pole. This bag will magic a soldier’s insignia to expand the protection of the standard to that individual. Only one insignia per day can be magicked when the standard is not in battle.

I have this vague recollection that these “old timers” mentioned planting the standard as a way for the unit to rally around the standard when the fight was going poorly.

I can see lots of choices for making such standards. I took the easy way out for now, and have the art of making them lost in antiquity, so I do not have to flesh this out in my game, until it becomes necessary. Since I have yet, to start this campaign, I have plenty of time.

Robert said he has his own rules for battle standards, but I have not yet gotten that information from him.

Mapping Hack with Index Cards and a Siege

My main character, Griswald Stewart, has a small town at the center of his lands. Long story short, he is a duke who succeeded his father, but his father’s generation of the former rulers of the kingdom were kicked out. The line of false kings let these lands become overrun with orcs in the past 50 years. Griswald and his cousins re-took the kingdom, which is now in a civil war, but a giant earthquake affected most of the kingdom, and the areas of the former Stewart lands. Griswald took this opportunity to take back his patrimony, and managed to drive out the orcs. He then set up in the town abandoned by the orcs.

I used a sheet from a desk blotter that was a giant sheet of graph paper. Setting the scale to 40 feet squares, the entire town fits on the map. The town is roughly 1500 feet by 3000 feet. The grid is four squares to the inch. I lost that desk blotter in several moves. I have not had luck finding them locally at office supply stores. I do not recall which chain of office supply store I originally found it. Google is not helping. I must not have the right terminology to get the correct results.

A few years after he took the town, two of the largest orc tribes, The Blue Fang and The Vile Hand, have put aside their differences and decided to deal with “The Duke” or “The Wolf” (his personal shield device) as he is variously called, BEFORE he sets their sites on them. Griswald has wiped out several smaller orc tribes, and his success in that regard has come back to bite him.

Needless to say, there is a siege situation, and if you have ever seen the movie Zulu, you get the idea of how bad a spot he and the townspeople are in.

We needed to figure out ranges for weapons and spells, so we could get an accurate setting for ranges that were at an angle. I found that the blue lines on standard 3 x5 index cards are spaced at the same scale as 4 square to the inch graph paper. I was able to put together two cards by stapling them together to determine ranges weapons and spells. Of course the orcs are staying outside of these ranges until the orcs catapults can batter a hole in the wall.

It was interesting to see that insect plague has the greatest range of the spells that Griswald and his forces have at their disposal. That is perhaps the most powerful battle magic spell in AD&D for its range, area of effect, duration, and the effect it has on low level creatures. Its one turn (10 round) casting time give plenty of time for things to go wrong. It then takes 8 hours of rest and then the 15 min per level time to re-learn it, so it has a big cost associated with how often it can be use from a cleric’s memory, to offset the effect it can have on a battlefield.

The orcs have observed and taken note of the tales of Griswald, a half-elf Fighter/Cleric/Magic-User of 9th/9th/10th levels, and his henchmen, associates, and followers. They have arrayed themselves into smaller units of 20 to 30 that are spread far enough apart in a checkerboard formation, that a fireball will not affect more than a single group, or those on the edges of four groups (the  equivalent of one group). This is the price of fame for an adventurer, the bad guys learn from you the way you learn from them.

One thing Griswald did several times before a few survivors spread the word was to draw the warriors out of their stronghold with the bait of a small force taunting them. He would then  lob a few fireballs at them and take out the stragglers back in the fort. He knows better than to have his forces leave their fortifications, so they are bottled up until he can defeat or discourage the attackers, or last until help arrives.

It is not played out so I can’t tell you what happened yet.