Category Archives: Follow Me And Die

More on Follow Me, And Die!

If you think about it, wandering bands of homicidal vagrants seek hirelings to help guard the horses, carry lanterns and torches, fight monsters, haul loot, and most importantly, to die instead of a player character.

The enticements to follow a band of adventurers are all flowers, sunshine, and gold! Tales of success and riches, minimizing, glossing over, or ignoring foul, nasty beasts with mean, sharp teeth, undead, evil sorcerers, hungry trolls, etc.

The mumbled/whispered/assumed end result, “And Die! [So I don’t have to…]”, is never mentioned to potential hirelings, without a cost in treasure, or only the most untrustworthy and backstabby of sorts.

All adventurers do this, moreso with hirelings than with henchmen.

As for the realm of RPG bloggers, you might as well follow me, you’re going to die anyway, so do it, before it’s too late!

Happy Jacks Podcast – Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

After listening to the Drink, Spin, Run livecast and its heavy representation of Michigan residents, I hopped over to the Happy Jacks Podcast for their live broadcast for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

I was paying attention during the DSR session when they explained what the three Swords & Wizardry books are based on, and I was the first with the right answer on the Happy Jacks Podcast and I won something from +James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games. It is one of his recent White Box series of material. I wasn’t clear if it is PDF, print or both.

Once I find out what I get and have it, I will have an article about it. I think it’s the White Box Omnibus.

The winning answer: Swords & Wizardry White Box = OD&D White/Brown Box; S&W Core = “Extras”; Complete = Every Supplement.

Working From Home

TL/DR – I am now working from home and have an hour a day I don’t have to do the round trip to and from work Monday through Friday, and will have more time to focus on living life and preparing and playing games.

My company decided to close our local office because there are only three of us and have us work from home. Two other office are being closed, each with two employees, and having them work from home, saving the company over $100K a year in rent. Too bad I don’t get a piece of that. At least I get to save on gas and have an hour more each day for other things since I don’t have to drive to work. I really like avoiding driving in winter and saving money on gasoline and wear and tear on my car.

Last weekend, I packed up my office and hauled everything home except my desk. I will miss my desk. It is just too big for my house. We have three desks to get rid of. At least I got my desk chair. The cheap one I have from Wal-Mart is wearing out.

I spent five hours moving some things out of my home office to make room so I could move in my work office stuff. I got it all to fit. This inspired me to clean and organize. I already had three 5-shelf bookcases in here and a smaller bookcase. I moved in two 2-drawer file cabinets and put my shorter bookcase on top of them. I brought a five shelf bookcase from the office and a little rolling file cabinet with a “desk top” and a small drawer and a big file drawer.

This gave me storage space to make it all fit even better and a half-done job of organizing a few months ago. Of the three bookshelves I had in here to start, one is nearly organized the way I want it, the second is partially organized with two shelves in a holding pattern, and the third has three empty shelves and two for temporary holding. I have my AD&D manuals and some of my campaign notes on one shelf of the work bookcase. They say that you’re only supposed to touch each thing once, but the sorting of getting everything out is not so easy with cats and dogs and other people in the same house. It’s like one of those number puzzles where you shift the numbers in odd ways until you sort them in order. It may not be efficient, but I have found several things I have been looking for and I now have room to speed up the sorting. If you hadn’t seen it before I started, you wouldn’t think the way it looks now is an improvement.

I had my office at work mostly decluttered, but had a buildup of stuff to sort and toss. I look forward to having a place for everything and everything in its place. Soon I will have all my AD&D manuals, campaign information and other active game related materials together on one or more shelves of a bookcase for easy access. I am good at decluttering and sorting through files while on hold or if calls ever slow down.

If they will ever get the last few clients off a DOS based series of products, for which I am the main support tech, I can pitch 6 or 8 binders, or rather pitch their contents and re-purpose the binders for game materials.

I will also have room for my few board games so that I can keep all of that stuff together. If the bug bites, I might even sell off the stuff I don’t and realistically, won’t use.

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of floppies, CDs, and odd bits of computer related tech that is old and obsolete. I can sit here and feed floppies to an old PC in the corner and determine if I need the data. If there is a market for used floppies, I can get something out of them. I would like to avoid the landfill…. I remember when a 1.44 MB 3.25 inch floppy was considered a lot of space. Now all these floppies would fit on one DVD with room to spare…..

As I look around and think about some of this stuff, there is a lot that I have not even touched since I divorced my wife four years ago. I’m finally able to get out some breakables and display them, like my great-grandfather’s pocket watch in a glass covered display stand.

My dog likes it because I don’t need to put her in her kennel while I’m at the office. I can also let her out multiple times throughout the day. If I get stuck and have to work through my lunch hour or work late, I have food here and don’t have to rush out and buy crap. There are not many choices in my village for a healthy lunch, so I won’t be spending money eating out for lunch very often, if at all. No more getting home at 5:30 or 6:00 and not having supper until 8:00 or 8:30.

Once it warms up, I can set up by wi-fi and work outside, or in the garage, or on the deck. I can lounge in my hammock on my lunch hour.

Life is good! The level of order I prefer in my life and living environment is rapidly coming together.

Posting Frequency

Now that I am past my busiest time of year at work*, my energy and enthusiasm for other things leaves brain power available to get creative. I also was busy wrapping up my hex for Tenkar’s Landing, and getting ready for Marmalade Dog 20.

I have been coming up with a lot of ideas and spreading them out to avoid having too many posts on the same day. It won’t be long until I hit post # 300! Wow! I started posting with great regularity in January, 2014 when I read that it was the 40th anniversary of D&D. March/April of 2014 was my 36th year of D&D. I started in 1978 with Holmes Blue Book Basic. So 2015 is my 37th year of gaming/RPGs.

I am now thinking about the 2015 April A to Z challenge, and think I will sign up again this year.

My thoughts are also percolating for a possible 2015 One Page Dungeon submission.

My posting frequency will vary based on my ideas and things I want to say about RPGs. Vacations, personal issues that may arise, and work commitments can all have an effect. My hope is to keep posting a few days in advance to build up a “buffer” of posts so that my missing a day is invisible to my readers.

In addition to daily or near daily articles, and other than the April 2014 A to Z Challenge, I will write about the games I play in and run, cons I attend, and ideas I have or comments & extrapolation on the ideas of others. I will also come up with tables and other game aids as the need or inspiration strikes.

The cons I plan to attend this year originally included Gary Con, but things have changed since last year, so I will have to put that off to 2016. I will definitely be at UCon 2015 in November. I am seriously considering Con On The Cob in October, since it is within a four hour drive. I will also try to attend any online cons, if those work into my schedule.

I have ideas for an adventure based on my hex in Tenkar’s Landing, so I look forward to fleshing that out.

I may also begin posting new areas of my campaign as I develop them, but those may wait until I actually have players reach them. So far, my usual players don’t follow my blog, but if I take the plunge and begin an online game, I will want to hold onto those for later.

I look forward to the rest of gaming in 2015.

Game on!!!

*(I support payroll and accounting software. This means that December and January are crazy busy with clients trying to wrap up end of year, print W-2’s and 1099’s, and deal with various state specific reports that have a deadline.)

Marmalade Dog 20 OSR Track Handout

I had the idea and volunteered to put it together. It is a one page, front & back listing of the GM’s for the OSR track and what games and rules systems they used, plus a listing of the websites for those rule systems and other OSR related information.

This page will be the home of that handout with a QR Code to send you here for the PDF with the clickable links.

I will also have a few handouts available at the con, with enough for each of the 6 slots in the 3 sessions I am running, plus two for each GM. The QR code should minimize the need for most to need a physical copy.

Marmalade Dog OSR Track Handout

Musings on This Blog’s Name

As I explained in the About and here and elsewhere, the name of this blog comes from my brother, Robert, the DM mocking my character in his game, who hired all the mercenaries he could to deal with the large hordes of orcs in his territory and all of the troops dying, making it very difficult to hire more troops. It’s a bit like “going over the top” in WWI.

It is not lost on me the irony of the term when it comes to social media, as one wants to encourage and attract followers.

But if you think about it, whether you follow my blog or not, you will die, so don’t be like all the others who die without following my blog, join the few who die valiantly (?) in the pursuit of role playing fun!

Follow me!  ….. and die!

Or as best as I can imitate the way my brother says it:

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Email Seeking Support for an RPG Kickstarter

I just got an email, a follower on my Google+page, and a like on my FB page seeking a plug for a Kickstarter. It is one that has been mentioned over at the Tavern. NOTE: I am not mentioning which Kickstarter it is. I am sure Erik will have his own post about it.

Little ol’ me?

My attempts at blogging and going on about my experiences and ideas with the RPGs I play is good enough for them?

There is no offer of remuneration for my time to plug the product. It is not one that I would use, so even if they offered it to me for free, I would not use it. I find using devices, such as computers/laptops, tablets, or phones are not much use to me.

I may fire up my phone to use the calculator, if I need one.

If I am playing in the weekly Wednesday night Roll20 AD&D game, I have rarely needed my tablet, and my computer is busy with showing the Roll20 interface. I occasionally use the calculator program on my computer during play, usually to make sure I add up or divide coins or experience correctly. When I did try to use my tablet during a game, it was to display my character sheet or a map my character bought. I haven’t used my tablet in the last several weeks. This past Wednesday was session 30. We had a two week break for the DM to go on vacation, and I was late to one session due to work.

I have manuals for AD&D that I bought via DriveThru RPG and manuals for free and fee OSR style games on my computer and my tablet. I find having them on my tablet useful for reading while at work, so I don’t have to lug them all around. I also have dice rollers on my tablet so I can do adventure/game prep away from home.

If I were going to run a module, I would print out the pertinent parts.

I am a paper using guy. The one struggle is finding what I want. Even with an electronic format, I usually need to look at more than one thing at a time. If I can’t look at the player’s version of the spell and what the DMG says about it at the same time, I have to remember what the one I can’t see says. Yes, the books take up more space, but I can’t change who I am or what I am used to and most important of all, what works for me.

I am at a point in life where I should have more disposable income. My children are older, one on his own, and the other nearly on his own. Neither are going the college route. However, due to the financial condition I was left in by my ex and her love of credit cards, I still have some large bills, so I have to be selective on what gets my money and attention.

Kickstarters that I support with my money tend to be things that I will use or the geek factor is to good to pass up. For RPG stuff, something that has an option for both a PDF and a softcover or hardcover book is the most useful to me.

Kickstarters that I will support by sharing their link will be those that I find appealing and if I had more money to spare, I would pledge my dollars.

No ill will to these fellows, just not something that I can support.

Intersting….

Tenkar’s Landing – OSR Crowdsourced Island

I took the plunge and signed up for a hex in the Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Island. There is a G+ community for the endeavor.

It will be interesting to see how this all comes together.

So far, it is decided to use 6 mile hexes, any flavor of the Swords & Wizardry Rules, but keeping it light on the “crunch” for easier use by any rules set.

Erik has given the general background of the island and will provide some other information.

One person has already done a map of their hex with fishing villages.

There are still several hexes left.

I claimed a swamp hex, so it will be interesting how the whole thing meshes with the rest of the island and map.

My First Session of Google+ Hangouts and Roll20

I had my first session of playing an RPG using Google+ Hangouts and Roll20.

Google+ Hangouts are a way to do group conference calls online. They can be just voice, or mix the use of video and voice.

Roll20 is a Virtual Table Top (VTT). It works in your web browser, so it can work on a computer, laptop, tablet, or even a phone. From my experience, I prefer a larger screen. The display has an area that is the “table-top”. It can hold fancy maps of terrain, buildings, dungeons, etc, or just a grid to keep track of marching order or positions of objects, players, and monsters. Roll20 has integration with Google+ Hangouts. You accept the invitation to the G+ Hangout and sign in when it starts. You also sign into Roll20 when it is time. I signed into Roll20 early, so I don’t know if joining the hangout would take me to Roll20 or not.

I have seen YouTube videos of past Google+ Hangouts, and have had invitations to them before, but never had the time to get involved in one. It does not require the use of video. That it only useful if you want to see the other players. If you don’t have a webcam or don’t want to be on video, you just need a microphone so others can hear you, and decent speakers so you can hear them. A headset with a microphone would work, as it appears some other players were using. The nice things about using G+ Hangouts is that it showed who was speaking, either by the video of the speaker going to the center of the screen, or showing the picture displayed by those not using video. Having the hangout window open covers part of the screen. It is not required for it to be open, but I found it helpful to have a window just big enough open to see who was speaking. That made it more like a face-to-face session. If you have two monitors, it would work better to have it on one screen and the VTT on the other.

I have a Roll20 account, it is free to use, but for a fee, you can get some more bells and whistles. Those are not necessary to run or join a game. I have the basic, free account. I have gone through the Roll20 tutorial about how to do things. You can display different maps, with a grid. You can use tokens for players, monsters, and items. There is a library of free tokens and maps, and you can upload your own. For a fee, you can get specialized tokens and maps that give you more options. It also features a dice roller that just says what dice was rolled, pus any modifiers and gives the result. It has an option to show 3-D dice that roll across the VTT, but it is slow and slows down the game. To roll, you either have to type a command in the chat window, or set up a macro with frequently used rolls. For example, “/r d20” rolls a d20. As a GM, you can have multiple Roll20 campaigns/games, and as a player, you can participate in multiple games. There are multiple layers that can be displayed and the GM can see things on the GM only layer

The game I participated was Vault of Time hosted by the founder of the Friday Night D&D: Next Google+ Community. As the name says, it is Friday night. The game was slated to start at 9:00 PM. To play, you roll up a 10th level character using the D&D Next beta play test rules. I had signed up to the D&D Next beta at Wizards of the Coast, so I had the latest rules. D&D Next is D&D 5.0 and is slated for release this summer. This was the more challenging part of the whole thing. I rolled up a character using real dice, then I had to read through a PDF on character creations, then classes, then races, then equipment. I started about 6:30 PM and was “done” with my character about 8:30. I am old school, so I know how to roll up a character and get started in short order. D&D Next can be played that way, but it has been influence by all version s of D&D. I have played D&D Basic and 1st Edition, and had minor exposure to 2nd edition. I have no exposure to D&D 3.0, 3.5, or 4.0. As I understand it, the later versions of D&D, i.e. 3.0 and later, have all the feats, skills, and abilities that are not part of D&D or AD&D. I did not have time to read and understand what choices to make for feats, etc. so I had as close to an AD&D dwarven fighter as imaginable.

Playing the game.

I signed in to Roll20 early and there were only two other players. One invited me to play poker. Roll20 can simulate a deck of cards for situations that require use of cards. The actual game session started about ten minutes late. The GM had been sick last week and cancelled last week’s session. For this week, he had not had time to get maps, etc. uploaded to Roll20, so we just used a grid over a graphic of a stone floor. We have tokens with the names of each player to show marching order, etc. The VTT has a whiteboard type feature, so the GM could draw the rooms and doors we encountered. This game is just a group of players who get together and play through the same dungeon, and my character was just there, no explanation, etc. (I don’t have a problem with this, as the idea was for me to learn and have fun.) The regulars in this game may have started at tenth level, but had over 100 hit points, I only had 71. They were like 20th level or something. The all male group of players were in the 30 to 50 age range, give or take. There were several wizards in the group, and they had all kinds of spells going all over the place. My understanding is that you can play D&D Next with a subset of the rules to be closer to D&D/AD&D, or have all the bells and whistles and make a first level character that is a demi-god. I definitely see why later versions of D&D have been described as emulating video games like WOW or LOTRO. As a basic fighter, my character was only good for taking up space, moving, and fighting. I ended up being the only character in the session to take a hit, and lost 16 hit points, but was healed at the end of the damage inducing encounter of 15 hit points.

I deferred to other players a lot as I was there to learn how this online role playing format worked. I found a group of guys that reminded me a lot of other groups of gamers I have played with over the years. There was a lot of non play related banter, and meta-gaming. The players spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do in some situations, sort of like my ex and I got into when we were trying to decide what restaurant to go to. I kept expecting the DM to have a random encounter come and give us trouble for dawdling. There were no random encounters. We could have done a lot more exploration of the dungeon/caverns we were in, but were caught up in lots of back and forth over what should have been quick decisions. There was no elected leader, and the DM did not enforce order or keep us focused on the game. There was very little role playing of people speaking as their characters. That’s ok, I can play either way. I did try to roll play my dwarf in a way to move things along.

Our first obstacle was a slow moving underground stream about five feet deep and twenty feet wide. We spent 20 or so minutes trying to decide/figure out what to do. The next obstacle was a magic archway with an ominous inscription that could be interpreted as something good or bad. No one wanted to go through it, but we spent 20+ minutes with the wizards arguing about how to dispel a permanent magic item they had no clue what it did. Finally, we went the other way and the next ominous sign only delayed us for about five minutes. We went to a room with a brass door and opened it to find a room with two doors on the north, east, and west walls, total 6 doors. We started working out way around the room and two rooms had two wights we easily slew in two or three rounds, two more rooms had four juju zombies that took a little longer. The DM said that he levelled up the zombies so they would challenge us. I was hit in the second of those rooms. The next to last door had a passage. We decided to check out the other room and it had a wight. We slew the wight and ended the session about 1:30 PM. The DM said we each got 28,775 experience points. That is enough to put me to 11th level. The DM said he did not divide the XP. In earlier rooms we did find a +1 sword and a ring of levitation and one pair of wights was guarding a potion of flying. Not dripping with magic or treasure, but XP wise seemed pretty easy. What is odd is that I needed less than 28,000 XP to go from 10th level to 11th level. All classes use the same experience point advancement chart. The DM rolled actual dice and was on video, so we saw him look down to roll. It reminded me of DMs rolling their dice behind the screen.

My Take:

I had fun learning about the online role playing tools and playing and laughing with a group of gamers. D&D Next is not my thing, at least not all the feats, etc. The players tell the DM what they can or can’t do and what they need to roll to do things. I think the DM should set the parameters. There are so many options for a simple fighter, that it felt like I was playing a spellcaster in AD&D. A fighter should not be so difficult to create or play, but that’s because I learned how over 30 years ago.

As for the tools of online roleplaying I like what I see. Google+ is just the means of gathering together, and Roll20 is the table where we gather round. Roll20 is flexible enough to allow just a blank grid to show marching order, terrain/dungeon, objects, and monsters. You don’t need miniatures or a fancy map to play, but if you want fancy, you can do it. For the harried DM who is short of preparation time, I can see the value of using it to show basic positions and for rolling dice.

I have an AD&D/OSRIC game I plan to participate in on Wednesday to see how another DM does it.

I will do a few more sessions to get familiar with things before I dip my toes in the water to run my own game(s).

Here is a picture of what we saw when fighting the wight in the last room before play ceased.I forgot to mention that one of the wizards created a zombie from the remains of one of the juju zombies. No one seemed to have an issue with that, so alignment did not make a big difference in this game.

 

Friday Night D&D Next
Friday Night D&D Next

[EDIT] I forgot to mention sound. Roll20 has a feature to allow you to play background music and sounds. There is a collection of royalty free music, and you can upload your own. There are also other music/sounds available if you join their fee plan.

During our play another player was playing music. I don’t have a problem with music during play if it complements what is going on. I found that in the environment of a Google+ Hangout it was distracting from play. It was not my kind of music, I’m not sure what it was, and to me, did not fit. Also it was louder than it should have been at times. A way to put it in the background would have helped.

The other issue was on my end. I live across the street from the house next to the train tracks going through town. We have about five or six streets from one end of town to the other that cross the tracks. The Federal law requires the horn to be blown at each crossing. I am used to it and tune it out, so I was then conscious of it and muted the sound when there was a train. I will have to use a microphone that I can limit what it picks up so I don’t blast out the others and have to mute my microphone to avoid interfering with play. This is a drawback to running a game of my own.