Category Archives: OSR

Frank Mentzer’s 0D&D Game At Gary Con IX

I managed to get a gold badge for this year’s Gary Con, which means that you get into two special event games.  This year, one of them was Frank’s game. I had interacted briefly with Frank at Gary Con last year, and at Gamehole Con IV last November.

This year, I made it to Frankenparty IV, a party that Frank and his wife Deb host in their home. They only ask to follow their wishes about parking and a small donation to offset the costs of food. I touched on this in my Gary Con wrap-up post.

Frank’s game was very informal and I found it enlightening to see how one style of original play was handled. We only needed three dice, d6, d10, and d20. He provided pregens, which speeded preparations/play. Being 0D&D d6 for all damage, and d20 for combat.

He had us use the d10 to resolve things that had a chance of failure. through mutual negotiation and explanation of what our characters did, Frank would have us call high or low before we rolled the d10. Frank said that that is what they did before they started developing rules for things. He also had us use THAC0, which he said started in Lake Geneva and he thinks is a quick way to know if you hit.

I really like that. That is something that many in the OSR are going back to, such as Swords & Wizardry Light, and others. I have a love for AD&D, but there are so many rules, that rules lawyers bog down play if a DM doesn’t have the skill to move things back to the game. I’m slightly guilty of that, but I try to ask clarifying questions, and shut up, since I believe each DM/GM has the right to run their game to their preferences.

With old school, you only need a roll where there is a chance of failure, such as combat, or leaping over a pit in full armor. This gives more focus on roleplaying and moving the adventure along.

Frank also talked about four levels of crosstalk at the table. I tried to take notes, but don’t have it exactly as he described it.

They are:

  1. Players
  2. Characters
  3. Meta(game)
  4. Meta(world)

Old school play is reliant on player skill, so what many call “metagaming,” is encouraged, at least by Frank.

The scenario was set in the world of Disney’s Maleficent. That description of the movie/cartoon set the tone and we all had a mental image. No minis, just a written marching order on a 3×5 card.

Frank did use 3 six-sided weather dice and used the average for weather. Very quick and easy. He also told us when we were doing something that might get us killed, and commented on our choice of tactics. He gave us a chance to adjust, but we could have easily gotten killed in a fight.

At one point, one of our magic users used sleep on an opponent and all the crows in a tree fell down. I really liked the “rain of murder”. A day or two later I mentioned to Frank how much I liked that. He said that I was the only one who laughed at his jokes. Some were pretty subtle, but that’s a style of humor I also like.

Frank also shared his original campaign maps, which will help inform Darlene when she does the maps for his upcoming Kickstarter. I’ll be bringing that to your attention when I get word of its launch.

Frank Mentzer - Original Campaign Maps on Judges Guild Maps
Frank Mentzer – Original Campaign Maps on Judges Guild Maps
Frank Mentzer - Original Campaign Maps on Newer Judges Guild Maps
Frank Mentzer – Original Campaign Maps on Newer Judges Guild Maps

After the game he signed my character sheet and name card. I played a dwarf, so I named him after the dwarf in the AD&D Roll20 campaign that hit three years and 148 sessions last week. I shared that on our Google Community page for the campaign. The guys like that.

Dwarf In Frank Mentzers Game
Dwarf In Frank Mentzers Game

 

Dungeon Grappling Final PDF Reviewed.

I was honored to get an advance copy of the PDF based on my review of Grappling Old School, in +Tim Short’s The Manor #8. Check out Tim’s blog, Gothridge Manor. Based on comments in my review of the advanced copy, Doug made changes. He did this based on feedback from all the reviewers. He went above and beyond and even though the Kickstarter was just shy of the final stretch goal for a custom cover, he did it anyway.

The PDF comes in at 53 pages, it has awesome art, and the table of contents is hyperlinked. The index also contains hyperlinks to the page numbers. Color coding of the section headers is continued in the table of contents and the index. There is a background image, but unlike most of them I have seen, here it is faded out so I can actually read the text. Attention to the details of both usability and legibility in the text is awesome!

There is an in-depth overview of the core concepts for a cleaner, simpler, and easier to run grappling system. It covers generic concepts that will accommodate any older rule set, as well as many clones. There is also special focus for both D&D 5e and Pathfinder. Monstrous grappling is also discussed. Finally, there is a reference section with three reference sheets, one of my suggestions, to reduce the need to refer back to the rules.

One can take all of this system, or just the parts they need. I play AD&D, and its grappling system is so cumbersome that few dare try it. I plan to implement this in the games I run and an upcoming special project game on Roll20.

Along with the release of the PDF, there is an eBook format in both mobi and ePub formats. I’ll also fire up my Kindle and review the eBook as soon as I can.

This was Doug’s first Kickstarter and he is delivering way ahead of schedule. The PDF was slated for February, and delivered in January. The printed book was planned for April delivery, but has shipped in January. His constant updates were to the point of wishing it would ease up a bit. But unlike some notoriously failed Kickstarters, that is the kind of problem a back wants. the books have shipped and I’ll be getting mine any day now. Look for a review of the physical book soon!

Doug took one reviewer to heart about the art and has published a book of just the art. The cut is for the artists to get a bonus, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and towards a bit of the overhead. You can buy Dungeon Grappling On DriveThruRPG and on Doug’s website, Gaming Ballistic.

Mixing It Up

The whole concept of making a dungeon, adventure, town, or wilderness interesting requires that the DM know the audience, i.e. the players.

Players who have never played D&D don’t know what to expect from the standard monsters from the Monster Manual. I DM AD&D and my sons and oldest son’s girlfriend were entertaining to me to see their reactions to standard creatures. First their were zombies, they were freaking out because their experience was that if you get bit by zombies you become one. Next they encountered a troll and it wouldn’t drop. Those and so many other things tell me that standard monsters are OK for new players.

However, if they are seasoned players or get tired of all the standard monsters change them. For example, instead of a room full of orc guarding piles of copper pieces, you have multiple options.

  • Keep it as is. Potentially boring unless you add some other twist to the room, such as an illusion or them being under a spell to compel them to stay in that room.
  • Swap the monster and the treasure for something totally different. Simple. Just pick any other creature and swap out. Or pick two other creatures and have them in the middle of a battle over a pile of gold, or whatever they both value.
  • Give them the appearance of orcs, but they are really something else, like a shape shifter, or polymorphed dwarves. The piles of copper are really gold coins that have a spell on them that makes them look like copper.
  • Be bold and randomize it all. Use Appendix D for Random Creatures From the Lower Planes for the appearance of a creature with the same stats as the original creatures.
  • Or pick a tough monster with a puny treasure, or a massive treasure with a puny monster.
  • Re-skin the monster. It might be a puny goblin, but change it’s appearance and abilities to make a new monster. Your world may not have goblins, but they have whozeewhatsis.

Treasure can be varied based on the few mentions above, or as follows:

  • Treasure is easy to roll up something else. Throw in something from a different genre’s treasure table.
  • Have a mundane looking item actually be magical. Perhaps it appears as a broken pitcher to hide its true nature.
  • Have the monsters be the treasure and the treasure be the monsters. The 5 orcs are actually fine art statues of orcs or any other creature. They are guarded by an army of copper disk automatons.
  • Hide the treasure in interesting ways. Make it invisible, or hidden in a secret room and it is invisible. Hide it by an illusion that reacts to the party. Hide it under a statue or in a hollow pedestal.
  • Have a lever that when pulled releases the treasure:
    • Into a viper filled pit, or better a mound of vipers on top of the treasure.
    • Into a sewer guarded by an otyugh or other refuse loving creature.
    • Onto the party requiring saves to avoid it or take damage.
    • After multiple rooms of treasure being released by the lever, have a room that actually delivers it into fresh large sacks and ties them off.
      • Decide how easy it will be for the characters to get homewith it.
        • Antigravity on the tied off sacks
        • Roll bend bars lift gates check to lift the sacks. If they set them down, roll again.
        • Cursed sacks that polymorphs those who touch the sacks.

Ask some questions. What is the motivation of the monsters? What about the motivation of the treasure? Is their an intelligent sword the orcs have managed to avoid picking up? Or has the sword waited for the right moment to get out of this dungeon to fulfill its purpose?

One can do any number of things to mix up a published module, or to make one’s own adventures more interesting.

Be creative not just in the treasure, but in the rooms/locations and their appearance and furnishings. There are tables in the appendix of the AD&D DMG that can give ideas, but put a twist on them. Various retroclones have similar tables to assist.

A dungeon can be a simple as a one room tomb to a complex megadungeon. Every room doesn’t need an elaborate description. Every dungeon need not have such a specialized list of descriptions. A “vanilla” dungeon with “vanilla” monsters is OK too. Maybe throw in a jalapeño, totally unexpected in the context. Such a thing would cause the players to wonder why the odd twist, so be prepared with a backstory to explain it.

This is why reading a lot gives good ideas. It doesn’t have to be fantasy. It can be non-fiction or even technical. Put on your DM’s RPG frame of mind hat and mine those things for ideas. Take notes on any off the wall ideas that come to mind.

If you feel your well run dry, read RPG related blogs, G+ pages and communities, FB pages, Reddit, or RPG related forums. Some blogs put out regular tables of ideas for encounters, treasure, new monsters, etc.  Take a break if you need it, whether you need to play for a while, or just need a session off.

Re-frame the pressure of game prep. It is supposed to be fun. If you have young children or grandchildren, take the funny things they say and work it into your game. There is a product called yogurt bites that when my granddaughter says it, sound like “ogre bites”. I decided that is a good name for a dish served at inns and taverns.

It doesn’t take much to add an interesting twist, however small that will engage your players. Given enough variety your players will be on their toes and not know what to expect at every turn.

What is an Adventure?

Yesterday, I wrote about the term campaign. While I was writing that article, it occurred to me that the term adventure has some shading to its meaning.

For example, some use the term adventure to indicate a single session. Others mean it to indicate a set of a contained story, plot, or location. Sometimes the adventure can be played in a single game session, other times, it might drag on for weeks, if it is the looting of a large replenishing dungeon.

I think commercial modules had a big impact on the use of the word adventure. The module is a self-contained whole, and the DM does not have to do anything beyond become familiar with it. Of course, customization is always an option. A series of adventures, like the Drow series could each be considered a single adventure, or the completion of the entire story arch within could be classed as an adventure.

A series of adventures, whether interrelated or not serve to make up a campaign, whatever one means by campaign.

Like so much of language, a lot of it is dictated by convention, experience, and preference. All of the above uses are correct. I supposed there are those that like to argue the fine points of any use of a word. However, that is an academic exercise that does not interest everyone. The point is to get together and play!

All terms with multiple meanings can confuse new players, so one should work to minimize the jargon, or define it on the go. The key to growing the hobby is helping new players want to play again.

How else have you used or encountered other uses in the RPG context of the term adventure?

Of course, no matter how you use the term adventure, an adventurer is one who has or goes on adventures.

Inspiration From Real Places – Ronda, Spain

Ronda, Spain has some cool bridges across a gorge c. 100 meters (c. 328 feet) deep between parts of the town. It first came to my attention as a screensaver on my Win 10 PC, so I had to look it up.

Playing with the Google map Earth view and the 3-D features gives a very cool view of the “New Bridge”, Puente Nuevo.

I have in mind a walled city atop the cliffs, split by the gorge, with one part surrounded by steep cliffs, and the bridge across the gorge is from an area that slopes away, providing the only ground access. Massive gates with a drawbridge to prevent direct access to the city would deter all but the most determined and well-equipped enemy.

The citadel area would not have room to spread out, but could grow up, and have sewers and passages carved out of the stone beneath. Over time, these clandestine ways in allow thieves and smugglers their own way in and out of the city. Over time, the knowledge of these ways may be lost to officials and laxity in patrols could lead to enemies or creatures getting in unobserved.

The other half of the city across the bridge would have room to grow beyond the walls, limited by the cliffs and the gorge. There would be fewer tall building and less digging below, since it is easier to just spread out here. Tall buildings and excavations below would only appeal to those that have nowhere else to spread out. However, the city government, local noble, etc. would prevent buildings being too tall to prevent them being an archery platform in the event of an invasion or siege.

I wish I had time to dig into developing this right now, but I’m gathering notes for the four games I’ll be running a UCon in a few weeks. I have to get it done now since I will be at Gamehole Con the weekend before UCon. So I also have to gather the stuff for the games I am signed up for at Gamehole.

 

 

Mini Review – Apes Victorious

There’s a new RPG in town, Apes Victorious. It’s built on the standard RPG engine of so many other games based on the original RPG. The focus is on a world like that in the Planet of the Apes movies and TV show. Release on Monday, it is now the top seller on RPGNow.

It takes the “standard” RPG rules and comes up with a game that is its own setting. It is faithful to the cinematic world, and lays out the different types of apes, with the addition of bonobos. Humans can be time travelling astronauts, humanoids (regressed non-speaking humans), and underdwellers. It postulates a 1970’s era technology far in advance of what it was, but using the films as a starting point for what happened.

The nuclear apocalypse and subsequent ice age to wipe away most of past humanity’s efforts sets the stage for the rise of apes. The movies’ world setting is well presented, and suits many other apocalyptic settings.

One could argue that you can just use Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, or other science fiction/apocalyptic RPG. However, the authors have anticipated this argument and made a case for multiple ways to make this a stand alone campaign of more than just one-shot adventures or convention play.

They also present a sample map and scenarios and creatures to encounter in the wilderness.

As someone who loved the original movies back when they finally made it to TV, and acted out scenarios with brothers and friends before we found RPG’s, it feels like the movies.

There is a free no art version available and two variation on the character sheet here. You can get the complete PDF at RPGNow for $4.97. Print options are forthcoming.

I tried to think of what is lacking in this game. The main reservation I had, of making it a campaign worthy game, were addressed by the authors. A niche game in a niche hobby, it is good to see the developers acknowledge what some will see as shortcomings.

I am curious about the art, so I may give in and get the art version.

There is a G+ Community that started back in the spring when they first announced the summer release of Apes Victorious.

This article uses affiliate links. A small portion of your purchases on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG help support this site.

Happy Birthday! Dave Arneson

What a fun tribute for Dave Arneson’s birthday! If you haven’t already heard, a trailer was released for a new movie about the birth of the first role playing game.

See more about it in my article on Multiverse.

It is also the last day of the third and final Read an RPG Book In Public Week for 2016.

I had delivery of a Kickstarter, The ABC’s of RPGs. It includes a children’s book, activity book, bookmark, and stickers. My 20 month old granddaughter loves the book and made me read it about 6 times before bed the other night. The art is cool and just sets the tone.

Ship Names

During the AD&D games I ran at the last Marmalade Dog I needed a good ship name, and didn’t have a good one, so I asked the players, and got a great one, the Storm Witch.

I then decided that I could make a table to come up with other usable names.

The most basic such table is a list of adjectives and a list of nouns and roll a die for each column.

Of course, with adjectives you have colors and other descriptors. Powerful action oriented descriptors are cool, like the Flying Dutchman, or the Red Witch (Wake of the Red Witch).  Ships have the idea of motion and speed. A name that foreshadows a very fast ship is only fitting if the ship is fast. A slow merchant would tend to have a name evoking reliability or stability, or perhaps a humorous name. A pirate ship would most likely be renamed to something more suiting. a naval ship would have something indicating power, like Dreadnought, Dauntless, Intrepid, etc.

Certain colors tend to give an image of ferocity, danger, dread, etc.

Use the name to draw forth a description for the figurehead. For example, when the player suggested the Storm Witch, I immediately had an image in my head and could describe the figurehead to the others. A woman with hair blown about by the winds of storms.

Some ships might have a single name, like the Dragon, and others could have longer names. Come up with naming conventions by different nations or races. Elves might name their ships after stars or trees. Different human nations might emphasize something different with their ship names.

Below are some tables to mix and match and give ideas for naming ships. This could apply to naming water borne ships or spaceships.

Adjective/Noun (d10)

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sea
  4. Dusty
  5. Red
  6. Fast/Quick
  7. Sun
  8. Flaming
  9. Smoldering
  10. Smoking

Noun (d8)

  1. Witch
  2. Waif
  3. Spirit
  4. Sprite
  5. Dragon
  6. Kraken
  7. Merchant
  8. Maid

Sea Related Words

  1. Sea/Ocean/Waters
  2. Mist
  3. Wave
  4. Surf/Surfer
  5. Surge
  6. Storm/Tempest/Thunder
  7. Foam
  8. Deep/Depths/Abyss
  9. Whirlpool/Vortex/Eddy
  10. Maelstrom
  11. Aurora
  12. Wind/Squall
  13. Calm/Becalmed/Stagnant
  14. Shore
  15. Isle/Island
  16. Murky
  17. Shallows
  18. Reef
  19. Shoal
  20. Fathom

Ship Related Words

  1. Sail
  2. Oar
  3. Deck
  4. Plank
  5. Keel
  6. Mast

Crew Related Words

  1. Hand/Sailor/Crew
  2. Mate
  3. Captain
  4. Owner
  5. Carpenter
  6. Rigger
  7. Master
  8. Chief

Navigation

  1. Star
  2. Sun
  3. Moon
  4. Compass/Sunstone
  5. Sextant
  6. Astrolabe
  7. Eclipse
  8. Twilight
  9. Dawn
  10. Dusk
  11. Midnight
  12. Morning
  13. Evening

Type of Ship

  1. Merchant
  2. Galley/Bireme/Trireme/Longship
  3. War
  4. Pirate/Buccaneer/Privateer
  5. Escort
  6. Whaler
  7. Trawler
  8. Cruiser
  9. Caravel
  10. Corvette
  11. Ironclad
  12. Galleon

Sea Creatures

  1. Squid
  2. Octopus
  3. Turtle
  4. Whale
  5. Kraken
  6. Barracuda
  7. Shark
  8. Eel
  9. Ray/Manta/Mantaray
  10. Crab/Lobster/Crustacean
  11. Clam/Oyster
  12. Snake
  13. Crocodile
  14. Manatee
  15. Dolphin/Porpoise
  16. Trout/Bass

Other Creatures

  1. Harpy
  2. Hag/Nag
  3. Witch
  4. Dragon
  5. Wolf
  6. Chameleon
  7. Lizard
  8. Bird/Sparrow/Eagle/Hawk/Buzzard/Gull/Albatross
  9. Mermaid
  10. Nymph
  11. Horse/Mule/Pony/Stallion
  12. Cow/Bull/Bison/Buffalo
  13. Sheep/Ewe/Ram
  14. Deer/Buck/Hind/Roe
  15. Camel
  16. Hippopotamus/Behemoth

Weapons

  1. Spear/Javelin
  2. Sword
  3. Lance
  4. Dagger
  5. Trident
  6. Net
  7. Shield/Buckler
  8. Bow/Arrow/Archer/Bolt

Things

  1. Skull
  2. Rock
  3. Bone(s)
  4. Timber(s)
  5. Sand
  6. Fire/Flame
  7. Jewel(s)/Jeweled/Bejeweled
  8. Silver
  9. Gold
  10. Copper
  11. Quartz
  12. Opal

Colors

  1. Blue/Azure
  2. Green/Verdant
  3. Red
  4. Yellow
  5. Violet/Purple
  6. White
  7. Black
  8. Grey
  9. Brown
  10. Orange

Patterns

  1. Plaid
  2. Striped
  3. Barred
  4. Dotted
  5. Variegated
  6. Changing
  7. Pale
  8. Dark
  9. Scattered
  10. Hidden
  11. Mystery
  12. Geometric

Descriptor/Modifier

  1. Flying
  2. Soaring
  3. Sailing
  4. Fast
  5. Unvanquished/Undefeated/Victorious
  6. Indefatigable/Untiring/Persistent/Patient
  7. Fearless/Dreadnought/Dauntless
  8. Mighty
  9. Powerful
  10. Reliant

List of Pirate Ship Names

List of Royal Navy Ships – With links to ships that start with each letter of the alphabet.

My Answers To Some Questions by Venger Satanis

I saw on G+ a mention by +Venger Satanis, of a new article over on his blog, about the latest OSR teapot storm, about transparency and the difference between news and paid advertising at Enworld.

I try to stay out of disagreements on the internet; but these questions struck a chord with me, and I will answer them the way I understood them. I don’t personally read Enworld. (I just looked at Enworld and their front page is a wall of text that makes my head hurt trying to focus. – Yet another reason not to read it. I’m not claiming any prizes for design on my blog, but I don’t get a headache trying to read it.) I tend to stick to the OSR related blogs that have old school games and clones as a focus.

  • Does this kind of thing (payola) bother you?
    Any site should adhere to transparency and honesty in who funds the site, and if recommendations are from a compensated review, etc. If it was a site I followed and I found that they did this, it would sour me to further interactions with that site.
  • How susceptible are you to hype, advertising, promotion, and the like?
    I may be a fish on a hook when someone in the OSR points out something they like, that I too find compelling. But I also know that about me, and can control myself. But flashy commercials, even if very clever, don’t entice me to part with my money. I have always been skeptical of them.
    I don’t like all the same things that some OSR bloggers like, and they don’t like some of the things I like. No amount of hype will be me to buy something that I look at and say, “Eh.” There is no accounting for taste. We each have different aspects to
  • Do you prefer to only hear about games from big companies with lots of advertising dollars behind them? 
    See above. Basically, word of mouth and seeing something for myself does far more than glitz to get my money.
  • Why are labels, brands, and officially authorized/licensed take-your-pick important to the average RPG consumer?
    I don’t understand it personally. Just like I don’t get how back in the 80’s girls wearing poorly made jeans that cost $50 looked down on my sturdy $10 jeans that lasted until I was out of grad school. I’m sure different people have different reasons. I bought the Greyhawk Gazeteer, but it was mostly about the maps. There are cool ideas in there, but my group had progressed to doing our own fleshed out worlds.  I know some people really like the organized play, but some of the descriptions of what is required seem far to over the top for me. I’m not one to drink the Koolaid.
  • Would you agree that creating a sense of immersion is a high priority in RPGs?
    I come from the era of theater of the mind with only a few maps and minis. Most of use love to read and have fertile imaginations, and don’t need fancy books with slick covers to bring things to life in our mind’s eye. The art may be cool, and don’t get me wrong, Trampier, Sutherland, and others of the old guard gave us iconic images that set the tone. But where we took it in each of our groups and shared experiences at the table, was far beyond that. Much of the new are is very good, even excellent. I am sure it sets a tone for those whom that it their first experience.
  • Would you also agree that rules-light RPGs are more immersive because they present less obstacles, procedures, and time devoted to looking things up?
    Immersion is created at the table. If the GM and players don’t cooperate in that, it doesn’t happen, or not very deep. What I mean by immersion is the willing suspension of disbelief one has with a movie, play, book, etc. That feeling of being able to see the action in your mind’s eye and feel a mutual sense of “we are in this thing together” with the GM and other players. This can happen with roleplaying at any point on the spectrum from merely describing what your character does, to actually “becoming” your character at the table.
  • Since crunchy and rules-heavy games are three times less likely to bring in new roleplaying blood than simple and rules-light games (yeah, I just made that statistic up – but it seems legit to me), why continue to support the former over the latter?
    There are those who like that style of play. If they ceased to get support, I am sure they would complain as loudly as those of us that don’t like that style of play. I’m all for finding the style of play that works for you, and rules that support either or both make more sense to me.
  • Is authority more important or valuable than autonomy?  
    GM’s and their players should be free to do what they want with the settings they use. If the final authority does not lie with the GM, then it isn’t an RPG I’m interested in.  One can use any setting for their campaign, even copywritten and trademarked material, if it is just the group around the table. If one goes to the expense of buying an “official” setting, one can use as little or as much as they want.
    I have read complaints that if players kill a significant monster or NPC in the prior adventure, they have no impact on that same creature being in the next adventure in the series. If the GM is not giving the players an easy kill, it should stand, if it is plausible that they defeated that NPC. Taking that power away from the GM is the biggest flaw, from my understanding of those things.
    Of course, one can take those published adventures and use what fits in their own campaigns. A subsequent adventure that the “unkillable” NPC is required, either cheats the players, or requires the GM to devise a plausible explanation why that NPC isn’t dead. However, how many times can a different dead NPC “not really be dead?”
    If the NPC is central to the following story, then it is requisite on the authors of the prior adventure to lay out all the ways it is impossible to defeat this NPC. However, to paraphrase von Moltke, “No plan of the GM survives contact with the players.”  Players never do what you expect. Unless you railroad to the point of eliminating player choice, the player’s don’t do what you expect. Even if you give them two clear options, they always find three or four more you never thought of.

Those are my answers to these eight questions. If you care what I think about this latest kerfuffle, then keep reading. Otherwise, stick to the reason for this blog: games and having fun.

My thoughts on this latest tempest:

In the era of the internet, if you spew B.S. someone will call you on it. If you don’t like it: Ignore those who call you on it, whine about it, or don’t do it anymore. Just don’t expect me to care when someone calls you on it.

The thing they should realize about +Erik Tenkar is that as a retired police office, he is trained to investigate and present evidence to the prosecutor. Erik knows the difference between slander and libel, and that truth is the only legitimate defense. Since they can’t sue, they whine. Enworld isn’t the only one in the S.S. Whines A Lot, from what other teapot storms have indicated.

I should probably steer clear of this, much as I try to keep real life politics out of my game discussions. This is the RPG version of politics. In that same vein, no matter what you do, think, or say, someone, somewhere will read all or part of something online, and accuse you of saying nowhere near what you said or meant.

Logic and reasoning are wasted on some people. As my mother used to say, “Common sense ain’t so common.” [My mother only used ain’t in things like this. If you knew her, you would understand her point in using it in this case.] Today, what so many people call common sense is just a catchphrase to use against those who disagree with your position. Ad hominem arguments, even crude and backhanded ones, run counter the the common sense demanded by truth, logic, and reasoning.

Campaign Idea – The Broken Lands

The Broken Lands – This name comes from the topography that is marked by the effects of earthquakes. Earthquakes were once common in the area, but are now beyond living memory. This will make valleys, bluffs, plateaus, swamps, and any other feature fit. Volcanism or other processes, including magic or gigantic creatures, could be the source of the quakes. The variation in the terrain will allow for creatures of any type. Mountains high enough for cold based creatures in summer, Wet & swampy regions, areas of mountains high enough to block the rains and have arid/desert regions.

Living memory suddenly changes with the earthquake that uncovered a buried structure. (Vault of the Broken Lands? Secret of the Broken Lands? Mystery/Mysteries of the Broken Lands?) This leads to the possible questions: Why an earthquake now,? Can the cause be determined? What is in the buried structure? This area will be the best available farmland in the area, but it is remote and off the beaten path/main trade routes. While officially part of the kingdom and claimed by one or more neighboring kingdoms, it is a march/borderland and is wild. Only the occasional bandit or ravaging monster has come around in recent years, lulling all into a sense of peace and security.

This abruptly changes the focus for the locals, the region, kingdom, and neighboring kingdoms. This is the hook that brings fresh adventurers to the area. This refreshes the minds of elders about stories of the creatures and adventurers of old.

As a new campaign, the initial setting will be centered in a human kingdom, and the first PC’s will be human. It takes time for word to spread and non-human treasure seekers (of 1st level) to show up. Non-human NPC’s of more power, whether in levels, politics, wealth, or other connections/measures will be possible.

This lets the initial players and their first characters in the campaign have a hand in shaping the way it develops.

New player characters will be average character level – 1, but no higher than the lowest level character. So if the average is 4th level, but the lowest level is 3, start at 3rd level.

Leveling up – simplified – Once have enough XP to level must return to civilization/secure and well supplied base/name level stronghold and rest up and re-supply for a week. For treasure to count for XP it has to be returned to civilization with the players.

Smoke Mountain, Smoking Mountain, Fuming Mountain, Fire Mountain, Dragon Spire, Dragon’s Spire, Dragon’s Maw

COOL! – I was thinking of a volcanism and earthquake defined region, and wanted something like Death Valley (140 miles long), and found the terms graben and horst, and then the jackpot, the Basin and Range Province. It is 170,000 square miles (for example: 500 x 340). It covers a huge area in the US southwest and northeast Mexico. It is all terrain I have never seen, except in TV and movies. But I have seen similar, smaller examples in Colorado. There are numerous features affected by volcanoes and various faults. There are plenty of barriers that would make large “uninhabited”/”uncivilized” regions, and multiple kingdoms. Having border areas on the perimeter that are the more stable heartlands of the greater kingdoms/nations, makes for the far off influence of the kings/rulers/government less immediate.

This area in the real world is home to copper, gold, and silver mining. Mountains would be a good place for dwarves, and areas of isolated forests would be good places for elves. Lost valleys of the Pleistocene, or isolated plateaus full of dinosaurs. Aliens, inter-dimensional rifts, and so forth are all fair game.

Having a bit of real world analog to help inform my imagination is helpful, but it is a game and in no way requires me to stick to the way things are in the real world.

I had another idea in the pipeline, but the idea hit me, so I put it down. I plan to take bits and pieces of my current campaign and other unrealized ideas, and make the current center of action somewhat far off from this new area. I have ideas that I didn’t leave a good place for in my original campaign concept that was more top down than bottom up design. I need a different map for my original campaign anyway, it didn’t fit for how I was trying to use it. It didn’t impact the players, but it didn’t really fit for what was developing in my mind’s eye. It’s a great map my brother did for me, but it didn’t afford all the cool terrain that I wanted available for all the things I want to do. I want just enough map detail for a starting area, and a general concept of what is around it, so that there is flexibility to make a place for the specifics that grab the player’s interest.

Having the geologically active region known from the start makes it easy to have some sort of geological activity happen to alter the landscape or reveal something new. This makes the world living in a sense that there is more rapid and long-lasting change to its appearance than in other locations.

Just writing out notes in my preferred text editor, NoteTab*, the ideas just don’t want to stop. I keep jotting down notes of cool ideas that I don’t want to forget. Just when I think I’m done, another idea pops into my mind. It’s great to have the creative juices on overdrive, but not when it is time to go to bed. Even though I have what is now today off, I still need to get sleep and deal with the requirements of adulting.

*See these past articles where I discuss NoteTab. Software, Notes, 30 posts in 60 days [I forgot about this one.], Tools, Written vs. Typed, and NaNoWriMo. I even have my name in the acknowledgements of the help file for my contributions to testing over the years. I don’t want to take the time to learn how to do all the things in another editor that I can do with NoteTab, as I have better things to do.