Category Archives: OSR

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.

Starting Session – Suggestion/Forget

I woke in the dark to take care of biological necessities and had an idea cross my mind, so I put it quickly into Evernote (the free version). I don’t know if it was from a dream or just the weird ideas that go through my brain from time to time. It would make for an interesting start to the adventure. It could be really interesting with a new party of fresh adventurers, AKA 1st level.
The party rides into town people give them dumb looks. Especially when they ask questions that they should know the answer.
Woman runs up and screams, “Where’s Horace?” [I have no clue where that name came from. I don’t know anyone by that name.]
Later the party finally finds Horace, and he is: dead, undead, alive, evil infested, etc.
Of course, the entire question of “Where’s Horace?” could be dragged on for multiple adventures to an entire campaign.
Horace could be a lantern bearer, or other young lad helping out the party, or could even be a member of the party that some magic affected the party causing them to forget him entirely. They approach the village from the direction of their original approach to the village.
One thought is to start each player with 500 experience points. They have no idea why, perhaps not even questioning it.
Let the ideas that the players themselves blurt out inform the tale of what happened to Horace. Not the whole cloth, but take the interesting bits and snippets.
Of course, this would only work with those who haven’t heard this idea, to get the fullest effect.
The GM will need a default story line to explain things, if the player’s musings are not of much help. But that’s one open ended idea that really got me to thinking about how to handle a random question like that.

Secondary Skills

From a discussion at 1st Ed AD&D on FB, this was way back on January 1st, 2016 and I never got back to this draft to post it until now.

The actual discussion thread.

Who allows characters to actually use secondary skills?

If you do, how much do they add to the roleplaying experience?

If characters can make items of the quality of this very cool cup, do you allow them to have the potential to be enchanted?

Lastly, what magic would you have this cup hold?

My thoughts:

Decades ago, in my brother’s campaign, he had me roll percentile dice to determine the level of skill my new character had as a bowyer. I rolled 100. He ruled that with the proper tools and materials and time, that skill level could make bows with a non-magical hit bonus of +1, +2, or +3. This also meant that they were of a quality to be made into magical weapons. Not many adventurers have the time to devote to regular crafting, especially if they are magic users.

Of course, this character, a half-elf fighter/cleric/magic user does not have the intelligence to use 6th level spells, so he can’t enchant his own magic bow. However, he might be able to make a holy bow as a cleric…. Hmmmm….

Crit Success Rings – A Review

Back in March, 2016 at GaryCon 8, +Satine Phoenix gave a bunch of us these d20 rings, that you can wear and roll a d20. Very cool.

They are CritSuccess rings.

They take a bit of working the grit out, dish soap & warm water work well. Once you have them spinning freely, they seem to generate random numbers.

It is a cool trinket for those of us who collect dice and other game memorabilia.

I can see using them for a DM roll of a d20, if it needed to be secret.

They also have rings for other single dice and multi-dice combinations like 3d6. If you really like a ring or two on every finger, this might be for you.

Campaign Setting Idea

While mowing the lawn yesterday, I  heard sirens and had one of my off the wall thoughts. What if you died and didn’t know it, and could only do the thing that you were doing for eternity?
That’s potentially a terrible curse. But I went with the idea and let the ideas bubble up as i continued to mow.
I have an idea for a new AD&D campaign and want to have fun with it, so I put together some quick notes on my phone in Evernote, when I took a break from mowing. I then cleaned them up and added more ideas below.
  • When I was still on the same thing for eternity idea, I thought about this making people think about their eternal future and learn things that would make them have as much variety as possible in how they do things. For example, learn 100 or 1,000 ways to cut the grass, or maintain the lawn. This will prevent boredom/monotony.
    • I further imagined literate cultures having lots of books on 100 ways to do 100 things, or long lists of ways people have died and ways to deal with that. Pre-literate cultures would have intricate oral traditions taught by the elders on such matters.
      • The idea of dying in childbirth was very unpalatable, and how to deal with that? Perhaps a belief that the mother and child are united together in eternity exploring and learning from the cosmos.
      • This and other horrible ways of dying lead to the idea of nuance, and not being literally the only thing one does for eternity. I am sure one burned to death could be seen as involved with fire in the afterlife, as a shooting star, lava flow, etc. Or they become a fire elemental or other creature on the plane of fire!

This lead to the idea of birth and death augurs, and the points that follow:

  • All humans – Characters are all humans, with rare exceptions. Demi humans arrive via random gates from other worlds. For some reason, the idea of an all-human party is appealing. Maybe the first character for each player has to be human, and future characters can be something else.
  • Birth augur determines class and other affects, etc. Use DCC until generate own lists. Players write a paragraph or two to weave together class, secondary skill (if AD&D), and birth augur.
  • Birth order to get 7th of 7th son/daughter, etc. If roll 7th of 7th son/daughter, get plus 1 to Intelligence and Wisdom, or other cool bonus. Social class, rank, parent’s occupations, season, month, etc, all play a part.
  • Parents would want children to carry on the family business, but if the birth augur says differently, then parents are reluctant to challenge the way things are.
    • Making a character with a class that goes counter to the stats. A high strength for a mage, for example, might indicate one bucking the trend of their birth augur. This should call for interesting role play situations.
  • Death augur, roll on table,  determined at birth. Thus the characters have it at the start of the campaign. Age, season, circumstance, activity, such as battle. Search real world augurs of birth and death. This should encourage players to be heroic and if they are slain, to go out in style.
  • All groups, human and monster believe that what one is doing when they die will determine what they do in the afterlife for eternity. Those slain in battle might be involved in eternal war. The nuances of the death could point to something else related to that circumstance. For example, slain by ogres could mean you awake in a new world where ogres are friendly and you have to work past your issues with ogres to move on. Or you could be re-born as an ogre….
  • Note, raise dead forces a re-roll of birth and death auguries. If identical, signals a blessing from the powers. If vastly different it signals a mark, curse, burden, or quest is demanded to lift or rectify it. If one is the same and the other is different, it presents a fun roleplay opportunity.
  • Those who desire a long life avoid the things that signal the possibility of their death.
  • Certain death – there is a saying, “While death comes to all that is, the only certain death is one that is foretold.”
  • No fear of death.  Fate, luck, etc. all play a part. If character knocked down, but ruled by the DM as not part of his death augur, “flip the body” like in DCC, and just badly injured. Possible permanent injury table.
  • I like the idea of no set alignment, but those on the side of civilization and law, and those on the side of monsters and wildness. More of the law & chaos of original D&D. I had the idea for the name of a rule set, “Heroes & Anti-Heroes.” Those on the side of law are heroic and those on the side of chaos are the opposite. Not necessarily cowards, but their great deeds are infamous rather than heroic.
  • Undead and those who seek to cheat death would be chaos and hidden cults. A lich would be the ultimate in an attempt to cheat death.
    • Demons would be those powers out to trick the susceptible into resisting death at all costs. The “blessings” from the demons would be life as undead.
  • Call Turn Undead “Banish Magical Abomination”, and druids would “Banish Unnatural Abominations”. Let druids turn undead at 2 or 3 levels lower.
  • No set deities. “The powers”, “great ones”, generic name for all the deities. Few groups would worship a specific deity.
  • Any tribes/groups/nations/cultures that don’t follow the birth/death augur tradition will be viewed as “wrong”. This should be rare and not encountered in the core of the campaign region.
This whole idea helped me to see undead and law vs. chaos differently. It is not as confining as one imagines.
This also feels like the idea for a book.  Hmmmm…. Not until I get the first draft of the final chapters of the novel I have yet to finish.

Fun With Cabinet Labels

My house had an infestation of grain weevils. So my son and his girlfriend, who have been living with me for the last couple of weeks took on the task of emptying all the cabinets and finding all the affected flour, etc. over the weekend.

When they put everything back, they rearranged and reorganized it, all with my prior approval. Heck, I didn’t have to do all that work, why should I mind?

So that my other, younger son, and myself would know where everything is, my son made labels on 3 x 5 cards and stuck them to the front of all the cabinets on the level of the shelf behind them. being my son, he had fun with the labels. I’m so proud!

The kitchen & dining room
The kitchen & dining room with contents of cabinets on tables.
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Left Side: Tupperware Housing Co-Op Right Side: All Coasters have been EVICTED
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Baking Bad (chemical agent storage)
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Emulsion, Measurement & Containment (E=MC2) <- for short
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Miscellaneous Containment Vessels of Minimal Stature
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“There’s no food” Reality Check with Astronaut Milk (Ooblek Potential)
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Poop Assistance Program (PAP)

Oatmeal and raisins…. Gives a whole new meaning to PAP smear….

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Apocalypse Starvation Inhibitor Mechanically imprisoned calories Lipids & Stimulants (contingency coffee pot not Included)

Coconut oil & Coffee.

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Essential Hitchhiker’s Equipment (Don’t Panic)

Do I need to explain that one?

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Lots Available Adjacent to Oats Corner Large Containment Vessels & Fruit Torture Apparatus

LOL a box of oatmeal and a juicer.

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Flavor Enhancement Modules & Nourishment Lubricators

Soy sauce and the like, and cooking oil.

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Three Dimensional Heating Prisms {May, or may not contain Top-most Plane}

Pyrex casserole dishes.

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Hot paFibrous Membranes of Heat Resistance Deflect all heat Damage from applied area for Duration of One Turn

Hot pads

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Plethora of Utensils Which were denied residence in Kitchen Caddy

Tim Kask Talk – First Five Years At TSR

Here’s a write up from GaryCon 8 from back in March I hadn’t published yet.

I attended a session by Tim Kask on Riding the Rocket: TSR’s First 5 Years. I missed the first twenty minutes or so, but I enjoyed it immensely. Tim recommended that we read the book Orcs, and that it changed his view on orcs, and that he no longer sees them as just meat sacks.

Pat Kilbane filmed Tim’s presentation for use in his D&D Documentary. I had the honor of asking the last question, “What was the thing you like best about working at TSR, and what was the thing you liked least or might want to do differently in hindsight?” Others besides Pat also recorded his response on video, I wish I had. Basically, he voiced his disapproval of the Blume’s business acumen. He said that he loved working with Gary and having so much fun. The second thing he liked was the opportunity to go back to teaching.

Pat’s YouTube channel, Dorks Of Yore published most of the interview in a series of short snippets. You can see them all in this Tabetop RPGs playlist, along with their initial video about GaryCon. Alas, my question didn’t appear in these snippets, but will be in the final product. However, this screenshot from an FB comment I made and Pat’s reply is fantastic!

Awesome!
Awesome!

A New Class – The Vexillologist

I posted this morning on G+ that I awoke with the word vexillologist stuck in my head. +Eric Fabiaschi suggested that I make a new OSR class out of it. I liked the idea, so below is my rough draft of the class.

This is the first class I have built and I had a lot of fun with it. It needs more polish before it is ready for prime time. I will publish a PDF once I get it cleaned up. Most likely it will be my first offering on RPGNow.

The image I found, is supposed to be free according to the site I got it from, but it is just for illustrative purposes. I’ll pay an RPG illustrator for a basic image once this is ready for sharing.

I’m interested in constructive comments, as long as you understand this is a rough draft and not the final form.

Vexillologist Class

The run of the mill vexillologist is just one who specializes in flags and banners, but the mage specialist is one who has mastered magical signs, sigils, glyphs, writing, and flags and banners.

Their specialty is in flags, banners, and other such devices, from a carved stick or other “simple” symbol to heraldry. In addition to their spell books, they compile over the course of their life a notebook on symbols and their meanings to different groups. This notebook is the same size as the spell book and requires a new one for every two levels. Losing these notebooks is nearly as disastrous as losing a spell book. Any written information about symbols, writing, or heraldry found during adventuring is as valuable to a Vexillologist as finding new spells. There is a chance that any sages the party encounters with an interest in Vexillology is a Vexillologist, or knows the spells of that class if the sage knows any spells.

With their advanced training, vexillologists can garner the intent of regular magic user user spells, and even those of illusionists, without the use of read magic. That is, they will know the name of the spell. Much of their craft crosses the boundaries between these two disciplines.

The vexillologist has made a study of various symbols, banners, totems, and heraldry of the region and known world. They have a 15% chance, plus 5% per level above 1st, to know the significance/identity of those with a certain symbol. For example, tribal groups, such as goblins and orcs, or nomadic human tribes.

They specialize in spells that enhance, reveal, or obscure the symbols they encounter. For example, they can obscure, or even damage the banner of an opposing force to affect its morale, and even make the banner appear smaller to enhance morale of friendly forces. For friendly forces, they can cause a banner to be more visible, appear larger and more imposing to an enemy.

They are also known to target bearers of banners and totems with interesting effects.

Their greatest magical specialty is the creation of magical banners, totems, and other signs. Such enchantments range from boosting morale of units, increasing the fighting capability of the unit (making them harder to hit, or easier for them to hit others.), special protections for the banner bearer, to even special attacks using the banner. The greatest vexillologists of yore even mastered creating banners that were intelligent, and some even grew in power based on the success of the unit. I wrote about magical banners here with my way to complex entry in the OSR Superstar Contest. Too complex for a contest, but something I have in my AD&D campaign, but so far, they have not come into play.

New Spells

1st Level Burning Hands – Cause all who touch an enemy banner to have their hands burned for 1hp/caster level. If the bearer takes double their HP or more in damage, they burst into flames consuming the banner.)
2nd level Splinter – The pole for a banner will shatter in the hands of the bearer doing 1d4/level to the bearer and 1hp/level to all within 10’/level.

1st level Tear – The banner is ripped at 1″/caster level, strong winds have a chance to lengthen the tears. 1% reduction in unit morale per inch of tear.
2nd level Rend – Higher level spell that does 3 tears that are 6″ long per level. 1% reduction in unit moral per inch of tear.
4th level Shred – The banner is shredded as if by the claws of a wild beast, and an audible growl is heard. 20% reduction in unit morale if not other morale rules apply, or at discretion of GM.

1st level Enhance – Banner/device appears to be more obvious, and any significance it carries is enhanced. For example, the banner of a well-known and feared band of mercenaries would seem to be even more imposing. 1% reduction in morale/level to units that fail teir saves.
The reverse, Obscure, causes the banner of an opposing force to appear less imposing and gives friendly units a 1% boost to alignment/level.

1st level Shield Bearer – Cast a magical shield on the banner bearer, as the 1st level spell shield.

1st level Comprehend – In addition to reading regular magic, this spell allows the caster a 15% chance, plus 2% per level to discern the meaning or intent of new, hidden, or subtle designs in banners and other symbols.
The reverse, Incomprehensible, will hide new and subtle images from casual view and requires a caster of higher level to cast comprehend to counter it, or of course, Dispel Magic.
When cast on an enemy banner it has a 5% chance per level of caster to cause confusion as the spell if the affected unit fails its save.

3rd level Route – This is a high level spell that causes the targeted unit, with a banner or other carrie symbol, that fails its save to be routed and flee as if their morale broke for 1d6 rounds. If they make their save and make their standard morale check, they stand. If they fail their morale check, they move back in good order. Even breaking and fleeing for a single round is enough to prevent a unit from regaining its cohesion. Any units that witness this unit break must make a morale check with all the normal modifiers caused by seeing a unit break and flee. If this unit has any special renown that boosts the morale of surrounding units, that effect is removed. If the targeted unit is under the effect of a Brace spell, that spell is negated.

3rd level Brace – This spell causes the targeted unit with a banner or other symbol to have a 5% morale bonus, plus 1% per caster level beyond 1st. They get a +1 on all saving throws for the duration of the spell. Brace cannot restore the morale of a unit that has fled. Units that fall back in order

False Flag – Appears to be the correct & proper flag for a unit or vessel unless a saving throw is made.

Swap Image – The caster causes the banners of two enemy units to swap. Ideally this is used to swap the general or leader’s banner with that of a unit that has been routed or annihilated to affect the morale of the entire enemy force.

Confuse Signal – If an enemy force is using flags or other means of communication, i.e. semaphore, the receiver of the message will think they are being told the opposite or least favorable option of what the sender is trying to communicate, if the receiver fails their save.