Category Archives: Reviews & Culture

Review – Rob Kuntz’s Dark Druids

Rob Kuntz’s Dark Druids was on sale a few weeks back. It arrived at the end of April. Since my submission to the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest involved druids – The Dire Druids of Delver’s Deep, I waited until after I completed my submission to read this module. My planned postings got sidetracked, since I jumped on board the White Star bandwagon.

This module clearly states on the cover below the illustration: “For use with 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons(R)”. Unlike others, it is not afraid to say this and also acknowledges that the name of the game is a registered trademark. It is one of three modules currently available from Chaotic Henchmen Productions.

The blurb from the back cover explains what this module is all about: “Dark Druids includes complete descriptions and maps for an outdoor area and a three-level adventure site, and is easily adaptable to most campaign settings. It also includes an outline for further adventuring, a selection of new monsters, spells, and magic items, plus Robert J. Kuntz’s historical context and commentary on this module’s relationship to his campaigns of the 1970’s”

This module is designed for levels 8-12, so it is not a low power adventure. It has the general look and feel of a module from back in the day. The cover can serve as a screen and includes the 1st and  3rd level of the dungeon. The 2nd level is on the last page of the module. This 56 page module has more maps for the outdoors area and illustrations to compliment the text.

After a forward and author preface, there is a section on Using the Module that discusses party composition and challenges, preparations before play, and how to read and interpret the module text. There is a player introduction, which is a lot of text to read. Lastly there is a half page of rewards and additional party resources.

After a page for the GM introduction, there are just over three and a half pages with the outdoor map, starting text, and key to the outdoor map.

The dungeon’s three levels are detailed on pages 9 through 35.

There are seven appendices, A through F.

A – Deals with further adventuring against the drak druids.

B – Is an article about a Dark God.

C – Discusses changes in this version of the module from the 2006 version published by Creations Unlimited.

D – Lists the 16 new magic items in this module.

E – Details four new monsters.

F – Describes the dark druid variant class.

The module was well sealed in cardboard and bubble wrap and sealed with scotch tape in a clear plastic magazine sleeve.

I like the look and feel of this. The maps are well done and easy to read. The text itself is laid out well and easy to read. However, the “Read-aloud text” is in italics. For some rooms this text is the first part of that room’s description, but for others it is later. Thankfully, while not like some italics fonts that I sometimes have trouble distinguishing from the normal font, there is nothing else to set it apart. When actually running this, it would be very easy to miss a key detail. If I were to run this module as written, I would have to use different colored highlighters and ink to note the important parts. I find this to be more of a concern as my eyes age.

When not in a live game situation and no pressure, it is definitely easy to read. There is a lot of information here, it is dense.

It is something that would require a lot of streamlining to run in a con setting. In a con setting it is bigger than can be handled in the average 3 or 4 hour session. There is enough in here, that it would take one massive marathon session to complete the entire module in one go. I can see this easily taking many sessions depending on the focus of the players, and the decisions and rolls they make.

One can easily place this on a list of possibilities, when players get to that level, and fit it into the campaign. AD&D is not that much different from OD&D and modern clones, that this could easily be used in nearly any OSR game. There is a lot in here, that it will take more than a casual reading to catch all that is in here. This could easily be part of a behind the scenes activity that builds up to this module, or it could be a new stand-alone threat. Because this is so dense, I have not managed to read the whole thing carefully, but I like what I see.

This is an interesting concept and ties in with my articles on druids.

Clips & Magazines

Some recent blog postings about White Star and various other RPG’s have used the term clip, where I believe they mean magazine. I find such misuse of terminology annoying, so I suppose the following counts as a rant. I will conclude with the appropriate Joesky Tax.

Clip – A device that holds several rounds together to aid in loading the internal box magazine. The clip for an M1 Garand is an en bloc clip and is inserted into the box magazine with the attached ammunition, and the clip is ejected when the last round is fired. The clip for a Mosin Nagant is a stripper clip that holds 5 rounds and aligns the ammunition to speed loading it into the box magazine. For the Mosin Nagant, without a clip one can load the 5 round magazine one round at a time. Some revolvers use moon clips.

Speedloader – These are generally thought of in reference to pistols, but stripper clips and moon clips fall into this category.

Magazine – A device that holds ammunition. Magazines may be part of the firearm and are loaded using a clip or single rounds. Other magazines, like for the M16, AR-15, AK-47, 1911, Glock pistols, etc. have a detachable magazine that first is loaded with the ammunition and then the magazine is inserted into the magazine well/receiver. For pistols this is most commonly in the grip, although some like the Broomhandle Mauser, the gun used as the base for Han Solo’s blaster, have a magazine in front of the trigger, like some rifles.

The first pistol magazines, such as for the 1911 are single stack magazines that hold one bullet on top of another.

More recent pistols can accommodate a double stack magazine where the rounds are “staggered” on top of each other, such as in Glocks. This allows for more rounds at a time. Often up to 18 rounds in standard magazines. Magazines of up to 30 or more rounds are made for pistols, but stick far below the end of the grip. For most rifles a 30 round magazine is standard.

Gun Safety: No discussion of firearms should be held without mention of the rules of firearm safety.

There are rules for safety that keep everyone safe in the presence of a gun.

  • Every gun is always loaded. (If someone hands you a gun, even if they swear they emptied it, you check it.)
  • Point the muzzle (the danger end of the barrel) in a safe direction. (Context will determine this. Usually down is safest.)
  • Don’t point your gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
  • Don’t put your finger on the trigger until you have acquired the target and are ready to shoot. That is, keep your booger hook off the bang button! (In the movies and TV when you see someone running around with their hand on the trigger, they are doing it wrong. I wish a show or movie would have the idiots doing that shoot the people on their side in the back when they are doing that.)
  • Know your target and what is beyond it. (This applies to all uses of firearms, including hunting and self-defense. Don’t shoot into a crowd of people. Make sure you can shoot and only the intended target will be hit. This is where cop shows get it right when the cop doesn’t shoot at the escaping criminal. Idiots that shoot into the air on New Year’s Eve are a menace. You are legally responsible for every round that leaves your firearm until it stops.)
  • Everyone is a range safety officer (RSO). (If you see poor gun safety shout it out.)
  • Use firearms that are within your training and capabilities. (For example, a 90 pound old lady probably shouldn’t make a Desert Eagle .50 her primary choice for a first firearm, unless she can truly handle it. This also includes idiots giving novice shooters a powerful gun and filming them getting hurt by the recoil. That is not responsible.)
  • If you are not in possession of your firearm, unload it and store it in a secure location. (Don’t rely on hiding it from your children or others. If you were ever a curious child, what kinds of things did you find in your house that your parents thought they had hidden?)
  • If you have a firearm and children (even if you only have children and no firearms), teach them gun safety. If they find a gun out in the open, train them to go tell an adult. When they are old enough, teach them safe handling of firearms.
  • If you drop a firearm, don’t try to catch it, a lot of people have shot themselves attempting to catch a falling firearm.

Safety Check vs. Danger Check

A safety check is where the current holder of a firearm looks for an empty chamber to verify that a firearm is unloaded. This is done in preparation for storage, cleaning, or before passing to another.

A danger check is where the current holder of a firearm verifies that a gun is fully loaded and there is a round in the chamber. This is done prior to use when it needs to be ready to fire, such as for target shooting, hunting, or self defense.

Assault Weapon – There are two types of assault weapons.

  1. An item used to assault another person. Most frequently, these include, hands, feet, rocks, sticks, baseball bats, hammers, screwdrivers, knives, etc. Basically these are every day items or body parts for which we need no papers from the government to purchase, possess or use. More people are killed in the U.S.A. with these items than with rifles or shotguns.
  2. Military Terminology – An assault rifle is capable of select fire.
    • A semi-automatic firearm is not an assault rifle, because a semi-auto only does one shot per pull of the trigger. For example, an AR-15 is a semi-auto rifle and looks like an M16, but the appearance does not make it one, contrary to the mis-reporting by many in the popular media.

NOTE: The letters AR in AR-15, mean Armalite, and NOT Assault Rifle.

Field Stripping – The processes of taking a firearm partially apart to be able to clean or service it. Most firearms are not intended to take apart beyond this point by other than a gunsmith. All the movies of whatever era that show boot camp and taking apart a rifle and reassembling it show field stripping. For example, a man from the U.S. who served in WWII or Korea, would be able to field strip an M1 Garand if you asked him to do it, because of how often they repeated the process in training and in the field. Similarly, most veterans of Vietnam to the present would be able to field strip an M16 or AR-15.

Racking the Slide/Pulling the Charging handle.

TV and movies are dangerous when it comes to showing this. I would love to see a TV show or movie show a live round ejected when someone racks the slide on a pistol or pumps a shotgun.

People don’t realize that it is possible to carry many firearms at magazine capacity plus one. That is, the magazine is full and there is another round “in the pipe”.

For example, with a 1911 semi-automatic pistol, the standard magazine is 7 or 8 rounds, or less, depending on the model. One can load the magazine, put it in the firearm, rack the slide, release the magazine, top off the magazine, and put it back in the gun. Thus carrying a fully loaded magazine, plus one round ready to go. The same is true of many rifles and shotguns.

Early revolvers, up until perhaps the 20th century, did not have drop safeties and were usually carried with an empty chamber under the hammer to avoid accidental discharge. Thus a 6 shot revolver was only loaded with 5 rounds for daily carry. So all those cowboy movies where the cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen had six shooters fully loaded, or seemed to have endless ammunition, since they were not always shown reloading.

A gun never goes off by “accident”. 99.9% of “accidental discharges” are actually negligent discharges. Follow the rules of gun safety, and you will never have a gun in your possession fire other than when you intend it to. The 0.1% would be older firearms without a drop safety that are dropped, or damaged or improperly maintained firearms.

Finally, my last pet peeve. In the age of science and reason, why do some believe, or act like they believe, that a tool is evil, and capable of imposing its will on people? This isn’t D&D with a cursed sword of innocent slaying that has an ego forcing a make believe character to do things, this is real life. I have never once had a firearm talk to me or tell me to do things. I have never once seen a firearm break out of a locked case, break into the ammunition, load itself, and go on a rampage, or force anyone to go on a rampage.

Nearly any kitchen utensil or tool in the toolbox or tool shed can be used to injure or kill. Similarly, a big stick, like a baseball bat, cricket bat, hockey stick, or tree branch can be a weapon. Also rocks of sufficient mass can be used to bash in someone’s head. If objects had the power to force people to do things, we would be living in a fantasy world. If you believe objects make you do things, you need to see a professional. {Snarky thought: If you don’t like this article, my computer made me write it.]

If playing games, whether table top RPG’s, MMO’s, or video games, that talk about the use of firearms are so evil, then why are you playing and reading and writing about games that talk about using swords, daggers, spears, etc. for killing people? That is evil and disgusting and makes you a bad person, controlled by the devil. [Sarcasm alert, in case you couldn’t tell.] SMH. It reminds me of the “Satanic Panic” of the 80’s.

Movie stars make millions in movies that glorify violence with guns, but then speak out about how bad guns are. Why is it OK for you to make millions playing make believe on screen with guns, but guns are bad? Oddly enough, many of those who do this, also own guns. For some reason, many of the rich and famous don’t think that the rules they advocate should apply to them. Hypocrisy much?

Joesky Tax Payment

Random NPC’s with Random Firearms

Genre d6

  1. Western
  2. Horror
  3. Cops & Robbers
  4. Fantasy
  5. Science Fiction
  6. Sword & Planet

Technology d6

Older technology could be collector’s items or replicas. For example, in the present day, there is muzzle loading season where only muzzle loading firearms may be used. Some are of the flintlock variety, and there are modern muzzle loaders that use a solid charge of smokeless powder that is inserted before the bullet. A cap is used for ignition.

  1. Muzzle loaders – Muskets & pistols from matchlocks and wheel locks to flintlocks, and the pinnacle with caps and paper cartridges. See the Puckle Gun for interesting technology of the early 1700’s.
  2. Revolvers – From cap and ball paper cartridges to brass or even steel cartridges. Rim fire and center fire. Except for .22 cal. most modern firearms use center fire ammunition.
    • There were some rifles that used a cylinder like early revolvers.
  3. Repeating Rifles – Like the Henry’s and Winchesters of the Civil War and wild west, to bolt action rifles.
  4. Semi-Automatic – Pistols such as the broomhandle mauser, Luger, 1911, Glocks, etc. Rifles such as the M1 Garand up to the AR-15 and others. When the last round of a semi-automatic is expended the action/slide/bolt is locked back indicating the magazine is empty.
    • Glocks and clones are hammerless and use a striker. The pull of the trigger does all the work of operating the striker to activate the firing pin.
  5. Automatic Weapons – From light and heavy machine guns that require a crew, and may be water or air cooled. Examples of these are the Vickers machine gun and the M2 .50 caliber. Submachine guns, like the Thompson, the M3 greasegun, the BAR, etc. There are fully automatic pistols, but their light weight makes them very difficult to use effectively without regular training. Note: For many machine guns, such as the M2 .50, one can depress the trigger for a single shot or hold it down for bursts or continuous fire.
  6. Select Fire Weapons – Capable of semi-automatic or full automatic fire, such as the Sturmgewehr, M16 and AK-47. Some may have multiple settings for semi-auto, 3 round bursts, or full auto.

NOTE:  Single Action vs. Double Action – This is true of revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.

  • Single Action requires cocking the hammer before the trigger will cause the hammer to strike.
  • Double action can cock the hammer and fire the pistol in one pull of the trigger.
  • There are some pistols that can operate in both single action and double action. For example, the Beretta M9, and clones can have the trigger manually cocked for the first shot, or be used double action on the first shot.

Individual or Gang/Group

  • 1-3 – Individual
  • 3-6 – Gang

Gang Size d6 (If only one member, perhaps they are a surviving member.)

  1. Small – 1d6 members
  2. Medium – 1d10 members
  3. Large – 1d30 members
  4. Extra Large – 1d100
  5. Huge – d6 * d100
  6. Enormous – d30 * 100

Number of firearms per person. 1d6

  • Both the weight and size of firearms will limit how many can reasonably be carried. For example, you might determine that an NPC has a .50 cal M2 machine gun. While these can be carried by an individual, and slings exist for firing from the hip; they are not practical to just carry around. They would be kept at home, a safe house, or in a vehicle. (I recall a video showing Bob Hope with some troops, perhaps in Vietnam. The troops set him up with a .50 cal with a sling and he shot it. My Google fu is not finding that clip.)
  • In the age of muzzle loaders, a brace (pair of pistols) or more, would be carried since re-loading was so slow. Multiple firearms with this technology will be more pistols than muskets or rifles, since only one long gun could effectively be used at one time. Pepperboxes and early derringers were also muzzle loaders.
  • With technology allowing smaller firearms such as pistols, both revolvers and semi-automatics, more such items could be carried without much hindrance.
  • Often if two guns are carried, the second, smaller gun is a backup gun. For example, police in both TV, movies, and real life, carry their main firearm in the holster on their duty belt, and a smaller backup gun in an ankle holster.

Carry Methods (open or concealed)

  • “Mexican Carry” – This term arose during the Mexican Revolution when firearms were regulated. Those carrying pistols would tie a string to the pistol and stick it in their waste band. This allowed for ease of ditching a pistol and not having a holster to give you away.
    This is NOT a safe way to carry. It is easy to shoot yourself in your junk.
    Similarly is carrying a gun in the back of your waste band. If you get knocked down and land on the firearm, it can damage your tailbone, causing great pain. It can also cause nerve damage that leads to temporary incapacitation due to pain or numbness, or even paralysis of the legs.
  • Pocket carry – Unless you have a special pocket holster to cover the trigger, this is also a dangerous way to carry. If anything can snag the trigger, you can end up shooting yourself.
  • Gun Belt – This is the common western style item with a belt with a holster and built in bandoleer of ammunition. This and other types of holsters are hard to conceal without a long coat or jacket.
  • Holsters – Modern holsters can be inside the waste band or outside the waste band. They can be in a shoulder holster rig. Holsters have also been made for the ankle.
    Holsters have options for comfort in concealment.
    Some have features to aid in retention, such as a loop over the hammer on a cowboy rig, or a snap or a Velcro strip over the back of the handle or hammer, to one or more mechanisms to help the bearer maintain control of the firearm until ready for use.
  • Cross draw holsters allow for drawing from a holster on the opposite side or the body. For example, a right handed person would wear a cross draw holster on their left side. This is the normal configuration for a shoulder holster.
    • Cowboy movies where gunslingers have their guns facing the wrong way and draw with the hand on that side must use an awkward twisting motion that causes the barrel to cross the body and increases the risk of self injury. It is also likely for the barrel to snag in clothing, etc. Or you have to raise the pistol completely our of the holster and turn it around so that you can avoid pointing it at yourself before aiming at your target.
  • In the hand.

Pistol Calibers

There is a long list of calibers and variations. This is just a quick list going from memory. Wikipedia is a generally good source for quick information, if you want other details, such as different firearms that use such things. If you get into this level of detail, you probably aren’t sticking to White Box/White Star as written.

NOTE: Modern firearms indicate on the side what ammunition they use. Using the wrong ammunition can lead to damage from just jamming, to catastrophic failure causing injury or death.

I would suggest that for pistol calibers the damage be 1d6 and rifle calibers, i.e. not pistol calibers used in carbines, be 2d6.

.22 – short, long, magnum

.32 – ACP (Army Colt Pistol) and others?

.38 – S&W (Smith & Wesson) and other (many modern .38 revolvers can also handle .44 mag.)

.380 – ACP

.40 – S&W

.44 – long colt, S&W, magnum

.45 – long colt (think cowboys) & ACP (1911 Semi-auto)

.50 – Desert Eagle, for example. Revolvers in this caliber only have a five shot capacity.

9 mm- Luger/Parabellum (9×19), and  Makarov (9×17), others? The bullet is the same size as the .380, but the case is a different size and has a different size load.

10 mm – Meant to be the metric “big” pistol caliber, approximately .40 caliber.

Rifle Calibers

.22 – short, long, magnum (same as used for pistols)

.44 and .45 long colt were used in both lever action rifles like Winchesters and pistols. This interchangeable ammunition made the combination of the Winchester and a Colt .45 so common.

.45 ACP – The same ammunition as used in the 1911, and some models of other pistols have been used in some carbines, such as one by HiPoint, and submachine guns such as the Thompson, AKA Tommy gun. Also the M3 grease gun uses this caliber.

9mm Luger – This caliber is used by some carbines, and the Sten submachine gun.

.50 Cal – The ammunition for the Barret rifle and the M2 machine gun is a few inches long and can pierce concrete blocks.

.30 caliber ammunition of various cartridge sizes was the common rifle caliber of the world’s armies from the late 1800’s until after WW II.It is a common hunting caliber. Several

Muzzle loaders had calibers all over the map, from .30 caliber, to .40, .50,.54, .60, and even .75. Most muzzle loaders were smooth bore and their accuracy was limited to about 100 yards. Rifled muskets, until about the time of the American Civil War, tended to take longer to load, but had much greater accuracy. The use of the Minie Ball with rifled muzzle loaders further increased range and accuracy.

Some rifle calibers have be used for pistols. These pistols tend to be more like a derringer in construction, with at most one or two shots.

Side note: During WWII, the Germans had all kinds of captured ammunition and weapons from all the countries they invaded. Because many countries used different calibers, or variations on calibers, than the Germans, there were massive stockpiles of ammunition that they could not use in other than captured weapons.

The experience of the allies in WWII for supplying troops led to thinking about standardization. The formation of NATO led to standardizing on common rifle and pistol calibers, and even arming with the same model of rifles. Similar standardization happened with the Warsaw pact nations, 9 mm Luger/Parabellum or 9 mm Makarov for pistols; and with the flourishing of the AK-47, the 7.62×39 mm round.

The AK-47 is well known for how easy it is to make and how resistant to dirt it is. The M-16 is more complex to make, and is sensitive to dirt/debris. The AK-47 can go a long time without cleaning, the M-16 requires proper and regular maintenance.

Review – April Mythoard

I had a package in the mail on Friday, May 8th. I had forgotten that I ordered the April Mythoard. However, I had a feeling that there was something that should be coming in.

April 2015 Mythoard
April 2015 Mythoard

I had not planned to get it, but when I saw that it contained the latest edition of Oubliette #9, I was curious. I had read other positive comments about it, and knew that I would get some other cool goodies along with it, so I took the plunge.

Squarehex Products
Squarehex Products

Along with Oubliette #9 are several other goodies from Squarehex. There is a book mark with large squares on one side and the other side contains large squares with dungeon map symbols. There are two business card sized items. One is blank on one side, and the other side had hexes with outdoor map symbols. The other small card has dungeon map symbols that are black and the other side has the same symbols in gray with labels to explain them. I am not sure if the purpose of these symbols is to give you an example of what such symbols “should” or might look like, or if you are supposed to put them under your hex paper to help you draw a very neat map.

There is a folded piece of graph paper the same size as the Oubliette issue with the grid on the outside. The inside of the graph paper has the OGL license. I wonder if it it the innermost page of the zine, and did not get stapled. Finally, there is a small pad of 7 mm hex paper. The pad it not as wide as a business card, and it is about as tall as two business cards top to bottom. It is so small that it is for a very small area and it well suited to a micro map.

I expected the Oubliette zine to be a full page folded over, instead it is about a half page folded over. The introduction indicates that this is not the usual size. It is a slick card stock cover with click heavy weight interior pages. It is 20 pages counting the back cover, which is a table for generating hit points of creatures from 1/2 HD to 2 HD using a roll of one or more d20’s. Six pages are a mini adventure, two pages with four new spells. two pages on a variation on familiars, four new magic boots, a new monster, and second mini adventure of three pages. While not every idea will be used by everyone, there is a lot in these few pages.

Awful Good Games has a booklet that is zine sized, i.e. half a page folded over. It is a module of 31 pages. It has a slick card stock cover and slick heavy paper for the pages. The text is black over light grey. It is legible as long as the slick paper does not have any glare. Older eyes with bifocals can have trouble with this. If you avoid glare on the page, unless your eyes are worse than mine, you will be able to read it.

Lichfield - by Awful Good Games
Lichfield – by Awful Good Games

Next is a mini setting, a half page top to bottom ready for a standard three ring binder on slick card stock. It is black ink on a lightly colored background. It looks great, and as long as there is no glare, it too is easy to read. It continues adding to the Mythoard setting. I like that they keep adding things to the existing setting. If you want to use this setting in whole or in part, it is easy to do with this. I was glad to see that past month’s offerings are available. I would like to have the complete series of materials, if I can.

Tower of the Everflame
Tower of the Everflame

Next is a Pathfinder compatible supplement from AAW Games. It is For Rent, Lease or Conquest. It is a module about obtaining a home base for the party. It is a 42 page adventure. It is in a slick cover and the pages give one the visual impression of newsprint, but are slick and heavier than newsprint. The print is black ink on a multi-colored background. Most of each page has a light background, and thankfully the slick pages are not shiny. However, lighting and the angle the page is held can make words over darker ink harder to read for older eyes with bifocals. In addition, the layout has the text on some pages running into the border decoration. I think the intent is to look cool, but since it is hard for me to make out the text in some areas, and not every page is crowded, I think it is a layout issue. When the young eyes of the layout people read this stuff in 20 or 30 years, they will curse their younger selves. It is worst in sections of the page where the background color transitions from lighter to darker. Some letters disappear. In the corners of some pages is a leaf motif that goes light, dark, light and the odd color transition takes more concentration to read. I find that prolonged reading of this starts the feelings of a headache. It reminds me of the original PDF of D&D 5 where it had a colored background and was very hard to read. It seems like the intent is to go after the younger crowd at the expense of the older crowd.

For Rent, Lease or Conquest
For Rent, Lease or Conquest

The premise of the module is buying/occupying a building for home base and the villain is the realtor. I do not find that entertaining. As a homeowner who got screwed in the housing collapse, it is too much like papers and paychecks. That plus the difficulty in reading it, I don’t know if there are any useful nuggets in here.

Finally, there are two Dragon’s Quest adventures from Judge’s Guild: Starsilver Trek, and Heroes and Villains. They are in clear sealed plastic. If this is the original plastic and still sealed, do I want to open them? While these were from Bad Mike’s Books and Games, are they worth more sealed? There are definitely from back in the day and the art is of the sort that did not draw me in back then. Some of the JG stuff is really good and I wish I had delved into it back then.

Starsilver Trek
Starsilver Trek
Heroes and Villains
Heroes and Villains

So there is a lot of stuff in here. Some of it is for younger/better eyes than mine. As with “grab bags” one cannot expect everything to hit the sweet spot.

I found some things to interest me, and some ideas for later.

2015 A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal – Cities/Cities As Ruins/Cities As Megadungeons

Initially, I was struggling with the idea of a theme for this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge. Last year I just picked a topic that fit the letter for that day and went with it. Then I remembered my half started project to help me deal with cities, ruined cities, and my thoughts that a large city was in many ways equivalent to a megadungeon. Indeed, a ruined city is but the surface level of a megadungeon.

I will be fleshing out general ideas and ideas for tables, and on-the-fly information for navigating a large city or ruin without advance preparation, or with a set base of preparation, like a map and a general idea of where the different quarters are, etc. Planning a ruined city relies on planning one that is inhabited, the only difference is that a ruined city needs a reason for why it is now in ruins.

This project is as much a tool to help me as it is to share my insights with others.

I will reference past articles on some of these topics. Some information I may have previously only collected information and not yet made an article. I wrote at least a rough outline of each article and have them scheduled to post. I have been going back to each one and adding, revising, cross linking, and otherwise trying to improve them. So far, I don’t have as many tables as I initially envisioned, but I do have many lists I will work to develop tables or clean up for a list of ideas on various topics. Since this topic is so much on my mind of late, I am linking to posts that have come up and continue to be published by others. One relatively new blog, Lost Kingdom, has coincidentally, published articles that tie very well into mine, and I link to their articles for more details. Trying to find the time to read all of their past articles is a challenge, but well worth the effort.

Building a city for an RPG, whether a living city, or a fallen, ancient one, requires thinking it through and populating it in a pattern that fits. Not everyone needs this level of detail to guide them in creating their cities. I often just determine that there are so many of this or that business and don’t worry about a map. This project is for improving the level of preparation by creating a sort of checklist to touch on, to help DM’s that aren’t so good at spur of the moment to have some ideas to help with improvising their cities.

I look forward to feedback and ideas to fill in gaps.

There will be new tables for some things, and my detailed slant on how to build cities/ruined cities. Of course, in the A to Z Challenge format, it won’t be a complete system, but will contain points and questions to ponder for anyone developing a city. Some of these ideas will translate into building cities for any genre of RPG.

I will quote myself from my Post-Con Write Up of Marmalade Dog 20 and a relevant conversation I had with Adam Muszkiewicz:

When Adam and I were talking the topic of random tables and drop tables and all the dice tables came up. I mentioned that I am slowly crafting an all the dice type table to help me generate area of an ancient “abandoned” city for houses, building, and other features. Adam pointed me to a display at Roy’s booth for Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad, Winter 2014, Issue #1. Pages 10 and 11 have a neighborhood generator, and pages 12 and 13 have a gang generator. The neighborhood generator has a lot of ideas that I am looking for so I bought it.

I am going to enjoy this!

All my posts on megadungeons, and cities.

I also have a list of those RPG bloggers that used the (GA) tag on the A to Z Sign Up Page. I didn’t have time to look for those that didn’t use a tag, so if you want to be on my list, just let me know your number on the sign up list. My list, 2015 A TO Z CHALLENGE – RPG BLOGGERS, is on the right side of my blog under the A To Z Challenge logo.

[UPDATE] I went to each of the RPG blogs signed up for this year’s challenge, and only a couple of them appear to be participating in the theme reveal, so I wait, as do all of us until perhaps later today, or April 1st, when the posts begin.

[UPDATE 2] Here is a link to the List of Those Signed up for the April, 2014 A to Z blogging challenge.

One Page Dungeon Contest – 2015

Last year about this time, I wrote about the 2014 One Page Dungeon Contest, and thought about an entry, but none of my ideas would gel.

I am thinking about the 2015 OPDC with just over two months until the deadline. It is a single page, what’s the big deal, right?

Well a single page requires the most bang for the buck so to speak. One needs a density of information without a density of facts. A hook that evokes ideas, and a map that gives what words cannot. I have a small degree of artistic talent, but it is not a honed or practiced talent, so my efforts are hit and miss.

A one page dungeon also screams for brevity with a conciseness that cuts to the point immediately. As is evident from many of my blog posts, I am skilled at the WALL OF TEXT. It takes effort for me to distill things to the bare essentials.

I could make a submission that is merely an entry, but I want to make a memorable entry that is a contender. Heck, who am I kidding? I want to win!

So I know I need an idea that is just novel enough and easy to convey/explain in a single page. I have some faint wisps of ideas that if I can bring them to fruition and execute them as well as I imagine them, then I have a shot.

Between now and then are my goals of the 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge and a daily article on this blog between now and April 1st, and other game activities. Plus the Tenkar’s Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting is now ramping up to work on the actual town of Tenkar’s Landing. I need to do my part with an idea or two.

300!!

How can I not mention the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae?

While 300 blog posts is not as impressive as the feat of those long-dead Spartans, as someone with a BA in history and a big interest in ancient and medieval history, I could not help it, nor did I try.

Someone posting daily for a year can easily accomplish 300 posts with over two months to spare. In my case, I started in July of 2009, almost six years to get to 300 posts. That’s only 50 posts a year. In 2014, I hit 100 and 200 posts. In 2014, when the weather got nicer, I had a lot fewer posts. When the weather got cold my output increased until November, when I participated in NaNoWriMo, Tenkar’s Landing, UCon, and in late December decided to GM for the first time at a con with Marmalade Dog 20 the first weekend in February.

It isn’t that I wasn’t writing or wasn’t being creative in some way, it just wasn’t on this blog.

I don’t have enough ideas, or the time and energy to post as often as some do, or to have the consistent quality of others. This is not my 300th written post for this blog, it is the 300th posted for this blog. I have an article ready to post for the next nine days, plus what I have started for the April, 2015 A To Z Challenge.

I will post as often as I can and strive for good ideas.

This is merely a navel gazing post, so other than mentioning Spartans that many seem to think are only a movie, or a movie based on a comic book. Few seem to know it is a real event that occurred long ago. There was a movie about the 300 in the 60’s. The acting is not good and the special effects were not outstanding, but the movement of troops give the general idea of how it must have been.

I have mentioned my character Griswald, a 10th level cleric, 10th level fighter, 11th level wizard half elf. I once estimated, based on the area of effect spells and other offensive spells he has that in a narrow area, he could kill over 500 orcs, perhaps more, by the time they got close enough for him to have to use his sword. That was assuming optimal results in his favor. Who would face such a man? One who can call down the power of his god, or evoke the mysteries of the universe, or beat you by martial skill? As long as there are hundreds or thousands of orcs more scared of their chiefs and sub-chiefs than they are scared of Griswald, that’s who.

I have yet to have a character drive a stake in the ground for a final stand. I have thought about it and planned how it might happen, but never actually played that scenario. I thought I might be playing that scenario when Griswald’s town was under siege, but they left. They will think long and hard before they try it again.

Have any of you had a character perform a rear guard action and fight to the death so that other characters could escape or defeat the bad guy?

Whither the OSR Superstar Contest?

I had this article scheduled to post on March 6th, but Erik beat me to it and announced the resolution here.

Not what any of us wanted, but a conclusion nonetheless.

Below is what I wrote.

In 2014, Erik Tenkar, over at Tenkar’s Tavern, held a contest for the OSR Superstar. It got down to the finalists in July and there were some delays on the final judging. Up until Erik re-organized his page, there was a largish graphic about the contest.

I posted a comment to the OSR Superstar page asking about it a few months back, and I have seen others ask about it in other forums.

It is understandable if judges dropped out, or something else beyond Erik’s control. Did the finalists not submit? He is a NYPD officer, so his job comes with stresses most of us will never encounter.

Erik usually keeps all the Tavern’s readers in the loop. If he has mentioned it, I have not encountered the explanation.

If it’s resolution is dead or will eventually be resolved, I would like to know. I had a submission, I did not win. The submissions that did well were very cool, and I am curious to see what the finalists come up with for the final challenge.

I know that Erik is looking forward to retirement soon, sometime in the next year, I believe. I would ask that he wrap up a soon to be year old contest before then, so he can focus on the good content he regularly provides.

Gyrphax

Gyrphax is the largest dragon in my brother Robert’s campaign. He did this piece in high school, a few years before his current campaign started, or rather he started it in high school. It is pen and ink in the stipple style, that is, it is all dots.

He had the dragon and the slain warriors done quickly enough. But it took him a couple years to finish the rest. It is about 18 x 22 inches. He would be working on it and look up and blink his eyes wide, because after a while all he could see were dots.

This is a bad picture of a print I had on the wall in my home office. I wanted a picture before I had to move it. They are closing our small office with three employees and we will be working from home. I had to re-arrange my home office and move it from the wall where I had it. I now have it in a corner where it is more visible in my peripheral vision when I am at my desk.

My brother does not Facebook or Google Plus, so you won’t be able to reach him. He is very talented in many ways. If he ever finishes any of his stories, he will also do the book cover and any other art.

This image is his copyright, all rights reserved. I just wanted to share it here to show off his talent. A few days ago, I shared his maps using pictures of photocopies. If he wants me to take it down, I will.

 

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.)

Background Music

Way back in the day we made mix tapes of Science Fiction and Fantasy movies and TV shows themes. Usually the “benign” songs were at the front of the tape, and the more energetic would come on at a tense moment in the game, or when we were in a fight.

Battle of the Mutara Nebula from Wrath of Khan, the “planet eater” theme from Star Trek TOS (That same theme was used in many episodes, I am not sure what its correct name is.), Aliens, Star Wars, classical music such as Mars by Holst. I am not a fan of metal music, so a lot of other players I have read about online, feel that metal is the right kind of mood music. That is true for them, for me, my tastes lies in classical style music. As always, Rule (-1): “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.”

Recently I ran across Tabletop Audio, he also has a Google Plus page. He has free downloadable audio background sounds and music, that can also be played directly on his site. These would be great for an online game, if you had the bandwidth, or for an in-person game if you had a decent sound system. He also has a Patreon and a PayPal donate button. He also has something called Flattr, that I had never heard of, but is another way to make donations to content creators.

The way I keep buying new dice, books, and so forth, I am not able to add a donation at this time, but soon. I am going to be working from home soon, as they decided to close our office of three employees. Once I start seeing the savings in gasoline, I can afford a bit here and there for content creators I admire and more importantly, for whom I use their stuff.