Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chink in the armour, or the merits of called shots

He had managed to get to his feet after his horse had been killed beneath him, but the goblin rabble quickly surrounded him. Despite the heavy tax they payed to his sword, the little devils could smell victory. Hands grabbed at him from all quarters, and blows from axes, spears, and clubs tested every inch of his armour. He bit his teeth and focussed all his will to live on his blood-drenched sword. Screaming in feral rage and frustration, he struck at their heads and arms and bodies. Again and again.

At last he lost his footing on the now slippery ground. His enemies screamed in triumph as they pulled him over. He tried to get up, but the vicious monsters threw themselves on top of him. Some - too many - clung to his arms and legs like insane children.  They tore and stabbed at every joint and gap in his armour. Finally his battered visor gave in. He never saw the spear as it penetrated his left cheekbone and entered his brain.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

New Class: Spell Caster

In D&D 3.X: Ajax Configuration, the Spell Caster class replaces the Sorcerer and Wizard classes from D&D 3.5, and builds on the 3.X: Ajax magic rules. Rules for Bardic magic will follow.


Wizards, witches, and sorcerers all harness the powers of magic, shaping it through rituals and force of mind. Mastering the arcane arts requires years of devotion and study, but the rewards are unparalleled. Those few who are able to master the nine circles are bound to enter the legends, be it as terrible mage kings, as wise wizards, or as something altogether different.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


Picture unrelated

Jedediah from the Book Scorpion's Lair tagged me, and I think I'll take a page from Trey's book here. Yes, I'll gladly answer the questions, but I wont partake in the chaining. So, here goes.

1. If you could choose three people to game with (any at all: fictional, real, famous ect.), who would that be?
TinTin, Amita Ramanujan from Numb3rs, and Al Swearengen from Deadwood.

D&D 3.X: Magic Rules 2.0

In an earlier post I sketched out a new system for magic in D&D 3.X. After having debated this with my wife, that system was abandoned in favour of something a little closer to Ars Magica. This has yet to be play-tested, but as it seems like the consensus may be leaning towards pulling the plug on LL, that may happen already next weekend.

Like the Craft, Knowledge, Perform, and Profession skills, this isn't a single, defined skill, but rather a group of skills that fall under the same category. Spellcraft is divided into the separate schools of magic. Thus, each time the magic-user purchases a rank in Spellcraft, he must specialise in one of the eight schools, Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, or Transmutation.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Dungeons & Dragons 3.X: Ajax Configuration

While becoming aware of the shortcomings of Labyrinth Lord, I was also thinking about what to exchange it with. There are things I don't like about 3.5/PF, but the truth of the matter is that those systems also have things I do like. And then there's the not inconsequential aspect of us owning all but a few of the 3.5 books, as well as several d20 games, including Pathfinder. I just can't justify purchasing a new system just to play-test it.

Here the result of my ruminations. If we end up pulling the plug on LL, I think I'll use something like this:

This D&D 3rd Edition hack intends to provide a system that balances the various aspects I want from of fantasy roleplaying. The chassis of this system is 3.5, with certain mechanics from Star Wars d20 Revised Edition welded on. Magic has also been been changed somewhat so as to give it certain Vancianesque qualities. Some house rules have also been included in this post.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Reflections on Labyrinth Lord

I've now used the retro-clone for three sessions, and I'm beginning to question it's usefulness in my games. When I decided to try it out I defended it against repeated assaults from critics and naysayers, not because I had become a born again OSR fanatic, or because I was labouring under some naïve belief in the superiority of all things old. No, Sir, I went to bat for LL because I wished to go at it with an open mind, and because it forced me to approach my GM'ing in a different manner.

What I really like about LL is it's simplicity. However, this is also it's main weakness. I've said earlier that in some ways it plays similar to the Storytelling game system. I still hold to that statement, but with some qualifications. Just as ST, LL does not bind the players to what's on their sheets. Unlike ST however, LL does not provide much in the way of support for any type of play except combat. And herein lies the rub.

I want to run a game where the characters interact with the world they're in in more ways than by applying sword and spell. Skills, I've found, is key here, and LL has none. This is the reason why the system feels unfinished to me. Yes, I am aware of the arguments for role playing challenges instead of relying on rules to solve them, but if the players have to describe every single action they take outside of combat, it'll become quite tedious right fast. Conversely, I know that the lack of skills can be overcome by rolling modified ability-checks, but to me that only feels like masking a problem with a sub-par solution.

So, while I haven't pulled the plug on this experiment yet, the results are starting to come in, and when it is brought before the committee I would not be surprised if the old school is abandoned in favour of 3.X. Hell, I've already started thinking about which iteration of 3.X we should use.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Player of the game

Last Friday we played a session of our ongoing campaign. Jessie sat in on most of it, and she was very much focussed on the game. While she's not that into the deep roleplaying aspect of the game, she likes rolling dice, and she is good at supporting the actions of the other players.

Full session report to come.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Random encounter table 2.1

This is a random encounter table I put together as I was playing with ideas.

Dave and Matt, I leave it up to you as to weather or not you wish to read further on this post. These encounters may or may not come into play, but reading them now may affect your experience of the game if it becomes relevant.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How archery should be done

So, say a combat round lasts 10 seconds. I counted seven arrows, and judging by the footage at the end, her grouping is flawless.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Iron Sky Trailer

I've mentioned this movie before, but it bears repeating. It premiers on March 4, 2012, but it's already received outstanding reviews at the Berlinale. To quote one critic, "it's like a heavy metal band just arrived at the Berlin Philharmonic in the middle of Verdi's Requiem and stole all the applause."

You should also read this article on The Daily Mail. It talks about both Iron Sky as well as WWII UFO conspiracies. Oh, and Bradgelina.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

LL s.2: The Ettin of the Arrandmoors

Our party:
Jiminy Trinkets, lvl. 1 Gnome Illusioninst
Kael, lvl. 1 Human Fighter
Josiah, lvl 1 Half-elf Ranger
Kong, Pookie, and Apollo, 2 HD war dogs
Rufus, 1HD guard dog

When Kael and Jiminy returned to Barrelhead, the villagers gave them a hero's welcome. During the feast thrown in their honour, they met Josiah, a half-elven ranger who'd heard about the goblins, but arrived too late to be join the raid. That evening the the three decided to join forces, and that they would follow up on a story they heard from a travelling merchant.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Legion's Rest

The largest city in the Dominion of Langrim is Legion's Rest. It is also the oldest, and some of it's structures date back to the century before the Isolation. In those days it had a population of about 2,500, but these days more than 4,000 people live within the crumbling walls. The crowded streets are lined with rickety buildings and ruins from the days of the Empire. Farmers, beggars, tradesmen and merchants all mill through the narrow alleys and muddy streets.

I had hoped to have a more detailed post up by the game on Friday, but as I've now just gotten a puppy, I find myself a little preoccupied.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dungeoneering 101: Torches

Torches and lanterns are standard equipment in any adventurer's pack, and most delvers'll light 'em up as soon as they enter a dungeon. Picture this: Paul the Paladin and his pals enter the Caves of Chaos. It is a dark and dangerous environment, and so they do the natural thing. They light their torches. Now able to see where they put their feet, they head into the tunnels, careful not to set off any traps or miss any treasure. Further down the same tunnel, Stinky the Goblin sits on guard. He is placed so that he has the longest line of sight practicable, and all off a sudden he sees torches coming towards him. Stinky does as he's been told, and runs off to tell his boss. Ambush is now in progress.

The thing to remember about a light-source is that it can be seen infinitely longer than it'll let you see, and you don't need infravision to spot a flame in the dark.

Carrying torches into the tunnels is a two edged sword on the best of days.

[Picture source: Allen Douglas]

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Got mail

Obi Wan approves.

Today I received my copy of Trey's Weird Adventures. To sum up my first impression in a word: goddammitawesomesauce! My second thought was, "how can I use this in a game?" I haven't done more than leaf through it a couple of times yet, reading the odd snippet of cool, so I haven't quite answered that question yet. Thoughts of an interdimensional gate between my ongoing setting, or somesuch, have crossed my mind, but we'll see where I end up.

That's all for now, but I expect I'll be posting on Weird Adventures again before long.

Well, done, sir!

*tips hat

Monday, 6 February 2012

Good, Evil, and shades of grey

As an old AD&D 2nd Ed player, in my mind alignments have always meant a combination of the Good/Evil, and the Law/Chaos axis. When I picked up LL, I automatically referenced the alignment-system I was used to during the character generation process. Now, having had some time to think it through, I'm having second thoughts.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Featured Artist: Matthias Grünewald

It's been a while since the last one of these, and this time I have something truly twisted for you. Matthias Grünewald (1470- 1526) is a bit special, in that he bridges the Renaissance realism that was all the rage back then, and the balls-to-the-wall, scaring-the-shit-out-of-you-to-make-you-pray mentality of the Medieval painters[1].

As has become the form of these posts, I'll skip any further pontification on the topic and show you some of the artist's work. Note that all of these images are sections of altar-pieces, not named or linked to due to good old laziness.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Langrim Island - Encounter Tables

While travelling through, or exploring an area, each hex has a 30% chance per day of generating an encounter.

Table 2.2: Southern Lowlands
1-7 Small game (30%)
8-9 Wild dogs (2d4)
10-11 Boar (d6 = 1-4: one, 5-6: 1d3+1)
12-13 Goblins (2d4)
14-15 Merchant w/ 1d4 guards
16-17 Legion patrol (d6 = 1-2: ten infantry, 3-4: twenty infantry: 5-6: six cavalry)
18 Bulette (1)
19 Shadow (1)
20 Wyvern (1)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Technical issues

I'm experiencing the following technical issues at the moment:
  • I cannot add new blogs to my blogroll - when I open the dialogue box, everything works as it should, except it will not save. I have found a few new blogs over the last week and a bit, but unfortunately I have been unable to share these on the 'roll.
  • I cannot comment on my own or any other blog - blogger does not allow me to chose a profile under which I can publish a comment.

I can only hope that these issues will be resolved and amended by the Lords of Google as soon as possible.

The scheduled program will resume after this message.

Hex: The Ruins of Dwergard

Christian was nice enough to send me some hexmap templates, and last night I had to take this one out for a spin. This is hex 14-t of the Langrim map, and it shows the area surrounding the Ruins of Dwergard. The map is 25 miles across, with each hex measuring 2.5 miles. The biggest problem I ran into was how to list my coordinates, and the way I ended up doing it doesn't strike me as ideal, but it'll work for now.

The following is the background information on the Ruins of Dwergard:

The dwarves of the Järnafíorin clan came to Langrim from their distant homeland, some time before the Isolation. They had charters from the Emperor giving them exclusive rights to mine the mountains on the main island. A cold winter, some one hundred years after the last ship, a goblin surge washed over the land, leaving farms and villages in ruins. The people fled behind the walls of the larger towns, and after a hard winter with many battles fought, the remaining goblins withdrew from the surface. 

No one ever saw the dwarves of Järnafíorin again after the Goblinwinter of 107. Their last stand has become a fixture in the island's folklore, and the ruins of their stronghold the target of many an adventure. Some of those who seek it out return with pieces of the fabled Hoard of the Dwarves, but many others never come back. The hills and mountains around Dwergard is infested with goblins and monsters, and the dwarven keep and mines are said to be littered with traps and ancient war machines, and haunted by the ghosts of the dwarves who fell there.

The GM's map, as well as some dungeons and encounter tables, are in the works. These will be posted at a later date, dependant on campaign progression.