Thursday, 1 November 2012

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Tutorial: Headless corpse

The white tarp doesn't give much in the way
of contrast, now does it?

This Halloween we will have a serial killer haunt in our garage, the centrepiece of which will be the headless guy. Here's how he got made.

Three old pool noodles
A few days worth of old newspaper
Two rolls of cheap duct tape (CAD 1.50 a pop)
Half a roll of masking tape (CAD 3.50 for a roll)
Shirt and pants from Value Village (CAD 15)
Severed hand props (CAD 7.50 total)
A pair of my wife's old shoes
Blood (buy it or make it)

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Warfare and Wizards in the New World

The march towards Quebec, fall of 1775

General Arnold's march on Quebec in 1775 was fraught with adversity from the very start. His maps and boats were supplied by men loyal to the Crown, and the trek through the wild forests of Maine could not get under way until the first cold nights of autumn had set in. Of the eleven hundred men that set out to conquer the seat of British power in the Canadas, only seven hundred made it to the walls of Quebec. The woods, rivers and waterfalls claimed men and supplies, and as winter set in, savage creatures stalked the column. Had it not been for the bravery and determination of Benedict Arnold himself, and for the fierce magicks of the dark eyed sorcerer who rarely left the general's side, few doubt that the outcome would have been anything but a complete tragedy.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Armoured sea creatures

They can't protect themselves is the name of an exhibition intended to raise awareness about endangered marine species. From the project's mission statement: 
"Marine life has several natural defenses such as speed, camouflage and schooling behavior. However, these defenses are powerless against man-made threats including pollution, ocean warming, and overindustrialization. To convey our need to protect these animals, this collection of life-size armor was born. Transcending cultural and regional boundaries, these artifacts are meant to inspire all to preserve the ocean and the myriad of creatures that call it home."
How about a race of intelligent, armoured dolphins for your world?

Or samurai cranes?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

This just in

Chain clouds on the horizon

It's funny what you find in your internets. Yesterday I checked the stats of this blog -- something I haven't done in a while, I must confess. One of the referring sites was a thread on, and there I found an exciting little news morsel. 

Back in 2010 I wrote a review of the Norwegian RPG Itras by, and now I can report that an English translation is in the works. Behind this we find the German indie publishers Vagrant Workshop. I have found no further information as to when they intend on having Itras by available for you linguistically challenged gamers.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Red vs. White, a blackpowder edition war

It's been a while, but I'm still alive. I've been posting sort of weekly at my new blog, I've been playing a few times a month, and I'm in the process of opening up a new outlet for my geekery. Historical reenactment. Truth be told, this isn't entirely new. About a decade ago I joined a medieval group in Bergen, but when that one got overrun by scary looking goth-chicks who liked to play with axes, I moved on. This time it's that North American speciality, military reenactment based around the period 1776 - 1812, that's caught my eye.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Fellowship of the Backstreet

I found this in my internets the other day, and I've had no choice but to watch it again and again. Go ahead, watch it and tell me it didn't make you chuckle at least once. I dare you.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A new blog

As I have gone from living alone to married with kids recently, I have not had as much time as before to produce lengthy posts about roleplaying on a daily basis. One of the things I've decided to take seriously after these changes is the safety of my family. To keep focussed, as well as to keep track of the necessary preparations, I've started a new blog. If you have similar concerns, pop over and see if it's something you'd like to keep an eye on. Oh, and don't expect zombies over there -- I'll keep them contained here on the BoW.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Just a thought

Monday, 9 April 2012

3.X s.2: ...and very bad eggs.

After having cleared out the ancient tomb, the scholars of fortune chose to head north towards the Greenvale. Though this meant they'd have to brave the dangers of the Witchfell for longer, by their reckoning the benefits of not having to pay loot tax to the Legion outweighed this. Despite the difficult terrain, they made good time, and day by day the Wyvernscrown Mountains drew nearer. The Mother must have smiled on them, and for days nothing untoward befell them.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Roleplayer holds seat in government

"I guess I’m Neutral Good. I mean that. But every person deviates from their alignment from time to time."
Heikki Holmås is living proof that geeks have now infiltrated the very fundament of civilization, as he is currently serving as Minister of Development in the Norwegian Government. Holmås started playing back in 1988, starting with Fighting Fantasy and progressing to Red Box D&D. In '89 he became Norwegian Champion of D&D, winning a trip to GenCon. He was a founding member of RegnCon [tr: RainCon], a gaming club/annual con in Bergen, Norway, that's still around today.

He also took part in the legendary LARP 1942 -- Noen å stole på [tr: Someone to trust]. The premise of this game was to recreate the life in a small coastal community under German occupation, and those who were fortunate enough to be there still talk about it.

The source for this post is the Norwegian RPG and game magazine Imagonem, and you can read the full interview here: [LINK]

A somewhat related article about Norwegian LARP-culture here: [LINK]

[Picture source: Imagonem]

Monday, 26 March 2012

3.X s.1: The Tomb of the Ancient King . . . on a shoestring

This session was the first test run of 3.X Ajax Configuration, the D&D hack I've been working on lately. The adventure was based on The Tomb of the Ancient King, a dungeon I created for the Labyrinth Lord game. It featured a type of construct I'd dubbed the Questing Bird, and as it was a combat light scenario, little converting needed to be done. The main obstacle in this adventure was the series of riddles posed by the birds. As the module as written had very little action in it, I also threw in a mummy just to, eh . . . liven it up a little.

The combat set-up ran well, but I noticed a few loose nuts and bolts, all easily fixed. The magic system unsurprisingly revealed more unwanted noises, and it couldn't quite reach top speed. Still, we found the causes for most of these problems, and I expect it'll run a lot better once it's been overhauled. 

The party this time consisted of a Rogue, a Fighter, and a Spell Caster, all 3rd level. A henchman also invited himself along - something that fuelled much paranoia. The players are still waiting for him to poison them and run off with their loot.


Ria and her husband Eadwaccer are struggling to get by, but the last delve they mounted barely made enough to pay for their expenses. Luckily the dwarf they had recruited for the job got himself eaten by a freakishly large frog, and thus did not claim his share. After they'd sold off the loot, they were left with just enough to purchase a box of books from the estate of a deceased and debt-ridden gnomish merchant. Having gone through every scrap of parchment in the box, Ria finally had a lead on what might well be the dungeon of their dreams.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Marvel 1602

While I'm busy not writing the session report post, here's a very short mini-review of a comic. The LFG/used book store has closed down, and in that process they sold out everything in the store for a buck a piece. I came late to the party, but I still managed to snatch a few treasures. Among them the eight periodicals that make up the first part of Neil Gaiman's take on a 17th century Marvel Universe well into alien space bat territory.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A tribute to the Book of Worlds

This work of art is made by Incognito, a.k.a. Velimir Tito, a.k.a. Torje, one of the players in the Pius Chronicles. His blog is here.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Historical References: Dominion of Langrim

This is a return to an old category. This time I'll look at a few aspects of the fantasy setting of Langrim, a pseudo-medieval affair with monsters, wizards and paladins. As usual, these images are drawn from our own history, and the intention is to provide a common frame of reference between myself and the players.

These jolly fellows are Byzantine cataphracts from around the 11th century. This is how the Legion appears, although they've swapped the scimitars for longswords.

Here we have a breakdown of the equipment of a Norman Knight. This is how most of the Knights of Greenvale roll. There will be some amongst them who wear plate, perhaps even full plate, but by and large most warriors on the island wear chain.

The bastle was a common sight on the Anglo-Scottish border in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this age of frequent skirmishes and prolonged unrest, these fortified farmhouses offered some protection from reivers and raids across the border. In the Dominion the threat comes from goblins and other evil creatures of the dark.

Lastly there's the motte-and-bailey castle. The Normans really dug these, and while they have several drawbacks compared to the stone fortifications that became all the rage in later centuries, they should work well against an enemy who rarely stays in the field once the sun rises. They also have the added advantage of being comparatively cheap to raise, and though labour intensive, cheap to maintain.

[Picture source: 1, 3 & 4 regretfully unknown; 2 - WrathDT]

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Ravenscroft village

The village of Ravenscroft lies south of Thorgan's Pass, in the remote Goblin Downs [map]. The village is known for little besides it being the staging point for expeditions into the Ruins of Dwergard and the dwarven mines of the area. Apart from the village, there is but one other settlement in this part of the downs, the farm of Drina's Bastle.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Old Stuff Day

NPC, the Game Master's Mouthpiece
Hindering game-flow or providing depth?

March 2 is Old Stuff Day, and this is my contribution. Here you can find the comments to the original post.

This is one of those post I just have to write. Tenkar posted a question a few days ago about whether NPCs should be used as a a GM's mouthpiece or not [edit: for future reference, Tenkar's second post on the matter]. In the comments a few people were rather unequivocal about how using such NPC's was sloppy game-mastering. I have to admit that that riled me a little. Since I have a soapbox available, I'll now climb up on it.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Converting monsters

There are four characteristics that change from D&D 3.5 to the Ajax Configuration, AC, Hit Points, spells/spell-like abilities, and damage.

Defence and Damage Reduction
When converting AC to DB and DR, first look at the AC in the monster's stat block. The total AC will be broken down into Size, Natural, Armour, and Dex mod. To get the monster's Damage Reduction, compare the Natural AC modifier to the table below. The monster's Defence bonus is calculated by adding size, Dex, and any class bonuses, if applicable.

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.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

LL s. 1: Cleaning out Ogre Hill

Wherein two young adventurers return home from their first paying job to find that their hamlet has been raided repeatedly over the last days. 

Returning readers will remember the Chapter-posts from the Pius Chronicles, and I would just like to mention that I will be playing with the format a bit in the LL-reports.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Screening process

Its been years and years since I've had a screen at the table, but now that I'm running LL, it only seems proper to erect a barrier between me and "them." Also, there are some practical considerations to take into account *cough/tables/cough*. Since my old, and highly customised, AD&D 2E screen is in Norway still, I had to start a new one from scratch.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A few myths busted...

Matt from . . lapsus calumni . . posted a link to a quite brilliant piece on RetroRoleplaying: The Blog setting the myths of old-school gaming straight. Reading this article, I finally figured out what it was that I wanted from the OSR: a level-based storytelling system. 

Having now run one session with Labyrinth Lord/AEC, I've realised that in returning to the roots of the hobby I may have found just that. It has intuitive and simple character mechanics, not unlike the WW games, but it uses a level based advancement model. The result is a game that supports both cut-throat dungeon crawls, seat-of-pants style challenge resolution, and free-form roleplaying.

I still don't know if the consensus will support continued LL play, but I think at least one of my players may have gone old school already. The alternative is to convert the Langrim game to 3.5 and just be done with it.

[Picture source: Tony DiTerlizzi]

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Dominion of Langrim

Storyteller's note: This is the basic information available about the sandbox as of now. If the game flows, more material will follow.

The six islands that form the Dominion of Langrim lies somewhere North-West of the world, surrounded by seemingly endless watery wastes. The climate is cold and humid, with snowy winters and wet summers. The human and demi-human population, all but a few living on Langrim, the largest of the islands, are sustained by farming the rich soil, and by fishing in the bountiful waters off the coast.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Selling the Old School to the New Guard

"I need feats!"

Last night one of my players came over for dinner, and we started talking about my plans for Saturday. As it turns out, neither my wife or the other guy are completely convinced about this old school thingy. You may say a minor battle in the Edition Wars was fought at that table. I was outnumbered two to one, and the opposing side even had The Punk cheering from the sidelines. 

Perhaps this shouldn't have come as a surprise, given that both of them have done most of their killing and looting in 3.X territories, and both of them view skills and feats as being vital elements in their character building.

As we talked, it became clear that my plans for a semester of hexcrawling may have been hastily laid. As the wife said, "this system seems to have all the things I don't like about 3.5, and none of the things I do like." I tried my best to explain why I think this is a good idea, and while they certainly didn't walk away as glassy eyed OSR converts, they did agree to give it a whirl.

Who knows, my OSR days may already have come to their middle.

[Picture source: Nick Harris]

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Building a sandbox

As a part of my renaissance, I realised that I needed more than just a new system. After all, the crunch is only a small part of the game. For years, my style has been that of an emulated linear narrative game structure (not to be confused with railroading), so I decided I'd follow the OSR trail all the way. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Renaissance - (n) a rebirth or revival

Around the tubes I've seen OSR explained as both Old Shool Renaissance and -Revival. I've always liked the former better, but I never had any need to actually develop a relationship with the term. 

Not so any more. Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while will know that I've counted myself as firmly lodged in the New School, and that I've been a member of the White Wolf pack for years. You will also know that last summer I ended one hell of a campaign. Since then I've left my old group in favour of a new continent, and bought a house with my, as of a few weeks ago, wife. You may say that my life as a gamer has changed somewhat since I started this blog in '09.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

OSR research notes

The crowdsourcing gave me a good starting point for my quest for a quick and dirty fantasy system. After having followed some of the leads I was given, I have dismissed a few, and marked a couple for further research.

The first system I checked out was Microlite20. The pros here were that it was free, and that it offered compatibility with the slew of 3.X material in the house. The con, and what made me dismiss it after about ten minutes with the PDF, is that the writing is a bit heavy, and the editing is poor. The PDF clocked in at well above 600 pages, and while it contained a bakers dozen of individual supplements, it just made the process of getting under the skin of the system too inconvenient. While this may be construed as judging the book by it's formatting, it was enough for me.

Friday, 20 January 2012

I need me some OSR

Last weekend I ran a one shot dungeon crawl, and I realised that my tool-box is insufficiently stacked. So, on the off chance that I still have some readers, I'll try my hand at a little crowdsourcing.

I went with Pathfinder, and while it worked, the system is far too labour intensive for something like that. To save time at the table, my wife, a friend of mine and myself did (most of) the char-gen before the dinner, but since two of the four players had never played any D&D derivation there was too much crap on their sheets for a one-nighter. The other two weren't too familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder either, and while we all had fun, it left me thinking there has to be an easier way.

While I've been lurking on the fringes of the OSR for a few years, I do not know the difference between Labyrinth Lord and OD&D. Hell, I've never even played 1st Ed. What I would like is to get a system that allow my players to create their characters in no more than 20-30 minutes, and that will support more than just hack'n slash. I have no interest in minis, but I do have a love for skills and roleplaying. So my question to you is: Which system should I go for?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wizards to give 1st Ed some love

In case you haven't heard yet, on April 17 this year, WotC is planning to release a reprint of the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons DMG, PHB and MM. This Premium Edition will, according to the WotC website, be "lovingly reprinted with the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release." Furthermore, parts of the proceeds will go to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund. It also looks like these books will only be released through selected game stores across North America.

Now, if I was a cynic, or engaging in the Edition Wars, I'd say this is part of a plot to win back some of the respect they lost during the days of the ignominious 4E. I'm neither, so I wont. I do think it is an attempt to get in on the OSR action, though.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Zak's questions, with answers

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
The setting of my best game to date - the one this blog was created for.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last Saturday.

3. When was the last time you played?
What, four months ago...?

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
In 1812 the USA declares war on England - your farms and families are near the border, and rumours about an American army marching north has reached you.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Engage one of them in game-related conversation/one-on-one roleplaying, or contemplate what's going on behind the scenes.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
I'm not much of a snacker while playing, but I may have a nibble if something strikes my fancy.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
No, I usually walk away from the table invigorated (sometimes also intoxicated).

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
When the clone Agent Cordac plotted a clone rebellion within the NWO.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
My games are mostly serious, but pretty much every session has it's moments of, often slapstick, comedy.

10. What do you do with goblins?
I try to give them some love. I try to make the band/horde/kingdom distinct and believable. 

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
It's been a while since my last regular game, so I'll go with a big one from last year and a smaller one that's still on the drawing board: The former was the Siege of Malta, the latter the War of 1812.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
When the 5th level paladin boldly, and without hesitation, charged the hydra on the bridge. When I ask the player to roll initiative, he asks, "how many heads did you say it had again?" "Nine," I say calmly. The light going out of  his eyes was priceless.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Geist: The Sineaters. I was looking into implementing them as a template in the Argos setting.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Tough call, but the first one that comes to mind is Jamie Jones.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Nah. The people I play with are too jaded by now, and I don't really focus on scaring the crap out of them anymore.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I haven't run something out of a box/book since I was seventeen.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A room no one else needs to walk through or be in while the game is running, that has enough room for a good sized table, shelves for game books, and a music system. A fridge is nice too.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Ars Magica and the old Swedish game Western.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Factual history and anything that looks interesting in modern fiction.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Someone able to contribute constructively to the group.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Training with a medieval re-enactment group when I was younger permanently changed how I run combat sequences. 

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
The Perfect System.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
I had some brilliant talks with my dad on the subject last time he visited.

Zak's original questionnaire here: [LINK]

[Picture source: Examiner]