Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lord of the Rings Sucks

OK, I know this is going to result it hate-outrage. But Lord of the Rings pretty much sucks. The books are long winded and so up themselves you can almost smell the s**t-stains.

The Movies aren't much better (which is actually what burned me out) - and I prefer Sword and Sorcery (Conan and Thongor) over the novels, and pretty much any Fantasy/Science Fantasy over the Movies (STAR WARS RULES, the... original Trilogy comes first though).

In all the Middle Earth Stories - Tolkien's good guys are white and noble - and the bad guys are black, slanty-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde - bigotry at its best.

In the Movies – Check the percentage of protagonists in Fellowship who are white: 100%

Meanwhile the black-skinned antagonists and their black crow spies and their black glass seeing ball inhabit their black towers and perform black magic. One would have to be blind to miss the symbolism.

Only Saruman is white, and even he is abusing the other races and treating them like slaves to reach his goal.

The Movie continuity guys are crap, In the massive Mt. Doom battle scene at the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring, a DVD pause reveals at least half a dozen of the 50,000 Orc Warrior extras are wearing modern tennis shoes.

Re – the ACTUAL PLOT of Lord of the Rings. Why TF didn't they take horses on their quest?( Or even more practically, why didn't Gandalf's giant flying bird friend haul them to Mordor if it was THAT bloody important, at the end the Giant Eagles rescued Frodo and Sam in no time flat – if its so damn important to destroy the ring why risk it ON FOOT OVER AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME) – HEY LOOK OUT FELLOWSHIP - ALL methods of transportation have been swallowed by the “Dark Lord of the Plot Hole”!

Every time Frodo or Bilbo went invisible with the ring he should have also gone BLIND. Your eyes cannot function unless light is reflected off the cornea. If light passes through it (as must be the case with invisibility) sight is no longer possible. D’OH!

I read somewhere that US students are being forced to read some novelization of the movies in their literature classes. UTTERLY Ridiculous! Hollywood wins again


Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Legend of the Crystal Skulls - Part II

The land is split, Munkars realm embrace the power of the two Skulls he has - it has lead to a new age of prosperity and progress for the new elite, Munkar and his followers. Munkars "empire" (for want of a better word) is built of the backs of the ignorant and the less fortunate, only those outside of his reach live free in the 'outlands'.

Munkar lives in the vast city of Vivamus, a shining complex of many levels and towers - he and his followers live in great luxury, nearly touching the sky - yet the city streets are shielded by the towers from the daylight, leaving the less fortunate to live their miserable lives in shadow.

To the North, the winterlands - a cold mountainous region, and home to the Tribe of the Free. Barbarians who bow to no man save their High Chieftain, and then only out of love and respect - not out of fear.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Legend of the Crystal Skulls

In a time before History began, in a Land beyond imagination - lay the realm of Lamaria.

Darkness ruled the land, the evil Necromancer Munkar had harnessed the power of the Gods by capturing two of the five Crystal Skulls - remnants of power of the dead gods of Lamaria.

Munkar and his minions constantly search for the remaining three Skulls - for he who controls all five has dominance over reality itself.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

This Really Amused Me . . . .

I (personally) believe in 100% openness with my Players, Don Turnbull of TSR UK (great bloke, sadly missed) always found that "odd" about my style of DM'ing - that I didn't fudge rolls etc

When 4th Edition came out, and practically everything is static - with little or no rolling actually done by the player - I was more than a little incensed - as it takes away a good chunk of the fun for the player.

So, this article on 'The Action Point' really REALLY amused me -

So, basically, it seems like its actually more fun to play 4th Edition like the older editions were played - odd that . . . .

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Killing Joke

No, not the DC Graphic Novel - but rather a comment the way WizBro are treating Gary and Daves legacy. They are talking about a 5th Edition of D&D now, its been getting further and further away from what D&D should be to me. Less and less of a Role Playing Experience, more and more of a single model tabletop tactical wargame. What they are doing has been slowly but surely killing off the brand name.

A guy on Google+ made an interesting remark about RPG's in one of my Friends comment threads - "All This Must Evolve" - It kinda made me smile at the time, so lets look at that comment.

In Nature, if something 'works' it changes very little. Sharks and crocodiles are optimally suited for their environment - so they haven't really changed for a VERY long time.

Evolution and change isn't always necessary really, especially when it comes to games and gaming.

2nd Edition AD&D didn't really change much from 1st Edition AD&D - it added and expanded, in fact I (as a DM) merely added certain elements and  functionality from 2nd Ed to my 1st Ed Games - if it's not "broken" why fix it right.

Unfortunately, changing things in a major (and often flawed) way - is a "disease" that has penetrated the RPG industry, it's a sad truth. Not everyone has the common sense that a Publisher like Troll Lords has - in only changing things that don't work well.

The truth of the matter is, that the MAIN reason for changes in rules IS NOT JUST to "make things better" - its to actually ensure that people feel compelled to buy the newest edition!

Whilst its logical to ensure the survival of a business, its NOT always a good thing in my opinion (or in a lot of other peoples for that matter) why not bring out new and exciting products that add to the gaming experience, rather than watering down and re-hashing ideas all the damn time!

Check out this guys feelings on the possibility on there being a 5th Edition!

Change isn't always the right way to go, just "ask" the environment how it "feels" about the changes Mankind has made, all in the name of "progress" too!

I still enjoy 1st Edition AD&D, I prefer the look and the "feel" of it. OD&D through 1st Edition AD&D was a labour of love, its obvious - 4th Edition is quite simply soulless "product", and a lackluster product at that.

Friday, 8 July 2011

In Depth Role Playing or Adventure Gaming

What do you prefer, I know I (and my Players) prefer Adventure Gaming.

Whats the difference I hear you ask, Adventure Gaming is like an Action Movie - light on Plot, high on Action and Investment in the Characters (as in you want to see the Heroes win) - I prefer to run Games like that.

A real "Roller Coaster" ride that keeps my players involved and guessing - fun, rowdy, and fast!

In Depth Role Playing - even my games have this sometimes, but I find it boring if that's ALL you ever do.

I remember once talking to a Guy who played Vampire the Masquerade twice a week (sometimes more) - they spent an ENTIRE SESSION that lasted over four hours talking at a Party . . . . . .

FFS if I want to do that I would actually go to a real damn Party, whats the point of  "playing" at real life - go out and LIVE IT FFS! OK there are no real Vampires to hang around with, I'll give them that - but I have to say - THATS why Live Action Story Teller games work better than on the table-top. In Depth Roleplaying works better in "person" IMHO.

Table-Top RPG's (for me at least) give me a chance to do things I would never do in reality - going down a Dark Dank Dungeon in search of Treasure, or swing across a wide Ravine on a Jungle vine to escape some Magical Abomination, or Hack a Government Mainframe to steal Top-Secret Weapon Designs - not stand around dressed like some reject from an Anne Rice Novel chatting!

High on Adventure is the key for any FRP, whether its D&D or Runequest - THAT'S the real key to fun and a great time being had by all IMHO. Thats not to say Roleplaying doesn't come into it, not at all - we should always at least attempt to play unique and distinct characters wherever possible - even when it comes to your own NPC's - that's a huge part of the fun I reckon.

4th Edition (Not) DnD have gone TOO far towards the Adventure Game Concept - its way WAY too light on the Role-playing. Almost all interactions within the gaming environment can be Governed by a Dice Roll - as opposed to Role-played Through - not good IMHO.

Too Far WizBro, Too Far.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

House of Paincakes

I am glad to announce I am now part of the "House of Paincakes" Gamers Blog Network!

Just Sayin'

Castle Keepers Guide - Some Thoughts

I haven't posted on here for a while, RPG's have taken a back seat for me for a while - not because of lack of interest - but life has been kinda chaotic, and I've been focusing on miniatures and painting for a while (I find it calming).

I've had the Castle Keepers Guide for Castles and Crusades for a while, but haven't really had the time to sit and read it properly. Now I have, here are my thoughts (for what they are worth).

Ok – now everyone who knows me is aware what a huge Castles & Crusades fan I am, next to AD&D 1st Edition it’s my favourite RPG – so what I write here I really don’t do lightly, I'm just being as honest as I always try to be - so before you read on – it’s not all hearts and flowers. Sorry Troll Lords . . . . .
It is a hefty and great looking book – I do wonder however why the cover is matte not glossy like the other books – it looks kinda strange on my bookshelf tbh. A Shame that really.

It’s very VERY much like the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide in feel and tone – but rather than simply being a “copy” it’s much more like a show of respect, and a doff of the writers “cap” so to speak.

There is a wonderful section on fleshing out your characters, complete with different methods for attribute generation – height, weight and age charts and tables – and even ideas for using Monster Races as Characters (something very fashionable these days, but also something I am not too keen on.

The section on hirelings and henchmen, whilst interesting and somewhat useful – simply goes on too long for me. Droning on and on seemingly forever, I zoned out while I was reading it. My groups rarely use henchmen, and I personally as a player have never used them – so perhaps it’s just me and mine – but I don’t think the subject deserved the extensive coverage it got.

There is also a BIG section on dealing with world creation and management – great for new DM’s/CK’s – especially those who want to develop their world from scratch – there are even rules for handling large scale conflicts – wars between nations and peoples. Interesting stuff indeed, viable and playable whilst maintaining the “old skool” feel that Castles and Crusades is famous for.

There are even ideas and concepts for story development, which whilst I imagine they were put in there with all the good intentions in the world – they (in my humble opinion) are of little use to DM’s/CK’s – there is too much of this tendency to force DM’s/CK’s into a “mold” trying to make them all run games in the same way – I’ve seen it over and over again for such a long time, I think its kinda bad for creativity and can make individual DM’s/CK’s stagnate – thereby making it necessary that they buy Scenarios and World Books – or maybe that’s the point really (yes I know I am jaded and suspicious).

There are some great guidelines on Challenges and how to rate them properly and effectively, and a large amount of information on the Siege Engine and the mechanics of the system. Assigning appropriate treasure is covered in reasonable depth, as is how to extend and expand upon character abilities. Plus there are loads of good solid examples of how to make judgment calls, assign difficulty levels and such like. Pretty damn useful and a very interesting read.

There are even rules and ideas for Hi-Tech Weapons, so Sci-Fi crossover games and now more easily don (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for C&C anyone?) – BUT even though Secondary Skills are covered (as in the AD&D 1st Edition rules) there are no real and tangible rules for Skills in C&C – so I am afraid all us DM’s/CK’s and Players who like such things are stuck with our own home-brew systems.

As an experienced DM/CK only around 50% of the Castle Keepers Guide was truly useful to me, newer DM’s/CK’s will find much more of it useful.

Some sections were a little too “in depth” others not so much, and some information that needed to be in there simply wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a good solid Tome; I just think it could have been better . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bad Press

Sorry I haven't been Blogging for a while, but I've not been well - and tons of family crap got in the way too.

In between reading the new Castle Keepers guide for C&C and going over my AD&D 1st Ed Books Again (I love doing that) I've been watching Movies, and Mazes and Monsters crept into my schedule.

A lot of people STILL think Mazes and Monsters is an accurate account of the ACTUAL events that led Rona Jaffe to write her Book Mazes and Monsters.
No doubt the TV Movie Myths and Monsters had its damaging effects, but the original Novel by Rona Jaffe - was more damaging in my opinion. 
Mainly (again in my opinion) because it came out at a time when Dungeons & Dragons was being attacked by various religious groups who alleged that it promoted Satanism and other forms of occult practices. 
The irony is that the novel is based in large part on the largely apocryphal (as in of "questionable authenticity") "steam tunnel incidents" of the late 1970's. 
The RIDICULOUS urban myth that developed during the infancy of Dungeons & Dragons, generally purporting that university students playing a live action version of Dungeons & Dragons disappeared into the utility tunnels of the school and became lost, and in some cases died of hypothermia or other causes - has actually little basis in reality. 
These legends had arrisen because to newspaper reports concerning the disappearance of a Michigan State student named James Dallas Egbert. Egbert had played Dungeons & Dragons and did in fact go into the steam tunnels of his school, but with the intent of committing suicide. 
When his attempt to end his life failed, he hid at various friends' houses for several weeks. During that time a private investigator hired by Egbert's parents- speculated in the press that perhaps Egbert had gone into the tunnels to play a live version of D&D and somehow gotten lost. 
The media did their usual thing and reported the theory as fact - thereby controversy over the effects of playing Dungeons & Dragons
IN ACTUALITY THE WHOLE THING WAS BUNK! But that didn't stop the religious freaks, zealots, and morons jumping on it whole scale!

The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III is the 1984 book written by private investigator William Dear, in an attempt to "cash in" for his own gain - giving his own personal account of the 1979 "steam tunnel incident", which he claims was only written because the actual events were misrepresented by the news media.

The book recounts his experience investigating the 1979 disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III, a student at Michigan State University - and is just as flakey as Mazes and Monsters in its own way.

Egbert was a 16 year old child prodigy who was battling intense academic pressure, drug addiction, and personal issues - IN ACTUALITY, if you are interested Egberts personality and character was evenly distributed  between the four main characters Robbie Wheeling (Tom Hanks), Kate Finch (Wendy Crewson), Daniel (David Wallace), and Jay Jay Brockway (Chris Makepeace) - yet ANOTHER innacuracy compared to the reality.

He had entered the school's utility tunnels with the intent of committing suicide and went into hiding after that attempt was unsuccessful. After learning that Egbert had played Dungeons and Dragons, Dear, who was unfamiliar with the game, suggested that Egbert may have entered the tunnels to play a live action version of the game. This theory was taken as fact by the media and caused intense controversy over the psychological effects of role playing games. After several weeks, Egbert gave himself up to private investigator Dear.

In 1980, less than a year after the incident, Egbert successfully committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound. Dear kept the true circumstances of the disappearance a secret until four years after Egbert's death, due to a promise he made to the boy not to reveal them.

Although Egbert was indeed a player of D&D - it was later found that his entry of the steam tunnels was TOTALLY unrelated to Dungeons and Dragons.

At the time, the 16-year-old as struggling with depression, was under INTENSE academic pressure from his family, AND was battling drug addiction. In addition, his young age, advanced intelligence, and other issues had made it difficult for Egbert to make friends.

Egbert entered the steam tunnels on August 15, 1979 with a bottle of methaqualone intending to end his life - the suicide attempt was unsuccessful and when he awoke the next day he went into hiding at a friend's house - leading to the search for the "missing boy".

When you know the real story, and understand the poor lads confusion and desperation - you realize all the scandal over D&D was LITERALLY drummed up by the press. All the bible bashing about the game that ensued and became more and more exaggerated led to increased sales and awareness of Dungeons and Dragons - so in reality, all these news hounds and god botherers did was do TSR a favour.

I don't know about you, but I find that kinda funny!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Pimps & Whores

To me there are two distinct "Breeds" of Dungeon Master - "Pimps" and "Whores".

There are "Types" of DM too - whether they be active, passive, reactive, cinematic, or dramatic - they are always either Pimps or Whores.

The "Pimp" will only ever run Games that HE likes and is passionate about, whether they be older editions of a specific system or retro-clones of that system - and he talks up his fave to the Nth degree - getting players to join his games, his players ALWAYS get into it because he is so passionate about what he's doing!

The "Whore" sells out, runs whatever is new and shiney - whether its for selfish reasons (he really REALLY likes the system, there can be some crossover into "Pimpdom" here), "because its new and shiney" (the true Whore), because "thats what everone else is running/playing" (the "Keep up with the Neighbours" Whore), because its a new edition (the "want to be part of something bigger" Whore).

Are Pimps superior DM's to Whores - not always, its not about that. Its about "pushing" an inferior gaming experience.

Thats not to say Whores can't run AMAZING Games, but True Whores RARELY run home-grown Scenarios. They are always "up to date" with the new scenarios and campaign supplements.

See, when I started there wasn't that much in the way of Campaign Worlds - so I could quite literally move between groups and never have the same gaming experience - it was wonderful seeing all that creativity and passion.

I've joined in with a few 4e Games, and - to be perfectly frank - they are pretty much clones of each other. Dissapointing really.

Whether you are a Pimp or a Whore, you should always do your best when running games - its important, and pretty much your biggest task as a DM. Because if you don't care, how can you expect your players too!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Future of Table Top Gaming . . .

I've published this on my Pulp Planet Blog to, because these thoughts interest me so much.

Looking to the far FAR future - you could be playing games with tiny nano-robotic machines that you collect and paint yourself - that could be used to fight actual battles on the table-top using your tactics.

Each "battle" the robots took part in and survived without being "taken out" (I envisage a sort of "laser tag" micro system, with a central computer calculating the hits and damage) - they would learn and improve, with the ones that "died" being returned to play as basic units.

That way you utilize modern and advanced technologies, whilst keeping the "hobby" aspect.

No doubt some of you are thinking "it would cost way too much" - but when you think how much a CD Player cost when they were first introduced to the retail market ($900 in 1982 - as compared to today when you can pick a PORTABLE CD Player up for less than $20 that has more features than the 1982 version LoL) to what you can buy today, I'll bet its not that far fetched given enough time and imagination upon the part of the designers/manufacturers.

What amazes me is the Tech we have today actually (sorry to digress) TAB computers from Star Trek - WE NOW HAVE THEM!!

So, that's what I envision - tiny robots, you collect and paint yourself - that fight battles set up by human players - computer controlled in a table top environment.

Possibilities and Perceived Reality

IMHO ALL Fictional Universes exist somewhere, somehow in our limitless extra-dimensional multi-verse.

Think of any video game that you've played or movie watched. Think of any fiction book you've ever read, or table-top game (both miniatures games and RPG's) you've ever enjoyed.

Those ideas and concepts exist sometime and somewhere in tangible form.

Maybe not on our planet, not in our galaxy or even in our universe but somewhere they do. There's no such thing as fantasy - because space and time (and therefore reality) is infinite.

I'm no sage or scholar (well, I suppose I'm kinda the latter - or so some of my friends insist LoL) but I know deep down this concept has more than a little legitimacy.

I can't prove any of this (by the sheer nature of thought and imagination, such concepts are subjective at best - and other thinkers cannot disprove it either) but I am certain some of you have already though this (or something similar) already.

And yes I have a vivid and overdeveloped imagination, I'm kinda famous for it . . . . . .

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Dragon Lords of Melnibone

One of the BEST D20 RPG Books (IMHO) of recent years was the Chaosium "Dragon Lords of Melnibone" - I much preferred this incarnation of the Elric saga, not just because I am a fan of the D20 system overall - but because the whole presentation of the Book was more "Elricy" to me.

I spent my teenage years (when I wasn't rehearsing with the various Bands I was with or DM'ing) - lying on my bed listening to Kiss (for the most part) and reading Moorcock and Lovecraft. I even wrote a song called Tanelorn once . . . .

See, I never got into Tolkien till much later on, so the Lord of the Rings (though I enjoyed it) never had the impact on me it had on a lot of people - whereas Elric, Hawkmoon, Erekose, and Corum did.

Don't get me wrong, Dragon Lords of Melnibone has its problems - mostly due to the "cut and paste" nature of the writing/editing of the book - but they are EASILY solved by converting it over to AD&D or Castles & Crusades proper.

Rather than do a wholesale cumbersome (and lets face it boring to read) conversion, I'm just going to present some rough notes from time to time.

Law And Chaos

The battle between Law and Chaos is an ongoing theme in all Moorcock's fantasy works, involving as it does
both gods and mortals. Above and beyond these warring forces is the Cosmic Balance, which swings in favor sometimes of Law, sometimes of Chaos.

In a perfect world the two are stabilized, in delicate equilibrium. The harmony of the Balance is all too lacking throughout the multiverse. Although the Balance rules unalloyed in places, most universes are in a state of Chaotic turmoil or Lawful stagnation. Without its opposite, a plane of pure Law is as deathly and sterile as one ruled by Chaos.

This flux of opposites snares the Eternal Champion, but he does not give up the fight against it. In the final battles, Law and Balance join forces against Chaos, for Chaos has grown too strong. Elric's death brings the plane toward the Balance. When the world reforms, there will be magic, but much less of it. Our own world will then be born.

In the saga, Chaos attracts because it has great beauty and power even while it wreaks havoc. Elric realizes that Law similarly confounds the notion of good and evil, though we do not see it conquer the world.

We imagine that Law should provide security, but it brings with it rigidity and sterility. What is right is not always easy to know. Sometimes the wrong person dies, or a quest goes unfulfilled. Sometimes the adventurers are cursed for doing good, or blessed for their evil doing.

The reversal of expectations is an important notion in understanding the saga.

This whole "topsy turvy" concept is one of the most enthrawling (for me) themes running throughout the books, that Chaos can bring about good and Law and Order can bring about evil is (nowadays) showing itself in the real world even as I type (if anyone has their doubts of the voracity of what I write, you need look no further than your TV or Newspapers - its all there if you care to see it).


All spells function as written, but spell availability is determined by the religion to which a character belongs - for the Gods of the young Kingdoms have a powerful influences over Magic and Magical Powers.

Powerful individual Sorcerers do exist - but the most powerful Sorcerers are so because of rituals and summonings not because of Spell Knowledge and Power.

A few spells are restricted in their availability - among them wishes, commune, and consecrate. The functions of the first are available through divine intervention-the asking of and receiving the attention of the gods themselves. The use of the latter spells is available only to an actual priest of a religion.

The Young Kingdoms is a vast and fascinating place, well worth exploring!

Next - The People of Pan Tang!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beholder Miniatures

Coming soon from Otherworld Miniatures - 

Its meant to be an "Eye of Terror" for the Labyrinth Lord RPG, and is a multi-part kit consisting of of 2 head sections, 2 sprues of eyestalks, 2 arm tentacles and 2 sprues of body fronds. The kit has been sculpted by John Pickford

They are available to Pre-Order at just £14.00 and contain enough bits to build either a "Classic" "Eye Tyrant" or a Labyrinth Lord Eye of Terror.

I am blown away by this, absolutely gorgeous!

D&D For Kids

RPG's for Kids, not Teenagers - Kids. Whilst there is the rare child who can play RPG's in a collective and co-operative manner (I've known just one) there seems to be a real trend (especially with 4e D&D) to run games for very young children.

Uri Kurlianchik has been posting articles on the official D&D Website, about his experiences running games for Kids - and whilst his intentions are no-doubt good, I don't think they are entirely realistic.

The OLDEST player he has been running games for is 11, and (to me at least) 11 is the YOUNGEST (unless they were exceptional) aged player I would run games for. His youngest Player is 7 (and doing surprisingly well according to Uri) which is really REALLY young to cope with the concepts of even the simplest RPG.
His lastest article D&D Kids: Punishment made me really smile, as its a perfect example of why running D&D for young children is NOT a good idea.

The article basically deals with controlling the players behaviour when they "act up" - and Uri categorizes them into different types -  

The Astronaut - A kid whose oblivious to the "rules" of the game world, forgets what he can and cannot do - probably because his attention span is poor. 

The Crybaby - The Kid who always looks like he is on the verge of tears or a tantrum, ALL the time over everything. 

The Cheater - I think this needs no descriptive explanation. 

The Serial Character Changer - Who constantly wants new characters, either because he finds something cool in the Manuals or is bored. 

The Hyperactive - Constantly "in motion' and won't stop still. 

The Joker - Actually a misnomer for what this Kid is, a malicious little bugger out for a "laugh" all the time. 

The Chaotic-Stupid - A Kid who's behaviour "in game" gets his party killed repeatedly. 

The Antagonist - The type of Kid who ALWAYS argues with authority figures.

NOW - it's difficult enough running games for Teenagers and/or Adults, without the added hassles of Kids misbehaving. If you are spending a large chunk of your time (as a DM) controlling your player's behaviour, you don't have time to focus on NPC's, Encounters, World Events, Weather, Environment, etc . . . . . 

The list of in-game "Chores" for a DM is a long one!

One of the things I love about playing in an RPG is the sheer amount of freedom a good DM can give you, by having to "Crack the Whip" (Uri's term, not mine) over his Kids is cheating them of that freedom - if they don't (or can't) understand its meant to be a co-operative experience, constantly messing about or screwing things up for the group they shouldn't be playing IMHO (and that applies to grown-ups too).

So, my point is this - if D&D (or any other RPG NOT specifically designed with Children in mind) were suitable for Kids that young, you wouldn't need articles like the one's Uri is writing - would you . . . . . 

Sunday, 13 March 2011

What makes a Good Dungeon-Crawl Good?

If you strain, and think back to the (no doubt MANY) Dungeon Adventures you've played in and/or run down through the years - whether purchased (or indeed home grown, I've read some amazing unpublished dungeon-centric adventures).

What makes a Good Dungeon-Crawl Good? (or hopefully even Great). What makes a Dungeon an enthralling place to explore and adventure in - a suitable environment to "Fight the Good Fight" - rather than it being some boring repetitive exercise in monster bashing and door breaking . . . .

1- A Goal

The PC's need a reason to be there (outside of the obvious Treasure and Glory). A mission - often one of the three "R's" (Rescue, Retrieval, or Revenge).

2 - A "Hook" or Theme

Its important that the Creatures/Monsters have a common link - Whether it be they all work for a Villain, or come from the same (or related) families of Monsters.

3 - Style or "The Look"

When describing the environment, remain consistent. If its Medieval, keep the descriptions as such. If its Egyptian styled, don't start throwing in Renaissance Torture Chambers in - suspension of disbelief is really important during FRP games - if you break from your internal consistency, you can ruin it for your players.

4 - Pacing

DO NOT allow your players to pause for breath, keep the descriptions coming - and the encounters rapid. The minute they finish with one problem, introduce another. It seems a daft thing to mention, but the more you keep your players on their toes - the more they will enjoy it.

5 - Traps, Tricks, and Puzzles

A lot of modern DM's don't like including Traps, Tricks, or Puzzles - they find them trite or old fashioned. BUT when a Player beats/circumvents such an encounter they will be bouncing with excitement MORE than if their Character had slain the biggest of Dragons.

Resource Materials

Here is a list of some great books to pic up for reference, all are useful and are non system specific so any DM can get good use from them.

Central Casting Dungeons
A dungeon random-generation kit, with piles of very specific details. Great if you want to generate random (although illogical) dungeons. Now out of print (Originally Published by Task Force Games), if you search around you can generally find it somewhere to Download.

The Dungeon Alphabet 
Billed as an A-to-Z Reference for Classic Dungeon Design - The Dungeon Alphabet compiles twenty-six classic dungeon design elements in one place to assist the game master in creating subterranean challenges. A is for Altar, B is for Books, and C is for Caves and so on. Its one of my all time favourite books. The Dungeon Alphabet is available in both Print and PDF format - produced by Goodman Games.

Engineering Dungeons
Similar to Central Casting Dungeons, but more streamlined and logical is Engineering Dungeons from Troll Lord Games. Though formatted for Castles & Crusades its easily usable with any edition of Dungeons & Dragons (even the dreaded 4th Edition). Engineering Dungeons brings the DM the tools to entice the imagination, to create, wholesale, from scratch, a varied array of dungeoneering experiences. You will find the means to determine monsters, their treasures, their lairs - who, where, and why a dungeon exists, and even flavorful aspects of the dungeon environment, such as light, air condition, and odors. Traps, of all sorts, designed to function as a universal difficulty system, are included.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Network Blogs

We're listed on NetworkedBlogs now too!

So please follow me, plenty of things to convert and ideas to put forth!

More conversions tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

WizBro Logic

One of the "mainstays" of "Modern" Dungeons & Dragons is the use of a Battle Grid and Miniatures.

So why have they cut their own throat by stopping the miniatures line?

It's going to interfere with the Rules as they stand, and make things difficult for DM's too.

The whole dynamic of the game "shifts", pushing counters around a grid detracts from whats going on in my opinion - whereas miniatures, used well can enhance a game.

The OFFICIAL line is that the miniatures range ISN'T profitable any more - of course it isnt. You stopped it being a CMG for a start, re-issuing new packs whilst removing the collectable and competative elements - bang goes a large chunk of revenue.

Co-incidentally (well, I actually believe its NOT a co-incidence) WizKids sales have taken an upturn - so the CMG D&D collectors have obviously switched camps fairly quickly - and WizKids aren't missing a trick either - releasing LotR Clix and Star Trek Clix - to recruit even MORE customers/collectors from the void created by WizBro.

If the miniatures weren't selling that well in the absense of the CMG format, does that mean 4e isn't either - if the rules as they stand require miniatures. Then surely both DM's and Players (at least in theory) should be buying them, or are they buying other companies (superior) miniatures and painting them.

Reaper Miniatures do everything Player Character wise, and a fair chunk of monsters too.

Otherworld Miniatures produce a really BIG range (and its growing) of D&D Monsters with a lovely "Old School" feel to them.

I just feel like this is a really bad move for modern D&D, heck the D&D Franchise in general - alienating a large chunk of their customer base like that.

On the plus side, I think its going to recruit more players for games like Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades - games that are more "old school" and economically accessible.

WizBro Logic . . . .

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Dark Creeper

Another conversion to C&C today, one of my all-time favourite Fiend Folio beasties - "The Dark Creeper"!

The Dark Creeper (a folk name  or the race since the race name is unknown and the race language  incomprehensible to linguists) is a humanoid, slightly-built creature about the same height as a dwarf.
Members of the race always dress in sombre, darkcoloured clothing, concealing as much of their pallid skin as possible. They detest light and dwell deep underground - usually leading a solitary existence though there have been rumours of underground villages inhabited by as many as 80 individuals, including 20-25 females. These villages are always ruled by a Dark Stalker.

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (20-80)
30 ft
20 (or 12, see notes below)
1 (Dagger) 1D4
See Notes Below
Average (Human) Intelligence
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral
See Notes Below

The dark creeper is particularly fond of small magical items such as rings and magic daggers -  solitary individuals will carry 25% of their treasure in the copious  pockets of  their cloaks, so  there is a 15% chance of  a magic dagger, 5% chance of a magical ring and 10% chance of 1-4  gems or 1-2 items of jewelery on any individual encountered.  

In a Dark Creeper lair multiply these probable treasure items by the number of male individuals resident, in addition add 1-100 platinum pieces and 50-500 gold pieces. 

A Dark Creeper has all the abilities of a 4th Level Thief in addition to the ability to Detect Magical Items at a range of 15 feet. A Dark Creeper Attacks with a normal (or, if one is possessed - a magical) Dagger. A Dark Creeper also has the innate power to Create Darkness three times a day - when this power is used, all torches, lanterns and other non-magical sources of illumination within 50 feet are extinguished and cannot be re-ignited during the next hour of in-game time (the duration of the Dark Creeper’s power). During this time the Dark Creeper has two main objectives. First, to destroy lanterns and tinderboxes, break flasks of oil and so on - any act which will inhibit the creation of light and illumination. Secondly, to steal any small magical items detected. Self-preservation ranks only marginally above such objectives. 

 Magical sources of illumination may also be affected by a Dark Creeper’s darkness abilities.  In effect, they obtain a saving roll against magical frost, and if the item makes such a save it is not affected. If the item fails to save, however, it is extinguished for the next hour, after which its property returns to normal. 

During the darkness, even infravision becomes useless; however a Dark Creeper will not use its power against parties not using artificial illumination, so Elves using infravision, for instance, will usually pass unmolested. 

Magical sources of illumination may also be affected by a Dark Creeper’s darkness abilities.  In effect, they obtain a saving roll against magical frost, and if the item makes such a save it is not affected. If the item fails to save, however, it is extinguished for the next hour, after which its property returns to normal. 

During the darkness, even infravision becomes useless; however a Dark Creeper will not use its power against parties not using artificial illumination, so Elves using infravision, for instance, will usually pass unmolested.

The darkness power may be countered by spells such as light, and if a Dark Creeper is attacked in normal illumination its AC is lowered to 12. If a Dark Creeper is killed its body undergoes spontaneous combustion of such intensity that all within 10 feet of the victim are blinded (saving against magic permitted) for 1-6 full turns. All traces of the Dark Creeper are destroyed - though metal items will normally (5+ chance on a D20) be undamaged; magical items, metal or otherwise, will lose their enchantment if they fail to make a save against magical fire.