Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Resurrection

When I'm talking (writing) about "the Resurrection" - I'm not talking about anything religious, or even the 7th Level Clerical Spell - but rather AD&D 1st Edition.

Earlier this year saw the release of the Premium Hardbacks - the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Masters Guide, and the Monster Manual - gorgeous books all, and I've noticed real-world "chatter" of late about 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (or "Classic" AD&D - a term I've heard bandied about) I was in Forbidden Planet last week, buying some Comics (DC New 52 if you're at all interested) and two guys were talking about the AD&D 1st Edition Premium Hardbacks and how they have started playing 1st Edition and loving it! (and they aren't the first I've overheard either).

People aren't just buying the Premium Hardbacks as collectors items, they are using them for what they were originally intended for - Gaming! (It warms my heart it really does).

Now with the creation of "TSR the Next Generation" (LoL) and Gygax magazine, I can't help getting a new "flutter of hope" in my heart about my beloved AD&D 1st Edition!

It harkens me back to when I first got my hands on the 1st Edition AD&D Players Handbook, great days and a great feeling - I hope it lasts . . . . .

Friday, 23 November 2012

Gygax Magazine

By now, most of you will know about the Return of TSR as a Gaming Company (albeit a new one with an old name) and the impending release of Gygax Magazine.

At Gen Con last year there was a rumor that TSR was reforming.

To a lot of people this meant that the fate of Dungeons & Dragons was somehow "hanging" in the balance (don't forget this was sometime before 5th Edition was announced) and the future all things D&D was a little uncertain.

Their first Publication, is to be the wonderfully entitled "Gygax Magazine" -  Editor Jayson Elliot let a few tantalizing tidbits out on ENWorld forum -

Hi guys, this is Jayson. I'm the editor for Gygax Magazine.

Gygax Magazine is myself, Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax, Tim Kask, James Carpio, and Jim Wampler. Our first issue is out in December; since it's not finished yet, we've been pretty quiet about things until it's ready.

Just to address some of the questions, I thought it was best that I leave a reply. We do own the trademark for TSR, and have since December of 2011. We are a new company, not the old TSR, as they were purchased by Wizards in the '90s. The trademark was abandoned about nine years ago, and we registered it in 2011.

We decided the best thing to release first as TSR was a gaming magazine, because we wanted a way to bridge the traditions of the old guard with the awesome new games that are out today.

As Gary's sons Ernie and Luke Gygax are "on board", the new company is free to use the Gygax name for the new magazine!

Luke Gygax goes into some detail about things here.

Tim Krask has a Q&A Thread over at Dragonsfoot here.

I (for one, although I am sure I am not alone in this) am VERY excited!!!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Dungeon Master

It's an odd "feeling" seeing 1st Edition "supported" (kinda) again, with the release of the Premium Hardback Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and Monster Manual.

I was even more "taken aback" with the impending () release of Unearthed Arcana as a "premium reprint) - I've spent so long feeling like I am "in limbo" when it comes to AD&D 1e, I'm a little unsure how to react?

Part of me is thinking why now - is the new Edition of D&D going to be so bad they need to "soften the blow" - or is it genuine homage to the original Master of the Game, Gary himself.

Whatever the reason, the books themselves are gorgeous - and it's a giant leap forward.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Terrain Pieces

I don't know if many people on here use Miniatures and Terrain, but Ainsty Castings are doing some stonking new accessories atm (they also do some gorgeous resin Dungeons as well).
Got some new bits through today, pots and pans, fantasy crates and treasure chests, and some cracking tables and chairs.
Ainsty Castings  

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition

OK, Reading - I've done a LOT of Reading of late (and not just the Historical Research of I've been doing recently either).

I was re-reading my AD&D books last night, looking to planning some new games and I've come to a conclusion - I really REALLY don't think I am ever actually going to "buy into" D&D Next.

Don't get me wrong, for the most part I've really enjoyed what I've seen . . . . .

BUT (there's always a big BUT in these sort of Blog Posts don't you think) I adore AD&D 1st Ed to an almost irrational degree, and as a consequence I am more than happy with the way it plays/runs/feels.

I am actually in love with running AD&D (call me sad if you want, tbh I don't give a crap) - and (naturally) my players are happy when I'm happy (well, happy when they don't screw up during a Dungeon LoL).

So - nope, I'm not going to change ever I don't think. I'll still run Castles & Crusades - its a brilliant game, perfect for newbies and those who prefer a "rules lite" RPG experience. But my Heart will ALWAYS belong to AD&D 1st Edition.

This isn't just borne out of growing suspicions over D&D next (HOWEVER after reading and re-reading it there's actually a lot of 4E "badness" in the document that has (unfortunately) simply been re-tooled and/or re-named, but if you read it again and pay close enough attention to the wording (I.E. the way these rules work) these "things" are still in there (a Bonus of 1,000 XP to those people who've spotted them too).

Thursday, 24 May 2012

D&D Next Playtest

As I agreed to Wizards NDA I cannot give specifics regarding the most recent D&D Next playtest notes - but an NDA doesn't cover my "feelings" about what I've seen so far.

So, without "letting the Cat out of the Bag" here goes -

All in all, I've been left feeling quite optimistic.

So far I am pretty impressed with what I see. Everyone who knows me is aware I wasn't the biggest fan of 3.X in the world - and even though it's SIMILAR in places, but also a lot more in depth and less arbitrary that 3.X was.

I was also really quite impressed at how little of 4E is present within this playtest "sample" - and the whole feel of the way it's presented is very much like a "Classic" Fantasy Roleplaying Game.

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything I've read so far (including one would imagine character generation - though there are only pre-created character examples) but I've tried to focus on the best aspects of what I have read so far.

Although I am still not 100% convinced, it was quite a pleasant surprise!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Lord of the Nerds

Gary Gygax has been a big influence on me growing up, from an early aged Teen receivng a White Box copy of Dungeons and Dragons to reading his fiction - Gary's legacy has always been important to me.

I was delighted when his daughter Heidi mentioned on Facebook that she had a relatively unknown article about her Dad entitled "Lord of the Nerds" as a scan saved to PDF!

I asked Heidi if it would be OK to host the article on my D&D Blog, and she graciously agreed.

Actually, its a little better than she first inferred - it's even got some hand written notes by her mother too.

So, enjoy!

Lord of the Nerds

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

It Doesn't Bode Well . . . . .

It's not looking good for D&D Next, Monte Cook has "jumped ship" for personal (and undisclosed) reasons - that he has "differences" with the Powers That Be over at Wizbro!

Last week I decided that I would leave my contract position with Wizards of the Coast. I am no longer working on Dungeons & Dragons, although I may provide occasional consultation in the future. My decision is one based on differences of opinion with the company. However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell. I enjoyed every moment of working with them over the past year. I have faith that they'll create a fun game. I'm rooting for them.

Due to my non-disclosure agreement, as well as a desire to keep things on a professional level, I have no intention of going into further detail at this time. (Mostly, I just hate drama, and would rather talk about more interesting things.)

As for what I'll be turning to next, I hope you'll stay tuned. I plan on having an interesting announcement in that regard in the near future.

My faith in D&D Next is waning by the minute at the moment . . . . . . 

The Good Old Days

Do you miss the "Good Old Days" Like I do - not the crappy BBC Music-Hall Series, but the early Days of TSR when all sorts of wonderfully "quirky" Advertisements ran in the various Comics and Magazines of the day.

I can ASSURE you most kids aren't cool enough to wear Dungarees in a D&D Advert LoL!

I particularly like "The Adventure is Yours" Advert, in my opinion it's not in the slightest Geeky (especially compared to that last one)!

Just people sitting around having fun!

Gary Gygax even got his gorgeous daughter Heidi in on the act!

And if that didn't get teenage boys interested - nothing would! Likewise with this next Advert -

Cries of dismay from Boys all over the world that walking around with their newly purchased Monster Manual under their arms didn't attract girls - especially ones that look as good as that!

The next series of Adverts look like they were drawn by Jeff Dee (of Villains and Vigilantes Fame) I recently did a short piece about Jeff on my Pulp City Planet Blog.

I think you will agree that those Adverts are exciting and evocative of D&D - though I must admit, the frame where one of the characters is holding up D&D Manuals "irks" me a little, and still strikes me as odd to this day!

To most people such Advertisements are cheesy and corny - but I hope I am not the only one who finds the interesting - they fill me with warmth and nostalgia personally.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Keelhauling for Fun and Profit

I have a new Blog - ABOUT PIRATES!

Keelhauling for Fun and Profit

Why a Pirate Gaming Blog, well it's something I've wanted to do for a good while.

Even though "Keelhauling for Fun and Profit" will have a main focus (Freebooter's Fate) - I will also delving into other Pirate Miniatures and Games, Role Playing Games, Pirate Movies, Pirate Books, and Pirate Comics as well.

So - "Join up me 'arties, Yo Ho" . . . . 

Friday, 20 April 2012

D&D - In or Out?

Searching through the blogoshpere, I came across a short article about D&D Next at Tenkars Tavern "DnD Next is the RPG Equivalent of the Movie Dusk to Dawn"!

One phrase in particular stood out to me in the 20th of Aprils entry "D&D Next started out as One Game to Rule Them All, and has now turned into Bruce and Monte Bring Their House Rules to 3rd Edition"

By Gygax I hope not, if it is - "I'm Out" for a fact!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Restriction and House Rules in AD&D 1st Ed

A LOT of DM's add in House Rules to AD&D 1st Edition - and that's fair enough, we've all done it.

Whether its leaving out Weapon to-hit modifier tables, weapon speeds, or Class restrictions. The Tables and Weapon speeds can be cumbersome, unless your brain works in such a way that remembering them is a snap.

Weapon Speeds I only really bother with in Cases of Tied Initiative anyway, and though detailed I can't remember a time when I used the Weapon to-hit mod tables anyway.

Class restrictions are useful and important (if a game-world isn't human-centric, if its ruled by Demi-Humans I would put restrictions on Humans and Half-Breeds personally) and one of the best things in Unearthed Arcana is the expanded Race/Class/Level Tables - that would keep even the most ardent Demi-Human player happy for a long time). Plus with the use of Wishes, intervention by Deities, and other Cosmic Influences - you can elevate your non-Human PC's to the levels you want them to be without destroying World balance - people who want to play Demi-Humans without restrictions in my experience are power-gamers anyway, they want extra abilities without any penalties or effort on their part. To them I say table top rpg's aren't for you they should stick to playing PC/Console based RPG's where they can cheat easily and get the power rush they want/need.

Harsh - of course, I'm a tough DM. I roll ALL my Dice in front of my Players too - no fudging of Dice-Rolls for me, I let the Dice lie where the fates put them. For good or ill. As a DM I practiced total honesty with my players, and (without being egotistical) they loved and respected me for it.

When I ran A LOT of Games - not just once in a while, often three times a week - I had to turn people away from sessions. Once we had a decent number of players (I like 4-6 personally, you get a good solid group dynamic that way) that was it. I've ran for groups as big as a Dozen players, but you can't focus on story and character development in the same way - and the games become all action and no substance, and whilst fun are tiring and in the long term unsatisfying.

Linda (my partner) was great, she even played till we had Kids. Even after our Daughter was born, she would help out with Drinks and Biccies LoL - I remember one morning she came down, the curtains were closed and it was late Autumn, we hadn't even realized the time. Linda sweetly said good morning and fixed everyone Tea and Toast for breakfast!

Back to House Rules, the only other big House Rule I introduced were "Con Hits" - the first big part of it is the use of Constitution instead of the "-10" when you reach Zero Hit Points. It makes lower level Characters much more durable, although I have always given Max Hit-Points at first level personally.

When you reach Zero Hit Points all Damage is then applied to the Constitution of the Character. When accrued Damage takes you down to half your Constitution Score, your Character falls Unconscious (and is seriously in need of treatment). When your Character reaches Zero Con - sorry, he or she is Dead (and in need of a Priest LoL).

Lastly unless you REQUIRE a 20 to hit, a Natural 20 when rolling to hit means the Damage is applied directly to Con (rather than double damage or what have you) - this of course REALLY makes higher level characters less cocky.

What about Con for Monsters - easy. 9 plus number of Hit Dice. Of course Dragons are Monstrously tough, but then again they should be IMHO.

Con-Hit's do not work against Constructs either (no Con, sorry you just have to hack these buggers apart).

You cannot "Con-Hit" Creatures of twice your height or More - simply mechanics really - they are either too tall, their hide becomes too thick etc. This of course left a "gap" in the Magic Items table, which meant we could have Weapons that allowed Con-Hit's on Giants, Dragons, Demons etc, etc . . . .

That's the thing about AD&D 1st Edition, it was SO easy to add/change the things you needed too - more modern editions (of any game to be frank) are so tightly interconnected rules-wise its really very hard to make things work the way you want/need them too (fingers crossed for D&D Next LoL).

Monday, 9 April 2012

I think I know whats Wrong . . . .

I think I've figured out whats been wrong with more modern Edition of D&D. D&D was created and written by (pretty much) two people Arneson and Gygax. With Gary doing most of the writing and the pushing forward of the product.

When it came down to the Moldav Red Box set, the most popular version of BD&D was pretty much down to the efforts of one man.

Lets jump forward to 3rd/3.5 - with 3.X edition D&D - we have more Cooks (sorry Monte, no pun intended) - Monte Cook, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Even so, it's pretty much just a couple of men at its core.

4th (arrgh) Edition and D&D Next have a design TEAM - a Committee designing/planning things. For me (and a lot of people) D&D 4th was a disaster - to wishy washy (nice looking, but style emphasized at the expense of substance), no real peril for the players (a lot of Hit-Points at first level, Healing Surges etc), Players only have the illusion of Freedom (its Carrot and Donkey Roleplaying at its worst IMHO).

I ran a LOT of Games, even Did library visits - I really REALLY tried to like it. But at the end of the Day it's more product than passion - and that just turns me off.

A Great Game - of all kinds, Miniatures, RPG, Boardgame, or whatever - needs a strong hand at the helm, and needs to be the vision of one or two people. Doing things by endless committee never works (just look at the British and US Governments) - when will they ever learn.

D&D Next

Game Design by Committee is never very successful, I have a feeling I'm not going to like this at all . . . .

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bruce is Back

I don't know how many of you have read/heard but Bruce Heard is back!

When TSR closed its doors, many of its staff moved over to Wizards of the Coast - instead Bruce Heard left the RPG industry to bring up his newborn son.

Now that his son is older, Bruce has decided to come back to gaming and has started up a blog, called New… and to be improved, where you will be able to see what he is up to now, as well as hearing some of his stories from days gone by.

Bruce is best known for his work Mystara products, many of which were created for the BECMI version of Dungeons & Dragons. Ed Greenwood (creator of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting) recently called Bruce “the heart and soul of Mystara”.

One of the recent entries from the New… and to be improved blog is a list of answers to questions that Bruce got flooded with about, which fans asked after he signed up to the Mystara Reborn group on Facebook. But don’t just read that blog post, as there are plenty of other interesting things going up on the blog.

Great Stuff!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dungeon Masters

Somebody on the Facebook "Old School Gamers" Group asked about Dungeon Masters.

Should they be "All Powerful", or merely Story Tellers and Referees.

My response - The Good ones are all three, without your Players realizing the first one even matters . . . . .

Anyone else got any thoughts??

Monday, 23 January 2012

D&D Next/5e

I can't help wondering (and worrying) if it's actually going to work, I really REALLY want it too - I've loved D&D since the White Box Edition.

Played Basic, then AD&D 1st Edition to DEATH - kept running 1st, but learned 2nd for those who like it.

Really couldn't get to grips with 3rd/3.5 - too many options, to open to abuse by unscrupulous players - I wasn't a fan at all (it still didn't stop me trying, but after one Scenario - played over seven weeks, I went back to AD&D 1st with a little 2e thrown in).

Then came 4th, and I bought into it - but it wasn't satisfying, not at all - really not enjoyable to run or play for me - so I started running 1st ed AD&D and Castles and Crusades for my "newbies".

Over time, AD&D 1st and C&C started to fuse - and we had something great going on. So it was more than apparent some of the newer concepts/elements worked great, they needed incorporating.

Is this what we are going to see with D&D Next/5e?  What they 'seem' to be reaching for is a little like the 2e re-vamp, with the Skills & Powers books etc

A specific "core" with books and rules you can plug in. Thats actually a style that appeals to so many gamers, I'm still REALLY hopeful they get it right this time - all the promises and chatter seem "spot on", so I wait with baited breath . . . .

Monday, 9 January 2012

Do you know, where you are going to . . . . .

I actually bought into the whole 4e package to begin with, Rulebooks, T-Shirts, running Demo's etc. But I must admit, it didn't take me that long to "burn out" on the whole thing.
 When I got fed up with it (which really didn't take that long at all) I FLEW back to AD&D 1st Edition (which is still my favourite version of the Game) with some Castles & Crusades on the side (which was my gateway system, to get people to play AD&D) - so my imagination hasn't been stilted or abandoned, just dissapointed.
I'm really REALLY hoping 5th Edition "cuts it" as far as I am concerned - my AD&D Books are looking tired and well worn now, and they are getting increasingly expensive to replace should I  need to.

5th Edition D&D Announced

Dust off your Wallets D&D Fans!

As I predicted early last year (and suffered even more hate attacks and abuse than usual), 5th Edition would be announced next (now this) year.

The Articles (both news and off the Wizbro website) read as hopeful, they kinda (in a VERY round about way) admit they screwed up with 4th - alienating fans etc.

Whether or not they are going to get it right waits to be seen, but (as usual) I am excited and remain optimistic. I just hope (for once) I am correct in my optimism.