Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who's Telling This Story Anyway?

I love reading other blogs and forum posts of AD&D players and DM's.

Some are so creative, witty and into the role playing that's it's hard not to be swept away in the story.

As I read, it occurs to me though, how much of a game can be "owned" by a charismatic DM.

Some DM's are so "into" their story that I have noticed that on occasion, some players feel like bit roles rather than the leads.

Of course, a lot has to do with how imaginative each individual player in the game is and how much they "get into" role playing.

Some DM's are so story oriented that instead of giving simple answers to incidents such as a thief wants to pick a pocket, they don't simply tell the player "yes" or "no" in terms of being successful.  The DM can go on with a lengthy full blown narrative about how the thief went about the action and thereby indicating for the first time, even to the player, if it was successful.

In many ways,  I think this is great.  Especially if the DM is a particularly good story teller/narrator.

In some ways,  I think this might be too much.  Particularly if the player in question is really wanting to describe the scenario them self because they have it completely visualized and are really into character.

Sometimes a very verbose DM can run over the players like a train because they get used to being the one to keep the story moving.  It sucks to be sitting there, describing an elaborate scene and filling the background with great detail.  Adopting the voices and personalities of 8 different Non Player Characters only to have a table full of players sit there and reply "Ok, So I hit the___".

It's enough to make a grown DM cry when confronted with such a lack of Imagination.  So, they get used to carrying the story and leaving smaller roles for the un-unimaginative slugs who sit there and roll dice.

I think though, it behooves a good DM to stay on alert for that sudden spark of creativity in a players eye when suddenly they have something in mind that they themselves can and want to tell in detail.

When players are all participating in the narration of their own characters role in the larger story going on,  I find it makes my job as DM both more easy and fun.

It adds an element of surprise and allows for a plot twist that the DM might not have considered before, essentially making it a bit different story than the DM had originally planned out.

I find those situations incredibly fun.  It makes me, the DM, have to always be prepared to "wing it" and create on the fly.

When I run a game, I always try to make sure to leave room for the player's characters to be stars and not supporting actors.  If the players just aren't being very imaginative that day, I fill in more of the narrative myself.  If I see they are really getting into things, I sit back and let them take over when it's their time to fly.

Still, it's always great to see a DM who is a real storyteller and narrator take a "game" and turn it into something more.

An adventure.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oh What Tangled Webs We Weave When We Say Stupid Things

Do you remember how I said in a couple other posts that I had no plans or intentions of using THAC0 in my gaming?

Yeah, I lied.  Well, more like, was I ever wrong.

Because I can't help but immerse myself in something when I want to understand it, I decided I wanted to see exactly how this THAC0 played out in the world of AD&D 1E.

So, I went to my favorite forum (DragonsFoot) and pestered a lot of nice people who have been going at this game more than I have. (Thanks again Matt and everyone else)

After getting the information I needed there, I went ahead and messed with my players heads and started using THAC0.

To be perfectly honest, I found THAC0 helped me as the DM to keep the game going when it came to melee combat.  It didn't do much for the players at all in terms of changing the game for them really.

I told the players their THAC0 but didn't tell them the Armor Class of the opponent they faced.  At this point, they would roll the d20, add their modifiers and say either "I rolled a 13 (or whatever)"  and I would tell them if they hit or not or they would roll the d20, add their modifiers then say "I hit Armor Class 5 (or whatever) and I would tell them if they hit or not.

See what I mean?  They didn't really gain or lose anything in the play of the game here.

On my side of the dice though, holy moly.  I didn't need to keep the DMG open to the attack tables, taking up very valuable table space.  No need to keep the DM screens spread out for access to said attack tables, again conserving space.

Just roll and know, ya know?

I know the monster's Armor Class,  I know the PC"s level and armor class.  For me,  I had everything i needed in my head and just rolled the dice.

It's like, ok, the PC being attacked by this troglodyte is AC 6 so all I need to know is if the roll on the d20 is a 14 or better (20-6=14), the trog hits.  Simple and fast.  NEXT!!!

I see THAC0 as being helpful to DM's in a situation where maybe they are in a sudden game that just kind of "happened" while waiting for a plane or at a cafeteria table, etc..  Table top surface is not abundant and character sheets take up most of that.  Books can stay closed and stacked next to you unless necessary to look something specific up, then just close it and put it on the stack again.

Nice and tidy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To "Turn" the Undead

You know how  I say I feel like Rip Van Winkle, waking up to life after a 100 year nap and everything old seems new?  Everything I thought I knew has passed me by?

Yeah, it happened again.  I don't know why,  I forgot to read that section of the DMG maybe.

I forgot what it means for a cleric to "turn" the undead.  See, just the word "turn" doesn't sound right to me.

To me, to "turn" the undead sounds like making them opposite what they are, like to turn around.  So, if one is undead, to turn them is to make them truly dead.  Pretty slick power huh?

Nah, not even close.

Turning undead simply means to scare the holy bejeebers out of them and make them try to stay as far away from that bad ass cleric as possible.  It may not be actually "fear" they are expressing, but the fact remains that they don't want to be near that Cleric.

To me, that's not "turning" the undead, that's repelling them.  That's turning them into sissies from beyond the grave.

Now,  I did a little searching among posts of AD&D-ers in the DragonsFoot forums.  Out of the discussions I found there many folks, as usual, have house-ruled in different ways around that or even in spite of it.

For the most part, they agreed that the Cleric need not make a continual process of "turning" the undead .  Once the incantation is done, it's done and said undead are continuously looking for the exit for the duration of the turning.  The Cleric can shift his/her attention to other things.

The next part gets a little tricky.  What happens after that?  You don't expect a bunch of undead creatures trapped in a room with no exit to just stay there cowering in a corner and you just walk away from them, calling it a day, do you?

Do you attack them?  Will they be easier to attack as they are being actively "turned"

Many say that the turned un-dead are now capable of being pelted by missiles from a distance (and protected in the near proximity of the turning Cleric).

Others agree with that, but say that should you try to walk up to one of them to dispatch them by sword, etc... they "snap out" of being turned and fight as though they would normally.  You crossed the line and got their attention to focus.  Hope you're tough enough.

Others say if you "wake" one up, you wake them all up by attacking one of them and the turning is over and let the battle begin.

Now, let's take a look at this.  As written in the book, this isn't even a spell really that a cleric is casting, more of a natural ability they have.  So, I think it's effectiveness, not being a "spell" so to speak, is pretty limited.  More like a charm than anything.  Others have relegated it even lower to a morale check for undead.

What can it really do for the Cleric and party then as an effective and useful tool in battle?

I guess, if nothing else, it buys time for the Cleric to whip out a real spell that will do something more substantial.  At least the Cleric won't have undead crawling all around him/her to disrupt the spell that will lay them low.

No, no face melting, skull exploding, righteous bringer of true death to the undead is "turn undead".  It'll buy you some time to focus on a real spell or run away, maybe lock them in a room.  That's about it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Meet my Characters: Baer

Baer, pronounced "bahr", is a level 2 human Druid who operates as a honey producing beekeeper and runs a meadery.

He has a pet skunk named Jack who is ornery and is Baer's only consistent companion.

Baer is a natural born citizen of Plainsland in Terra Ursa but does not know his parentage or town of origin. He was taken in as an orphan while an infant and raised as a Druid from then on by a Druid.

Baer is very much a solitary type who will grudgingly go along on adventures with certain parties he feels will not have success but should (usually because of some nature protecting cause tied to their objective).

Baer does not "chit chat" or socialize. He is very to the point and says exactly what he thinks and believes, regardless if others might be offended. It's not that he intends to offend anyone, but he is just so brutally honest and he believes that is more important than hurt feelings.

Baer's upward mobility as a Druid is essentially unlimited as Druids are very rare in Terra Ursa and there are only 2 others also of lower levels scattered throughout all of Terra Ursa. However, Baer isn't really concerned about fighting for ascension, power and prestige. He is happy enough with his bees, Jack and making mead.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Welcome To My World: Terra Ursa

Terra Ursa is truly "my" world. It is the world in which the games I create and run are done in.

There are countries which are "free lands" meaning the people are not enclaved or live in serfdoms, etc...

There are also countries in which monachies and dictatorships exist.

I use a blank map of the continenatal United States as the "world" map of Terra Ursa. Each state is a different country.

To start off with, what would have been the state of Nebraska, where I live, is the country in which we started our gameplay in.   It is called "Plainsland" and is a country of free people.

The government is run by a council of elected representatives from each region within the state (represented by the "real life" county lines).There are three branches of government. legislative, judicial and marshall.

The legislative "Governers" are elected from each region and come together for a period of 30 days once a year to convene a "Congress" and deal with matters of national importance. Otherwise, they remain in their own region as elected from and preside in the day to day governence therein.

The judicial is a council of Judges who are also elected by their regions and come together once a year to decide on matters of greater scale. Otherwise, they remain in their regiions traveling from town to town to mete out justice.

The Marshall branch is an elected person from each region to be the chief person of law enforcement and tax collection. They will deputize town marshalls to handle law enforcement in various towns, cities and villages throughout their represented region and convene for a period of 30 days once a year to handle matters of national importance with other marshalls.

Elections are scheduled once every 6 years for each branch of government. None of them within the same period of ,every two years an election for each branch is held. ie.. this year, legislative elections. in two years from now, marshall elections. in two years after that, Judicial elections and repeat.
Elected officials may only hold office for two terms at most. The laws themselves are far and few and only to regulate matters of life and death or national importance.

Spell casters of any kind are barred from elected office. They may be employed by various branches of government, but are subject to supervision of a non spell casting elected official. They must sign the "Oath of Obedience" that was specifically created by a very patriotic and extremely powerful wizard named Oth-Fell which, upon signing, casts a spell of obedience and honesty upon the spell caster thus employed to prevent them from using their powers against the government or representatives.

Giving (And Getting) The Gift of AD&D

RPG's, and for me that means AD&D 1E, actually have a lot to offer kids.  I just spent part of the Christmas holiday planning a series of dungeon crawls that I can run my kids through over the next 2 weeks while on Christmas break.

First of all, AD&D is just fun.  It allows one's imagination to kick into full gear to play "pretend".  You're not Joe or Christine or Frank.  No, for the next couple of hours, you are "Krush", the mighty fighter or "Luminesa" the wandering Magic User.  How about "Baer", the beekeeping and mead making Druid.

I personally get an extra benefit for my kids because it provides me an opportunity, being the DM, to insert situations that make them learn at the same time. 

I get to teach them teamwork and collaboration.  How to think "outside of the box".   I get to create interaction situations since I am the DM and not only am I the referee and Game Master, but  I get to roleplay every other character that pops up in the game.  Ranging from monsters to opponent warriors to shop owners, village citizens, etc...

 This allows me to teach them communication skills with other people.  How not to be rude and it's not just what you say, but how you say it that can get you cooperation or a smack on the head (figuratively).

It teaches them preparedness and coordinated action.  Did they pack things like torches and tinder lighting kits in their backpacks before leaving the last town?  How about fresh water?  Thinking things out ahead of time, proper planning.  All these things happen in a game.

Things like conserving and how to make the best use of existing resources.  everything from spending money to how many arrows did you bring to hunt or fight with. 

During the time I am "teaching" these kinds of things though, they are having a blast and laughing at the roleplay methods I use to convey each character they interact with.

All the while,  I am having fun with my kids.   I get to participate in their lives and growing up.  I am so glad I kept those old books around so they could find them while rummaging bored in the basement for something to do (we keep all the board and other games in one of the rooms down there).

AD&D is good for me too personally.   I am a very imaginative and idealistic person.  Regardless of every year that tacks itself on to my life, that never changes.  I can get lost in fantasy fiction books for hours.   I can let my mind wander and probably get lost if I don't watch out.

AD&D gives me an outlet for my imagination.  Writing storylines and backgrounds for adventures.  Designing a dungeon or building for players to investigate.  It's not just writing a story, it literally is writing an adventure.

Re-discovering AD&D this year has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Back to Basics: The Dungeon Crawl

Well, I have learned a lot about where I am in terms of where do I still "got it" and where do I drastically "need it" in my DM return.

I came straight into "story" adventures because  I wanted to flex the old creative muscles again.  I wrote a couple from scratch, I ran a couple published modules  as-is and I ran a couple published modules heavily modified to fit my liking.

Suffice it to say, my creativeness still works pretty good.  I got high marks from the players in terms of good story telling, especially when they were entirely of my own making.

I needed a lot of help getting back into handling melee combat situations.  More trouble procedurally rather than representing the monsters best interests.  That I always did well on.

So, in order to work on the things I need the most work on,  I now take my players into the dungeon crawl.

By making use of some online random dungeon generators, I am just going to run the group through a number of these non story oriented blitzes where the players just dive into a dungeon and beat the crap out of things.  Really get an idea of how to flex their creative muscles in terms of being their characters and communicating basic interaction with the DM.

For my part,  I get to immerse myself in melee after melee and work out the kinks as a referee and game manager.

I found an online dungeon generator called the DonJon D20 Random Dungeon Generator (thank you, "Bloated Blowfish" from the DragonsFoot forums) which I think is very good.  However, being geared toward the D20 dice system,  I had some trouble making some things translate into 1E.

However, I also found a handy D20 to 1E DC chart that makes those conversions easily.   I added that table to my WikiMage DM Screen to keep it handy.

I'm looking forward to the next few sessions to see how things improve.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another Method of Magic Management

I saw on the DragonsFoot forums today a point system for magicusers/spellcasters to handle how they cast spells.   I thought it was pretty good myself.

As I think over the proposed setup from the OP there, I have already begun to modify it.

Each magic user rolls a dice per level to see how many "magic points" they have to allow for spell casting energy.

The level of the spell determines how many points are deducted from the total per spell used.  Thus, a first level spell deducts one point from the total and second level spells remove two points from the total, etc...

A magic users Intelligence or Wisdom score will determine the maximum ability of the spell casters spell availability. 

For example, a magic user with intelligence of a 15 can have a maximum of 11 spells per level and a minimum of 7 spells.  Of course, magic users are still subject to having to search and obtain the spells to begin with.  Though I would allow them to start with more than one spell in their spell books from their Master.  Maybe 2.  Clerics and druids already start with 2 spells as it is.

Druids and clerics, because they get a bonus based on Wisdom, will have to obtain spells as normal, though again, starting with a couple more than the book stipulates.

The poster in the thread says he uses 1d6/level to determine "magic energy points".  That would be fine, but I think somehow it also should be tied to maybe their Constitution scores.

Perhaps using Constitution score levels to use a different die like:
  • 1 to 14 use 1d4/level
  • 15 to 18 use 1d6/level
I'm thinking that it would take at least 1 round/spell level to recover from the energy drain of the last spell cast before casting another.  So, if you just cast a 2nd level spell in combat, it will take 2 rounds to recover enough to cast another spell provided you have the points left to cast one.

Also, it only seems reasonable that cumulative total "magic points" cannot exceed total Constitution score.  So, if a spell casters Constituiton score is 15, once their magic points reaches 15, that's it.  They can gain no more magic points.  To exceed more than ones energy/life force, one would die.  So, in a way, a spell caster's magic using ability  is essentially using their personal energy.

I know that  BtB, a spell casters spells are said to not be tied to their own energy, but tied into some "other" realm for the energy of their spells.  My point system kind of takes that half and half.  While the force/capacity of the spell in question does not hinge on the magic users own energy, the energy required to focus, concentrate, and "direct" the spells still pulls a drain on the spell casters personal energy.

To me this has a lot of potential though.

Zero level spells(cantrips) still are totally usable as they consume zero points from total.

After that, spellcasters get to use more than one spell per day (depending on their roll/level and level of spell)

This seems easier to manage than the other system I created and stays true to character ability scores.

BtB or not BtB, That is the question...

In returning to AD&1E I thought I was pretty traditional/conservative in stick to things By the Book.

Now,  not so much.

In some ways I am. 
  • I prefer to use combat tables instead of using THAC0.
  • I prefer to stay in the classes/races as provided for  (minus barbarians, acrobats, etc...)

However, I find that I am not one of the "Vancian" AD&D purists when it comes to magic use and spellcasters.  I don't like the "one a day" system and what I think of as too many restrictions on low level spell casters (as I have discussed in other posts here).

Not that I have anything against those who prefer it, it's just not what I think works best in my games.  So, I change it to work for my games.

Does this mean I'm not playing AD&D anymore?   I like to think so.  According to the Afterword in the Dungeon Masters Guide,

...As you hew the line with respect to conformity to major systems and uniformity of play in general, also be certain the game is mastered by you and not by your players. Within the broad parameters given in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons volumes, you are creator and final arbiter.

By ordering things as they should be, the game as a whole first, your campaign next, and your participants thereafter, you will be playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons as it was meant to be...

To me that means, the game comes first.  in another part of the book, he states that the Dungeon Master should play not by the letter of the rule, but by the spirit of the rule.  

Again,  I take this to mean that while the books should be heeded where they can be, the DM has the last word on the subject.  over-ruling even the book itself.

And so I do.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Map Thief Strikes Again!

I'm not really a big fan of pre-published adventure modules. 

Not that some of them aren't good.  I'm not saying that at all.   No, I just feel "constrained" by playing someone else's game.

I inevitably end up adding, modifying, changing the module until it's part what it was and part what I want. 

I realize now that in the end, usually all I really want is the maps and buildings.   I can build the stories (I usually write my own games anyway) around the drawings.  Or,  I already have a story idea and I just need buildings to fill it out. 

I'm a map thief is what I am.

Thanks to DragonsFoot,  I don't have to "steal" maps anymore.  They are so kind as to provide many of them gratis.  That makes the game much more enjoyable for me.  All I have to  do is populate the buildings and areas to go along with my stories.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More On Magic And Magic Use In My World

I have always felt that magic users/spell casters in most RPG's that I have heard of, and in AD&D 1E that I have actual experience in, was a bit limiting, especially in the early/lower levels.

It just kills the fun of being a magic user/spell caster.  It's like, here  I get to have all these cool magical abilities and  I get to use one spell a day.  Woohoo. Not.

The other characters in the party are like "why did we bring this lame duck again?",  "Are you sure we couldn't have found a useful, higher level magic user?"

I have read a fair amount of fantasy fiction in my life thus far.  Maybe not as much as some, and, quite likely, much more than others.  I think it's fair to say that on my scale of "fantasy realism" that one spell a day just isn't realistic for this character.

Oh yes,  I know the arguments.  You don't want magic users getting to be too powerful and just blowing whole game modules out of the water.  That's not fun either.  Yes, I get that and I agree with it.  At the same time, I think the pendulum went too far in the opposite direction in trying to make sure it doesn't happen.

For starters, magic users/spell casters dedicate their entire lives, typically, to their endeavors.  Magic use is not a hobby or even a job.  It's everyday life.  These people don't just memorize spells, incantations and the like, they absorb them, internalize them.  They become so ingrained into their memories that it would be akin to an instinct in using it.  To forget these spells would be akin to forgetting how to tie your shoes, or even worse, how to use the bathroom.

Master magic users drum minor spells and enchantments into their apprentices heads by making them use the spells for repetitious menial tasks.  The manual labor of the wizarding world.  Once you've done the spell a few hundred times or more, the odds are, you won't forget it and you really don't even have to think about it to carry it out.  It's like breathing now.

Spell mastery is the name of the game.  Getting it to the point where you you don't have to think about it to use it.  It's like a weathered gunfighter picking up a gun.  He just knows it by feel.  Doesn't even have to look at to know what's right and not right with his weapon.

Now then, at what point does a magic user/spell caster get to that level of experience?  Level 1?  Level 5?  Level 15?

From material in the AD&D books, a level 1 magic user/spell caster is someone who just "graduated" from their apprenticeship.  They know all the Master had to teach about magic in general and many common spells as well.  The only thing they really need to learn is more spells and their master has (as most magic masters do) that the best teacher for spell accumulation and "real life" usage is ...real life (so to speak).

Now, think about it.  Here is a person who has spent the last several years of their live immersed in nothing but the pursuit of magic.  Almost to the exclusion of all else.  They have been able to repeatedly perform numerous tasks and work daily and multiple times a day at the demands of their Master.

Using magic is far from new to these people.  Their goal is life is mastery of the next spell.  Not just usury, but total mastery.  This person is really only going to be able to perform only one spell a day now that they have "graduated"?  

I think not.

Yes, magic has rules, magic has requirements. Magic has repercussions.  Magic has limitations.  No argument there.

My "level ground" on the subject comes back to "spell mastery".  The thing magic users practically live and die for.  They have been trained like a soldier, to the point of instinct, that using a spell is not enough, it MUST be mastered, for a number of reasons.

Once a spell is thus "mastered" it is there for good.  It's theirs, they own it, so to speak.  It's use is further limited only by the spells material and physical requirements.

So, all those pre-level one spells.  Those called "zero level" or "cantrips", that would have been the spells drilled into them by their masters through droning repetition?  All those spells are gone now? Forgotten?  Limited somehow by graduation?

I think not.

They worked far too hard for those spells to not be usable for them.  It is a serious dis-credit dealt to magic users just starting out on their adventuring careers.

Thus, I was led to the system I discussed who knows how long ago in another post here.

Basically, cantrips/zero levels spells are wide open.  They can use them at will, as often as they need them.  Those are the spells they have worked the hardest on in recent history to master.  They own those spells like no others yet.

Each new spell MUST be mastered.  Until it is mastered, it is limited to one use per day/per study session as the books call for.

I am revising this next part from the original because I believe I was too lax the first time, over-correcting the pendulum swing, as it were.

Once a spell is mastered, it is theirs, they own it.  Committing spells to memory is what they live for.  So how many times of studying/performing a spell is required for "Mastery"?

Well, level 1 spells and beyond are obviously more complex and require more resources than zero level cantrips.  They take more energy out of a magic user/spell caster.  At the same time, as has been said before, these people are made for this task.  It's not the same as some farmer who found a spell scroll and decides to read it.

Anyway, to "master" a spell, 10 times?  100 times?  1000 times?

Actually,  I now think 50 is the number.  Studying/performing a spell 50 times is enough to master it, making it usable at will.  Until then, it's use is as specified by the existing tables.

I think 50 keeps them from becoming too powerful too fast yet allows the point of being a magic user/spell caster to shine through.

So, what do you think?  Keep it nice now, remember, it's just a game.  Civility is the example.

Round 1: AD&D 1E vs OSRIC - BtB

As some of you know,  I've been reading up on OSRIC, the "open Source" version of AD&D 1E (my reference for it as the publisher makes no such specific comparison).

It's time to quit dropping hints and short references and get down to the thick of it.

Since I believe that AD&D 1E is what anyone who is going to know the between the two,  I will start by comparing OSRIC to it.

First off, let's start by saying that OSRIC is published under the OGL (Open Game License).   It' s free, as in freedom.  They sell book versions of it online for a low price and offer free downloads of the PDF version of the books, complete, not hacked up.  So, It's also free as in free beer.  E-mail or print a copy for each of your friends, it's legit.

The OSRIC 2.2 manual is actually 3 books in one; a players guide, a  game masters guide (yes, they are a GM, not a DM in OSRIC-land), and a monster manual.  This means of course, that players will now have access to see some of that information which used to be exclusive to a DM's Guide, if, you were the thou-shall-not-possess-this-book type.

OSRIC interestingly enough, goes into a lot of detail in many things that are left a bit more vague in the AD&D books.  This is kinda nice, until...  There are some things that OSRIC is pretty vague about or doesn't cover at all (for a variety of reasons, fear of litigation being one of them.) 

Now, in itself, it's not that big of a deal that OSRIC gets a tad vague or non-discussional on some things but having already observed that it goes into such detail on other topics, it can throw you for a bit because you are now kind of expecting that greater detail.  It catches you a little bit off guard.  You're left wondering, "What did I miss?", "Did I miss where it discussed that?"

You'll soon realize though, some things just aren't there or aren't easy to spot off the bat.  Things like "secondary skills" or Psionics (thankfully, I didn't like or use Psionics anyway).

Next, combat tables.  Yes Virginia, Combat Tables do exist in OSRIC.  Pretty much the same as in AD&D 1E but with some small differences.  Not enough to throw the game for anyone, but noticeable if you've ever played AD&D 1E before.  I'd say it's basically THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0), but then again, look what happened the last time I thought I knew what I was talking about when discussing THAC0.

Monsters use the same combat table as fighters do (so you have to use a chart that converts monster Hit Dice into Fighter levels) and for saving throws too.

One thing that struck me as odd is that, kindly enough, the OSRIC manual pdf includes a blank character sheet you can print out.  it's very well done in my opinion.  I like the organization to it, though some things are left off that should be on there, oh well.

Anyway, on this character sheet there is a THAC mini-table for the character.  To me, this indicates that players are to somehow know or figure out the Armor Class of the monster they are fighting.  HOWEVER, Like anything in these RPG's, the DM's (or GM, Game Master as it is known in OSRIC) authority to over-rule is never in doubt.  So, don't feel obligated to share that info if you fell it compromises your game. 

One alternative I was given in dealing with that is to play "battleship" with the players.  ie.. let them roll, tell them if they hit and they can see if the number they hit on is the right Armor Class or not.  Of course, what they think is the right Armor Class may not actually be because the number may just be above the minimum to hit.  Don't forget, modifiers will add some bit of confusion to that as well.  Either way, do as you will with it.

Some monsters and whatnot that you might expect from AD&D 1E won't be there, but there is a respectable little compendium of monsters just the same.

Keep in mind though, OSRIC is, in my opinion, just an Open Source version of AD&D 1E.  That means, so I am told, that just about anything from 1E will easily integrate over to OSRIC and vice-versa.  Modules, monsters, characters, maps, etc.. are pretty ready to go either way.  Some of you who try OSRIC may find yourselves playing a combined/mixed AD&D 1E/OSRIC system in the long run.

Well, those are the thoughts I have right now on how the books break down.  Next time  I get into this, it will be to discuss actually playing OSRIC btb.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is It Melee Time Now? How About Now? Now?

The single-most difficult thing I have had to re-acquaint myself with in coming back to AD&D is melee time management.

I know I used to handle it pretty well.  That was twenty years ago though and for whatever reason, it's not coming back to me.

If I could get my head wrapped around what happens and how many things are happening per segment,  I think the rest will fall into place for me.

As it is I think I'm doing ok, until I get to melees, then I stumble and stagger though them.

I'm hoping someone at DF forum takes pity on me and gives me some good advice on the subject I posted there.   They usually do and I appreciate that.

It's the only part of the game currently that's not very fun right now and I don't want that to stay that way.

On Buying & Acquiring Magical Items

In 1E or OSRIC, there is a general attitude by many players and DM's that one should not be able to just walk into town and buy a magical item like a scroll or a ring, staff, sword, etc...  As later editions of AD&D seem to be more permissive of.

I tend to take the Goodkind approach (Terry Goodkind, author of the "Sword of Truth" series) in that apprentices and and "retired" magic users would be found selling scrolls and enchanted items out of their home or shops to make a living if they were no longer able to "make a living" by adventuring.

I have no problem with this.  It makes sense to me.   I would say that the chances for more advanced magic decreases the higher level the spell or enchantment is.

For general purposes, I think that magic up to 4th level would be fairly common.  5th to 7th level would be uncommon, 8th to 10th level rare and above 10th would be very rare and/or very expensive.

When it comes to pricing of said items,  I kind of went with a pretty simple formula..  For example...

Level 1 magic = 100 g.p. per level, Level 2 = 200 g.p.  and so on till level 5.

Level 5 magic = 1000 g.p, per level through level 7. (ie... level 6 = 2000, level 7= 3000)

Level 8 magic = 10,000 gp per level through level 10 (ie... level 9 = 20,000, etc...)

I won't allow for the commercial sale of magic above level 10.  That level of magic is either gained by adventure/fought for/stolen or is given specifically to the PC by a magical entity.

Using percentile dice,  I figure it that magic from level 1 to 5 would be by far the most common found, so if rolling to see what magic is available when encountering said magic selling person...

1 to 50 = magic level 1 to 5 only avalable.
51 to 67 = magic levels 1 to 6 will be available.
68 to 85 = magic levels 1 to 7 will be available.
86 to 90 = magic levels 1 to 8 will be available.
91 to 95 = magic levels 1 to 9 will be available.
96 to 100 = magic levels 1 to 10 will be available.

Of course, no magic seller will have every magic item to sell.  They will be limited to what they do best at, what is easiest to make/procure given their assets and abilities, etc..

Most of what they carry in their shops, depending on location again, will be geared to the population around them.  Love potions, cures, etc... will likely be their largest stock.

Magic vendors in large cities will likely have items more geared toward fighting and adventuring than small towns and villages who only see fighters/adventurers on a sparse basis.

Also, not every town/city will have a magic seller.  Then again, some cities may have more than one.

Mind you, this is just how I do things at my table, not a suggestion that others do the same or that game systems in general should be changed.

I know of one Magic User who in their adventuring "off-time" will wander from town to town, offering to enchant items or make scrolls to be sold in local venders shops for a price.  This is how he continues to gain revenue to pay for the many items like material components, thieves, etc that he employs in his own pursuit of magic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New RPG Coming Soon..."U.S. Marshalls"

Inspired by OSRIC and the Open Gaming License,  I want to play cowboys with my favorite western heroes like Wyatt Earp and Matt Dillon.

OK,  I don't know if I could really make a game like that, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

I'm having trouble figuring out what other classes there would be except for "Gunfighter"  then one would be one of a variety of alignments, boiled down to good, bad or indifferent.

I guess there could be a class for a "Doctor".  I have old Doc from Gunsmoke in mind there.  He had his share of action and special characteristics to help a small team make it through to the success (or failure) of the storyline.

Maybe "Rancher" could be another class thinking of "Bonanza" with the Cartwrights in mind as heroic wranglers who aren't looking to be lawmen, but just have that way of getting into situations that a badge wasn't necessary to solve.

I can see a class for a "Thief" too.

Maybe a "Sharp"?  I'm thinking of a Doc Holiday type for that.

Oh!  How about a "Swordsman" type as well in the footsteps of a Zorro type character.

I'll think more on this later.  It's likely it'll never get beyond this fun little dream, but hey, it's all about having fun right?

What is your "real life" alignment?

I've been reading through the OSRIC 2.2 PDF in depth as I intend to immerse myself in the game system.

While doing so, it just occurred to me while reading through the alignment descriptions that one of the alignments really described how I see and think about myself.  I really identified strongly with it.  Whoa! Talk about crossing fantasy/reality boundaries huh?

What do I see as my real life alignment?

Chaotic good.

From the OSRIC 2.2 manual...
Chaotic Good, “Rebel”:  A chaotic good character acts as his or her conscience directs, with little regard for what others might expect. He or she makes his or her own way, but is generally kind and benevolent. He or she believes in goodness and personal honour, but has little use for laws and regulations.

Such a character disdains those who seek to intimidate oth-
ers and tell them what to do. He or she follows his or her own
moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that
of society. Chaotic good characters value the combination of
a good heart with a free spirit.

I swear, reading that is like someone's been in my head for the last 30 years or so and took this out of the experience.

Have you ever had the experience of reading something like this from a game and having it hit you like a sack of bricks because it hits so close to home?

Maybe I'm making too much of this.  Maybe it's nothing but fun and freakish coincidence.

I'm not sure, but it's going into my signature somewhere.

THAC0, Back The Bus Up!!

And here I thought I knew something about THAC0 earlier in this blog.

Leave it to the highly knowledgeable folks at DragonsFoot forums to have the gooey details.

I said THAC0 was introduced in AD&D 2nd Edition.  WRONG.

This, my friends, is why one should corroborate their sources before publishing information.

I saw a thread discussing THAC0 in the DF forums tonight and thinking myself knowing something,  I got egg on my face.  The conversation went thusly...

"Then they don't know their D&D history.
I put THAC0s in modules R1-4 (1981-82) and I got the term from local games in Lake Geneva.
It goes back to the beginnings of 1e or even earlier.

To which I replied,

I don't know how far it goes back for sure. I think I recall it being posted somewhere that THAC0 was as introduced with Unearthed Arcana, but I can't say for sure myself. I'm guessing kind of a AD&D 1.5 thing maybe?

I do know that as i sit here with my Advanced Dungeons & Dragons circa 1979 (9th printing 1987) Dungeon Masters Guide that THAC0 is not mentioned in the Index of the book, it is not mentioned in the "Armor, Armor Class, & Weapons" section of the book (pages 27-28) nor is it referenced on the "Combat Tables" (pages 74 - 75).

BTW, I'm not trying to be contentious, just historically accurate.

 And here's where I got sent to school...

Thac0 is right in the 1e DMG (page 196-215 in the monster summaries, with a column for "To Hit A.C. 0").

All I could say was,

Yup. there it is. I've seen it hundreds of times and never really paid attention to it. never used it once.

I stand corrected.

I wonder if I never paid attention to it because while it's included on the table, I never seemed to find it discussed in the book anywhere, thus rendering it forgettable to me.

 The fella was absolutely correct.  THAC0 has been in AD&D 1st Ed since 1979.  However, though as I mentioned in that forum discussion, all  I ever saw of it was it's listing in the Monster table and nowhere else.

It seems didn't get brought out into the sunlight until 2nd edition to make it more plain.  If I'm wrong about that, please feel free to comment here and correct me on that too.

Of course, this doesn't change how THAC0 in terms of I still don't plan to use it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

OSRIC Rules!

I just discovered OSRIC.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you already know about it, it's old news. 

For others, like me who are not familiar with it, OSRIC stands for "Old School Reference & Index Compilation".

Essentially, it's like open source Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition.  I LOVE that.

I have always preferred AD&D 1E at it's most basic.   I've never really gotten into psionics and the classes that came later like barbarians, acrobats, etc.. , stuff like that.

OSRIC seems to have largely read my mind in setting up just such a gaming system.

From recent discussions I have had in DragonsFoot chat room, the general opinion is that one can take published AD&D 1E modules/games and play them under OSRIC rules with little to no real modification.

Now, If you already have a copy of the AD&D books, this isn't a far jump.  As a matter of fact, it's pretty easy whether you have AD&D books or not.

OSRIC makes it's books available online in PDF format for free.  As in, no cost to you.  It's written using the "Open Game License 1.0".  So Like Linux, free beer and free (dom) all in one.

Now, if you're like me, I write a great many of my own games so gaming under OSRIC really doesn't require I do much different than I already do.  Even when I do use published modules, I edit them heavily to fit into my world better,  So again, no biggie for me to make the jump.

I am going to test OSRIC out starting with our next game and see how it all transitions and works out.  If I like it and it works well, I'll adopt it as my default system.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

If you want to find out more about OSRIC for yourself see the link to the right side of this page where you can read about the system and download the PDF manuals for free.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beekeeping Player Characters Score Big

Beekeepers eat honey.  Most do anyway.

Honey is good for health in general, So I see beekeeping PC's having and extra 1 point added to their Constitution score.

Beekeepers get stung.  Bee stings are known for helping with everything from helping people with MS and arthritis move better.  It reduces joint stiffness and improves joint mobility.  I can see beekeeping PC's getting an extra 1 point added to their dexterity score, no problem.

Beekeepers are sought out by many people due to their accumulation of knowledge with all things honey beeswax and solving bee problems.  An easy 1 point added to the beekeeping PC's Charisma score.

Beekeepers must understand nature, biology, plant and flower growth, weather and environmental effects on bees and plants, and a lot more.  Who wouldn't see a beekeeping PC with an extra 1 point added to their intelligence score?

Beekeepers move lots of bee hive boxes, especially hive boxes loaded with honey.  Those boxes can weigh from 60 to 90 lbs a box and ambitious beekeepers can have to pick up, carry, stack and unstack dozens, sometimes literally hundreds of those heavy boxes.  Yes, beekeeping builds a better body.  So why not an extra 1 point added to their strength score as well.

Last but not least, beekeepers spend a lot of time communing with nature.  Making observations, learning to listen and have patience with the bees.  It's obvious that beekeeping PC's would gain an extra 1 point in their wisdom score as well.

So yes, as a DM, I will give the newly created Player Character who has their profession as a beekeeper an extra 1 point to their ability scores across the board.

I feel better now.  mm hmmm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Traps & Tricks In My World

I am of firm belief that traps and tricks get the short end of the stick in AD&D.  They don't evrn get awarded experience points for surviving them in "by the book" play.

That is different in my world and way of being a Dungeon Master.

I award anywhere between 50 and 500 XP for each trap and trick successfully navigated and "survived", depending on the size and scope of it.

Of course, if there is a monster guarding nearby or within, they get those XP as well.

I have always found it somewhat hypocritical of the game rules in which it is written more than once by G.G. that the point of the game is fun and that the overall challenge of the game is more important than just killing things and arguing about details and rules.  At the same time, XP are only awarded for killing things.  Great detail is provided down to minor details and rules of engagement.

If the thrill and challenge of the game is so important, why not reward craftiness, creativity, teamwork and intelligence for overcoming traps and tricks that can be and are often just as lethal to PC's as any monster encounter?

Luckily for me, it is also said in no uncertain way many times in the book (Dungeon Masters Guide) that  I am the final arbiter and creator of the game.  I have the authority to ignore or overrule nearly anything in the DMG, up to and including making the dice rolls for the players myself.

Of course,  I don't take it to that extent, no.   I think it would be a very boring game for players indeed if the DM did everything just to keep everything "perfect" as the DM wants things.

I do take the liberty to assign and reward XP for traps and tricks though.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On Magic And Magic Users In My World

I note with some amusement and even a bit of dis-agreement the discussions regarding magic use and magic users in AD&D.

Some folks seem downright hostile to magic and want to minimize it's use as much as possible.

I look at it this way, this is a fantasy world. It's a place of imagination and suspending belief in "real" things to a certain extent.

I agree that magic and it's use should have limits. However, if we limit it too much, what's the point of having it involved in the game to begin with?
In the case of magic users and illusionists, they gain their use of magic by studying spells and rely on their intelligence, writing skills and memories to carry the spells out.

I believe that as an apprentice to a Master Magic User, one is expected to commit to rote memorization certain spells that must be performed frequently and without effort or doubt. No Master will want to do the menial tasks of living when they have an apprentice around who needs to practice.

No, I believe that magic users needn't be limited too much in how often they can use magic in a given period of time. Nor should they be able to do anything they want, as often as they want for as long as they want.

My compromise is this... Relative to Experience Level, a magic user can completely commit to long term memory a certain number of spells. Those spells he or she should be able to use at will.
Having said that, I believe that until the spell caster has become thoroughly familiar with the working and wording of the spell(s) in question, they will only be able to perform it on a limited basis. My number is 10.
A cleric or druid who doesn't learn spells from books get their new spells from their deity or otherwise based on contemplation, prayer and meditation. However, I believe they must also successfully study and practice their spells so many times before they master those as well. I subject them to the same per level rule as the Magic Users.

All of these spell casters must spend a portion of each day preparing to master these new spells but do not lose the ability and thus have no need to study previously mastered spells.
Both the DM and the player are responsible for tracking and communicating with each other the level of mastery of any spell users cache of spells and their level of mastery of each of them.
In terms of how many times may a spell caster cast spells on any given day, I have a different approach there as well I limit the number of times a mastered spell can be cast to the experience level of the spell caster. Thus a 1st level spell caster can only cast each of their known spells once per day. 2nd level twice. Third level 3 times and so on.

Spells that have not been mastered yet can only be cast once per day regardless of the spell caster's level until it has been mastered.

I do agree that a spell caster's hit dice should remain low because they spend their time and energy on magic use, not on physical self defense.

I believe this approach to magic and magic use in AD&D, at least in my world, has allowed to make the game exciting, fun and still challenging at the same time.

Map Making and Dungeon Drawing

I'm looking online at rpg map making tools and I'm not really impressed by the few out there.  I applaud their efforts at providing what they do have for free, but,  I find that, free or not, they're not helping me to really get the job done well enough.

So, I turned to apps  ialready have installed on my trusty LMDE computer here to see what  Ican accomplish.

I'm not a GIMP pro, heck, I'm not even a GIMP amateur.  Much as I would like to say I can use GIMP to make these maps and drawings, it's way out of my league.  I was able to make a pdf file that had square and hexagons for map creation and turn it into a gif file though, that helped.

So, I turned to LibreOffice Draw, like MS OFFice Draw for you non-nixers out there.

I opened the new gif file with Draw and was able to use the tools to make a pretty decent map/drawing of Margles Tomb.  It's perhaps not the very greatest drawing out there, but it is very usable and gets done what I needed done more than adequately.

I think Linux and opensource software has shown itself a winner for me yet again in what it is able to help me do.

WikiMage Keeps Getting Better

I have been working toward my goal of having a fantastic gaming tool to help me in my DM tasks,  I have been working on making all my AD&D books and materials wiki-ized and able to be available on my laptop.  You all know that already though.

However, if you haven't peeked at it lately,  I have added all kinds of excellent information gleaned from the pages of "Footsteps"  the magazine made available by

Not only that,  I have also included links to a number of very useful tools made available by as well.

No, I'm not trying to steal DragonFoot's thunder,  I just want to have all these useful things in one place.  All credit goes to them and the original materials publishers for making it available.

It's all still a work in progress, so don't be surprised to see some in-complete things.  However,  I really do think having all the AD&D material wiki-ized is turning out much, much better than I had even originally hoped for.


I love to send players on a quest.  To me, one of the best things about AD&D is that you aren't locked into one "game" or module and that's it.  Module is completed, everything is done.

Oh No No No No.

Quests can help define the game itself.  You can loop together several pre-published modules and home-brewed games all under the auspices of a quest.

A quest can be a grand one, taking weeks, months or even years to complete.  They can also be short, taking all of one sitting or game to complete.

With a quest, aimless wandering is now replaced with an objective, a goal to keep players moving in a given direction.  Not that there's anything wrong with aimless wandering and adventuring either.  That can be plenty of fun in it's own right.

Questing is a great way for a DM to recapture certain players interest again during a campaign.  it takes what may have been becoming a bit dreary and pointless into something with a tangible outcome.  Something with the promise of great challenges and great rewards.

It could be something so simple as finding a message in a bottle where the sender is seeking to be rescued or sent something valuable away from themselves to keep it out of a villains hands and now the PC's must find who sent it and return it to them.

Perhaps a King or even a god has approached the party with a quest and has compelled or promised great rewards for the finding or returning of something to it's rightful place or to the possession of the King or deity.

Perhaps a player character has been enchanted by an object or a magic user into going on a quest for something and until the item is obtained or the enchantment is broken, they are compelled to follow it through.

So many options and possibilities.

Just one of the reasons that AD&D is such a great game.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where is your world?

I have my own world totally invented for the games I run for my kids.  It is filled with everything and anything that exists in the AD&D 1E books.  We have loads of fun creating and exploring this world.  Literally making it up as we go.

Recently I talked about making a game world based on the world of "Eragon" by Christopher Pioli. 

By visiting forums like DragonsFoot,  I have seen a few discussion threads where the topic of using literary worlds like Alagaësia of Eragon or Middle Earth from Tolkien's works.

In my own opinion,  I think it can be a lot of fun playing in those worlds, although as a DM, there is some work to do in taking it from a novel world to an adventurable world.  Especially in trying to keep within the confines of the AD&D 1E rules.

For this reason,  I take the "aftermath" approach to adventuring in those worlds.

For example, instead of trying to adventure in the framework of the active storyline of those novels,  I set up our time and place in the afterwards or past the conclusion of those works.

For example, using Middle Earth, We would be playing after the downfall of Sauron and all the story main characters have gone back home and moved on with their as yet un-written lives.  Some people in a couple of threads on DragonsFoot forum have suggested that AD&D elves and other races would not translate well into Middle Earth because the races have different abilities and characteristics.

I say this is solved by entering Middle Earth AFTER the conclusion of the Lord of The Rings.  Throughout the book(and movies) it is mentioned multiple times that the age of men is rising and the age of magical creatures such as elves is waning.  Thus the elves are leaving to somewhere else.

This sets the stage to observe in our entry to Middle Earth that magic and magical characters have also changed with the times.  It is thus conceivable that AD&D magic and races are now the new standard.

The same goes with my effort in the world of Eragon's Alagaësia.  We step in after the end of the book "Inheritance" (the 4th and final book).

For those who haven't yet read "Inheritance"  I won't include any spoilers here.  Suffice it to say that I have taken some artistic liberties and brought the AD&D 1E world into post-"Inheritance" Alagaësia using the same approach as with the Middle Earth example above.

By approaching it in this manner, players can adventure through these worlds without necessarily being beholden to the forced choice factors of the narrative versions.  They don't necessarily "Have" to pick sides of Galbatorix or the Varden.  They can just be the character they want to be and use the geography and history of that world as the stage dressing.


Wiki-ized DM Screen

I now have the DM Screen, tables and everything, up on the WikiMage site and ready to go.

This was kind of what I was looking for in the first place with the whole Wiki project was to have an online tool to have all the DM information I need access to without having to flip from section to section and have multiple books and pages open to run a game.

Now, everything is on one screen on my laptop and just a click away from what I am looking for.

I still plan to tweak it a bit, add a little more information that wasn't included on the original DM Screen sheets.  For all intents and purposes though, it is usable.

I still have a bit of work with the Players Handbook in terms of spell explanations to do yet.

Then, it's on to the Dungeon Masters Guide.  That ought to be interesting.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Melee and Minutae

While lots of people like to get into serious melee/battle action in AD&D, for me, it's not all that.

Sure, it can be fun and exciting to battle an impressive opponent  and it has it's necessities to do so.

However,  I like a good adventure where players have to use their wits and strategy to find success.

Give me lot of traps and tricks for players to overcome instead.

Lot's of great treasure can accompany a game in which players must think and act intelligently to escape, sometimes just within inches of their lives.  it doesn't always have to be about the beat down.

As a DM,  I also am more flexible about encounters with possible combatants.  To me, if players use a lot of creativity and craftiness to outsmart or negotiate a means to turn a battle into something else,  I call it a victory and award EP for "defeating" the monster or opponent anyway.

One thing I don't like is when I do present an opponent to players, if they run away when they should find a way to deal with the situation in another way.  It will end up costing them a great deal more than if they had just continued the encounter in the first place.

Even in published game modules,  I will gleefully change things at will to introduce more traps and tricks and eliminate some of the melee combat as most modules seem to be melee heavy to begin with in my opinion.

I'm also not overly fond of intrinsic details that bog down the story and pace of the game.  If you're big into how much everything in the backpack weighs and how it affects movement if one of those things is left behind, my table is not the table you want to be at.

Melee can get mind-numbingly detailed with initiative, weapon details, movement, etc.. if one allows it to.  Suffice it to say,  I try to keep melee and combat in general as simple as possible.  It keeps the game moving and people don't get bored while some players battle with a dzoen books and printed sheets spread out all over.

Mind you, I'm not against minding the particulars if they are necessary to the story or in keeping some kind of grounding to the game.  I just won't allow the game to be dragged down with it.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

By The Books

Every Dungeon Master does things differently.   I think that's pretty obvious.

However,  I think that for the most part, there are three major "types" of DM's and even players out there.

Those who follow the books as if they are written in stone laws.

Those who use the books more as general guidelines but feel free to deviate/customize at will

Those who fall somewhere in the middle.

I won't lie.   I am a "guidelines" type if there ever was one.  The dice do not run my games, I run the dice to help me run the game.  Meaning, there are times, many times, I don't use dice at all, I just make a judgement call as it fits into the situation.

To me, the game itself, the story line, the experience for the players, is more important than technicalities.

I have no problem with people who take other postitions about the game, be they more "by the book" or in the middle.

No one will ever force a player whose style doesn't fit with mine to play at my table.  No harm, no foul, no offence taken on my part or intended.

Friday, December 2, 2011

AD&D 1st Ed. "Eragon-ized"

I am thinking of havingg some fun and making an "Eragon-ized" campaign come about.  AD&D already has the main thrust of it.

Set the action in Eragnon's world, add some Urgals, Ra'zac and dragon magic/relationships with riders and  Ithink we might have something pretty fun on our hands.

I think I am going to give it a try.  If you are interested in participating in such an adventure, let me know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wiki tables in my head

As I anticipated, the tables, oh lord the tables, are the biggest time consumer in the Wiki-Mage conversion of the AD&D 1E books into a wiki.

The real problem isn't so much creating tables in mediawiki.  That's actually not too difficult.

No, the hard part is the typing.  Soooo much content.  Even that wouldn't be so bad but I am not and never will be a great typist.  each of my fingers hits 2 keys at once.  The amount of editing I have to do after typing one sentence is amazing. 

But, we plod onward.  I am nearly done with the bigger part of the Players Handbook.  Once the last two spell tables are done, all that's left is to add the spell explanations.

Then we tackle the DM's guide.  Oy vey!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wiki-Mage pt 2

Currently, Wiki-mage is getting a bit more done.

The Players Handbook is about 65% complete now.  It needs the large block content yet.  Spell descriptions, appendices, etc...

The Dungeon Masters Guide is still only just begun.  On my own, I will probably work on one book at a time.  In which case, the DM Guide won't get worked on again until the Players Handbook is completed.

I just have placeholder pages for the other 5 books right now.

Still welcoming editors to help build it up.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The laptop, the new DM screen

As I work on the Wiki-Mage project to make DMing from a laptop more possible,  I thought about dice online too.

Now, there are several dice rolling apps online and able to be installed.

However,  I found one at that runs in a web browser AND is able to be downloaded and run locally within a web browser.  AWESOME!!!

This makes it just fine for use regardless of what Operating System you use.  (I use Linux, thank you very much.)

I created a new page here on this blog just for special apps and files that you can use also.  Don't forget about though.  They have a truly incredible assembly of files, docs and modules available for "classic" AD&D gamers.

Anyway, my goal is to be able to take my laptop anywhere and have all my AD&D 1st Edition books in one spot, able to be searched and find tables instantly.  Not only that,  I can have multiple tabs open to the pages/tables used most frequently.  oooh yeah.

Having that nice dice roll app is going to be a big help,  especially on those rolls where you don't want players seeing the results.  Just keep it open in another browser tab.

As the world becomes more online and computer enabled,  I can see a bunch of players sitting with their netbooks, laptops, etc in  a room or even in a video conference and playing the game together.  How cool is that?

Create characters and keep their sheets in a file on your computer.  Shoot a copy of your character to the DM so he can keep track of who's who in the game.

AD&D is a social game, it requires people to interact.  To talk to each other and use their imaginations.  They have to problem solve and work as a team quite often.

What better venue for such a social game than using social network tools and computers.

I have always believed that computers technology wasn't meant to replace interaction, but to enhance it, automate dull, repetitive tasks so that the "meat" of the thing could be more focused on.

Not only am I excited to be back into AD&D after all this time, but to implement it with all the new tools and technology we just didn't have then.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wiki-Mage Lives!!!!

In a private effort, the Wiki-Mage project is up and running.

Please feel welcome to check out our progress in getting the AD&D 1st Edition written materials into wiki form.

If you would like to help, let me know and we'll get you started.

The link is always at the top of this blog in tthe page list.

Wiki-Mage Project

I don't get it personally

I have recently seen on a user forum about people wanting to "de-Tolkien-ize" AD&D.  Essentially taking out the Tolkien-esque elements.

I didn't reply to the thread because I really have nothing to add to it in terms of suggesting ways to "de-Tolkien-ize" it.   I don't see a need to do that at all.

This is a fantasy roleplay game.  Even though people have quoted the creator of the game not being to strong on Tolkien-esque inclusions, he went ahead and added them anyway.

If nothing else, I think the variety and range make the game more fun.  To wit... it's a game folks, the point is to have fun first and foremost.

Now, if folks want to eliminate Tolkien-esque characters and influences from their game as a DM, I am all for it.   I support them 100%.  It's their world, their table, their game.  Do as you like.

But to suggest that those elements don't belong in the game books for everyone?  No,  I can't go with that.  Not that they did suggest that.  I'm just sayin.

 Vive la Game!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Onto a New Adventure, Banked Swamp

After the last game, Grimlock the magic user went to rest & study the Ring of Water Walking.  Fighter Illumina stayed in Rashtan to recuperate from injuries.  Baer the Druid went back to his bees and meadery.

Upon asking around the village of Rashtan for ideas for a next adventure, Glowra the theif (aka "good-willed 'repo specialist') and fighter Crush decided to move on out of town.

They met fighters Aragorn and Rowan at a table in the Wayward Inn and met Luminesa the magic user and fighter Grim just before leaving.

Crush will act as the team leader and wants to head south to follow up on rumors of a haunted swamp.


The group went South to the town of D'Nar and after inquiring at the Sheriff's office, the White Horse Tavern and the Olde & Antiquarian Bookstore, pieced together a story of a swamp South of D'Nar that may very well hold an adventure and a treasure worth fighting for.

Along the way, the group was randomly attacked by a Worg Wolf, which they defeated after a bit of a struggle.

Without further delays, they arrived at the edge of Banked Swamp close to nightfall, but the group leader, Crush, said everyone was to camp for the night outside of the swamp in order to get an early start in the day.  He also decided there would be no-one standing guard overnight.

Just before sunrise, a Giant Frog was about to randomly attack the sleeping group.

THAC0 Understood

OK, OK, I admit.  I saw the Player Character sheets I downloaded at DragonsFoot all listing a place to record "To Hit Armor Class 0" (THAC0) and said "WTH?"

I'm sorry I missed it back then, apparently, the groups I played in just hadn't caught up to AD&D 2nd Ed yet.

Because, I find out after doing some DDG time (DuckDuckGo=a search engine that doesn't steal your data or try to sell you something.  I highly recommend it) that it was introduced in AD&D 2nd Edition as a way to replace the attack tables and matrices from 1st ed.  Supposedly a way to "simplify" the combat/melee process.

Now after reading up on it a bit, I get it.   I can see the appeal for some people who don't like looking up stuff on tables (though with enough usage, you start to remember the tables after awhile).

At the same time,  I don't use it in my games and I don't plan to use it either.

Consider me a "die hard" (get it? "die, dice?" 1st edition AD&D aficionado.

I needs me some tables.

I don't and won't get into the uber-geek behavior of knocking or arguing with others over whether they use THAC) or not.  Frankly,  I don't care.  To each their own I say.  If it's their game, then it's their rules I say.

For those who, like me, still don't "get" what THAC0 is about, here is a link that I think does a good job of making it all very clear.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Adventure Is Under Their Belts

My kids finished their first AD&D adventure today, the one I mentioned in a previous post that was started a couple days ago. "Pop Goes The Meazle".

They got very close to advancing character levels and got some treasure.  Overall, their conclusion is, to quote my 12 year old, "I love this game!!!"

A couple of the kids characters came close to scrubbing out a couple of times.  First level player characters can take one heck of a beating at the hands of creatures like meazles and giant frogs and rats and stuff like that.

It was a lot of fun for me to knock the rust off of the old Dungeon master skills.   I can really tell how much I've been out of it too.

That's ok though, by the end of the game,  I starting smoothing out the rough edges.  By the time I've got a couple more games under my belt here,  I'll be back up to snuff and able to DM like I did back when I did it all the time.

Even more cool was the fact that I got to spend some fun, good time with my kids, just us using our imaginations.

Isn't it amazing what some paper and dice can do to help pass an afternoon in peaceful, everybody-getting-along and not-tearing-around-the-house bliss?

They're already asking about the next game to play and when can we start.

I love it.

Building a New World

In celebrating my re-entry into AD&D.  I have created an entire new place somewhere in my world called "Margle's Tomb".

I love to have places like this in my world because I like to keep things pretty open and basic.

Margle's Tomb could be a game all on it's own, depending on the DM who uses it.

It might just be one aspect of a game, it could be the focal point of the game.

I keep places like Margle's Tomb intentionlally bare.  It is simply a skeleton or a framework of a place and plot.

I have created a map of Margle's Tomb so it is structurally completed in design, rooms, halls, chambers, etc...

I have given the background of who Margle was and what his legacy might provide to adventurers.

After that, it is up to the dice to tell us what, where, how much, etc.. is to be found within.

Each adventure into Margle's Tomb is a new adventure because the Dungeon Master creates it's contents on the spot as they play through it.

Of course, a DM could also pre-populate Margle's Tomb before their players get into it if they so choose.

Even the chance of finding Margle's Tomb is random because he was such a powerful wizard that he set his tomb as a traveling tomb.  It could be anywhere, any time.

You might go into it at one place and come out of it (if you come out of it) somewhere else entirely.  The dice will let you know.  Unless, of course, the DM has already decided upon where it is and if it will stay put while players are in there.

If any DM's out there would like to have the maps to Margle's Tomb, feel free to ask and I will give you a link to d/l them.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some more on my use of Non Player Characters

The NPC (Non Player Character) is one of the most valuable assets a Dungeon Master can have in a game in my opinion.

A DM can use an NPC in a variety of ways to help them keep the game going.

The NPC can be someone who provides information to the PC's (Player Characters) Like the Sheriff who answers some questions or the bartender who passes on a tip, etc...

An NPC can also be used to fill "in-between" roles such as they are the first ones to get taken down as a way to introduce action coming (like wearing a red shirt on a Star Trek away team).  They get in between the PC's and the action, providing an alarm or time buffer, etc.. for the PC's.

An NPC can also be a character that is part of the regular action as a member of the PC's group.  They can fight along side the PC's, perform tasks as requested/required by the PC's.  Sometimes the DM can use those NPC's as a means to communicate information, warnings, advice, etc.. to the group.

Of course, you have the "static" NPC's in the game who have their one or two things to do as the script requires and the PC's encounter them.

These would be villagers, enemies, etc.. that are planned into the game as it goes along.

Then there are what I call the "drop ins".  Just on the roll of a dice or because something has come up that needs the players to pay attention to, NPC's can be inserted into a point of the game just for a brief moment as a wandering monster or a herald from a deity, the DM rolls it or calls it fit.

Of course, my favorites are my "Guardian Angels".  These are NPC's that are full blown characters  I have created to go along on adventures with certain groups.
Of course, when I say "guardian angels" I don't mean that necessarily literally.

No, my guardian angels travel through the games as needed, especially for new players who have little to no experience or if there aren't enough PC's to fit what a certain module calls for (say if a module calls for 4 to 8 PC's but there are only 3 PC's in the group at the time, one of my GA's will fill in the spot.

I try to be as fair as I can with handling the GA's.   I stay pretty hands off and let the PC's determine how the GA fits in and using their skills by specific request.

The less experienced the players are, the more I will use the GA to make suggestions as to possible actions to take or some ability the GA has that could be of particular use to the group they may not be aware or thinking of.  That kind of thing.

The more experienced the players are, the less I offer up on behalf of the GA.  As a matter of fact,  I have allowed GA's to be nothing more than a typical NPC on a group that is pretty much entirely "used" by the experienced group.

If one of my GA's is not part of the PC group it is not uncommon to have them pop up as a static or drop in or other NPC in a game.  They are kind of like my "makers mark" or calling card.

As much as the actual maps and buildings and dungeons and gold and magical items, etc.. are a big part of AD&D, for me, the Non Player Characters are perhaps my best tool, my greatest weapon, etc that I have as a Dungeon Master.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The kids first adventure

Tonight was my kids first Ad&D 1st Ed. adventure after spending the last couple nights creating characters and reading the Player's Guide and familiarizing themselves a little bit.

I have to say I think it was a resounding success.  They both got into it especially after time went on and the story bgan to build as they interacted with towns folk and others.  They began to strategize and coordinate and bounce ideas off each other.

We are playing a game we found on called "Pop goes the Meazle" and they love it.  Dragonsfoot website rocks!

I admit,  I had a ball too.  It was so much fun playing each npc just like it used to be.  Yeah, it's playing the game with kids, but that doesn't have to ruin the story or the experience just because  I am the only one my age involved.  Those games will be coming up very soon here. 

It's cool to see them having so much fun and getting into it as much as I used to.  Kids weren't arguing with each other but working together instead.  We got to laugh together and use our imaginations together.

No tv or computers were involved.  Just them and me, some paper and dice and they can't wait for more.

I just love AD&D

Do it to it

I saw a post on the DragonFoot forum that made me think a bit more.

The question was "What kind of atmosphere do you maintain in the game?"

I've said I like to have fun, and I do.  There is a bit of silliness I suppose with the energetic role playing that goes on.

On the other hand, I like to keep it known that, silliness aside,  I am a "call it as the dice rolls" kind of guy.

I don't play favorites among players or characters.   I don't "take it easy" on people or "soften the blow", "fudge the dice", etc...   The dice roll and the result is what it is.

If a player is having a bad day or bad week or bad life,  idon't see there's much I can do for them inside the game.  I mean, if they can't suspend reality enough to get out of their funk to paly a fantasy role playing game, there's just not much I can do for them.

Having said that,  I do run my games with the players in mind.  If they are novices, younger kids, mixed ages,  I will try to keep the games more PG/PG-13.  If I have a group that is more intent and older  I will let the hair grow a bit longer.

To me, that's all apart of keeping it "fun" After all, if the players aren't enjoying the game, you don't really have much of a game should they all pack it up.

I don't put up with a lot of reckless-ness though.  Too much of that or or other time wasting tends to throw the pace of the game off and take valuable game playing time from the other players and that's not cool as they all made time for the game.

I reserve the right to make last minute changes, additions, monsters, etc..(it's not like the players will know if I planned it or not anyway, heh heh.) so being reckless and generally doing dumb things will likely result in something truly nasty "suddenly" popping up.

In summary,  I guess I let the players determine the game for the most part, though not by polling them or even asking but more by observing and responding to the group as they play.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto

So, let's get down to where the bear does his bidnez in the buckwheat (yes, I said that,  this is an all ages friendly blog ya know).

What is it I like so much about being a Dungeon Master anyway and why do I believe others like my style?

AD&D is a role playing game.  Pretty obvious right?  What about the DM though?  I find it interesting to hear from players who want to really get into their characters how they think of a DM as a mostly serious role.

Maybe I talk to weird players.

I like to get into the character(s) as much as the next person.  So much so that as a DM, I get to be untold numbers and variety of characters.

I have been a writer and story teller since I was a kid.  My imagination knows few bounds.  I have fun creating voices and "characters" just to entertain my kids and other people.  Sometimes just because I am entertaining myself due to boredom.

Yes, people have walked by and seen/heard me and thought I was totally off my rocker.  Oh well, at least I was entertained.

But, in AD&D, I have an excuse, nay I have purpose, in letting those characters out.

While the other people in the game might be playing one or maybe even two or three characters, I get to play a cast of dozens and I do it with gusto.  Complete with voices, accents, mindsets and all.   For the seconds to minutes I am with the non-player characters in the games, I AM those characters.

Of course I am keeping track of time and game progression, battles, etc.. I take my role as DM seriously.  It's not a good game just because I have fun with npc's.  It's a good game because the game itself keeps moving and being challenging.

I treat each game as a story. I actually write/script segments in preparation to get a new game underway.  Often specific to the players who will be playing.  Taking player ages, experience levels, etc into consideration.

To me a game isn't a good game just because it's challenging, it's got to be fun and interesting.

Yes, players are often entertained by my character role playing, but I don't let that take away from how I conduct the game at the same time.

I have as much fun being the DM and role playing characters as the players do and I think that's one of the reasons players usually like my DM style. 

I'll discuss my use of and approach to non-player characters in future posts.  I just thought I'd say a little something about my general view on being a DM and AD&D.

Giving Credit Where it's Due, DragonsFoot

I really have to give super props and all respect to the folks at to helping me on my way back in.

They have an AWESOME website complete with active user forums and boatloads of free resources for the early edition AD&D aficionado.

If you ever get a chance to check out their site, I highly doubt you will be disappointed.

I am also a member of the forums there, recently signed up myself.

Please do come on over there.

Back In Black

After about a 20 year hiatus from the game, I have returned.  I have been exploring some of the newer versions of AD&D but I still prefer my good old 1980's version.

Way back about 1986, I played AD&D with some other fellas in high school and we had a blast.  Although we had the fun of the game itself, there was enough "libation" and "herbal remedies" involved that as a player, things got a little dis-jointed at times.

I ended up playing with another group after that (and after I left behind those "special beverages" and "herbal remedies") and actually learned a lot more about the game and had a lot of fun.

It was then that I took my shot at being a Dungeon Master after the guy who had been doing let himself be encouraged to play a character through a game and let me step up for a rookie attempt.  I became the primary DM of the group after that as everyone seemed to like my handling of the story and participation.

Life caught up and I was away for a couple of years.  Then I returned briefly to DM for some high school students I was mentoring as a youth outreach worker.  They had been trying to get a game up, but none wanted to DM, they all wanted to play a character, I was able to fill that role for them for about a year or so.  Then again, the books and dice got put away.

Turn the page and come to now.  My own kids (12 and 10 yrs old) have discovered my books and dice and after explaining it all to them, have gotten the idea to play the game themselves.

So here I am, re-entering the world of 1st edition AD&D again as a Dungeon Master for my own kids.

To be honest though, I have never really had the game too far out of mind.  As someone who likes to write and read fantasy fiction, being a DM has always been the most fun for me as it really allows my storyteller and fantasy freak to escape and spread it's wings.

Now with new technology like Google Plus video hangouts, I am looking forward to getting a group of players together to play online as well.  Don't you just love free social network technology?

Come on back and feel free to add your comments, ideas, suggestions, and even questions as I turn my imagination loose and welcome everyone to my AD&D world.