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.