Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Correct me if I am wrong...

...but the reaction table does not appear to be in OSRIC. I simply cannot find it, though it is referenced under the description of Charisma. Anybody know where it is off hand, or do I have need for the DMG at the table after all? (These days I prefer to have as few books on the table as possible.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

One of those weeks

Last night I had a player cancel on me. Today I had a player cancel two hours before session... and he was hosting. Not only that, but I had some...well, let's just say I had a formative experience in my nascent teaching career today and I just wasn't running at full speed. We accomplished next to nothing save for a needless character death, and at the end of the night, I declared the entire session a mulligan and gave the players some experience points for showing up. My game is now in an every-other-week rotation so that our group can have some variety. Next week, one of the players is running a Vampire one-off for us. Let's hope that the next AD&D session runs a bit better for us.

Oh, and I still haven't found the time to get my B/X online crew together. Gah.

At least I can say that, starting next week, I will be a man of leisure until August. (I hope) Perhaps I can get some quality gaming in with those who have their afternoons free this summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Speak of the Devil

Recently, I'd been thinking fondly on Vampire: the Dark Ages. (The original version, not the revised) It was a game that no less than three of my friends tried to run at some point during my college years, but it never seemed to get off the ground. I had put it largely out of my mind until the convention last weekend, when I ran into an old friend (not one of those three previously mentioned) who was running the Giovanni Chronicles campaign for Dark Ages. The gears of nostalgia began a-churnin' (well, sort of... I never actually owned a copy of V:tDA.)

Tonight I was at the used book store with the missus and what did I chance upon? That very tome, Vampire: the Dark Ages. I snagged it.

I also snagged a copy of the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual II. Although I'm pretty sure most of those monsters are included in OSRIC, it was seven bucks, and I do enjoy having the old books on my shelf.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A campaign on my mind....

Let me preface this by saying I have absolutely no intention of shutting down my AD&D1 game, which is only about a month and a half away from it's first anniversary.

That being said, sometimes other campaigns percolate in my head, floating around until I get a chance to run them. The record holder for this is my Kindred of the East campaign, which began taking shape during my freshman year of college and was not run until my sophomore year was nearly done.

A campaign has been taking shape in my mind, tiny bits and pieces, for some time now. I first started thinking about it when I read Sun of Suns, by Karl Schroeder, during the summer of 2008. The world Schroeder has created is fascinating. I started to read the second book in his Virga trilogy, but I didn't care for it and quickly abandoned it. I never tried to read the third, but the imagery in the first book stuck with me, popping up in my thoughts these two years hence. To sum it up: an artificial world of gas, wooden cities that spin to give themselves gravity, airships, pirates, jet bikes, and mini, artificial suns that towns surround. The society is much like a feudal system, with loyalty based around access to one of these suns (and thus heat/light.)

Recently, I started replaying Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magcik Obscura, a delightful (if somewhat buggy) computer game published around six or seven years ago. The game takes place in a traditional fantasy world (elves, magic swords, orcs, dark necromancers, etc) in the midst of a rapid industrial revolution, leading to a pseudo-Victorian society where magick (I hate it when games/books spell it with a k) and technology rub elbows. Arcanum has my gears a'churnin'. 

These two things are jelling inside my mind. I'm envisioning a pseudo-Victorian world with steam tech an airships, and perhaps one or more airborne nations. I'm thinking that a disaster on the earth's surface below necessitated the exodus into sky-cities, which may be a magical, technological, or both. Top hats, airships, clockwork golems, and perhaps some kind of mysticism, but probably no elves, orcs, and other "bog standard" races. I have some very clear images in my head. 

As far as system goes, I want something light, most likely Savage Worlds (if I can fix or get over my gripe with the damage system) or Fudge. I could do it with GURPS, but I'd rather not. I suppose the Engines & Empires source book for Labyrinth Lord could be another route, or I could just kitbash basic D&D. System selection can wait until this congeals further.

This seems like a good summer project, and summer is fast approaching. I had intended to try and master Shadowrun 4E, but I find that idea becoming less appealing daily. We'll see, I guess.

Monday, April 19, 2010

From Monday night AD&D: One Thought

There is something to be said for having a game where character classes are very standardized: if we play at a new place and the DM forgets a character sheet, it's not that bad... only exceptional ability scores need be remembered, as all the abilities of a character who is X class and Y level are easily looked up. Hell, toward the end of the night I forgot that we were missing the character sheet!

A few random updates

*I ended up going to a convention yesterday...a small one, in it's first year, in my hometown. It was a day trip only, but I got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in quite a few years. I was alarmed at the fact that not a single roleplaying game that was scheduled actually ran. I was going to run some off the cuff B/X D&D, but I was press-ganged into a game of Dominion, which I had never played and was pretty fun. I certainly hope the complete lack of tabletop rpgs isn't some kind of symptom... the dealer's room also had not a single gaming book on the shelves.

*Sunday night Deadlands runs with only a GM and two players now. My only real misgiving about the system (that being the way damage works) still stands. It is otherwise a quick and simple system and I like how fast it (usually) plays.

*My AD&D game has moved to Mondays, specifically to allow the reentry of a beloved and missed player. (Who, until his class scheduled changed,had sterling attendance and punctuality) I am also running it every other week, as this was a necessary requirement to keep everyone. The off week will actually be used for one-shots, people who want to give other systems a shot, etc. I feel good about this, as it allows a little variety in my gaming life. It might also be a necessity given the amount of personal time my vocation often requires me to put in.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Stuff I Didn't Need

I spent five bucks at the LGS tonight. I got the following things:

-Cleric's Challenge
-Thief's Challenge
-Some issue of Dungeon from 1994.

I bought the Challenge modules because I had never owned any besides Wizard's Challenge and it's sequel. I'd like to see examples of adventures built to challenge specific classes.

I bought the issue of Dungeon because it was a buck. I've paged through it but I'm not thrilled. The highlight so far is the angry letter from a fan saying that a wish used in a previous adventure that turns the party into gnolls is too powerful. He tersely asks that the staff of TSR not use spells so "liberally." Wa ha ha.

There is a low-magic maritime adventure that does look promising in a collection of otherwise uninspiring modules. Maybe you guys just spoil me with your various crazy ass OSR products. (Then again, anything seems bland when you're reading stuff like Eldritch Weirdness, Death Frost Doom, etc.)

I took inventory of my bookshelf last night, and to my dismay, I have over fifty roleplaying games on it. (If you count different editions of various games as different games, which I do.... otherwise I have 46ish.) I will never have time to play and run them all in this lifetime, though having the summers off will certainly help me get close...provided I can stop adding things to my collection.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Frustrations

My AD&D game, previously canceled only once in a Blue Moon, has not run this week or last, and because both weeks I've had half the group cancel the day of. I understand people have stuff going on, but it is still unfortunate. Tonight, refusing to be thwarted, I ran a quick one shot of Savage Worlds using one of the handy mini-adventures they publish on their website.

I do like SaWo quite a bit, though I have one gripe with it: probability and the damage system can make for some damnably long fights.

For those of you unfamiliar with the system, here's the short of it: When you hit a target, you roll damage. You compare this to the target's Toughness + Armor. If it meets the target's score, they are stunned. If they were already stunned, they take a wound. If you beat the score by 4 points or more, every full 4 points is an instant wound. (So he has Toughness 6, I wound him on a 10, wound him twice on 14, etc.) If a guy is stunned, he probably wastes his next action getting un-stunned, which may or may not work out for him. (He has to make a stat check)

For most of the enemies and monsters in the game, a single wound is enough to take them down. However, PCs, important NPCs, and "big deal" monsters (dragons, elder vampires, etc) can take up to three wounds, being incapacitated on the fourth. Both PCs and NPCs of such import also receive "save your ass" tokens (called "bennies" in game) that give them the potential to ignore or negate wounds.

Let me also inform the reader that, in SaWo, dice "explode," that is, if you roll the maximum value on a die, you reroll and add... infinitely.

The result is that these rules work well most of the time, but sometimes they create some very unlikely "feast or famine" results. Case in point: during last Sunday's Deadlands session, we killed the "main fight" of the night with a single shot.... he was a kung fu master badass with supernatural armor, but one of our crew rolled 6 after 6 after 6 on the damage roll and ended up doing 30 points of damage. I think his toughness was like 10, meaning we gave him 5 wounds at once... and you can only take 3. We high-fived.

When we got outside, we got into a fight with a pack of extras and one Wild Card (that being the in-game term for important NPCs or tough monsters) That fight took something like forty-five minutes of real-time, because we could not do enough damage to get the big guy past stunned, and because when we hit the little guy, we always rolled such pitiful damage that our bullets literally had no effect on him. If there was an opposite of high-fiving, we'd have done that. We were finally victorious when the laws of probability realized that they had been notably absent from our game and decided to come back and restore sanity to an insane gaming table.

As an aside, the SaWo one shot I ran tonight did not have any combat. (Well, we didn't get to the combat, anyway...) However, this particular adventure is a gritty crime story, and came with a slight rules modification to achieve the kind of story they were looking for. In the gritty damage rules, Wild Cards have the potential to be taken out every time they are wounded... so even though they can take up to three wounds, they could be taken down on the first one like a lowly extra. I can't wait to see how this works out in play; it is a definite departure from the fairly cinematic structure of SaWo. (This abbreviation, "SaWo," is stating to irritate me, and I shall discontinue it presently.) 

Now, it seems I must get my online B/X volunteers in order. I feel an unfortunate drought coming on and I need to prepare for eventualities.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Shakes

Last Sunday, the Deadlands game I participate in was canceled due to some strange holiday involving the finding of eggs; apparently the GM and most of the players celebrate this strange ritual. Personally, I have no trouble locating eggs on a regular basis at the local supermarket, but, being ever curious about the rituals of other cultures, I dared not interfere and instead spent the day playing Arcanum on my PC. (Elf mage, this go around)

Tuesday, my AD&D game was canceled due to several players having last minute issues. It is just as well, perhaps, as duties kept me late at school and the last player had just worked a thirteen hour shift.

This week, my B/X crew were unable to reconcile their varied schedules, meaning I shan't game again until this Sunday, when Deadlands resumes.

If not for Arcanum and the recent release of Jim Butcher's latest Dresden novel, I suspect I'd be sweating and shaking and generally carrying on like Ewan McGregor in that scene in Trainspotting with the hallucinatory baby crawling around on the ceiling and some crazy ass techno a-thumpin' in the background.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ars Magica 3rd Edition at Two in the Morning

 Edit: I was reading Ars Magica 3rd edition last night at two in the morning. Sometime around three, I decided to blog some initial reactions, but I did not post them... so here you go.

Not playing, but reading the book. Here are some thoughts...

-The fact that WotC published this is causing me levels of cognitive dissonance that might actually result in permanent brain damage.

-In this book, one can see precursors to many Vampire: the Masquerade mechanics and concepts. (Though I think VtM was out by the time Ars hit the 3rd edition.) Many of the terms also show up in Mage: the Ascension. The book offers a little oWoD "prehistory," if you will.

-Perhaps it is because it is 2 AM, but I am finding Ars Magica to be quite dense and I am having difficulty making it stay in my brain.

-Simple roll vs. Stress roll seems to be a particularly tortured game mechanic.

-Damn, that cover is bad ass.

-Published by WotC.... yet questions and orders can be addressed to White Wolf, per the back cover....

-Back inside cover says this is the third and last edition. (Ars Magica 5th is sitting on the shelves at my LGS.) I guess it's kind of like how Changeling: the Dreaming was supposed to be the last Storyteller game... and then came Hunter, and Mummy, and Demon...

-Any game with a mechanic called Decrepitude Points is okay in my book.

-Advanced Character creation strikes me as the way to go.... the basic system isn't so much creation as it is "here's a ready made character...feel free to dinker around with it."

I'm not sure if my appetite for story-based games is big enough for something like this anymore. At the same time, this is a heavily story-based game (so it seems) without all the Joy Division and excerpts from Black Elk Speaks  that would become trade dress of ReinDOTHagen and his crew. This seems like something that I want to give a shot.

I recall one of my old gaming acquaintances saying that if you took the combat system from The Riddle of Steel and found a way to hook it up to the magic system from this game, you would have the Rolls-Royce of fantasy role-playing games. This is not something I ever intend to do, it's just food for thought. (Besides, most of you in this corner of the internet already award the Rolls-Royce title to B/X or whatever your pet edition is. Ha!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Online B/X Round Up

So far, I have only had Timeshadows in my sessions, but Flynn has sent me a character. I have received a few queries from other interested parties. I've run twice and would like to run again within the next week.

If you want to play, here is the deal:

Email me (mcwieg AT gmail DOT com) with the following:

1. Your availability/schedule. Make sure to specify your time zone.
2. Stats: 3d6, straight up, in order: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma. You can adjust scores as per B/X D&D. (Let me know if you aren't familiar with that)
3. The class you would like to play.  (Fighter, Thief, Cleric, Magic-user, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling)

We'll work out the rest from there. I'd even like to run it again this weekend, provided one or two people are available on Saturday.

I don't have any particular deadline, but if I should somehow arrive at five or six players, I might have to cap it off... I'm not sure Skype or similar applications can handle it.

Hope to "see" some of you at my virtual gaming table soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Modules!

Today, the missus and I stopped at the LGS after work so she could look for some comic book issues she missed. While she did that, I dug through the used section and found many strange and wonderful things, including a lot of modules and material for Ars Magica, 3rd edition, which I just happened to pick up recently at the used book store.
Of the things I found, I ended up purchasing three AD&D 2nd edition modules: Wizard's Challenge, Wizard's Challenge II, and The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga, for a total price of $7.

Now, I have owned both Wizard's Challenge modules before, and in fact I ran them in high school when the only available player was the party's mage. (He seldom missed a session, whereas the other two lads had summer jobs and were not always available on those boring summer days) I have no idea whatever became of my copies. I purchased them because I found them to be fairly decent examples of how to write material for a solo game, and in particular, an AD&D game with no characters who are skilled in direct combat. (A situation that my current group finds itself in, as the party is composed primarily of thieves and thief sub-classes) I recall enjoying running the modules quite a lot, even though I cannot remember all of the details precisely.
I will admit that, as written, these modules (the first one especially) do not fit well into my milieu, though they could be adapted. I doubt I will run them with my current group, because the only spellcaster among them is a bard. (My rewritten version, no less) 

I bought The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga because I think Baba Yaga makes just about anything cooler, and because the module is labeled as being intended for characters levels 7-20. I am mighty curious as to how a module can be written for such a diverse spread of power.
Plus, you know...it was three bucks.

I will, of course, have to adapt anything I use to AD&D1, but I honestly don't see that as being any real work at all. In fact, I think if I draw a pair of saggy mammary glands on the monsters and maybe draw a pentagram on the inside cover, it will pretty much be converted to first edition.