Sunday, June 9, 2019

My Current Thoughts on Gaming

My gaming life, specifically, can be summarized thus.

That is all.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Only Tangentially Related to Gaming

I fucking love the BBC Adventures of Merlin show.
I know it takes massive, massive liberties with the Arthurian mythos.
I know it presents a totally unrealistic portrait of medieval/feudal life.
I know that the characters spend 90% of the episodes making the same mistakes over and over.

...but goddamn, it's just a fun, usually light-hearted show.

...and Arthur x Merlin is a solid 'ship, bro.

Friday, May 17, 2019


Even though we were only together for a short time, and she ended up being way too high maintenance for me... gods Alternity looked hot. I still look at pictures sometimes.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game Class Overlays, Part 2

I've been working away at the concept of class overlays for a few weeks, though admittedly my work has been pretty sparse.

I had to scrap a number of them because they were getting to the point where they were effectively separate classes, which defeats the point of White Box FMAG, in my estimation.

Here's the level of complexity I'm aiming for:

Templars/Temple Knights (Cleric Overlay)

*Alignment: Must be Lawful, there are no Chaotic Templars
*Weapons/Armor: Add the longsword and crossbow to the list of available weapons
*Spellcasting: Templars cast spells as a Cleric two levels lower, meaning they do not get a spell until 4th level.
*Turning: Templars turn undead as a Cleric two levels higher. Templars can also use this ability to turn demons/devils, though a "D" result does not destroy these creatures, but rather banishes them back to wherever they came from for a year and a day.
*Templars gain +1extra hit point at each level.

Everything not specifically mentioned above is the same as the regular Cleric class.

Or my earlier draft of the Witch (Magic-User, obviously)

*Spellcasting: Opponents save at -2 vs. Witch's illusions and charms. Witch calculates duration and range of illusions/charms as if 2 levels higher. Can learn and use Cure Light Wounds as 1st level Magic-User spell. Can't use direct damage spells like Fireball.
*Can brew potions at 5th level

I had a Druid write-up, but it was almost just a separate class. I also have an adaptation of the Acrobat class written up by JB in his Complete B/X Adventurer, which is not as complicated as the changes from Cleric to Druid but still might be more like a second class. Here:

Acrobat (Thief Overlay)
*Weapons: Can only use staff, dagger, hurled weapons
*Armor: cannot use any
*Thievery: Now called Prowess, can be used for physical stunts. scale sheer surfaces, balance, escape from melee combat at full speed, climb overhangs, pole-vault, reduce damage from falls, etc.

Simple changes, mostly a different class, one could argue.

Consider the Druid:

*Alignment: Can only be Neutral
*Weapons: Staff, dagger, sickle (treat as hand axe that cannot be thrown), sling
*Armor: Leather only, no shield
*Spellcasting: Can't cast spells with Law/Chaos in the title, can cast Polymorph as 3rd level Cleric spell (but only on self, and only into natural animals) Can cast Plant Growth as 4th level Cleric spell.
*Turn Undead: Cannot turn undead, but can turn animals/beasts (and plant monsters at DM's discretion) Result of "D" does not destroy, but Druid can keep a companion as with Chaotic Clerics and undead.

So those are the ends of the complexity spectrum I'm looking at. I'd really like to make my overlays newer things and not roll out the same cast of classes that I've seen over and over again in every edition of D&D.

I'll continue to work on this. It isn't my main focus right now, but it's a fun little thought exercise.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

KantCon 2019

KantCon is just a little over three months hence. I'm running so many games there this year that they comped my entry fee. My Friday games are full, my Saturday games are not. This year, I am not running any modules. All the scenarios are my own.

On the docket this year:

Starships & Spacemen, 2nd edition, "Ne Plus Ultra." I'm running a continuation of my yearly game featuring the crew of the spaceship Armiger. This year the first officer is now the captain, since he remained behind in a dimensional fissure in last year's game to basically save the space-time continuum. This year's episode is just a simple escort mission: take a scientist to a distant research station. Totally easy, totally not going to lead to some horrific space disaster. 

Zweihander, "Times Are Gone for Honest Men." Refugees fleeing from the ravages of war are migrating south toward a town where work can be found as caravan guards. The job is dangerous in times like these, but coin is coin. Of course, each of the characters also has a hidden agenda, nothing to do with jobs and money... 

(And yeah, the title is a low key Soundgarden reference) 

Cartoon Action Hour Season 3, "Saturday Morning 1986." I'm running four little one hour "episodes" of 80's ish cartoons. I'm doing take offs of GI Joe, Transformers, TMNT, and Thundarr the Barbarian.

Battle Century G: "Fusion Breakers Wachter." Weebtastic mecha anime rpg. This is the "ending movie" of a non-existent series where the PCs engage in a final battle of an alien race trying to genetically merge with humanity. A little bit Evangelion, a lot Genesis Climber Mospeada.

Just running a bunch of non-roleplaying games right now- Munchkin Shakespeare, Chrononauts, DUNGEON! (the old 80's printing, not the lame ass modern printing)

Update: I just got my mitts on a copy of the Lone Wolf Adventure Game from Cubicle 7. I might run a session of that on Sunday. Bitches better eat a meal or lose 3 ENDURANCE POINTS. Might run one of the pre-fab scenarios, might write one of my own... all my other rpgs this year are scenarios of my own design.

Ye gods, I can't wait for KantCon. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Two Steps Forward, 5 Steps Back

I got dragged back into 5E.

I want to play D&D and be able to include my girlfriend. She's a Pathfinder player. I tried to run B/X D&D for her back in December, and she rejected it outright.

After a lot of discussion, we determined that 5E might be the only halfway point between my D&D and her Pathfinder.

(If you're of a mind to recommend that I try Pathfinder, I did. I've played it. I've GMed it. I'd rather eat broken glass than do either ever again.)

A colleague of mine is currently running a "Waterdeep Adventures" campaign, based around the current Dragon Heist campaign from Wizardzzzz. We joined up, partly to spend some time together during my busy season, and partly because I feel guilty at having ducked every single game invitation that my colleague has extended to me for the last three years.

Did I mention that I think Forgotten Realms is a.) incredibly boring* and b.) super overrated?

*Well, Zakhara and Kara-Tur are pretty cool, but I prefer their standalone iterations.

Anyway, I will admit that the D&D Beyond digital tools are pretty neat, though it means that I have to use a device to access my character sheet for awhile. Early 5E levels blow by so fast I was having to reprint my character sheet every week.

The DM has endeavored to make it a bit of an urban sandbox mixed with a "town parked on top of a dungeon" type setup, though I'm not sure how much of this is his own doing and how much of it is the module/campaign book.

I still stand by my assertion that 5E is D&D with kid gloves on. I think my best summation is Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction when he says "We should be fuckin' dead, my friend."

In the meantime, I am considering a game of Ghosts of Saltmarsh featuring the various people in my household. (I've got a pretty sitcom-esque living situation right now.) If nothing else, it'll be a nice change of pace from my weekly PbtA game.

Le sigh.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

White Box Class Overlays

The only thing remotely old school I've been into lately is Charlie Mason's White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. Since most of the people I game with are scrubs who play Pathfinder or 5E or my goddamn hippy PbtA stuff, it's all wishful thinking tinker work.

My present project is something I dub "class overlays." WBFMAG (what a torturous abbreviation) sticks to the four basic character classes. Since most of the people I know like a little more variety than that, I started working on little templates that keep the essentials of the class while giving it just a little bit of flavor.

So I start off with the Assassin. Hmm. -1 to Thievery, +4 Backstab, 3 damage dice. I write up a simple ability to brew poisons at 5th level, keeping it vague and very much up to the GM in the spirit that WB is written in. (The game very much trusts the GM to do their goddamn job.)

Alright, done. On to the Druid. Neutral alignment...changes to weapons and armor, turning ability is animals instead of undead, slight alterations to spell list... a little less of an overlay. Hmm.

And then I stopped. Not because I'd made the Druid too complicated, but because... boredom. Why bother rolling out the nth iterations of the same tired-ass roster of character classes? Someone, somewhere wrote up a Northern Godi and a Jester for Swords & Wizardry White Box. Why shouldn't I do the same and take a departure from the usual suspects?

The goal:
-Keep 'em simple. A dash of flavor to the existing standard four classes, but still very much a member of that original class.

Something along these lines:


Practitioners of hedge magic, Witches are a subclass of Magic-User that consists mostly of women. Witchcraft tends to be more subtle than the fiery evocations of the standard Magic-User, and Witches also know their way around herbs and fantastical brews.

Weapon and Armor Restrictions: Witches can only use daggers in combat, and the only missile weapon they can use is oil. They are not allowed to wear any armor, nor use a shield.

Spellcasting: Witches generally function as standard Magic-Users, with a few modifications. They can learn and cast Cure Light Wounds (and its reverse) as though it were a 1st level Magic-User spell. When a Witch casts a charm or illusion spell, any target has a -1 penalty to their Saving Throw. In addition, calculate the duration of such spells as though the Witch were two experience levels higher. Witches cannot cast Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or other spells which cause direct damage.

Potions: Starting at 5th level, Witches can brew potions. The exact requirements, time and cost are left to the GM, but one recommendation is that they need a week's time, access to a cauldron, and rare ingredients that can cost between 500-1,000 gp. The GM is also free to impose a shelf life on the potency of the potions. The Witch may create any potion from the list in WBFMAG. If the GM wishes to limit this, perhaps the Witch gains a single recipe at 5th level, and learns an additional recipe with each experience level, or perhaps they must learn (or steal) the recipes from other Witches.


Now, I know that witches are hardly new to D&D and have had lots of incarnations, but this was just a starting point. I'd like to see some other fantasy, pulp, and even fairy tale archetypes get some love instead of ranger-paladin-monk-druid-bard-rinse-repeat.

I'm working on these in my drive right now, but I could well post them here as I get them done.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Fuck the Community

So there was the Zak thing. I long ago wrote him off as an insufferable asshole with his head up his own ass, but I guess the scope of that goes far beyond my limited interactions with him.

For the record, I believe his survivors.

I took a few days off from most blogs, except perhaps my favorite one. Head in the sand, boys. Tarps on. I'm only a consumer and a lurker in this community, and beyond voicing my support, I don't have much else I can contribute. My Twitter feed has become an anxiety-inducing wreck of other people's pain and rage and sorrow. I have the luxury of indulging my cowardice and tuning it out. I bought a PDF that one of the ladies published as a milquetoast act of contrition.

So this morning, I pop onto said Favorite of Blogs, and a discussion about character class devolves into a comment pile on where people are calling each other abuse and accusing JB of being passive-aggressive, and I just...

Fuck off. Fuck you all.

I've long lived with the notion that "everyone is cooler from a distance," a pithy little aphorism that I coined when I was a smug, drug-addled undergrad.

Social media has shown mean that people in general are more unlikable than I could ever have imagined in my most cynical younger days.

I'm out for now. It's no loss to anyone, and no loss to me.

I'm sure I'll be back when my stomach settles, so to speak.

Comments off because at present time I no longer care what anyone on the internet thinks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Monster of the Week Season 2 Finished

Tonight we ended up wrapping up the second season of Monster of the Week. This season ended up being eight sessions, the same length as the first season. Hard to believe I've been running this game since August, with a break for Monsterhearts 2 season one and a three week break where those silly holidays fucked everything up.

I had thought to perhaps take a one week break before starting up MH2, but the players seem pretty determined to dive right into it.

We ended on a cliffhanger, but the PCs did manage to redeem (or partly redeem) the party member who went pretty evil. An NPC has been set up as possibly the next PC to join the hunt. It was a good session.

I might be starting another campaign totally unrelated to this PbtA business, but that'll be another post entirely.

Friday, January 25, 2019

PvP in Monster of the Week


So we're definitely barreling toward a season closer for MotW. The Spooky has gone full on-traitor, actually attacking the Divine (and getting her ass handed to her...) There's a definite schism in the party as to how to resolve the present season's dilemma: blow up the big evil stone that is probably a portal into the Shadow World, or patch it up with magic. (The Spooky and her sinister patron want to do the first, the rest of the party wants to do the latter.)

PvP is an interesting thing, if it's done right. About 90% of the PvP I've personally experienced in my gaming career has been pedantic bullshit. I don't like paladins, you made a paladin, I attack you. I want to murder the NPC, you don't, I attack the NPC, you end up fighting me. It's been mostly flash-in-the-pan and entirely motivated by player personality and player relations.

This has been quite different. The antagonist player is the best friend, friend, and significant other of the other players in the group. She played her antagonism over a long con. She picked a decisive moment to strike, it just didn't work out. She has complicated relationships with the other characters- she bears no ill will toward them and is even friends with one, but she has a dark power pulling her strings.

The attacked character likewise handled it awesomely. The player has admitted she's uncomfortable with PvP, but she chose to have her character capture, rather than outright kill, the traitorous Spooky... and she could have easily killed her in their fight.

What I think is the most interesting is that the party has decided to let her live, and there is even a plan to help her break away from the dark powers in the works. They've even lost a potential NPC ally over their decision to spare the Spooky.

I realize that I haven't provided a lot of contextual details, but the nature of the PvP has been on my mind the last two days. It's literally the only time I have ever, as a GM, enjoyed PvP in a game I was running. It's the only time PvP hasn't resulted in resentment or the losing party being killed and making either a carbon copy of the slain character, or a "revenge" character.

I'm really lucky to have this group, even if they don't like the same D&D editions that I do.

(I'm also madly in love with one of the players, but that's off topic)

Monday, January 21, 2019

I Miss Dice

I was at a local game store with my girlfriend yesterday, and she was browsing for a set of new dice.

My dice cup runneth over. In addition to the sets I've accumulated over the last 27 years of gaming, I bought one of the Chessex "Pound o' Dice" a couple of years ago.

Sadly, I don't get to roll dice. The two games I'm running these days are Monster of the Week and Monsterhearts 2, both of which are games of the 'Powered by the Apocalypse' system. The MC does not roll dice in that game.

The games are great, don't get me wrong. I'm enjoying the hell out of them... I just miss the tactile joy of rolling dice, but only the players get to roll in PbtA. All rolls are also made with 2d6 (unless you're playing Dungeon World), so the polyhedrals sit neglected while their more standard brethren get all the action. It's a shame.

This post brought to you by a mind-numbing staff meeting.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Scent of 2nd Edition

You ever have a memory of a particular smell?

This morning I think I had one of those.

I seem to recall that brand-new AD&D 2nd edition books had a certain smell to them, not entirely like the generic "new book smell"  one usually experiences.

Granted, the last time I held a new AD&D 2nd edition book was probably some time in 1995-96, and memory is a pretty nebulous thing...

Anyone else remember the scent of 2nd edition?

I suppose it's also possible that I'm about to have a stroke. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Monday, January 14, 2019

In Need of a Good Read


I need some new blogs, preferably of the OSR variety (but any rpg blog will do) to put on my sidebar. A lot of blogs I follow have died off, or simply aren't of interest to me anymore. I'm interested in some good PbtA stuff, but I seriously doubt I'm going to get any recommendations from this corner of Blogaria.

Hit me with your hot recommendations. (I mean like three people read this blog, so I'm expecting three recommendations)


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Back in the Saddle - First Game of 2019

We returned to my Monster of the Week game today, resuming season 2. The PCs found themselves tracking a sinister black hound from Welsh myth from systematically murdering families of Welsh decent in Harrison. We ended on a cliff hanger, with half the PCs working on a ritual to banish the thing and half of the PCs wandering around in the dark woods trying not to get eaten. Good times, and my GM confidence has been restored after the crappy game I ran over break. 

We'll be playing again on Wednesday, and it looks like my docket will be filled with PbtA games for the foreseeable future. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Curious Follow-Up to a Bitter DMing Failure

So maybe you read my last blog post about trying to get some of my group to do old B/X D&D and they hated it.

You know what they loved? Like, absolutely loved?


Yes, Dungeon!*, the old** TSR board game where you literally win by collecting treasures. You play a character that has really no special abilities. (Unless you play the wizard with his three spells, two of which are incredibly similar.)

It was almost everything they hated about B/X D&D: lack of mechanical options, treasure as the way to win, combat where you usually just attack over and over. Hell, there's no way to circumvent traps in this game. 

They fucking loved Dungeon! and want to play it again.

Being a board game, I suppose the expectations were different. It just strikes me as amusing how

In the words of Casey Kasem: ponderous, man. Fuckin' ponderous.

*It hurts me to put the exclamation point in the middle of a sentence like that, but sometimes good people do bad things.

**I am aware there is a shiny new version of Dungeon! that has been available for several years. I also don't give a single fuck about it. I like my Superhero.