Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Gaming

We had some new blood at the Sunday game tonight, and it was also the best session we've had in a couple of weeks. (In my opinion, anyway) I think the new guy is going to work out just fine. We played Mindy's SWN game again. I'm still a little iffy about being the only warrior class in the group, especially since I designed this character to be a "dart in and sneak attack" sort of guy and not a "wade in" sort of guy. Still, a surfeit of experts means we pretty much have skills covered.

...a den of space-nazi halflings...semi-cannibalistic ones, at that. Sometimes our SWN campaign almost seems to have a dash of Encounter Critical in it. (Though I am fairly certain that Mindy is not familiar with EC)

Josh will be returning to our group next week, which means there exists the possibility that we will be able to finish his long running Deadlands game. (Part III, anyway... not sure if he ever intended to do a Part IV)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Next Savage Worlds Outing

Scotland Yard does not make a habit of investigating ghost stories. When something like that comes up, they call on the Royals. (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, but that's quite a mouthful, isn't it?) After all, those crackpots have plenty of time on their hands.

The Bleaks are what they call the section of London with all the burned out, falling down factories from the First Wave of Progress. Most of those companies were either consumed in the fires (literal and figurative) of the industrial boom, or else they moved on to larger, more advanced, more efficient facilities. "Steam, not smog," was the creedo of the Second Wave. Now the Bleaks are home only to those companies too poor, unscrupulous, or legally questionable to move to "Prog" (the Progress District)

The Bleaks are home to all manner of bizarre stories and urban legends. Most recently, workers and urchins have reported seeing a ghostly figure lurking at night. Dressed in a shabby coat and top hat, his head and hands are reported to be completely skeletal. The "Bone Man of the Bleaks," as he is called, has been blamed for a number of recent fires and other accidents in the Bleaks.

The Yard has dismissed these stories as rubbish born of the uneducated and overworked souls who eke out grim living in the few open factories within the Bleaks. The Royals, however, are most interested in the investigation. After all, they were right about the Spring-Heeled Jack, weren't they?

The Royals have dispatched Dr. Lucy Meridian, noted chemist, and Ms. Elliot Kelly, noted leg-breaker, to illuminate the mystery of this supposed skeletal man.

Note To Self

This year I would like to buy a copy of the new version of Carcosa, and a hard copy of Sine Nomine's Red Tide campaign setting.

Both of these books have things I want to plunder, though it is doubtful I would use either of them in their entirety.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scatterbrain Sunday

I've been away from the blogging world more than usual lately, mainly because I'm trying to spend less time on the computer.

I have also, inexplicably, been reading the Player's Handbook for Alternity again. There is some kind of elusive voodoo element in that game that still appeals to me, even though it would likely be an enormous headache to run. I'm also not sure why anyone would ever run it when they also own Stars Without Number.
Hobby...mental illness...etc.

I am really digging the War in the North stuff coming out of the Superhero Necromancer blog. (Link located in my sidebar) I would totally play in a campaign like that. Good job, sirrah!

I haven't had a chance to crack open Call of Cthulhu...I will have to remedy that soonish.

Get some good gaming in this week, folks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Yeah, I gotta mention 5e

Wotsee has made some bold and ambitious statements regarding the next edition.

If they can really pull it off, they could potentially solve the fragmentation of the D&D game. It would certainly be something to see.

I'd be lying if I said I was sorry to see 4th edition go. I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't damn curious what Monte Cook has planned, even if I'm not inclined to convert again. (To date, the only version of the game I haven't given a look-see is 4E Essentials.)

A single version of the game that appeals to everyone seems very unlikely to me. Not impossible, mind you...just unlikely.

We have along wait ahead of us, however. For the time being, I'll be playing in Mike's 2e game and sketching an outline of a B/X game that I may or may not ever run. I might also end up running Pathfinder again.

What I'm really most hoping for is the return of classic products (in PDF, likely.. POD is really hoping beyond hope.) If the new 5E can really do it all, why not make all those awesome things available for this Brave New World of D&D to enjoy?

...well, except for the VHS tape that came with the Dragonstrike board game... I suppose some things can remain in the TSR vaults.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yeah, yeah, f'tagn and all that.

I was at the used bookstore today and stumbled across a copy of Call of Cthulhu, "5.5" edition. It was seven bucks (before discount), so I picked it up.

Considering how much I used to love Lovecraft (wow, that was awkwardly phrased) and considering Cthulhu's ubiquitous presence in both gaming and geek culture in general, CoC represents kind of an odd hole in my gaming collection and experience. In fact, I have only ever played CoC once. (I also ran a d20 CoC one shot once, but I sort of don't count that) Well... scratch that off the list, I guess.
I was once told that Cthulhu's stat block states that he automatically kills 1d6 characters per round. I always assumed that was a joke... turns out it isn't. (It's actually 1d3 characters per round, but really...who's counting?)

I also picked up the Castles Fornlorn boxed set for old Ravenloft. It seems like something that the ladies (wife and friend) would enjoy playing, even if it is D&D with no feats or skills...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Turnaround

Right, so, I was working on this post chronicling my frustrations with gaming lately...

With one group member promoted at work and another a new daddy, our dwindling numbers dwindled even further. Mike made a flyer to advertise our group. Out of like five local gaming stores he took it to, one of them said "they'd think about it" (I was there Saturday night- no flyer in sight) and three flat-out refused.

Meanwhile, my Tuesday game has not been running. The missus and her friend are regularly going to the gym now, and I've become quite busy as well: the after school program I teach, my martial arts training, the fact that I am now accompanying them to the gym a few nights a week, and the hour or two I spend reviewing lessons and tweaking assignments for my main teaching gig every night.

There were a few other things to grumble about, and then, out of the blue, my problems solved themselves.

-The missus suggested that I run the Tuesday game as a serial- I create a complete case/episode/adventure that we can resolve in a night or two of gaming. It turns out that what I have prepared fits that bill quite nicely. We'll do an episode, and then we'll put it on the shelf until I get time to pen another outing for our lovely steampunk adventurers. I've been so used to the weekly or every-other-weekly model of gaming that I was unable to think outside the box.

-I happened to text a former member of the Sunday group (and an alumnus from my AD&D1e game) and he asked me if the Sunday game was still on. He has Sundays free and today he rejoined the game.

-Mike started his viking/Hellfrost AD&D 2nd ed game back up and it was every bit as delightful as it was when we left off.

-Noble Knight is carrying the new edition of Carcosa and it isn't quite as expensive as I anticipated. (Last time I checked I couldn't find it on the site) I think I might use a bit of tax monah to procure a copy., I've deleted the previous gloomy entry, as I am all smiles about gaming right now.


Oh, and I have tomorrow off as well. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fighter Training, V. 2.5

Recently, I was working on fighter training rules, inspired by Akrasia's attempt at the same and also AustroDavicus' rules on alternate magic-users. I received some feedback, and the main gripe with the system is that you can mix and match too many different trainings. I had considered putting some kind of artificial limit on what trainings are available to a character, but I've had a change of heart and decided to go a more intangible route- putting responsibility in the individual DM's hands.

Okay, so check this: a fighter begins with one training at 1st level. This is his training. This is what kind of fighting man he is. At 4th level, he will automatically take the Advanced version of his training, unless he has found a way to train with a different type of fighting man. What exactly constitutes training is left up to the DM. If your rules involve training costs, there's a guideline to go by. The DM might simply say that the fighter must spend a certain amount of game time with fighting men of that training; perhaps he needs to spend some time sequestered away with the reclusive Gray Mountain Brotherhood to gain access to the Warrior Monk training. Maybe a cavalier/knight spends some time with a reclusive old sword master and can now choose the Weapon Mastery training. The fighter doesn't actually get the benefits of the training until he reaches the next experience level at which he qualifies to take new training.

As for the demihuman race-classes, I've made these decisions:
1. The DM is well within his rights to say, Soup Nazi style, "NoTrainingForYOU" because you are already a special snowflake, and because maybe the DM wants a humanocentric campaign. (That seems to be a popular mode here in this corner of Blogaria)

2. Demihumans can choose from a limited list. My suggestion for stock-standard Tolkien demihumans would be:
Elves- Weapon Master (sword or bow only), Marksman, and perhaps Slayer (drow or orcs)
Dwarves- Berserker, Soldier, Weapon Master (Axe or hammer only), Slayer (orc, goblin, or giant, Veteran
Halflings- Weapon Master (sling or dagger only), Marksman, Veteran (the legendary halfling resilience)

Demihumans are eligible for trainings at the same levels that fighters are. DM's option as to whether or not they can receive training for things not on their list.

3. Tell me to get stuffed and allow any demihuman to take any training. Jeez.

Problem solved. Well, at least for me...

Disclaimer: These rules are generally intended for B/X. They don't play well with Cyclopedia's Weapon Mastery Rules, AD&D's weapon specializations, etc.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It Begins Again

Okay, so I finally roll into 2012 with a post... a bit late to the party. The first week after winter break is always insanely busy.

I'm starting Beowulf tomorrow, (as I usually do at the beginning of a new semester) which always makes me pine to play AD&D. Actually, this time around, it just makes me want to play something fantasy... not necessarily AD&D. I think I'd like to try RuneQuest/OpenQuest/Legend or Tunnels & Trolls or Warhammer set in or near Norsca or even, gods help me, The Riddle of Steel. I don't know... I need something with trolls.
Mike is going to be restarting his pseudo-Hellfrost AD&D game in a couple of weeks.

I've been playing a steady stream of Stars Without Number with the Sunday group. I love the game dearly. The session tonight did not go so well for us, though I still made 3rd level.

The Sunday group has been vastly depleted in numbers. Real life stuff with Josh and Nathan (good real life stuff, mind you) has necessitated their leaving the group, as Sundays don't work for them, and non-Sundays don't work for the rest of the group. We are dipping our toe in the water of recruitment, but... that can be a dark and maddening road.

I suppose I should dash off a little bit of Obligatory New Year Reflection...

2011 was not a fabulous year for me, GM-wise. I ran a Mongoose Traveller game that didn't go so well and soured me on the game for a long time afterward. I ran a Stars Without Number game that was going well, started a Pathfinder game, but PF went disastrously and burned me out on GMing hard core. I ran an SWN one shot at Local Con that went pretty well and started up a sporadically played all-ladies game with the missus and two of her friends that turned out to be loads of fun. I ran Death Frost Doom for the Sunday group somewhere in there... everybody died and I think they all hated it except for Josh, who wins the award for Second Coolest Death While Playing Death Frost Doom.

Overall, I learned that my old group from this town simply does not work anymore. The Sunday group has lost members and now totters along with a GM and three players, where at our zenith, we had eight.

This year...WILL BE DIFFERENT. I have another installment of the ladies' steampunk game ready to go, and I've started a few sketches for some campaigns that I will run in some theoretical alternate future when I have an abundance of free time. (Well, I will have an abundance of free time come summer...the problem is that virtually nobody else will...)

I'm looking forward to seeing what all you chuckleheads come up with in 2012.