Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elementary, My Dear Evil

I picked up mo' gaming stuff last weekend. I found a small treasure trove of classic modules at the Local Game Store. I picked up Earthshaker!, Isle of Dread, Temple of Elemental Evil, and Escape from Thunder River, plus some 2nd edition module called Wild Things. (The pack was actually supposed to contain the DM Screen and Escape from Thunder River, but there was an extra mod in there, and it only cost three bucks, so I can't complain. Besides, I have the old Combat Shield.) My Temple of Elemental Evil is missing a few maps...anyone know where I can find them online?

I'm tempted to run Elemental Evil this summer. I was going to run Dinosaur Swamp, but I'm not sure my RIFTS Conversion will be done in time. (Though I am making slow but steady progress since I nailed down two of the problematic classes) I could also just run Dinosaur Swamp using Gamma World, Mutant Future, or even AD&D... just crib the setting, essentially.

My gaming group isn't meeting for three weeks. I guess I have plenty of time to think this over.

...I really need to get that Tuesday night game going...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grabbing Up Gaming Stuff

Stuff I bought this week:

1. The AD&D 1st Edition Monster Manual with the cool cover (red dragon vs. pegasi) as opposed to the dumb looking cartoony cover.

2. Exalted 2nd Edition- I was always curious about Exalted but never had a chance to check it out.

3. Werewolf: the Apocalypse 2nd Edition- My quest to grab all the old school White Wolf core books continues. Well...okay, not all of them... just Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage. (I already have Wraith and am considering adding Changeling to the quest)

4. Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade- Another one I always wanted but never got.

5. Star Trek Deep Space 9 the RPG- A gift for a friend, actually. She is a huge Trek fan, particularly of DS9, and also a gamer. Plus, it was on clearance, because I don't think anyone in the world except her would still have any interest in this.

The best part is that I snagged all of these books for under ten bucks each... in fact, Trek was like two bucks.

My frustration with not gaming as much as I want to appears to have converted into rabid collecterism. I know collecterism isn't a real word; I just don't care.

Friday, March 23, 2012

RIFTS to AD&D- Design Philosophy

Work continues, albeit slowly, on my fitting RIFTS to AD&D 1st/2nd edition. I'm still working through all the classes, but I'm stuck on how to convert the Shifter and the Techno-Wizard while keeping things simple.

I can't share my work, as Palladium would slap me with a C&D before I could say "Glittery Boy," but I can share my thoughts as to how I am going about things in general.

1. Smaller Scale- You don't need hugediculous numbers to represent something epic. I'm scaling the numbers and also trying to create consistency within numbers for damage, monster hp, etc. Mega Damage is still nasty, but might be survivable. (Only 10 hp per MD)

2. Trimming the fat- PPE and ISP are merged into a single stat, characters have more Gamma World-esque hit points, rather than HP and SDC.

3. Skill system is removed in favor of specific class abilities and a broad nonweapon proficiency system, as opposed to a laundry list of very specific skills that it takes you 45 minutes to pick and record bonuses.

4. AD&D style progression to saving throws and combat bonuses, rather than having a million little modifiers that increase at weird level intervals.

5. I'm aiming to preserve the basic concepts of the games and of the more iconic classes, but not trying to emulate every little feature of everything.

6. Fewer attacks per round, less MDC for armor. Faster combat is my goal.

7. To hit numbers based on range for projectile attacks, opponent's parry (or dodge) for melee.

8. Broad categories of weapons and armor, as opposed to pages and pages of samey guns and whatnot. A "heavy energy pistol" can have the same stats, and you can decide if it's a Northern Gun NG17-5 Face Vaporizer or a Triax TX17 "Das Ubergunn" or a Splynn Vaporizinator or what the hell ever.

When in doubt, I am defaulting to AD&D as the baseline.

Yes, there will be fewer races and fewer classes, but... most of the classes are really just tedious lists of skill bonuses.

I have some motivation tonight, so I might take another stab at the Shifter and Tech-Wizard before I turn in for the night. Wish me luck, amigos

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I was composing a lengthy and fairly negative blog post, but I think I got some catharsis from it and I have deleted it. I feel slightly better, but some frustrations remain.

People in my immediate circle don't have time for gaming anymore. They all have jobs and kids and school and other real life things. The thing is... I have real life things, too....I'm married (although we have chosen a childless existence), I own a house, I hit the gym and train a martial art, and my job (teaching) keeps me plenty busy. (I usually have to work a few extra hours most evenings) I haven't started my Master's yet, but when I was going to school for my teaching credentials, I was working full time as well...and I was gaming more back then with even more real life stuff on my plate.

A lot of things are getting in my way, and I have control over none of them. In addition to disparate schedules, my available pool of gamers contains people who won't play with other people due to vast differences in play style, people who will only play a narrow range of games, and people who just can't give me a couple of hours one day a week (or even every other week). They have spouses who overschedule them, they have jobs that will not give them a regular schedule, they have all manner of things.

I have bandied about the idea of playing via G+, but I have experimented with that medium and I just...I don't know, online tabletop gaming just doesn't do it for me. It isn't really anything I can put my finger on, but I just find the experience somehow...lacking.

My only solution is to run solo games for people who actually have free time, or to try and expand my available pool of gamers. (My gamer xenophobia will make that extra fun, now won't it?)

On a lighter note, Jim Raggi has posted a video blog on LotFP. I watched it, and it has totally destroyed the mystique of James Edward Raggi IV. (Whose last name I have been pronouncing wrong for like three and a half years.) I expected Jim to live in a dwelling reminiscent of the temple on the cover of the AD&D 1st edition PHB, complete with demonic idol and burning braziers. I also expected his voice to sound like a death metal lead singer, all growly and stuff.

Instead, I get a pretty average gamer sitting in a tidy apartment(?). There are throw pillows.

I was going to continue working on my RIFTS to AD&D conversion (I have only finished one class since my break started, and I'm having trouble with the next two on the list) but I think I'll just go to bed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ups and Downs

Let's see...

Mindy decided that she's not going to run RIFTS after all.

My wife has decided she is not interested in Pathfinder because she wants to spend more time on her writing. This also puts the final nail in the coffin of my Savage Worlds steampunk ghostbusters game.

Our Sunday group lost one of the new guys, and Josh will be leaving us again because of the fickle and cruel schedule of his job.

Just when I was thinking "fuck it, time to sell my books and get a MMORPG subscription", Allias decides to try his hand at running games, and he's starting with Deadlands.

We ran one of the Savage Worlds "One Sheet" adventures tonight with about half of the Sunday group. I thought Allias did pretty dang well for his first time out. He's a little rough around the edges, but he handled a curve-ball we threw at him like a pro, and I think he will do just fine. He's planning to run in Mindy's game slot, though I'm not sure if he's planning to do a campaign or a series of one shots. I'm in, regardless.

Last summer, I did a rough but useable conversion of Shadowrun to Stars Without Number. (The posts are up on this blog, but I never did get around to consolidating them.) I am now working on a conversion of RIFTS to AD&D 1st/2nd edition. It is... time consuming, to say the least. While I posted my SR-to-SWN conversion, I'm afraid I won't be able to post my RIFTS-to-AD&D conversion, because I'm pretty sure I'll get a C&S letter dropped on me in no time.
I'm converting the game because I really, really love the setting of RIFTS, but the rules are ass. I'm also trying to scale the power level of the game down to something a little less insane, while still keeping (most) of the iconic classes and concepts intact. So far, I find that the combat classes map nicely to AD&D counterparts: Merc Soldier to fighter, Headhunter to ranger, Cyber-Knight to paladin, Juicer to barbarian (3rd edition raging barbarian, but still) and Crazy to monk...although the Juicer seems capable of being sort of a barbarian/monk hybrid.
My plan is to have a workable draft of the game ready by summertime, so I can run that Dinosaur Swamp game I've been periodically threatening my Sunday group with.

I'm still struggling lately with just how difficult it is to get some people in a room together at an agreed upon time so that we can game. I'm also really disappointed that I can't seem to get a game together with the people who live under the same goddamn roof as me.

Oh, two other silver linings:
1. Lord Gwydion finally finished his retro-clone of TSR's semi-forgotten DragonFist game, and

2. Shane Hensley of Pinnacle has stated that Hell on Earth reloaded is in some stage of layout, and should (finally) be out this year. Of course, many game companies have uttered these famous words of dubious veracity, but I'm holding out hope in my black, withered heart.

The Sunday game this week is Mike's viking epic. Having broken the Jotun force around Shadowdell, we have the opportunity to take the fight to them and lay siege to the Jotun fortress. Should be very exciting and far from an easy task.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

An Unexpected Fellow Gamer

Today I discovered that yet another member of the math department at my building is a gamer. His preferred system is Cyberpunk 2020.

You know, I know almost enough gaming teachers to have an all-teacher game. I mentioned the idea to a (non-gaming, but familiar) colleague.

"Eesh, why do you think that would be fun?" quipped she.

And yet, I find the idea strangely appealing...

I was also messaged by a member of my fondly-remembered AD&D game from 2009-2010. She desires to roll the dice once more, now that her offspring no longer requires her constant care.

This is very fortuitous after having my fire rekindled by Saturday's pickup game.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Run the Citadel of Evil

Yesterday I went to a game day hosted by one of the local cons in the months preceding their big fall convention. I was excited to play All Flesh Must Be Eaten, but the dude who was supposed to run it didn't show. Irritating.
However, I had my bag with me, in within that bag I always keep the two B/X D&D books, some paper, and a module. Last night I had Stuart Robinson's "pocket module" in my bag and decided to do a pickup game. It was a blast, and I have some good "jumping off" ideas based on some flavor and world details I inserted on the fly.
We didn't quite finish, but most of the players are planning to attend another little gaming con next month, so we have tentative plans to finish it off then. (We ran out of time just as they were storming the cult's shrine to the sinister Slime Lord)

I found myself willing to let the players add little flavor details to the game. The simplicity of B/X begs to be tinkered with. Some of the younger players were asking to be things like "spellswords" and "blood mages." I said sure, why not. It really didn't have much of an effect on the game mechanically, but being able to say "yeah, I'm a blood mage" seemed to make the game more enjoyable for some of the players. I did give him a minor special ability at one point in the game because it seemed thematically appropriate to his background, and he never asked to use it again. The players had a lot of fun and so did I. I might build off of some of the flavor ideas I had for my next B/X campaign setting. The success of the session really left me wanting to get some B/X going in the foreseeable future.

I'm going to have to check and see if Mr. Robinson has some other pocket modules up. Citadel of Evil really came in handy for a fun pickup game.

I'm gearing up to leave for my Sunday game in about ten minutes. We had several people cancel at the last minute and there will be some random stranger there today that nobody really knows, which dampens my enthusiasm considerably. I've tried to contact the DM, but I'm not sure he got my message about how many empty seats we are going to have today. I might slip something into my bag just in case he doesn't want to run with a skeleton crew. (Mike's campaign is pretty challenging and it's tough to roll without a full crew, let alone a half-crew...) We'll see how it goes.