Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year end crystal ball gazing

The end of a year brings with it reflections over the past and thoughts about the future. The Escapist has an interesting series of articles on the past, present, and future of D&D.

I think that musing about D&D is only natural given the social nature of RPGs. Both in playing and creating things. 
How hard is it to organize or play in a RPG campaign?

Because if that is hard then everything RPG related is in trouble..

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The iPad

Thanks to Kelly Anne, and my family I got a iPad for Christmas. It was literally my only present but what a present it is. The two things I want to use the iPad is for entertainment (Netflix, etc) and to use to organize my notes at the table.

First off I recommend reading this excellent thread on digital readers over on the SJ Games Forums. PDF releases are a big part of the GURPS Product lines now and with the advent of e-book readers and tablets people are interested in how to effectively use them. Then there is this page on Enworld with a good list of useful RPG utilities for these devices.

I am excited about using the iPad as my experience with computers suggests that touchscreens combined with the right software are the way to go.

I bought Goodreader to handle PDFs on the iPad. It has a tabbed interface for multiple PDFs and a handy customizable bookmark list. It also nice that I can organize everything into folders.  So on the second day of owning the iPad, I downloaded my copies of GURP Core campaign book (has all the rules) and my copy of Swords and Wizardry and spent some time bookmarking them.

GURPS Core Rules Campaigns

Swords and Wizardry

The bookmarks are chosen on the basis on my experience on what I looked up the most during a session. I will working on the Swords and Wizardry Monster Book and a couple more of my GURPS pdfs. One nice thing about the Core Book on other GURPS PDFs is that they have a nice table of contents already built in.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Computers, Rolplaying, iPads and all that

I program for a living, creating interfaces for metal cutting machines, and at home I am a computer hobbyist in addition to my tabletop roleplaying. In the 25 odd years since my family got a Radio Shack Model I, my main interest with computer has been how to make a better machine for tabletop roleplaying. 

From my first word proccessor, CorelDRAW for mapping, to writing utilities to cranks Traveller Sectors I fiddle with my machines to make running my campaign easier. I never liked using a computer at the table as it was too clunky and in the way. Instead I tried to figure out how to produce really good play aids for myself and my player keeping to paper on the table. Heck when somebody tried to use a iPad for dice rolling, I told him to put it away and gave him one of my spare sets to use in it's place.

I am not against the use of computers at the table. It great to have DM Genie and Nbos' the Keep running while I am using Fantasy Grounds., but it has to be the right setup before I starting using at a normal tabletop session.

For two years I finally found it and it was the iPad and similar tablets. The reason is not in using a utility but rather as a means of organizing the books and reams of notes I use during the game. Lying flat with a touch interface with well bookmarked PDFs would be exactly what I need. While I appreciate the open Android platform, I learned with my experience with the Kindle is that it is really worth the extra money to get the best when things are so unsettled. For now, the best in tablets means the iPad.

And I got one for Christmas. It was my one and only Christmas present this year given to me by my entire family.  My wife Kelly Anne organized the effort and I can't thank her enough. Tomorrow I will post some details on how I am going to set it up and what I am going to use the other computers I have for.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in your campaign?

To myself and billions of Christians around the world today marks the day of the birth of the savoir.  Cynics will say that Christmas is only celebrated as the birth of Christ because of the need to compete with the pagans of Rome. But I can't help note that in nearly all cultures of the world the time around the Winter Solstice is a special time of renewal and hope. In my view if one didn't know the exact day on which Jesus was born there is no better time to celebrate his birth.

Which leads me to my question How is the winter solstice depicted in your setting?

In the religions of the Majestic Wilderlands, winter symbolizes the enslavement of the mortal races to the demons during the Uttermost War.  Imbolc is celebrated at the winter solstice and is remembered as the turn of the tide in the war against the Demons. When the forces of light finally moved from fighting for survival to fighting for victory.

To all, my family and I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dwarven Names

The recent release of the Hobbit Trailer reminded me that I looked at Tolkien's original source for the names of his Dwarves. I took the old Norse Poem and extracted all the names from it, modified them to fit english better, and made a list. With this it easy enough to make a random table for Inspiration Pad or Tablesmith.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Arena

I am doing some mapping for Tim on Starter Adventures and a miscommunication occurred. He told he wanted a simple arena like the one in Spartacus Blood and Sand. So Dwayne of Gamer's Closet and I looked at some trailers and figured out what roughly it looked like on all four sides. Then I tweaked the layout to make it unique.

It turned out that what Tim wanted was more of a fighting pit than an arena. So rather then let the map go to waste I am posting it for use in your campaigns. Click on the image to get the full resolution version.

  1. The Arena Floor, it is has a sand and sawdust floor.
  2. Room is where the Gladiators stay before their fights.
  3. The animal pens with a set of bar gates to safely get the animal from the cages into the arena.
  4. These pens can hold larger animals or more typically those sentenced to die in the arena.
  5. Store
  6. Store
  7. Commoner Entrance
  8. Small Store
  9. Small Store
  10. Small Store
  11. Noble Entrance
  12. Noble Seating, The small room to the south is where slaves can prepare drinks and meals for their masters.
  13. Common seating. They are in three tiers stacked three feet above each other.
  14. Food vendors, commoners can buy food and drink during the fights.
Hope this is useful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome to the Tavern

Along with the Hommlet write up I did some battlemaps for GURPS.  The one that survived was the floorplan of the Inn of the Welcome Wench. It prints out on 17" by 11". There is not much in the way details as I used miniature tables and other props.


Monday, December 12, 2011

From the Attic: GURPS Hommlet

In the mid 90s I ran a fantasy campaign using GURPS that combined the Village of Hommlet with the A series Slavelord Modules. It marked the first major use of my computer to prepare for a campaign. I rewrote the entire Hommlet module and even did a layout (without art) of it. Obviously I can't post the entire thing due to copyright but I do have bits and pieces I can share.

First off is the roster of NPCs I used. I changed some of the names to fit my City-State campaign. And to make it more confusing at some point after the actual campaign I must have tried to adapt it back into a GURPS Greyhawk campaign because all the languages and area knowledges were set to Greyhawk.

The characters are GURPS 3rd Edition done with Suerer's excellent Makechar.

GURPS Hommlet NPCs.

I am making a expurgated copy of the text I wrote. When I finish I will share it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mongoose Legend for $1

A while ago Mongoose announced that they were not renewing their Runequest II license. However they decided to continued the system under the Legends name. They did a nice things by declaring the text of the core legends books to be under the Open Game license. And now I learned they are having a $1 sale of theCore Rule PDF on RPGNow.

For those who don't know what the system like. It is part of the Runequest family of games where characters are defined by skill and using a d100 for resolution. 

I got the PDF and will be posting my impressions later. One nice thing they right off the bat is format it for digest size which makes printing little booklets of the various chapters easy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

License update on Blackmarsh

I am a fan of GURPS and while talking about GURPS Dungeon Fantasy a couple of folks mentioned they would feel more comfortable using Blackmarsh for a fan publication if it was dual licensed under a Creative Commons License.

So I did just that, the Blackmarsh Setting Reference Document  is now dual licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. You can download the SRD, or use RPGNow.

When you create a fan publication you can choose either license to use. The Creative Common license should make it either to release a Blackmarsh related fan publication for a RPG that doesn't have an open license. Please check the Game Publisher's policy on fan publications first.