Saturday, March 31, 2012

MW Character Sheets Updated

Through the various campaigns I ran I found the original sheets I created for the Majestic Wilderlands needed some improvements. I separated the to hit box into Melee To Hit and Missile to Hit. I added a box where you can add your movement rate. I added a box where you can add your initiative bonus*. I changed Alignment to Race, and slightly expanded the Special Abilities box.

The sheet is designed to fold over into a booklet. 

You can download version 2 from here.

*I added a new rule a year ago that fighters get their to hit bonus (from class) as a bonus to initiative.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Magic Item Creation

I been working on a project I call the Lost Book of Magic. In the three years since I released Majestic Wilderlands I ran several campaigns using Swords & Wizardry. Along the way I further developed the rules and background I use to run magic in my setting. The Lost Book of Magic collects all that together much in the same way the Majestic Wilderlands collected my rulings and notes for the campaign as a whole.

One central chapter is the creation of magic items. The system is fairly system. Each item has a cost to create and takes X time. It is fairly expensive and takes enough that players think twice before making it themselves. It also serves as the foundation for the pricing of magic items. Being able to buy magic items has always been part of my campaigns.

I recently completed a rough draft of the chapter and formatted it. You can download it from here. I appreciate any comments. It is a synthesis of what I read in the AD&D DM's Guide, the Rules Cyclopedia, and the prices I developed from GURPS Magic. It currently limited to the list of magic items (and effects) found in the Swords & Wizardry Core Rules.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Magic Wands for Sale, Magic Powers Included.

This past weekend Kelly Anne, myself and our kids went to Washington DC for a minivacation with my sister. We visited the Capitol, recommend the congressional staff led tour, the Cherry Trees, and the Museum of Natural History (very big place). A good time was had by all. The most memorable moment came when we were in a grove of Cherry Trees. The weather was great and just about everybody in Washington was wandering the Mall area or lounging around the grass. We stopped and just laid back enjoying the sunshine and the scents. Soon my youngest, Gregory, started collecting sticks. Not just any sticks but sticks that were natural smooth and "interesting" as he puts it. Then he went to Kelly Anne and asked to her make a sign labeled Wand Shop. And he laid out all his sticks in the grass and propped up the sign. After a few minutes he didn't haven anybody interested or walking by. I told him location is everything and you need to find the right spot with people traffic. So he went over a few yards to a foot path and laid out his wares.

Within a few minutes he was talking to people and giving away his wands. And unbelievably he actually managed to sell two of them for a buck each. Not bad for a eight year old. Later he tried to drum up more business by having Kelly Anne add "Magic Powers included." It was pretty cool to watch and a fun time was had by all for him and his customers. Here is Gregory holding up his two dollars in triumph!

Monday, March 19, 2012

AD&D's Dual Classing doesn't suck (much)

Recently in an AD&D campaign a player lost his character and the DM decided to allow him to make a new character with the same amount of XP. After looking at the PHB he decides to go for Bard (which involves Dual Classing). We were 7th level characters when this happened.

To our surprise he was able to make a 3rd level Bard dual classed as a 5th level Fighter and a 5th Level Thief.

What happened is that the rough doubling of required XP to advance really worked in his favor. It required only a modest amount of XP to advance to 5th level in both Fighter and Thief and then to 3rd level to Bard.

The implication of this is that in AD&D 1st; Dual Classing isn't as onerous as it first appears. Because when you do it, it is likely that you will continue adventuring with the rest of the party. The XP award will not be what you getting when you were at low levels but whatever the party has been tackling i.e. deeper dungeon levels.  Advancement through the lower levels will be a lot more rapid than what occurred for the original levels.

When it all said and done it is likely the dual classed character will only be a level or two behind the rest of the party. By that point it is likely he would have exceeded his former levels and regained his old abilities. So as crazy as the old Bard looked it doesn't look as bad as it did before.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

From the Attic: Janon News Report #1

Tim of Gothridge Manor co-DMed a couple of campaigns with me in the late nineties. One of the things he did well was supply "color" as the campaign progressed. One of them was in the form of news bulletins posted by a bard named Janon. This particular one was about Zik, a player character who was a elven wizard who loved his fireballs. Luckily it was GURPS Magic and Fireball only nailed a person at a time. But then it was GURPS that usually meant the person died or horribly injured.

Five City Guards Slaughtered!

Last night five city guards were savagely murdered. They were ripped and torn to pieces. At first, the guards believed it must have been a wild animal or crazed creation of one of the mages, but later on they discovered the identity of the killer to be an elf! This is a great embarassment to the authorities two days before the Jubilee of the Overlord is to begin. All the increases of security, the construction of walkways over the city, check points, and more guards was all for not. An elf single handedly destroyed whatever blanket of saftey the city guards thought they were providing. Although, I know little of elves and thier ways, I believe this should be a warning to the possible destructive nature of these outwardly docile creatures.

The elf is known as Zik. The city officials are also accusing Zik of murdering a father protecting his wife and child, crippling two draft horses, destroying a wagon, and the strangulation of a Gynorian belonging to the Brotherhood of the Lion. While the city officals are at it I would like to blame this Zik for making me loose 50d at the dice tables last night.

Zik apparently entered City-State a week ago and met with his long time friend Zepherus Hammerguard who lives on the northern end of Regal Street. The had some dealings together, although the details are sketchy at this point. Sources say Zepherus Hammerguard, Zik, and an unidentified person at this time ventured into the sewers and Zik did not return. The Frik brothers were on the scene and said they tried to warn and help them, but the mysterious adventurer hit Igny Frik with a powerful spell. The Frik brothers were so upset by the ordeal they went to drown their sorrows at the Red Axe Tavern.

Rumors of vampires are still floating around, but until I find more information I just let that dangle out there to tempt you till next time folks. Until then, stay away from elves and hug a guard.

as told by Jynon
Eventually Zik was brought to justice in front of the Elven Queen. Her sentence was simply.
As you treated others little better than an animal so shall you be treated as animal. You shall be transformed into a mule and for the next century offer a ride to all those who arrive at our gates. 
Again I have to credit Tim for coming up with this. The player's next character had a lot more respect for the powers that be of the campaign.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Impressions of Google+ gaming

The short answer is that using Google+ and the web for internet gaming sucks. But simultaneously it doesn't suck. How can that be so?

Understand that since 2007 or so I been using Fantasy Grounds plus Skype on a near weekly basis. So far I gamed using D&D 4e, Castles & Crusades, GURPS, and Swords & Wizardry. Fantasy Grounds is in my opinion the Cadillac of Virtual Tabletops. Google+, and the use of various web tools like Twiddla is far inferior to using Fantasy Grounds in every respect except one.


Google+ and most of the web tools just work. And they easily setup by the average gamer. Fantasy Grounds and similar software require both an outlay of money and the knowledge of how to open a port. There are server based tabletops (web and non-web based) but they currently cost $$$, and not as feature rich as fantasy grounds. While most of these are only small barriers they are a substantial barrier to just getting a game together and having a session.

In the hands of a group of gamers Google+, Twiddla and other webtools are "good enough" and the have the virtue of allowing anybody with a internet connection to quickly get on a game. There is a element of trust without a online dice rollar so some maturity is needed among the gamers in order to make this work.

The missing elements that I think is needed for Google+ and Twiddla is a dice roller for Google+ and layers with locking for Twiddla. Twiddla also need mouse rotation for object.

After using Google+ I am glad to have a viable alternative to Skype.

The Google+ client on iPad sucks for not having access to the chat while in a hangout. I have to do this complicated dance of being on my computer and the iPad (because I don't have a webcam) to use the hangout full capabilities.

If you and your group are finding that you play tabletop on a regular basis you owe it to check out Fantasy Grounds if there is support for your favorite RPG rules. There are a lot of improvement over the Google+ plus Twiddla combination. I plan on later this year to upgrade to the Ultimate version so folks can use the free demo version to connect to any games I run.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Into the Dwimmermount

This Friday I was able to join the Dwimmermount campaign run by . I was originally exposed to the dungeons several years ago in a short play by post game run over on the OD&D Discussion Forums. For this session I recycled Argyll the highland magic user I played in the play by post. Can't throw away that 18 Intelligence!

The game was organized on Google+. I almost missed it because I didn't figure out where the notification appeared until nearly the last minute. I will get back to the technical stuff in another post.

I gamed with Jason Azze, Ryan Browning and Michael Curtis; two fighters and an elf. We jelled pretty solidly as a group. Mostly because we were all a mellow bunch of gamers who had a healthy respect for the deadliness of low level OD&D. The experience of the Jason, Ryan, and Michael really helped to keep everybody hide intact and yet not bog down the exploration.

You can see some of that on my sheet with all the stuff I packed on Mirk Plook "Dark Spots", my mule. Over the game I found myself wondering at why I omitted things like rope and oil. I think that was an artifact of the setup for the play by post game. James' post over at Grognardia goes into the details.

I will add that I was playing Argyll as a bit reckless. Argyll has a 18 intelligence but a 6 wisdom. For example normally folks would avoid the Room of Masks as it was obviously trapped. But Argyll had to poke around so he got out his 10 foot pole and poke around eventually figuring out that knocking the masks off triggered the trap, which was a deadly poison gas.

The Dwimmermount was as evocative as I remembered it from the play by post game. A little better because we playing a normal sessions rather than the long dragged out process of play by post. I also just signed for the $40 hardcover level of the kickstarter project.  Earlier today I looked at the one preview level that has been released. I have to say Dwimmermount is shaping up to be a stellar book.

I think also due to the fact that James uses bog standard older D&D as the base that it should be readily adaptable to most campaigns. For example not everybody has a Turms Turmax or a Tyche but many campaign have gods with similar roles and could be adapted into their roles.

Due to time constraints I won't be able to make this a regular game but I do hope to pop in every once in a while as long as James keeps running it.

And thanks to Michael for suggesting that we try to be the first into the Depths of the Dwimmermount (hear those capitals slamming into place.).