Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I don't like them hard and fast

Rules I mean. I don't like hard and fast rules. Once made and set in stone they are don't always work for every situation. The GM is now restricted on what they can do. Take shields for example. In most versions of D&D they grant a bonus of one to your armour class. But what about shield size? Larger ones should be better and smaller ones not as good. And if you are surprised, say you don't get your shield up in time. Or you attacked from the rear. Also I don't think a large boulder the size of a sedan hurled by a Giant would give a shield a chance of protecting you. Can they block a magic based attack? What about what they are made of? Are metal ones better than wood? Do shields wear out and you have to replace them? Now the GM needs a whole bunch of rules to cover all that. In my game they add to your AC but they do more to protect you. How the players will ask? Well depends on the situation I say back. I will judge it as necessary. Hmm... funny remember when Game Masters were called Judges? Players want hard and fast rules do be defined so they don't get screwed by them. They want to know exactly how much each thing will affect their character.They want to be in control. But they shouldn't feel threatened by a GM ruling off the cuff. Its not the job of the GM to kill characters. I give the benefit of doubt to the players and assume they don't take risks with their characters unless specifically stated by the players. It still might make some players uncomfortable not knowing the exact odds of everything. But not everything in the world should be revealed to them. Knowing the players intentions is important for determining the outcome not just some hard and fast rule.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gaming, The international language

I don't know what language its written in but its got some great pictures.I check out Demons & Dragons every so often just for the cool pictures.I invite everyone to go check it out.
This one's my favourite,

Thursday, January 22, 2009


In the past few days several blogs have posted about Traveller.
Bat in the Attic, Ratty Ramblings, Tankards&Broadswords, Grognardia and How to Start a Revolution in 21 Days or Less all have posted articles. Some have posted more than one. Looks like we are all thinking about Traveller. Before the internet I thought I was the only one who liked the game. Nice to know I'm in good company.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inspired to start travelling with Traveller

James Maliszewski over at Grognardia has great post about Traveller. Long live the little black books, huzzah! I haven't thought about running Traveller for some time. I have a metric ton of material scooped from the internet. Nearly 500 megs of files from all editions of traveller except maybe the Hero version. The weight of all that information has blinded me to the simplicity of the 3 LBB's . Like all the old school classics, the original game became overlarge and bloated when the designers tried to answer the players need for more detail. Its not wrong to want more (I did to during that era). But the loss of the essence of the game was tragic in retrospect. James' view that the the original game is the best version inspired me to take a fresh approach to my favourite sci-fi RPG obsession. I looked over my hard copy books ;
-the reprinted books from Far Future Enterprises
-The Traveller Book , 1982 soft cover with the binding failing
-The Traveller Book , 1982 hard cover In good shape (for now)
-two of the LBB's , books 1 and 2
- the Traveller reprint, books 1-3 by QuickLink Interactive
The hard cover I want to keep in the best shape possible and the soft covers binding won't last. In keeping with the old school feel I wanted a minimalist rule book so the reprints are out. I am missing the third LBB and don't know when I will find it. That left the QLI reprint. Looking it over I noticed for the first time that there is no extra material in the book. No setting info just the rules. Damn, I could make my own setting just like the olden days! And since none of my perspective players is familiar with the setting, its all good. Creating my own universe allows me to explain why: the computers aren't as good as we have now, there is no nano-tech or biotechnology and why the guns are not more advanced. And account for any other missing tech item the players think of. So after years of acquiring lots and lots of books, files and programs I'm going to go with just the first 3 LBB's.

Friday, January 16, 2009


My latest RPG love is Swords&Wizardry-Whitebox version.
I adore the rules-light bare bones essence of the first issue white box edition of D&D.
Just the basic three booklet rules from the very first edition of the game. No supplements at all. Thats cool I thought, and moved on. But then I noticed something in the Magic-User spell lists.
NO MAGIC MISSILE. Huh, what? The one singular offensive low level spell gone. Sleep is a defensive spell to me. So if the original spell list didn't have it. Then maybe the designers of the game had a different role for Magic-Users? Not death-dealing fire-spitting artillery of the later versions. What then? Well using the same literary sources as the designers. I looked at the mage characters in the books that inspired the game. They were learned scholars with knowledge of great many things. They are the historians and scientists and teachers of their worlds. Peering into the depths of great mysteries and acquiring fantastic knowledge. So now to translate this idea into the flow of game reality.

Fighter: (pulls a sword from a pile of rubble) Hey whats this?

Cleric: (looks over the runes on the blade) Its something evil from the foul pits and should be destroyed.

Magic-User: No wait! (takes the sword from the fighter and looks at it carefully) By the Eldritch lords. This is the blade of Aradior, he used it at the first battle of Holistan. During the the demon siege 1000 years ago. Its blade is rumoured to sear the the flesh of the hell-spawn....

In my game magic-users learn a lot about the world, its history and other subjects while studying magic. Once out in the field they can help the party in many ways. Identifying magic affects and items. Providing knowledge in areas the party has no experience.
I like that better than just another magic-charged cannon pointed at the bad guys.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thulsa Doom was a Cleric

I was thinking recently about classic D&D character classes and their portrayal in the media. Most players I have known base their preconceptions of the classes in the game from movies and TV. With that in mind I thought to reverse the process. By taking a role from a movie or TV show and ascribing a class based on certain attributes.
That way you get a fresh perspective on that class.
In Conan the Barbarian (1982) the character Thulsa Doom is clearly a cleric.
Lets go to the check list.
  • Wears heavy armour? Check
  • Head of a religious order? Check (cult of set)
  • Mystical powers? Check (transforms into a giant snake)
  • Clear alignment choice? Check (chaos or evil as you prefer)
  • Fights using weapons? Check (yes he uses a bow but he's evil)
So now I can look at Clerics in my game with a clearer vision as to where they fit in the world. High level NPC clerics are the heads of the various religions or cults of the land. PC clerics can be members or former members of one of those. I picture these clerics at the head of battle defending their faiths.The combination of magic and martial prowess make them formidable oppenents. Strong leaders who take bold action.Backed up by an army devoted to them they lead the charge. Rather than skulk in the second line handing out CLW's like candy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It has Begun

I did it. By Crom I did it. I've started a blog. A gaming blog with role playing stuff and everything. Now you can listen to an old-school-rules-light grumbler blather on about RPG's and such. After 30 yrs of role playing I guess I might have something to say about it. I make no guaranties as to the length or frequency of posts. But I'm shining up my soapbox and strapping on my bullseye bib and ready to go. And there was much rejoicing...yea.