30 August 2013

Warhammer Quest

I have been enjoying the Warhammer Quest iOS game. I never played the board game. (I’ve never played the miniatures game either. I did play a fair amount of Fantasy Roleplay first edition.) It has an unusual “action economy”.

During a single turn (that would be a round in D&D), a character can take their full movement, make their full set of melee attacks, make their full set of missile attacks, use all their special abilities, use all items they have readied, and cast spells until they run out of spell points. About the only restriction is that once they make an attack, they can no longer move until the next turn.

Contrast that against Conclave where you get one-and-only-one minor action and one-and-only-one major action each round. Although characters will often have abilities that combine, e.g., movement and and attack into one action.

In practice, this seems to work fine in Warhammer Quest. To me, it begins to feel more like a one minute combat round than AD&D ever did.

29 August 2013

The swords of Ostgard

Another artifact from my Skylands campaign.

Some background on this: In the basement of the ruined Temple of Ostgard, the PCs found two cases that were both locked and Law Locked. (Law Lock is like Wizard Lock but it can be opened those who are lawful.) The party happens to have a lawful thief (he prefers the term “adventurer”) who managed to open them. Inside each a sword was found. A sage was able to provide this information about the swords:

The sorceress Rozenta—seeking to impress the demon-prince Hangdofalten—spend six years in the construction of the sword Malezort. She sought the red-gold star-metal of Bowal for its blade. She stole the ebon wood of the Ezar tree cultivated by the green elves of Glortingel to fire the forge. She cursed the family of the grandmaster swordsmith Quasrag to force him to form the blade. She uncovered the darkest tomes of fell dwoemercraftie for its eldritch charms and chaotic enchantments. Many dread deeds she did or forced upon others to obtain the energies required.

When her masterpiece was complete, she conjured Hangdofalten to present him with her offering. Annoyed by being brought against his will and unimpressed by the sword, the demon-prince ripped the sorceress’s soul from her body and imprisoned it in the sword.

The sword came to the hand of Mulchor, a warrior of great strength. With the sword, he became a cunning leader. He drew together a band of warriors who conquered castle, then county, then duchy, then kingdom. He began building an empire and was called The Unstoppable.

A high priestess of law, Megulf, decided there was only one thing to do. She laid the plans for the forging of another sword to counter Malezort. She convinced the dwarfs to contribute the rare and silvery metal they call Revlis. She convinced the green elves of Glortingel to give the shining wood of the Ullorn trees. She recruited three master swordsmiths and three high mages to shape the blade and enchant it.

There was one element of her plan, however, that Megulf kept strictly secret. When the blade was done, she conjured Hangdofalten and tricked it into placing Megulf’s own soul within the weapon. Only in this way, she believed, would this sword, Lexifer, be equal to and able to defeat Malezort.

Lexifer then came into the hands of Doelpen, a great champion of law. He rose to the place of High Marshall of the forces of law. Under his leadership, the armies of Mulchor were defeated. Doelpen sought Mulchor, defeated, and killed him.

It happened that Doelpen came to the realm of King Fegborjo. Fegborjo was a hedonist who cared only about sating his own pleasures and not the needs of his realm or his people. Doelpen confronted the king, and Fegborjo dismissed the marshall. Doelpen said, “I and my armies fought to free you from Mulchor’s rule, but you are unworthy of your crown!” Doelpen drew Lexifer and drove the king from his throne and castle. As the king had no heirs, the kingdom happily accepted Doelpen as their new sovereign.

It seemed that Doelpen found fault with every other sovereign he met, no matter how good. First he deposed a few neighbors, and soon he was building a new empire.

A girl, Paldoran, whose family were killed in Doelpen’s conquests found her way into the emperor’s court. She told him her story and denounced him, much as he had denounced Fegborjo. Doelpen cried, “Lies! How dare you disparage the name of your leige by whose leave you live free!” He drew Lexifer and swung the sword at the girl. The spirit of law entered her, and the sword flew from the emperor’s hands. Doelpen, suddenly realizing all the things he had done, drew his dagger and killed himself.

Paldoran took Lexifer and Malezort, which Doelpen had kept locked away, before the council of bishops. The council demanded that both swords be destroyed. The spirit of law within Paldoran, however, said, “No!” It told them the story of the swords’ creation. Since destroying the swords would mean destroying the souls within, that was not an option. And so the swords were sealed and hidden away.

All names were generated with Holmesian Random Names One-Sheet from the Zenopus Archives.

26 August 2013

Continued on page...

Gygax Magazine makes me smile. (As I write this, my PDF copy of issue two just arrived.) It’s like a issue of Dragon from my youth with content from today. (There’s content in there to annoy grognards and modern gamers alike.) Two observation that are meant to be neither criticism or praise:

On the one hand, you find things that betray its modern desktop publishing reality. e.g. There’s a table that wraps from the bottom of one column of text to the top of another column of text. Of course, modern desktop publishing could have addressed this, but it simply wouldn’t have happened when layout involved literal cutting and pasting.

On the other hand, you find things that are rare these days. The periodicals I read today (even those that are also available in print) tend to be fully digital rather than simply facsimiles of print. So, when I hit the “(continued on page...)” in this PDF, it surprises me.

(Although, I complained about that practice back-in-the-day as well. I get that it was to deal with tricky layout issues, but I’d rather a worse layout in favor of keeping all the text together. Besides, doing it still creates a lot of ugly layout in the back of the magazine.)

25 August 2013

The Skylands introduction

I’ve posted a few things about my Skylands campaign, but here’s a little overview.

This is its introductory blurb:

An age ago, the forces of Chaos overran the realms. The Last Avatar of Law brought the remnants of civilization to a fantastic refuge: Loftgard, one of the several Skylands, islands floating in the skies.

This refuge, though, is not paradise. A noble house is fighting a war within itself. There are rumors of strange things haunting the forest.

What mysteries do the inaccessible skyles hold? A mysterious tower can be seen on one of them, but there is no sign of habitation, and no one knows who built it.

Will any brave souls find a way and venture down to the surface to win glory, treasure, and relics. Could the Grand Temple of Law still stand? What arcane artifacts might be recovered if The Hidden Stronghold of the Archmagus could be found and its safeguards circumvented? Might some lands be reclaimed and a foothold for civilization be established?

My son said he liked the way I bolded the “PC bait” to make it easy to find.

It’s a D&D me game. That’s Basic/Expert D&D (“B/X” on my D&D ID page) with some changes.

24 August 2013

On stats in RPG adventures

An introductory rant from “Big Trouble on a Little Planet”, Adventurer #7 February 1987, by A.J. Bradbury:

This scenario is designed for use with any of the leading SFRPG’S—Traveller, Star Trek, Space Opera, Star Frontiers, etc., though this isn’t the only reason why no player stats are included. To judge by some of the letters appearing in the leading RPG magazines, many Referees and GMs are still locked into a mental straightjacket which makes them try to run any printed game straight off the page—which is a big mistake—or to reject such scenarios because they don’t fit into the current game (which is just as daft).

Although the scenario produced here is complete within itself, it is designed to be a source of ideas rather than a finished unit, and is particulary unsuitable for ‘unedited use’, so to speak. On the contrary, anyone wishing to use this material is strongly advised to read through the entire text before (a) making any and all additions/deletions he/she thinks necessary, and (b) rolling up character points which will tailor the scenario to the preferred game and style of play, and the experience of his/her players.

And now, having got those few thoughts off my chest, let the action commence.

23 August 2013

Customer versus user

I really appreciate Reeder and Feedbin because I know I can leave them at any time and, when I come back, they’ll still be in the same state. They’ll still know what I’ve read and what I haven’t. They’ll show me things in order instead of via some “top stories” silliness.

The thing is, I shouldn’t appreciate those things. That should be expected. These things were mastered decades ago. Yet they are beyond Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.

Of course, the biggest difference is that I am a Reeder customer and a Feedbin customer. I pay them. While I use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+; I don’t pay them. They won’t even let me.

21 August 2013

D&D Next public playtest lessons

As before, a couple of points to make before mentioning “D&D Next”...

  1. Yes, “D&D Next” is a terrible name. That’s because it’s a project name. The real name will be decided (I assume) by actual marketing people when the project gets closer to becoming products.
  2. I will reiterate that Wizards should make clear on the books what edition of the game it is. There’s already enough confusion for non-collectors looking at D&D books and not being able to tell what edition they are.

Now, on to today’s musing...

In his latest “Legends & Lore” column, Mike Mearls listed some of the things they learned from the public playtest.

On the one hand, it’s great to see that these tend to line up both with my approach to the hobby and with what I think will help grow the hobby.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder why Wizard’s D&D 3e and Paizo’s Pathfinder were and are so dominant if this is really what the RPG public wants.

20 August 2013

Cheap custom dice

A trip to Office Depot and Walgreen yielded...

the raw material

I might’ve been able to get it all at Walgreens, but I figured Office Depot was likely to have a wider selection of labels. The only ones they had in this size were orange.

I might have heard of Sicherman dice before, but noisms recently posted about them. So, those were first on the agenda.

Sicherman dice

Then I made a 36-sided die. One die is relabeled 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, & 30. Roll it with a normal die, and they’re equivalent to 1d36.


A third die could make it 1d216!

Then I created some binary dice. They’re numbered...

  1. 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1
  2. 0, 0, 0, 2, 2, 2
  3. 0, 0, 0, 4, 4, 4
  4. 0, 0, 0, 8, 8, 8

1d16 - 1

The can be used as 1d2-1, 1d4-1, 1d8-1, or 1d16-1. And, of course, we could keep adding binary digits.