Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dungeons Fantasy RPG for GURPS has arrived at the Attic!

As long time readers of this blog know I been a fan of GURPS for thirty years. Believe it or not there was a time when GURPS was the fourth or fifth most popular RPG on the market back in 2004.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is designed to make it easy for people to get into playing and using GURPS for their campaigns. It does this by being presented as a traditional fantasy RPG. It tells you how to make characters, how to handle encounters and combat, gives you spells, monsters, and treasures to use. Plus there is an adventure included called I Smell a Rat!

It not a new edition of GURPS. Everything here works with the core books as is. But gone are things not relevant to the Dungeon Fantasy genre. Added are things that are useful for fantasy campaigns with GURPS.

So what do you get?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bat in the Attic replies to Frank Mentzer

For those of you who haven't heard Frank Mentzer is hard at work organizing things to publish material for the Empyrea setting that is part of Oerth the world where Greyhawk can be found. Mr. Mentzer is the primary author of the BECMI edition of Dungeon and Dragons as well the author of numerous other works for TSR and Dungeons and Dragons.

Over on Tenkar's Tavern, Erik Tenker shares this interesting bit from a conversation he had with Frank Mentzer.
A common characteristic of most Old-School sites is adherence to one specific point in the Past, generally out-of-print game systems. Very cool. Nothing wrong with that, most systems have value to many. But of all the tabletop RPG fans, the OSR buys the fewest New Products. This is fine I want to give things away... strongly preferred in these circles of course. Culturally the OSR is unique and priceless, and I applaud it. But they have chosen to be irrelevant to the current market.
I am sure there are lot of people in this industry that would agree with Mr. Mentzer especially the last sentence. I am not one of them. Why? For several reasons.

The first thing that people need to keep in mind about what the Old School Renaissance is the reason why it exists. It is the interaction of several things. First a continuing interest in the classic editions of Dungeons and Dragons from the 1974 Boxed set to the ADnD 2nd Edition. Second the ability to leverage open content to support these classic editions with new works that can be shared or sold commercially. Third, a radical reduction in the cost of creating, and distributing written works and graphics (like maps).

These three facts are the foundation of everything that we see in the OSR today.

Of the three it is the use of open content that caused the diversity of the OSR to explode. Once Matt Finch, Stuart Marshall, and Chris Gonnerman demonstrated how the d20 SRD could be used to create near clones of classic D&D in the form of OSRIC and Basic Fantasy. The gates were flung open for anybody to realize their particular vision of what classic DnD can be.

Just as important this use of open content wasn't limited to specific editions of classic DnD. It also enabled the creation of hybrids or the adaptions of classic DnD mechanics to new genres. Freed from the artificial constraints on creativity imposed by intellectual property the use of open content flowered into full bloom in the publishing world of the OSR. Resulting in the bewildering range of works we see being shared and published.

What drives all this are the whims of the individuals involved. So in a sense Mr. Mentzer is right that there is a choice involved. A choice that for some doesn't take into account what is marketable but rather what one individual or a small group thinks ought to be published. And let the market be damned!

But note my use of some, because it not true for all. Many OSR publishers, including myself do take a hard look at what we think people and the market want. People like Kevin Crawford, James Raggi,  have put a lot of hours in publishing works that are not only have great content but a great presentation. And from conversations I had with both, they put considerable thought into how to make this happen. In short they each have a business plan for realizing their vision. And they both adjust things as circumstances change. There are others like Frog God Games, and Goodman Games. Some are individuals like my friend Tim Shorts at Gothridge Manor.

Doesn't sound much different than what traditional publishers do.

Keep in mind that the freedom of open content doesn't just mean that you get to realize your vision. It means that everybody gets to realize their vision. For some that means preservation. Places like Knights and Knaves, Aceaum, Piazza, Ruins of Mirkhill, ODnD Discussion Forum, and Dragonsfoot are devoted to preserving specific editions of classic DnD.

And while some criticism of these sites have merit, the one I find unfair is that they are backwards or resistant to new things. It easy to make material for these groups. You just have to target the exact editions they are interested in. Not something close, not some hybrid, but the exact edition as close as you legally can with whatever quirks and nuances it possesses. And if you are not willing or unable to do that then they are not your audience.

Last there been some recent drama associated with one of these sites in particular and Mr. Mentzer. It sad that it occurred but I am not interested in who is right or wrong. I will say that if you ever want to "win" an argument in the OSR the best reply is always to write your idea up, do the work to make it usable by others and release either to share or for sale.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Majestic Wilderlands Races for GURPS

With the release of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs during Gencon to the backers of the DF RPG kickstarter, my Thursday night group really wants to give GURPS a try. So I agreed to do a campaign later this year.

Most of the development of the Majestic Wilderlands was done using GURPS starting in 1987. So I accumulated  a lot of notes about how the setting works using GURPS. Some of which you can see here. But since then I did a lot of work on the Swords and Wizardry version of the Majestic Wilderlands. As well as ran a memorable 5th edition campaign in the Majestic Wilderlands. So I am updating my material and the first thing I got done was the Races.

You can download the races from here. Note that because GURPS doesn't have an open license I can't use the Open Game License. Steve Jackson does have a generous fan policy so I opted for a non-commercial Creative commons license for the text I wrote. For the details of various terms and abilities you will need to refer to the GURPS core books. Some of them can be found in the free GURPS Lite.

Majestic Wilderlands Races for GURPS.

Variant Character Creation Rule
There is a problem with GURPS Disadvantages and it is the same problem with DnD alignments. Either they are too static,  a source of arguments about proper roleplaying or they are not much of a hindrance.

I am sure folks are familiar with the first two but what is the third one about? Why it isn't hindrance to be honest or too have a code of honor? Well it is at first glance but then you realize that how you were going to play anyway. So in the end a 150 point campaign is really a 195 point campaign.

But not all disadvantages are the same. Some have immediate consequences for how the character plays especially the physical ones.  So what our group did over time was to stop counting most disadvantages. If you were bound and determined to play a one handed fighter than you could get the points for that as there were on-going game effects. But stuff like being poor or wealthy was discussed before the campaign started. And having a Code of honor was a written down as a note on the characters. Sometime Codes would factor in for specific aspects like clerical powers or paladins. But like when I ditched Alignment from then one, your character personality is however you played it.

Technically it not even against RAW as it clearly states that the campaign can set the total number of starting points AND the total number point cost of disadvantages. We just opt to set it to zero with a few exceptions.

So this brings me to the variant rule in the MW Races for GURPS. That is there is no cost charged for being of X race. Instead the traits of the race modify the base character attributes and the players proceed on from there.

Like for my Majestic Wilderlands supplement, a Elf or a Reptile Man has superior traits compared to a human. The thing to remember is that I emphasize roleplaying and the Majestic Wilderlands is human dominated. So for the most part characters of other races are treated as outsiders even those that are considered friendly. And if the party happens to be dominated by non-humans then there iare plenty of adventures to be found in the surrounding non-human cultures.

All this is not because I think the GURPS default is wrong, it just my changes reflect better how I present my setting as a living breathing world. If because of circumstance the player decides to act against type, I am cool with that if it make sense. I want to see that play out naturally and not have the player worry about the points on his character sheet.

So this document includes the option to treat characters as a fundamental modification of the base attributes rather than something else to be bought.





Wednesday, September 6, 2017

It not a Harn Day but a Ivinia Day

Harn is part of a larger world known as Kethira. The island of Harn lies off of the western shore of the continent of Lythia which is home to many cultures (mostly human dominated). Ivinia was the first of these to be develop back in the 80s. It is Harn's equivalent of Scandinavia and home to several viking kingdoms.

Columbia Games re-edited, and re-formatted the original Ivina module and it has been released. Like most Harn product it is pricey but the quality is top notch. One big change is that each Ivinian realm now has a page devoted to it compared to the original.

You can get it in Print or PDF.



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vote Greyhawk! New D&D Survey up.

Wizards of the Coast has a new survey up and among the question it ask what DnD setting you are most interested in. While it not likely that there will be a Greyhawk revival in light of the Forgotten Realms juggernaut it is possible to get it listed as one of the approved settings on the DM's Guild. If that happen the fans can take it from there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Harnworld Master Module only $5

Columbia Games has been running periodic discounts on the different PDFs for Harn. There is a particularly good deal on the Harnworld Master Module for $5.  Now what this is a series of articles that provides an overview of the Island of Harn and it's history. It's companion is the Harndex which is a mini-encyclopedia of one paragraph entries on the various locations described in the Master Module. Of course the articles, like this one for Peran, flesh these locations out in far greater detail.

Finally Harn articles are designed to be placed in three binders. So if you were to print the PDFs out and punch them, you would get what Columbia Games sends out in print.

Note that the City of Coranan, the largest city in Harn, has a discount as well. Finally if you want to use the linked to take advantage of the discounts make sure you go to the last post to get the latest. They generally expire in a week.


Friday, August 11, 2017

My Axioms of Sandbox Campaigns

My axioms of sandbox campaigns

First off a referee has to be willing to let his players trash his setting. If you are going to get bent about the players taking out the Emperor or the local tavern keeper then a sandbox campaign is not likely going to be enjoyable. Assuming that the players are exhibiting good sportmanship (i.e. good manners while playing a game), what is the worse thing you can imagine the players trying to do? If it occurs can be you remain fair, and will the campaign still be enjoyable for you? If the answer is yes then you will succeed at being a referee of a sandbox campaign.

I loosely sort what I do for my campaigns into several categories, the Initial Context, the Bag of Stuff, and a World in Motion.

The Bag of Stuff
This is where I do world building. For me, the three main items I need are geography, NPCs, and locales. Of the three locales wind up looking like a traditional adventure after it written. I have two broad grouping of the stuff; the specific (for example the City State of the Invincible Overlord), the generic (random castle town of 500 to 1000 people). For NPCs specific (Llewellyn the Blue, wizard of City-State), or generic (Tharian Horselord 6th level fight equivalent to a knight socially).

When I use something generic and it something that the players will continue to interact with then I will make notes , copy and paste the generic writeup and make something specific out of it.

In general I have a lot more generic material than I do specific. In addition I use material from other setting constantly notably Harn and Ars Magica altering to what I need. If players keep interacting with the place I will gradually replace it with something similar that my own original work. Although I usually do this between campaigns not during a campaign.

I wrote a series called How to build a Fantasy Sandbox to help people to jump start their Bag of Stuff. For me what happened is that I started out with the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and keep running campaign after campaign in the setting. Over the years it morphed into it own thing the Majestic Wilderlands. It is my experience that most referee do not stick with any one setting for long. However with the way I developed the Majestic Wilderlands, you can start small with a bare sketch of the larger world and keep adding to it as you run successive campaigns. The "How to make" series start off with making that larger sketch and then narrows down to a specific area with the things you need in order to build a toolkit to handle whatever direction the players opt to pursue.

World in Motion
This is about what you do during the sandbox campaign to bring it to life. For me there are several things I try to do.

First I view the current situation from the PCs perspective, I visualize in my mind what they would be seeing if they actually were standing there. Then I use what I know about their interests, goals, and motivation to filter that into something that hopefully fun and interesting. I also rely heavily on stereotypes and assumptions to cut down on the verbal bandwidth needed.

I have to stress if you want to use stereotypes and assumptions, then you have to make sure they are true MOST of the time. For example a common issue I see that many players won't interact with NPCs because they all got plots and plans that at the very least complicate the PCs lives if not direction hinder what they are trying to do. I make sure that I roleplay most of my NPCs as people just trying to get on with their lives. That by and large they will be somewhat friendly and helpful if there no other reason to dislike the PCs. Especially for merchants. Keep a running count on a notepad if you have trouble with this.

Next the setting has a life of it own and doesn't give two shits about what the players want to do. To handle this I list out goal and motivations of the NPCs most likely to effect the PCs' circumstances. It can range from the King to the local barkeeper. Then I construct a time line of what will happen as if the PCs didn't exist. This timeline is used as a Plan of Battle. A plan of battle is useful because it provided a military force a framework in order to achieve its objective. However history is full of example of generals who lost because they were rigid about executing their plan. A good general will change and adapt as the circumstance of the war changes. So it is with this timeline.

The timeline is a framework which is meant to be changed after and during a session in light of the PCs did or did not do as their characters. In a sandbox campaign this where most of the referee creativity will be focused. When the PCs do something there will be a lot of possible consequences. With one or two being most plausible. You do not have to pick the most plausible outcome. Rather pick the outcome that is both plausible and interesting to you and the players.

Like with the example of the NPCs above, be aware of your bias. At first keep a running count of how you decide things and if you are bias to a particular type of outcome then make a chart to roll on to change things up. Most people can spot consistent patterns especially in social interactions.

Initial Context
Most sandbox campaigns fail. Why? Because of the lack of a good initial context. Many mock character histories and background but if you going to get a sandbox campaign you are going to need a least a half page of specifics for each players and a half page of general information for the group as a whole.

Players who enjoy being plunked down in the middle of a blank map and told "Go forth and explore" are few and far between. About as common as players who enjoy playing GURPS with all the options in play at once. Most players want to feel their choices have meaning. Picking one of the six surrounding blank hexes is not a choice with meaning. So work on the initial situation so that it is interesting and give the players enough information to make some valid decision of what to do.

Conclusion
This is the tip of the iceberg about a topic I been writing about for the past decade, here is a link to all my blog posts on the topic.  The main problem with sandbox campaigns is the initial learning curve and getting comfortable with the free-form nature of how it flows. Once you are comfortable with this type of campaign it gets a lot easier.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Final edit of the Basic Rules Majestic Fantasy RPG

Thanks to the editing help given by Vance Atkins, the final version of the basic rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG is done!. You can download it from here. If you purchased the Majestic Wilderlands PDF, you will find that this file has been added to the download on RPGNow.

This is my previous post which contains my design notes on why I am doing this. In a nutshell, I am planning to release my take on the classic editions as series of supplements instead of an all in one book. However in the process of setting this up I realized I will need some type of basic summary so people can understand how it fits with the overall system.

So enjoy and hope you find something useful.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A RPG Potpurri, Using Roll20 VTT, ICv2 News, and Adventures in Middle Earth

In the fall of 2016, life circumstance shifted and for the first time in years I had an extended period where I wasn't involved in a regular campaign as a player or referee. Since then things picked up and now I am refereeing two campaigns, and playing in a third. Along with refereeing at a local games once every other month or so.

The key for me is using Virtual Tabletops like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20. With the different work schedules and driving distances involved it hard together with my friends and other folks to game face to face. It started back in the early 2000s as a way for +Dwayne Gillingham+Tim Shorts, and I to continue to game together despite Dwayne moving from post to post while he was in the military.

Since then I met several good friends on-line like +Ken H, and +Chris C. who became regulars, Since they are scattered across the northeast of the United States the only way for all of us to game on a regular basis is by using a VTT.

Unlike MMORPGs, VTT or Virtual Tabletop compliments face to face tabletop roleplaying. By using Voice over Internet, text chat, built-in RPG utilities, and a whiteboard that anybody can draw on, the software successfully allows people play tabletop roleplaying using the internet. It does have issues but they are the same issues that accompany any use of the internet for group collaboration,  familiar to anybody who had to sit through a phone or internet conference at work.  But it does brings some advantages especially if you use miniatures like I do. The easiest to use is Fog of War where a map displayed and the referee can selectively reveal different sections. The key thing to remember is that VTTs work alongside face to face gaming. You can easily run a campaign that regularly uses Roll20 and then once in a while get together for a face to face session. You are using the same material, the same techniques, and for the most part the same prep for both.

Since I been using VTTs so long, I assembled a set of tools that help me during a session. First off I have a bit of an unusual setup for my computer where I have three monitors. The central one is oriented normally, while the outer two are in portrait modes. I do this primarily for writing where I can see an entire page at once on the right monitor. An entire page at one on the left, And have some other program running in the middle. Here what my setup looks like during a session of Roll20. This one is a slice of the Barrowmaze which the party stumbled on during my OD&D/Majestic Wilderlands campaign on Thursday.

I have a old D&D 3.X utility called DM Genie on the left because it time keeping utility is still very useful. I have NBos' the Keep on the right to keep notes on and keep things organized. And in the middle is the web browser on the Roll20 site. We are using a VoIP program called Discord which is my current goto app for this stuff.  You can see the fog of war in action in the area that look a darker gray compared to the rest of the map. Those areas are unrevealed and look black to the players.

Adventures in Middle Earth
While my Thursday campaign is using my Majestic Fantasy rules (based on Swords and Wizardry), Wednesday using Adventures in Middle Earth which is based on DnD 5th edition. It is perhaps the best 5th edition third party supplement out there and it been outstanding to play. Overall it is low fantasy take on the 5th edition rules and has a very different feel despite most of the mechanics being the same.

Periodically the ICv2 gaming news site does a survey and releases the top 5 rankings for retail stores. And lo and behold Adventures in Middle Earth popped in this spring at #4. Congrats to Cubicle 7 for their success.

The only downside is that the rules have the minimum for open content and uses "everything derived from the SRD is open content everything else is product identity" without clearly marking anything. But it does get the creatives juices going about the possibility of low fantasy gaming with classic editions of DnD and 5th edition.

For those interested Enworld keeps a  history of ICv2 rankings. All we need to get one of the many excellent OSR RPGs to pop up in there. Cubicle 7 has been giving AiME a lot of support as well as you can see from here. Also note that The One Ring sourcebooks have been proving useful as well. Although keep an eye on the AiME release schedule as the AiME book duplicate a lot of the ToR setting information. To Cubicle's credit the AiME version it not just the ToR version with 5e stat blocks but obviously a refined and often better organized than the original ToR verison.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More Majestic Wilderlands maps.

I seem to be doing a lot of them recently. This is a result of me getting close to finishing the map of the Main Campaign Area. The players are establishing themselves as merchant and managed to buy a ship. So I made a map centered on the Trident Gulf to use to plan for voyage and to act as a reference. For good measure I also started a political map.

The Main map

 The Political Map

This is for my campaign circa 4475 BCCC. The Majestic Wilderlands supplement reference how things were in 4436 BCCC. Those with the book can see there been several changes. Mainly the Council of Viridstan and the Dragon Empire.  Both entities came into being as a result of PCs doing their thing during their respective campaigns. The Council of Viridstan originated from the Fantasy Hero campaign I ran in college during the late 80s. While the Dragon Empire resulted from a GURPS campaign I ran in the early 90s.

The odd extension of the Dragon Empire around the Tiethoir River was one of the last things we did in that campaign. I took GURPS 3rd edition Mass Combat rules and combined with a little bit of Harn for the logistics and cost. The last couple of sessions saw +Tim Shorts and +Dwayne Gillingham play William the Conqueror and the Normans. The whole thing was to allow Duke Draco-lindus (Tim's Character) and his allies to gain a power base outside of the thumb of the Invincible Overlord of City-State.

Proved useful when Duke Draco broke away from City-State and reestablished the Dragon Empire.

As an experiment I mapped the progression of the last phase of the war. I experimented using colored transparent fills instead of just using borders like I did with previous historical maps I made,




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Don't buy the Scourge of the Demon Wolf! (Issue Resolved)

At least not from Noble Knight Games. Now some authors would be all up in arms about somebody obviously price gouging their own products. Especially when it still available for sale at it original price of $15 at Lulu and RPGNow.  I am enough of a libertarian that I support the right for Noble Knights to do this. But I will take advantage of my right to mock them for trying to rip off an unsuspecting buyer.

Poking around their site I find they are selling the Majestic Wilderlands for $30 ($12 from Lulu or RPGNow)

Looking at some of +James Raggi stuff is not passing the smell test in my opinion.

Again it Nobles Knight right to sell the material they have for whatever the market will bear and it our right to mock them for it when it get ridiculous. Especially when they have a shaky reputation due to the fact they don't post actual pictures of the high dollar collectibles they are selling.

UPDATE: After reading various comments, I want to stress rarely in life anybody is complete villain. Noble Knights has been in business a long time with a good reputation for service.  I placed several orders with them over the years with no issues except for one minor one where I got the wrong cover. But since it was the only one they had and I wanted the content as well, I was fine with it.

However for long time there been complaints about their refusal to post actual pictures and there been incidents with high dollar items that would have been adverted if they had. You can search the Acaeum forum to read about other collectors experiences.But for the most part they do verbally report the accurate condition of the product.  Then there is there pricing which always been on the high side. Although bargains are not hard to find over time.

However marking various readily available OSR product up at 100%? There no excuse for that. It is a decision that warrants mocking and criticism until it is addressed.

Finally I want to thank +Erik Tenkar for getting the word out about this on his blog.

FURTHER UPDATE: I had a nice exchange with Naomi from Noble Knights Sales. So the prices has been updated which you can see here. It is slightly higher but that in line from what I know about how vendor like Noble Knights operate. I don't know how much they paid for it but given their history of service I will take their word that what they need for a proper profit. So kudos to Naomi and Noble Knight Gams for responding promptly. Still need to use actual picture tho.

As for the rest of the OSR people need to make sure they are on their toes. If you have pertinent information or an OSR author of one the products list then contact Noble Knights at sales@nobleknight.com.  Be polite!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Thoughts on Tabletop Roleplaying, Complicating Sandbox Adventures

Last post I mentioned how I decided to complicate the Scourge of the Demon Wolf adventure. To do this, I decided to introduce a red herring,  some bandits who were faking wolf attacks. To tie them into the situation, I added the body of a local tinker that they robbed and killed. Then the bandits made it to look like a wolf attack.

Then I asked myself would there be anybody else involved with the bandits?  Having one of the Beggars clans in the area fencing the bandit's goods would be a good addition. To further tie this group in I decided that the Beggar Clan chief's son was killed by the Demon Wolf. Plus they have more information about the the mage's conclave than what the villagers know. From stuff I established in previous campaigns I also  noted that the villagers would not be on friendly terms with the Beggar Clan adding another complication to the situation. That where I stopped, I learned that once you get up to four or five distinct aspects to a situation the players get confused.

Now I was ready to plant rumors about wolf attacks. The day of the game arrived and sure enough the players went down the road. They stopped at a crossroads inn and heard about the attacks and decided to investigate. It wasn't the only rumor they heard but it was the one closest in geography.

When faced with multiple interesting choices players are more apt to pick something that closer than further away. It not an absolute however. They could and will opt to pursue something further away if think that would be better for their immediate goal.

I don't remember much about that first adventure other than the fact they encountered every group involved.  That they went from the summoning site to the conclave, talked to the mage at which point the final series of events started happening.

The thing to remember I did not write this in any amount of detail. I had two pages of note which you can download from here. And some paper character sheets with the NPCs and the Demon Wolf written up.

What filled in the details was my conception of what life in a medieval village was like, life in a bandit camp, etc, etc. This is part of what I call my bag of stuff. Nothing in there is as detailed as you find in a published work but I internalized it so I can pull stuff out of my memory and combine it with other stuff to create interesting situations for my players. Finally it has the virtue of being able to be done on the fly.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A new area of the Majestic Wilderlands mapped

Though out the history of the tabletop roleplaying the myth and legends of Japan has fascinated many hobbyists. For many there was a strong desire to player Samauri, and Ninjas. Have one's character wield a katana or throwing shurikens. Especially when I stated out in the late 70s and early 80s, I had numerous players wanting to play these types of character in my Majestic Wilderlands. So I carved a section called it the Karian Islands.

Flash forward 30 years, my friend +Dwayne Gillingham is running a campaign playtesting his RPG called the Crit System. He using his own take on the Majestic Wilderlands as the setting. As it so happens the campaign has taken a detour to the Karian Islands. So I thought to myself, I better make a map for it. Many characters were from there but I never had a campaign where the PCs visited it. So I looked at my notes and overview maps and started drawing.

First some background.

Karian Isles
Comprised of two archipelagos; the Silver Skein Islands to the south and the Isles of Dawn to the north. These islands were originally occupied by the Karians, humans with a culture similar to the early Japanese. They were contacted and incorporated into the Ghinorian Empire early in its expansion.

When the Empire collapsed one of the last pretenders to the title of the Imperial Prince of Ghinor fled to the islands to regroup. He married a local princess to win the loyalty of the Karian nobles. He left and was killed while trying to reclaim the throne. The princess was pregnant and gave birth to a son who was proclaimed as the new Imperial Prince.

Legends grew of the last pretender and some claimed he was the divine son of Mitra. His Karian successors adopted the legend as their own and assumed not only political leadership of the islands but religous leadership as well. Over the past thousand years their culture has grown more inward. They have developed an elaborate code of honor and social system.


Finally the main map itself. Remember each hex is 5 leagues with a league taking 1 hour to walk. A ship with average winds can make about 10 leagues (2 hexes) every four hours. Or 60 leagues (12 hexes) a day. Those of you with the Judges Guild will notices a lot of differences some due to the increased map size and other due to the different background I use.

Enjoy!


Monday, June 5, 2017

New Maps of the Majestic Wilderlands

So I been running a Thursday night game using my Majestic Wilderlands rules. The group is currently based in Viridistan, the largest city in my campaign.



They are stomping around the region, which prompted me to make a regional map. Note that it is the most densely populated areas of the Wilderlands hence the extensive amount of cropland. Which is marked as a textured yellow brown fill.


Each small hex is 2.5 miles or 1 league, the distance a person can walk in an hour.
Each large hex is 5 leagues. For comparison a ship with sails can travel 12 of the large hexes in 24 hours or 2 per four hours.

The larger view



The Legend Key


Enjoy today's map fix.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Joining the OSR Extravaganza with 15% off.

Normally I don't participate in OBS general sales events like GM Day because I found they don't generate any more sales over just leaving it up at list price. However the OSR Extravaganza is different as it targets you folks directly. But because I don't have my join sales option turned on, I am not listed by OBS.

Doesn't mean I can't run my own sales. So if you head over to RPGNow you will find the PDFs are marked off 40% individually and 15% off of the bundle price. So if you been wanting to pick up the Majestic Wilderlands or Scourge of the Demon Wolf, this is a pretty good price break.

As for Blackmarsh the PDF is free and the print copy is only a buck and change over cost at $5. So no discount on Blackmarsh.

Remember the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG if you want to see the rules I been using the past few years. They work with both the Majestic Wilderlands, Blackmarsh, and Scourge of the Demon Wolf

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thoughts on Tabletop Roleplaying, Generating Sandbox Adventures

In the previous post I talked about how I developed Scourge of the Demon Wolf. How does one get started with this type of adventure?

Sourge of the Demon Wolf  was developed during the course of one of my GURPS campaigns around 2000. I knew the players were planning to travel along a specific road from the events of the last session. There was a small chance that something different would have occurred but given their goal the odds were high they were going to do. Remember that once a sandbox campaign gets going,it gets easier to predict the players are looking to do for the next session.

PC Route
What does it suggest to you?

Thinking of ideas I was inspired by a movie called the Brotherhood of the Wolf about the Beast of Gevaudan. Now I have a basic situation, a monster terrorizing the countryside. What the monster? A wolf of course, but abnormally powerful wolf. Where was the wolf doing this? That was easy for me as a lot of that region were medievalish manorial villages. So I picked one near the road the PCs were travelling on.

Why is the wolf on a ramage? Here I diverged from my source of inspiration and picked something more suited for my campaign. To make the wolf more powerful I elected to have the wolf possessed by a demon. How did get it possessed by a demon? By a botched summoning! Who botched the summoning? A mage's apprentice greedy for power. Where was the apprentice's master? He was one of several living in a mage's conclave in the wilderness.


Now I turned to who the demon wolf was terrorizing. I knew it was a fantasy medieval villages. So I came up wtih a reeve, a village priest, and added two characters for local color. A old guy who "minded" the local tavern and Yoluf a trapper that could act as a guide if the players hit it off with the Reeve.

To connect the village to the mage I had the apprentice be sloppy and left much of what she used for the botched summon out at a site in the wilderness to be found.

At this point I could have run it. But the situation would have been straight forward to resolve. If the PC elect to pursue the reports of wolf attack, they go to the village, do a bit of roleplaying, go out into the wilderness, maybe fight some wolves, find the summoning site, realize that mages are involved, find out about the local conclave and then head there. Another alternative they could just resolve it by main force and figure out a plan to kill every wolf in the area including the Demon Wolf.

So in the next post I will explain how I complicated it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A world for only $5, Harnworld

Just a heads up, Columbia Games has been running a series of sales on their PDFs for Harn. The latest is $5 for the Harnworld PDF which you can get through this link. Note that it automatically adds it to your cart so if you don't get it make sure you remove it.

If you want to look at the product you can goto the normal RPGNow page through this link.

I am not using any type of affiliate ID the one on the first link is for Columbia Games.

There are other discounted PDFs that you can pick and you can see what are the latest by following this thread on the Lythia forum.

The individual articles, like Heru Castle, are often useful as resources for your campaign for when you need it a particular Locale and don't have time to generate one of your own from scratch.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG

While writing the first book of my RPG project, The Lost Grimoire of Magic, I realized that too much of it was devoted to rules that will repeated among all the supplements. So I worked on a basic set of rules summarizing the system as a whole. So I got it down to 47 pages, and just as important should read as a coherent whole.

You can download it from the following link
Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG.

Any comments and suggestions are appreciated, I have a forum thread opened up at this link.

Some highlights

  • Designed it be highly compatible with Swords and Wizardry
  • More generous with attribute bonuses but not as generous as the d20 SRD. Instead there a -1/+1 per three attribute points instead of per 2 like d20. 
  • Four Classses: Burglar, Cleric of Mitra, Fighter, Magic User.
  • Four Races: Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, and Man.
  • Man gets a +15% XP bonus on top of their prime requisite bonus. I played with the exact number over the years by gauging the reaction of players in choosing Man over the other races.
  • For abilities, and spells, I jettisoned situational bonuses for the most part in favor of 5th edition's advantage and disadvantage. My opinion that is much easier to grasp by players than remembering whether you get a -4, -2, +2, or +4 bonus that it worth including. Plus the original edition never been big on stacking up modifiers anyway so I feel the loss of having a +1, +2, or +4 bonus (or minus) is not a big deal.
  • Incorporated the ability system from the supplement. Basic resolution is still 15 or better on a roll of a d20.
  • Any character can do any ability just that some are better at certain abilities than others. All classes have ability bonuses they can use. Rogue classes like the Burglar are built around ability bonuses.
  • A short equipment but many pieces of equipment have one or two rules associated with their use. For example using a mace give you +1 to hit versus chainmail armor. The use of Shields have been fleshed out.
  • The ritual rule allowing clerics and magic user to cast spells as a ten minute ritual plus a cost component has been carried over from the supplement.
  • Magical Immunity works a bit differently from Magic Resistance. Basically Fireball, Lightning Bolt work as they do direct damage by creating something, Charm Person, Sleep, etc are effected by Magical Immunity. The resolution has been made into a d20 roll with the same odds as the original percentage based rolls.
  • Spells note whether they are effected by Magical Immunity or not. In addition all uses of percentages been changed to d20 rolls with the same odds. Just saying if it going to be in 5% increments make it a d20 roll. There been some tweaks to specific spells like Sleep effecting 4d4 hit dice of creature max 4 HD effected.
  • The combat system uses 1d6 individual imitative. A new wrinkle is that fighters get to add their to hit bonus.
  • I allow two actions per combat round which can be summed up as a half-move and an attack. As a side note this  is the oldest section of the rules dating all the way back form when I ran ADnD 1st in 1979, 1980. 
  • My stab at easy to use grappling rules. You successfully hit, your opponent is now grappled, if the opponent doesn't break free the next round, you have a number of options including damage.
  • Combat stunts, the general idea is that you can opt to do something else other than inflict damage with a successful to hit roll. However the downside the opponent gets a saving throw which means high level or high hit dice is likely going to save. But if you are desperate it may be the best option in that round. 
  • No Monsters or Magic Items which will be presented as part of the various supplements. However anything from any version of Swords and Wizardry will work with these rules.
  • Finally I kept an eye on how interdependent the rules are so you should be able to swap in how other handle things easily. For example initiative will work with group initiative, the combat system can be replaced with the one in the B/X rules. You can ignore my spell in favor the original edition text, etc, etc.
Hope you find this useful for your campaigns and appreciate hearing your thoughts on these rules.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Thoughts on Tabletop Roleplaying - Sandbox Adventures

In the last post I talked about my background in refereeing. As result of my experiences I found that I had to lot to write about sandbox campaigns. Stuff that people could get and use in their own campaigns like Points of Light and Blackmarsh. On my blog I worked on a series of posts about How to make a Fantasy Sandbox. One thing I didn't write about as much is what happens session to session, like the adventures I ran during a sandbox campaign.

Scourge of the Demon Wolf is an adventure that represent what players typically deal with in my campaigns. One that allowed me to publish Scourge was that it was self-contained enough to written up so it was useful for other campaigns. Most of my sandbox adventures are highly situational based on the circumstances of the PCs involved. But occasionally something like Scourge happens and I can set aside my notes for further development.

What makes Scourge a sandbox adventures? First off it is a situation that has the potential for adventure. The situation is driven by the interactions between the various NPCs. For Scourge it starts when an ambitious apprentice foolishly summons a demon. To the apprentice the ritual appeared not to have worked. So the apprentice returned the conclave where she was studying. But shortly after a weakened wrath demon from the Abyss emerged. Without the proper completion of the ritual, the Wrath Demon floated around as a spirit and possessed a nearby wolf pup. Thus the Demon Wolf was born.

The area in which this occurs is a typical rural fantasy medieval setting. There is a village owned by a Baron and has a Bailiff and Reeve that work together to manage it. There is a crossroad hamlet nearby with a inn. More unusual is a conclave of mages living in a small compound just half day into the wilderness. There are also bandits that prey on caravans and a group of wandering beggars that occasionally travel through the area to smuggle stolen goods. Finally there is itinerant tinker that wander the area making a few pennies by selling small goods and doing repairs.

The Demon Wolf goes on a murderous rampage, people die, the Baron sends his huntsman who is outwitted, and finally in a second round of attacks the baliff of the village dies. The villagers refuse to bring in the harvest until the creature is killed. The Baron can't have this so sends the PCs to deal with the situation once and for all. There also a number of other hooks including the thieves guild sending somebody to find out why the bandits or beggars are not paying a cut of what they steal.

This is the setup.

How did this get written up? Most of the time author get an idea; write, refine, edit, and then finally get laid out as a book or PDF and published. This works for a lot of published adventures. But they suffer from the same problem as a movie or a novel, it hit or miss whether the hobby winds up liking it. Sure experience helps but still a roll of dice whether something catches on?

Is there a better way of doing this? Or rather there is something we can do more. What I didn't mention above is playtesting. Because writing for RPGs is about writing for games, playtesting is part of the process. However how do you playtest? You get your draft into a semi-finished form and try it out a couple of times. Then use the feedback to tweak it from there.

The problem I have with that process is the initial draft especially for adventures. Normally people lay out a rough draft from start to finish and use that as a starting point. A lot of the structure of the adventure is baked in. What if you took advantage of the fact that RPGs are a active form of entertainment and just started with a initial situation. You have NO idea how the adventure is going to conclude when you start the process. Would it be a more useful adventure for others to use in their campaign?

By the time I decided to publish Scourge I ran it two times already. Once for GURPS and once for D&D 3.0. So I had a some information of on the things that PCs were likely going to do. But now I was going to publish it, I resolved that the final product would be in part a record of what the players do and not do in the various playtest sessions. And see if this really made for a better adventure.

By the end of the process I have ran it over 8 times through my home region centered NW Pennsylvania and twice in other locations in the United States notably Morningstar Games in Savannah Georgia. By the sixth time I ran it I started writing, and was incorporating notes from the 8th and last time I ran the adventure.

What did I wind up writing about? I wrote about the region, the locale, and the NPCs. The playtest helped pare down what I needed to write about. Then I consolidated common events caused by the PCs and wrote them up. I included notes about where things diverged. I made sure I included a one page summary to get the referee up to speed.

The stuff I pared away I reformatted into a sourcebook. I laid the book out into two sections, the adventure and a small regional sourcebook that fully fleshed out each of the locales in the adventures. You can run the adventure with what in the first half. Then use the second half as part of your ongoing campaign.

So how did sell? OK didn't burn down the RPG hobby by any means even by OSR standards. But creatively it was very sastifying and currently repeating the process for a couple of other adventures.

Any downside? Yes time, it is very time intensive to do this. Not good if you need regular cash flow as a business. You couldget a pipeline going where you are playtesting all the time so when the first adventure is finished there always one more behind it almost done. Then you have to think of travel expenses for face to face. The rise of vritual tabletop software should make this easier. You could schedule periodic sessions and really rack up the playtest hours. But you are still going to need to do face to face as not all hobbyists can be found on-line.

For me using my hobby time to develop this, it took me three years to rack up the eight playtests. Although in the third year, I slacked off the writing a bit too much I have to admit. Today I can probably do eight playtest in a year with two run face to face at a game store and/or convention and the others run on-line. 

Next time I will be talking about the creative process I used to develop the initial setup. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thoughts on Tabletop Roleplaying - Why?

I run campaigns where the overall direction is set by the players. At the start of the campaign I setup the initial circumstances based on what the players want to focus on. Circa 1980 when I first started using Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy, I pretty much threw things out there and hoped for the best. Later I learned to talk to them beforehand about their goals. Note that is not a elaborate or formal process just something I know to ask as part of the back and forth banter that goes on before the start of any RPG campaign.

What set my campaign apart initially was the fact that I had no problem with the players trashing the setting I created. Kill the King, Sheriff, High Priest or local merchant? Sure no problem. But player better think it through and come up with a decent plan because it will be a challenge and there will be consequences.

In addition another thing that set me apart that the result of the previous campaign became part of the background of the setting for next campaign. At first it was just a novelty because the Wilderlands were a big place. But as time went on, more and more of the Wilderlands were affected by something the PCs were doing. And many places were affected by multiple parties  especially the City-State of the Invincible Overlord.

The original Wilderlands of High Fantasy were pretty light on the details of the world. It had local detail in abundance but not much on at the level of Kings, and Emperors. Over multiple campaigns set in the same setting, I started developing a consistent background of my own. Eventually around 1988, with my originals wearing out, I used what I learned in cartography as part of my geography minor to hand draw an brand new set of maps for my own use. I expanded the scale slightly from 5 miles per hex to 12.5 hexes. Adopted some ideas on cartography from Harn and from then on the Majestic Wilderlands started to come together.

By 1988 I switched to GURPS. Rather then going off on a completely different tangent with the Majestic Wilderlands, I adapted the stuff I was doing with AD&D to GURPS. Sure there were differences as combat was deadlier, and more detailed. Character capabilities were more detailed and more flexible due to the point based system that GURPS used. But by and large players still explored dungeons to find weath and magic items, and still were trying to knock off kings, emperors, and merchants.

Because of the flexibility of GURPS occasionally a focused campaign was run where everybody was a mage, or where everybody was a member of thieves guild.

One of my favorites was one where everybody was a member of the city guard and characters started out with half the normal number of character creation points. The tactics and gear the players developed as a result of that campaign I still use today. If you have my Majestic Wilderlands Supplement the Knight Killer Crossbow (page 4 in the link) was a result of that campaign.

Another favorite was another low point character creation campaign where everybody was part of s small neighborhood in City-State. The highlight was the PCs successfully coming up with a plan to take out a vampire with blankets, pots, pans, and rope. And they succeeded.

Finally in the 2000s I started using OD&D for my regular campaigns. I already had some experience with the system from the various hexcrawl formatted settings that I wrote like Points of Light and Blackmarsh.

After reading Matt Finch's Old School Primer a bunch of things came together in my head that didn't happen when I first used AD&D. I saw how I could do with OD&D everything I was doing with other RPGs like GURPS  but without the overhead of the more detailed mechanics. I still enjoy playing those RPGs but OD&D worked out as the better choice for the time I had. I started using it and eventually wrote up what I did in the initial sessions as the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement.

This is why I run the campaigns I do when it comes tabletop roleplaying. Next I will talked more about the nuts and bolts of what I do namely how I setup and use sandbox adventures.



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poor quality scans for the Wilderlands of High Fantasy

Over on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG Judges sells scans of the original maps. Many have commented on their poor quality. The reason for this is because they were made in the early 2000s by a fan who had access to a large format blueprint scanner. The problem is that the blueprint scanner could only scan black or white. The scan area under each pixel could register either only black in color or remain blank i.e. white.

Even a decade later large format scanners that could do full color were rare. I tried to get my own hand drawn version of the wilderlands map scanned and the best I could do was greyscale.

When I got aboard with Judges Guild and Necromancer Games, Bob Bledsaw sent me a CD of every scan they had whether it is maps or books. Most of the published maps were in there but not many books.

The original scan looked like this.


Somewhat readable. So what can one do to improve. Luckily the PDFs of the maps Judges Guilds allow you to export the map as a full resolution image if you have a program like Abode Acrobat or another PDF editor. I recommend saving this image as a PNG or TIFF.

Once you have that image you can then using a image processing program like Gimp, Paintshop Pro, or Adobe Photoshop to blur the image ever so slightly. New version of these programs have an adjustable blur. I would keep bumping it up until the b/w cross hatching disappears. The map looks way better although you can detect the blurriness when you look close at it.


I hope this helps with getting more out of your purchase of the original Wilderlands Map.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What everybody forgets about the OSR

What people forget time and time again when it comes to what the OSR is about, what it ought to be doing, where is it going; that it defining characteristic is the use of open content, leveraging digital technology and using the internet for distribution.

The net effect is that there are no gatekeepers, there nothing that the OSR as whole (if something like that is even possible) or segments or cliques can do to impend any projects from being released and distributed.

No one incident prompted this essay but I follow the OSR as best as I can and I think everybody needs reminded of this aspect of the OSR. That in the end it the OSR is not about one vision, not even about Gary Gygax's and Dave Arneson's vision. It about the freedom to take the pieces that existed at the beginning of our hobby and assemble them into the form that YOU judge best not what some what publisher or author says is best. And it is perfectly fine that you wind up agreeing with what a particular author says like Gygax, Arneson, Mentzer, Gonnerman , Proctor, Finch, Raggi , etc.

If your favorite retro-clone or supplement is not open enough. Or you don't like the community that surrounds it. You can always go back to original wellspring the d20 SRD and follow the same steps as OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, etc did to realize your vision of your project. Regardless whether it is for sharing or for commercial sale.

Going hand and hand with that is the fact that for better or for worse the OSR is a thing. For the past decade and a half there been a group of hobbyists actively publishing, promoting, and playing classic editions of Dungeons and Dragon and similar RPGs. This is result of everybody taking advantage of the freedom granted by the open content found in the d20 SRD to expand the quantity and variety of material that supports classic D&D.

So it is any surprise that we have the situation we have today?

But the good news is that it is not a zero sum game. The projects that a group who is interested in using a classic edition 'as is' has zero impact on a group whose project is about using newer mechanics with classic edition concepts. This is what true creative freedom looks like, messy but the opportunity is there for everybody to participate in the manner of their choosing.

It not just about publishing either, technology has allow fans of even the most obscure RPGs to communicate with one another and find some way to play new campaigns. Software like Fantasy Ground and Roll20 make this even easier.

And the OSR has benefited hobbyists who never quit playing the classic editions. Today it is far easier to find new material, new gamers, that are willing to play your favorite edition.

I submit that we live in a second golden age of tabletop roleplaying and in some ways exceed the first age in the 70s. That if you ever find yourself wondering where everything went all you need to do is shift your perspective to another corner of the OSR. In the years since the release of Gonnerman's Basic Fantasy and Marshal and Finch's OSRIC the OSR has grown far and wide. There are forums, blogs, websites, kickstarters, paterons, Google Plus, Facebook, etc, etc.

On my blog I have a link to Hoards and Hordes which is a list maintained by Guy Fullerton of various OSR product he consider Gygaxian. Even with that arbitrary limitation by 2012 he couldn't keep up with the everything that was going on. The list from April 2012 onwards become about what Guy find interesting.

It is a mess but from where I stand it is a glorious mess.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Potions and Elixirs for Swords & Wizardry

Potions has always been part of fantasy roleplaying since the release of the original roleplaying game in 1974. Not as common are the use of elixirs which traditionally are prepared from herbs not made by magic. Of course in fantasy campaigns, they may have their own type of magic infused into the brew.

As part of the work I am doing on my Majestic Fantasy RPG, I not only wrote up how I used potions in my campaigns but also included a list of elixirs as well. I was originally inspired by the excellent list of herbs that Harn had as well various herb lists found in GURPS supplements like the old Witch World. Over the years I developed my own set of elixirs for my players to use including the dreaded White Nightshade.

While I am late for Swords and Wizardry appreciation day, I hope this more than makes up for it. Enjoy!

Majestic Fantasy RPG: Potions and Elixirs.

Alternate Download Link

If you like the pictures in the pdf and on this post they are made by The Forge Studio who produces an excellent series of stock art for publishers to use.

Note: I refer to advantage and disadvantage a concept I use from the 5e SRD. Substitute +2 for advantage and -2 for disadvantage if you don't use that rule in your campaign.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Random Memorized Spells for Swords & Wizardry

Making a random table is easy, making a good random table that useful is a bit harder. While I haven't been blogging as frequently I am still gaming and one the things I been doing is working on the various parts of what is going to be follow up for the Majestic Wilderlands Supplement.

This particular project is about randomly generating memorized spells. This came about because one of the things  I am doing is writing up a Monster Manual style listing of common NPCs that I used. This includes various magic users NPCs that I used.

While doing this I realized that I don't have a good way of coming up with memorized spells. What I been doing is using the NPCs I created for Scourge of the Demon Wolf and varying the spells a bit. I wanted more variety with less sweat I had to put into Scourge.

So I sat down with the spell lists and looked them over carefully and assigned what I thought were the odds of somebody memorizing them.

Then I coded up the tables using NBos' Inspiration Pad Pro and tweaked the result until they look about right.

After that I had everything I need to write up Random Memorized Spell Generation for the Majestic Wilderlands RPG.

Since like my original supplement, it  is based on Swords and Wizardry, the rules are designed to work with the Core rules edition.

One additional thing I want to point that this booklet also illustrate the use and different between random tables and random assortments. In the mid 70s Gygax and TSR released the Monster and Treasure Assortment. It contained charts to generate the monsters and treasure for nine levels of a dungeon. What made this different is that each chart was very simple to use. There were two charter per level, one with a 100 different monster entries, and another with a 100 treasure.

What interesting to me that the starting looked that Gygax rolled on the the random tables of OD&D 100 times and then edited the results to make sure there was enough variety. This booklets does the same for memorized spells. I used the table to generate six sets of memorized spells for 3rd, 6th, and 9th leve, and four sets of spells for 12th, 15th, and 18th. I then did some minor editing to rework result I felt where nonsense.

Hope this proves useful and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How not to design a RPG


Since their successful Runequest Classic kickstarter, Chaosium has been working on a new edition of Runequest. This editions is built on Runequest and is designed to support the Glorantha setting the same way Runequest 2 did. Yesterday they formally announced the new name which will be Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha.

As part of this effort Chaosium has released a series of designers note.
Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Overall I applaud this project. It is a bit of downside that the folks at the The Design Mechanism are not involved due to creative differences but they are still in business and writing excellent material for the renamed Runequest 6, Mythras.

By now I am sure you are asking what this has to do with how not to design an RPG. While reading Part 2 I noticed this section

The RuneQuest percentage skills character sheet elegantly serves non-combat roleplaying through these two important design rules:
RPG Design Rule a: "If it's not in the rules, it's not in the gameplay." [ie, player knows it's not an important thing to think about]
RPG Design Rule b: "If, in a scenario crisis, a player can't find problem-solving tools on their character sheet, they won't look elsewhere for them." [ie, When players are flummoxed, they look to their character sheets for inspiration. And they won't be inspired to use any tool they don't find there.]
I strongly disagree that the above are two important design rules for a RPG. In fact they are bad design because theylimit the flexibility that is one of the primary strength of a given RPG.

Consider this what is the point of a RPG? Over the year I have come to the conclusion that is not to play a set of rules in the way that we play chess, backgammon, Risk, Panzerblitz, Axis & Allies, etc, etc. Rather the point of tabletop roleplaying to experience a campaign by playing a character interacting with a setting where the action is adjudicated by a human referee. The rule are an a tool to facilitate this.

And to be clear,  while I contend playing the rules may not be the point of tabletop roleplaying, which set of rules is an important personal preference, and referees find certain sets of rule work better with the way they run tabletop rpg campaign. Both directly impact the enjoyment of the campaign.

The first point made in Chaosium's post was that if it not in the rules it is not part of the gameplay. When it comes to tabletop roleplaying campaign, it is the setting that defines and limits what the character can and not to do. If the rules and the setting conflict it is the rules that need to bend. If the rules don't cover something that the character could reasonably do within the setting then it is the referee job to figure out how to adjudicate. Never say "Well it not the rules". This is especially pertinent to Glorantha which has DECADES of background details about how it does and does not work.

The second point is way off the mark. In my 30 years of tabletop roleplaying when I run into the situation where the players ONLY look to their character sheet for solution is because the referee is browbeat them into thinking that if it is not in the rules it can't be done. I always been a referee that said roleplay first, we will figure out what you need to roll second.*

I think the authors behind the new Runequest need to think long and hard about their approach if they believe the above two are true. My advice is to focus writing good tools to allow players to experience Stafford's Glorantha as various characters. To remember that anything they write will never cover everything that is possible in Glorantha.  Especially considering the mythic nature of the setting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The one where I get interviewed.by Brendan Davis

I been doing maps for  Brendan Davis of Bedrock Games for a couple of years. As part of the process we get together online to various reviews of the work in progress. More often than not we wind up chatting afterwards and discuss all thing roleplaying.

So when Brendan started a podcast, I was happy when he invited me on for a episode. We talked about the early days of gaming, sandbox campaigns, and gaming in general. Also I talk up what +Tim Shorts  of Gothridge Manor is doing. Along with a mention of the stuff that +Dwayne Gillingham has been working on with 3d6 based Crit System.

You can find the podcast here.