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Sunday Six: 2014-02-16

February 16th, 2014

I think I’ve been offline since Monday evening, maybe Tuesday morning. Something like that. I’ve had Internet access, but I’ve just been way  too busy to actually keep up with what’s going on in my virtual worlds. I didn’t even get a chance to read any of my RSS feeds since that time. I finally got a chance to catch up on things while doing a massive software upgrade on my server. The upgrade just finished, and things look solid enough for me to make this post.

However, I have a huge video editing project ahead of me, so I do’t have time to make any comments.

Sorry.

The twisting tunnels of Burlagoon
[GMing] Introducing People to Complex Settings
The Two Page Prep System
The Fields Of Magic
A Really Extreme Case of Player Entitlement?
Relationship Advice For Your Campaign

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28 Days: Day #12

February 12th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s questions are:

  • Where is the first place you bought your gaming supplies? Is it still around?

B_Dalton_logoB. Dalton Bookseller is the first place I purchased gaming stuff. That lasted for roughly four years, and then Roger opened Based Loaded.

Bases Loaded mainly specialized in cards, comics, and other collectibles. He also had a great selection of RPGs, tabletop war games, and such. As soon as I discovered Bases Loaded, I bought everything through him. Roger did a great job of allowing us to special order things and not pay until the item arrived. He also kept a great stock of games on hand, so it was rare we had to special order things.

He also dedicated almost half of his rented space to two game rooms. It wasn’t until much later in life did I realize how much that really cost him in inability to stock more items for sale. Having a game room is a nice touch to a gaming store. Having two separate rooms is unthinkably generous.

I’m not sure if you’re still around, Roger, but I thank you for everything.

To answer the second question, B. Dalton Bookseller is no longer around. They closed their doors in 2010. This makes me sad to see a bookstore close down.

Bases Loaded was open from around the time I was about 14 until I was around 20 or so. When Roger had to close his doors, sell his stock, and move on to something else I cried. I still get weepy thinking about a great friend having to walk away from his passion. To this day, I often think of him and wonder what he’s up to… or if he’s even still around.

If you’re still out there, Roger… THANK YOU!!!

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28 Days: Day #11

February 11th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s question is:

  • What is the first “splatbook” you begged your DM to approve?

From my best recollection, splatbooks didn’t really hit the shelves in a hard way until WotC released D&D 3.0 under the OGL. Until that seminal moment, TSR/WotC controlled a vast majority of the (A)D&D products. There might have been generic third-party items (like the Judge’s Guild stuff).

thiefs_handbookI suppose the brown handbooks for 2nd Edition AD&D could be considered “splatbooks” since they were written by different authors and had rules all over the place as far as game balance goes. I distinctly remember the Thief’s Handbook being the most overpowered out of all of them, but it also had the coolest ideas. It took quite a bit of work to rectify the game balance issues between all of the brown handbooks.

Why was it work for me? Because I was the GM at the time. I had people wanting to use them. I wanted them to use them because of the flair and flavor they all provided. There was tons of Good Stuff in those books, so I massaged the rules (some up and some down) to get them on a level playing field of power.

As far as my first request as a player… Again, not a splatbook, but I spotted the Time Lord class in one of the Dragon magazines and tried to convince my GM of the day to let me run one. It rightfully got shot down. That particular class was just too powerful and could totally wreck the continuity and flow of a story within the game.

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28 Days: Day #10

February 10th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s question is:

  • What is the first DragonDungeon, or some other gaming magazine you bought?

beauty_beholderAgain, I can’t remember, but I have a legitimate reason beyond “that was a long time ago” for this one.

Sometime in my senior year of high school (1990-1991), I came across a twine-bound stack of Dragon magazines at a garage sale. I think they wanted a buck for them. Maybe two. Either way, I bought the bundle and took it home. The first issue I cracked the cover on was the one where a man presents a bundle of flowers to an obviously female beholder. I picked that one because I immediate got the joke of, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Hah! What little I knew about that issue, though. It was an April issue, which is packed full of goofy stuff. I had no idea. I thought all issues of Dragon magazine must be like this, and I almost stopped reading the rest of the purchased issues. I changed my mind and went back to the well. I’m glad I did. There was some great stuff in those issues.

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28 Days: Day #9

February 9th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s question is:

  • What is the first campaign settings (published or homebrew) you played in?

gray_box_forgotten_realmsThis is an easy one for me. Until around 1988 or so, I ran almost pure dungeon crawls. The first word of the game is “dungeon” after all, right? When I came across the Gray Box Forgotten Realms set, I knew I had to have it. That was probably the summer of 1988. It was about a year after the Gray Box was released, and I’m very fortunate that the gaming store still had a copy.

I’ve been a Forgotten Realms addict ever since. I think I have pretty much every module, world book, campaign arc, map, dungeon, wilderness setting, etc., etc., etc.. published for D&D. The only thing I don’t have are the novels set in Faerun. Reading D&D novelizations grates on my nerves because I can see the game mechanics “leak through” the narrative, and that ruins the novels for me. I don’t want to see the game structure behind the storytelling.

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Sunday Ten: 2014-02-09

February 9th, 2014

No alliteration today in the title. That’s okay.

I couldn’t do the Friday Five on Friday because work kept me slam-packed busy, then I had to race from work to my monthly Pathfinder game. The game was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.! The players finally got free of the opening dungeon crawl and into the city where they have a bit more freedom to make choices and move. That really opened up the role playing. By the end of the night, they were wanting to make it a twice-a-week game instead of a once-a-month game. As much as I would love to do that, it just ain’t gonna happen with my current life load.

Saturday rolled around, and we had a huge event for a non-profit I’m president of. That consumed the entire day, but went off really well. Only a few hitches, and I’m not sure the audience at the presentations even noticed.

Now we’re here to Sunday, and I checked my bookmarks for the week. I have ten of them. Normally, I have five-to-eight things bookmarked. Not this week. It was a great week in the RPG blogosphere! Time to get on to the links!

I Want To Explore This World…

Yeah. Me too. The thoughts and desires of adventure these images evoke are excellent. Great finds!

The Application Of Time and Motion to RPG Game Mechanics

As a game designer, this post really hit the nail on the head. Taking Mike’s advice, I’m going to have to go back and review some of the rules I have in my game system to ensure they’re not overly complex, require looking up each time they are used (D&D 3.0 grapple rules anyone?), and that they flow smoothly with the narrative being told.

100 Things 4e D&D Players Never Say

These are hilarious! The last one (#1) is the best. Killing a character off in 4th edition D&D requires some real effort on the part of the GM, and some really bad choices by the player… all at the same time.

Bring Out Your Dead – Some Ideas for Effecting PCs When Returning From Beyond

These effects on characters after they are raised from the dead are excellent. I’ve printed this blog post and thrown it into my folder along with tons of other “flavor effect” articles that I use during games. Well done, Eric!

Saying Isn’t Feeling: Evoking Emotional Engagement in Players

In addition to being a gamer, I’m also a writer of fiction. One of the rules you hear repeatedly is, “Show, don’t tell.” It’s such a brief statement that it’s hard to wrap your head around the full impact of the advice. Many people just don’t get it at first. I certainly didn’t. It’s just too brief. Too succinct. This post by Jeff explains things really well for writers as well as GMs and players.

[Tuesday Map] Traven’s Redoubt

Another great map from Dyson! Need I say more?

GIVING POWERGAMERS WHAT THEY DESERVE…

This good-sized post by Runeslinger is a top-notch one on how to handle powergamers and give them what they want while maintaining some sense of game balance/continuity. I’ve always struggled with this, and this post really helped me out.

Eight Tips for Using Travel as a Plot Device in Fantasy Games

For my monthly game, they’ll (probably) be leaving the city in the near future. I’m figuring there will be a few adventures within their undead-riddled city before they head out and get on the road. This post helped me prep for the eventual cross-country travels through the chilly country of Brevoy in the Inner Sea area of Golarion.

Pick #92: What does a real sword weigh?

Back to my writing. I write fantasy. I tend to pick the time period around 1000 CE to for my representative time period of when the world exists. When I describe warriors rolling, dodging, and smoothly moving in their armor, I’ve always had a few people call me out on it. That’s partially a fault of my writing in that I don’t specify that the armor is leather (I’ve fixed that), and partially a fault of peoples’ concepts of what “real armor” is like. This post links to a few other pages that really help clear things up. I’m temped to print the linked articles, so I can throw them at people that want to believe armor is always shiny plates of metal that weigh in at 200 pounds and prevents a warrior from standing up once he’s fallen down after tripping over a rock.

[CONTEST] The Dungeon of Lost Coppers

Woo Hoo! A contest from Dyson! Take his unfinished map, finish it off, and email it to him by February 23rd to be entered into a drawing for the deluxe copy of Dyson’s Delves. I bought a copy of the book when it became available, and it’s an excellent book. Well worth your time to enter the contest if you don’t already have the book. More details found at the link.

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28 Days: Day #8

February 8th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s questions are:

  • What is the first set of polyhedral dice you ever owned? Do you still own it?

PENTAX ImageI have some of the dice from my Mentzer Red Box, but I couldn’t point to them and proclaim them to be my originals. They’re in a huge Royal Crown bag along with dozens of other “retired” dice. Many of these retired dice are the newer Chessex-style dice, but some of them are the older, softer plastics that TSR released with their box sets.

I now wish I had kept them separate, so I could pull them out and stare longingly at them while remembering simpler times of hack ‘n’ slash and monty haul style gaming. I just don’t enjoy those styles any more. I’ve moved on. I’ve matured. Maybe it’s best those memories stay in the past.

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28 Days: Day #7

February 7th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s question is:

  • What is the first D&D product you ever bought?

DnDBasicSheetAs I’ve already mentioned, I earned my Mentzer D&D Red Box set by selling Captain O greeting cards. I’m not going to consider that a “bought” since I didn’t really spend any money on it. I think the first thing I actually spent cash on was at the B. Dalton Booksellers. Man, I can still smell that place. What a wonderful scent. Books. Ink. Magazines. Paper. It’s a glorious smell.

Anyway…. I bought a packet of character sheets, and was highly disappointed. The ones my friends and I had made on notebook paper were so much easier to use. I was hoping for pre-filled character sheets, so I could use those characters as a NPCs and such in my games. I didn’t expect blank sheets at all. I’m still disappointed in that purchase.

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28 Days: Day #6

February 6th, 2014

d20 Dark Ages has issued a 28 day blogging challenge to celebrate D&D’s 40th birthday. I’ve taken up the challenge. You can find the image with the questions here.

Today’s question is:

  • What is your first character to go from 1st level to the highest level possible in a given edition.

kinolThat would be my first character: Kinol the Elf.

I moved him from Basic D&D through all of the BECMI series (though he turned down immortality when offered, and I’m not sure why I did that.)

When 2nd Edition AD&D was released, I joined that movement (and still have all of the books!) I converted Kinol to the new version, and he was, well, way overpowered. That’s when I decided to retire the character as a PC.

During my massive GMing days of running 2nd Edition, I used Kinol a handful of times as an NPC that would briefly appear and make a minor impact on the campaign before running off into the shadows. Yeah. It was very Elminster-esque.

I miss playing him. I did “re-create” him in a way when I created a 3rd Edition elven ranger/sorcerer. That character was an amazing flop, though. Not because of poor build, bad stats, or inadequate decision making. It all boiled down to the fact that I rolled like crap with that character at every vital situation. I just couldn’t do anything right. It became a running joke that he was constantly high on ‘shrooms, and that was the main reason he was so inept at everything.

Since Kinol, the highest I’ve achieved is a measly 13th level. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing D&D (and most every other RPG,) but it would be nice to see what those higher levels are like!

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Watching Wednesday: Bags & Dice

February 5th, 2014

Holy cow! It’s February already, and my last Watching Wednesday was way back in December of 2013. I knew I had missed “a few” Watching Wednesday posts, but I didn’t realize it had been over a month since I had done one of these.

Today is a double-whammy, though. I thought these two Kickstarters meshed very well. One ends in 3 days, and the other in 7 days, and they go together like a dozen orcs packed into a 10×10 room.

The first Kickstarter ends in three days, and is Custom Chainmail Dice Bags. They’ve already passed their initial funding goal, and unlocked a stretch goal of an awesome extra-large dice bag. The bags are going to be made out of anodized aluminum rings with a broad variety of colors to choose from. He’s also making them with rubber rings, so the bags will stretch and flex. I’ve made chainmail dice bags in the past out of stainless steel, and my resulting dice were all grungy and covered in muck. Since he’s using anodized aluminum, this shouldn’t happen. Like I’ve said, you have about three days to jump in on this great deal.

The second Kickstarter ends in seven days, and is 14 Dice Sets Compatible with DCC + d9 and d11. I bet you can already see why this Kickstarter goes with the first. The backing levels and rewards are a little confusing to me, but I think I have it worked out. I’d try to explain it, but I’d hate to mislead others in case I have it wrong. It still looks like a decent way to snag some really cool, odd, weird, and just plain pretty dice. Then you can cram them into your chainmail dice bag. You might even be able to color coordinate the dice and the bag!

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