Sunday, August 12, 2018

Michael and the Magic Man

Not strictly a gaming-related post, but I found this in an old issue of Ares Magazine (Issue #3, July 1980). It's a short "capsule review" by Greg Kostikyan of a little-known novel: Kathleen M. Sidney's Michael and the Magic Man.

I found the novel by chance at a local used bookstore, and I'm surprised and dismayed to find that there's basically nothing about it online; few have heard of it, and it looks like the author hasn't gotten any other books published. I'm posting the review here for two reasons. First, to make it available in searchable text; the PDF scan of the magazine from the Internet Archive, while of great visual clarity, hasn't been run through an OCR program. Second, to spread the word on the book in my own small way; while it's not perfect, I did enjoy it and would like to see it in print again some day.

Without further ado, the review (after the jump):

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Different "AD&D" (mental health CW)

(I'm putting the rest of this post under the little "jump break" so that anyone who happens upon it can be warned about what it'll contain, and skip it entirely if they so choose. And this will contain content about anxiety, depression, and a few other delights. I'm also making this warning much longer and more flowery than it needs to be, so that someone doesn't see the body text in their blog feed and get set off. Consider yourself well warned.)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sometimes There Is A Board

I've just started thinking about getting my hands on another D&D-esque board game. I like being able to do pick-up games, but I decided a few months ago that running an actual RPG as a pick-up game is not worth my time and effort. Cthulhu Dice is extremely portable, but works best as an icebreaker rather than the source of a full evening of gaming. My old standby, Munchkin, has been so thoroughly explored by me that I have little interest in playing it again for the foreseeable future - and the "World of Dorkness" themed set I own, Munchkin Bites!, suffers from a severe lack of monsters. (A bit ironic, that, since the premise is that everyone is a monster.)

I've written briefly about the Temple of Elemental Evil board game, and I still like it overall in spite of its bulk and its long setup time. While I have considered expanding it using one of the other D&D Adventure System games - especially Wrath of Ashardalon, because who can say no to a big red dragon? - they are quite large in both size and cost. One does receive a lot of decent- to high-quality goods for their money, but while expensive miniatures are better than expensive pieces of card stock (seriously, why the hell does Car Wars cost so damn much?), either way they're expensive.

Even more unfortunately, all three of the games which I've seen and heard many glowing recommendations for - HeroQuest, Dragon Strike, and the LEGO Heroica games - are out of print. Here are some of the options I've been considering.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Assassins & Advanced D&D

So, I finally got a small group together to discuss the potential game to be played. I had decided beforehand that I would not be able to run Dungeon Crawl Classics due to lacking some of the necessary dice, and not being familiar enough with the rules. Though I am proud of my mutated Basic Fantasy rules, they're currently not complete enough to compile, and (being on a wiki) would require the use of my laptop - which is both very slow, and very slowly falling apart. Another game I've considered running - original D&D - can be very closely emulated with White Box, and the supplemental classes ported over from Swords & Wizardry Complete.

This left the group with two choices: White Box (using a new setting), or AD&D 2nd Edition (using my primary fantasy setting). Surprisingly, they chose the latter, and I helped them create their characters. Now that a lot of the participants are either off of school or finished with it, we're going to try to have a session every week.

One of the optional rules that they voted on using was the Nonweapon Proficiencies system. Something that I had suspected, but wasn't completely clear on until now, is that the assassin is indeed a slightly superfluous class in the 2nd Edition rules. If one creates a thief, takes the Disguise NWP, and has either a high Strength (for melee damage) or a high Dexterity (for two-weapon fighting and ranged attacks), the result is basically an assassin who just can't use shields. Not to worry, though; while we will be using NWPs, I'll be operating under the old-school assumption that characters are generally competent.

I had planned on adding both the assassin and the monk at a later point, but the former seems unnecessary now. For the latter, I'll probably just use the version from AD&D 1st Edition, rather than the (massively overpowered) Scarlet Brotherhood iteration. I still consider the monk a priest class for game purposes, though, so they'll use d8s.

About that new setting... I'll save it for a future post. For now, all that I'll say is that DCC was an influence on it in some ways, but not others.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Spinning Down (dice testing)

Today I bought what will very likely be my last set of Chessex dice. As I've pondered the games I might run over the summer (and hopefully into the fall), one of the things that I've considered has been the dice required for each. AD&D 2nd Edition, as well as my vivisected Basic Fantasy rules set, use the standard complement of polyhedrons. White Box, in addition to being available for free or at low cost (much like Basic Fantasy), is so minimalist that players need only d20s and d6s; it was these that I bought today, such that up to four players can use a d20 and a rounded spot d6 of the same color. (I might even give these as small gifts to the players, if they choose White Box and prove committed.)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Old is Gnew

Following on from my previous post about gnomes and dwarves, further work has led to further thought. As I am wont to do, I was meticulously combing through the original Dungeons & Dragons booklets (including the Supplements), for the purposes of assembling the text therein into a single thick Men & Magic volume. The idea was to make something a bit like Mothshade's "Men & Magic Compilation", except in print-friendly digest format and using the original words almost exclusively. Doing so led me to discover rules details I hadn't noticed before, including this little tidbit from page 5 of Supplement I: Greyhawk.
Dwarves are about four feet tall, stocky of build, weigh 150 pounds, shoulders very broad, their skin a ruddy tan, brown or gray, and are of various types (hill, mountain, or burrowers) (such as gnomes).
There it is, in Olde Gygaxian - a statement that gnomes are just a type of dwarves. Gygax would change his mind later with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and future authors would continue to have gnomes as a separate but similar species. But in Duemerus? This is my setting, and my game, so I can do whatever the heck I want. And I want to have gnomes just be dwarves again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Authentic Role-playing, Episode 6 (featuring me!)

So, the thing that I obliquely hinted at in my previous post on the topic has finally occurred: I was a guest on Alexis' Authentic Role-playing podcast. The sixth episode was just published yesterday, and we have a fairly good chat.

This might be the first time you've heard my voice; it's certainly the first time I've heard a lengthy recording of my own voice since starting the blog. Give it a listen, and listen to the other episodes if you haven't yet!