Game On!

It is not without irony that a single sentence explaining not only why I play RPGs, but why I play TTRPGs and not MMORPGs is in a video about why it’s okay to play MMORPGs:

<a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/browse?mkt=en-us&#038;from=&#038;vid=8cb424dc-cbdb-40be-90c5-8fb450462d2f&#038;from=en-us" target="_new" title="Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"">Video: Season 4 &#8211; Music Video &#8211; &#8220;Game On&#8221;</a>

Then again, I have a weakness for Bollywood.

Two Years

Today marks two years since my first post, on literary influences on my gaming. The immediate impetus to begin was a post on media influences by James Raggi. At that time I had been reading a handful of old school blogs, principally Lamentations of the Flame Princes, Grognardia, and the now gone Wilderlands/OD&D blog by HUGE RUINED PILE’s Scott.

Excluding this post there have been 179 entries. I didn’t start using any tracking software until November 30, 2009 when I added Google Analytics which has run except for one day when I broke it while changing templates. As I write I’ve had 18,063 page views over 12,932 visits.

Top five popular posts:

  1. Miss Manners Wouldn’t Play D&D with 666 page views. This should surprise no one.
  2. Inspirational Art: Ken Kelly with 629 page views. This post almost always has at least one view a day and will probably over take the Miss Manners post by year’s end.
  3. An Adult Hobby Now? with 477 page views. This is quite a surprise for an off the cuff post.
  4. Not A Golden Age But A Gilded Agewith 315 page views.
  5. The Current TARGA BS with 252 page views. Scandal always sells.

Top five traffic sources:

  1. Feedburner
  2. Direct (no link)
  3. Lamentations of the Flame Princess (I’m big in Finland!)
  4. Jeff’s Gamesblog
  5. Grognardia

Here’s hoping you’ll still be here in another two years and here’s hoping I have more than doubled the number of useful posts as well as improved the signal to noise ratio.

The Wolrd After: The Hierarchy

The Hierarchy is the sponsor of most clerics. It is the oldest institution of man, being the only one to pre-date The Harrowing of the World. Interestingly, even the most senior members of it know little more than the rest of the world of true nature of The Harrowing.

Dedicated to order and the preservation of that order The Hierarchy embraces only two principles, justice and wraith. The maintenance of civilization is their first and only real goal. As such many members of the The Hierarchy may be cruel or even evil in maintaining order. While the Hierarchy has never endorsed torture, tyranny, or similar practices they have accepted them both from their agents and others as long as civilization is preserved by them. This dedication to order often brings them into conflict with elves, who see themselves as agents of chaos to positive ends.

The Hierarchy takes no official position on the cause or result of The Harrowing but they have been known to be opening to fighting along side Devils against the Demons intent on consuming the world. In fact, the only absolute penalty of death endorsed by the Hierarchy is consorting with Demons.

Finally, just because The Hierarchy is a large, structured organization that does not believe it is uniform in its believes or even teachings. While all Hierarchs have absolute rule over clerics in their district (generally a single city) the office of Principal Hierarch has gone empty since the days of The Harrowing. The Principal Hierarch of the time was killed in The Harrowing and although a successor was proclaimed a few days later in Quavveniec he disappeared within a handful of days himself. The reason no successor has been named to this day is a cause of much speculation among the laity and minor clerics.

Many Members of the Hierarchy (Roll a d20 three times)
1 Endorse physical punishment for crime (flogging, stocks, etc)
2 Study a formal school of painting, music, or sculpture
3 Use a handled baton as both their primary weapon and staff of office.
4 Are trained in dispersing mobs
5 Can practice law in many City States
6 Play rugby
7 Believe that spreading team sports encourages order
8 Have training in some form of traditional medicine (herbalism, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, etc)
9 Are celibate
10 Will walk everywhere unless the speed is riding is absolutely necessary
11 Eat dates or lamb whenever they can
12 Have spent time as a shepherd
13 Use bronze greaves and bracers
14 Are exceptional mathematicians
15 Invent it
16 Invent it
17 Invent it
18 Invent it
19 Invent it
20 Invent it

Some Members of the Hierarchy (Roll a d16)
1 Have the means (such as a true name) to summon a minor Devil.
2 Have an irrational fear and hatred of elves.
3 Believe elves are the unholy spawn of Demons and women.
4 Have served as part of the internal guard of a City State in the past
5 Are trained in raising mobs
6 Play cricket
7 Discourage games of chance or individual achievement
8 Wear only black and white
9 Tend to blame witches (those who traffic with Demons) for bad events
10 Wear bronze helmets
11 Believe general poverty helps prevent chaos from spreading.
12 Invent it
13 Invent it
14 Invent it
15 Invent it
16 Invent it

Common Traveling Gear for The Hierarchy (Roll a d16 1d3 times prior to spending starting gold)
1 A combination staff of office/weapon (similar to a modern police nightstick)
2 A copy of “The General Commentary on the Black Law”
3 A token of office from the guard force of a City State
4 A set of prayer beads
5 A book of common prayers
6 Incense and a censer
7 Paper, pens, and ink
8 Personal seal and wax
9 A bronze holy symbol (generally a sun cross or a simplified Celtic Cross)
10 Reading glasses
11 Brushes and pigments
12 Blessed incense and a thurible
13 A shepherd’s crook
14 Invent it
15 Invent it
16 Invent it

Creative Commons License
This work by Herbert Nowell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Random Thoughts…

Last night while helping grout ceramic tile for a friend I came up with some ideas for the a Barony Generation system for Wanderer Book 3. Apparently that mock-up got lots of people back in the day.

I also have figured out a solution to my pathways problem, at least in terms of why the dimension warping nature of Santuario Nero isn’t routinely used over more mundane travel.

Scott’s DVDs look very cool, but I wonder about the legality. Still, following his link there is a lot I’d like to get…beyond the Warren horror one of the Gold Key disks has plenty, although not all, of Magnus, Robot Fighter who was my favorite thing to read at the barber shop as a kid. I bought them when I saw them, which was rarely.

While I’m recruiting for the new City State of the Apocalypse campaign I’m still trying to decide on a rules set, most specifically house rules. I really want to try something very minimal to allow organic growth a la Dwimmermount the urge to play around is hard. One thing I’ve given some thought is semi-3.x saving throws. Instead of building my own chart or importing others to the one type saving throw of S&W I thought of dividing up saving throws by attribute (I already know I’ll be adopting a B/X style bonus for my game). While level will still be the main factor in saving throws this should also create a stronger class flavor: in general fighters will save in tests of strength while magic-users will in test of intellect.

The other thing I’d really like to get into the game are constitution and charisma prime attribute classes. I have no idea on the former and the later easily defaults to bard so it can’t be that. I think the best bet is to go through my source material and find outstandingly hardy and inspiring characters to build the classes from.

As I’ve been filling in the Random List I’ve thought of posting updates. However, that seems a bit much. Is there any interest in a separate page for Appendix N: City States of the Apocalypse?

The World After: A Bit More On Elves

This post is an addition to CSotA: Elves.

The thing most people in the World After (how people in the City States tend to refer to their entire world) ask about elves is where the elves came from.

No one wants to know this more than the elves themselves. All elves appear in the world as adults with no clear memory of life before. The location and time of their appearance seem to be random, at least to date no scholar, elf or human (not even the famed Parkin of the Still Pastures), has found a pattern to their appearance. No elf in the World After has born or fathered a child, despite two clear and obvious genders.

In general elves know three things about elves when they appear in the world. They know they come from the forgotten island of Rutas. They know they can, in fact, have children both among themselves and with humans or at least could in the past. Finally, they know they are the children of creative chaos. The last causes no end of problems with The Hierarchy.

Note on the Cleric posts: For those who saw the autoposted entries on cleric they will appear this week. I didn’t realize how rusty my creativity is, but trying to write Devil’s in the Details charts is tough. They pack an amazing amount of world design into a small space and aren’t easily grooved creativity. The only thing harder for me is dungeon set pieces.

Monday Pointers: July 26, 2010

D4:Weird Adventures
Trey at The Sorcerer’s Skull has announced his blog posts about The City will become a setting product for Classic D&D style games. I have to love the cover which is a brilliant homage to both the original PHB and classic pulps such as Weird Tales. I am bit surprised no pulp classes will be added, but it is just a setting not a full game.

D6:In my world drunken masters use the number of drinks so far this session
An old post, from last year, but one I just read. The idea of kung fu numbers reminds me a bit of cherries in Unknown Armies and are exactly the kind of low rules, low impact thing I’ve come to love in games. I don’t need pages of rules to do cool stuff, just an imagination trigger. Like random tables, one that springs surprises on you tends to work best.

D8:Speaking of more combat crunch
The comments on the above link lead me to this post over at Sham’s Grog and Blog that introduces 15 modules (plug-ins) that can add options to your D&D combat. What’s interesting is you could probably mix up which ones you use when to get the right feel for a given combat.

The World After: Races and Classes

Nothing completely definitive…more leaving myself a note, but I figured making the notes public is part of blogging (except for those super secret notes in my notebooks for PCs to discover).

Anyway, planned initial races and classes (no race/class split): fighters, clerics, magic-users, elves (using the old D&D pick every day fighter/m-u class), dwarves, and some kind of “other skills” class. I’m torn on how to do the last. I’m waiting to see how the specialist works. I remember someone (maybe Rob at Bat in the Attic) had a similar class. Or I may run with a talents and SR class of my own design.

The World After: If strict time records are not kept

you cannot have a meaningful campaign.

Yes, I reversed the clauses because the conditional makes a better post title.

While The Harrowing post may obscure this, this campaign is set in a version of our world (made slightly less explicit both for meta-game and personal religious reasons). As such the calendar is made easier on me in that I’ll use the basic Gregorian one.

In order to add a bit of atmosphere and account for the campaign’s starting location, however, I won’t be using the normal English names for the days of the week or months of the year. Instead, I’ll be using Italian ones.

The start date will be Lunedì, Aprile 16. I know the AD year is 23*25 years past The Harrowing, but the campaign year I’ll figure out when I need to.

The World After: Elves

So, elves…

Elves are the bane of the fantasy roleplaying game. To get an idea of how tired elves have gotten Talislanta has been advertising “No elves” since 1987, a date closer to the original publication of D&D than it is to to today by almost a factor of two. More recently Sirth of the Scrolls at Scrolls of Lankhmar talked about boring elves and dwarves (and complimented my sea dwarves from a game last year…thanks Sirth).

That said any game which starts from the premise “Using a virgin old school rules set, create a megadungeon and minor surroundings, add players, and then see where it goes” is going to have elves. None of my potential systems: OD&D, Holmes (with one of the fan expansions), Moldavy/Cook/Marsh (with the upcoming Companion), BECMI, RC, S&W, Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy Roleplaying, Dark Dungeons, or even Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying lets me escape elves (maybe the last does).

So, elves…

Right now I’m looking at a handful of options to make them unique. First, to look as far from Tolkien as I can I’ve included one issue of a story set in Marvel’s Weirdworld as part of my alchemical formula. I’m tempted to add an issue of Elfquest.

Second, regardless of what rules set I will use, elves will use the OD&D convention of selecting once a day what class they will be. Yes, even in T&T (if I use it) we’re going to give this a shot.

Finally, I’m going to take up the Devil in the Details idea from Fight On! #1 (which also adds something to my canon). My tables are below. However, to encourage player input you’ll notice six entries on the first table and five entries on the second and third are “invent it”. I plan on doing this to some degree for all DitD tables to encourage player creation.

Many Elves (Roll a d20 three times)
1 Have only three fingers (plus a thumb)
2 Are about four feet tall
3 Play a musical instrument very well
4 Wear only leather clothing
5 Know how to juggle more than three items at a time
6 Wear circlets on their head or neck
7 Enjoy playing practical jokes
8 Paint a personal sigil on trees as they enter and leave a forest
9 Speak the language of brooks and trees
10 Have elaborate tattoos on their arms and/or legs
11 Worship change and chance or a deity of them
12 Collect things in fives, twenty-fives, and twenty-threes
13 Refuse to go about during a new moon
14 Eat nothing but meat
15 Invent it
16 Invent it
17 Invent it
18 Invent it
19 Invent it
20 Invent it

Some Elves (Roll a d16)
1 Have a small forest animal companion
2 Refuse to wear clothing while at home
3 Cannot swim
4 Have elaborate facial tattoos
5 Are allergic to horses
6 Will only eat meat they have hunted themselves (although they need not have killed it themselves)
7 Wear jewelry that frames their face
8 Will not use metal tools
9 Have hair below their waist when loose
10 Prefer human lovers to elven ones
11 Prefer to sleep during sunlight
12 Invent it
13 Invent it
14 Invent it
15 Invent it
16 Invent it

Common Traveling Gear for Elves (Roll a d16 1d3 times prior to spending starting gold)
1 A small musical instrument
2 Pressed leaves or flowers from their home
3 Razor sharp wooden hair sticks
4 A long, stone tipped spear
5 A bagh nakh
6 Bowl and spoon formed from wood grown bound in that form (non-magical)
7 Body Paints
8 Seeds of twenty-three flowers and herbs from their home
9 A set of several wooden dice with a die cup
10 Jerky of their own making
11 A pot with a bonsai tree
12 Invent it
13 Invent it
14 Invent it
15 Invent it
16 Invent it