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Showing posts from May, 2011

Broken Gods--my debut novel

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Well, folks, my debut novel, Broken Gods, is now in publication. It can be purchased direct from the publisher, Reliquary Press, above, but should also be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and affiliate sites within 2 weeks. By all means, however, feel free to buy one direct from the publisher! Indeed, it's better financially for me if you do so!

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 11

TIME
This section begins with a statement that a game cannot be properly run if a DM does not keep strict track of the passage of every last second of game time. It goes on to explain why, and makes some convincing arguments, but in the style of play that arose in the "second generation" which we have discussed, I'm not sure it's quite as vital as Gygax insists. Few--if any--DMs I have ever known kept strict track of the passage of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years, preferring instead to "wing" the passage of time, figuring things occur "over about the course of a week," or "Take about half a day."

But Gygax is working under a different assumption. The book seems to operate under the idea that gaming--for the DM, at least--is a more all-encompassing hobby than pretty much any other, that a DM will be constantly running games in his world, with three to five different groups, and sometimes single players attempting to catch u…

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 14

ADVENTURES IN THE AIR
Frankly, this is one of my favorite sections of the DMG. I was absolutely floored at just how solid the aerial combat rules in first edition are, given that nobody since then can seem to come up with a really great set (SWSE being a possible exception, and hopefully my upcoming rules in the WWII book for AFMBE--cheap plug).

The section begins by making the (very true) point that aerial combat takes place in a far different environment than normal combat, which is why it needs its own set of rules. It goes on then to detail various Flying Mounts and the benefits and drawbacks of caring for and training each. Griffons, for example, are carnivorous and require "enormous amounts of food, especially after prolonged aviation." They cannot be stabled with normal horses, as they will eat the horses. Hippogriffs, in contrast, are easier to train and handle, but aren't as reliable or devoted as mounts.

Following this information, we get the ratio of flying t…

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 13

THE ADVENTURE
This rather expansive section gets into a lot of really neat detail and systems regarding adventuring in both mundane (outdoor land and dungeon) and unusual (underwater and aerial) environs. Some of the stuff in here, modern game designers could learn something from reading.

Adventures in the Outdoors: This bit largely discusses establishing your campaign setting. It includes a brief mention of creating your party's base of operations and a nearby dungeon in which to begin. It then goes on to suggest that a detailed map of the surrounding area is essential to maintaining cohesiveness in your game, and provides a quick explanation of how to use a hex grid to measure scale. It also, naturally, recommends the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for those without the time to design a world of their own.

Land Adventures: The first thing we get herein is the famous (or infamous, depending on your gaming philosophy) wandering encounter tables, broken down by terrain type, time…

Blogger in Draft

If any of my followers out there keep regular blogs, you might think about visiting Blogger in Draft, which has a small host of new features for your blog. These are all in beta right now, but all of them seem to work very well. My favorite is the mobile setting--if you go into your "settings" option in your dashboard from the draft dashboard, you'll see a tab for mobile & e-mail. Selecting this tab will enable you to set your blog so that whenever it is accessed from a mobile device--phone, tablet, Nook, what-have-you, it will automatically format for reading on that device. I've done it for all three of my blogs and I love the feature.

I don't use the e-mail feature, but you can also set a "secret" e-mail address that will allow you to literally post blogs via e-mail. I haven't finished exploring the other new features yet, but so far I'm digging it. I recommend checking it out.

AD&D post forthcoming

Haven't forgotten you all.  New AD&D post is forthcoming later this afternoon.

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 12

CHARACTER SPELLS
There is an amazing amount of utility in this section...for players as well as DMs. This is yet another section of the DMG that really belongs in the PHB. However, unlike some of the other areas I've pointed out, it seems that much of this section is reactionary, that is to say, it was written in response to player abuses of spells and magical powers. If Gygax had ever gotten to do his second edition, I've no doubt much of this would've found its way into the PHB.

Day-to-Day Acquisition of Cleric Spells: There's some neat stuff in here that I'd completely forgotten since my first edition days. I love that Clerics cast first and second level spells based on their own divine power; if a deity withdraws his or her favor from a cleric, she does not lose her first and second level spells as a result. Even a change in alignment will not cost access to such spells, so long as the change is embraced with as much fervor and zeal as the original path the cler…

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 10

HENCHMEN

If Hirelings are your basic employees, henchmen are loyal (to a degree) followers of the character. They could be thought of as sidekicks, apprentices, friends, etc. The DMG claims that henchmen "are greatly desired by discerning players, for they usually spell the difference between failure and success in the long term view" (DMG 34). An interesting statement, given our earlier discussion of how the outlook of players and play style has changed over the years; I can't remember ever having a PC with a henchman, and I've been playing since 1979...though back in junior high we did (as did, I suspect, a lot of people) go through a phase where everyone ran 2 or 3 characters at a time.

This section breaks down everything you ever wanted to know about henchmen...and a lot of stuff you probably just didn't need to know. Like the hirelings section, of which it is a logical extension, this section is likely one of the best, most detailed, and most useful in the …

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Part 9

HIRELINGS

Okay, this is quite possibly the coolest and single most useful section in the DMG (as well as competing for the most expansive). WotC could really take a lesson from this section, as the third edition DMG is sorely lacking in this information, which has been replaced by reams of notes on tactical square-based miniatures combat.

Our section begins with a chart of "Standard Hirelings, daily and monthly costs," followed by a brief writeup of what each hireling is and does. These are your basic shopkeeps, tradesmen, etc, such as carpenters, torchbearers, tailors, teamsters, masons, porters, etc. that can be found in pretty much any village or town. A few brief examples of services provided and how long they take follows.

After this section, we get into the real fun...

Expert Hirelings: These are the guys you seek out in large towns and cities who are sought-after experts in their field. Here we have architects, mercenaries (of every shape, variety, and classification)…

AD&D Post later today...

Haven't forgotten you all--yesterday was a busy day.  New AD&D post coming later today.

MY ideal Conan film series...

Taking a quick break from AD&D to address this (cross-posted from my other blog)...

So the new Conan movie trailer is out, and I mostly think it's crap.  I won't get into the reasons here--there has been enough talk all over the web about that.  I decided, rather, to outline my own ideal series of Conan movies, which would actually be faithful to Howard's conception of the character and world, rather than just pretending that was my intent.

Seriously, it's not rocket science to make a good Conan film.  You just need to understand that you can't do it better than the original creator.  That being said, I will combine a few elements of what I consider to be the better (or at least useful) de Camp/Carter/Nyberg pastiches.

So without further ado, here we go.

Conan of Cimmeria - The first film would briefly adapt Dark Horse comics' most recent origin story, which I found to be an excellent take on what Howard himself wrote in letters about Conan's origin, the…

Reading Advanced Dugeons & Dragons, Part 8

ARMOR, ARMOR CLASS & SHIELDS

Types of Armor & Encumbrance: This section begins with a chart of the various armor types and shields, their weight (for human-sized suits), bulk, and the base movement allowed when employing each.

"Base movement" is tricky in AD&D, as nowhere does there exist true "movement" rules. There are brief discussions in the PHB (which we'll deal with when we get to that book) and a shed load of cross-references in the DMG, but it took me several readings to come to the understanding that the game assumes a base movement of 9" and does not take the size of the creature into account at all (i.e. halflings move just as fast as elves move just as fast as dwarves move just as fast as half-orcs). This understanding was not aided by the fact that elfin chain and leather armor grant a base movement of 12".

Oh, and before we get into the "See? INCHES! IT IS ABOUT MINIATURES!!!!" I'll deal with that when I get to…

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 7

MONEY
Player Character Starting Money: A brief section explaining that PC's begin the game intentionally poor, so that they are always striving for something. It also clarifies that starting funds are intended to represent equipment, supplies, and inherited possessions, not money, though what's left over does represent the sum of the character's "life savings," as it were. Nothing really new, here.

The next paragraph advises, if you have a difficult campaign, throwing out one or two minor special goodies such as perhaps a +1 dagger or suit of family plate mail as a bonus, but advises if you do this to lower starting funds accordingly. Here begins the age-old feud between stingy and "Monty Haul."

Player Character Expenses: This section is an oft-overlooked one in AD&D. It lays out monthly expenses for the maintenance of weapons and armor, re-supplying food, perishable items and other consumables, and general room and board for travelers. The advice he…

Reading Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 6

THE MONSTER AS PLAYER CHARACTER
Here we get some of Gygax's infamous high-handedness at its best. He gives us, in this section a full page on why players shouldn't be allowed to play monster races...and right from the getout makes a blanket statement that anyone who wants to play a nonstandard race clearly just wants to munchkin the game. His exact words: From the Dungeon Master's Guide, p.21 This is done principally because the player sees the desired monster character as superior to his or her peers and likely to provide a dominant role for him or her in the campaign.
Never mind, I suppose, players who think it just might be fun to play a goblin thief.

In any case, he goes on to justify why monster races aren't kosher, the game is humanocentric being the most important of these. The general idea is that littering the campaign with monsters lessens the impact and population of humans in a game. How very species-ist of him. But he goes on to explain why the game is human…