Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And a Helping of Humble Pie

Regarding the outcome of the Dwarven Forge Kickstarter. It looks like the worst of my concerns were unfounded, and for that I am thankful.

My belief was that they were needlessly leaving a lot of money on the table by the way they were handling the tail end of the kickstarter. Maybe they are leaving some behind, but after the spike yesterday evening and what looks like a great start in early hours of today (final day) it appears the missing loot won't be noticed.

That is fantastic and the project is a roaring success. I tip my hat to Stefan and Jeff. Good job, and thank you for the awesome deal.

Now, here's a link to a better set of picks for the Chamber of Sorrows http://www.dwarvenforge.com/newsletter/addon3.htm

And some of the pics:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Convention Season - Another For May

Here is another local Baltimore area convention coming up very soon. This is the limited info I have about it. If anyone knows more details or has better contact info please leave it in the comments.

CollectorsCon MD - Maryland's First All-In-One Con!
Dealers Schedule Special Guests Games Cosplay Batmobile
May 11, 2013

10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Early Bird Hours 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM (Details Coming Soon)

Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
5015 Campbell Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21236

Ticket Info
Tickets for Collectors Con MD will be available at Collectors Corner
(Promoter's Store) on May 4th through May 10th, and at the door on May
11th at Collectors Con MD when the convention opens!

Early Bird Admission - $12.00
(allows you to enter the show one hour early at 9:00 am)
Regular Admission - $10.00
Kids (12 and Under) - Free

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Kickstarter - How not to handle the last days of a project.

Up until the 4th day out from the end of the project, Dwarven Forge was having a brilliant Kick starter. Then something went wrong.

Typically the last 4 days of a major Kickstarter project are the most critical time and with frequent updates and marketing effort from the creators, the new backers and money come pouring in. For two days now there has been very little information and no new images of product coming from the creators of the project. As the timer ticks down to the 48 hour reminder broadcast email approaches there is silence.

Typically when looking at the Kicktraq data of a major Kickstarter during the last 4 days you see a steady and rapid upward swing of new backers and money increasing day. In this one, due to the lack of info, the data is showing a downward trend.

Wait a second . . . word is that as I was typing this post information came in that an update finally got posted to the front page of the project about the stretch goal that is $5000 away from being unlocked.

It is an add-on (you can purchase it) called Chamber of Sorrows and there are images of it on the page. The Chamber of Sorrows is a Kickstarter Exclusive and Stefan has spent the last 48 hours sculpting and painting to have it ready to show to all the dedicated backers.

The new paint scheme of this 31 piece set is dark and moody, or black and bloody if you wish.

According to the folks at Dwarven Forge, this set with this paint scheme will only be available to backers of the kickstarter. Apparently they have been getting hammered with emails and phone calls asking for an exclusive and in order to honor the wishes of their fans they chose to risk a bit of backlash and a slowdown at a critical time so they could make this a reality.

We'll see, maybe the quiet during such a critical time will prove in the end to be a huge positive for the project. Keep your eyes on this kickstarter, there are 48 hours to go and it should be exiting.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wabbit Season - Convention Season - Bang!

The convention season in and around Baltimore is getting off to a slightly confusing start Memorial Day weekend with both Balticon, and GAD-con overlapping.

Balticon is mostly a Science Fiction convention, though it does have some gaming. GAD-con is a new convention mostly for Role Playing games and some board gaming.

It is nice to see a dedicated game convention in the area, however that overlap could be a killer for some fans of both Sci-fi and Games. Hopefully next year things don't get off to such a conflicting start to the local convention season.

Here is the notice that was posted elsewhere regarding Games and Dice Convention (GAD-con)

[White Marsh, MD] Games And Dice Convention Coming Soon!
Hi! I represent a new Tabletop Gaming Convention coming to Maryland May 24-26th! We are called Games And Dice Convention! (GAD-Con for short) a convention made for gamers by gamers!

Right now and until the end of April, weekend membership passes are only $30!
After that they will go up to the regular price of $40. ($25 for a day)

We'll be hosting RPG events such as:
Games from the Pathfinder Society
Dragon Age
And we're looking for people willing to GM other RPGs! (Info and forms in the link below)

Also we will be hosting multiple tournaments:
Magic The Gathering
Pokemon (The Trading Card Game)

As well we will have an all weekend demo of a new board game called "Cannibals" by Predatory Games and a silent auction.

More info at our website here: http://www.jestergamesmd.com/
And our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/GAD-Con/431194666927333

We hope to see you there!

Friday, April 26, 2013

D&D Next info

My concern about increasing ability scores potentially being a sign of or cause for broken math in the system seems to have an answer. Straight from the WotC Q&A:

If a character takes "add +1 to an ability score" at every feat slot, will that character "break" bounded accuracy?
No, for the simple reason that we have ability score maximums in place. Since you cannot improve an ability score above 20 without some magical means, we aren’t concerned about players reaching high primary ability scores, because the highest they can go is still capped.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Trio of Kickstarters

There are two rather funny projects on the kickstarter site that have the potential to be awesome or outright duds, and a third I suspect will do very well with a very wide audience.

The first is Dark Dungeons the Movie. The creator of this project wants to make a movie of the infamous anti-d&d religious tract written by Jack Chick. Oddly enough he claims to really have acquired the rights at no cost to make the film. He plans to play it straight, not to lampoon the work, and to let the audience reaction be whatever it happens to become. If he casts good actors and finds a good director there is a real chance for something wonderful that will be side splitting hilarious.

The second is The Dungeon Bastard: World's Worst Dungeon Crawl. If you're unfamiliar with Dungeon Bastard I highly recommend viewing several episodes before checking out the kickstarter project. I love most of the canned episodes, though I really felt last year's GenCon material would have been better left on the cutting room floor. They had a good idea, but the execution was lacking. Here's hoping this will be better prepared and produced.

The third project is not directly game related, but one I'm sure everyone can appreciate. Chill Puck. The creators have a good sense of humor and are producing something useful for anyone who prefers their canned beverages cold. People that pledge high enough can even have these things produced with a logo and color design they want (within limits I'm sure - unlikely they would be able to do the full logo for this blog). I know plenty of gamers that like a cold one when they're killing monsters and taking their loot.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

With Friends Like These . . .

I got to thinking about the gamer stereotype so often portrayed in movies and TV prior to the current ascendancy of the geek and still somewhat although more because we geeks can laugh at it as well.

How do your gaming buddies stack up to the imagined stereotype?

Obviously details aren't required, so I won't go into those of my gaming friends, though I will point out that they really do not fit the mold.

Among the groups over the years I have gamed with a wide variety of individuals. Some have gone on to less than ideal things, though most are well established and some very accomplished in their professions and fields of study.

I'll skip the ones that went to the dark side since those are very few and no longer among my gaming friends or friends at all.

A number of PHDs - anthropology, criminology, professors at universities, biologists,
Various Masters, BS, BA degrees - teachers, government employees, non-profit organizations, journalists, corporate managers,
A plethora of various sorts of certifications - IT professionals, Legal professionals, and other pursuits,

I know I'm missing something from what sounds like a decidedly nerdy list, but my point is that these people don't fit the profile despite those types of credentials.

Their other hobbies and activities run the gamut from athletics and sports, to art, photography, music, pretty much you name it. Some of them even produce material for games as a side business.

Also, they don't fall into the snobby stereotypes those credentials are often associated with. These folks can sit down for a game and dive into the silliest, most absurd fun, all without the shame society so often tries to heap on "those that are different".

Nowhere on these lists are the maladjusted misfits the stereotype suggests.

Monday, April 22, 2013

DnD Next

I think it might be time to start checking out the play test packets again. When the next one comes out soon it will likely contain some big changes from the way the last few have been presented.

On the agenda may be changes to skills, backgrounds, etc. Quite a number of changes in all.

Having skipped reading the last few packets I am only aware of things I've read on various rpg discussion forums, some of which sounded truly bizarre. If there's anything I know from reading gaming forums it is that you really need to investigate for yourself.

One thing I heard would still be in the upcoming play test packet is ability score increases every few levels. This is something I still do not like. It strikes me as if the math is somewhat broken when you need to power up ability scores. It remains to be seen what they have in mind.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Kickstarter Update - Dwarven Forge Game Tiles

The Dwarven Forge kickstarter is about to move into the final week of the campaign and as of now has surpassed $860,000 and a good number of stretch goals.

Kicktraq is estimating a final tally of between 1 million and 1.5 million dollars, however Kictraq has greatly understimated project outcomes in the past.

By my estimates the cost per individual piece, even for someone supporting this at 2 sets of each type (unpainted and painted) buying some of the add-ons, will be somewhat under $1 for those in the United States. Supporters outside the U.S. have to factor in shipping costs, and even then the cost per piece remains very low.

This is one of those rare get it while it is cheap moments that is very hard to pass up.

When this is posted the project will have 9 days left, ending Tuesday April 30th at 10:00pm.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Murder Hobos Advanced Edition thoughts

Classes and Races.

My feeling here is that in cobbling together a system from other parts, a Frankensystem, an area that deserves a look is the races and classes that should be available in the book. Of course the DM can rule stuff out, but it should be a choice not a limitation.

The races that seem to have the most resilience across almost all of D&D and being most associated with more of the old-school games are the following:
Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Halflings, and Humans.

No thought has yet been given to level limits. Class restrictions likely would be tossed out in favor of some other balancing mechanic, perhaps experience point costs.

The classes most familiar with old-school gaming and some association with the more modern variants include:
Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Thief, Wizard.

Here is where I begin to go against my earlier statement of choice, not restriction.

Anybody can assassinate a target, but someone with specialized training to help complete such tasks as a profession might be a class. However, this could be more of a background professional package that is attached to a class at the time of character creation.

For example, Brother Holden, a cleric, is also secretly a member of the Duke's special services. During play he can justify to the DM why he knows a lot about poison or lock picking, and why, when he takes off his heavy armor he is as sneaky as a thief, and why he knows enough about anatomy to do more damage with a surprise back stab.

This isn't completely thought out yet and is inspired by the way I've heard backgrounds in the 13th Age rpg described.

Likewise, the Cleric class seems more of a militant arm of the clergy and thus Paladin should be a title within the Cleric class instead of a separate class who's claim to fame is stealing a trope from the Druid and calling an animal companion after a certain level.

Druid would most likely be a priest of a nature god. Perhaps they would at character creation sacrifice some of the martial aspects to gain more nature related specialties. Other types of clerics might have a similar ability in order to better fit their deity. Besides, why would a deity of healing b dressed as a walking war machine (I smite him with my great hammer to cast cure light wounds. I do 1d10 damage and cure 1d6 +1 hit points . . . Never call for this medic on the battlefield.)

Rangers are another class that could be turned into more of a background package. A fighter with wilderness scouting knowledge.

Illusionist too could be a specialized background or simply how a wizard sees herself because of her preferred spells.

All of this is nothing more than musing at this point.

Multi-classing is something for another time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weekly Game - Session 6

Amid the carnage that was the 37 dead cultists, a dead and rapidly melting demon, we began a detailed search of the grand hall and entrance passage. At first we missed quite a bit until by luck one of us located an illusionary wall, and another found a hidden compartment in one of the 4 large pillars.

From the pillar, after an elaborate effort to avoid the trap, we managed to recover a pair of ornate bracers.

Behind the false wall we found a tomb. Magic detection showed a ward on the upright sarcophagus, and more magic on the canopic jars. We suspect the ward was something tied to the runes warning of a curse.

The party was low on castable spells so we chose to take watches and get rest without leaving the ruin.

First watch had barely begun when I heard movement that sounded like stone scraping across stone. I alerted Rafiqua who then heard it. We looked around and discovered that a large stone figure of a man was now seated in the previously empty throne in the grand hall.

We woke the others and began a detailed examination to see if it would react to our presence even going so far as to have one member of our troop sit in its lap. No response.

We marked an outline along one arm of the throne against the arm of the statue in case it moved when we were not looking so we would know if it was part of the throne and the empty throne had somehow been switched for the occupied one. We even searched for any indications that the thrones had been switched, but there were no grooves, no mechanisms, nothing.

It didn't react when we retrieved the led box containing the bracers from the pillar (which toppled down and would have slain some of us had we not been incredibly cautious).

The statue also did not detect as magic.

When we opened the sarcophagus and tried taking the gold necklace from the mummy it awakened and attacked. So did the statue. A golem, immune to most spells, including Detect Magic.

It didn't take long to decide we would be better off running away. The others followed behind me needing very little additional convincing than the prospect of being trapped between a mummy and a stone golem.

We did manage to escape with some very nice loot from the tomb. Now we just need to sell what we can and take our new found evidence to Jacko and collect our pay from him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kudos to Erik Tenkar

Yesterday's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day appears to have been a very successful event.

Erik organized and coordinated the event that included over 130 blogs and then kept track of all the relevant posts, linking to all of them from his own blog.

Color me impressed.

Erik, next time you want to do another appreciation day please let me know.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day (post 2 of 2)

Getting into some things that I found of particular interest:

I mentioned that some classes and races were missing. Illusionists and Barbarians. While Barbarians didn't come into 1e until Unearthed Arcana, if I recall correctly they were available in an issue of The Strategic Review (which later became The Dragon and then Dragon magazine) as were Illusionists.

Missing races include Gnomes and Half-Orcs.

Races and Classes available in a campaign has always been a matter of personal preference for a DM and their campaign world. As a note, my current preferred system Labyrinth Lord (Advanced Edition Companion) is also missing Barbarians.

The sleep spell is a fun convergence point among the retro clones including Swords & Wizardry, and a source of house rule discussions routinely. I do not recall a retroclone version of the sleep spell that has the area of effect clearly defined, instead relying on the number of hit dice effected to handle that matter. For a rules lawyer that could conceivably prove very interesting . . .

Example: "My 5th level wizard casts Sleep at maximum range of 240 yards outdoors into a field. There are no visible enemies and if there are not an enormous number of field mice, small birds, insects, etc in that field then the area spreads out until some people in the next town over suddenly and inexplicably nod off for a nap."

Retro clones are full of little things like this, as are the original rule sets they are based one. That is part of the charm and Swords & Wizardry Complete suffers no drawbacks from any of it.

In my overall skim-through of the rules I found nothing that really stuck out at me as a negative. S&W lends itself well to the style of play it is designed for and contains plenty of optional or alternative methods of running games or handling rules.

You should take a little time and go to www.d20swsrd.com and look it over to see if some part of it might be of use in your campaign.

LOL QUEST in the Land of TDAAL 5

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day (post 1 of 2)

Let's get this party started (on the road to a TPK).

If you decide to check out the rules for Swords and Wizardry today is your lucky day. Not only is the System Rules Document online at www.d20swsrd.com , but there are two sets of discount codes should you decide to buy copies.

The first is the one from Frog God Games (SWApprDay) and is good for 25% off today only on all Swords & Wizardry products over $1, except the following: S&W cards, Pre-Orders, and subscriptions.

The second is from the SRD store (SWAD252013) where you can buy pdfs only.

Tell them The Dice Are A Lie and OSRbaron sent you.

Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern thought it might be a neat idea to hold a number of appreciation days for various OSR systems to try and make more people aware of what is available. I think that is a nifty idea and chose to join in on this one because I, until now, only knew the name not the details contained within Swords & Wizardry.

Having taken a look here is what I discovered . . .

Swords and Wizardry Complete (the rules I was looking over) is very close to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition. It is built on the earlier basic framework from the various boxed sets and includes some classes from supplements.

Since I'm getting most of my info from the SRD page and not a book or pdf I will address it from that point of view,

Something very nice that I like is the tables for both traditional THACO style combat style and the ascending armor class attack values. This helps open the game up for ease of play to people unfamiliar or more comfortable with one or the other method.

What SW Complete is not is a reproduction of AD&D1e. It lacks a couple of the races and classes you would need for a close clone of 1e.

As a Labyrinth Lord player/DM, and someone looking for bits and pieces I can scavenge from various systems to try and build my personal Holy Grail system, S&W Complete looks to have some stuff I can borrow.

The Swords & Wizardry rules are worth a look. Within are a lot of things old-school players and DMs will find comfortably familiar.

In my next post on the topic I will mention a few things I find interesting and for me a few things pro and con.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dah-Doo-Run-Run, Uh Oh, It's Magic!

In the latest weekly game session (full write-up to come later this week), the party did the smart thing . . . we tucked tail and ran for our lives.

This is something I have seen few less experienced play groups do during games. Somewhere along the line a change happened where player expectations have moved from "exploring and treasure seeking is dangerous and potentially life threatening" to something akin to "we are supposed to always win so no matter how scary the situation appears to be we can stay and beat it".

Note: there is nothing wrong with either type of play as long as the participants enjoy it.

Thankfully the veterans of the weekly group know when to get the heck out of a bad situation.

Imagine a T intersection. A mummy at one end of the T, the exit at the other end of the T, and a stone golem at the base of the T. The party spread between all of this, lacks enough hit points and firepower to take down the golem, and will likely suffer some harm from the mummy.

As if that isn't bad enough, old-school golems are immune to most spells . . . including Detect Magic. More on that interesting tidbit in the full write-up. (Let's just say it caught some of the old school players off guard for good effect).

If you've read the character write up for my current wizard you know he doesn't have a direct damage or combat purposed spell in his book. He was the first to determine that we were in for a beating and run for the exit, soon to be followed by everyone else.

So sure, we ran, but we got away with loot and our lives, and that means we have knowledge we can put to good use if we decide to return to the now, very dangerous ancient tomb.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Dangers of the Circus - Redux

It has happened again. A fellow gamer took gaming day off to deliberately put his family in harms way. That's right, he took them to the circus, and within reach of . . . CLOWNS.

It isn't just the clowns he needs to worry about, there are other horrors lurking about when crowds of people risk life and limb to taunt clowns.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New Monster - Sqwinj


NumberEncountered: 1 or 2, only found in the lair of giant ants
Alignment: neutral
Movement: 30' (60' charge)
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 (gore)
Damage: 1d6 + special
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Hoard class: none (only that belonging to the ants)
XP: 29

The Sqwinj is believed to be an ant that would have been a queen, but due to the lair already having an established queen, this pretender to the throne became a bloated, yet mobile mutant.

Sqwinjes have a set of spikey quill-like projections at the front of their head that they use for weapons against invaders in the lair. If they have a straight line of from 20' to 60' they can charge which adds an extra d6 to the damage of their initial attack.

Once a sqwinj hits a target the quills become stuck in the victim who suffers 1d6 per round from the twisting movement of the sqwinj, until they make a save vs petrification to free themselves. The victim can do nothing other then try to get free when impaled by the sqwinj.

When a sqwinj is killed it releases an odor that draws ants to the site at a rate of 1d4 per round for 3 rounds. These arrivals will be maddened by the scent and attack intruders with a plus 1 to hit and damage for the duration of the battle.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Healing in a Party Without Clerics

A frequently heard refrain is that an adventuring party lacking clerics and druids or any healing classes for that matter, is doomed to failure or will need to rest far too frequently. In some respects this may be true, however it is not always the case, and sometimes it leads to some very interesting play.

Jumping once again into the wayback machine, we set it for 1998, destination, my old 2nd edition homebrewed campaign in the region around the city of Skaflin.

The 6 member party consisted originally of two fighters, a fighter/wizard built similar to a Paladin (served a god of magic and the sun), a fighter/thief, and two wizards. Eventually some changes in players and thus characters happened, leading first to a third wizard joining, a fighter leaving the party, and then a druid joined and later after converting to 3rd edition, for a brief couple of adventures a cleric, followed by a thief and a ranger. At peak size for one adventure they numbered 8, though the typical party size was 7.

What the group lacked in healing, they made up for in meat shields and magical capability. The players running the wizards always came up with ingenious uses for spells and the melee specialists took care of the rest.

While they did their share of bleeding, the party managed to keep on the move, never having to rest for too long. I was not overly generous with healing scrolls, potions, or wands, so I attribute the success of the party to player decision making and occasional bouts of good luck.

At the time I had no house rule for healing kits or shattering shields absorbing damage like I currently prefer to use in play. I really enjoyed that period of play, watching as my players intelligently approached difficulties creatively. It gives me pause for thought when preparing for an eventual new campaign . . . what rules should be included.

Anyone care to share what experiences they've had in healer less or limited healing parties?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Vedayn of the Ashes - my character in the weekly game


Human. Dark of hair, skin and eyes. Ochre robed with grey sash


Human Wizard
Alignment Neutral
Level 3 (XP = 6,833.5)
Hit Points (4+3+3) plus con bonus = 13
Armor Class = 8
Thaco = base 19
Melee = 19
Ranged = 18

Languages: Darthan and common

Movement = 40


Strength – 11

Intelligence – 15 +1 language, +5%experience

Wisdom – 13 +1 magic based saves

Dexterity – 15 -1 AC, +1 missile adjustment, +1 initiative

Constitution – 15 +1 hp/die, Res 94%, Sys Shock 93%

Charisma – 12 -1 Reaction mod, 5 retainers w/mor 8

Saving Throws

Breath Attack – 16
Poison/Death – 13 (12)
Petrif/Paral – 13 (12)
Wand – 13 (12)
Spells/Devices – 14 (13)

1st – Enlarge/Reduce, Hold Portal, Detect Magic, Read Magic

2nd – Levitate


1 dose/potion of gaseous form
1 small (2") crystal figurine (quartz), roughly humanoid. – Allows Unseen Servant 1/day for 6 turns.

Quarter Staff
10 candles
2 small belt pouches
5 sheets paper
flint & steel
1 vial of ink
1 quill pen
2 scroll cases
Wine (2 pints)
Small steel mirror
3/4 brick of cheese
3/4 loaf of bread
sling & 19 bullets
tin candle holder
short sword – picked up during session 2, nobody else claimed it and it might come in handy
vellum of human skin
Total encumbrance 29 lbs

Remaining money
87 gold
1 silver
5 copper

Vedayn is from the city of Craclaw.

Vedayn chose to depart from his studies to become a wandering apprentice for he feels life experience will better aid him in shaping his craft than mere books in an isolated tower.

As is the custom among those who break from their masters, he burned his scholars robes and his notes, keeping only his spellbook, and ochre robes tied with a grey sash to represent the ashes of his past associations.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Weekly Game - session 5

We descended the spiral stairs for a couple hundred feet. Being along the coast this put us well below sea level and into the local water table. The structure we explored was of ancient Hakiran design with tightly fitted stones. The walls were damp from gradual seeping and the smell of mildew and mould was everpresent. Upon reaching the bottom we found ourselves at the end of a long hallway.

Rafiqua scouted ahead seeking to learn more about the dim source of light spilling from beneath a door ahead and on the left. Unfortunately our relatively quiet approach was ruined when she accidentally scraped her scabbard along the stone wall.

Two cultists came out to investigate and the battle began.

We laid low our first two enemies and Pointer, Rafiqua, and Pron entered a great chamber over 100 feet long by 70 feet wide with four grand columns holding up the ceiling. Two fire pits, and 8 torchiers bathed the chamber in ruddy light.

Within were 6 additional cultists and their leader who would in the course of the battle sacrifice a woman to complete their demon calling ritual. The cultists would also run to the walls an throw levers that loosed 28 horribly mutilated additional adherents we learned were called the Broken.

At first I feared we had discovered our deaths as several of my companions had become swarmed by enemies. I called a retreat which only partially worked.

Pointer moved deeper into the chamber trying to close with and kill the leader, hoping he could prevent the completion of their foul ritual. The others fought their way back to the doorway and we set our trap in motion.

Pron threw a rope at the foot of the doorway, just to our side, and enspelled it to tangle anyone trying to cross it causing them to stumble and fall. As the hordes rushed at us and bottle-necked at the open doors I cast Enlarge upon the lintel stone increasing it by a third. The stress upon the stones shattered them, bringing large pieces down to crush several of the Broken, killing them and creating terrain difficult for them to pass without putting themselves at great disadvantage. We them set the rubble on their side of the doorway alight with flaming flasks of oil.

We could not see what was happening to Pointer, but he informed us that he faked his death causing his attackers, including the summoned demon to focus on us.

Spells cast at the beginning of the battle also began to prove themselves critical to our eventual success. Pron had managed to use Fey Fire to outline the cultists aiding our attacks, and had also afflicted their leader with a curse of burning metal that ended up setting him aflame and roasting him in his chainmail. She may be reckless socially, but in a fight Pron is very dangeous to our enemies.

Adran managed to smite the demon a couple of times hurting it and apparently Pointer had also done some damage with his bow.

Arriving late with some Jalaharan support was Jonas. This was welcome as despite our better tactical 1position we were rapidly being worn down by the vast numbers of foes.

Eventually we managed to take down the demon and the horde of crazed cultists.

We are investigating the room to see if they possess the artefact the templars were waiting for that was stolen from the wrecked ship.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When real life inspires game scenarios

I recently learned of a Chinese tradition known as Tomb Sweeping Day (among other names).

The short description is: People go to burial sites of their ancestors and loved ones and burn replica items so that in the afterlife these things manifest as real for the dearly departed.

Examples include fake money, model houses, fake food, etc. Recently a woman in china hand crafted a model home with a tiny model electric refrigerator and burned it at her mother's grave site. Her reasoning is that her mother was poor growing up and never had the nice house with appliances she always wanted and this way she would have them in the afterlife.

This could easily translate to the gaming table and would make for an interesting bit of color. It even lends itself to the plot of an adventure:

The party goes to an area with the objective of robbing a tomb, but discovers their timing to be all wrong and winds up short of time and facing the obstacle of this three day festival which will have the necropolis swamped with families day and night, families that will take great offense to tampering with the resting places of their ancestors.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kickstarter - Professional MP3 Background Loops for Role-Playing Games

Here's another kickstarter project for gamers that might be of interest to those who like background audio to enhance game play.

The person behind this project is Wes Otis, a game and professional sound designer who has worked on an impressive list of shows and for companies like Disney.

Stop by the kickstarter site and give a listen to some of the brief samples of what he is working on.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Steve Jackson Games Looking to Buy Game Companies

Looks like SJ Games is interested in expanding their portfolio of games in the marketplace.

A few days ago they made the announcement on their website that they are interested in buying some game companies.

April 4, 2013: Would You Like To Be Acquired?

To make a long story short: I'd like to plow some Munchkin money back into the game hobby. Here's a very direct invitation.

If you've been publishing good games, and you know it, but you would like to cash out . . . or if you want to keep creating games but would rather be part of an operation with a 30-year track record and a good health plan . . . talk to me.

This is not "Hey, everybody, I'm looking for random submissions!" Really, it's not. It's for established publishers. If you've never sold to Alliance or ACD, or had a booth at the GAMA Trade Show, or had whole BGG threads arguing about whether you were secretly the Spawn of Satan, then this is probably not aimed at you.

I figure this announcement, posted this way, will get a bit of talk, which makes it a good way to reach out to the whole hobby. I just wish I'd done it on April 1 so I could have gotten some viral "Does he mean it?" repostings. Hindsight is 20-20.

Phil Reed will do the initial screening for me. Write to him at phil@sjgames.com. We will keep confidentiality. In fact, only four of us at SJ Games will even know who has responded until and unless we sign a non-disclosure agreement, and then we'll work according to the agreement. If the deal doesn't work out, it officially never happened. If it does work out, you could cash a check, or join the Illuminati, or both.

Let's see what happens.

-- Steve Jackson

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Missed Opportunity Kickstarter

I missed out on a nifty kickstarter project that would have been perfect for playing city scenes in a Ptolus campaign. It was offered by Renaissance Miniatures.

The buildings scale is 28mm and inside the floors have 1" gridlines marked.
Sadly I had no idea that these laser-cut modular mideval buildings were being offered until a few days ago. The kickstarter ended last year.

Looks like I might have to save up and contact these folks to see if I can get some of these buildings.

They are currently running a kikstarter for east asian style buildings. I have no personal interest in these, but they are very nice looking.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Weekly Game - Session 4

After getting some rest we decided it would be best to take a closer look at the tavern Adran had discovered called the White Rose named for the white rose bush planted outside the door.

The plan was to have Pron, the druid, and I go inside and have a drink while waiting for Pointer and Rafiqua to arrive. They would be made up to look like a couple of wannabe cultists hoping to draw out a reaction that would provide more information to work with.

Things never got that far. That idiot Pron chose this moment to piss off the owner by vandalizing his pride and joy, the rose bush from which the tavern gets its name.

Having already upset the fellow, getting a seriously threatening dressing down, and being told to clear off, she follows me inside. I was about to make an effort at an apology by way of buying a round for the patrons, but before I could finish the offer, not only the owner, but his bar full of patrons rose up at the sight of Pron, and attacked us both.

Pron retreated out the door leaving me surrounded and at 7 to one odds against. I was lucky to escape with my life and a beating.

My face bruised, lip split, and nose bleeding, I moved a short distance away from the tavern while Pron managed somehow to win over the manager and his bar full of thugs and got to go back inside unmolested.

Pointer and Rafiqua who had been observing from a vantage point nearby noticed what hasd also caught my attention. Someone darted down the alley beside the tavern and in the darkness I could not see where this person went.

Some investigation of the alley led to discovery of a barrel with a false bottom covering a hole leading below the building.

Gathering our group together we descended into the hidden chamber below. There we discovered a rickety door, two barrels with scratching sounds emanating from them, some moldy sacks, and a tarp covered chest. We wasted a goodly amount of time examining things while the person we had hoped to follow below went where they wanted beyond the door of the chamber.

During our poking and prodding we managed to get attacked by venomous centipedes from the barrels and animated skeletons from the covered chest. Rafiqua suffered from a centipede's poisonous bite and we finally retreated to get some rest.

Pointer remained behind, hiding on a nearby rooftop to observe comings and goings at the barrel entrance. When we finally rejoined him at the hiding spot he let us know that two persons had come out earlier.

We have again descended into the chamber and moved at last beyond the door.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chess - London 2013 Candidates Tournament

On Monday April 1st 2013 the tournament ended that determined Magnus Carlsen would be the challenger against Viswanathan Anand for the World Champion title later this year.

The tournament was fascinating and bloody all the way through and on round 12 out of 14 rounds the unthinkable happened as Magnus Carlsen, the hands down favorite to win it all lost to Vassily Ivanchuk and fell to second place behind former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik.

Round thirteen saw Carlsen draw even meaning that everything would be decided by the outcome of the final round of games to be played on of all days, the day of fools.

What makes the Round 12 loss of Carlsen even more interesting is that his opponent, Ivanchuk, had been having disastrous problems minding the time on his clock throughout the whole tournament and losing games he might otherwise have won. The round he managed to get his act together of course was at that point critical for Carlsen. The very next round Ivanchuk went back to losing by time forfeit.

The 14th and final round would prove miraculous for one player as Carlsen was to play white against Svidler the many times Russian Champion while Kramnik would be playing against Ivanchuk. Which Ivanchuk would he face, the time trouble suffering player or the king killer Carlsen lost to in round 12?

As it turned out the third of the 4 ongoing games to finish was Carlsen vs Svidler. It was a disappointing loss for Carlsen, meaning that his fate rested completely with the outcome of the only remaining game, Ivanchuk vs Kramnik.

The time between Carlsen's loss to Svidler and the end of the Ivanchuk vs Kramnik game was less than an hour, but must have been the most stress-filled period in the tournament.

In the end, the king killer version of Ivanchuk revealed himself to play spoiler yet again leaving Carlsen and Kramnik tied for first.

To break the tie there were several methods that would be applied each in turn until the tie was broken or the players would have to play a small series of rapid timed games to determine the overall winner.

The first of the tiebreak rules to be applied was the number of victories, and as it turned out this was the only method needed to resolve the question of who would go on to play against Viswanathan Anand for the World Championship. It was Magnus Carlsen with 5 victories to Vladimir Kramnik's 4 victories during the tournament, that decided the outcome.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

LOL QUEST in the Land of TDAAL - 3

The Woes of Dwimmermount - update

Tavis from Autarch has replied and I received an email from PayPal indicating the refund process has begun.

Despite not being required by Kickstarter rules to offer refunds in this instance, it shows that Tavis and the people at Autarch are ethical and have the kind of integrity few businesses display toward customers these days.

Thank you!

Good luck with the effort to recover from the problems associated with the delays of the Dwimmermount project.

(I see Tavis also commented on the original Woes post.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Woes of Dwimmermount

The problems with the long overdue Kickstarter project from James Mal of Grognardia fame and the people at Autarch publishing, continues to be a headache for backers.

The most recent update indicated that some backwards and forwards progress/regress had occurred resulting in Autarch being given the money to proceed, but not permission to do the Labyrinth Lord version it was intended originally to be, instead only being done in their system - Adventurer Conqueror King.

The people at Goblinoid Games (publishers of Labyrinth Lord) feel this is a misunderstanding.

Nothing has been clarified since the announcement of the money transfer.

For me this is the last straw. I have been patient for the time it has been overdue, over a year from the promised target, but finally decided the money can best be used for other things and have asked for a refund. We shall see what Autarch decides to do regarding my request.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekly Game (session 3 of current campaign)

My new companions and I began our investigation at the lighthouse. The guards that had been posted there warned us that the room and victim above were a gruesome, bloody mess and they were spot on in their description.

The lighthouse keeper had been murder in a horrifying manner. He was flensed alive by someone that must have considered the act one of either artistic or religious significance, perhaps both. We determined that the keeper had been alive for a long time throughout his ordeal.

We believe that a spell of holding was used to still the living victim as there were no ligature marks on his limbs. Further he may have been silenced by another spell, though I have my doubts since the nearest people were likely 20 minutes away and might have been too far to hear screams if he could even do that under the effects of the holding magic.

Gripped in the victims right hand was a white rose, each petal had been gently bitten to leave impressions from the assassin’s teeth.

Despite the massive amount of blood shed, it seemed apparent to those with more expert eyes that some was missing, obviously taken by the perpetrator, to what end we did not know.

As to the magical light, it had been cast onto an enormous copper band delicately inscribed in an alphabet I did not know though obviously one of power. Onto it had been cast the powerful light magics or miracle if you prefer the religious nomenclature. A powerful counterspell had been used to permanently extinguish the bright emanations from the band.

Some searching revealed a very well prepared piece of vellum, made of human skin, that when examined proved to have recently held magic, perhaps the spell that doused the light.

Further investigation about the town brought us additional bits of information.

The ship that grounded on the reef and then was set ablaze was name Pride of Anhur and was likely carrying an item of power that would be of great harm to demons and those of demon blood. The Oder of the Ivory Crown were anxious for it to arrive and hoped to escort the artifact to Denelspire, the grand archive and home of archmage Vallendyl.

The information we gathered also led us to conclude that the assassin may be part of a cult known as Dark Spawn and maybe in league with Kardullis, a god of evil.

The Dark Spawn are also known as Isiry and most of them are elves, though they do have humans as thralls and wannabes.

We are discussing our next options for tracking the perpetrator.