Friday, December 20, 2013

Have You Heard the News?

It is official. At least according to WotC and several news sites including Forbes, D&D (next) is due out in the Summer of 2014. My guess would be just before or at the time of GenCon.

This coincides with the 40th anniversary celebrations for D&D.

For me, I'd love to see a softbound basic rules set in late spring/early summer, and the rest by GenCon. I'll be happy to get a look at it whenever it comes out.

Meanwhile I keep looking at ideas to steal or create for a version to call my own.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Damn it is dusty in here!

Sorry for leaving the blog hanging this long. Life sometimes deals you exploding lemons.

So where were we? Slowly waking up from the not blogging sleep.

I hope to get some posts up soonish and get back to a semi-regular schedule.

Now where'd I put the dustmop?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Odds and Ends

A couple of quick notes about things:

Jack Vance (The Dying Earth, etc) passed away recently. Jack was a major influence on D&D and was one of Gary Gygax's favorite writers.

Also, there has been an update from Gygax Magazine about their publishing schedule. Issue #2 is now due for release in July. More details to come in another post.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hey WotC, why the dick move?

I just found out that Wizards of the Coast has decided to do a GenCon Exclusive for D&D Next. Normally I would say, sure, whatever, you've done exclusive play tests at all the big conventions. It is expected. This time however they decided to sell a preview adventure/rules book for 5e only to GenCon attendees.

So what you say . . . well that is damned annoying to those of us that for whatever reason cannot get to the con, but would like to support such a release in support of 5e. To us this smacks a bit of douchbaggery.

Open the pre-order up to everyone and ship it out on the GenCon release date while allowing attendees to get it there if they choose to pick one up. Don't be dicks to supporters unfortunate enough not to be able to come lick your boots at GenCon.

Here's the official announcement: Asshats of the Coast

Monday, May 20, 2013

As vacations go . . .

. . . this one is teh suk.

Going to be away from the blog for a little bit longer than I hoped.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking a short break from posting.

I hope to be back to posting in a day or two. Too many things to do, not enough time in the day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Double or Nothing on the D&D movies

The latest update in Dungeons & Dragons movie news gs us a dispute over the movie rights and what appears to be two scripts being developed.

From EN World:

Warner Bros D&D Movie Not Such A Dead Cert
It turns out that that Warner Bros D&D movie reported on earlier in the week isn't quite as clear-cut as it appeared. According to Deadline, Hasbro says it has the rights, and has a project with Universal. "Not so fast, says Hasbro, which claims that it owns the rights to D&D, and that the toymaker company has set up the project at Universal to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise (including the upcoming Fast 6) and 47 Ronin."
So there's one in the works with Warner Bros., and another in the works with Universal. The one with Warner Bros. has Courtney Solomon attached to it, causing concern we'll see more sub-par stuff like what he has produced so far. The one with Universal sounds like it'll potentially involve high speed chariot chases. I'm not sure we the audience stand much chance for a good film with either of these choices.

At least we can enjoy the back and forth legal comedy while these two groups fight it out to see who gets to produce another crappy film.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Silly Saturday - Pathfinder Battles Miniatures

I am a fan of the Whizkids - Paizo Pathfinder Battles Miniatures. Up till now I have bought every set released as a case. That will change with the Skull and Shackles set. Not because of anything bad, just that I don't see the need for much of what has been revealed yet.

I will admit that the weresharks are cool and if I were running a superhero game set in Kurt Busiak's Astro City they would be perfect for scenarios involving the shark cultists.
I do plan to buy some individual figures from the Skull and Shackles set. There are stirges under a different name, in the set, and a few other interesting figures.

Two that were revealed in the most recent Paizo Blog are unique enough to make the list for purchase not only for their unusual appearance, but for the puns and bad jokes they will obviously elicit from players who see them.

The first is a ship's drunken galley cook with a chicken on his shoulder and a hand extended to display what might be mistaken for his version of kung-fu grip - chicken strangling action.

The second is a spell caster with a monkey familiar and he is also casting a spell, though admittedly he looks more like a homeless junky with a monkey on his back, carrying around an over sized knobby pink sex toy.

Of course I'm being silly about the figures and I applaud Paizo and Whizkids for their willingness to add unique figures to the miniatures line. We, the fans/customers have clamored for sculpts we could us to fill NPC roles that weren't strictly combat and the cook does that nicely. Paizo also said they intend to continue adding in figures when they can to meet that demand.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Convention Calendar for Maryland region.

Current known upcoming conventions include:

Collectors Con - Saturday May 11th (one day)
                             Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                             5015 Campbell Boulevard
                             Baltimore, MD 21236

Games And Dice Convention - May 24-26th
                                                    Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                                                    5015 Campbell Boulevard
                                                    Baltimore, MD 21236

Balticon - May 24-27
                 Hunt Valley Inn
                 245 Shawan Road
                 Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

Shore-Leave - August 2-4
                         Hunt Valley Inn
                       245 Shawan Road
                       Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

TCEP XX: The Most Interesting Con in the World - August 30 - September 2
                                                                                          Hampton Inn & Suites
                                                                                          Washington-Dulles Airport
                                                                                          22700 Holiday Park Drive
                                                                                          Stirling Virginia 20166

Capclave - October 11 - 13
                   Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg,
                   620 Perry Parkway
                   Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877

Philcon - November 8 - 10
                Crown Plaza
                2349 W Marlton Pike
                Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weekly Game - session 8

We had sold what we could of the loot and now looked for ways to quickly spend it. A search about town revealed a couple of alchemical shops with potions and a shop where a few scrolls could be purchased. We spent almost everything we had made.

Of the several potions there were a few expensive healing elixirs, one of levitation, one of giant strength, one of plant control, and others that I do not remember as I am deeply engrossed in copying spells into my book from the scroll I purchased that contained Magic Missile and Web.

During the time spent with my mind so en rapt, and my fingers stained with ink, my companions decided to go hunting for the missing figurine. They had heard rumors of a large predatory creature, either cat or dog-like, prowling not far from the White Rose tavern beneath which we had looted the figurines. Perhaps the figurine transformed and was seeking a way to rejoin its long dead master. They found it and suffered some grievous wounds in the fight with what they described as a great cat golem of amber, the remaining shards of which they hope to sell.
It looked like this, only 10' long when they fought it.
There is certainly more information my companions have to pass on to me, as I know they had initially set out to try and get hired on to locate the missing artifact that the Templar's were missing from the ship wreck.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New D&D Movie in the Works (and Ray Harryhausen passed away)

Here's the latest bit of info (this piece from the news page at EN World):

Warner Bros. to Make a New D&D Movie
Warner Bros has acquired rights to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. The script, initially called Chainmail (the tabletop wargame upon which D&D was based in the 1970s) was written by David Leslie Johnson (Wrath of the Titans, Red Riding Hood) and is now being rejiggered to take advantage of the newly acquired license. The production team includes Courtney Solomon - who directed the unpopular 2000 D&D movie starring Jeremy Irons.
The good news is that a major studio is going to give this a try. The possibly bad news is that Courtney Solomon, the person responsible for the previous train wrecks, is still somehow involved as a producer.
If he is only involved on raising funding and not involved in script, plot, casting, directing, or anything else, then maybe we stand a chance of getting a passable film from this effort.

That this information comes to light the day after we lost the best stop-motion special effects artist in movie history, Ray Harryhausen*, could be a sign. A sign of what? Who the heck knows.

* Jason and the Argonauts, some Sinbad movies, Mighty Joe Young, and others.

LOL QUEST in the land of TDAAL - #8 Carousing

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pay To Play

Every now and then the subject of people paying to play gets brought up in conversation. I have yet to see it actually work over more than a brief experiment.

Approximately 25 years ago I was offered a job to DM/GM games professionally for a start-up company just outside of Baltimore. The pay would have been a tiny bit better than minimum wage plus a little extra for having been one of the first game masters to try to help make the owner's dream a reality.

I no longer remember the name of the company or the entrepreneur whose dream it was, and never actually got a chance to participate since a full time job with much better pay and benefits opened up and I took that road instead.

The company did survive for a brief time and I later gained a next-door neighbor who had worked there for a while, but like many speculative business ventures this one could not maintain any momentum.

Whether it is from people having a sense of not wanting to pay for something they can otherwise get for free, or preferring a friend to do the game mastering, this doesn't on the surface appear to be a business model with any endurance. Could it be poor marketing mixed with a lackluster business model?

Thinking about it from another perspective takes away at least some argument against the 'not wanting to pay for it' category. Convention games could easily be categorized as pay-to-play since you pay to enter the convention and at some conventions you have to pay to get a ticket for the session.

Another pay-to-play method I have heard is somewhat successful with some groups is the 'shared expense' model where players pitch in a few dollars each session toward refreshments and food with leftovers going into a prize fund that is used at the end of the year to purchase a gift for one member of the group as determined by a vote of the participants. Of course this doesn't really meet the criteria of a professional GM.

Due to frequent player absences in a couple of campaigns, I have jokingly considered the idea of having players pay $100 at the start of their participation and getting back a pro-rated portion of that based on their attendance. The more sessions they are present, the more of their own money they get back with any left over going to buying more materials for the game (including spare rulebooks, etc). Of course this idea would be unlikely to happen and is only for amusement.

Professional DMing appears for the most part to be a pipe dream. It is difficult enough to get people to pay rent for a dedicated space in which to play, unless it is a rare event like conventions.

If anyone comes up with an idea for ways to make such a think work while providing a comfortable living with health care benefits please let me know. I'd be very interested in knowing the formula behind the magic.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review - Iron Man 3

I'll try to avoid spoilers in this brief review of the movie Iron Man 3.

The short - I enjoyed it. The movie is entertaining and if you like lots of explosions, this one will not disappoint.

The odd, yet explainable - The Mandarin, a character that had been a major life-long recurring villain and antagonist was changed to being non-Chinese. This was done to avoid angering audiences in China where the movie also opened this week. China is becoming an incredibly large market for American films and the studios smell the money so changes like this can be expected in other films as well. Sadly this may invalidate the whole magic rings storyline for the villain.

The weak sauce - There is this bit about anxiety attacks that didn't play well and is a missed opportunity in character development. It was the one thing I felt was poorly scripted and left little to guide the actor in acting it out.

Overall - 3.75 out of 5 stars. Deductions for the changes that weaken the history of the Mandarin and for the poorly handled anxiety attack elements.

Stay through the long boring credits for a good chuckle, especially if you have seen The Avengers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

So, Where's Gygax Magazine issue #2?

Gygax Magazine launched with a decent amount of fanfare in January of this year. The intent was to release issues on a quarterly basis. April has come and gone, we're into early May and no sign of issue #2.

The website only recently added a means of contacting the publisher, and doesn't really do much if anything, to keep subscribers up to date on expected street dates.

Fortunately a little digging revealed that issue #2 might have a street date of May 13th. Fingers crossed that the magazine gets back on schedule.

I've toyed with the idea of creating a magazine numerous times in the past, and I know it isn't as easy as it sounds. Just look at the number of OSR zines that have come and gone in recent years along with the ones published by larger publication houses that have vanished from print. It is obviously not a simple matter to make a niche magazine successful.

I would like to see the Gygax Magazine put more information on their website about what to expect in upcoming issues and the anticipated street date (of course with notice that dates may change).

Here's hoping these guys can make this thing work.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Free RPG Day - Saturday June 15th 2013

Free RPG Day is another thing that will be getting added to the convention calendar since it is both local and nationwide. Follow the link to get details and use the store locator to find your friendly local game store.

This year, the 7th year, is scheduled for Saturday June 15th.

Sadly there are no participating game stores in or near Frederick, Maryland.

Within 100 miles I notice 5 in Pennsylvania.
1 in Delaware which I suspect is Days of knights, a fantastic store I like to occasionally make a trip to visit.
1 in Cockeysville, Maryland which I believe to be Alternate Worlds, a store I visit a few times a year that is very responsive to customer requests.
Several others are marked on the map in and around Baltimore and D.C.
Others show in Northern Virginia.

There are a number of sponsoring companies offering up free goodies.

Remember, try to look around the stores and find something, even if you can only afford something cheap, to purchase. Do so as a thank you to the stores for participating in this cool event on your behalf.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Convention Calendar

Hopefully more information will come in that will allow me to post periodic updates about conventions local to Maryland, Northern Virginia, Delaware and Pannsylvania, as well as Washington D.C.

If you know of any, please let me know and I will endeavor to post about them.

We also may soon have more details about Balticon.

Current known upcoming conventions include:

Collectors Con - Saturday May 11th (one day)
                           Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                           5015 Campbell Boulevard
                           Baltimore, MD 21236

Games And Dice Convention - May 24-26th
                                                  Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                                                  5015 Campbell Boulevard
                                                  Baltimore, MD 21236

Balticon - May 24-27
                 Hunt Valley Inn
                 245 Shawan Road
                 Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weekly Game - session 7

We have been selling the loot we recovered from the ruin and elsewhere along with trying to learn more about various people and organizations.

One of the animal figurines we recovered from the tomb went missing while we slept in the inn. It was of a cat and I suspect it went back to the tomb to convey to its mummified master where we thieves are.

None of the other treasures proved magical with the exception of the obsidian dagger the cult leader used to sacrifice the woman.

The only piece of treasure we have not yet been able to sell is the necklace from the mummy. Potential buyers have proven very concerned with potential repercussions should any Jalahandrans see it in their possession.

We also took our collected evidence to Jacko concerning the culprit in the lighthouse incident. After a bit of talk he felt confident that he at least had a head to put on a pike to make it clear to other district bosses that he is handling his business. We received our promised pay of 500 platinum and got some additional information on people we are interested in talking to for various reasons.

We learned from two sources that the conclave of my countrymen from Craclaw often buy Jalahandran tomb treasures as a means of showing off. I think I might be able to help in selling the piece.

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

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:
And our Facebook Page:

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 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 , 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 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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kickstarter - Dwarven Forge Game Tiles

Kickstarter seems to be doing wonderful things for the gaming industry. Recent blockbuster success stories as well as many smaller projects abound on the site and gamers are getting things they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy.

The latest major success story is Dwarven Forge Game Tiles. Stefan and the crew at Dwarven Forge have been making 3 dimensional gaming terrain of dungeons for 17 years.

The material of choice up till now has been a polystone resin which while tough, is still fragile enough to be concerning. Now they are introducing a far tougher material that will also have the major benefit of being much less expensive.

The cost of resin along with labor cost has been rising rapidly and continuing to push the cost of the terrain out of reach of budgets for a large part of the gaming populace. With this new kickstarter project Stefan hopes to change that and make the Dwarven Forge product more accessible.

You should check out the Kickstarter for details, however here are two pics from the page to show off a little bit of the painted and unpainted product.

Both the painted and unpainted look great. If you're into hand painting miniatures you might also like painting the Game Tiles although they dark gray tiles are fine for use as they come.

I can imagine a myriad of ways to enhance the unpainted ones for special scenes, and some people already modify existing painted resin pieces to make some very unique scenes.

I have a number of the various sets of Dwarven Forge that I occasionally break out and use for special set-ups, but I lack enough to anything major even with the basic sets. I have built my small collection up over the 17 years Dwarven Forge has existed and I have had to skip a lot of sets that I would otherwise love to have and have small quantities of the sets I do own.

For people like myself and especially people new to 3d terrain for gaming, this kind of project and hopefully future ones for other sets might just be the magic ticket to affordably getting this wonderful accessory to enhance games.

Dwarven Forge intends to continue with their high-end resin sets for now since that allows them to continue making some of the very specialized limited edition or otherwise complex items, while the new molds for the new material will allow the basic pieces to made in greater numbers at a much lower cost.

Go to Kickstarter and check out the Game Tiles page. Even if this isn't your thing, the info there is still interesting.