23 January 2020

B/X Rules to Lose

Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons is the edition that is closest to the ideal form of D&D as far as I am concerned, but it has several rules that I have always felt free to ignore in the interest of running a more enjoyable game. The following are some of the rules I have chosen to lose.

DM Rolls Damage

This rule, found in the "Combat Sequence" chart on page B24, and under "Damage" on page B25, states flatly, "DM rolls damage" and "If an attack hits, the DM must determine how much damage the attack has done." The only time I have ever witnessed this is on the television show HarmonQuest. It's fine for players who are indifferent (or opposed) to rolling dice themselves, but the players I know love to roll dice especially if it's to generate damage against an enemy. Who am I to deprive them of their fun? I would ask why the rules specify that it's the DM's responsibility to make all the damage rolls, but I suspect it's derived from someone's personal play experience rather than a reflection of any standard practice at large.

Combat Sequence

Speaking of combat sequences, the aforementioned one on page B24 is complicated at first glance and ponderous in execution. I tried to give it a chance, but it instantly bogged down the game. A tense moment packed with potential excitement was reduced to a dull, monotonous litany of sections and subsections of discrete actions, and we were bored before we had even reached C. in the first round.

The only part of this rule that I can salvage is:

A. Each side rolls for initiative (1d6).
B. The side that wins the intiative acts first (if simultaneous all actions are performed by each side at the same time).
C. The side with the second highest initiative acts second, and so on.
D. The DM handles any surrenders, retreats, etc. as they occur.

Each side decides amongst its members who acts in what order and what action is taken. As a result, the game flows better and everyone is kept engaged in the action.

No Spells for 1st Level Clerics

Wrong. In my games, 1st level clerics automatically get cure light wounds. That's just how I roll.

Thieves' Abilities

Thiefly skills in B/X D&D, as with all editions of D&D, are mostly varying levels of gross incompetence until the thief reaches dizzying levels. A 15% chance to Open Locks; a 10% chance to Find/Remove Traps or Hide in Shadows? Why even bother with odds like that? I think I'd rather use ability checks (page B60, "There's always a chance.") or substitute the thief skills from Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

Hit Dice

I use the AD&D class hit dice instead, but I let magic-users roll the same die as thieves (d6). In other words, fighter (d10), cleric (d8), thief (d6), magic-user (d6).

Other Rules to Lose

Other rules I'd lose or replace pertain to D&D in general such as alignment, level limits, and the overabundance of treasure and magic items. I'd also replace the level progression system with that used by DCC RPG or one of the "milestone" variants.

To reiterate, I admire the Basic/Expert rules more than any other edition of D&D, but no edition is perfect, and that's O.K. It's nothing a bit of tinkering can't fix.

06 September 2019

#RPGaDay 2019

This year, #RPGaDay consisted of single word writing prompts instead of questions, and I think it lent itself well to the medium in which I chose to respond: Twitter. So, for those of you with an aversion to Twitter, here are my responses in a single post.

#RPGaDay2019 1. "First": The first RPG I ever played was D&D. My friend DMed me through an improvised dungeon and I was thereby hooked. The first RPG I bought (immediately) was the D&D Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay and bearing the best D&D cover art in its history: the Erol Otus cover.

#RPGaDay2019 1. (Addendum A) The first RPG rule book I ever read was the AD&D 1st edition Monster Manual, and I read it long before I ever played or understood what an RPG was. My brother had bought it for the illustrations. A few years later, I used it as a DM.

#RPGaDay2019 1. (Addendum B) The first published RPG adventure I remember DMing was the AD&D 1st edition module, The Tomb of Horrors. Odd place to start, I know. I was 13 and I didn't know what I was doing. It would be some time before I did.

#RPGaDay2019 1. (Addendum C) The first RPG I ever played that I truly enjoyed without reservation was Stormbringer, based on Michael Moorcock's Elric saga. I purchased it and Call of Cthulhu at the first gaming convention I ever attended, Gen Con in Kenosha, WI c. 1982.

#RPGaDay2019 1. (Addendum D) The first free RPG I ever encountered was probably either #FudgeRPG or #RisusRPG. They are free in every sense of the word: gratis, freeform, and liberating. If your RPG is constraining your creativity, either of these will free you.

#RPGaDay2019 1. (Additional) My first awareness of role-playing was through an advertisement in 80 Microcomputing, a magazine for a computer I didn't have (TRS-80). It described a game called Deathmaze 5000, a 1st-person game of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat.

It didn't advertise itself as an RPG, but the idea of it fascinated me (and saddened me because I lacked the required TRS-80 computer). I bought the magazine during summer vacation c. 1981, and I couldn't wait to describe the game to my friends when I returned to school.

"It's a game where you can try to do anything! Imagine if there were a way to play something like that without the limitations of a computer! It would be the greatest game ever invented!" is approximately what I told one of my friends on the playground during recess.

To which he responded, "Gordon, that's what I've been trying to tell you. That's what D&D is." My jaw undoubtedly dropped. This D&D he was always talking about was the impossible dream made manifest?!? "We MUST play D&D!" I believe I said in response.

Now, I know D&D isn't the Holy Grail, but it is one of the things that started me on my Quest, and for that (and 80 Microcomputing and Choose Your Own Adventures and my friend David who introduced me to D&D) I am eternally grateful.

David agreed to be the Dungeon Master and take me on a quick adventure so I could get a taste of it. "ZAP! You're in a dungeon..." is literally how he began it. "O.K.," I thought, "That's an odd start."

The adventure was brief, but I could see vast potential in this "role-playing," and I promptly (the same day or the next or maybe even the previous) rode my bicycle to the nearest department store (Meijer) and purchased my very own copy of the Moldvay D&D Basic Set.

I say "maybe even the previous" because I just realized I might have swung into action right after our conversation on the playground, possibly having read the rules without fully understanding them prior to my first D&D session.

At any rate, I plunged into a lifelong hobby, acquiring over one hundred role-playing games, and I owe the spark of that fateful conversation to an advertisement for a computer game I've never played called Deathmaze 5000.

#RPGaDay2019 2. "Unique": In a ROLE-playing game, it doesn't matter if it's the same game, or even the same edition, the experience will vary from group to group and even session to session. No two groups play exactly the same way, so every experience is unique.

Different groups will have different interpretations of the rules, use different house rules, place emphasis on different aspects of the game, find different things funny (or suspenseful, or frightening), and have differing opinions on any of the above *within* the group.

All of this means that one cannot necessarily know what to expect when one starts gaming with a new group. Maybe the group will be compatible; maybe it won't. Maybe compromise will lead to both sides learning new things; maybe it will lead to a smoking crater.

Some publishers were overly concerned about the lack of standardized play styles from group to group and sought to bring about systems that would have a rule for every imaginable contingency (using rules consistency for tournament play purposes as an excuse or explanation)...

But I'm not convinced that it was necessary or desirable. What did players do with the 1st edition rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons when they first read them? They ignored huge swaths and played the way they preferred. They took what they liked and ignored the rest.

And what was liked or ignored or used was different for every group, and changed over time. Because the game, whichever it happens to be, belongs to whoever plays it. And it is thereby inevitably unique.

#RPGaDay2019 3. "Engage": Many things in the RPG hobby bring enjoyment: reading, planning, creating, preparing, recounting. But nothing equals playing the game with friends and those who may become friends. Engage in the game.

#RPGaDay2019 4. "Share": Share your passion for the hobby. Share your knowledge. Share your time. Share a table with others. Share your favorite resources (Web logs, podcasts, zines, etc.). Share your skills. Share your snacks.

#RPGaDay2019 5. "Space": Having a good space to game that is free from distractions is always preferable, so don't game on the starship's bridge during a space battle...

Make sure you have sufficient space to wield your weapon. Don't even try to use that lirpa or bat'leth in a Jefferies tube.

Whatever you do, don't get spaced, i.e. pushed out an airlock. Unless it's part of a game.

#RPGaDay2019 6. "Ancient": Historical and mythological ancient role-playing are too often a neglected part of the hobby. There are so many possibilities even if you don't count the wealth of GURPS source books on the subject. I'll list a few...

The Valley of the Pharaohs (Palladium); Man, Myth & Magic (Yaquinto); Heroes of Olympus (Fantasy Games Unlimited); Odysseus (FGU); the Celts Campaign Sourcebook for AD&D 2e (TSR)… Those are just the ones that spring immediately to mind.

Apart from the fun I could have from any of the above, I could easily run a Fudge game with any of the GURPS source books pertaining to ancient civilizations: Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, the Aztecs, etc.

Of course, most gamers' experience with the Ancients is from the point of view of adventurers encountering their ruins and artifacts, whether in a fantasy or post-apocalyptic setting.

One interesting departure from the norm is Tekumel, the setting for Empire of the Petal Throne and its descendants. Its far future civilizations have more in common with the ancient Indian, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, and Andean past than our present.

Hyboria, the world of Conan, is a fictional ancient past that takes place after an even more ancient past. (I'd play the TSR game over any of the later official versions, although the source is easily adaptable to many other game systems).

Timeship (Yaquinto), by Herbie Brennan, allows you to role-play in the ancient world from a present-day perspective. It's a time travel RPG in which you play yourself. It needs a few house rules, but it produced some of the best role-playing sessions I've ever had.

If you are concerned about the hassle of learning different systems for every ancient setting you want to try, consider using #FudgeRPG or #RisusRPG to adapt whatever RPG, source book, or historical resource appeals to you.

It's quite simple, and it allows you to concentrate on the joys of role-playing without getting bogged down by excessive game mechanics. That's my two obols.

#RPGaDay2019 7. "Familiar": Roll 1d10 for your familiar.
1. Ilemauzar
2. Pyewackett
3. Pecke in the Crowne
4. Griezzell Greedigutt
5. Vinegar tom [sic]
6. Holt
7. Jarmara
8. Sacke & Sugar
9. Newes
10. None. You have a famulus instead.

If you Find a Familiar, let it know there's a magic-user looking for it. Otherwise, said magic-user has a 25% chance of screwing up the spell and won't be able to cast it again for another year. #RPGaDay2019 #ADnD #1stLevelSpells #FindFamiliar #1stEditionProblems

#RPGaDay2019 8. "Obscure": In the #RPG hobby, any game other than D&D (including D&D) is obscure to outsiders. To most gamers, any game other than D&D and a few others (Vampire: The Masquerade, Pathfinder, maybe GURPS) is obscure.

For some (e.g. me), an RPG must be out of print and nigh unobtainable to be considered obscure. One such game is Neighborhood, published by Wheaton Publications. That, and a brief description in a DRAGON Magazine advertisement c. 1982 is all I know about it.

The only reason I care about it at all is that the advertisement claimed or implied that it was an RPG inspired by the Our Gang (a.k.a. Little Rascals) comedies. I am keenly interested in that subject, as it had a profound influence on my childhood.

I have been trying to locate a copy for two decades. I've never even found mention of the game beyond the information above anywhere. Has anyone ever played the game or even seen it? I don't know if the game is even playable, but I want it.

So, I nominate Neighborhood for the Obscure RPG Hall of Fame. If anyone has any information they could share about this RPG, I would appreciate it.

I'll see if I can find the advertisement and include it in this thread. Stay tuned.

The text of the advertisement from DRAGON Magazine Issue 65 (Sept. 1982):
"Welcome to NEIGHBORHOOD ...the only role-playing game about being a kid! Lob rocks, snowballs or mashed potatoes at your friends..... Only $7.00! Wheaton Publications, P.O. Box 5862, Columbia, SC 29250"

I guess I imagined the connection to Our Gang.

#RPGaDay2019 9. "Critical": Whenever I have given groups of players the choice either to a.) apply critical hits/successes/failures equally to PCs and NPCs alike or b.) disallow critical hits/successes/failures, they have invariably chosen a.).

One might wonder if they think their character's luck at dice is better than the GM's, but honestly, I think they just enjoy the drama/absurdity of critical rolls. And honestly, I think it's fine.

#RPGaDay2019 10. "Focus": In RPGs, my focus is on role-playing. There are many aspects of the game I enjoy, and there is a place for all of them, but the aspects I enjoy the most and recall most fondly are those that involve good faith character interaction.

#RPGaDay2019 11. "Examine": To examine is to inspect closely or to investigate. In an #RPG, that is something anyone can do. You shouldn't need a skill to examine something. You might need a skill to make sense of it in a specialized field, but anyone can use their senses.

#RPGaDay2019 12. "Friendship": My oldest friends are those with whom I started playing RPGs. My newest friends are those with whom I currently play RPGs or discuss RPGs. How have I met many, if not most, of my friends? Through a common interest in RPGs. Thank you, RPGs.

#RPGaDay2019 13. "Mystery": A role-playing game* without mystery is like a library without books you haven't read.

*Also applies to RPG settings, adventures, and characters.

#RPGaDay2019 14. "Guide": Any guide to role-playing would be wise to acknowledge early on that styles and preferences vary from group to group and from player to player, and that it has been so since the beginning of the hobby. Find or form a group that suits YOU.

But give people a chance. Sometimes they pleasantly surprise you.

#RPGaDay2019 15. "Door": I admire Nancy Drew's resolve to discover the means of activating a secret door she is certain is there. (Pictured: Bonita Granville as Nancy Drew and Frankie Thomas as Ted Nickerson in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase from 1939.)

#RPGaDay2019 16. "Dream": Dreams and nightmares are fertile territory for building worlds and creating adventures. If you have recurring dreams, they're begging to be used. Use them.

Dreams can be inspiration, but dreams as dreams can be interesting, too. To make things more mysterious, write different dreams on note cards and hand one to each player when their characters sleep. The dreams *might* be meaningful... Let the players decide if they share them.

Dreams as travel. Astral projection. Dreams as divination. Oneiromancy. Dreams as places. Fairyland. Or Faerie if you will. Dreams as magic. The science of dreams. Lucid dreaming. Streams of consciousness...

#RPGaDay2019 17. "One": One thing I require in any RPG before I will consider playing it is that EVERYONE gets a chance to roll dice (or use whatever randomizer the game employs). Because rolling dice adds suspense AND IT'S FUN.

If the game deprives me of that simple joy (as a player or as a GM), then the game is not for me (and probably for other reasons, too, I suspect).

Some GMs claim that having to roll dice is burdensome and time-consuming, which makes me wonder what RPG they could possibly be playing.

If dice-rolling is so unpleasant, why not try a diceless RPG? I wouldn't play one myself, but it makes more sense than only allowing some participants to roll dice.

Which brings me to a related point: If you can't trust everyone to play fairly, don't play with them. Play with people you trust. And if the game's author doesn't trust you to play right, find another game. They don't deserve your patronage.

Micromanagement has no place anywhere, least of all in how I choose to enjoy my hobby. (And I have no patience for condescension in rule books. As in zero tolerance. IT'S A GAME.)

I didn't expect to rant, but there you go. I like randomizers in my role-playing. Shaken, not stirred.

#RPGaDay2019 18. "Plenty": Ugh. Plenty of this. Plenty of that. Cornucopia. Blah blah blah.

#RPGaDay2019 19. "Scary": Is there anything scarier than level drain in old school D&D? I don't think so. Sure a sphere of annihilation will blow you out of existence, but chances are you won't have time to get scared. It will be a surprise. The undead, though...

You know they're coming, and you know all they have to do is touch you, and POOF! There goes a hard-earned level of experience... OR TWO! No saving throws! Oh, you'll be fleeing all right, unless you're a cleric or a paladin (or a maniac).

It fails to model anything in fiction or folklore, but it sure terrifies players. I can't say I care for it myself. I have nothing against appropriate consequences for *characters*, but this hinders play itself, and I never condone that.

As for what is scary in my games (regardless of system), I let the player characters decide what frightens them. It can be most amusing... *cue evil laughter*

#RPGaDay2019 20. asks, "[What is] Noble [in life?]"
Answer: Noble Sir Hugh the Noble. And so are his comrades three.
Sir Hugh ("The Noble")
Knight Errant (4)
Uplifter of Spirits and Imbiber of Same (3)
Occasional Gambler (2)
Lucky Shots: O O O
WWPHITM: Michael York

Cyril Hamm ("The Mad")
Troubador (3)
Humor Innovator (2)
Escape Artist (3)
Aspiring Alchemist (2)
WWPHITM: Gene Wilder

Anonymous Plumm
Trouvere (3)
Court Jester (2)
Friend to All Animals (3)
Acrobat (2)
WWPHITM: Marty Feldman

Elspeth Shelley
Herb-Gathering, Curse-Throwing Young Crone (4)
Probably a Witch (3)
Brewer of Mead and Other Things (2)
Teller of Fortunes and Detector of Lies (1)
WWPHITM: Madeline Kahn

Noble Sir Hugh's Not-So-Noble Band was made possible with the rules of #RisusRPG, available for free here.
WWPHITM stands for "Who Would Play Him/Her In The Movie" and is borrowed from QAGS, available for purchase here.

I forgot the Hooks!
Sir Hugh: Thinks warnings are jokes.
Cyril Hamm: Easily distracted by anything related to alchemy or comedy.
Anonymous Plumm: Will never harm an animal, and may sometimes take contradictory advice from them.
Elspeth Shelley: Wanted by "the authorities."

Also: I forgot to give each character an extra die for their Hooks, so, consider each one to have three extra Lucky Shots.

#RPGaDay2019 21. "Vast": So much. So many. So so. *sigh*

#RPGaDay2019 22. "Lost": I still own every role-playing game I have ever acquired since 1981 with the exception of my original copies of the first RPG I ever bought: the Basic and Expert D&D Sets with the Erol Otus covers. I lost them during a move.

I eventually replaced the rule books (decades later), but I miss the boxes. The rule books have the same art, but it's cropped, and I miss seeing it in its full glory.

Actually, there is a second RPG I no longer have (but later replaced): my copy of Gamma World that was signed by Jeff Easley at the first Gen Con I ever attended (when it was in Kenosha, Wisconsin).

I sold it to a friend when we were junior high school students and I needed quick cash to buy a record. I was an idiot, but at least I knew the buyer, and we are still friends and gamers to this day.

#RPGaDay2019 23. "Surprise": When you regain consciousness, you find yourself on a beach. Your only possession is (roll 1d6):
1. a knife
2. a stainless steel windproof lighter
3. a 30' rope
4. a Sherman tank
5. a UFO
6. a birthday cake

#RPGaDay2019 24. "Triumph": Or instead try oomph. I have nothing to add on this topic. NEXT!

#RPGaDay2019 25. "Calamity":
Calamity Jane
Gunslingin', Cross-Dressin' Cavalry Scout (4)
Frontier Hell-Raiser with a Heart of Gold (3)
Singin' and Dancin' Fool (3)
Lucky Shots: O O O
Hook: Hopelessly in love with Wild Bill Hickok
WWPHITM: Doris Day
#RisusRPG #Risis #TTRPG #RPG

#RPGaDay2019 26. "Idea": Here's an idea... In your next RPG adventure/module/scenario, every player character must be played as if the player were a certain well known comedian. So, for example, your Ulric Hellbringer is now Ulric Hellbringer (as played by Jerry Stiller).

Roll 1d6
1. The GM assigns each player a comedian
2. Each player chooses a comedian
3. Each player chooses a comedian for the player to their left
4. Each player chooses a comedian for the player to their right
5. Each player's comedian is determined randomly
6. Roll again

I never said it was a GOOD idea.

#RPGaDay2019 27. "Suspense": If interest wanes at your gaming table, it's time to inject some suspense. At the very least roll a random encounter, but make sure there's motivation. And where there's motivation, there's a potential seed for adventure.

#RPGaDay2019 28. "Love": Being able to share the things you enjoy (e.g. gaming) with someone you love is a wonderful thing.

#RPGaDay2019 29. "Evolve": Post-apocalyptic RPGs usually have fun tables of random mutations, but which has the best? It might be interesting to make a master mutation table drawing from all of them...

#RPGaDay2019 30. "Connection": How are the player characters connected? Roll 1d8:
1. mutual friend
2. mutual enemy
3. are all kin
4. are all colleagues
5. are all former (or current) classmates
6. are all fugitives
7. are all survivors
8. met at a party/festival/gathering

#RPGaDay2019 31. "Last": To GMs: Make the fun parts of your gaming sessions last the longest. Unless the adventure is a race against time, let the players spend as much time as they like doing the things they enjoy most. Give them the freedom of action they deserve.

To players: Your time in the spotlight doesn't last forever. Share it with others. Role-playing is best as an ensemble activity.* Interact not only with NPCs, but your fellow party members as well. Make up shared back stories on the spot conversationally. It's easy and fun!

* Unless you are playing a solo or solitaire adventure. The former (one GM and one player) can be a very rich role-playing experience with the right conditions. The latter (one player and no GM) involves the least amount of "role-playing," but it can be fun, too.

Labels: #RPGaDAY, #RPGaDay2019

Date/Time: 2019-09-06, 9:25 p.m.

01 January 2019

Alignments: Hot New Take for a New Year

As part of a selfmade superstition rooted in an observation of an arbitrary holiday, I feel compelled to post an article to at least one of my blogs before the end of the first day of the New Year (2019), and to facilitate this imaginary obligation, I am writing it whilst somewhat inebriated. Without further ado, I bring you another irreverant scribbling on a subject I do not take seriously: alignments in role-playing games, or rather, alignments in Dungeons & Dragons and the few other role-playing games that bother with it.

In the future, I forsee only two alignments. (I have decided to approach this in the manner of a fortune teller, which is all the authority it deserves.) The two alignments are:

  • Team Player, and
  • Loner

Team Player: Those of this alignment are willing to work with others to varying degrees in order to achieve a goal. It matters not if those ends are for good or evil. What matters is that one is willing and able to be part of a group. One can certainly have idiosyncracies and eccentricities, but when push comes to shove, differences are put aside. Game on.

Loner: Those of this alignment are determined to work alone and pursue their own personal quests. Worse than dividing the party, they abandon the party, yet expect an inordinate amount of the DM's attention. They are interested only in themselves and contribute nothing to the group. Those of this alignment may leave. I suggest Fighting Fantasy, Choose Your Own Adventure, or Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures as logical alternatives.

N.B. These are obviously player alignments, which are the only alignments that truly matter at the gaming table.

Have a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year with far more gaming than the last.


22 August 2018

Eat, Drink, and Avoid Penalties

This is a simple method for penalizing player characters who neglect a basic survival necessity, and rewarding those who make the effort to do more than the minimum. It's compatible with nearly any iteration of old school Dungeons & Dragons, its retro-clones, its OSR relatives, and maybe more.

Characters must eat to survive, and they must eat regularly to function normally. For each day that a character fails to eat at least one substantial meal, the character suffers a -1 cumulative penalty to all actions and saving throws, i.e. -1 on the first day, -2 on the second day, -3 on the third day. The DM will determine, based on the character's Constitution and species, how many days the character may survive until starvation ends the character's life. Penalties commence each day as soon as the characters become active until they have their first meal.

If a character manages to have three meals in a single day and the third meal is consumed whilst resting, he or she recovers 1d3 hit points upon finishing it.

Water, or an acceptable liquid substitute, is also a necessity, and failure to drink also results in a -1 cumulative penalty to all actions and saving throws for each day of deprivation as above. The DM will determine how many days the character may survive until death by thirst occurs. Penalties commence each day as soon as the characters become active until they have their first drink.

Characters who fail to consume both food and water will suffer the penalties for both.

Starting on the fourth day of deprivation of either, characters will begin to lose 1dx hit points per day, where x equals the hit die type of the character's class.

23 July 2018

Alignment Mania

(The True Alignment System Explained)

Everyone has an alignment whether they like it or not. In some games, only three alignments are used: Nice, Wicked, and Questionable. There is a never-ending struggle between the forces of Niceness and Wickedness, and if you don't pick sides, then you are regarded by everyone as Questionable. But what do all these esoteric terms mean? Well...

Nice: Those of Nice alignment are polite, generous, and generally helpful. They are the sort of people you would introduce to your parents to win their approval.

Wicked: Those of Wicked alignment are rude, selfish, and generally a nuisance. They are the sort of people you would introduce to your parents to provoke their rage.

Questionable: Those of Questionable alignment are withdrawn, noncommittal, and generally overlooked. They are the sort of people you wouldn't bother to introduce to your parents.

In some games, three different alignments are used: Awful, Psychotic, and Dubious. There is a never-ending war being waged on the cosmic stage and in your own back yard between the Awful and the Psychotic, and those who stubbornly sit on the fence are Dubious. Let's define these terms, shall we?

Awful: Those of Awful alignment epitomize... something. They are Awfully... whatever it is they are. Sometimes they are self-described as Awesome.

Psychotic: Those of Psychotic alignment are unbalanced.

Dubious: Those of Dubious alignment are suspicious.

Some games are not content to have three alignments or three other alignments, so they combine and mix and multiply them into nine alignments, because that's preferable for tournament play. Let's see what they came up with...

Awful Nice: Creatures of this alignment are really quite pleasant. Some might argue they can be too pleasant to the extent that they may even "cramp" one's "style," but they are certainly reliably pleasant.

Psychotic Nice: This alignment really is too much of a good thing. Enough is enough! Sometimes people need some space!

Dubiously Nice: Being pleasant is one thing, but constantly doing it with a self-conscious sense of irony in order to appear "cool" or "hip" is blase and won't even endear yourself to other hipsters.

Awful Questionable: No one can be as impressively stand-offish or intriguingly misanthropic as those fascinating individuals who embody the Awful Questionable alignment. Who are they? What are they doing here? What are their motives? Nobody knows!

Psychotic Questionable: What is wrong with Psychotic Questionable folks? Damned if I know, but I certainly don't want to find out. Just move along and don't make eye contact.

Dubiously Questionable: Those of Dubiously Questionable alignment simply cannot be trusted. See the way they enjoy spending time alone? See how they won't mingle or dance at parties? Have you ever noticed them reading a book in public? Hm...

Awful Wicked: Creatures of this alignment are Wicked with style. They may be Wicked, but even Nice people have to give them some credit. They are the villains you love to hate.

Psychotic Wicked: Just steer clear of any creature exhibiting Psychotic Wicked tendencies. Paying attention to them only encourages them. If you value, well, anything, just stay the heck away.

Dubiously Wicked: Really, being Dubiously Wicked is not as impressive as you think it sounds. The alignment should be changed to Poser. You're fooling no one. Get a life.

11 July 2018

Free RPG Day 2018

So, Free RPG Day 2018 involved several firsts for me. It was my first Free RPG Day, it was my first time as a player (instead of a judge) of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, it was my first time as a player (instead of a judge) at the Dragon's Roost, and it was my first time receiving swag at a DCC RPG Road Crew event.


As you can see above, I was given the DCC RPG bookmark/character sheet of my choice, a copy of the Sanctum Sanctorum Free RPG Day 2018 Third Party Companion, and Issue #1 of Crepuscular, the very fine DCC RPG 'zine by Joshua Burnett, who also happened to be our judge.

The adventure we played was "Sisters of the Moon Furnace" by Marc Bishop. When I say "we" I mean all two of us, because there were two players, but we were given eight 0-level characters each to compensate. Towards the end, as our party had been whittled down to toothpicks, we were each given two extra characters for the final encounter. In the end, all of my original eight were slain, but one (or maybe both) of my reinforcements made it to safety. Alas, poor Greb the Gravedigger, who never flinched from danger and was mere cubits from safety, perished in the last moments of the adventure. Rest in Peace also Flope the Ropemaker, Squire Rendar, Herkimer the Hunter, Iggy the Noble, Grandalf the Guild Beggar, Hooloo the Herbalist, and Spudric the Potato Farmer.

Mr. Burnett has posted the official session report on his blog, the beautifully named Bernie the Flumph! If you get a chance to play DCC RPG with him, I suggest you take it. And thank you, Mr. Burnett, for a glorious if blood-spattered Free RPG Day!

08 January 2018

All the Dice

I was pleased to support the latest Kickstarter project by Impact Miniatures (being that it fulfills my dream of having all the dice: d3, d4, d5, d6, d7, d8, d9, d10/d%, d11, d12, d13, d14, d15, d16, d17, d18, d19, d20, d22, d24, d26, d28, d30, a.k.a. the "One of Everything" reward level), but there is one catch to this wealth of randomizers: keeping them properly sorted. Keeping six different dice sorted can be challenging to a novice, 14 Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG dice can get confusing even to an experienced player, but 24 dice can vex anyone. A dice organizer for this many dice would be time-consuming to make, take up too much table space, and require fastidious attention to ensure that each die was in its proper place. Instead, I opted to make them easier to sort by re-inking the highest number on each die. I used a red Micron pen, which works well enough, but I think I will try using a sable brush and some paint to do a more thorough job.

Does it work? Yes it does and quite nicely, too.

NB: I chose not to ink the d3 and d10/d% dice because a.) both of the d3 dice are obvious and b.) the high numbers on d10/d% dice can vary depending on how they are used.

31 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 31

31. What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Finding the means to attend some gaming conventions, and doing much more gaming with my own groups. Oh, and finishing some of my projects.

[For more information on #RPGaDAY (or #RPGaDAY2017 specifically), read this.]

30 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 30

30. What is an RPG genre-mashup you would most like to see?

Supernatural or cosmic horror meets the War of 1812 or the French and Indian War.

[For more information on #RPGaDAY (or #RPGaDAY2017 specifically), read this.]

29 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 29

29. What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

I can't really say, as different projects vary in scope and difficulty, and I lack firsthand experience in running a Kickstarter project. Pass.

[For more information on #RPGaDAY (or #RPGaDAY2017 specifically), read this.]