Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Well, here's hoping that one and all out there in the gaming blogosphere is having a great holiday season! May you get all the RPG goodies for which you may have asked!

Overall, I think it's been a great year for me as it pertains to gaming. I've had a great time exploring games old and new, digging up stuff I already had in my possession and making some purchases of new materials. I've done a lot of good experimenting with game systems, finally deciding on one or two that I really like. I've played and gamemastered games both at the table-top and online. As I enter the new year, I'm at the helm of a new table-top campaign that, for now, involves two old friends that I thought I'd never game with again! Yes, it's been a good year, and I hope 2011 will be even better!

During this time of year, many of us think about those who may no longer be with us. Beyond the family and friends I have known that have passed on, there are people that have influenced me that I have never met personally. Gary Gygax is, of course, one of those people. Another is fantasy author David Gemmell. If you've never read any of his novels, I heartily recommend them (a good starting place would be his first novel, Legend). Mr. Gemmell died in 2006 at the too-young age of 57. His work is visceral and gritty sword and sorcery, and has been a great inspiration to my own writing and gaming endeavors. Do yourselves a favor and treat yourself to his work. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Anyway, enough of maudlin thoughts! Happy holidays once again, and here's to more gaming in the new year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tales of the Wanderers, Session 2.5

So, let me educate my few readers about life in Southern New Jersey during the winter. We are wimps when it comes to snow. A light dusting of snow occurred last night in the Philadelphia region, in which I dwell, and of course this meant complete paralysis of the roadways! Now, to be fair, it WAS slippery, and the snow was not expected to stick to the ground. But it did. And it was very cold, so there was this weird mix of black ice and powdery snow. And since it was so unexpected, no salt trucks were sent out before the snow started. But still, it seemed to be too much gridlock for the amount of snow that fell.

My point? Last night was of course supposed to be a game night at my place. Only one of my players made it (there are currently only two, as you might know). Luckily, we are still in the small village in which the campaign started two sessions ago, so there was a good opportunity to do a "side" adventure with my friend Dan, who is playing a kender who has been magically transported from Krynn to Oerth. Again, anyone wishing to check out the campaign, feel free to check out the Obsidian Portal page for Tales of the Wanderers.

Anyway, we had a couple hours of side quest fun, with plenty of laughs of course (we are talking about a kender character, you know). I'll try to get a journal entry on the OP page ASAP. All in all, every game session we have just makes me more and more excited, and happier and happier about this return to gaming with some of the old group!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tales of the Wanderers, Session Two

It's a busy Friday at work, so I don't have much time to write at the moment. But I wanted to say that last night we had session two of what I am calling my Tales of the Wanderers campaign. "We" refers to my two old friends and myself, as I related in my first post on this embryonic attempt to bring some of my old group back to table-top gaming. It was another good session, but a bit slow as we're still setting the stage for the adventures to come, laying down personalities, backgrounds, and relationships of the player characters and a growing list of NPCs.

If you're interested, you can check out the campaign's page on Obsidian Portal. I will try to do the next adventure log entry today sometime.

I'll check back in soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

To everyone out there in the gaming blogosphere, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving! I hope you, like me, look forward to setting aside some holiday time this season to be a kid again, if even for a short time, and spend some quality time with some RPG materials! I for one look forward to spending a bit of time reading over some RPG books and dreaming up adventure hooks and other surprises to spring on my players! Hope to hear from you all soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Something Happened in my Basement Last Night...

In my recent search to find some more potential players in my local area, I turned my thoughts once again to something I had considered forever beyond my reach: roleplaying with my old friends that composed the gaming groups of my youth. Something in me demanded that I try again to bring my friends back to the hobby.

So I proposed the idea to a few of my friends, and last night two of them came over to my house. There we gathered in my basement, where my computer room/home office/man-lair resides. We whipped up some characters and I put them through a short session where they had to fight their way out of a small subterranean area (I hope to post a session report soon).

I'm very, VERY happy to report that we had a great time gaming for about three-and-a-half hours, which is something we haven't done in eons (roleplaying or otherwise). There was laughter aplenty and not to mention some daring-do, as the dice flew across the table, maps were consulted, and all the rest. Bottom line: IT WAS FUN! And that's most important. And we're definitely planning on doing it again as soon as possible!

One of the guys is a veritable newb, who dabbled in roleplaying over the years but never really got fully into it when the rest of our group was in our RPG heyday. But after last night, his whole attitude changed. The big reason for that is simply because we're older now, and I've learned to better tailor my games to the needs of my players (it helps that I've known these guys for well over a decade). I convinced our resident newb that roleplaying doesn't have to have the pretentions or stereotypes that we used to labor under when we were younger (which was a major factor in limiting his interest in the hobby), when low self esteem sometimes made us into tyrants at the table.

The other friend that played last night is pretty much a veteran roleplayer, and he fell back into the RPG experience with barely a hiccup! And yours truly wasn't a slouch either ;-)

Suffice to say, last night we felt nostalgia in a good way, not in the sappy and maudlin way. Nostalgia that isn't an obsession with the long-lost past of our lives, but rather a subtle cherishing of once we once had, and can have again in some way. We are the masters of our fates, and the captains of our souls!

Now, if only I could convince some more of the old group to get in on the action...wheels are turning, my friends...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can a Fella get a 20th Follower?!

Just a selfish aside: I've been staring at my Followers (what I call "Minions") on ye olde blog and the number's been on 19 for a looooong time, it seems. I would love it to reach 20, just because, you know, I'm horrible with numbers/math, and therefore numbers are somewhat magical to me. Anyway, is there anyone out there that's willing to help a guy down on his luck and become that mystical 20th follower??? I ain't too proud to beg, either...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight

Hello once again, dear readers (however few may remain!). Just wanted to check in once more and let those who may be interested know about my current gaming status. My play-by-chat game, after three sessions, has lost two players. One sent me a pretty nice email about how she needed to move on, and the other player seemed to simply drop from the face of the earth. I don't hold anything against them (although it would have been nice to get a farewell email from the second player, who said she suffers from ever-worsening arthritis in her hands and therefore cannot endure long hours of typing for the game).

Meanwhile, that leaves just my two other players for the nonce. We're tossing around the idea of moving to using VOIP for the game so as to minimize the need to type so much, and getting much closer to using it for games I think (but this proposed move to VOIP was the main impetus for the one player to bow out, as she was not interested in the shift). But I for one need to invest in a headset/microphone before we can move in that direction.

So, we missed our fourth bi-weekly session this weekend. The looming holidays are often a bad time of year for gaming, I find.

In the meantime, in the non-virtual world, I've had an interesting development: some old friends with whom I used to game ages ago have recently resurfaced, and bring with them a resurgent desire for roleplaying! They have come to me after I've spoken a bit to them about my own return to gaming, and they've asked if I would be willing to get a side game going with them. Needless to say, I am very intrigued by this turn of events! Whether anything will come of it, I'm not sure, but I have to admit that I'm pretty excited simply from the fact that they've even come forward with this revelation. One of my main laments/motivations behind this blog is that my old group of friends who I played with has splintered over the years. But could I be seeing a regrouping in the offing? Time will tell...

Well, hope all is well out there with all and sundry. Hope to hear from you soon, and until then, as always, happy gaming!

P.S. I've decided to hold on to my Flame Princess box set, so that's no longer for sale. My financial woes have abated a bit, fortunately. I still have many other items for sale, however. But I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of that gorgeous box!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lamentations (and other things) for Sale!

Ok, not to broadcast a sob story, but...I've come across some difficult financial times of late, with salary reductions, reduced hours, and other specters of the current economic state of the country (the world?) afflicting me. That being said, as painful as it may be, I find myself in need of unloading some gaming materials.

The most painful of these is the need to sell my brand spankin' new, barely used copy of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess box set, which I just acquired a few scant monts ago. It's in pristine condition, of course, and I'm looking to sell it for $45 (shipping will be a bit extra)...that's $20 less than what I paid for it. Please let me know if you are interested. You can email me at to discuss this or any other item I have for sale.

(Some of you might be asking how I will continue to run my current, LotFP-based campaign. Well, I'm going to resort to using the free PDFs of the Rules and Magic books that James Raggi has provided.)

While my copy of LotFP is my current crown jewel for sale, I have a list of other materials that are also for sale. Here's the list (with prices):

  • Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord card game (with bonus extra cards) = $10
  • D&D 3.5 Module: The Standing Stone = $5
  • Fading Suns sci-fi RPG = $5
  • In Nomine RPG = $5
  • Continuum time-travel RPG = $5
  • Rifts World Book 11: Coalition War Campaign = $7
  • Rifts World Book 12: Psyscape = $7
  • Rifts World Book 13: Lone Star = $7

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Musings on Entering my 35th Year...

Well met once again, all! This is your friendly neighborhood Drance, checking in with some thoughts. I turned 35 yesterday, and it staggered me to think that I started gaming more than 20 years ago! Now, granted, as anyone who's read my testimonial on this blog knows, many of the years between my first gaming experiences and my current life were spent NOT gaming (at least not table-top roleplaying). But still, I never totally forgot about roleplaying, and always had it on my mind somewhere, and always believed that someday I would return to realm fantasic and deadly!

All in all, it's been great getting back into table-top (and getting into play-by-chat) roleplaying! Thanks to all of you in the gaming blogosphere that I've come to know in the past year, for being there to share your thoughts and experiences! It's been a great ride so far!

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and October is my favorite month (natch!) I've been doing my usual October rituals, like reading my H.P. Lovecraft and other horror literature, watching horror flicks of varying caliber (heartily recommend Drag Me to Hell and Quarantine, but avoid Pulse...bleh!)

But, as usual, I digress...

I hope to post the recap of Legendary Domains Sesson 3 soon enough (spoiler: it was sort of a short session, not as much happened this time around).

Stay tuned, dudes and dudettes!

As always, happy gaming!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Session 2 Recap/Session 3 This Weekend!

Hello all! This is your pal Drance, the guy who doesn't post very often anymore! As I've said before, all my creative energies (and limited free time) are going to the maintenance of my fledgeling Legendary Domains campaign.

That said, we did have a second session about two weeks ago, and we're slated for session three tomorrow night! So far, things have been pretty good!

For those who are interested, you can read the recap of session two on Obsidian Portal. As a side note, I was totally messed up in my interpretation/execution/understanding of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess encumbrance rules. I won't go into details, but suffice to say one of my players called me out on it (nicely), and showed me the error of my ways. He and I also discussed possible house rules on the subject.

Anyway, wish me luck for the next session, and let me know if anyone at all is reading/listening!

As always, happy gaming!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gearing Up for Session 2!

Greetings all,

As you can tell, the regularity of my postings is WAY down on ye olde blog. I know, I know, you've all been beating your chests and nashing your teeth at my much-decreased blogging output ;-)

But I have to say that a derth of postings is going to be the status quo here at OMUtB for the indefinite future. And I am actually OK with that. Because I am spending my free time on actually working on/preparing for/running my currently bi-weekly Legendary Domains campaign. This Saturday is session two, and I am all jazzed up for it! I think I'm pretty prepared, and I can't wait to see my players and their characters react to what I have to throw at them!

Point is, most of my posts here for the time being will be to give you reports on my sessions, and perhaps the occasional divergence from that topic if the mood strikes me and if I have time.

Again, I am pretty sure that no one will be devastated by this news. But I don't want to be one of those guys who abandons a blog after a few months because the initial fire that made me start the blog has "gone out." It hasn't. It's just my energies are better focused elsewhere. I'm doing what I want to be doing: actually GAMING! I feel like a success, so far!

So keep your fingers crossed for me, with regards to my continued gaming efforts!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Legendary Domains: Session 1 Recap

Hello once again all! This is your absentee blogmaster checking back in again...finally! I've been spending my limited free time on getting my play-by-chat Legendary Domains campaign off the ground, and we finally had our first session on Thursday the 16th of September. Now, Thursday night games will have to be short sessions, about three or so hours, due to it being a "school night" and the schedules of my four players. Ideally we want to have our sessions on Saturday nights from about 6:30 to midnight or so.

We used Chatzy for the session, but I'm not sure I like it. I wanted to try out a web-based chat system, because I didn't really want to load something like Yahoo Messenger or Windows Messenger onto my aging 'puter. But there seemed to be a lot of lag time that really slowed the game down though, so I think we wont' be using Chatzy anymore! One of the guys in the group is really trying to convince me to do VOIP (TeamSpeak) instead of chat room, and I'm tempted...but again, I am leary of loading stuff up to my ailing system. But we'll see.

Anyway, as for the session itself, it was a bit short and it was an introductory session of course, so there really wasn't any combat/encounters. I was really just expecting to set the stage for the campaign anyway, and introduce the characters to each other.

I've set the campaign in an "alternate universe" Forgotten Realms. I took Abeir, the sister planet of Toril, and decided to use it for this alternate world. This will enable me to justify either using or not using canon material from the Realms. For starters, since I'm using Lamentations of the Flame Princess as my rule set, the only demi-human races in the game are elves, dwarves, and halflings, and they are in the race-as-class mold of OD&D.

And there are no half-elves or half-orcs. I weaved this into the background for the campaign by making this inability of the races to "mingle" as just being a law of the universe. Thus there may bloom romances between races such as elves and humans, but there can be no interbreeding, as decreed by the gods. Also, there are rarely clerics among the demi-human races, and for the most part they "worship" their gods through living their lives, and the deeds they perform. They have no truly organized religions. There may be those individuals among the demi-human races that are sometimes gifted with powers from their gods, but they are rare.

At any rate, I encourage you to look over the campaign wiki at Obsidian Portal. There you can check out the player characters and also read the recap of the session.

Needless to say, I am very excited to have this campaign finally off the ground!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Focusing my Energies

Hello once again...

As you can clearly tell by my lack of posting on ye olde blog, I'm really focusing every spare moment I have into getting my Legendary Domains campaign off the ground. I've got my four players, have their characters pretty much all I need to do is coordinate schedules and finalize a date for our first game session! We're tentatively shooting for September 18th as our date, but we're still just tentative for that day. Damn adult responsibilities ;-)

Anyway, sorry for this blog not being very interesting lately...if it ever was at all! I know there's differences in opinion on whether or not session recaps are worthwhile, but I am thinking at this point that that's all you'll be seeing from me for a while on this blog. Until I can get into the groove of the campaign, at least.

Anyway, that's all for now. As always, happy gaming!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creeping Closer to a Campaign

Hi all! Well, had a first chat session with two of my potential players last night. The other two potentials did not attend the chat, and I haven't heard much from them in a few days. So, signs are starting to point to a need for me to go back out and stump for two more players in order to get my desired total of four. But in the meantime, the two players that I chatted with last night seem to be VERY enthusiastic, so I'm not worried about them flaking on me. We discussed characters and rolled up stats, and they'll be getting me drafts of their characters in a couple days.

So next steps are to go out and do more advertising for the game in the hopes of attracting a couple more players, and finalize the characters for my two solid players. If all goes well and I get some more players soon, we should be on pace to have our first gaming session sometime in early to mid-September.

And as you can see, during this process my posting here will be pretty infrequent as I focus my energies (and limited free time) elsewhere.

Anyway, wish me luck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Got my Players...

Hey again! I know the blog's been more quiet these days, but I'm really focusing on getting my Legendary Domains campaign started. I've got four players now, and I'm wrapping up my house rules and trying to coordinate schedules with everyone. I'm trying to get everyone together for an initial chat for the group sometime either this week or next. We'll flesh out characters and start gaming hopefully by the first week in September! Wish us luck. I'll try to write something more substantial for the blog again someday, I promise!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hilarity: D&D Monster Man

Time for some Friday Fun! Go here:

D&D Monster Man

If you haven't seen this already, enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lovecraft!

Howard Philips Lovecraft was born on August 20th, 1890. I discovered his weird writings as a teenager and have been hooked ever since. I have a few of the Del Rey reprints of his stories in my personal library. Every year around Halloween it's a ritual for me, taking those books off the shelf and delving into them. I read them on the train to work or in a park, and as the words shift my reality into the strange, I look about at those around me and wonder if we're all just scurrying insects under the poised crushing thumb of some unknowable terror...

I think I might have to check out The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft sometime soon! Ron Howard was heard sometime last year, I think, talking about adapting this comic series into a movie.

And then there's word that Guillermo del Toro is doing a big screen treatment of "At the Mountains of Madness." However it happens, I hope Lovecraft does finally get a good film that introduces him to a wider audience. Cthulhu knows there's been a plethora of terrible B movies created from his work.

So take a moment today and check out the H.P. Lovecraft Archive, which is probaby the best website about Lovecraft that I've come across. Let's celebrate the man who is one of the inspirations for James Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG, which I'll be running soon!

Thanks Mr. Lovecraft!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Still Looking for Players...

Sorry I've been AFK for a few days with regard to ye olde blog. Been focusing on wrapping up the final details on my Legendary Domains campaign and also getting the word out to potential players. I've had a few well wishers on Obsidian Portal and a few nibbles of interest, but not the steady stream that I was hoping for...

And in the meantime, the Dragon Warriors itch has stolen over me again! Damn it, GM ADD strikes again! I've been considering exploring the game for some time now, and the urge has become nigh overwhelming!

So, keep your fingers crossed for me and say a prayer to St. Gygax that I'll eventually get some solid players for my campaign!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Now Looking for a Few Good Players!

Greetings all!

Sorry I've been quiet the last few days. We celebrated my kid's birthdays this weekend (my son and daughter were born two years and two days apart). So suffice to say I was pretty busy.

But now that the b-days are behind me, I am really ramping up my return to the gamemaster's chair! With that being said, I am now actively looking for players for my Legendary Domains campaign. I'll be using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system, with some house rules. I'll be getting some house rule inspiration from the Rules Cyclopedia as well as D&D 3.5, FYI.

I am looking for four committed players for this play-by-chat game, and I would like to run a session every week, barring major conflicts.

If you are interested, please email me and tell me why you want to be in the game, and give me some idea of your playing background. Email me at and we'll talk!

I am really looking for players who will be patient with me while I shake the rust of my skills. Characters will start at 1st level, so as to take it easy on yers truly for the time being as I get back on my feet.

That's all for now. If you have any questions, please let me know. Hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Hey folks! Sorry I've been so silent on ye olde blog. But I've been busy brainstorming for my upcoming play-by-chat campaign, which I've dubbed "Legendary Domains."

I'm rereading the LotFP Rules book (still hoping to do a thorough review of the game), and trying to minimize my house rules for the time being. I'm taking to heart the advice on Philotomy's OD&D Musings, specifically those found under the "Considering OD&D?" section.

I'm really trying to take the "Restrain yourself" advice and "play it for what it is" as much as possible (i.e. keep house ruling to a minimum at the beginning). I'm a big believer in letting additional house rules grow organically as play progresses in the campaign.

At this point, I'm really just tweaking demi-human abilities slightly, and also tacking on Talents, which are basically a combination of feats and skills from D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder. The selection of these Talents is a highly interactive process between GM and player. Fighters, Specialists, Clerics, and Magic-Users start out with 2 and gain another Talent at 3rd, 6th, 9th, etc. Demi-humans start with 1 Talent and progress in the same way.

I was also thinking of limiting demi-humans in some ways. For instance, I was thinking of limiting ability scores thusly:

Elves: maximum Con = 15
Dwarves: maximum Dex = 15
Halflings: maximum Str = 15

This means that the maximum modifier in these abilities for each race is +1. What do you think of that? Just thinking that, with no level limits for demi-humans in this game (which I like), I should limit them in some way or ways (i.e. only one starting Talent, ability score limits).

OK, back to my nefarious plans...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obsidian Portal

In my post yesterday about the campaign I'm brewing up, I mentioned setting up a Yahoo Group for the campaign. But I think that I need to get current with my technology, so to speak. So I think I will be creating a campaign page at Obsidian Portal instead.

Anyone else use this? I am exploring it now and it looks pretty cool. If anyone can share their experiences with OP, that would be appreciated.

I wanted to create the Yahoo Group in order to facilitate open communication with the group, as well as have a permanent home on the web for the campaign (which will be web/chat-based). But I also wanted to use the Yahoo Group in order to post images/maps and especially for sharing documents (in multiple formats but most likely PDFs). So far, I haven't seen a way to upload documents to Obsidian Portal. Is this possible?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

There's a Storm Comin'...

I have to tell you, the wheels in the old cabesa are turning, my friends...

What the heck am I talking about?! Well, I think I am putting my plans to return to the GM's chair on the fast track! Since I am pretty sure that I will not be returning to the Pathfinder game I tried to get into (see here for a lengthy discussion of the reasons why), I will have the time to get my campaign ideas together.

Here's what I know so far:
  • I will be using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying game rules. I really like what James Raggi has done with his game (really like the Specialist d6 mechanic, it's way better than a percentage roll), and it has the simplicity I want in a game at the moment. In this way, I can ease myself back into the role of Gamemaster. I was originally thinking of using Castles & Crusades, but I want to shake the rust off my GMing skills before moving on to C&C, which is not as rules-light as LotFP (IMHO).
  • I will be doing some house ruling to LotFP, of course, but I don't think there will be much that I will be changing/adding on. That gives me a great feeling, as I'd much rather be creating and running adventures!
  • I will try to run an adventure every week, if possible.
  • I will be running the game online via chat (probably using Chatzy) and will use the online dice roller located here. I will also be setting up a Yahoo Group for the campaign.
  • I want to keep the number of players to three for the moment, just to take it easy on myself. I may increase this to four if things go well. I will be advertising the game on some Yahoo Groups like RPG Player Sanctuary or DnD Contact.
  • I want to start the characters at first level, something I haven't done much in my gaming career!
  • For the campaign world, I've been toying with the idea of using the Forgotten Realms as a "framework," but rather than setting the game on the planet Toril, I was going to use its "sister world" Abeir, and make it sort of a "parallel universe" or dark reflection of Toril. So I would have free reign to totally negate/circumvent/manipulate/change any of the "canon" Realms history/famous characters/gods/locations/etc that's been established.

That's all for now. Any thoughts, comments, and/or advice is welcome!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Status Report: 8/9/10

Without any ado, here's my latest roleplaying status report:

Me as Player: So, I had my second Pathfinder session this weekend (you can read about my first session here). And suffice to say I had a lot of the wind knocked out of my sails, and found myself enjoying things much less than I did in my first session. I think during my first session I was just so happy to be gaming at all, after a long hiatus.

So, what happened to make my interest flag so dramatically? Well, there were several things that conspired to sap my enthusiasm:
  • I had no experience whatsoever with Pathfinder going into the game
  • My character started at 8th level, probably not a good idea for a Pathfinder newb like me
  • The Council of Thieves adventure path is for high-level characters and fairly complex with all its intrigues, complex plots, and high-level/difficult opponents

Now, I know that given more time I could probably over come all these obstacles. But I think I should have probably started out at first level, or maybe I am just too steeped in the old D&D/1st Edition AD&D editions that the more recent rules don't compute. And throw into the fact that I am 34, almost 35. Not to say that an old guy can learn new rules, but I have so little time to study up in the midst of all my adult life junk.

But I don't think I will stick around long enough to overcome my rules deficiency.

Now, I want to tread carefully from here on out. I haven't addressed a big factor yet: the people in the group themselves. Now, I've read the recent Gamer vs Gamer post at Mr. Raggi's LotFP blog. And I read the Catpissmen? post over at Underdark Gazette. And I don't think I can be categorized as the "diva-like" players described in these posts.

I just want to say that I don't judge gamers harshly when I don't mesh with them (unless they are being blatant dicks that are attacking me/someone else personally or just being purposefully disruptive during a game), nor do I cry out and beat my chest and claim that there are no good gamers out in the world. I feel that if you don't mesh with a group, that's OK, no harm no foul. Just go find another group. And there are plenty of other games and gamers out there, both at physical table-tops and on the Internet.

So with that disclaimer in mind, let me discuss the people. I feel that the GM has a lot on his plate, because he runs three campaigns and plays several times a week. I think he has a lot to juggle, and therefore some things slip through the cracks. I think that due to the load he carries (voluntarily, of course) he, inadvertently or not, dropped me into a high-level game with a high-level character and didn't see the need for mentoring me a bit more. Nor did he relay to his other players that, while I have experience roleplaying, it's been years since I played at a table-top and I am used to much older rules. I think there was some miscommunication between me, the GM, and the group with regard to how to merge me/my character with the game.

There were several players in the group that seemed to get exasperated with my lack of facility with the Pathfinder rules. Again, I think they weren't warned beforehand that I didn't know the rules very well. There were some other players who were very helpful, however.

As for the GMs style and the theme of his campaign, I think that I just don't sync up with either. The GM seems to be a somewhat "killer GM." I don't really judge someone for running their games that way, I just don't like to be in those types of games. For instance, I've played in two sessions now and in both I nearly died (dropped to negative hit points and just barely saved by a cleric). In the most recent game, I was disintegrated and the cleric had to gather up my ashes and resurrect me. I just don't feel that I want to be in a game where characters are dying every game, and where the resurrection is done in a very mechanical way with no drama. Death is just a blip, where you are raised easily and just sort of shrug it off. There's no tension. Death is too cheap that way. But the GM seemed to be very gleeful when he mutilates the characters.

I also felt that the game is too combat-intensive for my tastes. I prefer some more interaction with NPCs, intrigues, puzzle solving, etc. In addition, combats are very time consuming in this game, apparently, with all sorts of player feats and powers and skill checks and all that rigamarole. I thought I would be able to get over the learning curve of Pathfinder and at least be a player, but perhaps this isn't the case. There are just so many rules that I don't feel comfortable with. I like fast combats, the type you have with older D&D rules sets.

For instance, I despise attacks of opportunity. I think it's just another way for more "striking" in a game. Every time I tried to move past the major creature we fought during the session, for some reason it got an attack of opportunity against me. I know it has multiple arms, but come on!

(Tangent: I was in a gaming store this weekend and overheard some guys talking about a table-top game they were going to that day, and I kept hearing characters described as "striker," etc. Makes me cringe...)

And don't get me started on magic resistance. You have to bypass the creature's magic resistance and then it also gets a saving throw? Why not just make the creature's saving throws really good? Why have this double layer of protection against magic?!

Also, I felt like I tried to do what I thought was creative thinking during the session's big combat with the giant, multi-armed creature, rather than just try to cast offensive spells and fireball it to death. At one point, the monster was walking on air and I decided to use dispel magic on it and make it plummet to the ground. Instead of throwing me a bone (like I would have done if I were GM) for doing something creative, the GM had someone check the rules and determined that when the airwalk spell is dispelled, the creature gently floats to the ground. Maybe he didn't think I was that creative (maybe it wasn't, I don't know). And of course, the creature turned on me and kicked my ass. But if it had been me GMing, I would have ignored the rules of the spell and let the character's action succeed, because he was trying to do something other than "strike" the opponent.

I felt that the players were constantly being barraged with dangers and most of the time our ideas were to no avail. It was a constant stream of thwarted plans and failed attempts. You have to let the players have some accomplishments, or the game becomes stagnant and the players demoralized. Or that's just me, I guess.

Bottom line: at about two-thirds of the way through the session, I was no longer having fun. And the point is to have fun, right? I mean, this is supposed to be an enjoyable pastime, right?

Suffice to say that I want to talk to the GM and let him know my misgivings. I think it's likely that I won't continue in the game. I just don't mesh with that they are doing with their game, and that's perfectly OK. It happens. I just have a different style and different tastes, and you can only learn what you don't like by playing. I just hope that the GM will agree to disagree and we can have an amicable parting. Wish me luck.

Me as Gamemaster: I recently got my copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess roleplaying game from James Raggi, and I am delving into that now! I will put up a review sometime in the near future (I hope!). What I've seen in the box and what I've read so far is very entertaining, and I like Mr. Raggi's style. I think I will definitely use these rules (with some house rules included) for my return to GMing. I think it will be a good idea to start with something more straightforward with regard to rules sets. Once I get a campaign using LotFP under my belt, I may then move onto the other game system that I seem to have an affinity for: Castles & Crusades. I wonder how Mr. Raggi would react if he knew his game has supplanted that of Troll Lord Games in my gaming world?!

That's all for now. As always, have a good one, and happy gaming!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Catalogs

So, as I was digging through my old RPG stuff at home recently, I came across some interesting items from the early 90's. That era was the peak of my Dragon Magazine collecting, and I went through a spate of ordering the free stuff (mostly catalogs) advertised in the magazine.

In my recent delvings I found the following "catalog" (I use the term catalog loosely, because it's really just several sheets of 8.5x 11 paper stapled together) from Wizards of the Coast, circa 1992:

WotC was clearly a small outfit at the time. All they were really marketing in 1992 is material for the Talislanta game!

Now, I also recently found in my stuff one of the TSR catalogs from 1992. Here are some scans of that:

My, how things have changed over the years, eh? Very indicative of the sheer glut of stuff TSR was putting out. I find it so strangely time/mind warping to look at this old stuff. The sense of time displacement is so weird! Meanwhile, has anyone else seen the cover of the WotC 2011 catalogue (2011?! My teenaged self in 1992 could not even conceive of such a year! I was too busy pondering what the undoubted wonders of 2000 would be)? It shows the Larry Elmore artwork with the fighter going up against the red dragon from the cover of the D&D Basic "red box" set. And I think they're using that same image and design from the old Basic box for Essentials. Does anyone else find this apocryphal?! They're trying to associate their D&D Essentials line with OD&D? It's all very strange indeed...

The Flame Princess Cometh!

Woohoo! Can you tell that I got my copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying?! If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you must have just come out of a dungeon after a few weeks of being under the earth. Thanks to Mr. James Raggi for a great-looking game. And I've already gotten a few chuckles out of the warning and welcome page, and found myself feeling interested in what I've read so far in the Tutorial. The writing is already great!

Other initial reactions include:

The box/books are smaller than I expected, but that's not a bad thing. I never really had experience with digest-sized books. But it's a nice change of pace from the big cumbersome books that most games come in. It's easier to transport in terms of weight, but for the moment I am insisting that I carry around the box and contents in their entirety, because I am a perfectionist nerd that needs to grasp his new possessions like Gollum and the One Ring! I am protecting the game box by using it's shipping package as a protective shell.

Wait for it:

Anyway, my other initial chuckle came from looking at the tiny dice that came with the game! They're so little and, well, just plain adorable. Sure, I will probably never use them in a game, but I might turn them into a nice charm bracelet for the wife. Just kidding, honey. I would make them into a necklace...for me.

In summation, I'm already enjoying the product, and I haven't even scratched the surface! More impressions/reviews soon. If anyone else out there has the game, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

GMs: How Do You Roll?

I'm pretty busy today, but I wanted to ask a quick question:

For you GMs out there: When you make your dice rolls, do you make them openly for the players to see, or do you do them in secret? Or do you do a combination of the two? Whatever your preference, also please let me know why you roll the way you do.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Evolution of a Blog

In my first post today, regarding the changes to my blog's layout, I mentioned that using a two-sidebar layout better suited my "purposes." But that made me wonder, just what are the purposes of my blog? I'm not second-guessing myself in any existential way, I guess. The existance of the blog is not threatened. But rather I really think I need to codify what I want to accomplish with this blog before I progress any further.

When I started it, I really just wanted to use it as a means to keep track of my attempts at getting back into roleplaying. It was also meant to be a way for me to find an outlet for my nostalgia, in order to clear away the cobwebs of the past and return to participation rather than longing for recapturing some earlier time in my life. With regard to nostalgia, I found the following on the excellent Black Gate Magazine blog in a recent post:

"As Tolkien scholar Michael Drout states in Rings, Swords, and Monsters, nostalgia is a longing for something you cannot return to (if you can reach the object of your longing, it’s not nostalgia, Drout says)."

The sentiment that being able to obtain that which you long for means you can banish nostalgia is powerful to me. Because I don't just want to sit around and yearn anymore for a return to roleplaying. I am finally, after a long absense, striving to obtain that which I desire.

And I also wanted to start participating more directly in the RPG blogosphere, because I had been reading a lot of entertaining blogs and I wanted to start connecting with some like-minded people, as another means of moving my relationship with the hobby away from some dusty memories of a "gilded age" and into an active part of my present life.

So do I need to have some sort of blog "manifesto"? I don't know about that. But here's a brainstormed list of what I want from my blog:
  • Catharsis for nostalgia
  • Keep track of my "return to gaming" progress
  • Connect with other gamers (for conversation, camraderie, advice, information, a pool of potential players, etc)
  • Provide a place where people can go as a resource for finding RPG-related materials (using the sidebars of my blog)
  • Share my experiences and thoughts with like-minded people

I think those are my main motivations.

The inevitable questions to you all out there: why did you start your blogs? How have the purposes of your blogs changed over time, if at all?

Enough navel gazing. Thanks for reading, as usual.

Experimenting with Layout

Ok, so I've seen several blogs that I follow recently do some changes to their layouts (including James Maliszewski's venerable Grognardia). And I've decided to jump on the bandwagon like a good little lemming.

I think the two sidebars thing is better for my purposes, rather than just the sidebar to the right. I think two sidebars are very in right now ;-)

So, to anybody who cares, what do you think of the new layout?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Online Dungeon Generator

Sorry I've been so quiet the last few days. Me and the family took a trip "down the shore" as we say here in South Jersey (which is an entirely different state from North Jersey, but I won't get into that at the moment).

At any rate, I wanted to give you a heads up (if you haven't already heard of it) regarding a resource that has been mentioned elsewhere on the blogosphere. There's a really cool dungeon generator that you should definitely check out! Take a look and let me know what you think!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Interest in my first Pathfinder Session

Hi all,

There have been a goodly number of people telling me they are interested in knowing more about my recent Pathfinder session, the first I've ever played. The session report I wrote about it can be found HERE. I hope everyone doesn't find it underwhelming!

That's all for now, folks. Please write me comments on the session report.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slow Blog Days

I'm currently in a Sargasso Sea of busy-ness this week, between work, family, and other real life stuff. On the gaming side of my existence, I'm also using my spare time to work on my Pathfinder character (read my session report on my first Pathfinder game for the reasons why I'm desperate to tighten up my character!)

Also taking up my free time is reading some fiction as well as all the blogging I've been trying to do, all the blogs I've been reading, and all the RPGs I've been reading. Something has to give, and unfortunately the blog seems to be getting the short shrift.

In the meantime, I wanted to ask everyone again for some more advice on getting rid of some gaming stuff. My blog-based "yard sale" hasn't generated much interest (though it seems like someone who I have contacted via Craigslist might want to buy all the video games I listed).

Seriously, any thoughts? Anyone interested in anything? ;-)

That's all for now. I hope to blog something of more substance again soon. I have a huge list of more involved topics that I want to write about, and I want to do them justice. Hopefully I'll have the time soon to do so...

Stay tuned, and as always, happy gaming!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Conan Rakes in the Gold Pieces!

I know I'm a bit late to the party with this, but just in case you hadn't heard, a painting of Conan by the recently late, always great Frank Frazetta sold for $1.5 million! I find it thrilling that a piece of fantasy artwork could garner that sort of cash! Good job, Frank. You're sorely missed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blog-based Yard Sale!

Ok, since I asked in a prior post for opinions on using one's blog to attempt to sell some stuff, and those that did respond seemed to think it wasn't a horrible thing to do, I have decided to forge ahead and do this here post with a list of things I'd like to sell.

I still feel a bit weird doing this, goes:

I have a bunch of roleplaying games, board/card games, and PC games that I want to get rid of ASAP! All games are in great condition, with just minor shelf wear, and come with all original components unless otherwise noted. The PC games are gently used, some of them barely played. These all come with boxes, manuals, and the discs are pristine!

I am selling all games for just $10 each (or less if noted next to the name of the item)! Many of these items are pretty rare (I think), so selling them at this price is a steal (I think)!

If you want to buy some things in "bulk," contact me and we'll work on a reduced-price deal for multiple items!

I am looking to sell rather than trade, since one of the reasons for this sale is to de-clutter my house. But if you really want to propose a trade, let me know. I might be interested in some fantasy RPG stuff.

In general, let me know if you have any questions. And yes, I know that there's such things as eBay and Craigslist, but these days eBay is too much of a hassle for me, and Craigslist never gives me the results I am looking for. And I figured this portion of the blogosphere has more of the target market for these items. But if anyone has some advice on how to sell gaming stuff successfully, I'm all ears!

And please, if you don't mind, feel free to spread the word! Tell your friends!

Here's the list of games:


- Forbidden Lore box set for Ravenloft campaign setting (includes everything but fortune telling dice and cards that originally came with the set)


- Wraith: The Oblivion core rule book

- Charnel Houses of Europe (Wraith: The Oblivion sourcebook) = $5

- Mage: The Ascension core rule book

- Guide to the Technocracy for Mage: The Ascension

- Werewolf: The Apocalypse core rule book


- Shadowrun 3rd Edition core rule book

- In Nomine core rule book

- Continuum core rule book


- Risk 2210 board game

- Risk and Castle Risk combination board game

- Samurai Swords board game

- Thieves Guild fantasy board game

- Dungeoneer Card Game: Tomb of the Lich Lord (if you buy this, I will give you extra cards for the game for free!)


- Panzer General II (includes huge strategy guide)

- Command & Conquer Tiberian Sun (with Firestorm Expansion)

- Warcraft III

- Galactic Civilizations

- Galactic Civilizations: Altarian Prophecy

- Spinter Cell

- Fallout 1 and 2 (both games in one package)

- And a rare game called Alien Logic, based on the Skyrealms of Jorune roleplaying game

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pathfinder Session: 7/25/10

So, I sat at my first table-top game in many many years on Saturday. I'm a new player in a group playing the Pathfinder Council of Thieves Adventure Path.

We played for about five hours, from about 1 PM to 6 PM. I haven't roleplayed at a table-top game in the early-to-late afternoon time period on a Saturday for about a decade! It's weird, and sort of depressing, each time something like that occurs to me.

For starters, it's a good group of people that I met! They accepted me very readily to the table for the most part. Of course there was some awkwardness, but that's to be expected in any kind of first-time human interaction, right? Most of them, I think, are around my age (30s). We didn't do too much sharing of our personal information, but I think more of that will happen as time goes on. There was a total of seven of us, six players and the GM. That's a bit of a bigger group than I have ever gamed with. My gaming groups in the past usually consisted of a GM and four players (though we often had only three players).

I never really played a game using the D&D 3.0-3.5 rules, even though I bought the three core books for that edition a few years after they came out (mostly out of curiosity). Now, Pathfinder is considered "3.75" because it sort of continues on with the 3.5 rules, with some tweaks. I find the rules a bit overwhelming, and I know I would never want to run a game using them. But I am willing to learn enough to be a player in such a game.

But it's going to take some time to become a bit more familiar with the rules. There's definitely a lot more going on than I like. I think there's too many esoteric rules during combat, for instance (I think this is where I have my biggest problem with 3.5/Pathfinder). Stuff like attacks of opportunity, Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, etc. Don't ask me to explain any of this least not yet. But my gut reaction is that things seem needlessly complicated. Again, if I were to run a game, I would never go near this stuff. Give me old D&D combat any day!

Everyone seemed very willing to be patient with my lack of understanding of the mechanics. They were willing to guide me and give me suggestions for the most part. But my inexperience with the rules definitely detracted from my effectiveness in the one big combat we had during the game (in which I was reduced to negative hit points and barely saved from death by the party cleric).

Plus, due to the general busy-ness of life recently (on the part of myself and the GM), and the fact that I don't own the Pathfinder core rule book, my character Arvandos was only partially complete on my character sheet. I was missing many of my stats, and only had a partial list of equipment. In addition, my character started at 8th level, so I was also overwhelmed with all of the skills, spells, and feats that he has. I don't know quite yet what they all do, and I don't know when and how to use them!

I think my roleplaying skills were not as rusty as I thought they would be. My character is a sorcerer named Arvandos who has an infernal bloodline (sorcerers basically derive their power from a bloodline in Pathfinder, and these bloodlines include infernal, abyssal, celestial, etc). One of the group plays a dwarven cleric, and he plays his character as something of a lawful good zealot! I've decided that my character aspires to be Chaotic Good, so he and I sort of bumped heads. I tried to play Arvandos as something of a witty, handsome rogue (Charisma of 18!) and I seemed to manage to charm the group with my repartee...except for the dwarf, who only got more and more frustrated with my verbal fencing. But I guess we eventually got over most of our squabbling, since he's the cleric that saved me from dying!

The GM had us meet in a tavern (go figure!) where the group was looking to hook up with some more help in their endeavors. They definitely were looking for an arcane caster to add to the group. Their last sorcerer was turned into a vampire, they informed me. Hey, well, sign me up!

Of course, I joined them, and we went on our merry way about the city of Westcrown (the setting for Council of Thieves), seeking to...well, I'm not quite sure what we were seeking to accomplish! I have to admit, the plotline that I have jumped into is pretty complicated, and I don't know the world of Golarion (the default setting for Pathfinder) very well, and that goes double for the city of Westcrown. There's really a lot going on. All in all, the GM seems to be content with throwing me into the mix with minimal guidance, and I think I'm OK with that for the most part!

All I know is, toward the end of the session the group was trying to get into a certain well-guarded location that was protected by a large "force field." We bought a scroll with a teleport spell with the intention of using it to teleport through the force field. And of course, being the only arcane spellcaster, it was up to me to use the damned thing. I cast the spell, and due to the nature of the barrier we were trying to bypass, I had to role percentage dice in order to determine if we wound up where we want to be. I rolled too high, and the scroll teleported us to HELL! Needless to say, I really heard it after that!

In the end, I'm really just happy to be gaming at all, so at the moment I'm willing to put up with complex mechanics, a convoluted plot that the rest of the party is already well into, etc. I had fun, I like the people I met, and I am definitely willing to go back and see how things progress.

The group lent me one of their copies of the massive core rulebook, and I'm determined to have my character whipped into tip-top shape before the next session. On top of that, I'll be studying the mechanics and the setting as much as I can to improve there as well.

Sorry if this post is really long and redundant. I wrote this up pretty quickly (I started writing this post on Sunday but I'm finishing it up on a typical busy Monday at work), so I am sure I missed a lot of detail. Let me know if any of you out there have any specific questions. I'll also take hints and advice if anyone is willing to offer!

P.S. The sessions are every other week between 12 PM and 6 PM, and that should be fine even for a "30-something husband/father of two with mortgage" kind of guy like me ;-)

P.P.S. Just for giggles, I asked everyone if they knew about the OSR and retro-clones and the like...and they stared at me like I had two heads! No one had any idea what I was talking about! Only a couple of them knew what Castles & Crusades was. We on the blogosphere spend so much time talking about the OSR that sometimes we start to think everyone in the RPG world knows about the "movement." But it seems we are mistaken...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Status Report: 7/23/10

"Me as Player" Status: Well, tomorrow is the big day! I'm going to my first session of the Pathfinder campaign (Council of Thieves Adventure Path) in which I was invited to play! I'm almost done my sorcerer Arvandos (he's 8th level...which is where the campaign's existing PC's are at...I have to say I'm a bit intimidated by starting out at such a high level, in a system that I'm not quite familiar with, after years of not playing in a table-top game...but sometimes the best way to get into something is to jump right in, eh?).

I'm also trying to cram for the occasion, learning as much as I can about the Pathfinder setting so that I can at least inject some "local flavor" into my character's portrayal. I don't want him to seem like a "generic" character by not making any references to the setting's history, locales, gods, etc.

I'm nervous and excited. I'll be meeting most of the people at the table for the first time. It should be quite an experience no matter how it shakes out! Wish me luck!

"Me as Gamemaster" Status: I'm waiting for my copy of Lamentations of the Flame Princess to arrive (it will probably be a few more weeks). In the meantime, I am trying to take it easy on myself, so I am leisurely looking over gamemastery advice on the Web. I am also slowly looking through old Dragon Magazine issues (for nostalgia's sake as well as campaign ideas and advice). I've put my reading of the Castles & Crusades PHB on hold for the time being.

Once I get LotFP I will read that in its entirety. Then I will read Castles & Crusades (Troll Lord Games is working on a Castle Keeper's Guide but there's no word at the moment of when it will hit the streets). I actually have a copy of the D&D 3.5 Dungeon Master's Guide, and I think I will read that as well (shocked, anyone?). I've also got a copy of Keep on the Borderlands coming, so I will peruse that as well. Then I'll take another look through my other RPGs on my shelf to see if there's any other stuff I might want to read.

All in all, I am taking my sweet time and not stressing out about a campaign. I'll get to it when I'm ready. I'm just studying up and enjoying the process.

The Many Deaths of Fingolfin

I'm sure many of you have read The Silmarillion (if you haven't and want to avoid spoilers, you might not want to read any further). One of my favorite parts of that book was when the elf king Fingolfin challenged the evil Morgoth, most powerful of the Valar, to single combat. It always struck me as such a powerful part of The Silmarillion, where a lone elf king dared to challenge a god. Fingolfin knew he was doomed, but he went ahead with the battle anyway. Morgoth of course slays Fingolfin, but not before the elf holds his own in the fight, and gives the god a wound that never heals. Awesome stuff.

Apparently, judging by how many times the scene has been the subject of artistic depictions, it's also high on the list of many other readers as well.

The following is the battle as depicted by long-time Middle Earth artist Ted Nasmith:

The next image, probably my favorite depiction, is the work of John Howe, another artist that has done a lot of work focused on Middle Earth:

There's many many other depictions to be found on the Web, located here (this link seems a bit buggy, try hitting refresh if this page comes up with an error), here, here, here, here, here (Morgoth seems a bit too gigantic in this one), here, here, here...and these are just a few of the many that I found through a Google search for "Fingolfin"! Try it out and see what I mean.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A State of RPG Anomie?

In my senior year of high school I took a Sociology class. One of my favorite concepts from that class that stuck with me over the years was "anomie." A simplistic definition of anomie is lawlessness, but it really doesn't quite describe the concept very well. The term is defined by Websters as "social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values; also : personal unrest, alienation, and uncertainty that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals."

More often that not anomie is not a general "anarchy" that permeates the entirety of a society, but rather its an uncertainty of how to behave focused on a specific aspect of a society. My Sociology teacher made certain to point out that anomie can occur within a society that has too few or TOO MANY rules pertaining to a given aspect, such as sexuality, ethnic relations, etc.

I always found the thought of people being uncertain how to behave due to the existence of too many rules to be the more fascinating scenario. Tangentially, I'm definitely a big believer in the concept of too many rules being the cause of the very behaviors that those rules were meant to curtail.

What does all of this have to do with roleplaying, you ask? Well, I was reading this post at Jeff's Gameblog today, and I started wondering if there are too many RPGs out there...specifically fantasy RPGs, whether they are related to D&D mechanically or not.

Question: Could the ever-growing plethora of retro-clones and other D&D-esgue games freeze players in their tracks, unable to actually run/play games because they don't know what system to use?

Now, I am definitely a supporter of variety, diversity, freedom of speech, etc. But seriously, does anyone else ever sit back and wonder if there's just too much of a good thing? I'm going to sound like an old guy here, but I remember a time when D&D was pretty much the only game in town. Sure there were other game systems out there, but they all paled before the grandfather of RPGs. You gave deference to D&D as pretty much the go-to game, but could dabble in burgeoning systems (in the ancient days when I was a kid) like Palladium, etc. Or maybe all of this is a biased perception based on my personal experience.

All I know is, when the 1990s came along, D&D was well into the 2nd Edition, and TSR was releasing a sh*tstorm of material. As was Palladium. And I think we can agree that no where near all of that stuff was good. Come on, some of it was sheer crap! But you could only determine that by poring over tome after tome after tome. And let's not forget all the other game companies with their own systems making a push to stand as equals (or superiors) to D&D, flooding the market with their own RPGs. We drowned in it all, many gamers burning out on the glut of material!

I've been thinking that "RPG anomie" can vary greatly from person to person depending on a whole host of factors, such as amount of time available for gaming, the amount of house ruling a person wants to have to do, etc. These factors are just the tip of the iceberg, however.

But getting back to Jeff. He seems to be having the same problem I've been struggling with since the beginning of the year. As I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, early this year I made my personal discovery of the OSR and retro-clones. And looking back I certainly did slip into a state of anomie! I didn't know what to play! There seemed to be so many options. And I'm what I consider at veteran gamer, but even I wasn't immune to the shock. This relates back to the debates I've seen on the blogosphere about the OSR's ability (or lack thereof) to bring new (young?) players into roleplaying. With so many choices, a returning vet or a fresh-faced newbie may sit in a coma-like state, unsure of what to choose. There's the chance that this may cause them to not even bother to move ahead into the gaming world.

I spent months vacillating between potential game systems, from Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, and Basic Fantasy to Microlite74, Hackmaster, RuneQuest, Rolemaster, Dragon Warriors, Dungeonslayers, and on and on and on! When I would tentatively decide on one, I went into a vicious circle of failed house rule attempts.

Finally I checked out Castles & Crusades and liked what I saw, and decided that it had the rules set that appealed to me the most. A big factor was the fact that I was happy with most of the rules as published, so I could do minimal house ruling. I'd rather spend the time preparing and running adventures rather than house ruling.

But then Finnish firebrand and rising RPG auteur James Raggi waved the Lamentations of the Flame Princess carrot in front of me, and like the good donkey I am I bought his boxed set! Now I'm second guessing whether or not I'll be using C&C in the near future!

Here's something else to consider: combine lots of game system options floating around the Web (including all the variations on the D&D rules thanks to retroclones) with a bunch of gregarious players, and you may find that your gaming circle has become a democracy, where players begin putting out their opinions on just what rules set the group should be using! It's good to want to please the players, but is this a recipe for disaster? Do I spell potential mutinies in the future? Could disagreements between GMs and players over what system to play cause the break up of gaming groups everywhere?! Human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, MASS HYSTERIA!

OK, I think I need to wrap up this post. Seriously, everyone, I would really like your thoughts on this. What are the effects of so many RPGs being available? Do you see any potential problems, or do you think otherwise?

Regarding Modules

Just like miniatures, I never once used a module during any part of my gaming career. This was somewhat economic when I was younger, being a kid with not a lot of spare money.

But I was also dubious of the concept of modules because I never was a big believer in the concept of "RPG as commodity." I have always thought that you should only need a few core books in order to play a game, and that a company should never push you into buying more stuff (especially by withholding game mechanics and the like from core books in order to release them in subsequent books).

On top of that, since I've mostly been a GM and not a player, I always felt that the onus was on me to create worlds and adventures. I didn't want to leave that up to others. And I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, so I could always pull from those sources for inspiration, rather than a published adventure.

But now I think I should have gotten into modules more, since it would have been another way for me to flex some of my creative writing skills. I've dabbled with the idea of publishing adventures and such over the years. Many are the times during my life that I wish I would have gotten into game design as a career. Ah, but enough of regrets...

These days, I am considering modules now as a busy adult/parent in his mid-30's. The more I make plans to start a campaign in the near future (cross fingers!), the more I realize that I will probably need to break my fast when it comes to modules. I simply don't have the time to build all of my worlds and adventures from scratch. I can't sit around for an entire weekend creating this stuff like when I was a kid. I am going to need all the help I can get! I will probably wind up doing some split (most likely not 50/50) between pregenerated stuff and my own creations.

So, the inevitable question: what do you think of modules? What place do they hold in your gaming circles? How important (or unimportant) are they for you?

P.S. I just bought my first module ever on the cheap from eBay: the old Keep on the Borderlands. I've heard of it and the other legendary early modules over the years (Tomb of Horrors, Queen of the Demonweb Pits, etc.), and I will finally actually get one of them in my hands and read the damned thing! This better be good, considering the years of hype!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pathfinder Giveaway @ Troll in the Corner

Hi all. Just thought I'd share the following:

Troll in the Corner is having a random drawing to give away some Pathfinder stuff! Go here for details!

You know that I've done my work in order to get as many entries as possible! I would love to win the big prize, considering I am about to start playing in a Pathfinder campaign!

Happy gaming!

More on Minis: Washer Miniatures

As a followup to my post about the use of miniatures with RPGs, Jamie over at A Fistful of Coppers made me aware of "washer miniatures." He showed me a link to a post about this cheaper alternative to traditional minis.

I find this to be a really interesting alternative to traditional metal/plastic/paper minis! The only thing is, the article only mentions the use of images cut out of Magic: The Gathering cards as a means of putting images on the washers. I believe that one could manage to generate some correctly-sized images using images taken from the Web manipulated using Photoshop. Granted, that might be a bit more time consuming. But it's still possible.

What does everyone think of this?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Regarding the Use of Miniatures

I must admit that I have never used miniatures when roleplaying. Not once have I used them over the entire course of my sporadic gaming career. I know that others have deeply explored the history of minis in connection with D&D, so I won't go there.

Question: What are your thoughts about the use of minis? Do you use them at all? Can you give or take them? Or are they indispensable for your games?

As I have been ramping up my personal gaming renaissance, I have started to consider using minis. Part of it is the growing desire to simply collect them. I feel like I have to fight this urge, because I do not need to buy any more stuff to clutter up my "man-lair" in my basement.

Another part of me is thinking perhaps they would be useful in games that I intend to run. Now, all of this is contingent on the form of my future campaigns. I am starting to think that I might want to explore play-by-chat gaming (I'll explore this in an upcoming post when I have more time), at least for the meantime. In this instance, minis would be pretty much superfluous.

If I were to run a table-top game and decided to go with using minis, my plan might be to use the few plastic and metal minis I own and supplement them with PAPER minis, also known as figure flats.

There are Internet resources for getting these figure flats for free as well as places you can buy them (there's a site for something called Precis Intermedia that offered paper minis called Disposable Heroes, but the site does not seem to be working at the moment).

It's interesting to talk about the paper minis because I was recently digging through the small amount of actual TSR material I have in my possession, and I found the remains of the D&D "black box" I bought around the time it came out. I still have the rulebook, the DM's screen with the pocket that holds the famous "flash cards," and the paper stand-up "counters" (i.e. miniatures) that came with the game.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Me versus Monday

I hate Mondays. I know, that's such a lame statement. Who among us LOVES Mondays, you may ask?

Not since my teenage years have I hated Mondays this much. I guess I needed to say that in order to clarify. Recently I have been hating Mondays as much as when they brought an end to my carefree weekends of my youth. Perhaps this has to do with my struggles to return to the gaming ways of my younger self...

So the image above, by the great Daniel R. Horne, does two things for me. One, it depicts how I feel on Mondays: I'm the poor bastid behind the shield, and the behemoth with the hammer is Monday. The unfortunate slob laying in the snow is one of Monday's other victims. Two, it simultaneously inspires me to game!

FYI, if you don't already know: the beastie above is the dreaded demon lord Kostchtchie as depicted by Horne (who by the way did my favorite Dragon Magazine cover).

Just thought I'd share. Carry on...

On Being a Con "Virgin"

I've never been to a gaming convention. Ever.

I've definitely never been to the fabled Gen Con, which is once again coming up.

In flipping through my old Dragon Magazines recently, I see all the old ads and lists of Cons. There just never seemed to be any good Cons near me in either New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware. Or maybe I wasn't looking in the right places. Who knows?

I was always ambivalent about Cons as well, so maybe I just didn't put enough effort into trying to find them and attend. Maybe I was just too introverted back in the day.

Does this reduce my gaming "cred"? Am I really missing out on something good?

Question: What do you think of Cons? Are they something that every gamer should try to attend at some point? Does it depend on the Con?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Who are you, Matt Finch?

It's late, I'm tired as hell, and yet I can't tear myself away from the gaming world this weekend.

I've been wondering just who the legendary Matt Finch is! I've listened to a podcast interview with him, his Swords & Wizardry game was the first retro-clone I encountered, he had a hand in the creation of OSRIC, he's listed in the acknowledgements of Labyrinth Lord, and his name is in the editorial credits in my Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook. It's like wherever there's old school D&D gaming, he's there! I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I just feel like I want to know more about him, simply because I see his name all over the place! I've done searches on the Web and checked out the Mythmere Games page but I can't seem to find any info on him, and he doesn't seem to have a blog.

Do I sound like a stalker?

Anyway, just wondering if Mr. Finch has a presence anywhere on the Web. Does anyone know where he can be found? At the very least, I'd like to give him a virtual handshake!

Alright, enough stupidity for one day...good night, and good gaming!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Game with A Thousand Faces

I have to admit, for a while this year I was sort of stressing out about the fact that I don't quite have a handle on the vagaries of the development of D&D. Or maybe it's clearer to say that I don't really have the mental power anymore to commit the D&D "family tree" to memory. Or maybe I don't have the time. Or the interest. I am sure if I really put my mind to it, I could get it more orderly in my head.

Many of my fellow RPG bloggers, especially James Maliszewski at Grognardia, make it seem so easy. They seem to be D&D scholars/geneologists! Mr. Maliszewski is especially regarded as something of an expert. He and others have written detailed, in-depth reviews/analyses of the various versions of D&D. But then again, James and his scholarly brethren seem to have been continuously gaming for many years and/or are either currently creating/publishing D&D-compatible materials. Things I certainly have not been doing.

But as it turns out, I really don't have to become a scholar of the game. For one thing, there are plenty of resources on the Web that one can refer to if one needs to delve into the twisting path of the oldest role-playing game's development. And for another thing...I really don't need to know all of this stuff in order to enjoy the game! So, I convinced myself to stop worrying about it!

So, in the interest of trying to compile a nifty list for my own reference (and perhaps the reference of others), here's some links I think are handy in keeping track of things:

D&D History: D&D History

Tome of Treasures
TSR Archive

D&D's Early Years by Erik Mona and an accompanying Riposte

The following are links to charts that try to map D&D's evolution:

Adventures in Gaming

Jeff's Gameblog



Old is New Again

Attack of the Retro-Clones

Video Overview at WittySparks (this last link is pretty comprehensive, touching on more games than the other three links above)

There you have it, folks. Now, on to worrying about actually gaming, rather than about the game itself!

Friday, July 16, 2010

To Pimp or Not to Pimp?

Over at Swords & Dorkery, there's a recent post that made me wonder about what is the etiquette in the blogosphere pertaining to the following:
  • Using a blog to trade RPG materials (as in the Swords & Dorkery post I mention above)
  • Asking for donations on a blog
  • Using a blog to buy/sell RPG materials

The final bullet in my list is what I'm most interested in. Here's the deal: I have a lot of gaming stuff at home—RPGs, board games, even computer games—that I am thinking I would like to try and sell.

So here's my question: would it be considered poor form if I posted items I would like to sell on my blog?

Personally, I don't see why it would be a bad thing. I mean, there's lots and lots of blogs that ask for donations...just because! At least with trying to sell something, the person handing over the cash gets something out of it.

I would really like your opinions on this. And in the meantime...anyone interested in seeing what I have to sell? ;-)

Off Topic: Something I Thought Was Cool!

I was just tooling around the Web and somehow stumbled across the image above. Thought it was a cool cover for a comic book. Never read this series but I might look it up (not that I have the time or money to get into a comic's been a while). That Kirkman name sounds familiar...I think he's somehow involved with that Walking Dead comic book series that many people have been raving about.

I called this post "off topic," but I have to say, this image made me sort of nostalgic for the days when I was playing Paladium's Heroes Unlimited. Note to self: Calm personal gaming renaissance at a time...

Status Report: 7/16/10

Now that I've told my life story as it pertains to gaming, I thought it might be good to start thinking about my current status, with regard to where I am in the gaming flux in which I find myself.

"Me as Player" Status: As I stated in the third part of my testimonial, I reached out through the Internets and came across a friend of a friend who is, in all appearances, a gamemastering superman! Seriously, this fellow runs three games, and plays in several others. He's gaming several times a week! I am very, VERY jealous. Anyway, I had a sit-down with him within the last week in order to see if I was a good fit for one of his games, a Pathfinder game using the Council of Thieves adventure path, and I think we hit it off very well. So, the next step is character creation. We talked about possibilities (I think I'm leaning toward a sorceror) and determined the next step would be another meeting (probably over phone, actually) in order to create my character.

As a player, Pathfinder wasn't my first choice of games to get into. I never really played 3rd Edition/3.5; I just collected the core rule books. But at this point I am just eager to get into a group with good people and start building up my roleplaying chops again, as well as grow a network of potential players, so that when I do start a campaign, I might have a good pool of people to mine.

Pathfinder might be a bit more complex of a game system than I like, but I think I'll be fine as a player. On the other hand, I definitely know that I would have NO interest in running a Pathfinder game. I couldn't handle it, with regard to rules.

At any rate, there's a game session on July 24th, and that might be my first session! Can't wait! I'm nervous and excited. I feel like a little schoolgirl.

"Me as Gamemaster" Status: Check out my post from last night. It pretty much sums up where I'm at with gamemastering at the moment. In summary: I know my gamemastering skills are rusty as heck, so I am holding off on starting a campaign of my own indefinitely. Realistically, I probably won't start a campaign until 2011, but you never know. It sort of depends on how things go with the Pathfinder game I am trying to get into. I pretty much can't run a game and play in one at the same time. That's just the reality of my life right now. So, I figure I'll play in a game, see how long that lasts, and let that help shake off some of the rust. Then, when it comes time to move on from that game, I'll turn my attention to gamemastering.

In the meantime, I am still very relieved that the furious months I spent this year vacillating between potential game systems, specifically the retro-clones (Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, etc.) and went into a vicious circle of failed house rule attempts. Then I checked out Castles & Crusades and liked what I saw, determined that it had the rules set that appealed to me the most, and started buying. I'm still reading the C&C PHB at this point, but I'd like to give a review here before too long.

But again, along came James Raggi and his cursedly enchanting product! Now I'm second guessing myself, and I haven't even gotten my boxed set from him yet! I can be so fickle any rate, I'll try to keep reading my C&C while I wait for LotFP to arrive.

That's it for now! As always, happy gaming!