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!