Friday, April 26, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (4/26/13)

Busy busy today, good people. No time to write much. But I am feeling like a long struggle is coming to an end. Fortunately, unlike the fellow in the illo above, I'm not a dead man. In fact, I'm feeling quite alive! More details soon...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lords of Gossamer & Shadow

There's something wonderful happening.
Well, I suppose it's wonderful for fans of Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game (ADRPG). Then again, what's happening should actually be wonderful for newcomers to diceless roleplaying as well.
I know, there are a lot of gamers out there that balk at the concept of diceless roleplaying. How could that possibly work, right?
Well, the short answer is, it does work. It can work. It's just different from traditional dice-based games. Not better or worse...just different. I would suggest giving it a look. I'll elaborate when I can and defend the statements above when I get some more time to do so. I promise.
The ADRPG was released in 1991, and was supported by what I would call a relatively small but very devoted fan-base. It still is played and supported by gamers who fell in love with it those many years ago. But the game fell out of print sometime in the early 2000's and has languished in limbo...until now.
The ADRPG rules are being resurrected as Lords of Gossamer & Shadow. Please do yourself a favor and take a look at the Kickstarter. As one of those rabid devotees who were ensorcelled by the original rules back in their heyday, I'm very excited about this new game based on ADRPG. I'm in for $50 for the Kickstarter. If you read up on the new game and find it interesting, I encourage you to contribute as well.
I don't have time right now to write more about ADRPG or LoG&S. But, I'm long overdue when it comes to elaborating on my history with ADRPG and a discussion of the rules themselves, given that, along with D&D, ADRPG was one of the biggest influences on my roleplaying career. D&D and ADRPG were the games I played the most and enjoyed the most back in my younger years.
It's time that ADRPG had its day dawn once more.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dark Dungeons: The Movie

This evil DM wants to teach
you how to cast REAL spells!
You know about Rule 34, right? If you don't, Rule 34 states: "If  it exists, there's a porn version of it." Well, I think there should  be another rule that states: "If something really stupid exists,  there's a campy film version lampooning it."
Yes, it was bound to happen, and I'm so glad! Do yourself a favor and watch the creator's Kickstarter video. Great stuff!

Oh, and the higher contribution levels give you some really cool benefits, like the ability to give feedback on the script and even create your own alternate ending!
Check out the Kickstarter and consider contributing, and help the roleplaying community bring Jack Chick mockery to the screen!

P.S. Have you ever seen the animated version of Dark Dungeons someone made a couple years ago?

Friday, April 19, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (4/19/13)

The illo above is what I'd call a bit of "sword and wizardry" ;-)
How appropriate, given that Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day happened on the 17th!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My last salvo for S&W Appreciation Day: The Octopuppeteer

So, in my second post today, I gave you the skullcrab, a creature I created for use with Swords & Wizardry. Well, in that same post, I promised another beastie of my own creation. And now, here it is (just under the wire before midnight)!

HD: 3
AC: 6 [13]
Atk: 2 strikes (1d6)
Move: 12
Save: 14
CL/XP: 4/150
Special: Trap/crush, INT drain

The creation of a malevolent sorcerer, this creature appears to be an amorphous purple blob with numerous slim tendrils radiating from its shifting surface. Dubbed the "octopuppeteer" by its creator (though it has more than eight appendages), it uses humanoid skeletons as a means of transportation.

An octopuppeteer will gather the bones of a skeleton and inhabit the rib cage. Then, it will use its many tendrils to draw the remaining bones together, reforming a complete skeleton. When the process is complete, the skeleton is bound together and "animated" as if by living wire. Because the octopuppeteer's mass is spread out across the skeleton, the tendrils resemble nearly-invisible thread.

Creatures of malignant intelligence, octopuppeteers crave the brain tissue of intelligent humanoids. They will usually attack a victim with powerful blows (they don't use weapons). If a victim is struck by two successful strikes in one round, the character must make a saving throw or be trapped in the arms of the octopuppeteer's stolen skeleton.

Once a victim is trapped, the octopuppeteer will attempt to eat a character's brain tissue by slipping tendrils up the nose of a victim. Once the brain is reached, the character will permanently lose one point of INT per turn. The creatures must be killed before they are removed from a victim; otherwise, removal of a living octopuppeteer will permanently reduce the victim's INT by 2.

If an octopuppeteer chooses to do so, it can constrict its tendrils and use its skeleton to deal 1d6 in crushing damage per round.

Since a skeleton animated by an octopuppeteer (a living organism) is not undead, it cannot be turned by clerics. Many clerics have learned this lesson the hard way...with their lives!

Behold the might of Swords & Wizardry!

The inspiration begins with the cover...
Swords & Wizardry got me back into roleplaying. Period. It was the first retro-clone I picked up. Not because it was the first one I encountered (that honor goes to OSRIC), but because it was the most persuasive. Reading Matt Finch's words was (and still is) pure inspiration. And I'm just talking about the Swords & Wizardry rules themselves. Let's not forget about his Quick Primer for Old School Gaming...but that's a whole other discussion.

Confession: I never cared about the fabled Little Brown Books. Not at all. But Swords & Wizardry (hereafter referred to as S&W) made me want to care. It made me care about the mutable simplicity of Original D&D mechanics, and more importantly, it made me fall in love again with the old-school way of roleplaying.
BTW: What I still don't care about, and never will, is that S&W is not as close to the OD&D rules as it could be. Who cares?! I, for one, am GLAD it isn't! It takes those old rules and makes them alive again, something vital and fresh, thanks to Mr. Finch's take on those original rules.

What sets Swords & Wizardry apart in my view? Here are some major points for me (based on my favorite flavor of the rules, the May 2011 printing):
Matt Finch's writing is welcoming and flavorful. When reading it, I feel like I'm being guided through the rules by a friendly narrator.

Also, the suggestion boxes that give alternate rules are awesome, such as the "Continued Level Advancement Options for Non-Human Characters" and his historical notes on how S&W differs from the original rules.

Then there's even more options. Options for combat sequence. Options for spellcasting. Options, options, options! What I'm saying is, S&W has flexibility, but it also gives you suggestions on how that flexibility can manifest itself! That's what this particular busy adult roleplayer needs!
Wanna create your own creatures to throw at hapless players? It's easy, and not just because of the "lightness" of the rules. Matt Finch has, again, conveniently given you some suggested guidelines for creating monsters. Here's a monster for you:


HD: 1
AC: 5 [14]
Atk: 2 claws (1d6)
Move: 6 (Jump 12)
Save: 16
CL/XP: 3/100
Special: Attach/blood drain (1d4/round), paralysis

There are cyclopean cliffs that rise above the ocean, riddled with caverns of unknown depth. Adventurers who have died plumbing these sodden depths have had their remains defiled by the aberrations that dwell where the ocean sucks at the land. One such creature is the skullcrab, a type of mutated mollusk that uses the skulls of the dead as protective shells. When not hiding in a skull, the creature resembles a large snail with crab-like claws and beaked mouth.

Those who discover the bones of the fallen should be wary when searching through the remains. A skullcrab inhabiting a skull will more often than not surprise the unwary, using its muscular body to leap at a victim. The creatures are surprisingly quick, and victims will not soon forget the sight of a death's head hurtling towards them.

A player must make a saving throw if a skullcrab makes two successful claw attacks against a character in a round. An unsuccessful save means the skullcrab has attached to the victim, and will begin to drain blood using a needle-like proboscis that extends from its beak (1d4 damage per round) until it is killed and releases its grip.

After one round of blood draining, the victim must make another save. If unsuccessful, they become paralyzed by the skullcrab's anesthetizing saliva. The victim will stay paralyzed if the creature is not removed; once removed, the victim will come out of the paralysis after 1 turn.
Voila! Light on stat block, heavy on description/ it should be when it comes to old-school roleplaying!

I might just post another S&W creature later tonight...I'll keep you all in suspense!

Yes, I love me some Swords & Wizardry, and I know you will too, if you give it a read. Come, join usssss... 

P.S. A final musing I wanted to run past you, dear readers: if OSRIC was the "first retro-clone" (as seems to be the case based on publication dates and OSR lore I've read on blogs), then S&W was the second. I wonder if it's a coincidence that WotC's first premium reprint was AD&D (which OSRIC emulates), followed by that fancy OD&D box (covered by Swords & Wizardy). Is WotC mimicking the publication order of the retro-clones? may sound far-fetched, and I do so love a good conspiracy theory, never know!

UPDATE: Well, it looks like Labyrinth Lord was published after OSRIC, and last came S&W. Oh well, so much for my cockamamie theory!

The BIG Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day SALE is ON!

This here's my first post of the day in appreciation of Swords & Wizardry. With this post, I'm letting you know that Frog God Games has discounted their entire line of Swords & Wizardry products for ONE DAY ONLY in celebration of Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. The discount is good for 25% off S&W Products but you must use coupon code SWApprDay on April 17th (TODAY) at check out.  Note that the coupon excludes items less than $1, S&W Cards, Pre-Orders, and Subscriptions. 
So, that's my sales duty done. Later today, my OTHER Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day post (the one with the real sizzle) will emerge from the blogosphere like a great behemoth that crushes adventurers to pulp! Why have I chosen to post later in the day, you ask? Why, to separate myself from the pack, of course! ;-) It's all about the strategy, folks.

Stay tuned!

P.S. It seems that John Reyst has created the code SWAD252013 for the SRD store where you can get PDFs. Sales here help support the SRD sites. Here are the links to the SRD sites: and

Sunday, April 14, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (4/12/13)

Yes, I know it's really the 14th, and I missed the 12th. But, better late than never. 

Anyway, I miss roleplaying. A lot. I've been taking some classes and getting into some other activities that have taken me away from my Wednesday night game for some time now. I really am down about it. Also, I'm really considering getting out of my current job, due to excessive bullcrap they're pulling on me. But, my current work is near my favorite FLGS, and if I no longer worked there the trip out to said FLGS would probably be too far to justify. Bummers all around.

The Elmore piece above makes me think fondly of some good old fashioned adventuring in far away worlds. 

I'm still crafting my Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day blog post, so that at least is cheering me up!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Yes, RPGs should be balanced...

I think Tom Baxa drew this...I hate Tom Baxa's artwork. Oh serves my purposes.
...upon the GM and the players, that is. That's where true game balance exists.
It should not exist in the mechanics of an RPG. Indeed, there are many that believe (including me) balanced game mechanics are an unattainable goal, a mirage-like Holy Grail that will never feel the grasp of human hands.
Those who consider themselves part of the old-school roleplaying scene should not dismiss the concept of balance in roleplaying. We should espouse a balance among the participants in roleplaying games.
What do I mean by all this?
The balance to which I refer exists in the strengths of the participants, and how they work together as a unit in order to create the unique experience of playing RPGs. I don't need to tell you that one of the most vital aspects of roleplaying, which differentiates it from board games or the often-solitary pastime of video games, is communal storytelling.
Whether you think "story" means the "path" or plot (or railroad, if you prefer the negative term) that the GM has laid out before the players, or what results from a well-executed sandbox-style campaign, it doesn't matter. Roleplaying taps into our primal, innate need to be social, even for those of us whose social abilities may be less developed. Indeed, like any other creative outlet, roleplaying can serve as the means for awkward folks to come out of their shells and express themselves.
So, if GMs and players want their games to be examples of what good roleplaying is all about, they need to do some work getting to know each other. If this involves becoming good friends, or just taking time to learn each other's style of play, it doesn't matter. The point is to find a balance between the players and what they, literally, bring to the table. A good GM will facilitiate this process. Speaking of GMs, he or she should inform players as to what they can expect from campaigns, i.e. what sort of campaigns that GM likes to run.
Anyway, once all participants know each other's tabletop "talents," expectations, and assumptions, there is a much greater chance that they will strike that precious balance of camaraderie that fosters great roleplaying. If a game session is going well, roleplayers really can't help but get into the game, let down their barriers, cooperate and concentrate on the game, and enjoy themselves (and each other). It's really just a natural progression that flows from people that understand what each person wants from the experience.
The older RPG systems necessitated getting to know your fellow gamers, because there weren't rules for everything, and more often than not (especially in the case of D&D) the classes weren't designed to stand alone. You needed to depend on each other for creative play in order to survive. Modern RPGs seem to have attempted to remove this need for cooperation, ironically, from a pastime where cooperation and shared solution-making are just some of the good reasons to play in the first place! The later editions of D&D seem to favor some sort of gamer "rugged individualism" that seems to completely miss the point of roleplaying.
So OSR folks, don't dismiss the word "balance" outright. Rather, teach others where RPG balance truly exists.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Start-of-Week Nicholson (4/8/13)

Sorry I didn't get my usual "End-of-Week" Elmore out on Friday, kids. I was off on Friday and was playing "stay-at-home" dad, which kept me away from the computer.
At any rate, I was feeling a bit of Anglophilia (as I sometimes do) this weekend, and of course the great Russ Nicholson came to mind! Thus, the illo above! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Get in on the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day action!

Hey you! Yeah, you!
Do you have a blog? Do you like old-school roleplaying? Do you like the chance to win prizes just for blogging?
And now, for the BIG question: DO YOU LIKE SWORDS & WIZARDRY?!
If you answered yes to any of these burning questions, then head on over to Tenkar's Tavern and sign up for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day! You'll be glad you did! This ain't no April Fool's crap (besides, that was yesterday)!
No need to thank me. Now go away, I need to work on my own S&WAD post!