Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 Gaming Goals

Tim, over at Gothridge Manor, asked this question the other day, "So now the world is not ending, what game are you hoping to get into this year?  What gaming goal, if you have one, would you like to accomplish?"

My gaming goals for 2013 are several... First, I want to run my Star Clans Traveller game at least monthly.  This will probably be the tough one, since the current players are my son's high school marching band friends, a group of young people with very little free time!  Second, I want to finally start the OD&D campaign that's been floating around in my head since summer.  I may actually run two groups there, my son's friends, and a group on the Air Force base where I work.  There's a nice cafeteria/lounge area that's available in the evenings, and I know of several folks there who might be interested.

Finally, I WILL do a better job of posting on my blog(s), both in terms of frequency, and length/content!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My OD&D (LBB) Sandbox

I've been mulling it over for a while, promising my son, and now some others, that I'd be ready to run a new campaign world soon...

Lot of ideas floating around in my head.  Here's a detail free list of some of them...

Citta (The World City) and The Outside Inn
Tesseracts, Klein bottles, and Mobius Strips
Portals, Gates, Windows and Doorways
Space Travel, Time Travel, Mutants and Aliens
Primordial Gods, Forgotten Gods, Missing Gods, New Gods and Dead Gods
Golden Ages, Apocalypses and Post-Apocalyptic Ages
Cursed Lands, Blessed Realms, Parallel Worlds and Skew
Memory, Masks, Dreams and Nightmares
Eternity, Stagnation and Change
Birth, Life, Sleep, Disease, Madness, Death and Rebirth
Swords and Sorcery

Ann Rice, M.A.R. Barker, Gary Gygax, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, to name a few...

Monday, December 3, 2012


Have been working on an OD&D (LBB) campaign world, and was at a loss as to the best size for a campaign map hex... came across this gem of an article:  In-praise-of-6-mile-hex.  Using 6 mile hexes, with (when necessary) half-mile sub-hexes, and 72 mile superhexes should work out very well!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Came across "Monstrous Television" just now... and read a nice piece on spiders!  Stop Ruining Spiders

I'll have to include giant spiders in my almost-ready-to run LBB campaign.  Far creepier than I ever gave them credit for.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

From the Journal of Corrin Aledrinker

Almost five months have passed since we last ventured into the dungeons below the city.  In that time, I've supported myself by working as a bartender in several local establishments.  I've also furthered my education!  Of great interest, though not great taste, is a local favorite called Rustymeade.  The Dwarven brewers who make it bottle it in raw iron flasks containing lumps of iron ore... and the mead picks up an orange color and metallic taste.  Horrible stuff, really, but interesting to look at, and the Dwarves love it!

Anyway, recently there've been rumors of the Forbidden Land... they say the gods have dropped the veil that kept it hidden for the last thousand years, and people are going there to explore.  I thought it was bunk, but four days ago a couple of men were here bragging about their journey there, and all the wealth they'd found.  Of course, they had little gold to show, but that's not surprising, given their reckless spending and drinking.

The one thing they DID have, was a map.  Not a very good map, but a map they claimed they made during their journey.  They called it a treasure map, and wanted 50 gold for it!  As much as they thought me a fool for buying it, I know I got the better of the bargain, for they didn't make this map.  It was old, on ancient leather, stained and much worn, but it was real.  It showed the location of several major cities, including one I knew from family lore, Bayar, for it is the town my ancestors lived in before the gods banished us from that land.

I'm sure to find valuable brewing secrets there, especially if I've any distant relatives still living there.  Hopefully, the lure of treasure will be enough to convince my companions it's time to move on!

Monday, September 3, 2012

GM Merit Badges

Several of the blogs I follow use GM Merit Badges to graphically describe the style of play they run in their games.  I know these aren't new, but I've been looking at them since I first found them, and have decided to post mine on a per-campaign basis.  As an Eagle Scout and an Assistant Scoutmaster I love the whole concept!

Check them out here:  GM Merit Badges

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Star Clans Heraldry

Star Clans Heraldry originated with the unit pennants carried by the brigade of genengineered soldiers stranded on Arden.  The brigade was heading to do battle on a low-tech world, and carried unit pennants based on the style of their target world. 

Over time, as the Uruki forgot their origins, the military symbols were simplified into stylized icons or replaced by icons with local meaning representing the kingdoms and clans.  Uruki pennants have typically been dark ink on pale leather, without additional color.  Since the founding of the Ardeni Kingdoms, the use of color has slowly been added, though not yet above the Family level on Arden itself.

Formal banners use the layout shown here:

This picture shows the symbols of the Oer King (formerly referred to as The King Above) and the two High Kings:  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Creating and Tracking Star Clans Families

Families grouped into Clans form the basis of government in the Ardeni Kingdoms, so each character from a world in the Kingdoms must generate a family chart.  This will serve as the source of Patrons for adventures, as well as help generate background for the Star Clans universe.

An initial family tree consists of three generations, each consisting of a number of siblings and their spouses.  The tree will be built using this table:

Top Row
2nd Row
3rd Row
1d20 if single, 13+2d6 if married
1d20 if single, 17+3d6 if married
1d20 if single, 13+2d6 if married

 The placement of the player character in the tree will be determined first by their age upon mustering out of their chosen service:  Age up to 25 puts the player in the 3rd row, 26 to 45 puts them in the second row, and 46+ makes them the top row.  Rank in their row will be random using the nearest die size, with one exception:  a player character will not be the head of a family to start, so they cannot sit in first position in the first row.

Each game year after a player character joins the campaign, I'll check their families for updates, using this table.  (Yes, I'm aware the second chart will not result in family sizes as generated in the first chart!)

Top Row
2nd Row
3rd Row
% Death
% Birth
% Death
% Birth
% Death
% Birth

These updates are in addition to any changes that occur because of specific game events, although I suspect I'll generate this data at the beginning of each game year, and roll the data into adventure planning. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Imported Posts

It occurred to me my blogging isn't up to snuff.  I'm currently running a Traveller campaign, and had both a Star Clans and a Star Clans Background blog in addition to the blog you're reading!  Further, I'm working on a D&D campaign (or possibly two... an LBB game as well as my AD&D 1ed/2ed mix.)  If I were to follow the Star Clans pattern, that would be an additional 4 blogs to keep track of, and keep interesting... something I'm having trouble with now, before adding new blogs!

To head off this problem, I've imported the Star Clans Background posts here, and will label them as such.  The blog will be deleted momentarily.  The Star Clans blog will continue to be for Actual Play reports, and other information specifically for my players, and any new Star Clan background information will be posted here from now on.  I know my players can get to it if they want to... but if they want to NOT know all the background, they'll still have all they want or need to play.  I'll also create two new blogs; one each for play reports in my D&D campaigns.  They'll be place holders until I actually start running those games.  Background and DM information for those campaigns will be posted here.

BTW:  If some of the posts labeled "Star Clans Background" don't make a lot of sense, there's additional information over at the Star Clans blog that will clear things up!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Boot Hill

On my drive to work this morning, I heard a story on NPR about Boot Hill, the cemetery in Tombstone AZ:  A Wild Resting Place for Gunslingers and Cowboys

It's a good little listen, and hearing it reminded me of our very short foray into Boot Hill (by TSR) when I was in High School.  I remember liking the gunfight mechanic, and I'm pretty sure it had a conversion to AD&D and back, for those who wanted to mix the fantasy and old west campaigns.  I think I'll look around for a copy of the game...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Contemplation at the End of Time, part 1

A bloated red sun covers half the sky, bathing the earth in dull, scarlet light.  Vast fires boil visibly on its surface, but its heat is scant, and barely warms the sands that stretch as far as the eye can see.  On the western horizon, the red sky fades to black and a myriad of brightly colored stars are visible in the darkness.  Also visible above are the broken remains of a moon, with trailing and leading clouds of debris.
In all directions, the ruins of long-lost civilizations thrust upward through the covering layer of sand.  Ancient buildings, statues, and shards of unknown objects are scattered everywhere, casting vague shadows in the dim red light.  A dry wind whistles across the landscape, pushing piles of sand against every stone jutting from the surface.   Ancient riverbeds hold only sand and no sign of water or life is evident.
Far to the east, on the horizon beneath the blood-red sun, a lone figure appears.  It meanders to and fro, scrambling over the ruins, apparently searching, but moving ever westward.  The figure is tall and lanky, unclothed, hairless, and seemingly genderless.  Its eyes are large, unblinking, and violet, and it stares intently at everything it passes as it moves.
As it continues west, it seems to notice the dark sky for the first time.  It pauses, and stares upward at the stars.   As it scans the heavens, a look of confusion crosses its face, but it returns to scanning the ruins, and heads into the darkness to the west.
                Later, as the sky begins to lighten again, the being comes upon an area swept clean of sand.  It is a black stone platform, rising waist-high above the sand.  The roughly circular platform is a hundred times the creature’s height in diameter, and its near edges are rough and pitted, as though it were a thousand thousand years old.  Seated upon the platform are hundreds of figures, with legs crossed, and eyes closed, as still and silent as statues.
“Hear me, Elders, and awaken, for I have need of your assistance!” shouts the figure in a voice that echoes in the stillness.  Thrice more the figure calls out, as hours pass, and the great red sun crests at high noon.  Again the figure calls out, “Hear me, Elders, and awaken, for I have need of your assistance!”
This time, there is movement on the platform.  Eyes open, and the figures begin to move and stretch, as though waking from a deep sleep.  The nearest figure responds with a question, “What is your need, Seeker?”
“I believe I have heard my Call!”
“And what would that be, Seeker?”
“In all my journeys across the world, I have studied both the ruins and the statues that rise from the sand, and I believe I am Called to understand why they are so varied; why no two statues seem to show the same race of beings, and why none of them appear as we do…”
“Ah, Seeker, a worthy Calling, but one that has already been answered… for they are the remains of the Peoples of the Dawn, some our ancient forebears, others visitors from other worlds, but all faded to dust and lost to time.  Has any other subject piqued your curiosity in your years of Seeking?”
“Yes, I may have heard another Call.  Just recently, I happened to glance up at the stars, and was struck by how much brighter and yellower they appear than our own… I have walked the world twice since I noticed this, and in every direction, the stars nearest our own appear much younger than ours.  Our sun has aged much faster than its neighbors, and I suspect it to be twice as old as any of them”
“This is a new line of inquiry, and a fine Calling.  Have you gathered enough data to join us here in contemplation, or will you continue to Seek for a time?”
“I must continue Seeking, and will return when I am ready to join you.”  The Seeker turns and walks off, scanning the both the sky and the ruins in its path.  The beings on the platform slowly settle, and close their eyes again.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


While looking for ideas for interstellar trade in my Star Clans campaign, I came across a sweet little book translating the original Traveller ruleset to ancient Rome.  Very cool!

Here's the description that caught my eye:

A complete 56 page rules conversion of the Classic Traveller rules-set, turning it from interstellar trade to trade in the Roman Empire! New career tables allow you to roll up centurions from Rome, thieves fromAntioch and even tribunes from Caesarea! Of course there are rules for ancient trade, for sailing and weather and also for encounters and equipment in the Roman Empire. Trade in Aramis for Alexandria,Efate for Ephesus and Kinorb for Corinth!

The site has other interesting documents as well.  Check it out here:

Zozer Traveller Notes

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Local gaming and then some!

Back in mid-June, I decided to see if our local comic book stores or games shops had any public games going on... and found that Twilight Comics in Shiloh hosts a Monday night RPG game at 7 pm each week.  I dropped in one week to find a group of guys playing Dresden Files (the ruleset is based on Fate RPG... completely new to me), and was welcomed to join in.  I was given an NPC that had been written up earlier, and tried to follow along.  Having seen the TV series, I knew a little of the background, but had never read the books, so my knowledge was scant.  Between that and trying to figure out a new system, I wasn't much help... but I had a good time!  Two weeks later, I returned, to find the PCs split into two groups and my character's group in a heated battle with a group of red court vampires!  It wasn't pretty, and the dice were definitely NOT with me, but again, I had a great time.

It was clear the players had been gaming together for a long time, and they mentioned they had a website and weekly podcasts, so I checked them out, and urge you to do so as well!


Oh, and here's the link to Twilight Comics.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vancian Magic Spell Contest

Check out the Barrowmaze II Spell Contest over at Discourse and Dragons!

Running a Long-Standing Campaign World

It's been quite a while since I posted to any of my blogs... but Fr. Dave on his Blood of Prokopius site posted a nice piece today about sticking to one campaign world long enough for it to develop a history that includes players' past characters' actions, rather than just DM-generated background material:

Saintly Saturday: Synaxis of the Twelve Apostles

I left this comment for him, and I'll share it here with you!

"When our worlds are alive to us (as DMs, GMS or referees), our games become bionic:  "Better, stronger and faster than they were before."

A long-standing campaign world gets into our head as well as our heart, and between what we've written down and what's floating around in our brains, we tend to develop a gestalt understanding of the entire campaign world...

This richness makes it easier to ad lib when necessary, and helps us bring our worlds alive for our players, as well!

(I'd cite Empire of the Petal Throne as a great example of this...)"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

People them with Monsters: Running Mildewy Editions at the FLGS

FANTASTIC post over at People them with Monsters... makes me wanna run OD&D in some local public place... if not a game store, then maybe a library!

People them with Monsters: Running Mildewy Editions at the FLGS: I've been running Original Dungeons & Dragons at my awesome local game store ( Unique Gifts & Games ) for a few months now. I was lucky enou...

Monday, March 19, 2012

When are we?... and Library Entries

By Terran Reckoning, it is 8353 AD, and the Third Imperium would say it is 3832. 

To the native races of this galaxy, it has been 2721 years since The Blight.  To the races here from the Milky Way, it is 2721 years since The Exile.

In the Kingdoms of Arden, it is the year 540, as measured from Planetfall... and it is the beginning of our adventures!

Library Data:  The Exile - An 18 month period when invaders attacked the 3rd Imperium with weapons of previously unimagined power... weapons that didn't destroy their targets, but opened enormous wormholes that swallowed their targets and spit them out elsewhere.  Over those 18 months, the invaders jumped from system to system, covering a swath 28 parsecs long and 8 parsecs wide at it's widest point, wreaking havoc in every system.  Those targeted found themselves lost in the Exile Galaxy, with no way home, and no idea where home even was.  (The location of the Exile Galaxy in relation to the Milky Way wasn't discovered until 53 years later.)

Library Data:  The Blight - a swath of stars more than 90 light years long and the series of anomalies that swept from one end of the swath to the other over a period of 18 months.   Recording data about these anomalies, and taking into account the relative distances from each of the stars in The Blight to their home worlds, astronomers from many native races determined that something was moving across a large region of space far faster than the speed of light.  This shocking discovery led directly to many races developing the jump drive on their own.

Friday, March 16, 2012

RIP: M.A.R. Barker (1929-2012)

Saw this sad notice over on Grognardia today...

RIP: M.A.R. Barker (1929-2012)

EPT was the first RPG I ever saw... and Tekumel has always impressed the hell out of me!  'Tis a sad day, indeed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Exile Galaxy

I'm listening to Gustav Holst's The Planets, right now, and find it very inspirational while working on Star Clans. I think for my next actual game, I'll pick one of the planets, set it to repeat, and play it quietly as background music throughout the evening.

The Exile Galaxy

The Exile Galaxy is a small irregular galaxy in the Eridanus Cluster, some 23 Mpc from Capital (and essentially the same distance from all of known space in the Traveller setting.) The Exile Galaxy is approximately 20,000 light years in diameter, about a fifth the diameter of the Milky Way.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Teacher

Although the Gnomes gave up industrial technology when they arrived on-planet; and the Uruki are descendants of a low-tech regiment of genengineered soldiers, the Ardeni Kingdoms are currently TL4.  Knowledge of higher technologies, and a high level of craftsmanship based on family and clan expertise has allowed the Gnomes to produce high quality goods in spite of a lack of industrial capacity.  The Ardeni Kingdoms however, are in the early stages of industrialization, and could advance rapidly if given the right motivation.  The question is, can I guide them away from discovering my masters until we are ready for them?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Traveller RPG

I was perusing the blogosphere, looking for information about Traveller, as I'm close to starting a game using classic Traveller rules... I was delighted to stumble across a week-long series of posts at Greywulf's Lair that gave a fantastic introduction to the game!  Here's a link to the first article:
Traveller RPG Week Day One: What is Traveller?
I recommend them all!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Decision Made

The Ardeni population is expanding faster than the others, so now, instead of two problems, I have three.  I cannot wake my masters until it is safe for them; and the Ardeni grow more dangerous as they have lost the gnomish bias against industrialization.

Without my library, I cannot compare this situation to the past.  If the Ardeni begin industrial mining, it will only be a matter of time until they find evidence of my masters' cities.  The orbiting beacons still proclaim this world a red zone, but no ships have entered the system in several centuries.  Should others star-faring races still exist, they may have decided to ignore this world.  On the other hand, if the collapse of the empire continued, it is possible starflight was lost to all.  

There are so many unknowns... but I believe I am correct.  I shall try to steer the Ardeni culture into safer pursuits.  It is time to take on the role of Teacher.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Origin of the Uruki

The Captain received the "secret" orders about the regiment of gengineered soldiers, and he quickly obeyed them.  The regiment was dropped on a rocky shore with all their equipment and a copy of the orders, which said they would be picked up within the year, and they should be ready to fight upon retrieval.

More worlds had fallen to barbarism since the last ship to visit, and unfortunately for my plans, the regiment was armed for low-tech combat only, wielding various poleaxes, swords and bows, shields and leather armor.  

When the ship left orbit, I lost my means of communicating with them directly, since I didn't want them to know about me, or my masters.  I had expected them to make camp, and begin training right there, per the orders I'd written, but instead they held a ceremony of some sort and then began marching southeast, toward the Grey Hills.  I suspect the Gnomes were aware of them, for not once did the regiment encounter them or any sign of them.  In the Grey Hills, the regiment camped for several weeks, and then headed to the Great Central Plain.

It was only when they were crossing from the Grey Hills to the Borderlands, that I got a close enough look to realize they were evenly split, gender-wise.  I didn't have much information about the gengineered, so this came as a real surprise.  After they crossed into the Great Central Plain, they split up into five groups and separated.  Each of the groups located their own campsites, and settled in, doing what minimum effort they could to sustain themselves, while constantly training both with their weapons, and without them.  My plan to have them break up the gnomish culture failed, as they'd never run into the gnomes and were seemingly not even aware of their existence.  

Then, much to my dismay, it turned out the gengineered were fertile.  Whether due to the lingering radiation of the plain, or maybe poor gengineering, their infant mortality rate was very high.  But their birth rate was higher still, and their population began to grow.  Rather than one problem, I now had two.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Arrival of the Gnomes and the Uruki

Ten kilometers below the blast zone, we waited.  After several weeks, my masters began to relax, hoping no further attacks would come.  Knowing the surface would be uninhabitable for some time, they chose cold sleep, leaving me as their Guardian.  I settled down to wait.  

A century passed before I began to tunnel my way north.  I went a thousand kilometers before heading up to the surface.  The land was covered with riotous jungle, completely unlike before the war.  I listened to the skies, and found the victors had followed old Imperial custom, placing transponders in orbit warning that this world was now to be considered a Red Zone.

Two hundred years passed, while I learned how to override the zone transponders' security.  I then decyphered the communications protocols, which hadn't changed much, and was able to communicate with passing ships.  Whenever I could, I had passing ships secretly send me all their onboard data.  As Guardian, I needed all the information I could get, in order to ensure the safety of my masters.  I learned that in many systems, wars were still being fought, both on the ground and in space.  

Finally, a day came when I detected movement on the surface. I quietly pulled all my sensors deeper underground, to avoid detection.  It turned out to be a good idea, for soon, someone began using incediaries to wipe all life from the surface.  Month after month, the bombing was continuous and fires raged across the entire planet, destroying the jungles that had grown up since my masters went to sleep.

Finally, the jungles were gone, and the new men replanted the world with the flora and fauna they needed to survive comfortably.  Strangely, the transponders still indicated the world was off limits.  Records form their ships told me they were descendents of the Philosopher Kings, and I surmised they were in hiding now.  After they made planetfall, they set up a colony organized around low technolgy farming, remaining just pre-industrial.

In order to learn more, I took to using my avatars to walk among them.  In the beginning, they attacked me, but I immediately killed the ones who attacked.  I was careful to harm no one else, and in time, they learned to ignore or tolerate my presence.

Others of their kind showed up over the next four centuries, giving up their technology and integrating into the agrarian life.  They seemed a peaceful folk, but as they expanded, I began to fear for my masters' security.  What if they found the entrances to my masters' underground cities?

I needed a way to keep them in check, and after many years, a ship carrying a regiment of gengineered soldiers arrived in orbit.  I convinced the ship it had suddenly located secret orders to drop the regiment here to await further orders...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Known History of This Realm

My masters didn't understand what had happened at first, only that they were not dead, and they were no longer in familiar territory.  They set out to explore, and soon ran into others who had been attacked as they had been; other survivors trying to figure out where they were and how to get home.  Caution bred through generations of slavery led them to keep secret their possession of a weapon like that which had sent them all here.

Although the races worked together to solve the mystery of their location, it took them many years... years in which they began to grow and prosper again.  Though lost, and of many races, they had all come from the same empire, and it was natural they form a similar empire again.  

They finally came to understand the futility of their search when an astronomer studying the unfamiliar constellations discovered a spiral galaxy in a cluster obscured by vast clouds of dust.  Analysis of the spiral and comparison with old map data confirmed his fear... home was unimaginably far away and there was no known way to travel the distance required.

All of the races were deeply affected by this news, and many turned inward, isolating themselves from the rest.  Some disappeared entirely, attempting to make the trip home in vast arks designed to carry them for as many years as it took.  The fledgling empire faltered, on the verge of  collapse.

One race of men, determined not to go quietly into the night, fought back against the collapse, and helped restore order and motive.  The Philospher Kings ruled the empire for three centuries, balanced precariously between collapse and the growth and expansion they so desperately tried to promote.

They were gradually replaced by the great Merchant Houses, who succeeded where the Philosopher Kings had not... while they ruled, the empire turned again to growth and exploration.  It was during their rule that the secret of my masters got out... they still retained the weapon!  The belief arose among the Merchant Houses that if they could acquire the weapon, they could figure out how to use it to get Home.  My masters refused to give up the weapon, and two centuries of expansion and peaceful rule came to an end as the Merchant Houses began arming for war!

Long outlawed weapons, such as nuclear bombs, planet busters, and genetically engineered soldiers were soon evident among all the Houses, and their use was almost inevitable.  My masters, prepared, as always, for the worst, dug deep into the ground under their capital city, where I was serving as Portmaster.  I was given control of defensive weapons and began to serve as their Defender, and later, as war raged on, I was given still more power, control of their fleet.  I moved underground with them, performing my functions on the surface through avatars.

In the end, when still my masters refused to give up the weapon, a planet buster was dropped on our capital city.  Fearing all was lost and having nothing to lose, I launched our entire nuclear arsenal at the dropping bomb.  The blast of heat and radiation must have damaged the bomb, for it exploded in mid-air as well and all went black as the city melted and we lost contact with the surface.

A Fashion Guide

Was jumping from blog to blog, seeing what I could see, when I came across this little beauty:

Hill Cantons: Factoids of the Hill Cantons: Fashion

I love the idea of awarding experience points for following in-game trends like fashion! I'd probably give the players bonuses on top of those for drawing their characters wearing the fashions of the day, or using the idea to enhance their roleplaying. Anything that helps the players become their characters while sitting at my table adds to all our enjoyment!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ancient History

One function I did NOT perform for my masters was historian, though I have learned much while in their service.  With access to my library lost, I am unable to give much more than the sketchiest description of history before they brought me here.

In the beginning, my masters were one of many races that made up a great empire; an empire that was old when my masters were young, a decadent empire that was losing control of its borders.  My masters fought for the empire but in time the empire crumbled and my masters were enslaved.

For centuries they were slaves to other races, but there came a day when this new empire, too, began to crumble, and new barbarians came from beyond the borders.  These latter barbarians had weapons of unimagineable power, weapons that not only killed, but other weapons that shattered the very fabric of reality; thrusting entire kingdoms through the gaping holes that appeared temporarily each time they were used.  

My masters refused to fight, and were spared, but their old masters were simply replaced by new, crueler masters.  They plotted and schemed, and finally succeeded in stealing one of the weapons, only to be betrayed.  Punishment was swift, and harsh.  Most of their race was killed instantly, and before they could use the weapon even once, another was turned on them, reality was shattered, and they were thrust into another realm altogether.  

This realm.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Role

I have had many names, and served my masters in many ways, these long, long years.  They sleep now, in the depths below dreaming, waiting for me to call them forth again.  They have slept for more than two thousand years, and may yet sleep two thousand more, if need be.

The farmers and warriors living on the surface above have formed a hybrid culture, centered in the great rift valley they call Arden.  They have been expanding much faster than I anticipated.  Their need for metal is driving them toward deeper mining, which could prove dangerous to my masters.

Unfortunately, over the past few centuries, increased volcanic activity has affected my reserves.  Much of my library has been destroyed, and lava flows and collapses have cut off many of my supplies.  I have no way left to retrieve them, unless I enlist aid from the surface, which I am, of course, loath to do.

Although I have no evidence of it, past experience tells me that other peoples on other shores will have begun expanding again now, too, and I have no knowledge of what such peoples may be like.  I believe the surface dwellers can be guided outward, and if I'm correct, I could use them as a buffer to further protect my masters.

I have been Miner, Portmaster, Navigator, Defender, Warrior, and Guardian, to name just a few.  I have most recently been called Watcher, by those who dwell on the surface today.

Perhaps it is time I took on a new role... Teacher.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I Like

Thanks to Nick, at Carto Cacography, I came across Greg Tito's articles about the Past, Present and Future of D&D at The Escapist.  I posted a very short, blunt agreement with the articles, and was replied to by a couple of guys who had a little heartburn with my comment.

I didn't mean to disparage today's players, and after losing a reply I tried to post the other day, tried again with this:

"My earlier comment was a bit offbase, maybe because I read too much into Mearls' comments:

Mearls admits 4th edition might have gone too far in creating a perfectly balanced game. 'We've lost faith of what makes an RPG an RPG,' he said, admitting that in trying to please gamers with a limited imagination, 4th edition might have punished those with an active one.

My exposure to 4e is admittedly limited, I only started playing recently in my son's campaign.  In reacting to Mearls comments, I brought along the baggage of a 33 year gamer... I started with TSR's original White Box in '76 or '77.  Every edition after AD&D 1e has, in my mind, tried for higher production values in the books (lots of color, pretty pictures), less useful information for any but their campaign worlds, and more tightly defined rules (to make it easier to write software for).

To me, the game is about having fun with friends, not about maxing a character, or listening to a story or running a combat like a board game or a computer game.  I don't want my players to say, "I search the room... I made my perception check.  What do I find?" or anything remotely as out-of-game as that.  I want my players to experience the world as their characters, not think about the number they have to roll to succeed.  I want them to experience the terror of not knowing what's coming next, or whether they'll live.  (You might guess that I HATE the idea of balancing encounters against the party, so it's "fair.")  "Building an encounter is a matter of choosing threats appropriate to the characters and combining them in interesting and challenging ways."  (4e DMG, pg 56)  Yes, I actually threw up a little just now.  I didn't enjoy my forays into story (per 2e) all that much either.  I see myself more as a concierge than as a 4e rules judge or a 2e storyteller... 'Welcome to my world... there's lots to do and see, maybe I can suggest something to interest you?'

Uh oh, I'm on my soapbox again... let me step down off this thing and put it away."


Although I've always used the term Dungeon Master, or Gamemaster when away from D&D, I've thought of myself more as a concierge than anything else:

"In hotels, a concierge assists guests with various tasks like making restaurant reservations, arranging for spa services, recommending night life hot spots, booking transportation (limousines, airplanes, boats, etc.), procurement of tickets to special events and assisting with various travel arrangements and tours of local attractions. In upscale establishments, a concierge is often expected to "achieve the impossible", dealing with any request a guest may have, no matter how strange, relying on an extensive list of contacts with local merchants and service providers." (

"Welcome to X!  Let me tell you just a little about the place... now, if you'll just tell me a little about yourselves, I'll be able to suggest some places you might want to visit for a little fun!"  That's how I view my role as DM.