Showing posts with label 0e. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 0e. Show all posts

Monday, January 22, 2018

This Could Be Hobbit Forming, Part 2

Note: Part 1 is here and more discussion is here.

Well I have one kid down sick and another I had to rush to the ER because he cut off the tip of his finger.  (Both kids will be fine).  But that, of course, means no weekend gaming report.

What I did though was give a little more thought on what my Middle Earth game might be like.

I know there are some perfectly good Lord of the Rings/Middle Earth games out there.  I played MERP in the past and I was one of the playtesters for the Cubicle 7 The One Ring game.  I will talk about those at a later date.  There are also some other games that others have let me know work well for Middle Earth.  I might touch on those too, no idea yet.  One, Rolemaster, intrigues me because it is not the sort of game I normally would do with RM.

No. Today I want to talk about something I have wanted to do forever.  D&D in Middle-Earth.  So per my normal weekend-game prep I set some books up on the old-treadmill and went for a run.

I think by now we all know that the effect of Tolkien on D&D has been purposefully diminished over the years.  The reasons are varied (and various) but largely seem due to avoid more legal issues.

The evidence is there that Tolkien did have an influence on D&D.  Here is my copy of Chainmail with the Fantasy Supplement.


Moving in on this.


So here we have "Hobbits", "Balrogs" "Ents" and even "Nazgul" among the standard "Elves" and "Dwarves".   These were scrubbed from later editions.

Regardless of all of that, it brings up my first candidate.  Original D&D.



OD&D has a LOT going for it.  The rules are really stripped down, the class selection is few and the overall power level is what I feel represents the average to high-level adventurers in Middle Earth. Despite wizards, dragons, and rings, Middle Earth is a low magic setting.  Even great swords like those forged by the elven smiths in Gondolin are at best what, +3?  Nothing like a vorpal sword, or even a sword of sharpness.  OD&D does this really well.

The biggest issue I have with OD&D is that I already had a grand experiment with it.  Back in 1988 I spent a summer playing in an OD&D campaign with rather mundane characters; 3d6 in order, no substitutions unless an ability was lower than 7.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of that game.  But I am not sure if I want to do that again or not.

Naturally, I thought, maybe Basic D&D is the way to go.


I am planning on limiting my Middle Earth game to just 10th level.  If I throw in the Expert set I might go to 12.   Here again, there are a ton of compelling reasons, for me, to use this.
I love Basic era D&D.  I can do so much with it.  I also even think that race-as-class would work; except for a halfling burglar.

While I really wanted to stick with something pure D&D at about the 1-mile mark I came to a realization.  The game I want does exist.   It is OD&D like.  Limited to 10 levels. And has the feel I Want in a game.   It is +James Spahn's The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying.



Hero's Journey is James Spahn's love letter to the Hobbit and the kinds of adventures inspired by it.  This is not a grimdark game so it would fit my needs perfectly.  Plus James has worked on Cubicle 7's Adventures in Middle Earth RPG so he has the background to pull it off.

Now. I have no idea if I would include my own Hedge Witch in this.  She doesn't really fit, but I pulled my book anyway to see.  Hero's Journey not only has the feel I want, but it also has the classes I am looking for.  While I am not likely to use OD&D/Basic/HJ's Wizard or Magic-user at all, I do see a spot for the cleric.  Only instead of serving gods they the scholars of Arda.  Plus we will need some healing magic.

I think I am going to come up with a basic character concept, maybe even a couple, and see how well I can create them in these games and selcted Middle-Earth dedicated games.
Obviously I will have to use a young hobbit adventurer, a dwarf fighter of some sort maybe an elf and a human too.


This won't be a long-term or even a serious campaign, but one I can run when I have the desire to do something light.

Just need to find a time to set it all in.  I am thinking at the start of the Third Age or maybe near the end of the Second Age.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

DIY Swords & Wizardry Light Folder + Something new

(Ugh. That election.  But I am not going to sully this blog with talk of our new national nightmare.)

+Erik Tenkar's Sword & Wizardry Light is out. More or less.  It's a great idea and has endless utility.

I played around with the file some to get something I could print out and use.  So I decided to do this.




A touch unwieldy sure, but still very useful to have.  Works as a GM screen or a folder.

Now if I only had something to put inside...


Oh.  Yeah. That looks good.

Have some editing and some checking to do, but stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

In Search of... the Holmes Witch

Very recently this image popped up again. This time on Tumblr.



Which started a conversation on the existence, or lack thereof, of the Holmes Witch.
The witch, as speculated then, would have been a sub-class of the Magic-User.
But where did this come from?

Well research into the original Holmes manuscript over at Zenopus Archives, gives some backing to long-held idea that the witch was something added later on in editing.


Gygax himself weighs in on this here, again thanks to Zenopus Archives.
"That mention slipped by me, and all I can assume was that either Eric was planning to force such a class upon me, or else someone editing the work thought it a good joke to play. I never had a PC class of that sort in mind for the game." (Enworld forum post archived at greyhawkonline)

In truth there never really was a "Holmes Witch".  There are "Holmesian-like Witches" to be sure (I classify my own witch class as more "Moldvay"), but nothing he ever wrote himself.

Other discussions
- Recent Google+ discussion that prompted this post
- An older OD&D Boards Discussion
Um, I was promised Witches?
- Holmes Rules: The Witch

Semi-Related
- Tom Moldvay on Witches

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Edition Changes as a Role-Playing Device

It is no secret that I am a fan of most editions of D&D (and many games in general).  Since I began back in 1979 I have played every edition of *D&D there is and have found something to enjoy in all of them.

Since I have been playing for so long, I have also had campaigns that have lasted years.  Sometimes these campaigns span multiple editions.  For example, my kids started with characters in 3rd edition, then those characters have kids that were started in 1st Edition and then we all moved to 5th edition.  With the occasional side step into Basic or OSR games for fun.   I have used different editions of the game for flashbacks, dream-sequences and general out-of-body experiences.



But looking at the larger picture of a longer narrative have you considered the actual rule changes to part and parcel of what is going on in the world?  Obviously, if you only play one edition this will not mean much to you or if your games have no continuity between editions.   But I have characters that started in Holmes Basic and they have descendants in my current 5e game.   Usually, it is one generation per edition, but how can I explain it when a cleric only has a mace a weapon and no spells till 2nd level when his grandson, who is also a cleric of the same god can wield a sword in some cases and his son can cast minor spells at will?

Some things I did work into a large narrative.
When I went from Basic to First Ed I explained the Class/Race Split by saying that elves in my original lands preferred to become fighter/magic-users due to tradition, but elves elsewhere in the world would choose other classes.

Going from First to Second had the biggest hurdle regarding demons.  First ed had them, second ed originally did not.  So since I had just done a huge war to finish off my "high school" games before college I just said that the war had blocked all demons from coming back into the world.

Second to third was a longer time span of inactivity for me, but the big issue was the birth of Sorcerers; people with spontaneous magic in their blood. Is this a remnant of the re-opening of the demon gates?  Maybe.   Hmm....I think I see and adventure idea!

Fourth has a slew of problems.  Mostly though the change in the nature of magic.  I have regarded this as an odd conjunction of the planes; something that altered the Cosmology.  Again, sounds like a cool thing to play out one day.

Fifth then is the return to the way things were before...with some things changed permanently.

I know there are some "in-story" and "in-universe" explanations for these changes in a lot of the Forgotten Realms material.  I will have to check these out someday and see if they track with my own ideas.

What have you done?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Treasure Trove! With Pics!

So no "real" post today.  I spent my writing time going through my latest treasure trove.

I joined a bunch of area online "Garge Sale" groups on Facebook and one panned out yesterday.  So cash in hand I drove to nearby Schaumburg, IL and picked up a couple of milk crates full of old-school goodness.   It was not till this morning that I discovered what I really had.


Lots of minis including a wizard's lab.


A D&D Electronic board game in working condition and from what I can tell all the parts.


Modules, Top Secret and even a few Marvel Super Heroes books and some Star Frontiers.


Two Greyhawk folios with maps.  They are in rough condition though, between the two I might be able to salvage one.


More character sheets!  Always need these.


No idea what these are.  But I can't wait to find out!


A lot of the books have water damage like this.  This was not a collector's collection, but a users and a player's one.  There are also a few duplicates.  This was because the husband and wife that sold them merged their collections.





The B/X boxes are empty but the books have been cut up and put into that brown binder.  See I KNEW someone had to have done this.  The BECMI Master's box has both the Master's set and the Immortals set inside. The hardbacks are in decent enough condition. The Monstrous Compendium is in fantastic shape.





I have NO idea what this is.  It is made by TSR and it is from 1974.  The product list on back doesn't even list D&D.



Their old Gen Con folder with the games they were going to choose for 1983.

Some JG stuff.


Cut out minis.  From 1984 I think.


And this was a surprise, a 6th printing of Swords & Spells in near perfect condition.


An absolute ton of modules and books.  Some duplicates within the group and some with my own collection, but still enough "new" stuff to make it worthwhile to me.

It's going to take me some time to sort through all of this stuff that is for sure. But I will have a blast doing it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Five for Friday

Lots to talk about today, so without further ado.

Classic Edition GM Screen
from +Richard LeBlanc and  New Big Dragon Games Unlimited.


I have been waiting for this one for some time now ever since Richard first teased it.


Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood
from +Jonathan Thompson and Battlefield Press


This one looks interesting. I enjoy the Robin Hood legends and this is multi-stated for 5th Ed, S&W and Pathfinder.


Baker Street RPG: Jack the Ripper and Missions from Mycroft
from +Bryce Whitacre


I played Baker Street at Gen Con and it was a fun time.  This looks like an excellent addition to the game.  Honestly with the way Baker Street works this could be an excellent addition to ANY Victorian-era game.


Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder


Sandy Petersen knows Lovecraft.  To see this for Pathfinder is a real treat!  And this one looks so good.


Hollow Earth Expeditions: Perils of Mars
by +Jeff Combos


I enjoy the heck out of the HEX books.  This one looks like a ton of fun too!



Thursday, February 25, 2016

OD&D Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes

The "last" OD&D supplement is out this week, Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes.
This was always one of my favorites and I remember it well from the days playing Basic D&D and discovering that there was this "whole other D&D game".

I remember getting my first copy many years ago and thinking it didn't live up to the hype in my head, but years later I really enjoyed that crazy little book.

It has seen better days.
I still find use for this little book and glad to finally have a good copy in PDF.  Even if it doesn't match the version I have above.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Release Tuesday: Eldritch Wizardry

The OD&D supplement I wanted the longest is now out on DriveThruRPG.
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.



This was the one that grabbed my attention the most back in the day.
Though this is the cover that I know best.



Demons, Artifacts, Psychic Powers, Druids. Everything I wanted in MY D&D.  It was also missing the one thing I felt it needed above all else.  Witches.

It is also the spiritual godfather to many of my witch books, especially "Eldritch Witchery".



Why not pick them both up today!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Original Dungeons & Dragons at DTRPG

Well.  Hell is frozen.  You can now buy a legal PDF copy of the Original Dungeons & Dragons rules.


No you too can play the game that started it all.  For just about the same price charged then.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review and PWWO: Dark Albion: The Rose War

War is always a good backdrop to a fantasy campaign.  There is so much chaos and change and opportunity that a group of adventurers could make their way from nobodies to national heroes..or villains.  That is one of the basic conceits of +Kasimir Urbanski's aka RPGPundit's latest book Dark Albion: The Rose War. Published by DOM Publishing, the same that gave us Fantastic Heroes & Witchery. Overtly the book is for FH&W, but it can be played with any Retro-Clone or original D&D game you wish.  In fact I am going to jump ahead and say that it would work with any version of D&D you choose, including 5th Edition. But for me the game seems like it would shine under Original Edition.  But more on that later.

I am reviewing the PDF only at this point. I don't have a copy of the printed book yet.  The PDF is 277 pages; 275 of content plus cover and a hyperlink page that we also saw in FH&W. It's a nice touch.

Before I get into the meat I want to about the art and layout.  The art is predominantly woodcuts and public domain images from the period or about the period.  I want to say that for the record I LOVE this sort of art.  I really do. It captures the feel of time I think far better than most RPG art.  I love the art in the D&D/OSR books, but that is art for a game world.  For a historical one I want this.
Also the graphic design and layout is much improved in terms of technique from FH&W.  This is obvious when in the FH&W appendix it switches back to the other style. It is the same as the previous book, but still better executed.

The book is nicely organized and I am first grabbed by a sense of nostalgia. This feels like an old-school Gazetteer.  In particular the Greyhawk ones of old.  We have a two page Table of Contents and a two page index.  Both are hyperlinked.

The center of the campaign is the War of Roses. This war, between rival claimants to the throne of England, the House of York (the White Rose) and the House of Lancaster (the Red Rose). This lead, among other things, to the creation of the Tudor Dynasty (White on Red Rose) when the House of Lancaster defeated the House the York and Henry Tudor married Elizabeth York to become Henry VII of England.  This is also the milestone between what was "Dark Ages" England and the English Renaissance.  Though I personally think of the date as being later when England broke with the Church or even later still when Elizabeth I came into power.  But that is my personal bias.
(Side Note: See if RPGPundit is working on "Dark Albion: The Tudors", now there is some intrigue!)

The Introduction is a brief overview of the book, the War of Roses, and what to expect in this campaign book.  Most of what is here is detailed more in the book, but a couple of things draw our attention.  First this a "gritty" campaign.  So magic is low, character classes will be low and it is human centric.   Other differences between this and other "D&D" are given, such as very, very few demi-humans and few "monsters".  Also the differences between this world and our world are given.  The one that stands out here is the Church of the Unconquered Sun, something that readers of my blog should already be familiar with, http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2015/02/sol-invictus-unconquered-sun.html. In fact this Church is like one where Rome (Arcadia) adopted Mithra instead of Jesus.  It is an interesting idea and one I would love to see more of.

Next up, and what takes up a good chunk of the book is the Gazetteer of Albion.  For his alt-history version of England, Pundit sticks with the very archaic Albion as opposed to England or even "Angle-land".  I do not object. I used the name myself in Ghosts of Albion, though for different reasons.  This is part socio-political overview, part maps and part campaign information.   Having gone over the same territory, though 360 years later, I appreciate the attention to detail here.  The bulk of this is of course on Albion and Wales (not "Cymru"?), lands up into Scots-land ("Alba"?) only go to Hadrian's Wall, which is still intact in this world.  Lands into Ireland ("Erie"! thank you!) only go to the Pale, as appropriate.  Beyond the Pale?  Well that is where the ancient Brannans live, you don't want to go there.
Honestly, this could have been the entire book and I would have loved it.  Give me old maps and names of people and I will fill it up with ideas.  I already want to create characters and give them histories.

Next up is Kingdoms of the Continent. As you can imagine, an overview of Europe. Not as in-depth as the Albion chapter, nor should it be. There are a couple things though I want to point out.
1. Frogland. Really?  ugh. Ok, ok. I get the desire to have a non-human, chaos-based kingdom. But I really have to admit this sticks out like a sore thumb. It's really just not good. Sorry. I just don't like it, it seems to go against everything we just read about human-centric, low magic, gritty-realism.  If I were to use this in a game (and I really would want to) Frogland is going away.  I'll replace it with a Clark Ashton Smith-style Averoigne.  It really kind of mars the entire work in a way.
2. Arcadia. There is something REALLY interesting here.  I would love to see RPGPundit talk about how The Unconquered Sun grew up out Mithraism to replace Christianity in his world.  Plus this is the Renaissance.  I would imagine that Arcadia at this time in this world looks a bit more like Mage the Sorcerers Crusade than it does D&D.
3. Wallachia.  Ok, including a bad ass Dracula almost (almost but not quite) makes up for Frogland.  Having him live in a castle named "Crows Loft" is very cheeky ("Crow's Nest" might be closer, but hey, not my book).

Law & Justice in Albion is a fairly important chapter. Characters will not be able to act like the "murder-hobos" of other games. Albion, at this point, has been around as country of laws for some time.  The Magna Carta has been around for 200+ years at this point so this is not a lawless land, far from it in fact.   Frankly more campaign guides should have this as much as they do maps and people of interest.

History of Albion is just as fascinating as the Gazetteer. While I personally believe that games are about the characters, having a detailed backdrop is always nice.  Plus if your game is going to more about court intrigue and combats of words and lies rather than adventuring, then this is a must read.

Characters in Albion discuss what has been mentioned briefly already.  What characters you are likely to use in this game.  It is human centric and low magic.  Now there is an interesting twist here in that the Church of the Unconquered Sun has Priests, which are like real-world priests in the Catholic church, and Clerics which are more like D&D clerics.  In fact you can have a female cleric.  This is a handy way to have your cake and eat it too.  The reading of this chapter makes me think that Lamentation of the Flame Princes might be a good rule fit for this, but as I read more I think that Original D&D is the best choice.  Though given the changes to the world in general I would also add druids and witches to my games.

Currency & Equipment is actually quite an important chapter.  Money didn't just seperate the wealthy from everyone else, it also separates the classes, as in the upper and lower class.  In many D&D games characters tend to throw around gold like it was water.  You see that even in some of the pulp influences of D&D.  Historically though and even until past the Victorian age you would not find people throwing around a gold coin.  Copper pence/pennies were the coinage of the common man.  Maybe a silver shilling. Ok, technically the silver shilling wasn't minted until the 1500s and it was worth 12 pence (not the 10p listed). BUT this is just a change to make things easier for the game and that is fine with me.  I would still introduce a gold guinea at 21s/0p though it's introduction is still not for another 200 years or so.  I just like the idea.

The next two chapters, Noble Houses of Albion and People of Interest, deal with the people that populate this world.  I would say that if you are playing a court intrigue game then these are your important chapters.  Knowing who is controlling what and what their moves might be is a great aid for the right-minded GM.  I would say that if you are or were a fan of Pendragon or even Birthright then study these two chapters.  Heck given how Pendragon works this could be part of the same set of PCs, only their dynasties 35-40+ generations later.
Ok, so I am not taking any stars away from the overall product for this, but I will state my disappointment in the whole "Frogmen" one more time here. Craaak VII? Lraaap XI?  Come on Pundit, you can do better than this.

Sorcery and Secrets is the chapter I have been waiting for.  I will point out one discrepancy between what is said here and what is assumed.  Magic-user spells are listed to 9th level, ok that will take a pretty high level magic-user, beyond the "7th level will be really high" mentioned. Plus 9th level spells are pretty big magics.  Personally I would limit all spell casters to 6th level spells.  There are some rules in FH&W to help get around this restriction.
There are some really good demon summoning rules. I would combine these with the magic circle rules given in FH&W as well as the Ley Line rules.  In fact in might be interesting to take this chapter and Chapter 9 from FH&W and look at them as a unified whole.

Adventuring in Albion. Ok this is more like it!  Give me reasons for my characters to do things!  For me I am content with "there is a war of succession to English throne going on. You all are peasants. Figure out how make the most of it."  Thankfully there is more here than just that. Several sample adventure locations are given, including one at court.  Travel across Albion is discussed though characters are more likely to run into tolls rather than trolls, but both are still possible.
While monsters are rare in this setting a guideline for what might be possible would be good.

Three Appendices follow.
Appendix 1 detail the Knights of the Star and Secrets of the Clerical Order. Knight of the Star are an order of Knights loyal to the crown and king of Albion. These Knights could be seen as the Paladins of Albion and are given similar in-game status.
Appendix 2 is a set of house rules for rules-lite OSR clones like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Swords & Wizardry, and Basic Fantasy RPG.
Appendix 3 is a set of rules when playing Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.  Like I mentioned before this appendix drops the Dark Albion style for the FH&W one.  Various new classes for FH&W are added including the Cleric of the Unconquered Sun, the Magister, Hedge-Witch and Cymric Bard among others.  Also classes from FH&W are discussed including which ones NOT to use in Dark Albion.  Some details about how Dark Albion's cosmology fits into the FH&W assumed cosmology.

The book ends with the OGL statement.

There is a lot crammed into 275 or so pages. While the guide is complete and there is plenty to do with it, it also opens up a lot of possibility for the world as a whole.  Dom and RPGPundit could make a career out filling up the other countries.  The time period is an interesting choice too.  Having played a ton of historical games I tend to draw a fuzzy line right around the time of the Tudors. Prior to this time I can emulate with D&D-like games, after that I use other games.  Dark Albion adheres to my own internal logic in this respect.  Though I do admit I can see myself pushing that line a bit when it comes to Elizabethan times.  I have done that time period both as a D&D-like game and as a setting for Ghosts of Albion.

I would say pick this up if you have any enjoyment for English history or if you are looking to play something different than the same old dungeon crawls.

Plays Well With Others
By virtue of it's compatibility with Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, Dark Albion has an easier time than most supplements.  Added to fact that it is presented largely rule free is a bonus.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has been one of my favorite systems/campaign worlds since it came out. It shares a number of elements in common with Dark Albion.  First, both worlds assume a low magic, human centric world.  There are a LOT of character classes in AS&SH and not all are appropriate for Dark Albion, but there are plenty that are even above and beyond the multitude of class options that FH&W offers.    The worlds of both games are by and large the same, just separated by vast quantities (and maybe qualities) of time.  While Dark Albion focuses on Albion and parts south, AS&SH tends to focus more to the north.  Who is to say that there are not some areas of Norway that are not still like the Hyperborea of AS&SH?
Plus the power levels of both games is the same.  All characters in AS&SH and FH&W top off at that 12-14 level limit.  This naturally keeps the magic down.
AS&SH also has a number of monsters in it that would be appropriate for the Dark Albion world.  Now, AS&SH does have "Cthulhoid" monsters which would take the implied chaos of Dark Albion to a totally different level. But I can see that working.

As mentioned before another game that would mesh well with this is Lamentation of the Flame Princes.  There is a congruity to both worlds that makes the translation not only possible, but anticipated as seen in Appendix 2.

I have to admit I picked this game up not on the reputation of it's author or even publisher, but because I really wanted to see if there is anything in this book I could use with my own Ghosts of Albion.  While the two games share a number of parallels due to subject matter and connections to the real world, the underlying assumptions of both games are very different. Back when I was working on Ghosts of Albion one of my characters was a ghost of a fighter in the War of the Roses.  I guess I could now play him as a living breathing human if I wanted too.  I just have to make sure he dies while defending the King from that dastard the Duke of York!   Dark Albion actually has more in common with Cubicle 7's Victoriana. At least in terms of setting and underlying assumptions. Heck maybe when Albion splits from the Church of the Unconquered Sun (Dark Albion) it becomes the Aluminat Church (Victoriana).   In any case Dark Albion provides an interesting historical backdrop to either of those games.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Witch.  Dark Albion makes many references to witches and dark magic but the only game mentioned that has a proper witch is FH&W and even then that game mentions conversions for my witch.  Just follow the guidelines already in FH&W.

One thing is certain, I am going to have to play some more with this world.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 17

Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

No question.  Dungeons and Dragons.


 








 









Hail to the King baby.


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