Showing posts with label Urban Survival Guide. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urban Survival Guide. Show all posts

Friday, September 7, 2018

Urban Adventures: The Trial

I have talked in the past about my fondness for Urban and City base adventures.  Back alleys all the way up to court intrigue have been something of a rare-privilege of mine in my games.

With WotC coming out with their new D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist adventure (which looks awesome by the way, "D&D meets Ocean's 11") I got to thinking about something I have never successfully fun.

The Courtroom Drama.

I REALLY want to do a courtroom drama in a game.  Especially a D&D game.

You know as well as I that Players and Characters will do something that will end them up on the wrong side of the law and they are going to need lawyers and a trial.

I briefly covered this in a post WAY back when in Lawyers, Guns, and Money. But that was for a modern age and a quirky bunch of characters/lawyers.

What I am looking for is a great court-room drama. Life and death stakes;  bribe, graft, witness tampering, surprise witnesses, hostile opposing counsel, mysterious deaths.  All of that.

I have yet to figure out HOW to do it.

The great thing is once I do figure it out I can drop it into any campaign.
Because like I said back then "sooner or later, your characters are going to get into trouble and they are going to need a lawyer".

Anyone ever try this? I am even willing to try the old trope of a "celestial court".

Love to hear what have all done.

Oh. You better believe that there will be someone in the whole deal that's a stand-in for Warren Zevon.  Cause that is just the way my games work.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #99

Setting the controls on the Delorean for July 1995.  Summer of between my Sophomore and Junior years in high school.  I played AD&D every weekday that I wasn't working and on the weekends when I could.  One big screen is Back to the Future, a franchise that will one day head to the magical futuristic year of 2015.  Our cars still don't fly.  Duran Duran get's the first #1 song for Bond Film on the US charts. So let's get into our Delorean's, set the flux capacitor to July 1985 and dance into the fire of Issue #99 of This Old Dragon!

Issue #99 is an often forgotten issue in my mind.  On one side we have issue #90, the Tenth Anniversary issue and on the other #100.  Poor old 99 kinda gets forgotten.  The cover from Clyde Duensing III is fine, but nothing special.

Letters has some questions about the Gorgon from the last Ecology Of article.

Kim Mohan's editorial talks about how Unearthed Arcana will "change the way the AD&D game is played."  Not sure it did that, but it certainly began what would later become the edition wars.

The Forum covers some of these questions, in particular, the new Demi-human level limits.

Stephen Inniss is back this time with The Neutral Point of View. Or how to play those lawful, chaotic, and true neutral characters, monsters and NPCs.  It's a good read and some of the philosophy would later appear in D&D 3.

Tables and Table of Troops by James Yates is actually a little more than just tables.  It does, however, talk a lot about how armies move. I am pretty sure my then DM used these ideas for our world-wide war.  The advantage to this article is it can still be used with every version of the D&D game.

Win $10,000 for playing an RPG?  Can't be true! But that is what Pacesetter says in this ad.



Nigel D. Findley, a name I associate a lot with later 80s D&D, is up with The Ecology of the Will-o-Wisp. I covers what I always felt was ill-defined at best, the relationship between boggarts and Wisps.  I think I prefer the undead version of the Wisp found in D&D 5.

Ah now, this article I do remember.  Kevin Anderson and Kristine Thompson team up to give us That's Life in the Big City.  We came back to this article a lot when we (my then gaming group) were working on our "Urban Survival Guide".  There is not a lot here, but there is a good overview of what a fortified city is like.

Some ads.
Flipping back I see I am missing pages 30 to 39.
Looking at my CD-Rom I see it was History of a game that failed:An essay on mistakes  and how not to make them by David F. Godwin. I wonder why the original owner cut this one out?

The World Gamer's Guide.  Coming Attractions from TSR.  This includes a new RPG, PROTON FIRE by Bruce Nesmith.  Can't wait to play that one!! (more later)

The centerpiece here is the Treasure Trove II but mine is gone.  No surprise there I guess.
It's too bad really.  The article on Swords was good if I recall right.

Merle and Jackie Rasmussen are back with Authentic Agencies, Part III. This time they cover the Communist Bloc including the KGB and SSD, and the Middle East.  It's like a trip down memory lane.

Another ad from our good friend Ramal LaMarr.



After the fiction bit we come to the Ares section.

Let's see.  Alex Curylo gives us some tanks for Star Frontiers in Tanks a Lot!
It's actually kind of a great article and I remember cutting it out and putting it in my KnightHawks boxed set.

Psybots and Battle Mechs gives us a look at the new PROTON FIRE game.  Look closely, because to my knowledge this is all we will ever see of that game.   I have no idea why it never saw the light of day.

Marvel-Phile has some Russian super-heroes.
A Gamma-World article that has been cut out.

Lots of Cons in the Convention Calendar.

Gamer's Guide has the small ads.

Wormy weighs in at 2 pages. Snarf at 3.

All in all not a real memorable issue, minus the magic items and the article on the cities.
Want to know what was going on over the pond at this time?  Check out my review for White Dwarf #67.

Take us home Ramal!



Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Old Dragon Issue #111

It's the summer of 1986.  My regular DM has graduated from High School and is getting ready to go to the Air Force. We are gearing up for an epic world-changing round of adventures we call the Dragon Wars. Essentially this is our World War I. I can't recall if this cover played into that at all, but I would like to think it did.  It' July 1986 and this is issue #111 of This Old Dragon.

This is also one of my top 10 favorite colors.  The white and black dragons in a "ying yang" theme has been done before, but not quite like this. It is another winner from Denis Beauvais.  While meant to invoke the struggle of good vs. evil D&D players will look at it and proclaim "they are both evil!"  Sheesh...not appreciation for art.

Speaking of art. The Letters section covers the disparity between male and female figures on the cover of Dragon.  The all too common complaint is that females tend to be nearly naked and men wear sensible armor.   We are still having this conversation.

Our first article is by John M. Maxstadt, Good stuff, for a spell. Magic focusing: a new dimension for possessions. This deals with a common problem, what sort of magic item does a mid-level magic-user need?  The solution is a Spell Focusing item.  Now off the bt I have an issue with the term.  What is being described in this article is not spell focusing but rather spell storage.  The MU casts a spell into an item to be used later.  Essentially these are variations on the Ring of Spell storing only in wands and other items.  I don't want it to sound like I am dismissing this article. On the contrary, I rather like it and the author brings up a number of points I still see in my games.  For me a Spell Focus should make casting a spell easier or harder to avoid.  I have also allowed some spell focuses to change the die in which they use.  A wand of fireball focus would change the die from a d6 to a d8 for example.

Ah. Now here is one I remember. Welcome to Malachi: Visit a city where magic reigns supreme by Becky Helfenstein is about a city of magic. We are still a year out from the Forgotten Realms and their Waterdeep and Suzail cities.  This is also the time my DM and I had started to put together our own "Urban Survival Guide" for playing in cities.  This article is "class" focused. So what do clerics do, where do thieves go, what about fighters? and so on.  Not a bad way to set it up, but also leaves some gaps.  Ok it's only an article in Dragon, size alone will mean there are gaps.  I think a series of articles on Malachi would have been great.   Maybe I should do a series myself on The Urban Survival Guide.  I don't all the original docs (that was 30 years ago) but it might be fun to pull various resources together to discuss this.  Dragon and White Dwarf, the tables in the old DMG, the newest books on DriveThru.  Could be fun. A lot of fun really.

Roger E. Moore is up telling us everything we need to know about how to submit articles to the newest TSR Publication Dungeon Adventures.  Back in the day I had worked on a couple of adventures with the intent to submit them to Dungeon.  Never did, I could not get them to work out the way I wanted.  But it was great practice really.

No campaign ever fails: What to do if your game gets out of control by Joel E. Roosa deals with a common problem that I still see today.  It deals with a game/campaign where the characters get quickly overloaded with magic items.  I made this mistake in my first 5e campaign. Fresh off of a magic-saturated 4e game, 5e doesn't like a ton of magic items.  My son is seeing this now with his 5e game he is running.  In AD&D I always put a cap on the magic.  In my game there was something like 4 or 5 +6 weapons TOTAL in the entier universe.  The most powerful you could hope for was +5 or +3/+6 where the +3 was normal attacks and +6 was against a very specific creature type.  In D&D 5 this cap is +3.  I wish I had reread this article before I started my Come Endless Darkness game.

Big ad for GURPS.


Kent Colbath gives us a microscopic bestiary with Microscopic monsters: When they get bigger, they get a lot tougher.  So paramecium, dinoflagellates and the like made huge.  An interesting idea, but one I'd only use in special occasions; never as a random monster.  Actually, they would make for interesting encounters in the Astral Plane.

Lots of ads...

The centerpiece of this issue is an adventure, Death of an Arch-Mage, by Michael D. Selinker.  It is a tournament-style murder mystery adventure for AD&D.  No levels are given (that I was able to find) but that makes sense.  This is a thinking adventure, not a combat one. The NPCs range from 0-level humans to 18th level. The adventure itself is really kind of awesome.  I love a good murder mystery and I have often wanted to do a Sherlock Holmes/Agatha Christie-style adventure.  I bet this one would work fantastically with other versions of D&D.  This one is worth trying.  The adventure is long, becasue there are a lot of details the DM needs.
Anyone ever do a murder mystery?

Kevin Marzahl has some details on grenades for the Top Secret game in Pull the pin and throw.

We get too our Ares Section now and on tape we have a few of the most powerful Super-powered Heroines in different universes.    Ok, confession time.  I was looking over three different Dragons for this week.  I opted for this one since it had Maxima and Super-girl in it.

Roger E. Moore is up with arguably the most powerful person in the Marvel Super Heroes Game; Phoenix.  If you grew up in the 80s and read comics you knew Phoenix.  I played a little MSH and enve I know there are not many Class 1000 anythings out there.  Phoenix is a Class 1000 Psychic.  The article, which is long for a Marvel-Phile, especially one dedicated to just one character, gives Phoenix her due.  I will admit I used aspects of the Phoenix cycle in my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer games just like I use (and still use) aspects of Crisis on Infinite Earths in my D&D games.

Jack Herman is up with his (or is it Jeff Dee's, I never really knew) character Maxima. Back from the future in VILLAINS & VIGILANTES gaming.  Maxima is one of the most powerful characters in the V&V line.  She is a scientist from the far future sent back to Earth of 1986 to stop the Apocalypse that destroys mankind, sadly the trip damaged her and she has forgotten much of what she knew of her time and why she is here.  In the new Mighty Protectors game we still see Maxima, so glad to know she is still doing her thing.  I think it would be great to see a new Mighty Protectors version of Maxima.

Greg Gordon, not to be outdone, has a write up for Super Girl for the DC Heroes game.  He make the argument that she is (was, this is just post Crisis) the most powerful heroine of the DC Universe.  He makes a compelling argument really.  Supergirl has had boost in popularity with the great CW show and performances by Mellissa Benoist.  I am going to say, and have said, that future generations of fan will look on Mellissa Benoist as Kara the same way we look on Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.



Jeff Grub is next with the Marvel Phile on Longshot.  How did this guy get mixed in with all these super powerful superwomen? Luck I guess.

Not to be forgotten, George Mac Donald discusses super-super powers in Champions in Quantum.
We are introduced to the heroine of the same name.  I guess I should put up her pic too!

Small ads.
Snarf. Con Calendar and Wormy round out this issue.

So some great supers articles.  I am DYING to put all four of these superwomen into the murder mystery above.  I know! They are here to investigate the murder of Longshot!

Fun issue, with one of my favorite covers and some great articles.
You know who else had a good issue at this time? White Dwarf.  Pop on over and see what I was saying about July 1986 on White Dwarf Wednesday #79.  Great issue, ridiculous cover.

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