Showing posts with label community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community. Show all posts

Thursday, December 9, 2021

NotTSR sues Wizards of the Coast

Kinda busy with work and other projects this week, so this will be a fast one.  

File under, "Gods, Not these Idiots Again?"

So the New, New TSR, also 3SR, or TSR3, or NotTSR by me, have decided in their infinite wisdom to sue Wizards of the Coast.


Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro (the makers of Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons) is being sued by TSR (the makers of well...nothing actually).

You can read the filed suit here: 

Now that is the text of the suit and details exactly what is being asked of the courts. This is a copyright and trademark dispute.

The copyright one is completely bogus as Wizards owns (and has all the receipts) of the copyright to all of TSR, Inc.'s former copyrights.  This has been repeated multiple times by Ryan Dancey, the Wizards of the Coast employee charged with investigating and authorizing the purchase of TSR, Inc. (and the spearhead of the OGL), by Shannon Appelcline the RPG historian who has covered the history of D&D/TSR, and most recently by Benjamin Riggs who writing a book to cover the purchase of TSR, Inc. by Wizards of the Coast. 

Reading through this document this is about NotTSR wanting to have free and clear use of the old logos that Wizards had owned but the trademark licenses elapsed.  Currently, it looks like the use of the "Man in the Moon" logo has cancelation pending

Given the language in the NotTSR's IndieGoGo's page (which I am not linking and will get to in a bit) makes the claim that Wizards of the Coast are "bullying" them to give up the logos and maybe even the name. This is what I thought they had done anyway back in July with the whole "WonderFilleD" name.

While the text of the actual suit says one thing, their IndieGoGo page says something else.

The crowdfunding effort on IndieGoGo makes it sound like they are taking on WotC to reclaim D&D and get them to remove the disclaimers on older products (including ones produced and published by WotC themselves).

delusional nonsense

There is a whole lot of nonsense here to unpack.  Where to start?

TSR, Inc. is not New TSR.

There is a lot of conflating of the two (well there were three) TSRs.  LaNasa here is trying to make a connection between the TSR that dissolved in the 1990s to the new "company" he created.   That conflation is something he has been doing for the last few months.  I am wondering if he is actually starting to believe this himself. 

IndieGoGo and not GoFundMe

Then there is the issue of IndieGoGo vs. GoFundMe.  GFM is the go-to platform for things like this. So why IGG? I think it is because there are few consumer protections against fraud that GFM was specifically designed for. IGG is great, but this is not what it was meant for.

The Suit vs. What the fundraiser page says

The suit covers a trademark dispute.  The IGG pages leads you to believe that they are also going after Wizards to get the language on the DirveThruRPG/DMSGuild pages changed.

Extra delusional

Keep in mind that NotTSR has no legal leg to stand on here. WotC owns those products lock, stock, and barrel. They can do whatever they want to their own products.

I said it 18 months ago, and I revisited it 6 months ago, but those disclaimers are not coming down. It doesn't matter what the older, tiny subset of fans, many who also claim never to buy the products, want.  If anything it increased the sales.  Do you honestly think Oriental Adventures was going to go to Mithril seller on its content alone?

NotTSR and LaNasa do not have that sort of power. Not even if their Fundraiser ran at its current levels for the next 10,000 years. 

Libel and Slander?

Good thing that this wasn't in the actual suit.  This is a perfect example of someone not knowing what the legal terms Libel and Slander actually mean. I would even argue that LaNasa has MADE money since those disclaimers went up.  Also, WotC can also show that no harm has been caused to their own livelihood since they went up.   This is the weakest of all his claims. 

So what is the point of all of this?

Simple. I have talked to a lot of people that are part of the RPG industry and the overwhelming consensus is that is nothing more than a cheap cash grab.  It is a grift to get money from the old-school gaming crowd. 

LaNasa is promising the return of "old TSR" but not only is Old TSR gone, it is gone forever. The copyrights and IP are held by a multi Billion dollar company (Fortune 500 rank #494).  The principles and the creatives are all for the most part dead. The ones that are still alive have nothing but contempt for this cash grab.  Don't forget that "good old TSR" was not always so good. Gygax tried to screw Arneson of money he was owed (it was Wizards of the Coast that made Dave Arneson was paid finally, not TSR), it was TSR that fired Gygax from his own company, and it was TSR that threatened to sue anyone that so much as talked about D&D online back in the early 90s.   The whole "Make TSR Great Again" is a smokescreen for a blatant cash grab and to hide the fact they still have no products out.

I said what I said

Edited to Add: Here is a brilliant takedown of the complaint by a lawyer who does this stuff all the time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

These are the Soul Cages

I know I am running behind on this one.  Super busy at work and the last few posts here have been ones I have been sitting on for just this time.  But I am going to pause on today's scheduled post to do this one instead.  Plus the Internet is down in the Chicagoland area as of this writing, so I might as well do this.

Back on Halloween, the news came out that Pathfinder Drops Phylactery From In-Game Terminology. Instead of using "phylactery", It is a Greek word to describe the Hebrew word "Tefillin" which Jewish people will keep small scrolls of the Torah.  They have decided to go with the term "Soul Cage."

Maybe not these Soul Cages exactly.

As you can imagine the RPG folks on the internet freaked out.  Especially it seemed to me people that at the same time claimed they don't or no longer play Pathfinder, let alone Pathfinder Second Edition, the game, and the only game, this effects.

Personally, I find it confusing that so many roleplayers out there have so little imagination.

Nor do I even see what the trouble is.  So a company, Paizo, drops a term they are uncomfortable with.  THEY feel it is disrespectful.  At no point have I heard they changed due to a complaint. They did it as a creative choice.  Are some gamers now suggesting that a company can't change the terms they use to better suit their products/games?

No. This is fake outrage from the same lot that gets mad any time anyone decides to deviate from the holy writ of Gygax. 

Personally. I have been using Soul Cages for years. I was even talking about it with liches and succubi over a decade ago and as recently as this past year. I am likely to keep using them too. 

Don't like the term? Fine. Don't use it.  Want to keep phylactery? Fine, keep it. It likely isn't going to change in the game you are playing now anyway. But honestly, unless you are playing Pathfinder Second Edition, why do you even care?

Sunday, October 24, 2021

She Kills Monsters or "Is it 1982 again?"

It is not often that I bring my Atheism into my posts over here.  I mean in D&D my preferred classes to play are clerics, druids, paladins, and witches; all pretty much the exact opposite of my own beliefs (or lack thereof).   So my blog reading is fairly split between RPG blogs and Science and Atheism blogs. 

It's nice when they combine. 

Case in point with the latest "scandal" with the play "She Kills Monsters."

She Kills Monsters

Briefly, the play, written by award-winning Qui Nguyen,  centers around a recently orphaned girl, Agnes, who wants to learn more about her younger sister Tilly by playing the D&D adventure Tilly had written.  In the process, she learns more about her sister and Tilly's struggles with being bullied for being gay.  The play happens both in the real world of Agnes and the game world where Tilly was Tillius the Paladin.  People from the real world are also represented in the game world. For example, Tilly's girlfriend Elizabeth "Lili" becomes "Lilith" in the game. Cheerleaders are Succubi, and so on.

She Kills Monsters

This in and of itself is worth talking about.  A well-received play featuring how a young woman comes to know her late sister a little more and her friends from playing Dungeons & Dragons. It is sweet and actually wholesome.

So, of course, some religious asshole is going to have a problem with it.

Enter said asshole, Jeff Lyle, and his cult at Good News Gathering

I found out about his fuckery from Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist. I guess for "God" reasons, Jeff Lyle wanted the play canceled. Because that is what religion does.  And he succeeded.  Sot of.

Here is a local news report discussing it

It is 2021. Why are LGBT issues still being censored?  Why are Dungeons & Dragons-themed media still being attacked by the right-wing members of the religious community?  

When I say "politics" are an important facet of my gaming THIS is what I mean.  The optics here are...well EXACTLY what we have been seeing forever.  Some white, hetero male sees something HE doesn't like, especially since it is a.) female focused, b.) has magic /occultism/demons involved, and SHOCK c.) might have a LGBT character in it HE decides that NO ONE ELSE can see it either.

That's original fucking cancel culture right there.  

But, just like all great D&D games, when our hero is down the party comes in to save the day!

In this case, the "party" is a Go Fund Me page set up to take the play off-campus so they can still perform it.   As of this writing, it has raised $13,762 of its original $5,000 goal! That is great!

So yeah. If you have a couple of bucks and want to send the message that this is not the Dark Ages, nor the 17th Century nor even 1982 anymore, then give it to these kids.

The Go Fund Me is here:

Thursday, October 7, 2021

No, 5e Devils are Not Misunderstood. But Alignment Is.

why is this Devil smiling?
It's October and one of my favorite things to talk about are devils, demons, and all sorts of fiends.

You know what I don't like talking about? Alignment.  

Why? It is boring and tedious and so many people get confused with what is written down in the rules and what they understand it to be, or not to be.  And frankly, the conversations are never very interesting. 

Conversations about alignment in the pages of Dragon actually predate The Dragon and go all the way back to The Strategic Review.  Very little new light has been shed on the topic ever since.

So alignment has largely been one of those things I give lip service to because pulling out would make a bunch of other things break.  Like the spells Detect Evil or Protection from Evil are just two examples.  There needs to be something in place so they work.  Swords with intelligence and ego. Other magic items on the small scale and the planes of existence on the larger scale.

Most of the other RPGs I play don't have alignment. D&D is the only holdout.

I am not saying I don't want universal Good or Evil, or even Law and Chaos, in my games.  I do.  I want my devils to be evil, or even better yet, Evil, with a capital E.  Demons? I want creatures that make the Devils go "whoa, hold on there dude."  But I also have creatures Beyond Good and Evil.  Not just in a Nietzscheian way, but in ways that are unmeasurable and unknowable by mortal kind.   

So when the "new" publisher (they have been publishing D&D for longer than the "old" publisher) wants to try something new like say "Unaligned" or "Typically Chaotic Evil" then I applaud the effort.  When they want to do something really interesting like remove monster alignment altogether my response is "interesting, tell me more..."

But of course, there are going to be those that freak out about it and claim ridiculous notions that "Devils are no longer evil."  This is of course a complete stretch of what the D&D 5 team, and Jeremey Crawford actually said.  Plus the examples given are NOT for all of D&D nor even for the upcoming 5.5 or 5r, though they could be.  In this case, these only apply to the optional adventure The Wild Beyond the Witchlight.  

My 2e books list them as Neutral

Still Chaotic Evil
Still Chaotic Evil, 100% of the time

Will we see some of these ideas in the upcoming D&D 5 update? Most certainly. Will we see them all in this exact manner? Maybe. 2024 is still a bit off and WotC has demonstrated they want to take in fan feedback and the editing process is a pain in the ass.  Tasha's Cauldron of Everything dropped alignments (and they were not missed) Witchlight brought them back.  So obviously they are still experimenting.

This is nothing new.  We saw this in the early days of AD&D 2nd Ed.

Monsters and Alignment

Monsters and Alignment

Monsters and Alignment

But let's say for the sake of argument they drop alignments from all monsters.  What does that mean?

In 5.5/5r it means monsters won't have an alignment.  

That is the absolute sum total of it.  It does not affect my Basic-era-B/X-OSE games.  It does not affect NIGHT SHIFT games. And you know what, it doesn't even affect my current D&D 5e games. 

They are not doing anything terribly new or innovative here. Even by adding "typically" to the alignment they are still only explicitly doing what we implicitly knew or at least did anyway.

Devils will still be evil. Demons will still be evil. Maybe, maybe there will be an odd Devil that seeks out redemption or maybe even understanding to the point where they are not evil anymore.  Or not.  I don't care about redeeming devils, I only care how quickly my player's characters can put the fiends down.  

Seriously though the only people online complaining about this are people who loudly and often will exclaim with pride that they "never bought any WotC D&D and never will."  Fine. Whatever. It's ok not to like the newest version of D&D.  It's fine to prefer older versions.  But if you complain every single time WotC does something with D&D I am going to assume your hobby isn't playing D&D but rather complaining about it.

I am reminded of the Chicken Littleing that went on last year about Oriental Adventures and the big pile of nothing that happened after.  

Friday, October 1, 2021

October is Horror Month

RPG Blog Carnival
Hello and WELCOME to The Other Side.  October is a big deal around here.  I spend the month talking about horror.  Both in terms of horror RPGs, horror movies, and anything else that strikes my interest.

This month I am honored to be hosting my first ever RPG Blog Carnival.  Of course, I am going to be talking about horror and all the great things you can do in your RPGs.

All this month I am going to be talking about adding horror elements to your games. Whether you play D&D or Kult or Bunnies & Burrows, any game can have elements of horror to them.  I hope to give you the means to add these AND also provide you a place to discuss your own horror elements.

How to Participate

Simple. Write a blog post, vlog, social media post, tweet, or what have you.  The topic can be about horror, about adding horror elements to a game, or even as simple as what you are going to do for a Halloween game.  Have a scary RPG-related story? Post it and post the link below!

I do have Comment Moderation turned on to help keep the spam out, so if you don't see your post just give me a bit and it will show up.

Come back here all month long to see what others are posting and linking here.

Come back to my blog all month long to see what I am posting as well!

Here's the Spookiest month of the year and my favorite time of the year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Six Million Hits Man

At some point earlier this morning I hit a new milestone; 6 Million hits.

6 Million Hits

I was not expecting this until sometime tomorrow.   I had some ideas planned for posts, but they were fairly vain navel-gazing, and self-aggrandizing. So instead let me just thank everyone for coming back all these years and reading my strange little corner of the internet.

Still, it is a nice milestone to hit. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

#FollowFriday: Ginny Di

It's Ginny Di!
I gotta admit I love the shirt!
Kinda burned out on Kickstarter right now.  So it's another #FollowFriday!

I will admit, I adore Ginny Di.  She has unbound enthusiasm about D&D and all things related.  I know she is young enough to be my daughter and I have characters older than her, but I still think she is great.

It is so refreshing to come to her Twitter or YouTube pages and see how excited she is over something D&D-related.  I'll read the posts or blogs of some of my contemporaries and wonder when the fun died in their lives leaving them as bitter old husks.

Plus she seems to irritate the right people, so that is a bonus all on its own. 

The fact that she also loves her witches has almost nothing to do with it. Well...maybe a little. 

I have already posted about her or her projects in the past.

This week Ginny is back with Morelia the Wood Witch in a POV roleplay. It is a fun little bit video, but it really helped me cement the idea that Morelia would be a great NPC in my War of the Witch Queens. 

Content Warning to Bitter Old Grogs Who Are Dead Inside: The video features a shop where an NPC Witch SELLS POTIONS! Gasp, the Horror! The audacity! The cheek of it all! 

Anyway. She is fun. She is funny. She has a ton of enthusiasm and I think she is great. In fact, I even sought out items she has been sponsored by at Gen Con because she made them look really fun.

So check her out. If you don't like her ask yourself, when did I die inside?

Ginny Di online

Give her a follow or a like or something.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Seasons Change...

But I am still here doing what I do! 

Today is the Autumnal Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere and the Vernal Equinox for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. 

For me, this brings the march to darkness and of course my favorite time of year.  The spooky season of Halloween.

And do I have a lot in store for you all this year!  Starting off with a couple of hosting I am doing all October.

October Horror Movie Challenge

I have been doing the October Horror Movie Challenge n for years now.  I just got a new DVD in the mail today of one I have been searching for forever so I thought today would be a good day to announce that this year I am hosting my own Horror Movie Challenge.  

I am not doing anything wildly different than in previous years, and I am largely following the rules as set out by Krell Laboratories.

You have 31 days, October 1st to October 31st, to watch 31 Horror movies. At least 20 of these need to be first-time views.  

Currently, I am working on my list of movies.  I wanted to do a Lovecraft film fest.  But I am finding that there are quite a few Lovecraft-themed movies I just don't have access to.  So I am going to expand my list a bit.

I have even created a new banner image to use.

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

If you want to copy this to your own posts then here is the HTML code!

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" target="_blank"><img alt="2021 October Horror Movie Challenge" border="0" data-original-height="687" data-original-width="563" height="400" src="" title="2021 October Horror Movie Challenge" width="328" /></a></div>

Just copy and paste that into the HTML editing window of whatever you are using to post.

But that is not all that is happening here. 

RPG Blog Carnival
RPG Blog Carnival

This October I am also hosting my first ever RPG Blog Carnival.  This October will be all about Horror in RPGs.  So kinda what I like to do anyway, but now you can join me.   I will have an official post going up on October 1st for you to see all the details and link your blogs/vlogs/social media posts back.

You can check out the details at Of Dice and Dragons the home of the RPG Blog Carnival.

I plan to talk a lot about horror and how you can use it in your games.  I am also going to spend quite a bit of time with other horror games and how they can be mined for ideas.

Once again October is going to be a very busy time here.  Hope you all join me!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Where I Stand

Lots of talk about lists. Red ones, Green ones, Yellow.  Talk about Neutral zones or somesuch.

While it should be obvious I'll restate it for those in the back.

Statement by The Other Side

Adjust your buying preferences accordingly. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 31 Thank

RPGaDAY2021 Day 31

This one might be the easiest one in the series.

Day 31 Thank

I want to thank everyone that read my posts, posted replies, and interacted with me on Social Media. 

I also want to thank Dave Chapman for doing this every year.

Thank everyone.  Now I turn my sights to October and Halloween!


Monday, August 30, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 30 Mention

RPGaDAY2021 Day 30

Almost to the end!

Day 30 Mention

I thought I might mention some D&D-related content I am looking forward to.

From Wizards of the Coast

Some great-looking books coming up.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight reminds me a bit of the Ravenloft Carnival product for 2e. Likely that is how I am going to use it.  Love the idea of a traveling carnival from the Feywild.  Plus the chance for the return of Warduke, Kelek, and Skylla?  Yeah, sign me up!

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons.  Ok, I am not looking forward to this one per se, but I am looking forward to seeing my oldest, dragon-loving, son get it.  Though it does look like it has a lot of cool things in it.

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. Seriously. How could I know be excited about this one? 

From Goodman Games

Original Adventures Reincarnated #6: Temple of Elemental Evil. I never played or ran the ToEE back in the day. I have planned on using it as the penultimate adventure for my D&D campaigns when they all end.  This two-volume set looks fantastic is exactly what I need for my campaign.

So yeah. I am sure there is more, but these are the ones on my mind right now.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 29 System

RPGaDAY2021 Day 29

We can see the end from here!

Day 29 System

I feel today is going to be a lot about what sort of game system people prefer. Things like "d20" or "BRP" or a favorite of mine, "Unisystem."

Those are all good choices.  But today I want to talk about one that might not yet be yours or anyone's favorite. Not yet anyway.

Today I am going to talk about O.G.R.E.S. and a little bit about O.R.C.S.

The "S" in both stands for "System," so it is redundant to say "O.G.R.E.S. System" or "O.R.C.S. System" just O.G.R.E.S. and O.R.C.S. is fine. 


O.G.R.E.S. stands for Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System.  It is the system that powers NIGHT SHIFT.  It sits somewhere between the "rulings not rules" freeform of OD&D and the simple mechanics of d20.  The end result is something that feels very familiar and new at the same time.  

O.G.R.E.S. features three main subsystems as described by my co-author and designer Jason Vey. They are:

  • Percentile checks
  • d20 checks
  • The Rule of 2

The first two are likely self-explanatory, but here is Jason explaining all three in detail.

Percentile checks are used to check anything that requires a straight probability. Some class abilities use percentile checks (thief skills, for example, and the ranger's tracking). Other class abilities (the druid's nature lore ability) simply work. For the most part, however, any class ability requiring a check will use percentile dice. Also, just about every table in the game (with a few exceptions) uses a percentile roll.

d20 checks are used for anything combat-related. To hit rolls, saving throws, and turning undead are rolled on a d20.

The rule of 2: this is my name for a sub-system in D&D that has never been precisely codified, but is buried deep in the bones of the game. Any time a situation needs to be adjudicated in D&D for which there is not another system, throw a die, and on a result of 1 or 2, it happens. Listening at a door (and not a thief)? You hear noise on a 1 or 2. Looking to notice a secret door (and not a dwarf or elf)? Roll a d6 and you find it on a 1 or 2. Surprise? 1 or 2. The only thing that changes, for the most part, is the type of die--rangers, for example, use a d8 surprise die--and some character types may adjust the probability (elves noticing a secret door without searching is a 1 on a d6).

Three very simple subsystems.  Of course, all of these can be reduced to d% rolls.  But really it is all simple.  That is the point. In a game like NIGHT SHIFT action can happen very fast and you don't want a system of dice rolling to get in the way.

There is a hierarchy here of sorts.  Most things will be a d%, followed by combat-related actions with a  d20, and finally the Rule of 2. For everything else.

The Night Companion will expand on this and give you more options for play.


O.R.C.S., or Optimized Roleplaying Core System, is the new version of the system that powers Spellcraft & Swordplay.  This system is heavily inspired by OD&D and other old-school play styles.

The core of O.R.C.S. is the 2d6 task resolution.  Much like the earliest form of D&D BEFORE the d20 was introduced.

Everyone talks about how Swords & Wizardry is the closest thing to OD&D, but they obviously have never played Spellcraft & Swordplay!

I am hoping we will see a lot more of O.G.R.E.S. and O.R.C.S. in the future.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 28 Solo

RPGaDAY2021 Day 28

One of the things I have never really been able to do to my own satisfaction is Solo play.

Day 28 Solo

The idea of solo play is one that does go back to the earliest days of RPGS.  For example, there are plenty of Tunnels & Trolls adventures that are for solo play.  The infamous introductory adventure with Aleena in the Mentzer version of the D&D Basic Red Box is another example.

I had a few of the Endless Quest books, but mostly I got bored with them very quickly.  I tried playing the various Zork games from Infocom (yes including "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" game.  No. I never got the Babel fish.)

Back in the 80s my High School DM and I spent a lot of time programming a BASIC (as in the computer language) AD&D combat simulator.  We could load up to 10 characters and 10 monsters (of an unlimited number on disk) to fight.  It worked out rather nicely.

There are now much better D&D experiences in terms of software that can be enjoyed as a solo player but for me they suffer from the same issue that Tunnels & Trolls did/does.  Nothing can beat the interaction of others.

I suppose if given the choice of an online game with others using just web meeting software (like Zoom) vs a really interactive video game that is as close to D&D as you can get. I'll take the online game.   Not that I don't like video games, they are just not the experience I want when I want to play an RPG. DragonAge and Skyrim feel the closest to me. 


Friday, August 27, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 27 Fraction

RPGaDAY2021 Day 27

This one took a lot longer to write than expected, and sadly, not one I really wanted to write.

Day 27 Fraction

I love doing blog challenges, blog hops, and themed posts.  It gives me something to look forward to, something new to write about, and it lets me interact with others that I might not be interacting with or even knew before.

Sadly. I am also only getting a Fraction of the interaction here. 

My Twitter posting is way up and my interactions there have increased by about x3 to x4 in this month.  But here? Sadly crickets.

I am not sure why that is, to be honest.  I know there is a faction among the RPG bloggers that hated the April A to Z.  Again it was something I enjoyed, but I saw the drop in interactions and in daily visits. 

It is disappointing. I want to keep my regular readers happy. I also want to expand my reader base.  Interactions from both help me write more and maybe cover topics I might not otherwise cover.

So help me out here.

Do you like these social-media-wide themed months like this and the April AtoZ?

Do you like my other themed months or weeks like I did with BECMI in June 2020 or Troll Week or my week with Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft?

Let me know!


Thursday, August 26, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 26 Origin

RPGaDAY2021 Day 26

I had some ideas for Theory, but none of them really took shape.  So instead I want to talk about Origin. In particular the Origin of NIGHT SHIFT.

Day 26 Origin

Come back with me if you will all the way to 1995-1997.  I had just gotten married, moved into a new house, and was working on my first Ph.D.  Life was pretty good.

That is except on the RPG front.  I was so burned out of AD&D and D&D, approaching my 20th year of gaming with something akin to apathy really.  I had been enjoying all the things the Internet had to offer me in terms of connecting with other gamers, but the games themselves had left me a bit less than thrilled.  TSR was busy at the time going after any website or group that even mentioned "D&D" so my tastes were beginning to sour.

By 1999 I was more or less ready to give up on D&D, plus I had a kid on the way and thought that I would never get the chance to play much (hahahaha!).  Then along came C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG.  I have recounted that tale before, but something in that book reignited the spark that had been dying. WotC and the OGL would further fan those flames, but that is still a bit off from here.

WitchCraft was the perfect game for me.  It did everything I wanted and it did them perfectly.  That is except for the things that D&D did perfectly.  I hung out on the Eden Boards and there I met Jason Vey.  He was coming from a similar background as me; we both loved WitchCraft and old-style D&D.  But we also enjoyed a lot of new games too.   From here we worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer together.  Jason would go on to do a bunch fan-created works for both Unisystem and D&D and later d20 and then go on to work on All Flesh Must Be Eaten and Castles & Crusades.  I'd go on to do my various witch books, a lot of Unisystem conversions, and move on to working on Ghosts of Albion

A look over our fan-made and published works it would seem that NIGHT SHIFT was fairly inevitable. 

I recall working on a "Monster Manual" that I still have on my hard drive where I took all the creatures from the AD&D 1 Monster Manual and converted them to Unisystem.  Both Classic and Cinematic.  If you are thinking that the seeds of my current "Basic Bestiaries" also began here you would be correct.

NIGHT SHIFT began as a conversation. One according to Jason, but I recall a few different threads that came together.   The first was Jason pointing out that Level/Class builds, like in D&D, can be every bit as flexible as point-buy ones, like in Unisystem.  He was mostly talking about his own Amazing Adventures, but I was also thinking about in terms of the various OSR games.  BTW, you can do both now in NIGHT SHIFT thanks to the Night Companion.

The next conversation was the two of us talking about all these ideas we still had for various games, regardless of, or divorced from, their systems.  Eventually, we decided that we should be making this game with these ideas.

For me, the origin was one of pragmatism.  I wanted something to fit the "Buffy-shaped" hole in my life.  Not just in terms of fandom, but yes that, but also in terms of system.  The same can be said of "Ghosts of Albion."  I LOVE the work I did on both of those games and I am proud of it.  But neither game is completely "mine."  Buffy has also sorts of baggage attached to it now that people are finally seeing what a douchebag Whedon was and is.  "Ghosts" for as much as I love it will never see another printing, no supplements, no new material.

NIGHT SHIFT is my game. It is Jason's too. And as I always say, once YOU buy it then it is YOUR game too.  But it is a game I can love unconditionally and support without worry or feel like I am investing in a sunk cost. I have D&D 4th Edition for that.

If you go through NIGHT SHIFT and have been reading this blog then you will see where things in the game got their origins.  Read Jason's blogs and you will see where other things in the game got their origins as well. 

NIGHT SHIFT is a new game, but its origins go all the way back to the turn of the Millenium and before.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 25 Welcome

I thought it might be nice to Welcome new readers to the NIGHT SHIFT.

Day 25 Welcome

I have picked up a few new readers so I thought it might be nice to welcome them to my blog and to my game NIGHT SHIFT.

Right now NIGHT SHIFT has a Kickstarter for the first supplement, The Night Companion.  This book adds new classes, monsters, magic, species, point-buy characters, and more.  

But what is NIGHT SHIFT?

NIGHT SHIFT is a modern supernatural/horror RPG.  The system running the game is called O.G.R.E.S., or the Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System.  It is a system that should be familiar to many since it is derived from the d20 SRD in an old-school, or even OSR, fashion.  So if you played D&D in the 70s or 80s you will find a lot here that feels familiar.  But the system is only half the picture.


The genre of NIGHT SHIFT is modern supernatural horror.  Written by myself and Jason Vey, this RPG combines everything we know and have worked on over the 30+ years we each have in the RPG writing industry and 20+ each writing professionally. Games on our collective CVs include, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Army of Darkness, Night Bane, Ghosts of Albion, Amazing Adventures, Spellcraft & Swordplay, the Witch, Castles & Crusades, Ravenloft, and more. NIGHT SHIFT takes all these experiences and distills them down to what we hope is the most enjoyable RPG we have ever worked on. 

NIGHT SHIFT has a genre but no default setting. This way you can create your own world to play in.  We DO however provide you with four different "Night Worlds."  These are places to set your game in an move on from there.  These include Jason's "Veterans of the Supernatural Wars" (the closest we get to a default setting) and "The Nocturnumverse" based on his campaign of something like 20 years or more. I also provide my "Generation HEX" a world where magic has come back and it only rests in the hands of tweens and teenagers, to "Ordinary World" where everyone is some sort of supernatural creature trying to get by in a world full of humans that would rather seem them all dead.

So give our game a try.  We think you will enjoy it. 


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 24 Translate

RPGaDAY2021 Day 24

Heading into the back end of the challenge. What do we have for today and how does it relate to NIGHT SHIFT?

Day 24 Translate

Continuing on the ideas in Simplicity and Substitute, I often try to Translate material from one game system to another for different sorts of experiences. 

In many ways, the ultimate representation of this is NIGHT SHIFT.

NIGHT SHIFT began as a way to take something my co-author Jason and I loved; the games we worked on and played back in the 1990s and early 2000s and translate it to a rule system we also loved.

The simplest way to describe NIGHT SHIFT is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Basic D&D rules" but that doesn't really capture all of it.

In the 1990s my game world of choice for AD&D 2nd Ed was Ravenloft. I loved the horror elements, I loved the trappings of Gothic Horror, and I loved that I could bring in characters I have been playing for years over to it.  The Masque of the Red Death Gothic Earth supplement was a dream come true since it also brought in my beloved Victorian era.   It was perfect...almost.

Near the end of the 90s I was getting really burned out on D&D.  Thankfully I had discovered C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG.  Here was yet another "Gothic Earth" only this time coming at from a different angle.  I loved it.  Of course, as the supplements for WitchCraft were released I thought of many ways to "translate" Ravenloft over to WitchCraft.   In a way, I got my wish and wrote Ghosts of Albion.  A horror-soaked Earth, in a Victorian setting.

Still as perfect as I think WitchCraft and Ghosts of Albion are, they still didn't give me something.  Sure it was a minor thing, but there was still something I was looking for. 

Jason did something similar.  While I went for the themes I wanted, he took the Unisystem rules found in WitchCraft and went a different direction with Dungeons & Zombies; a way to translate D&D experiences and adventures into Unisystem.  Like myself, he also had a few "fan" based products.

We really have been dancing around NIGHT SHIFT for decades.

I wanted a game where I could translate anything I have done over the last 30+ years to a single game system.  I feel NIGHT SHIFT does this.

Don't forget our Kickstarter going on right now for The Night Companion.


Monday, August 23, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 23 Memory

RPGaDAY2021 Day 23

The natural choice here is to talk about a great RPG memory.

Day 23 Memory

I will admit I have a lot of really great RPG memories.  Here are a couple of highlights.

Getting My Hands on the First Monser Manual

It seems only fair to start with my first D&D memory, and indeed my first any RPG ever memory.  The first time I held the AD&D Monster Manual was a defining moment. Here I became introduced to the game that so many of us love.  I can remember afterward riding my bike around the neighborhood thinking about it and what the game was. I had no rules yet, the copy of Holmes Basic had not made it its way to me just yet, so I could only imagine what this game could be like. 

Summers Playing D&D/AD&D

As much as I would have LOVED the connection to the world via the Internet we have today (and believe me I tried with my little TRS-80 Color Computer) I am also glad I got to spend all my summers in the 80s playing D&D.  First D&D with a group of kids from Jr. High and then and another, semi-related group, in High School with AD&D.  The cut off there was not perfect, I remember we mixed a lot of Holmes and Moldvay Basic with AD&D, but these are the broad strokes.  I can still remember fighting Liches, getting trapped in the A Series, and battling the "Queen of the Succubi" in Jr. High. Later moving on to bigger things in AD&D in High School.  Oh, there was my short live Atlantis campaign in College before moving on to Ravenloft/2nd Ed but none of those lasted as long as my misspent youth in the 80s. 

Teaching My Kids to Play

One of my greatest joys and successes in life is getting to be a dad.  Honestly every other achievement I have made and am proud of takes a back seat to this one.  So teaching my kids to play was one of my greatest joys and memories.   The look on my oldest son's face when he would hit a monster, or better yet, roll a "20" and proudly proclaim "DOUBLE DAMAGE!" or just the wacky character my youngest would come up with was pure joy.  I taught them both using D&D 3rd edition and now we all play 5e.

It has truly been fantastic. 

I also have some great memories of various Cons I have played at over the years.  The time the guy playing an Occult Poet composed an epic poem on the spot, the time my son's character plunged the Sun Sword into the Forge of Moradin to re-ignite the Sun,  the time I got to play Piper in a Charmed game.  All great memories. 


Sunday, August 22, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 22 Substitute

RPGaDAY2021 Day 22

Related to yesterday, in my desire for systems that "get out of the way" I often substitute a rule from one game for another.

Day 22 Substitute

When I write a supplement or a core rule book I assume that people are going to play it more or less as written.  At least that is, one time.  After that I make no assumptions of how someone is going to play something.  Generally speaking, I also don't play things rules as written.  I am always substituting one set of rules for another.

In Post-2000 D&D skills are much better defined than they are in previous versions.  So I find when running an older version of D&D (say AD&D or Basic-era D&D) then I find myself often asking my players for a skill check.  To make life easier for all of us I will typically use 5e style names and tell them what they need to roll.  It moves the game along faster in most respects.

I am not limited to substituting one form of D&D for another. I will also grab ideas from other games.  I will for example allow a character to use a skill that is not tied to a particular ability.  For example, in Unisystem the skills are independent of Abilities.   So the Art skill can be tied to Intelligence for knowledge of a particular bit of art. Or use it with Perception to determine if a piece of art is a fake. Or with Dexterity to create a piece of art.  In D&D 3, Knowledge is always tied to Intelligence. But sometimes I let characters tie it to Wisdom if they came upon their knowledge via practical experience instead.  

And these are just for skills.  I use the Bloodied condition from 4e for some monsters in combat.  I use the conditions from 5e in old school games, and more publically I use the 5e size modifiers in almost all my D&D games now.

In some ways, though I still prefer AD&D 2nd ed, d10 initiative roll, but 3e-5e's d20 works roughly the same way.

What rules do you like to substitute?


Saturday, August 21, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 21 Simplicity

RPGaDAY2021 Day 21

When I first started in RPGs I was all about complexity and systems that mirrored everything, these days, I am more about simplicity.

Day 21 Simplicity

There used to be big debates in RPG circles, narrativist vs. simulationist.  Gamist was thrown in there as well. You don't see that as much anymore. Well.  You do, but now the focus has shifted a bit. 

This debate has waged on in various formats, various permutations, over the decades. But in the end, the one that wins out for me is Simplicity.

I like a lot of games. I like to read and play a lot of games.  I don't like needing huge volumes of pages to explain to me how to play a game.  Sure I understand the value and the place of supplements and "Splat" books, but the core needs to be simple and complexity for complexity's sake is not a value. 

AD&D is a great game, but let's be honest. The rules are a hodge-podge of systems that are largely unrelated to each other save in a post hoc fashion. The layout of the rules is equally poor. We learned it then because it was what we had and we didn't know any better.  AD&D 2nd Ed is better organized (sort of its purpose) but there are still bolted on systems.  Honestly look no further than skills and psionics.   Also, AD&D 2nd ed loses some of the charms of AD&D 1st ed.  Is the charm in the complexity or is the charm in our memory via "Nostalgia Goggles?"  Hard to say. 

D&D 3rd Edition did a bit of a better job of this. 5th Edition does a better job still.  Still neither are at the level of say WitchCraft, Ghosts of Albion, or even Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.

I am not trying to imply that simpler is always better.  For example, many of the Powered by the Apocalypse games are quite simple and none of them have ever really grabbed me.  In fact, I usually find them too simple.  

But for me, I desire to remove unneeded complexity for complexity sake and keep my games and my designs a little more simple.