Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well. This sucks.

So many of you are getting the news today about Google Reader.
Google plans to sunset the application in July 2013.

And this for exporting your data.

I am not sure what I will do about reading blogs, I have grown rather attached to Reader.
I suppose there are many other cross-platform solutions, so I suppose I better start looking.

So what do you all use to read your blogs with?  I am on multiple computers and OSes.

ETA: Here are some ones I am looking at.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #56

It's August 1984 and White Dwarf 56 is on the shelves and newsstands.

I have felt that the last few issues of White Dwarf, and my reviews of them, have been in something of a rut.  So for this issue I think instead of dedicating time to the minutia of the issue,  I will instead highlight sections and talk about what they meant to me then and now.

Interestingly enough I am starting in the same place; the editorial.  Ian Livingstone (and if memory serves these are among his last issues) talks about the state of the British RPG hobby.  While in retrospect I can see what he is saying, but back in 84 England was this magical land where True Roleplaying games come from.  Even the best American games had English roots.  Or so I thought.  Imagine my surprise living in Illinois that Ground Zero for RPGS was just a couple hundred miles north of me.  When I got to college I heard stories about how Gary would come down to SIU to play D&D. The store I was mail ordering from to get rare items (like White Dwarf) was in a Chicago suburb I would later move too and stay for 10 years.  So my perspective then was one of an anglophile living in a town that was in the middle of a cornfield and not really based on any reality.  It is interesting though that reading this now I do still think of the British RPG market as being more serious.  I think this is largely due to White Dwarf itself.
It was about this time I was HEAVY into Doctor Who, so the FASA game was on my must have list.

Up next is an article about playing Ninjas in FRPGs.  In the early 80s everyone was obsessed with Japanese culture and society.  Though I guess ninjas never really go out of style. I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was (horrible I know) Oko-nishi.  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was bad I made him a half-orc.  It must have been around this time I made him too using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.
I am pretty sure that my half-orc ninja was not based on the cover of this issue.

Open Box switches to a new format. The games are now on "cards" like an offset window, self contained.  It makes it easier to see what you are reading and jump to a particular game, but the space economy is terrible.     The review I focused on was the World of Harn game.  It gets a 6/10.

A few more pages in we get something that was a feature of Dragon, the stating up of book characters.  In this case The Belgariad by David Eddings. This is something I do to this day. The issue then as now is that characters in books, movies or TV are not built according to the D&D rules.  We saw that a couple of issues back with Gandalf cast as a Cleric.  There is an ad for the books later in the magazine.

Up next is an interesting Call of Cthulhu game that takes place in the future on a distant planet. The Last Log is an interesting thing really. I was not expecting to see CoC used like this, but of course it works.  The creatures of Lovecraft's stories are more alien than demonic.    This very notion will be explored again and again till most recently with Eldritch Skies and Cthulhu Tech.
The adventure itself would fit in nicely with either of the newer products above and it was a nice bit of forward thinking.  Not so forward was the "dot matrix printer paper" of the layout, but hey.

We also get an AD&D adventure on an island.

The minis section works with the Cthulhu adventure (which some are used) and/or Traveller or Star Frontiers.

We get more ads in the middle of the magazine, similar to the style of Dragon including one for the new Dragonlance modules.

Fiend Factory seems to get back to made it so good in the past, really neat monsters.  This issue has monsters from the Planes.

An article on Tech in D&D.  For no reason better than "I don't wanna!" I never liked tech in D&D including black powder.

The newstand reports that TSR is releasing the Companion Rules. Finally.  I had moved on to AD&D at this point and was not a fan of the Mentzer books.  Now I am of course. Also excitement over the new Indiana Jones game that is due out.  An interesting bit about a new movie based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space is being made.  Wonder what happened to it?

Near the end we get one of the first of what I call the "classic" ads for MERP from ICE.

So in truth this is a better issue than the previous ones.  The common thread is taking the game you are playing and doing something new with them.  Maybe we are turning a corner here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kickstarter: Metal Dice

New Kickstarter brought to my attention.

Honestly it looks pretty cool and might be fun to have.  I'd get a Brass d10 for Ghosts of Albion to give it a steampunk feel.

Check it out and through some money at them.

GM's Day Sale: Last 24 hours

The GMs Day sale DriveThruRPG and RPGNow is ending soon.

We are in the last 24 (or 22 now) hours of the sale, so if there is something you really want and you want it cheaper then now is the time.

The GM's sale over at DriveThruRPG also extends over to it's sister site,
For sale are the various  Historical References for 2nd Ed AD&D, but good really for any version of the game. and DriveThruRPG

Just click on the links or banner above to get going!

Getting Basic

Getting ready for Palace of the Vampire Queen this weekend.

Got my books, the adventure and five (soon seven just in case) B/X characters around 5th-7th level.
I still want to stat up a witch character just in case.  Just need to throw some dice into that pile and I am ready to go.  I might make the vampire queen a witch with the Gypsy tradition. Mostly because I have had "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" by April Wine going through my head ever since I have started working on this.

Two copies of the adventure, Palace of the Vampire Queen.  Since it is 5 levels and I only have 4 hours the kids will get some rough maps.  From the previous survivors, besides the Queen doesn't mind unannounced guests...for dinner! (sorry. couldn't help it.)

Good, old fashioned dungeon crawl with empty rooms, treasure just laying around random monsters and the big bad at the end.  Gonna party like it's 1981!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Return to the Tomb! Part 2

Like I reported Friday I picked up the "new" Dungeons of Dread.

The format is the same as the new AD&D book reprints.  It is a reproduction of the S modules interior from the late 70s/early 80s.  Unlike the Realms of Horror, the 1987 compilation of the the S series, these are exact replicas.  The book has been re-paginated to accommodate the newer format.

The pages are a bit glossy and remind me of the newer D&D 4 books, like Tomb of Horrors below.

You might not be able to see this as well, but the print on the new book is darker and a little less clear.   The picture of the Aludemon was the worse example I could find.   It's not bad, just a little harder to see the details.

The portions of the modules that were "pull out" like maps, the visual guide to Tomb of Horrors and Expedition Beyond the Barrier Peaks and the new monsters and spells booklet for S4 are all bound in int he book.  The 87 Realms of Horror had it as a seperate booklet.

So what is the verdict?

Well it's mixed.  The S series were "my" modules.  These are the ones I ran in my group in High School and I recently had so much fun with them when I took my kids through White Plume Mountain and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  One day I will take them through the Tomb of Horrors, I have a copy for every edition of the game and certain the Barrier Peaks.  So yeah, I love these crazy ass adventures.
But this book is not the best way to the run them.
It's a great book for the 40+ year old geek that enjoys reading these things. I love that these books are getting made.  I also enjoyed the new introduction by  Lawrence Schick that gave some insight to the writing of the modules.

Honestly I think the best modern form of the old modules are the ones you can get from
I can buy the PDF for cheap and print out what I need.  Often I print out player's maps and I usually print out a page per sheet (not a page per side) so I can write notes on the blank backsides of the pages.   I can then through the whole thing in a 3-Ring binder with any other material I need (such as monster page from the Tome of Horror).

Still though.  I am still considering getting the others.  I know the A series is up next.  I never owned copy of the original modules so I might get that.  I have not seen the GDQ modules on the products page, but I grabbed the PDFs.

Still though. Tomb of Horrors in it's original 1st deadliness.  That's gotta be worth something. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Palace of the Vampire Queen

Next weekend my friend Greg is hosting a mini-con for his D&D group, the Streamwood Dungeoneers.  My son plays in his group every weekend, so I was asked to prep and run an Old School adventure.
Greg wanted to give his players, the Gen Con experience since none of us are going Gen Con or even Gary Con this year.

I had a bunch of ideas, but I wanted to play to my strengths.  At first I wanted to do Ravenloft, but that would take to long.  So instead I am going to run Palace of the Vampire Queen using Basic/Expert D&D and my Witch book.

I have been dying to run this since I first scored a copy about three years ago.
This is a classic adventure and has been talked about on various blog before. Here is Grognardia's take and a bit from Jeff's Game Blog.  To be able to run this in a Con like setting is going to be a real treat.

Since that 2010 post I have picked up another copy from Pacesetter (not sure if it is the same Pacesetter that did 1st Ed Chill).

The module is thin.  Not just in size but in terms of plot too.
I'll give the kids some background and I might develop the character of the vampire queen more using my Basic Vampire supplement (which is free by the way).  She is a self-styled vampire Queen in my mind.  So not Akasha or even Marceline.

But in truth it is going to be a simple dungeon crawl with lots of undead and a big bad at the end.
Just like like to old days!