Thursday, April 29, 2010

WOTC Lawyers Cracking Down on Posts at ENWorld?

From a twitter tweet of the ENWorld owner "Morrus" :

"Eeek. WotC has its lawyers send us letters about member posts now? I miss The Rouse!"

WTF? Hopefully he posts the letter. How stupid is WOTC? ENWorld is like the last bastion of supporters outside their own message boards. Maybe they want the entire message board content of the internet for their own as well.

I would suspect, if I had to guess, that it has something to do with people posting shit with proprietary WOTC stuff in it, like power cards or stat blocks of something they think they own.

Yet another milestone in the PR debacle that is WOTC

EDIT: I want to see the letter so we can see how far-reaching in scope they are shooting for. Assuming its some perceived Intellectual Property violation, their delusional megalomaniacal actions may affect blogs as well.

EDIT THE SECOND: From Morrus on ENWorld:

"I'll not point anything out directly, but there was a large amount of WotC's IP (direct from the books) posted. It has been dealt with."

You'd think a quick email to Morrus, without getting the Legal Dept. involved would have settled it? I'm sure he would have taken it down with a quick email saying "Hey man, there are parts of our books copied and pasted on your forum. Please take it down."

WTF? Like killing a fly with a sawed-off. The Corpo-Borg Assimilation is apparently complete.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I'm Putting Together a Network of Older Edition D&D Gamers in Connecticut

Due to a lack of gaming stores and other common gathering areas, its harder to find people to game with. Especially if you play older editions of D&D (pre-2e) or their clones. Whether your looking for a new player for your regular group, or just looking to get a pickup game, it would be helpful to have a list of potential old school gamers in your area.

I know there are various locations on the net to find people, but not every potential player visits or even knows about all the sites.

I've designated myself the keeper of the Connecticut list of older edition D&D gamers.

If you're in the Connecticut area, even southern MA or Westchester County NY, and play or want to play older (pre-2e) editions of D&D, send me your information.

I am looking at least for your first name, town, and email address. Send your information to me at Ill spend the week compiling an email list, and then send out the list to everyone on it.

Give me a blurb about what older editions you play or want to play, whether you want to play, DM, or both, and the days/hours you're available.

I'm going onto every site/list I know of to post the same thing, in order to get maximum exposure. If you have any ideas on where I should post this, please let me know.

I posted this at the locations below:;D_Gamers_in_Connecticut?sdb=1

TARGA mailing list

Pen and Paper Games = PM'd 160 gamers in CT. = PM'd 30 gamers in CT

spammed about 120 people on a local mailing list

Nexus = local yale gamer mailing list

Anywhere else that you can think of you post this?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday: Shatner and Mythology, 1989

I remember watching an interview of William Shatner on the old Bob Costas interview show "Later". It was over 20 years ago, on NBC at like 2:30 am, and was a surprisingly good show. Costas always did good interviews, and got his guests to answer questions I never heard them talk about anywhere else. I guess they figured shit, this is gonna be on so late no one will watch it anyhow, so I may as well say anything. Plus, Costas was always very knowledgeable about the guests, and didn't ask the typical questions.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I found the show. The part that stuck with me for 22 years was when Shatner talked about his theory on why Star Trek was so popular. He talked of Joseph Campbell, and the common mythology all cultures shared, and remarked that we have no real mythology in modern times. He thinks Star Trek may fulfill the need modern people have for a cultural mythology.

In the sense that mythology passes along values and lessons for a culture, I think he may be onto something.

All 3 parts of the episode are linked to below, and the portion on mythology is about halfway through the second part:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wacky Weird Wild Wednesday! Jimi Hendrix and the D&D Connection

Remember my Medieval Bard Rock Band campaign? (Click the bard dude on the right for more information)  Well, we played a few times and it was fun as hell. One guy plays a bard much like the Russel Brand's character "Aldous Snow" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Another guy plays someone much like Nathan Explosion from Metalocalypse. There's another guy who plays the halfling drummer, but like most drummers, you don't hear much from him.

Anyhow, during one of their first shows in the City of Freeport, in the orcish equivalent of Mos Eisley, the city guards assaulted the place in force, a riot broke out, and ultimately the place burned down around the band as they played on, like the guys on the Titanic.

As a result of that, there was an incident with one of the guards the next day during "questioning", wherein the Nathan Explosion character beat the living shit out of one of his interrogators, before being taken down by 4 others.

So that sparked an idea. The interrogator who got his ass kicked, whose name is Joe (for reasons which will become apparent later, but its not what you think) is out for some payback. After work hours, Joe is going to get a bunch of his friends together, off duty city guards mostly, and go kick Nathan's ass.

The attack will come in the blighted area of the orc quarter, where weird alchemical experiments left the ground unstable, subject to explosions, and other random magical occurrences.

The random occurrence I have in mind is a good old fashioned wild gate, leading here:

Guess what though? Joe an his cronies are right behind them.  A wild chase through all the spectacle that is Woodstock, the sex, drugs, sex, and rock 'n roll, and the sex and drugs.  Especially the drugs. At some point I'm sure I can find a way for them to ingest Acid, leading to a wacky trip in which they realize they need to get with Hendrix for a way out of there.

All the while, in the room as background music I will be playing the songs played at Woodstock on that final night, in the order they were played. (Though I may skip over songs, and I seriously doubt Sha Na Na will get any airtime).

The songs set an artificial time limit imposed on the group. They need to get to Hendrix for help getting out before he plays his final song, he being a master level Bard himself, able to access the Astral Plane with music if he wants to.  The characters will have to take up instruments and play with him, and roll good performance checks in order for the spell to work.  (Hendrix actually played the last set at Woostock).

All the while, they will be chased by Joe and his thugs, who manage to arm themselves with modern weapons, and they have to maneuver through the mud and rain, and the sights and sounds, while still tripping on Acid.

They may even have to fight Joe and his thugs through music, while on stage.  

Note the songs played in Woostock's final hours, as well as Hendrix' last song....

Check the lyrics, which may have to be changed slightly, but I'm sure the first part will stay the same...

Hendrix' parting gift to them, should the Astral Spell go off as planned, will be a flask of Acid (not the burn holes in rock kind), and about a pound of Pot, which they will find in a pouch later.

How's that for a first Wild Weird Wacky Wednesday?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Alzrius Has a Blog!

And just who the hell is Alzrius and why should you care?

He's the guy who wrote the most brilliant piece of satire I've ever read over on ENWorld, which I saved seconds before the tight-assed powers that be over there deleted it for all time:

Really Funny Comment on Joe Goodman's Post

He's a cool guy, with a lot of creativity. Check his blog out!


Terrible Tuesday! A Trap!

This trap is best used in a cavern/tunnel setting, where there are tunnels partially covered with water.

Picture a pit-trap covered with a few inches of slowly moving water. When triggered, the trap drops you 10-15 feet down, but not onto your standard spikes. Instead, the trap drops you down into a fast-moving powerful stream of water, 4 feet deep, which runs in a 5 foot tall by 3 foot wide tunnel. The stream flows through a metal portcullis, but there are spikes on the inside of the portcullis, facing in the direction the player is coming from. Splat!

The character who hits the spikes takes 2d6 damage from being impaled. Save vs. Wands for 1d6 dmg. Additionally, any player with less than 16 strength** cannot push his way back off the spikes because the current of the stream is so strong. The best he can do is get his head above water so he doesn't drown. As a result, an additional 1 hp in wound aggravation damage is incurred each round the character is stuck against the portcullis spikes. Spellcasting is, of course, impossible, and the portcullis is not meant to be lifted. It's buried into the rock. It will even be difficult for the characters above to hear the impaled character scream in agony, even if they get the trap door open, due to the roar of the fast moving stream.


** (AD&D versions of stats, adjust for later editions accordingly)


Political Correctness Run Amok re: Gencon's SPA

Gimme a break...

Get a sense of humor, seriously.

Scroll down to the bottom of the comments to see GenCon's official response, written by the WOMAN who came up with the idea in the first place.

EDIT to add:

As for the differences in opinion, I think it may be a generational thing, in combination with economic background thing.

As to the generational aspect, the older you are, generally the less political correctness took hold of you. The longer you've expressed yourself a certain way, and found certain things funny the less likely you are to change. There's a whole generation of folks (under 30) for whom political correctness is just the way it is, the way it always was, rather than something imposed on people by come tyranny of culture. I'm sure lawyers and lawsuits were behind it somehow, for some reason, in implementing some Human Resource department's BS directive.

The other aspect of it is economic background, in that those more likely to have grown up with parents who were white collar as opposed to blue collar, or who themselves work in white collar jobs as opposed to blue collar jobs, have internalized the PC'ness more, and adopted it due to constant exposure to it in their environment. It's become a cultural norm.

Me, coming from a dirty ring-around-the-collar blue collar background, (growing up in my house Archie Bunker was GOD), and having spent most of my life working with regular working class people, and being old for my age in my viewpoint on certain things, I thought it was funny.

There's wine people, there's the poseur "beer poured out of a perfectly good bottle and into a glass" people, then there's the can of Schlitz people. I'm more of a Schlitz kinda guy.

I guarandamntee you, the Schlitz people and the old fuckers thought it was funny.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Magic Monday-----First Post on my New Schedule!

To kick off my Magic Monday posts, I am going to share a new spell.

The inspiration for the spell came to me today while sitting in the dentist's office, on part 3 of my seemingly endless root canal, watching smoke pour out of my mouth from the drilling. I closed my eyes and retreated to my happy place of D&D, and Voila!

Level 4 Magic User Spell
Range: 120 feet
Duration: Permanent, or see below.
Save: Yes
Casting time: 1 round.

If the target of this spell fails its saving throw, all of its teeth instantly rot and fall out over the course of the next round. While this is happening, the target can't attack, and has to spit out its teeth in order to avoid choking on them.

Any bite attacks made on subsequent rounds by the now toothless beast have their damage reduced by half, if not more, per the DM's discretion. For example, a toothless piranha probably won't do to much damage, if any, while a toothless dinosaur, due to its size, will still do some crushing damage. Material component is something sweet, like candy, sugar or rum.

If the target saves, there is no effect, unless a material component of a whole onion is used while casting the spell. If used, the target, even if it saves, has disgustingly nasty breath for a week. Note that by "used while casting", it means that the onion must be completely consumed by the caster during casting, which adds another minute to the casting time, with the resultant side effects to the caster's breath for a day.

If the saving throw is failed by 5 or less, the teeth will grow back in their original condition in 1-2 months. Otherwise, the beastie will be gumming his food forever, or until he finds a set of dentures that fit his mouth.


Hope you liked. If you think it sucked, well, bite me. :) I blame any suckyness on the Vicadin and Smirnoff happy hour here at Casa de Joe.

(I still can't believe I committed to this posting schedule)


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Would better modules have helped 4e succeed more?

Beyond marketing, beyond retro-red-box look-and-feel gimmicks, I think the main thing that grows this hobby is people having a good time playing D&D, and wanting to share that good time with their friends. A requirement for a good time is a good DM. Not everyone is a good DM, and the are probably more bad than good ones out there. Especially at the early stages of their DM'ing careers.

I think that one of the greatest benefits of good modules is that it makes a DM better than he normally would be. This drives more fun at the table, which in turn drives growth of the hobby.

I think it's admirable of WOTC (God, it hurt my fingers to type those words) to actually reach out to folks and ask for help in their modules design---they wanted feedback on what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong, and what they could do better.


That being said, would better modules have helped 4e succeed to a much greater degree than it has? Or are the systemic differences from earlier editions the main drawback in getting people on board? What do you think is the greater detriment to 4e's growth? The lack of good modules? Or the system?

(BTW thats a great thread to read to see what people want in a module in general, just just 4e modules, for anyone out there who is designing their own for other editions.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

RPG Motivational Posters

There's like 500 over here

The ones below are some of my favorites...


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Skin In The Game

Lately I've been sitting here thinking about the fantastically creative blog network I am hooked into with you guys. I realized that I'm a guy with a lot of opinions, on most everything, and a long background with D&D. But as for creative contributions to the network, I don't think I've offered anything. Nothing to take back to your gaming table, or to spark your imaginations like many of you have sparked mine. The more I think about it, the more I feel like a leech, a talking head, a useless pundit of subjective opinions. I have no skin in the game.

Perhaps coinciding with my decrease in gaming lately, I feel the need to create something. Anything. I need to get the juices flowing, to express myself.

To kill two birds with one stone, and to check off some "Life's Resume" items as my 40th birthday approaches (May 23, for whoever wants to buy me an obscenely expensive gift) I've decided to make a commitment to creativity with the blog. To actually add something, rather than just talk about what's already out there.

Monday through Friday, starting next week, I will have a regular contribution to the blog, following a daily theme, repeated weekly:

Magical Monday: I create something magical like an item, or a spell, or something else you can add to your game.

Terrible Tuesday: I write about something to challenge the PC's, like a monster, trap, trick, puzzle, riddle, etc.

Wondrous Wednesday: I write about something weird, wondrous, wild, or whacky. Anything goes, no limits.

Thoughtful Thursday: I write about whatever is on my mind regarding D&D, RPG's, etc. This is the easy one, as I do it already with most of my posts.

Fiction Friday: I add a short piece of fiction to the blog. Perhaps the most daunting task, and the one that will take most of the week to do. But truly, its part of the larger goal I have.

Like many of us, I would love to be a fiction writer. I've always been scared to take the first step. Putting this out there in public, a commitment to doing it, will force me to do what I've been too nervous to do these many years---write, and see if I can eventually make a go at it full time. I don't expect the fiction to be that great, but I am throwing it up there as a challenge to myself, and as a request to you guys for feedback, so that I can grow to be better at it.

Anyhow, now that I've typed all this up, and kicked back a few shots of Capt. Morgan for courage, I guess its Game On!


New Fritz Leiber Collection Released!

As announced on The Scrolls of Lankhmar...



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wolfgang Baur on Kobold Quarterly Publishing OSR Material

I was recently offered an opportunity to review the latest issue of Kobold Quarterly. As I said before here, it is a fine magazine, and what they do they do well. Rather than say the same thing again, I asked the followed question:

"Hi Shelly, thanks for the free magazine. It's a good magazine, but it doesn't feature content for the games I am more interested in---older D&D editions and their clones. I know you had some stuff on Dragon Age in there, and that some of the other stuff can be converted over for older games. The thing I've noticed though, is that stuff written by older game players for older game players has a different feel, and reads differently. That could be totally subjective and complete BS in reality, but it just seems that way to me.

Rather than just say "See my last review on KQ and the one on magazines in general," I was wondering if you had any plans to have articles specifically for older editions like you have for the newer ones. Right now it's about 50/50 for 3.x-PF/4e right? Do you see yourselves going 1/3 for each of those, plus 1/3 for the older editions combined? Or are you leaving that to other magazines like Fight On! and KnockSpell and the various Boards and Blogs? Do you think you'll make efforts to get articles focused on Classic D&D games?

Also, can I quote your response in my blog?



Tonight Wolfgang responded with:

While Kobold Quarterly has the greatest respect for the Old School Renaissance, we've gotten maybe one query for an edition in that time period, and that one was for Tunnels & Trolls. We have also found it is remarkably hard to print material we don't have, and that readers haven't asked us for.

And frankly, I'd put the "Secrets of the Gelatinous Cube" article (from KQ#10) up against anything from the competition. It's classic D&D in every sense, by a long time gamer, and we hope to print more like it in years to come.

The OSR magazines do an excellent job catering to their readers, and it would be rude of Kobold to just barge in. I suspect that writers are submitting their classic D&D queries to KnockSpell and Fight On!, and that's fine.

We're not currently looking to expand to the classic D&D games, because serving up 4th Edition D&D, Pathfinder, 3rd Edition, and Call of Cthulhu already gives us quite a variety, and we'll continue to serve those flavors of fantasy for now.

If a great query comes along, I'll happily reconsider.

Feel free to quote me.

Wolfgang Baur"

I've not read issue 10 on the Gelatinous Cube, but I'm sure it was of the same high quality as the rest of the magazine. I think the folks at KQ are a class act, and like I said, its a good magazine. I wish them all the best.

Note: I copied and pasted Wolfgang's answer verbatim, but took the liberty to correct some typos in my email, so as to look a bit less retarded.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ever Notice Any Regional Differences in Playstyles?

I think it was Erik Mona who discussed this in a video I saw a while back, where he noted that in different regions in the USA there were different RPG playstyles.  Has anyone ever noticed this?  Either regionally in the US or globally in different countries?


Here's the link to the video, jump ahead to 9:50 minutes in it and you'll see what I mean by regional differences in playstyles.

The Post of Cool RPG Links Others May Not Know About

We all have those bookmark/favorites we save because they're cool, then forget about, only to rediscover them a long time later. We're glad we saved them, because they're hard to find again, and not generally known or talked about.


Here's one from me. A link to a index of almost all Dragon Magazine articles.

Got some?

New Harry Dresden Book--GOD DAMN!!!

I blew through it last night.  It is by far the best book in the series.  As the title implies, major Changes are afoot.  To talk any more about it would give away spoilers, so I won't.  But if you're a fan, get the book.  If you've never read Jim Butcher's Dresden books, WTF'S THE MATTER WITH YOU!?!?

Penny Arcade Plays OD&D---Maybe....

Some guy at Penny Arcade took his group on a D&D "Trip to Yesteryear" and played a game of S&W/OD&D.  I don't know anything about Penny Arcade, except that they have a convention, a comic---and a podcast that Wesley Crusher plays D&D on or something?  Until today I don't think I've been on their site.

I figure any exposure to the older games and clones is mostly a good thing.  What makes me wonder if about  this particular case is this statement:

"A sort of OD&D roller-coaster with all the twists and turns of old school gaming but minus the freedom and danger."

How you expose your players to something like a S&W/OD&D/Old School game, and not give the players freedom or place them in danger?  It's  like the difference between actually storming the beaches at Normandy or watching it on TV.

I don't want to get into a definitional war of "what elements make a game old school," but running OD&D without freedom of danger is like shooting a porn where no one has sex.

It sounds like he had good intentions, but if his intention was to really show someone how it used to be, he should show them 100%.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pics of Dave Arneson Gameday and my Castle Zagyg Game...

can be found here...

courtesy of Carlos A Smith (aka Truth Seeker @ EnWorld & CM).

I'm the guy the size of a house standing up (in the photo with the coke machine in it) with an intense look on my face, biting my lower lip, plotting the destruction of my group of players.

In Keeping With the Day...Resurrection Spells---How Do You Modify Them for Your Game?

What we do is assume each spell comes from the deity of the cleric who casts the spell, or whose deity enchanted the item giving the resurrection. Upon the spell being cast, the resurrectee is given a choice--either convert to be a devout follower of the God, or agree to one mission for the God, time place and nature of the mission unknown, and enforced by a gaes spell.

If it's an item, it leads to interesting complications if the resurrection came from an evil god. :)

We don't do level/XP or Con penalties.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Labels, the OSR, and Where We All Fit In

I don't know where I fit into it all. I mostly play a newer game, 3.0, in as old school a way as I can. We use most of the skills, some of the feats, but narrative combat, no minis or mats. We don't particularly care about most of the specific combat rules like attacks of opportunity, things that are dependent on knowing precisely where you are standing in relation to everyone else, and all the dumb rues like grappling, bull rush, sunder, trip, etc. We basically take a 3.0 ruleset and adopt some newer elements, but run it like an AD&D game. Its a lot like the D&D with Pornstars game.

At the same time, my heart being with AD&D, I've run a couple games under the TARGA banner to spread the word about older games, most recently in NYC using OSRIC. Hell, I even raffled off for free a copy of OSRIC to one of my players at the end of it. I wanted to spread the word on the clones.

Am I old school? New School? I dunno. I do know that I don't produce anything for the scene by way of modules or rulesets or supplements. I don't post new rules, tables, charts, adventures, or monsters on my blog. However, I do participate in a lot of discussions regarding old school topics. I enjoy it. I find that my mindset generally lies more in the old school camp, but by no means am I a purist.

I know that participating in these discussions and reading these blogs has definitely helped my game, sharpened my skills and perspective, and helped me focus in on aspects of the game that make me a better DM and player, along old school lines.

As to where I fit in the OSR, let me preface by saying that I think that without the clones there wouldn't be an OSR at all. I think that what the OSR primarily does is bring people back to a happier simpler time in their roleplaying lives. The clones keep alive that part of their identity which others wouldn't otherwise be able to identify or bond with, if they were new to the hobby, due to lack of access to materials. It allows people's interests/identity to be validated by other people picking up the game and playing and liking it, allowing a shared bonding experience, which while not impossible before, was difficult due to lack of materials. That part of their identity which was withering on the vine, as less and less people could access and give a gamer validation and share their experiences with, is now growing again.

For many, there is hope that their kids, a new generation, can also play the game. I know I'm looking forward to doing that with my nephews and nieces some day. Rather than drag out my beat up red box, we can now use Labyrinth Lord or S&W, then progress to OSRIC, just like their mother and father and I did when we were kids. It allows someone to share their love of that hobby with someone else in a way that is fresh and new, vibrant and still alive.

For many older players, that's enough. It's a bonus that there are supplemental materials still being published, but truthfully for many what they have already, the classics, and their own imagination, are enough to get them by.

However, the new supplemental materials and modules give the OSR end of the hobby a breath of life, which was not there except in a few isolated places like Dragonsfoot, which was mostly comprised of people who never stopped playing older editions. It gives new players a sense that the game they just adopted is fresh and alive, rather than dead and isolated from the rest of the modern RPG hobby. I think the new publications and modules are essential for growing the gamer base to new player and DM's who have never played the older games before.

Then there's the other end of it, who are using principles from the OSR to go in different directions with modern gaming. These are the people who take principles from the older games of D&D and apply it to making new D&D games, or new games not related to D&D at all. It takes the core principles in older D&D games and uses them as a foundation to build new games upon, taking different directions than those taken in the 70's.

The OSR is primarily a D&D experience, though many people include Traveler, T&T, and Gamma World and other older games in the mix. If the R is OSR stands for Renaissance, in that old things are being rediscovered, then I don't see why it shouldn't apply to other games which are non-D&D, as long as they share the same basic core principles. Though there is some disagreement on what exactly comprises those principles, in the main I think we can all mostly agree that we can recognize it when we see it.

If you're going to talk about new games which have an old school feel, like maybe Hackmaster Basic and Forward to Adventure, then perhaps a different designation, while not helpful, may be needed for those types of games to set them apart and increase sales/market. That's really be the only reason I can think of to make a new designation though.

I think for many people, just being able to expose new people to older versions of D&D or other older games, and having the gamer base for those games increase so you can get groups to play with, is enough. For others, they want to be able to create and/or play new stuff for those games. Lastly, a third group wants to take basic principles and design new games based on older foundations. All of this is fine. All of this is part of the OSR to me.

As long as you're having fun, go with it. Don't worry about labels so much. All they really do is divide us. As far as classifying myself, I find I don't need to in order to have fun. Classification in this regard is more useful for someone to place on you, so they understand where you are coming from. It serves more of an outside designation. For most it's not necessary, and for some it provides an initial common frame of reference. But the longer we dwell on the designation, and the more we focus on the distinctions to that designation, the more we fracture and divide a group of people who have more in common that they do differences. This just leads to infighting, and division, and eventually a wrecking of what you set out to achieve in the first place.

Me, I'm just playing D&D.

(The above thoughts inspired by and culled from my posts on The RPGSite and the related to RPGPundit's latest blog posts.)