Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Played My First OD&D Game This Past Weekend, in Celebration of My Turning 40

What better way to celebrate being an old fucker than playing an old game? :)

It was great!  I was able to join in Tavis Allison's Fantastic OD&D White Sandbox game with about 8 other players.  I was fortunate enough to join in their 22nd game session, wherein they finally got to kill the big bad guy at the end, the source of one character's lifelong quest.

First, the location was awesome.  It was in NY City, in one of those massive deli's they have there. It's like the size of a small supermarket. We played in the upstairs area, overlooking the deli.  The deli had damn near anything you can desire to eat or drink, from real cooked food, to any snack imaginable.  Genius location! 

Next, the game itself was neat.  It was a combination of the old Judges Guild module "Caverns of Thracia" and Moldvay's "Lost City" I think.  We used OD&D as a base, but Tavis devised a different HP system, similar to but developed separately from the one used in Carcosa, where HP are not fixed, but change from day to day, and incorporates physical, mental and spirit elements.  I have to admit I haven't mastered it yet, but that could be because the place sold keg sized cans of Foster's Ale downstairs.

Tavis is very flexible, and welcoming of anything. One guy showed up, and he was like me in that it was his first game with the group.  He announced he wanted to be a Faun (like the pan flute thing).  Tavis said sure, made up rules for Fauns on the spot with the guy, and easily incorporated him into the game with the rest of us. 

The group was comprised of a bunch of really smart and capable players, who looked to be in their late 20's -30's, who also were really nice guys.  None of your stereotypical social misfits.  I had a great time with them, both at the game, and afterwards at the Korean Chicken place with like 50 TV's in it, eating wings and drinking Korean beer.

I made up a Dwarven magic-user outcast,  beardless, skinny, bald, with like a 7 Con and a 7 Strength.  Rolling was 3d6 in order, so I ended up with a whopping 11 Int.  Tavis uses a different system for generation, in that he allows you to create a history which explains any odd special abilities you assign yourself.  My Dwarf spent all his time reading books, so never developed the typical Dwarven proficiencies with underground settings, so he couldn't detect secret stonework doors, etc. However, all that time reading allowed him to have a shot at knowing obscure languages.  He fights with a handaxe and a small buckler, when he absolutely has to, but otherwise uses a hand crossbow if needed and his spells won't suffice.

As a result of getting lost in the mines, and stumbling on some mushrooms which he ate to survive which put him in a trance where he had visions, he thinks himself a more true dwarf akin to the ancients, and it is his personal mission to bring back the Dwarves of old, who are like him.  As a result of that he publicly shunned the gods, and was kicked out of his city.  He takes the mushrooms now to gain a insight into certain things, if they work to get him in touch with the gods he feels he contacted when lost in the mines.  His magic is also affected while under the hour long trance the mushrooms put him in, in that the visions and hallucinogenic experiences he has bleed over into the spells in some random way, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.

Tavis didn't blink an eye at that.  Fuckin' cool.  At one point when I was going to use a Wand of Wonder while under a trance, which would magnify the Wand of Wander's already random shit to the umpteenth degree, he got real excited.  We never tried it out, settling on a saner plan.  Next time though...  :)

We got through areas of the dungeon, made alliances with werebears while I was out taking a leak, sweet talked the minotaurs into guiding us to an area where the minotaur king was, and had a blast.  I had no idea the minotaur king was the ultimate goal of 22 sessions, so when the group went nuts when he came out of the room and cast a devastating fireball to soften us up, it was exciting as hell.  Everyone upped their game and enthusiasm, realizing they would possibly be reaching a major climax of the whole campaign that night.  Many were near death, and all the henchmen were slain by the fireball (except for the henchmen Fabio and George Foreman, who were killed in earlier encounters with the gnolls and harpies, and the henchman George Foreman the 2nd who was killed due to an unfortunate fumble by one of the PC's.)

Eventually, with only one PC death (what's an old school game without a PC death?), they killed the big bad guy. It was awesome, as we all stood up, watching intently the key die rolls which would make or break the encounter, and determine if we would end in a TPK or not, which was very close to happening. 

Memorable lines of the night: (AS BEST AS I CAN REMEMBER THEM...)

Me early on:  Whats the goal of the adventure? Why are we here?
Them: Gold, treasure, and to kill the minotaur king/Beastlord.
Me: Why are we killing him?
Them:  Because he's the guy on the cover of the module!
Me: (thinking to myself, "I've found a new home!")

"In 4e its called Whirling Strike.  In OD&D it's called my 5 henchmen attack."  (EDIT---TAVIS' MEMORY IS THAT THE LINE WAS "In 4E you call out the name of your attack. In OD&D you call out the name of the henchmen who are throwing javelins."  I'll go with that, as my memory was beer-influenced...I think I got the spirit of it though.)

One player, when getting into deep shit talking to a room full of minotaur women all alone, looking like he was about to get his ass kicked, while separated from the rest of the group, generously said to us "I'm willing to break scene now if you guys want to do something with your characters."

When Tavis was trying to determine something related to harpy music in the OD&D rules, one guy pulled out Moldvay to see what it had to say, and was ridiculed with "You and your newfangled Moldvay rules."

Finally, when some slavic sounding tourists walked by and looked at what we were doing, puzzled, one of them said "You have 8 people.  You could be playing Bridge."

That's the joy of playing in a very public place I guess.  :)

Anyhow, it was a fantastic time, and I am so doing it again.  It was a great way to turn 40.

Judges Guild's Bob & Bill, A Cautionary Tale by Bill Owen

I picked this up the other day and it was pretty interesting.  I tells a lot about the early days of JG, and is full of personal remembrances and stories as well as interesting pictures and copies of letters and other documents.  It's also a eulogy/testimonial of sorts to Bob who had died right around the time is was written.  It's not that big, at about 40 pages but for 17 bucks the pdf download was worth it I think for anyone interested in the early days of JG, the PG scene, and the people involved in JG.

Get it from LULU here:


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

RPG Internet Post of the Week

Over on Dragonsfoot, in a thread where people are listing their most prized RPG possessions (sentimental, not in terms of cost or monetary value), one guy posted a cover of a homemade module he made as a kid in 1986 or '87. It's just awesome. And you know why without me having to articulate it.  If the whole OSR/Vintage RPG revolution can get kids to do this sort of thing again, I consider it a success.

Click to enlarge.



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Collections of Pictures and/or Sound Effects For Use in Your Games?

Does anyone know where to get good collections of these sorts of things?  For sound effects I was thinking of monsters growling, creepy eerie sounds, screams, medieval combat sounds, etc.  For pictures I was interested in actual photos or good artwork of real things, like old graveyards, ruins, cathedrals, underground passages/cities, overgrown forests, etc, which could be shown to players to give them a sense of how the area looks.

Are there any such collections out there?  Anyone care to share their own personal collections?  Even links to threads on boards, or blogs, would be helpful.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laptops Used to DM Old School Games?

Just wondering, other than for pre-game prep, does anyone who runs older D&D games (2e or older, or clones)  us a laptop to DM or play in a game?

Other than for pre-game prep, I can't see the need. 

If you do use one, what do you use it for?  What programs do you use?

Monday, May 10, 2010

If WOTC Breaks Up, Who Would You Want to Get What? Making the Best Out of a Worst Case Scenario...

The recent round of layoffs got me thinking:  What if the inevitable happened this week?  WOTC got out of the RPG business and sold off pieces of itself?  Who would you want to get what?

Greyhawk goes to Paizo, mostly because Erik Mona is there and he loves the setting, so will take care of it.  Plus he did what I consider the best GH resource ever, the GH Gazetteer.

Green Ronin gets the older editions of D&D to publish.  Paizo is already tied to PF, and has its hands full.  Green Ronin/Pramas would do a good job, and Pramas like the old school games, as proven by Dragon Age. Also, they know how to get books on bookshelves. I saw DA in Borders the other day.  They would have to vow to keep the core books of each edition always in production though.

Ed Greenwood gets all things Forgotten Realms, so he can go back and put out the definitive edition of the setting, wiping out all the crappiness he was party to over the last 20 years. I get it, gotta go where the money is.  But still, some of the world changing contortions the various iterations of the setting went through blew me away in their suckage.

Older modules go to Necromancer Games, as long as he promises to always keep them published. 

Newer modules get used for campfire tinder, as they suck ass anyhow. 

Goodman Games get nothing, because I just don't like Goodman's pomposity.

All executives at WOTC who are not gamers must work as snow shovelers in Siberia for the rest of their lives.

Anyone else?

More layoffs at WOTC? --at least one seems to be confirmed.

I hope they all land on their feet.  The only slight positive is that, although being laid off at any tie sucks, at least they didn't wait until Christmas this time, like they usually do.

In solidarity...Greg Leeds, WOTC President

Completely juvenile, but somehow very satisfying...

Seriously, look at this guy's background.


Diaper and luggage seller.

Here's the news link:



Saturday, May 8, 2010

Courtney Love: Last Bitch Standing?

I saw her on Stern the other day, and she is crazy as ever, even though she is off drugs (she says).  Anyhow, something she said took me by surprise.  In response to a comment by Stern on other female rockers, she basically said name then, that there aren't any, and she's the "last bitch standing."

I draw a clear distinction between rock and top 40 pop, so Lady Gaga doesn't count. With that distinction in mind, what other woman is still out there kickin' ass, rockin' on stage?

EDIT to add clarification as to what I mean by still rockin' and kickin' ass from my comments below:  Are they out there creating new music? Doing anything new?  Or just playing the same old stuff they've been playing for the last 30 years?  Are they creating anything relevant to today's music scene? Do they have new albums with new music that's still Rock or Metal?

(Yeah, I know, not D&D, but who cares. I've had some of my best "listening to metal/rock" moments while playing D&D anyhow, usually when deep into a hairy combat scene.)

Iron Man 2

Saw it.  Bleh.  Wait for it to be on Cable for free.  Save your money.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Announcing a Vintage/Old School RPG Gaming Convention in Connecticut!!

It is called Fal-Con, and will be held in Middletown, CT this fall. They are taking event submissions now.  It is focused on all Vintage RPG's, not just DnD.

I spoke with the person organizing it, and he seems pretty cool.  He was really impressed with GaryCon, and wanted to do something similar in CT.

After putting together my list of old school gamers in the state, I had the idea to do a East Coast Old School Con.   I figured there were two in the center of the country, with the North Texas RPG Con, and GaryCon. Seems someone else had a similar idea. A friend of his was nice enough to point me to this, the inaugural event.

With Middletown CT roughly a 2-3 hour car drive from 30 million people, I'm sure we can fill the hall.  My hope is that this becomes the premiere Vintage/Old School Con in the region. 

As of now there are no luminaries or guests of honor, and no exhibitors, just a bunch of gamers.  I think that's the way the event organizer wants it, the first time out.  A low key, low cost, all day gaming event.  Please don't let that stop anyone, luminary or not, from coming down for some Vintage RPG fun. 

I am going to be running at least one session of Castle Zagyg: Upper Works, and perhaps a classic module as well---I am thinking of running a Judges Guild one.  Anyone else interested?

Here's the link:


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Older Edition DnD Connecticut Players List Complete!

I was able to get about 20 people to respond, plus a lot of them said they would spread the word to friends of theirs.  Not Bad!


That started me thinking---for those of us who can't make it to Texas for the North Texas RPG Con, which focuses on older games, why can't we do something similar up here in our neck of the woods?  If we did a Vintge RPG Con here in Connecticut, it's within 2 hour driving distance of Boston, NYC, RI, and most of NJ.  That would cover, what, 30 million people who can drive 2 hours to spend the day?

We could have it focus on older RPG's and wargames of all sorts---Traveller DnD, Gamma World, Chainmail, Tunnels and Trolls, Chaosium stuff...basically everything RPG-wise pre-3e. 

Something to think about...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Decline of Man

What is good in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Modern man:  To only have to share my cubicle with 2 other people, to get an extra 10 minute break a week, and to have a day where you don't have to hear the lamentations of the copier breaking down again.

Don't you just wish sometimes that you could take a sword and carve out a kingdom somewhere due to pure badassedness?

D&D---The closest we'll get.