Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Toldara Tuesday] Some Preliminary Plans Revealed

This post has a list of observations I have made in regards to rebooting my campaign world of Toldara. The information here will serve as an outline and will give an indication of what to expect in future posts concerning Toldara.

Game System(s)
Shortly after the release of the 3E core books I started making notes for my campaign world; it was not long before I decided to share the design duties with my cousin and we added more information as time passed. We made the transition to 3.5E and eventually went to Pathfinder. Alex has done most of the tweaking in both of those systems.  I enjoy Pathfinder but I have gotten way behind on the releases and I also want to experiment with using some other systems to represent the world of Toldara.  I am leaving the future Pathfinder development of Toldara in the very capable hands of Alex.  The systems I am currently experimenting with include the following:

Back to the Dungeon! RPG : A neo-clone system that I have contributed material to the design.  It only seems fitting that I should write a supplement.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: For no other reason than the funky aspect of the game design.

Halberd Fantasy Role Playing (USR) - I like the fast and loose nature of the rules and I am just curious how it will handle stuff originally done in another crunchier system.

MicroLite 20: This greatly condensed version of the open gaming fantasy rules is of great interest to me. The "MicroToldara" rules are basically complete.  All I really need to do is add the Five F background system, a few classes, and then the basic world details.  This may very well be the first handbook completed.

Perilous Journeys: A skill-based fantasy game that is not a class & level system but is the spiritual successor to Lejendary Adventures.

Swords & Wizardry-Complete: I dig it because the complexity level feels about right on a match for the mash up of AD&D/D&D we used to play back in the day.  Hell, I might just do it all in B/X format...

I realize that there are six systems mentioned above for play-testing purposes.  What I aim to do is something similar to the character funnel from DCC RPG except through the process of tinkering with the different game systems I will be able to determine which rules set best suits my game play tastes.

The world of Toldara has always added four races to the core races in the rules - Anshus (a humanoid feline-like race), Karnin (a humanoid canine-like race), Oranian (a bird-like winged race), and the Slarn (a lizard-like race) - in addition to any changes to the core races.  I have been thinking about the races lately with an eyes towards trimming the list a bit.

I know that Alex added Goblins to the list of available player races in his Pathfinder campaign.  I have done the same in the MicroToldara version.  I am not sure the Goblin will be an option in any other game systems.

I am starting to wonder if any of the traditionally core races should be limited or excluded from the campaign. If one of them were excluded then one of the new races could take the place of the excluded race.  I am also considering moving the Oranians to NPC status due to their wings and flying ability.  

After getting some feedback and looking around at other maps on blogs or other sites I have decided to start over on the map.  I think the best way to accomplish that is by starting small and then expanding outward. The player characters will begin as novices so they really will not be travelling far for adventure.  The simple truth is that I do not need the entire world mapped out from the start.  A new map with the elements I want to keep will be completed shortly.  As the world information grows through playing in the world then the map will increase in size.

Starting Location
Of course, the map will start out with the town and the surrounding area.  I am going to keep it a limited area with just a short distance in each direction mapped out.  Basically, a size that will be big enough for the novice adventurers to explore with hints at a larger, more dangerous world outside of those boundaries. Things I want to use include the following:

town: big enough that it offers a useful selection of equipment and adventure opportunities but some of the "better" stuff is available in larger cities.  I am not shooting for ultra-realism but I want it to represent a decent size place with a large enough population where not everybody is acquainted with everybody and there are still surprises here and there.

caravans: the caravans will need guards due to raiders and this will provide some adventure opportunity in itself.
mine: the nearby mine will need laborers and will also be the nearest dungeon for the characters after some trouble starts up inside.

mountains: there will be some mountains nearby with caves scattered among them and if the characters go far enough into the mountains who knows what sorts of adventure awaits?

Some of the topics I am working on include a history of the realm and surrounding areas, a list of deities, some organizations, attempting to make coins unique instead of generic gold/silver/etc., and making notes as I think up other stuff.

More later....   

Saturday, April 12, 2014

[Steampunk Saturday] Progress Episode One: iAm Involved in Mystery

This is the first "official" Steampunk Saturday post.  I have posted steampunk content before but I am now devoting one post a week towards steampunk.  I have enough ideas to run with this for a good chunk of time so I will do this for the next several months at a minimum.  There were several web series that I posted about previously but I decided to take a look at something fresh and relatively recent.  After a quick search for "steampunk web series" this is one of the results.  It appears that they are only 3 episodes in on a scheduled 10 episode run.  For more information, you can go to Progress: the Series to read about the cast, crew, sponsors, events, and other topics. 

This episode begins with a short narration mixed in with the opening credits.  During this time the narrator informs the viewers that "it's 1888 and only the aristocracy has toilets but all of the empire has the internet". Then it is explained that "internet is a series of tubes" with steam coursing through them.  The steam comes from coal-burning furnaces that have to be maintained by immigrants shoveling in more coal constantly.  This makes for an appropriately dystopian setup for this story.  For the rest of the episode, a hacker is surfing the net  and breaking into several websites.  Upon further viewing the hacker stumbles onto a horrific event displayed on the web.

Progress does a superb job of setting the mood and atmosphere in this initial episode.  The visuals and design help bring the world to life.  They also throw in some modern internet references such as one character proclaiming that "I'm trolling" and the "Goggle Glass" device that makes an appearance.  Just imagine a steampunk version of Google Glasses and you are on the right track!  If you are a steampunk gamer, the best thing to take away from this episode include the immersion details and setting touches like the computer device that resembles a manual typewriter that shoots steam to open up a new page.  I did not have enough time to stat anything up yet because work was busy this week.  I needed to get this posted so I could get the ball rolling on my blog reorganization but at some point there will be SteamCraft stats for the appropriate stuff.

Enough talking - check out episode one below.     

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[Toldara Tuesday] A Fresh Start

This is the first post for the Toldara Tuesday feature I am adding to this blog.  I think you will find the concept easy to follow.  Any post with the "Toldara Tuesday" label will be connected to my home campaign world of Toldara in some way or another.  It could be presenting one of the new character races or monsters in a different rules system, a map related to a specific region, details on some part of the culture, or anything from a host of other options.  I had originally intended the first Toldara Tuesday post to feature some sort of rules information but I decided to start at the beginning.  I am simply going to state my ideas and goals moving forward with this post and then delve into the actual game design or modification beginning with the next post.  

I have been tinkering with the details of my campaign world, Toldara, for several years now.  Things have come and gone with each new update.  I am currently between groups - and I have been for some time - but I think now is the perfect time to do a reboot on the world.  The first thing I am going to do is let Alex handle the Pathfinder version.  He has much more experience with that system than I do.  I still think Pathfinder is great but he has a much better handle on the system.  I am going to focus my efforts toward assembling several less rules heavy versions of the player material.  I believe that three versions of the information will be the best way to go.  I will most likely use U.S.R. for a really quick set up.  I am currently working on a conversion to the Perilous Journeys skill based percentile system and a Back to the Dungeon version.  With just a little effort the MicroLite version could be complete.  Do not be surprised if a Dungeon Crawl Classics or a Swords & Wizardry: Complete version pops up also.  I will discover the two or three systems I prefer to represent Toldara by Tinkering with them.

I have gotten some feedback on my map and will be making some changes.  I will also be using some of the resources pointed out on ars phantasia in various posts.  My plan is simple with all of this.  I am going to keep what I like from the previous version and update everything else to better fit my concept of the campaign world.  It will still be based on my old campaigns with new stuff thrown in also.  All I have to do is find a group to help test out the stuff.  More later....         

Sunday, April 6, 2014

[Sunday Spotlight] ars phantasia

This post today is the first one to use the Sunday Spotlight feature and a short explanation may be in order.  The Sunday Spotlight is my chance to draw attention to something related to gaming that catches my attention; it is planned for irregular updating but could develop into a weekly deal.  I may focus on a blog, a single blog post, a new resource, a trend among the blogosphere, or something else entirely.  For this initial post I am focusing on an excellent blog that I stumbled on to by following a link from some other place on the web.  

There are plenty of gaming blogs out there to read so why should you add ars phantasia: reflections on fantasy cartography and game design to the list of blogs you follow and read?  The simple answer is that Tad Davis does not waste your time with diarrhea of the keyboard to drive up his post count but instead offers up posts of substance and insight that can improve your gaming experience. The first post I read there was Testing Out a new Dungeon Format and it immediately grabbed my attention because he detailed a method of writing up a dungeon for practical use at the table that could make your Dungeon Mastering time a little smoother. By using his format you can easily see what to read to the players, search results, traps, and encounters.  Granted, some prefer a different format style or to just wing it with minimal notes but the method presented there is clear, concise, and easy to use; I know I am going to steal borrow it for my own use.  

Although that one post is enough for me to recommend checking out ars phantasia for yourself, I dug around in the archives and found some other stuff of interest also.  Clicking on the Portfolio tab on the home home page will take you to a collection of his impressive cartography work with examples in a photorealistic or hand drawn style.  If you are interested in information on Hexcrawl Procedures you can read about the process used by Mr. Davis.  He also put up a post on Hexcrawl Resources with everything from inspirational reading, design & mapping, hex-mapping programs, drop-in adventures, drop-in maps, and miscellaneous information.  There is a tutorial on Creating Forest in GIMP that he originally wrote for the Cartographer's Guild a few years back.  Finally, Mr. Davis has also come up with an Alternate Armor System for the D20 Fantasy system.  This is something I have always wanted to do an "Armor as DR" system and he has come up with something that is far better than my attempts because it also has a method for wear and tear. 

In the spotlight on ars phantasia above I touched on several of the available posts.  That is just a small sampling of what is available.  Stop by and look around to see what you find.  There should be something of interest for just about any fantasy gamer.       

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Blog Update: Getting Organized

This post is just a quick update to inform all interested parties that regular posting will resume shortly.  I have had a few ideas about bringing some organization and structure to the posting here and I think I have found a decent amount of features to bring some focus to the topics.  I have come up with labels such as Steampunk Saturday and Toldara Tuesday to show what general topic a specific post covers.  Some of these features will be weekly while others will be sporadic in their use.  That does not mean that posts on those days will only covers those topics but it does mean that posts with a label attached such as "[Steampunk Saturday] Web Series Episode 1" will match the topic.  I will still make general gaming posts at whatever time.  I am not participating in the A - Z challenge this year but good luck to all of the participants.  I will see you all around shortly when regular posting continues...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Madness Obscure Game Blogging Challenge Part 5

I fell slightly behind so I decided to just go ahead and wrap this up in one mega-post of the remaining entries.  I do believe I am burned out on doing these daily challenges in one form or another.  The issue is not with the content - I like reading the answers from everyone else - but that I am just in the mood for something else.  Don't expect me to participate in these month long challenges for the near future.  I am sitting out the A - Z challenge also.  I may return to them at some point but I am looking for other subjects to post about currently.  Hopefully, my answers haven't bored anyone to tears so far.  Here are the remaining entries.

March Madness Obscure Game Blogging Challenge Part 5

17. Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?

I usually play fantasy but I do have a few favorites from outside of that genre.  I am going to go with Gamma World for the best high tech rules just simply due to that Artifact diagram you could roll against to attempt to discover the proper use of any technology found.

18. What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

The crunchiest RPG I have played would most likely be Champions.  I found all of the number crunching to be fascinating.  I enjoyed the level of customization available in the characters and their disadvantages, advantages, perks, power modifiers, etc. but I also hit the problem of having too many options.  While I enjoyed all of the varying possibilities I had issues moving from concept to final design.

19. What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?

I am completely at a loss on the answer for this question.  I am sure that I will think up something shortly after posting this on my blog.

20. Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?

I think the best answer for me would be Talislanta.  Regardless of what the ad says there are still a few races that would qualify as “Elves” but that is not the point.  Talislanta is truly unique and different from the myriad pseudo-Medieval campaign worlds available.  There are air ships, unique races, alien artifacts, and all sorts of other weirdness to keep you interested.

21. What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?

My answer is going to be Paranoia.  I thought it was absolutely great and it is one of the games I really need to purchase.  How fun is playing a member of a team full of “Commie Mutant Traitors” that are looking to find “Commie Mutant Traitors” while trying to hide the fact you are a “Commie Mutant Traitor” from the rest of the team?  If you get discovered and terminated you have six clones waiting to take your place!  Are all of them traitors? GOOD TIMES!

22. What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?

No doubt about it – RIFTS is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG I have every played and it is brilliant!  Sure, I hear some of you moaning about “Palladium blah blah blah” or “Kevin is a …” or “Don’t they send out C&D letters to all their fan sites” but RIFTS is awesome!  Come on, what’s not to like?  The setting is a world with dimensional portals opened up allowing all sorts of other dimensional beings loose on a post-apocalyptic Earth!  The last big standing human force of resistance is the Coalition States that people seem to love or hate depending on how they view them.  There is magic, monsters, steampunk, dinosaurs, vampires, alien intelligences, other dimensions, and a list of other genre mash-ups longer than your arm!     

23. What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?

I can not recall ever being in this situation.

24. What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?

Again, I would have to say RIFTS is the most broken game that I have tried but I love to play it, warts and all.  Sure, the rules can get in the way at times.  I think the best part of RIFTS is the setting.  I always make sure the setting and story over-ride whatever wonky rules issues may crop up.

25. Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?

I do not concern myself with this issue when I am picking out a game.  I am going with “no comment” or “non-issue” on this one.

26. What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.

Without a doubt, the old FASERIP Marvel game was a big hit with the old gaming group.  We converted a lot of our old V&V stuff over from that campaign and we liked the Marvel system so much that we used it for other genres.  I remember using the rules for G.I. Joe and Transformers and I believe we might have used it for other stuff but I am not sure.  Those are two folders of old stuff that I wish I could find.

27. What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?

There are numerous Intellectual Properties that I think should have an RPG based around them.  Honestly, many of those can most likely best be realized as a supplement to an existing game system.  Maybe I missed it but I would have thought a supers game featuring the characters from the various IMAGE COMICS would have been spectacular.  I used to really dig Supreme and Youngblood and several other titles such as Wet Works.  I would have bought an IMAGE COMICS based supers game on the spot. 

28. What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.

I have yet to use it but I am fascinated by the complete DIY philosophy in the F.U.D.G.E. rules.  It always fascinates me reading through that book.  I really need to get something done with it.

29. What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain why.

The OSR product I have enjoyed the most is Swords & Wizardry: Complete because it feels like the perfect match for the complexity level of the old AD&D/D&D rules mash-up we used to play in my old group. 

30. Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.

I am generally a “core book and adventure modules” sort of guy so I do not buy a lot of supplements.  I really can not give any constructive advice on this one.

31. What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?

I would like The Fantasy Trip to be brought back in to publication.  I never owned it but I have looked over all of the rules.  I would have liked to have seen a revised and updated TFT rather than the G.U.R.P.S. line.  In my opinion, TFT gets it done with a whole lot less clutter and I like that a

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Teaser Post from A Megaversal Miscellany

For anyone interested in my other blog, A Megaversal Miscellany, I have posted a teaser for the first article. I am nearing completion on the first draft and will continue on with revisions after that.  Whatever you read in that post or below is definitely subject to change.  For those that do not feel like following the link right now the teaser post is re-posted here.


“I remember when this whole mess started up almost a year ago.  There were reports coming in on the news about a case of cannibalism or some sort of ritual murder.  At first, it was just one report and then more stories started circulating on the news. A short time later the reports started getting even weirder. 

The reports started sounding like something out of a horror movie.  People were saying that people were getting bit and then coming back to life after they died – ZOMBIES!  As I heard more of these reports I couldn't help but think it was all a bunch of bullshit.  I mean, c’mon, everybody knows the media likes to hype up these stories to get all of the idiots out there glued to the damn boob tube.  I swore it was a practical joke by some college kids that just got way out of hand.  It had to be, right?

It didn't take long for me to find out just how wrong I was about this whole situation."

To be continued....


It is not much but I do not know how much I will change in the revision process.  This is just the opportunity to give a small taste of where I am going.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March Madness Obscure Game Blogging Challenge Part Four

March Madness Obscure Game Blogging Challenge Part Four

13. What horror RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

I have little experience with horror games.  I should have played Call of Cthulhu for no other reason than I was in the hobby at the time it was introduced and I tended to buy up just about every new role-playing game I came across at the time.  I probably should have played Chill at some point for the same reasons but I never did. I did not even participate in the Vampire: the Masquerade craze that would happen years later. 

The one horror game that caught my eye during a visit to the game store was Nightlife. I do not remember a whole lot about it except that it was a game featuring monsters as player characters.  There were several types of monsters – werewolves, vampyres, wyghts, inuits, and more – and they were called kin if I recall correctly.  Some wanted to live in harmony with humans while others wanted to enslave or kill humans.  The game focused a lot more on combat and high action adventure instead of the social aspects of the World of Darkness games.  From the reading I have done it seems that a lot of people played WoD that way anyway.

I lost the game while I was in the Army.  One of my brother’s guests made off with some of my gaming materials that I had collected over the years.  I recently remembered this game and discovered that Noble Knight has some bundle deals available that give you the core book plus several supplements for like $50 total so it is a great deal. I plan on putting in an order soon…        

14. What historical or cultural RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details

I have no recollection of ever playing a historical or cultural RPG so I have no good answer for this one.

15. What pseudo or alternate history RPG have you enjoyed most? Why?

I also have no recollection of playing a pseudo or alternate history RPG so I can not give an answer to this question.

16. Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.

I really do not know how to answer this question.  I usually do not play the spell-casting type characters when I play a fantasy game.  That does not mean I never play a spell-caster but I tend to stick to the more martial type characters. I think I am going to refrain from answering this question.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Controversial or Fraudulent Kickstarters

A quick post interrupting the March Madness Obscure Game Challenge and then I will return to the scheduled posting...

Over at rpggeek.com there is a list of fraudulent or controversial kickstarter projects that anyone curious about contributing funds should read.  There are some familiar names on the list and I can see that I dodged a few bullets myself. I am just spreading the word about this for anyone interested.  I have also added a link to my Links page.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Be Careful Out There...

In case anyone is waiting for me to continue with the March Madness Obscure Game challenge, regular posting will return shortly.  I haven't posted because I've been out of it for the last week with some sort of gastrointestinal bug going around.  Beware! If you should get it, then all strength and energy will be drained.  This is the first day since Monday that I haven't rotated my time between the bedroom and the bathroom.  Just typing this is making me a little drowsy....ugh.  Another day or two and posting will continue...