Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Judges Guild Universal System

I remember the use of the Judges Guild Universal System in their products.  I downloaded a pdf file of the system a few months ago.  I just remembered it earlier and I was curious if anybody knows if it is free for use by others outside of Judges Guild?  Does it require a licensing agreement or is it open?  I tried to find some details but could not.

Spotlight on Talislanta

I came to the RPG/OSR blog scene later than many others so this has probably been covered before but I thought I would just give a shout out to one of the games that you should play if you have not already done so.
The image above is from the second edition of the Talislanta Handbook and Campaign Guide.  I bought this slim volume one summer day because I was looking for something different in fantasy gaming.  I have been a fan of the game and world ever since. Talislanta occupies a spot on my short list of games I would want with me if I was stranded on an island.  Rather than bore you with any details or recollections - I am sure there has plenty of them about this game - I will just point out the most important web resource for Talislanta.

The Library is the storehouse of free pdf files for most (all?) of the rules and resource volumes released in the life of the Talislanta game.  It is a shame that Talislanta is no longer in print but it is awesome that the  creator has made all of this stuff available for free.  If you have never visited the site or explored the world and rules of Talislanta, follow the link and enjoy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

[Toldara] Half-Orc changes (new school version)

This is the original version of the changes to the Half-Orc race for the Toldara campaign.  Of course, it was written in the format of the "third edition of the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game".  This will be updated with a Pathfinder and a Microlite20 version in the future but this is a good start. 

The following information is considered 100% Open Game Content.  The use of such material is governed by the Open Game License.


I have previously mentioned the background changes to the Half-Orc race in this post.  The other changes are listed below.

HALF-ORC RACIAL TRAITS (in addition to the traits listed in core rulebook I)

  • +2 racial bonus on Intimidate checks.
  • Social Stigma: Half-Orcs have a – 2 penalty to Diplomacy checks and also receive no skill synergy bonuses related to Diplomacy checks.  
-------------------------- (end of open game content) -------------------------------------------------

Sunday, November 27, 2011

re: OSR Community Starter 2

As promised, here are my thoughts on what would go into an OSR Community Starter.

Credit Where Credit Is Due
First things first, this is not my original idea.  The genesis of this product happened at this sub-forum on the OD&D Discussion forums.  I take no credit for this idea.  The following is just my collected thoughts if I were to be involved in this project.

The intent of this product should be to introduce role-playing games to people that are interested but have never played or are now returning to the hobby after an absence.  I think there are two ways to approach this:

  1. Tailor the product to focus on the interested individual.  The only thing a single person would require is the product itself and some dice.
  2. Tailor the product to focus on a small group that shows interest in role-playing games.  
There is merit to both of these ideas.  It would be great to design this for a group but my initial gut reaction is to tailor it towards an individual.  Something like a "more involved version" of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Plus, that would keep the page count lower.

Some would say that a quick start version of an existing game would serve this purpose well.  I am aware of and have some of the quick starts that are available.  They are fine products but I believe they are best used by people that have role-playing experience but just want to try out a different game.  I envision an OSR Community Starter being the product you grab when one of your non-gamer friends asks "What is this D&D stuff anyway?".

Game System
There are several OSR style games that could be trimmed down a little bit for a starter package but I think there is a better option.  I think a minimalist system specifically designed around showing the play options available in the starter package would be best.  There is no need to explain more than what is necessary to play in the adventure included in the starter.

I think it would be best to design the OSR starter system around 2D6 or some other D6 only system.  By keeping with the D6, interested players can just go to a set of Yahtzee, Monopoly, RISK, or some other similar game and grab the dice out of it.  No worries about an interested player needing to scrounge up a D20 to try out some role-playing fun.

Here are a few ideas about organizing this hypothetical starter package:

Of course, there would need to be a short introductory section explaining what role-playing is all about and how to do it.

I think that character creation should be mentioned but not detailed in the starter.  Instead, players should be able to choose from 3 to 5 pre-generated characters that they can play through the adventure; maybe a Dwarf Warrior, Human Mage, Elf Ranger, or some other combination of chooses.  These characters should be presented in a 2 column format with the character information on the left and the some notes on the rules in the right column.  There could be arrows or matching numbers that the player could reference to remember how to perform tasks and other things in the game.

I think the adventure should avoid the wide open freedom involved in full-fledged games and use a setup similar to the old Choose Your Own Adventure game books.  Yes, this will be somewhat of a railroad sort of adventure but it will get the point across.  Only the monsters and treasure needed for the adventure will be included in the starter.

What's Next?
For players that enjoyed the experience and want to know about their options.  There are several choices:

  • Further solo adventures for people that want to try it again without worrying about gathering a group for play.  There would need to be new monsters detailed in this product.
  • An adventure designed for group play.  This would basically be like the solo game but would also introduce the role of the game master and the adventure options would be wide open instead of programmed like the solo adventure.  There would be additional monsters and treasures detailed in this product.
  • A website with the complete rules of the system outlined in the solo adventure.
  • A short section detailing other OSR games that are available and their websites. 
There are my ideas for the OSR Community Starter.  What are your ideas?

re: OSR Community Starter 1

Over on the OD&D Discussion forums I have been checking up on this thread about an OSR Community Starter project.  The discussion has gone back and forth with no real consensus among the people involved.  In a nutshell, some people want a stripped down version of an existing product while others want to use expanded pre-generated characters; there was at least one person that offered up a system he had designed to serve this purpose.  I pretty much have a full plate as far as RPG projects go but I do have some ideas for designing such a product. I am not going to detail them in this post but there will be a follow up post that shows an outline and examples of what I would do.  If anyone would be interested in helping, let me know.  It should not be too difficult to make this thing a reality.


Friday, November 25, 2011

[Toldara] Oranian (new school version)

This is the original version of the Oranian race entry for the Toldara campaign.  Of course, it was written in the format of the "third edition of the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game".  This will be updated with a Pathfinder and a Microlite20 version in the future but this is a good start.  This was another contribution that Alex, my co-designer, made to the Toldara campaign.

The following information is considered 100% Open Game Content.  The use of such material is governed by the Open Game License.

Oranians are a bird-like race from the Oran Mountains. They are able to fly just as well as they can walk, in fact, flying is their preferred method of travel, as it is much faster. They love music and poetry. In fact, the best poets and musicians in the land are Oranians.
Personality: Oranians are poets and philosophers, musicians and knowledge seekers. Because of their ability to fly, they can travel easily to other lands. This has allowed them to hear the legends and histories of other races, as well as see their own culture. They have grown to love such interaction, always searching to learn more about something, whether it be the location of a mythical artifact, or the play time rituals of a human child. They often write songs or poetry about their findings. They are usually always cheerful, and are delighted to learn any tidbit of information.
Physical Discription: Oranians are tall and mostly humanoid in shape. They stand from 5 ½ to 7 feet tall, and usually weigh between 175 and 300 pounds. They are completely covered in feathers, except for their feet and hands, which are talons, and the top of their heads, which has something that can be called hair, though it resembles feathers as much as it does hair. They also have eagle-like wings on their backs, and generally have a wingspan equal to their height. Their heads are shaped more like a bird's head, than a human head, complete with a beak. Oranians who stick to their own race's clothing traditions wear elegant robes with golden support bars for structure and holes in the back for their wings. Their feathers come in all manner of colors, from the browns of a hawk, to the grays of a pigeon, to the rainbow colors of a parrot. They achieve adulthood at 50 years, and they have no known lifespan, as no Oranian has ever died of old age. Whether this is because they die of other causes before they are able to, or because they simply don't grow old is unknown. The oldest known Oranian was 986 years old.
Relations: Oranians make a point of getting along well with other races. They love to observe and learn about the culture of other races, and are more than happy to share their own culture. For the most part, they find the other races amusing, but they find all of them fascinating.
Alignment: Oranians tend strongly toward Good, and it is very rare to find an evil one. However, their are just as many that are Lawful as there are that are Chaotic.
Oranian Lands: Oranians make their homes in the averies of the Oran Mountains. They often go abroad into other lands for fun and adventure, but the Oran Mountains are the only place they feel comfortable calling home.
Religion: Oranians mostly worship the wind god, Metorlogis. However, some become so fascinated by other races, that they take on the religions of those races.
Language: The native language is Auran, the language of air-based creatures, but they also speak Elven, as most of their songs and poems are written in Elven.
Names: Oranians used to have names specific to their race, but they have been influenced by other races to the point that they no longer have any naming traditions of their own. Instead, they use the names and traditions of other races.
Adventurers: Oranians love to adventure. They are always looking for some bit of history or myth to unveil. They will almost always find a party to adventure with, and will try to pick one that is as varied in the races that make it up as possible, so that they may learn all they can. Also, there is no better material for writing poems and songs than a grand adventure.
  • +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, +2 Intelligence, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution: Oranians are agile, have excellent awareness due to their animal senses, and are quite smart due to their lust for knowledge. However, their hollow bones and unique body structure make them weak and frail.
  • Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, Oranians have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Oranian base land speed is 30 feet. Air speed is 80 feet (agile).
  • Eagle's Sight: Oranians have excellent eyesight. Because of this, they can see twice as far as other races can in the same conditions.
  • Low-light Vision: Oranians can see just as far in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination as they can in daylight. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions.
  • +2 racial bonuses and Spot and Search checks. Their eyesight is so good that if they have line-of-sight to a secret door, they are entitled to a Search check as if they were actively searching for the door.
  • Unique Body-Type: Oranians have a unique body type that other races do not have (mostly because of the wings). For this reason, Oranians can only wear clothes and armor that is specifically made for them, whether it be custom made, or from a shop that sells Oranian goods. Such shops are not found just anywhere, and are usually just in large cities.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Auran, and Elven. Bonus Languages: All except Halfling and Druid. Oranians learn the languages, as well as the cultures, of those they study. Only the super secret languages are unknown to them.
  • Favored Class: Bard. A multiclassed Oranian's bard class does not count when determining whether he suffers from an XP penalty for multiclassing. Writing songs and poems is what they do.
--------------------------------- ( end of open game content ) ----------------------------------------------------------

[Toldara] Karnin (new school version)

This is the original version of the Karnin race entry for the Toldara campaign.  Of course, it was written in the format of the "third edition of the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game".  This will be updated with a Pathfinder and a Microlite20 version in the future but this is a good start.  This was the first contribution that Alex, my co-designer, made to the Toldara campaign.

The following information is considered 100% Open Game Content.  The use of such material is governed by the Open Game License.

Karnin keep to themselves for the most part. They welcome visitors warmly, regardless of race. All they ask from visitors is to put aside their differences while in Karnin territory.
They see themselves as the rightful protectors of the wilderness and all those who live there. However, they consider the civilized world as part of the wilderness, as it is no more tamed to them than a beaver's dam, or a bear's cave. Cities and towns, to the Karnin, are nothing more than human shelters.
Personality: Karnin are honorable creatures, who value their personal and clan honor greatly. They can be a bit arrogant, especially when regarding their perceived Guardians of the Wildernesses duties, and often look down on members of other races as lesser beings. At the same time, they do not judge other races, as they cannot help their inferiority.
Karnin are not greedy, wanting only what they need. They prefer trade to currency, as currency seems to them like an unnecessary burden, however, they will use and accept currency when needed.
Karnin take their responsibilities seriously, real or perceived. If someone brakes the rules, the Karnin will ensure that justice is served. This is not to say that they impose their rules on others, except when the others are visitors in Karnin territory. They honor the laws of whatever town or other such community they happen to be in, but they enforce those laws as well. Karnin do not start wars, except with Anshus, who they have a great hatred for, but they will end them. If Orcs plan to raid a human settlement, the Karnin will stop them. However, if humans plan to slay a band of orc without proper reasons, the Karnin will stop the humans.
Physical Description: Karnin typically stand 6 to 7 feet tall while on the pads of their feet, and about 6 inches shorter while standing normally, the females being a bit shorter. They look like a cross between a human and a wolf. They are covered in fur that is usually a blueish gray, except for the fur on their chest and stomach, which is white, and some have white patches, usually over the shoulders or behind the ears. Other colors of fur are red, black, brown, black with brown patches, and white. Their faces have snouts, like that of a wolf, except that they are more broad. Karnin tend to have dark colored eyes, such as brown, but gray and even gold are not uncommon. Most Karnin wear little clothing, as their fur acts as much the same thing for the most part. However, the druids will often wear animal skin coats as a symbol of their position. Karnin stand upright and flat footed as humans do normally, but when they start to run, they run on the pads of their feet, like wolves.
Relations: Karnin get along well with everybody at first, but as one gets to know a Karnin, his true feelings are revealed. Karnin generally see other races as inferior, or as children needing their protection. However, these "Children" they see as their own, and take very good care of them, and even enjoy their company, even when they don't enjoy the company of the Karnin.
Alignments: Karnin are almost always Lawful Good, and usually to an annoying extreme. This is because those who are chaotic are usually exiled, and those who are evil are usually killed. Karnin believe strongly in their duties and convictions, and do not normally tolerate those within their race who don't.
Karnin Lands: Karnin live everywhere, and a different clan looks over each type of land.
Religion: The Karnin worship Galador, the God of Good, Lilithan, the Goddess of Law, and Calian, the Goddess of Nature.
Language: The Karnin language is fairly primitive, consisting mostly of growls, barks, howls, and roars. Very few people bother to learn Karninic, as all Karnin speak Common as well.
Names: Karnin are named at birth, much like humans, and also inherit their clan name. Their clan name is determined by which clan they were born to.
Male Names: Karnak, Fildar, Morthunk, Forgnik, Fido, Zefnar, Guroul
Female Names: Kiko, Fifi, Narkusa, Vikaga, Karnika, Lupinia
Clan Names: Grrahl (plains), Harul (mountains), Snouk (swamp), Tinkor (forest),
Paunti (desert), Blikarok (arctic/high altitude), Rulac (Ruling clan)
Adventurers: Karnin adventure, usually, as a way to prove themselves, either to themselves or to their clan. Those with a chaotic alignment are usually searching for their place after being exiled from their homes. Those with an evil alignment are usually out to destroy what the Karnin are trying to do.
  • +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity: Karnin are tough, but their canine features get in the way of mobility.
  • Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures, Karnin have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Karnin base land speed is 40 feet.
  • +2 to Listen checks: The Karnin have canine senses, and hear very well.
  • Scent(Ex): Karnin have the Scent ability as stated on page 10 in the Monster Manual. Karnin can smell things 30 feet off, 60 if upwind, 15 if downwind. Stronger scents double the range, and overpowering scents triple the range. A partial action can be taken to determine the direction of the smell. Karnin can track smells using Scent.
  • Frightful Presence(Ex): Karnin are man beasts that can be a frightful sight to behold when they choose. Rules for Frightful Presence on page 8 of core rulebook III.
  • +2 racial bonus on Animal Empathy & Wilderness Lore checks: Karnin do not only live in the wilds, they are a part of it.
  • Natural weaponry: Karnin have clawed fingers that can be used to inflict 1d4 damage.
  • Automatic Languages: Common & Karninic. Bonus Languages: Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Elven, Gnoll, & Sylvan. Smart Karnin know the languages of the local creatures.
  • Favored Class: Druid. A multiclassed Karnin's Druid class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.  
-------------- ( end of open game content ) ------------------------------------------------

[Toldara] Anshu (new school version)

This is the original version of the Anshu race entry for the Toldara campaign.  Of course, it was written in the format of the "third edition of the world's most famous fantasy role-playing game".  This will be updated with a Pathfinder and a Microlite20 version in the future but this is a good start.  I think the traits are pretty decent as far as design but the descriptive text in some of the entries could probably use some work.

The following information is considered 100% Open Game Content.  The use of such material is governed by the Open Game License.

Anshus are renowned for their abilities to hunt and track in the woods. Human armies typically have atleast one Anshu scout. Anshus are fairly strict traditionalists and believe their homelands will provide most of their needs. Anshus are typically slow to form bonds with outsiders but when they do, have proven to be steadfast allies. Upon betrayal or when their homelands are threatened, anshus have proven to be just as powerful adversaries.
Personality: Anshus are never quick to make any decision concerning others; slow to judge or trust outsiders. Those that gain the trust and friendship of an Anshu have gained a faithful companion. Anshus have a deep respect for tradition and generally oppose random change.
Physical Description: Anshus typically stand between 5 and 6 feet tall weighing from 125 to 175 pounds with a generally slim, athletic build. Their features are basically feline with fur that is often brown or yellow in color and even a tail. Anshus reach maturity at the age of 14 years and can live to be 90 years of age.
Relations: Anshus have been in a centuries long war with the Karnins. There are periods of peace between them but the truces are uneasy at best. Eventually, the hostilities seem to be always be triggered again. Anshus share a deep mutual respect of nature with the Elves and often trade goods with them. Anshus get along well with Humans except when they get greedy and try to expand into their lands.
Alignments: Anshus are usually lawful, and they tend toward neutral. Adventuring anshus may not fit the typical mold of anshun society.
Anshu Lands: Although Anshus can be found in most places, the largest anshu populations are typically located in the forests and plains.
Religion: The chief diety of the Anshus is Kitta, the Den Mother. She is the origin of all anshus in the world. They also revere numerous smaller gods in charge of such things as the seasons, hunting, food, etc.
Language: Anshus communicate with each other by a somewhat primitive language consisting of various feline like sounds. Many anshus have learned common as well. Most other races can not seem to master the anshu language.
Names: Anshus have three names. The first name is given at birth by the parents, the second name comes from the tribe, and the third name is awarded by the tribe elders based on the greatest aptitude or accomplishment of the individual.
Adventurers: Most anshus that travel outside of their lands do so to avenge some wrong committed against their people or to help curb the influence of evil in the world.
  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Consitution: Anshus are quick and agile to compensate for being somewhat frail.
  • Medium-Size: As Medium-size creatures, anshus have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Anshu base land speed is 40 feet.
  • Low-Light Vision: Anshus can see twice as far as humans in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and dress in these conditions.
  • Natural Weaponry: Anshus have clawed fingers that can be used to inflict 1D4 damage.
  • +2 racial bonus on Balance, Climb, and Tumble checks: Anshus are surefooted and agile.
  • +2 racial bonus on Animal Empathy and Wilderness Lore checks: Anshus do not only live in the wilds, they are a part of it.
  • +2 racial bonus on Listen checks: Anshus have keen ears.
  • Automatic Languages: Common and Anshunti. Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Goblic, and Orc. Smart Anshus learn the languages of their friends and enemies.
  • Favored Class: Ranger. A multiclassed Anshu's ranger class does not count when determining whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
------- ( end of open game content ) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Player Character Races of Toldara

The Toldara campaign not only uses the standard races presented in the core rules - with some modifications - but also allows more options for player characters.  A quick summary of these races and changes is detailed below.
  • Anshu: A humanoid feline race.
  • Goblin: Not all of the Goblins are minions of evil; some have risen to great heroic deeds. 
  • Half-Orc: The Half-Orc race is not a simple mix of human and orc; some details can be found in this post.
  • Human: In addition to the statistics presented in the core rules, the ability scores of a human character are generated by rolling 7 sets of scores and choosing the 6 scores to use.
  • Karnin: A canine humanoid race.
  • Oranian: A winged bird-like humanoid race from the Oran mountain regions.
  • Slarn: A reptilian or lizard like race of humanoids.
The Anshu and Karnin are often at odds with each other.  Their nations have been in a constant cycle of war with intermittent periods of peace but something seems to always ingnite the feud again.  Individual members of each race are, of course, able to over prejudices or preconceived notions when it comes to members of the other race.

The Goblin started out as a one person experiment in Alex's game.  It was such a success that other people wanted to play goblins occasionally also.  Part of the history of Toldara is the first age had a war between the gods of light and the gods of darkness.  Members of the goblin race discovered that being a minion of the gods of darkness wasn't what it was cracked up to be.

The Half-Orc origin is a result of my personal dislike for the often used rape or spoils of war origin of the race so I came up with the explanation I use in the Toldara campaign.

The Human characters getting an extra roll during ability score generation was just done to give them further advantage for lack of any real special abilities.

For information on the Oranian race, Alex is the best source of information.

In regards to the Slarn race, I am not sure whether to do a full fledged write up or just use the lizard man entry and do some background tinkering like the Half-Orc or something similar in the timeline to the Goblins of Toldara.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

At Commentator, Headed for Thinker...

It seems I have had a recent spike in the number of followers.  Specifically, I have doubled in the last two weeks.  According to the ranking system found in these old posts at Cyclopeatron and From the Sorcerer's Skull I am at 4th level.  I'm almost half way to name level :-).

On a serious note, thanks to everyone that joined the blog.  The current college semester ends in a few weeks and things should pick up around here.  If anyone is interested in helping with any of the projects I have mentioned, feel free to speak up.  I always seem to work better with a partner on those sorts of things.

edit - "bog" should have been "blog" - d'oh!

Monday, November 21, 2011

[A World in Ruins...] Developing the Idea

A World in Ruins... is an old idea I had for a post-apocalyptic RPG that I wanted to design.  I never did any serious design work on the project but I did mention a few details on this blog here and also here.  I would like to throw out a few ideas out about how to develop this premise into a full blown game.  If everything goes smoothly, this will be just the first of several posts that serve to put a little padding onto the very basic idea I put in one of my old gaming notebooks years ago.

Rules System
There's probably two different routes I would most likely take when it comes to the rules:

  • Use an existing open system (D20, Microlite20, etc.) and customize it to run the game.
  • Design a new system from scratch.
Regardless of the decision, I am more interested in playing these days than tracking a ton of stats, conditions, modifiers, etc. so it will most likely be a game of medium or low complexity.  I do want to use a system that will allow for variety in certain key areas - characters, weapons, etc. - but not be overly complex.

Every game needs a story and a big part of the story in this game is concerned with what exactly was to blame for the state of the game world today?  There are actually quite a few options:

  • All out nuclear war between the nations of Earth.
  • A catastrophic nuclear accident that spread from one central location.
  • A terrorist attack on several nuclear facilities that doomed the Earth.
  • An asteroid, meteor, comet, etc. crashed into the Earth, rotated the axis, and caused death and destruction world wide.
  • Something else?
As with the rules system, I am not worried about portraying "100% true to the science and facts of the matter" details.  I am simply concerned with telling a good story and providing a good background for the game world.

The World of the Present
It is now 100 years after the event that devastated the Earth.   Technology and progress has been set back dramatically.  There are pockets of civilization here and there but the human population has been drastically cut down.  The birth rate and survival rate is tragically lower than decades before.

Types of Characters
There should be several different types of characters to play in this game.
  • (Pure Strain Humans) Some of these humans will be descendants of human civilians that made it through the catastrophe and managed to stay alive.  Other humans will be descendants of military personnel that were locked away in safe bunkers; or, in homage to The Morrow Project, these military personnel could have been placed in some sort of suspended animation and awakened after the catastrophe to reestablish the nations of Earth.
  • (Human Mutants) People that were mutated as a result of the catastrophe.
  • (Mutant Animals) Several animal species could have been mutated and gained an intelligence level closer to that of humans.
  • (Others) There could be extraterrestrial or extra dimensional species available for play also.
Whatever the options available for player characters wind up being they need to fit with the background.  Obviously, the mutations would be better explained with a nuclear reason for the catastrophe.

There should be plenty of danger and obstacles for the characters in their fight for survival.
  • (Other humans) If the PCs are alive in this harsh reality, then why not other groups of humans that have banded together?  Some of these could be cannibals, religious zealots, or even worse.
  • (active robots) There could be places that still house old war machine robots that have come back online recently.  Maybe the programming of these robots got corrupted?  Maybe the robots do not recognize the players as humans if they are mutants?
  • (mutant animals and plants) If the radiation affected the human PCs then it surely affected the animal life also.
  • (other) Maybe the PCs could encounter life visiting Earth from other planets or dimensions?
  • (environment) radiation poison zones, old military complexes, etc.
That's a start with some ideas about how to design this game.  Of course, exploration and survival would be some of the major goals of the player characters.  I am sure I missed something in this brief exploration of game ideas but maybe I will think up some more details later...

The Demise of My Original Collection

At one time I had a massive collection of RPG and gaming material in general.  It all started with the Holmes Basic D&D that my uncle David gave to me in 1980.  He had been out of gaming for quite some time but wanted to give his books to someone that would use them.  After I established my interest he also gave me all of his AD&D hardbacks - PHB, DMG, DMG, and DDG with the Cthulhu & Elric gods in it.  That turned out to be just the start of my collection.

I started buying up new games and editions with my allowance, birthday, and Christmas money that I received during my teenage years.  The list of items that I added to my collection included:


  •  1st edition PHB, DMG, & MM with the new covers.
  • Oriental Adventures
  • Unearthed Arcana
  • Monster Manual II
  • several modules
  • character sheets
  • DM screen
Basic D&D (all forms)

  • Orange Box 
  • D&D Rules Cyclopedia
  • character sheets
  • DM screen
Steve Jackson Games

  • GURPS 1st edition box
  • Man to Man
  • GURPS Fantasy
  • GURPS Cyberpunk
  • GURPS Supers
  • Car Wars
  • Car Wars Truck Stop
  • Ogre
  • GEV
  • Shockwave
  • Deluxe Ogre
  • Illuminati
  • Illuminati expansion 1
  • One Page Bulge
  • Necromancer
Assorted Stuff

  • Star Frontiers
  • Robotech
  • Palladium Fantasy (original black book)
  • Marvel Basic
  • Marvel Advanced
  • Gamma World 1st edition
  • Gamma World 3rd edition
  • Fifth Cycle
  • V&V 2nd edition
  • several V&V modules, Most Wanted, etc.
  • Champions 3rd edition
  • Champions 4th edition
  • several Champions supplements such as enemies, enemies 2, etc.
  • Traveller starter set
  • Talislanta 2nd edition
  • Talislanta 3rd edition
  • Middle Earth Role Playing
  • DC Heroes 1st edition
  • Super Squadron
  • The Arduin Adventure
That's all I can honestly remember at the moment.  The point is that it was quite a collection for a teenager. We did actually play all of this at one time or another.  Of course, some items got more use than others.

So, what happened to all of this stuff?  That's a good question.  I know some of it was left in the care of one of the other players so the campaigns for those games could continue.  The rest was left at my parents house.  The best I have been able to determine is that many of these items were either "loaned out" or "borrowed" never to be returned again.  I do miss some of this stuff quite a bit and I would definitely like to re-acquire it.  I'm sure most of it is either too pricey or people are unwilling to part with their copy.  The items I would really want are the AD&D hardbacks, Palladium Fantasy black book, Champions 4th, and the Arduin Adventure.

My collection is pretty lean these days.  If I don't use it, I generally get rid of it.  I know there are retroclones of the D&D/AD&D stuff but I would like to have the originals.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Friday, November 18, 2011

[Toldara] Timeline Ideas

Toldara is the name of my campaign world.  It is still very much a work in progress.  The only thing really set in stone is the fact that Toldara has had two ages.  Here are some notes about the timeline...

First Age
  • Begins at creation.
  • There was only one supercontintent.
  • Gods were very involved & would even make personal appearances.
  • The world was split into very black and white.
  • There were just a few, large empires.
  • Magic was more powerful & the most powerful artifacts come from this age.
  • The most sought after treasure is from this age.

Second Age
  • Start of the second age begins with Gods splitting the continents.
  • Gods are not directly involved but do influence through priests, avatars, etc.
  • The world has many shades of grey.
  • The politics is very splintered. There are many, small empires.
  • Magic is still a powerful force but the priests/mages require more effort; per core rules - easier than core in first age. 

That's just the start.  Hopefully, I can come up with some more information soon.

edit - title changed twice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What D&D Character Am I?

True Neutral Human Cleric (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 15
Dexterity- 15
Constitution- 11
Intelligence- 14
Wisdom- 14
Charisma- 14

True Neutral- A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Clerics- Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron's vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity's domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric's Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking Care of Business...

In a continued effort to get all of my ducks in a row here is a list of goals that I would like to accomplish with this blog:

Short Term Goals

  • Complete my examination of Adventures in Fantasy.
  • Complete the entries from my Old Gaming Notebook.
  • Make one post every day in a single month.
  • Post more of my house rules & ideas for AD&D, 3E, Microlite20, RIFTS, and more.
  • Post about my campaign world, Toldara.
  • Offer draft 2 of MicroToldara for download.
  • Offer draft 1 of Classic Fantasy Role Playing for download.

Long Term Goals

  • Post about actual play with Adventures in Fantasy.
  • Develop ideas from the Old Gaming Notebook into complete games.
  • Decide on a set posting schedule and stick to it.
  • Get my Toldara co-author (Alex) to participate in some of the blogging.
That's a good start.  This list will be modified and re-posted when appropriate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

[Old Gaming Notebook] The Rest of the Games

The information about the remaining game ideas contained in my old gaming notebook was pretty sparse.  That is the point of my notebooks - keep them handy and jot down ideas that come my way so I don't forget them.  The details about these four games is very limited but is included here for the sake of completeness.

A World in Ruins
This game will be Gamma World + RIFTS + Thundarr the Barbarian.  Player races will include Pure Humans, Mutants, & Mutant Animals.  Civilization is destroyed by all out nuclear war and the players explore the ravaged Earth and fight for survival.

I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic games and fiction so that's really all the description I needed.  I played a lot of Gamma World and RIFTS in my youth and Thundarr is my absolute favorite cartoon from my childhood.  I am sure that "Gamma World + RIFTS + Thundarr the Barbarian" means that I should design the game around all of the good stuff to be found in those settings.

Army Men
A simple war game using those packages of low cost plastic army men found in the toy sections of various stores.

That little blurb is the entirety of the work I did on that game.  My war gaming experience is pretty limited.  I really enjoy Axis & Allies, One Page Bulge, and RISK.  I have been tempted to pick up Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Twilight Imperium, or some other such board or war game.  I have not been able to justify spending that much money on a gaming purchase but I would be interested in low cost alternatives.  That's where the idea for this game came from.  I've seen those little green - other colors also available - army men in all sorts of stores from Dollar General to Wal-Mart.  Amassing a large force would be pretty inexpensive.  I've also seen sets you can buy to use with them have armored vehicles, sandbag formations, and other assorted stuff.

Old School Role-Playing
A game designed like the early competitors to D&D that tried to "out-D&D" D&D.

I think most gamers reading this knows the type of game I'm talking about with this idea.  For those that don't know the type of game this references the explanation is simple.  There were a run of games following D&D's release that could basically be summed up as "D&D turned up to 11!".  Where D&D had six Abilities, these games would have more.  Why have only Dexterity when you can have Agility and Dexterity or why have only Charisma when you have Appearance, Social, and Charm?  You get the idea - these games would be considered a fantasy heart breaker today.

To The Stars...
A game set in the 1950's during alien encounters with flying saucers, ray guns, little green men, etc.

In a nutshell, every cliche used in the old science fiction movies during the 1950's and 60's - bug eye monsters, martians come to steal our women, pseudoscience, and America winning in the end.  Plus, it would give me an excuse to watch a bunch of those old sci-fi movies.

Closing Thoughts
I think each of these ideas have some merit if done properly.  I will admit that I probably would not do anything with Army Men today.  I don't feel that I have enough practical war or board game experience to do it properly.  Old School Role-Playing could be a fun project but it is in opposition to the lighter approach I like to take with rules now.  To The Stars... and A World in Ruins would probably have the best chance of being developed by me.  In fact, either one of these would probably work great with the Microlite20 rules and I may just pursue that sometime, who knows?

It Has Begun...

The semester ends in 3 weeks so I took the first step in getting my stuff in a presentable format - I put a link in the resources section for draft 1 of MicroToldara; the Microlite20 version of my home campaign world, Toldara.  It started as a 3E design, migrated to 3.5E, and is in the process of being converted over to Pathfinder.  Those systems are all fine and well but the older I get the more interested I become in just playing instead of tracking a huge amount of rules.

I'm a big fan of Microlite20 and thought it would be just about perfect for representing my campaign world.  I converted the information over but there is still plenty left to do:

Classes: Add in an assassin, elementalist, & witch class; evaluate psionics.

Magic: Play test a mana pool system.

World Information: Put it in the document...lol.

I make no claims of grand design or anything such similar claims.  This is the first draft and very much just the beginning of the work.  I began by using M20 Purest Essence, added in "Toldara appropriate" stuff from other M20 variants, and then adding in specific Toldara rules information.  The link is provided for anyone interested in checking it out but keep in mind that it's just a start.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I live in a small town in Oklahoma named Oologah.  I'm sure many of you have never heard of it but for the sake of reference I am about 30 miles North of Tulsa; in the NE corner of the state.  Except for 8 years in the Army, I have lived around this area my whole life.  It is part of what is commonly known as "Tornado Alley" and my area did get hit back in '91 but that's a story for another day.

I've always heard that there are occasional earthquakes in Oklahoma but they are so weak that you never feel them.  I've always thought it would be cool to be in just one earthquake to say "I've been in one".  Last night around 10:30 pm or 11:00 pm the earthquake hit!  It was the strangest feeling when the whole house started vibrating and things were rattling.  The estimates on the intensity of the quake vary from 5.2 to 5.6 today.  

Now that I have experienced an earthquake, what are my thoughts on the subject now?  I DON'T LIKE THEM!  I'm ready for a tornado...lol.

edit - spelling nazi x2

Friday, November 4, 2011


On both Monsters and Manuals and Back to the Keep there were posts earlier today about Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About that I enjoyed reading so I thought I would join the fun...

Book Binding
There something great about holding a well put together book in your hands.  A nice, hardback that will stand the test of time just feels "right" when you hold it.  Examples of this include the original AD&D hardbacks.  They might fade or show outward signs of wear but the pages stay in place.  Of course, softbound books can also be well put together.  I've never had any issues with any of my Palladium products losing pages.  I would like to see more hardbound stuff out of the Palladium line, though.  In contrast, I have had issues with other products from other publishers.  I believe one of the worst offenders was the original edition of Mechwarrior from FASA.  That book started falling apart within one month of table use.

Doing a Voice
I personally don't do them.  I've been in a few games where it pops up occasionally.  I'm not bothered by it but I don't expect it, either.

When necessary - 'nuff said.

I adjust as needed for the situation.  If the party is in town do they really need the contents of the inn or weapon shop described down to the grain in the wood?

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"? 
We generally agree that all the characters are cooperative in regards to party goals and looking out for the mission at hand.  It is perfectly acceptable to play up rivalries and competition between different characters.  It is okay for the characters to be arrogant, self-centered jerks.  If you're going to be a douche then get ready for the reaction to be comparable to the action.

PC on PC violence
If it comes down to that it just comes down to that.  As long as it comes about through playing the characters it is perfectly fine.  If it comes about through douchebaggery, then forget it.

How do you explain role-playing to non-role-players?
I am generally not out trying to make converts of non-players.  If one of my non-gaming friends happens to notice one of my books and asks I do my best to explain it starting with the "Let's Pretend" game and moving up from there.

Alcohol at the Table?
I don't recall any times that this happened so it's a non-issue for me.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent?
The groups I have been part of are pretty boring - we usually just have the GM run the character or have designated alternate players that use that character when the player is absent.  

There are my thoughts on these topics.  It was not my idea but it was a fun post.