Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Knights and Dragons?

My friend Darryl C's dad, Big Darryl, used to say I went to college and majored in D&D. I'd laugh because he was kind of right. I was a history major with a concentration on the European middle ages and a medieval and renaissance studies minor. Even for my non-concentration courses I kind of cheated the system and took stuff that enhanced my D&D verisimilitude skills, like ancient history courses, anthropology, ancient philosophy and feudal Japan. I didn't actually play a lot of D&D at the time, although for part of the time when I was in college I regularly played in a 2nd edition AD&D game on Sundays.

My time in college did give me a great appreciation for the real medieval period though (and the ancient world) and it made me a little dissatisfied with “standard” D&D campaigns. I started my long period of trying to make my D&D game settings more realistic with regard to customs and cultures and laws. My style of campaign setting has annoyed some players in the past, and my wife has occasionally remarked that my D&D games come with homework assignments for the players. Having said that, my games have pretty much always been popular with a variety of players whether they were short mini-series style campaigns or one-shots or planned as long-running campaign settings. I have run them all, using the TSR 2nd edition HR series, GURPS setting books and my own library as references or just based on my own fairly extensive knowledge.

What I haven't been able to do is run a “real” medieval/feudal setting. I think that it's because that is the default fantasy gaming setting and the default gets too much wrong. When the culture is very different players approach it differently than they do the pseudo-medieval regular D&D setting. Oriental Adventures means that the players have to make the effort to pretend to be Asian (usually feudal Japanese). My Celtic games or my Viking games or my Roman games get the same kind of effort, if not at the same level. You get the same thing with other genres, Star Trek or Star Wars games make the players think and act like characters from their respective universes for instance. For some reason though, it just does not play with a Feudal European setting and I have to blame the tropes of D&D for that.

In a standard D&D world we have all of the expected medievalisms, knights and castles and what-not. But the players play their characters as, more or less, modern people; even when they are a different race. They don't try to alter their mind set for the campaign setting. The player's mind set for the faux-medieval world of D&D is more like the wild west than the middle ages (which is odd when you think about it because wild west games have never been all that successful) or an Indiana Jones movie. There are no social, political or legal ties for most characters, monsters are commonplace rather than fantastic and religion has relatively little significance in everyday life for the average adventurer even when it is ostensibly their job. Yes, I am looking at you Cleric and Druid. Very often standard D&D games remind me of the movie “A Knight's Tale” with Magic and monsters added. This is probably why most D&D games are set on a frontier of civilization I guess.

I don't really know how to fix this, or even if it's a problem for anyone but me. I have occasionally had my players, singly or in groups, ask me to run a “regular” D&D game next time around. I don't hate it either. I have had a great deal of enjoyment from playing in and DM-ing for “standard” or “regular” D&D games. I just think that maybe it could be fun to play D&D in an actual fantasy medieval setting.

The exception to this rule is, almost exclusively, Pendragon; which is of course an entirely different game from D&D, I just felt I needed to acknowledge that it was possible to get modern Americans to think more medievally. I have considered using the Pendragon setting for a D&D campaign, but I go back and forth on that. On the one hand it would very likely work, making the players fall into the proper mind-set and all, but, on the other hand, there is a lot of work to do there to convert and the Arthurian setting isn't exactly what I am looking for.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dammit! Kind of.

I just realized my son John turns 16 on Sunday. While that is really cool for him, that means no game this Sunday either. Sorry everyone.

On the plus side, my oldest daughter Ashli will be fighting in her first SCA heavy weapons tourney the following Saturday in the dominion of Myrkfaelinn, so that should be fun to report on. I will also be competing. It's a holmgang tourney, so I hope to do well in it. The holmgang format plays to my strengths as I am large and strong and there is not a lot of maneuver room. Thanks Vikings!

In an odd synchronicity, I also authorized and fought my first heavy weapons tourney in the dominion of Myrkfaelinn and they were holding a holmgang that day too. I haven't seen them hold one since then, but I haven't been to every Myrkfaelinn event so I might have missed it.

Legend of the Five Rings

Legend of the five rings RPG. Anyone ever play it? My only knowledge of it is peripheral, I know it is set in the same world as the CCG of the same name and I loathe CCGs. I am also aware that it shares a common world with the Clan War miniature battle game, which I have never played but have bought a number of minis for and I am looking forward to maybe playing if I can find nearby opponents. I have the rule book headed my way from a recent Ebay purchase anyway. The RPG intrigued me because I have always liked Samurai related RPGs; though, except for Oriental Adventures, I have never had a chance to play any. I blame seeing the TV miniseries Shogun as a youth, roughly coinciding with me starting to play D&D.

Now I have to admit I have held what I can only describe as a hateful grudge against the L5R RPG because of the inclusion of Rokugan as the default setting for OA 3.0. I was a big fan of Kara-Tur and the 1st edition OA, 3.0's version was like a slap in the face to loyal OA fans. They altered everything to make it more compatible with L5R's Rokugan, gone were the classes I expected. I also wasn't particularly thrilled with the decision to make the katana just a masterwork bastard sword. That smacked of design laziness to me.

So, while I had been intrigued by the L5R RPG before OA 3.0 came out, I refused to check it out for quite a while. In fact I still haven't really. I have heard though that L5R fans were annoyed with the D20 treatment of their system too, and they made a ton of WotC licensed OA/L5R books that maybe fixed the issues with OA being squeezed into Rokugan but I am certain didn't fix the problem of Rokugan being squeezed into OA.

Opinions on Rokugan and L5R?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clan Wars

I got a bunch of new minis in the mail today. Most of them were WotC D&D minis I got real cheap on Ebay. I also got a pretty large lot of Clan War minis for a song. I bought them for a couple of reasons.

First, I wanted to use them for my R&R/OA campaign that I will eventually play again. Clan War minis seem like about the only available option for finding specifically Asian/Japanese inspired monsters and supernatural creatures, so I kind of keep my eyes open for deals on them. Are there any other companies that maybe have current lines suitable for my OA campaign? I know TSR never really supported OA with official minis and WotC's support has been anemic at best since they released OA for 3.0.

Second, my wife is a really good miniature painter and I thought I might be able to sell them at a profit on Ebay at some point. I actually already have a large number of Katana wielders prepped for her to paint for just that reason, although I may snag a few for my own collection. I am curious though whether or not anyone still plays Clan Wars or if they'll just be useful as 28mm Samurai units for a historical miniature battle game?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OSR Zeitgeist

Is there some sort of OSR zeitgeist that keeps making other people blog about the same topics I have scheduled, maybe a collective unconscious to the OSR? Seriously, I am feeling a little blog-blocked by the fact that people whose blogs I read keep posting stuff on topics I have been about to post on, it's a little weird. I keep a document open on my desktop, frequently saved, with random gaming thoughts I am having, so that I can explore them in depth later when I have the time; future blogging projects, and they keep appearing in other blogs. Current topics on my list are, among others, initiative in the various editions of D&D I have played and my own house rules regarding it; Clerics in D&D games and heroic vs. roguish characters and campaigns.

In other news, I am going to have little time for blogging this week, 2 out of three of my kids have the week off and have projects they want to do that they need my help with.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Change of Weekend Plans

No Sunday game this week. This means no Monday after-action-report.

Ashli has the Army Reserve this weekend and Lee Ann has to take her nursing boards. Ashli and Victor broke up this week too, so I don't imagine he'll be coming back at all.

I am thinking about playing a board game with the rest of the clan this weekend or maybe introducing them to painting minis. Maybe a little of both. I was thinking Axis & Allies for a board game, it's a step up from the "family" style games in complexity and, in my opinion, fun. Definitely easier than trying to teach them Star Fleet Battles. Besides Ashli is the only one that has shown any interest there.

Both of the other kids have shown interest in painting minis though, and I have all of those new ones that they picked out from MegaMinis. John was a little disappointed with them because he thought they were too small. Scale creep ruined his expectations for what a miniature figure for D&D should be. He said he was worried that it would be too difficult to decently paint something so small.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fighters, Rangers, Paladins




Also Barbarians and Cavaliers I guess.

I have a few things to say about fighter types, kind of as a counterpoint to my earlier post about Magic-Users.

First off, Fighters and their associated sub-classes are by far the most favored classes in any game I have ever run and most that I have played in. I don't really know why this is but I have a few guesses.

First- I may be subtly encouraging my players to choose fighters simply because they are my favorite class. I am not sure if my games became combat heavy and trap/puzzle light because I find the Fighter stuff to be easier and preferable or if it's because my players chose to mostly play Fighter types. Kind of a chicken/egg issue with both sides tending to evolve towards a more Fighter heavy milieu. In my games people tend to get "stuck" playing the party Cleric or Thief. My increased use of published material may combat this development.

Second- I think most people playing D&D want to be the hero. Our culture supports this in the myths and legends of the past from ancient Greece up through the Arthurian myths, not to mention sword and sorcery stories. There aren't a lot of cultural archetypes for heroic adventuring Wizards, in fact sorcery of any sort is usually at best tolerated and most often actually employed by the antagonists. Remember Merlin was neither a popular guy at court nor a main character. He was essential to the plot, but a secondary character. Morgan LeFey was the bad guy (girl? at least it's an important and fairly well developed female character from the medieval period, there aren't too many of them).

Anyway, my point was- nobody wants to play the supporting cast. Also, the Wizard may ultimately become the most powerful class, but the Fighter has class specific abilities to use in every round of combat right from level one. Take that Wizard (and Cleric and Thief)!

My third point I want to discuss here is the slow degradation of the Fighter. I have a couple of things to say on this topic.

First- In my first experience with D&D (Holmes Basic) there were no sub-classes. You were a Fighter, a Magic-User, a Cleric or a Thief. Yes you had some race options and Elves were multi-classed. First edition AD&D introduced the Ranger and the Paladin (and eventually the Barbarian and the Cavalier) it occurs to me that they were the first kits. Yes, I used the K-word. Kits from 2nd edition were supposed to be just a way of playing the class you chose. They were exactly like all of those unofficial classes they used to have in the Dragon or White Dwarf. So, in my opinion, Paladins and Rangers were just like 2nd edition kits (or 3rd edition prestige classes)

I had a long running 1st Edition AD&D character named Mandark the Barbarian. As soon as Unearthed Arcana came out I had to change his name to Mandark the Wild and my entire character concept, as played for years, was called into question. That irked me. Stupid Barbarian class shows up and now my “barbarian” character is somehow wrong?

In the old books it says that being a Fighter covers everything from being a gladiator to a samurai to a knight, adding Rangers to emulate Aragorn or Paladins for Holger Carlsen (sp?) was maybe a good idea for EGG when one of the guys wanted to hyper-specialize a Fighter but in the long run it meant that every unique character concept was going to have to have it's own class. Honestly that seems to have been the way EGG was headed with the proliferation of classes in post-core 1st edition AD&D.

Unfortunately, that leads to my second point- class ability inflation. Fighters are supposed to be the best fighters, right? I mean it's the name of their class. Thieves get to be the best thieves. Sadly, Fighters don't get to be the best fighters. The early sub-classes are only better under certain circumstances. Paladins are better at fighting evil, Rangers are better versus giant class foes (which quite perversely include some creatures that are much smaller than humans) and both of them have clear restrictions and need more experience points to level up. Still most people wanted to play the sub-class if they got the stats for it and newer stat rolling methods made getting those stats, even without cheating, not too difficult. So the Fighter got an upgrade- weapon specialization. Weapon specialization was originally only for single classed Fighters. That got thrown out pretty quick (read almost immediately), suddenly sub-classes and multi-classed characters both showed up with it in published AD&D materials. Annoying. For Cavaliers they just cloned the ability and gave it a different name when they decided that they weren't a sub-class of Fighter.

I get all ranting about the slow demise of the Fighter class. Every edition tries to make the Fighter be the best fighter and every edition decides to screw it up. This makes me want to just play OD&D, but the rest of the family insists the earliest edition they will play is 1st edition AD&D. To be fair that's the last edition they will play too. They tried OD&D and it was too lethal for their tastes. They tried Cyclopedia D&D and just didn't like the taste.

In other Fighter news, my son John has refused to play his 3rd level Fighter, the highest level character he has ever had, because he wants to play a Ranger instead. I told him he didn't have to play his old character if he didn't want to, but he'd have to roll up a new one and, if he didn't get the stats for it, he couldn't be a Ranger. With that news he picked up his dice and left the table. He turns sixteen later this month. Did I handle that poorly?

Odinbjorn's Tale- another old character post.

I have been a bit busy lately and haven't had much time to create new content or comment on other OSR stuff. So, just to give you, my loyal readers, some "new" content on my blog; I present the second, and possibly last, of my old character posts from my Steppe Warrior days. This one is a little different in that it is more or less an origin story and that it has vikings as the main characters. I hope you all enjoy it, much of it is based on actual play.

Odinbjorn's Tale

Reaving. That was the root of Odinbjorn's problem, as leader of Norway's chief berserker cult it should be considered a right, nay an obligation. King Harald Fine-Hair saw differently though, and had outlawed Odinbjorn and his followers for damaging his peace with the Danes. A friend in residence with the king had sent word that reached the berserk a day or so ahead of the kings' thanes. Outlawed, property forfeit and likely to be slain; Odinbjorn had gathered his followers, household and every portable piece of property and loaded it on his ships bound for Iceland. Of course goods, women and thralls hadn't fit in his raiding fleet, so he had been forced to raid his neighbors steadings for everything that could float. Reaving had been at the root, it was the branch and the tree too. Neighbors had kin and allies, the king had kin and allies; his floating household was hunted all across the whales road. A couple of small skirmishes had lost him some men and goods but so far his luck and the will of Ygg had kept him alive and he had gained more than glory, not that it mattered; gold was for the giving when you were a chief, not the hoarding. The captives had bled their lives out for the great god.

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The storm kicked up somewhere north of the Orkneys from out of a clear blue sky. “By Odin's eye!” the chieftain exclaimed, “Ran seeks to do what all Harald's men could not. By the Farmatyr I swear we'll not drown like rats!”. He ordered his men to ship sails and ride out the storm, as he idly rubbed the ring on his left small finger; such was his wont and habit before a raid and at other stressful moments. Unbeknownst to him, the ring; spawn of Draupnir, given by Odin to the first of his chiefly line; listened and began to glow a faint silvery glow, it would see that Odin's man would not be lost to the wrath of the sea giantess Ran. The All-Father's will would not be thwarted this day.

They rode the storm out for hours. Surprisingly none of the ships was lost, even the smaller, less sea-worthy ones. As darkness fell the Draupnirling had gathered what strength it could while still protecting the small fleet, it made it's move. Odin's will must be fulfilled, this man and his sworn brothers were the servants of Odin; sworn to work his will in Midgard; and throughout the nine worlds. Storm clouds were swept away from the ships. The northern lights burned the sky. The sea grew calm as glass. The air around the ships crackled with electrical charge. An uneasy silence fell among the crews, their households and their beasts. Unbidden Odinbjorn's left arm rose above his head. The ring flashed a bright white and was no more. Men and women, children and beasts were thrown to the decks of their ships. Ships burst forth from the water and when they splashed down the sea was different. So was the sky, the sun shone above them, night had lasted mere minutes.

::::

Odin's sorcery had saved the fleet from Ran's doom. Of that the chief was certain. Of other things he was not. When night fell for the second time the stars were not as they should have been, their configurations completely wrong. The gothi had no explanation for this, he was as stunned as his men. The night was spent quietly grumbling and listening to the crying of the women and children. The fleet sailed west though the night, the current pushing them slightly to the north. As dawn broke land was sight to the west, a wooded coastline. Odinbjorn decided to put ashore to effect repairs and replenish food supplies. After many days at sea and the sorcery of the previous night both men and beasts could use some time on land. He left his trusted lieutenant Hrolf in charge setting up camp while he led one of the parties of men inland to scout their surroundings.

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A mile or so inland the one of the gothi's men spotted smoke, as from a camp fire. Odinbjorn had his men make ready for battle and silently invoked the All-Father to grant them victory. As they crept up to the encampment the men were met with a very surprising sight, the camp contained not men but some manner of troll-kin; large, fanged, savage looking beasts in the general shape of men, but with a greenish caste to their skin and long greasy black hair. Their camp was strewn about with bones and rotting meat and one of them was counting out of a sack stacks of gold and silver coins. Grimnir had bidden them to Trollheim then. It all made sense now. He and his men would continue Helblindi's work here then, as Midgard was lost to him and his kind.

He and his men reconnoitered the trollish camp, it seemed the had posted no guards or watchmen. The trolls weapons were of crude manufacture, as was what armor they wore. He observed as one of the vile creatures shat right in the camp then kicked it away from itself. He determined their numbers about twice his, but his men were all battle-hardened veterans with surprise on their side; so he shouted the charge and called down the red rage.

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When the skirmish was over the rage faded. Odinbjorn's great axe had been blackened with the foul juice these beasts used for blood. His and his men's work a feast for the ravens. The whole thing had taken perhaps minutes, but the gothi felt drained and weak as a kitten after the rage fled. He sat down his back against a large tree. His well trained men gathered what loot there was, to be taken back to the brotherhood for their chief to dole out. A few more minutes saw spoils gathered, throats slit and the vikings on their way back to their own camp.

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A few more days saw a proper camp springing up along the seashore, with pens for the beasts and tents set up inside a wooden palisade. Scouts had fared inland perhaps a dozen miles and spotted a road and a couple of burned farmsteads, as well as more and different kinds of troll-kin. Odinbjorn supposed they were on the move raiding as the season was good for it. They had captured a few of the smaller troll-kin with orange skins and Odinbjorn had sacrificed them as was fitting. He had also realized this land was more charged with magic than Midgard had been, his chants and rune-castings more powerful than they had ever been. Truly this was the place where the All-Father's work was to be done. The favor of the Aesir was such that wounds, when the proper healing chants were used, could mend before your very eyes. Morale was higher than ever among his men and they grew restless for war.

::::

The gothi led his war band south down the coast seeking the larger trollish band that was advancing before them. The woods had emptied on to green rolling hills and farmland, though the crops and farmsteads were burnt. A few times they had spotted groups of stragglers or deserters from the trollish host put ashore and put them to the sword so no word of their coming could be given. At last they spied a city in the distance, under siege. It was a port and the trollish army had not attempted to blockade the harbor, so Odinbjorn would sail his sea steeds into the harbor prepared to sack and burn, then attack the trollish host assailing the walls.

Surprise met the vikings yet again as they drew closer to the city, first in the might of the magics being thrown at both sides in the battle- Lightning, great spheres of flaming death, clouds of fog that killed everyone caught in their path and silver-white darts of light that unerringly struck their targets with the force of flaming arrows; second in that the city's defenders were men. Men against trolls and mighty magics, obviously Odin had meant for him and his men to slay trolls here, the men must be allies. He needed to rethink his battle plan, so he ordered the fleet back around to the north and sought the council of his thanes.

::::

He beached his longships and his drakkar a couple of miles north of the trollish battle line and, leaving a small guard behind, led his men towards the trolls in the pre-dawn darkness. When the sun rose he charged his men in swine array thrusting into the enemy rear, tearing through their camps and supply trains before hitting their battle formations from behind throwing their already only semi-organized horde into further disarray. Hacking their way towards the trollish siege engines, Odinbjorn noticed that the besieged men sent forth a sallying force to reinforce them on their great raid, but it was repulsed by the trollish sorcerers volley of magic. From the southern side of the city a great party of Jotnar appeared and charged through the ranks of troll-kin towards the vikings. Odinbjorn and his men prepared to go to Valhalla in this moment. Odinbjorn's heart sank, he had led his men to their doom. Baleyg's favor is ever fickle and his blessing of victory can be taken back at any moment, the best they could do now was to die well, swords in hand, like men.

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His men being smashed to pulp by the giants all seemed lost; when a great shout of “URRAH” was heard above the din of battle and a great force of horsemen appeared from the west. Arrows rained down into the trollish host ahead of a mass of heavy lancers and swordsmen that carved their way through towards the remaining vikings. Troll-kin and giants alike fell before the advancing horsemen and all at once the morale of the besiegers broke in the face of the relievers. The city was saved as troll-kin and giant alike broke and ran in whichever direction was furthest from foes. The besieging army was routed and Odinbjorn and his vikings saved to continue to do the All-Father's will.

::::

When they had chased the troll-kin from the field as far as his battle weary men cared to, Odinbjorn sought out the leader of the horsemen. He was not hard to find. Beneath a horse-tailed banner the leader conferred with several of his compatriots. They were a short swarthy bunch for the most part, but their leader was a huge man, swarthy also and top-knotted like the rest; he pointed to and fro with a battle blackened scimitar issuing commands in a language Odinbjorn did not understand. Men of the city also came to the standard of the horse chief and spoke in another language he didn't understand. He spoke in his own Norse tongue to the gathered men. Several attempts were made at communication in a variety of languages between Odinbjorn and the two groups, all of them trying every language they knew; none of them in common, until a sorcerer stepped forward and chanted a spell. At once everything was clear. The horse chief was called Jagatai, and his people Tuigan; he complimented the vikings on their brave stand versus the enemy host. Long had it been since he had been impressed with any infantry on the field of battle. Upon finding out that the Norsemen were refugees from home as well the Khakhan invited them to make camp with his people who had a lack of decent infantry and a lack of homeland here. The lord, Nasher by name, of the city, which was called Neverwinter, granted the Norsemen rights to farm the burned lands and keep the in freehold, much the same as the Steppe Warriors had been given the plains to the north and west to hold as allies.

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And so it came to pass that the viking berserker cult that had fled Norway and king Harald's wrath, joined forces with the Tuigan horde that protected the lands around Neverwinter; and later, when the great cataclysm destroyed Neverwinter, joined them on their quest throughout the multiverse.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Magic-Users, Mages, Wizards.


I might have called them Sorcerers too, but since 3e that has had distinct connotations of being another, different, arcane spell casting class.

But I digress.

Has anyone ever had a player have them as their preferred class? The arcane arts have been sadly underutilized in pretty much every campaign I have ever run or played in. Most of the time they have appeared as NPCs, either henchmen or patrons of the party. Sometimes, rarely, they have appeared as multiclassed characters designed to offset their combat ineffectiveness with some other useful skill. Elves and Half-Elves have been particularly prone to doing this.

I assume that part of the problem is that Magic-Users do kind of suck to play at low level and in early editions they level so slow. Noteworthy also is that higher level play has been rare in my games, it may well have been not until 3e that anyone in my games ever made 10th level. But mine was never the only game in town and in the games I played in there was an anti-Magic-User stance from the players. Just the players. In my experience DMs love to see them show up. Maybe just for the novelty of it.

Seriously though, in my thirty plus years of playing D&D, I think I may be the only person I know that ever played a single classed Magic-User in regular campaign play. I have seen a few people choose pregenerated higher level single classed Magic-Users for one shots or tournament play. I can only recall a small number of multiclassed Magic-Users ever being played and I ran one of them too.

My friend Darryl C. used to be the go-to guy for spells. How they worked, non-standard uses, even what type of magic they were. He had that stuff down. He was perhaps the most devoted spell tactician I ever met, he certainly taught me a thing or two about spell-slinging. His longest running, most successful and well known character was a Fighter named Borg (technically his name was Aimendale Sebastian Borgstrine DeLaRive, we just called him Borg for short). Borg had a Magic-User henchman named Elisha. Darryl never ran a Magic-User as his player character.

I am considering a house rule that Magic-Users get bonus spells for high intelligence like Clerics get them for Wisdom. That doesn't seem to be a game breaker. My only hesitation is that I don't really like altering core class abilities.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On Human Culture and a bit more

My D&D campaigns and the real world cultures that exist within them are perhaps an unconscious homage to D&D's “The Known World” campaign setting that was introduced in the Expert set I got pretty much as soon as it came out. The Known World (later AD&D-ized as Mystara) was the first world for D&D I ever saw and even as a kid I could tell that Ostland, Vestland and the Soderfjord Jarldoms were Norse lands, that Ylaruam was Arab and Ethengar was Mongol. Sure the Five Shires were a Tolkien rip-off and the other racial homelands were just kind of tacked into place. I also didn't get the other historical human cultures at the time, somehow even missing the fact that Thyatis was just Rome reskinned for this world.

I am not really sure how it happened that my Kingdom of Garnia campaign world turned out so much like the Known World. When I started writing stuff up for it I was consciously aping the World of Greyhawk in format, because it was AD&D and I had moved on from B/X. I guess it started when I gave my world an origin mythology. I wanted to have a world where the people made sense, logic and reason were constantly being thrown at me from all the campaign design articles I was absorbing from the Dragon. So I got a real world culture, the Gaels who are near and dear to me only because my family is of Scottish Highlander origin, and I made them the centerpiece culture for the setting. The were the “People of Ailill”, the semi-legendary leader that brought them to this world to escape the destruction of their culture on ours. Their Druids could open extra-dimensional portals through the use of planar gates constructed in ages past by the Elves. These portals took numerous forms, but were mostly rings of standing stones. Like Stonehenge.

As I learned more about history, particularly the history of the Gaels, I retconned the setting to make it have more and earlier Celts. Celts fleeing Roman aggression, Celts fleeing encroaching Christianization, Celts fleeing inter-tribal warfare, Celts escaping from German aggression, Celts escaping from cultural assimilation from Asia Minor to the British Isles. This may have been partially resulting from a piece of D&D campaign advice I read, probably in the Dragon, where the author said to use language to give your world verisimilitude; something like “if you have a string of border forts all named Dun Something, your players will eventually figure out that Dun means Fort”. That struck a chord with me, because I knew that Dun was Gaelic for fort, and I really was into the whole Scottish Highlander thing back then. It was maybe the better part of a decade after “Roots” had aired, but Americans were still pretty interested in learning theirs and my Grandfather had taken a real interest in making us aware of our Highland heritage. We were going to the Scottish games every summer, listening to bagpipe music and Scottish folk songs. I even got a kilt, which I wore to school on numerous occasions; for the record chicks dig guys in kilts, guys call it a skirt and try to mock you. I liked the attention from the ladies and the challenge from the guys, fornication and brawling are both lifelong hobbies of mine!

Anyway, my campaigns have included both kilt wearing claymore wielders and plaid-trousered head-hunters; immigrants to Garnia from over a millenia of Celtic movements. Officially, by the way, Garnia is Gwarynica Riga in their language. The dominant language of the campaign area is a hodge-podge of Gaulish, Welsh, Gaelic (Irish, Manx and Scottish) and Breton, roughly in that order. I discovered Katherine Kerr's Deverry novels in the mid-1990's, introduced by my then girlfriend- now wife Mona, and I have used some of her Deverrian language to fill in the blanks in a few spots since her and I were working from the same starting point. I have worked hard to not cross pollinate my world with hers, but some was probably inevitable after I discovered her writing.

The earliest non-Celts to make the journey to Garnia were the heathen Anglo-Saxons. They wound up with their own kingdom at the edge of the mapped world almost by mistake. When I started adding realism to my world in the form of real human cultures I started by making them Germanic. I Germanized the entire world, but I didn't like the result. So I de-Germanized the world and Gaelicized it instead. This happened at a key time. I suck at making maps, and I don't particularly like it. I was in 7th grade and my BFF Darryl wanted to help with the project, since it was pretty much all we talked about at lunch. I tend to get a little single-minded when I am working on something and my enthusiasm for a project can be infectious. I gave Darryl some of my material so he could make some maps for me. The bulk of the map I gave him had been altered, but the Wotanic Knights (think heathen Teutonic Knights) were still there at the bottom of the map. I liked the results of his mapping, so they got to stay. I eventually gave them their own origin even.

The Basques made it into the world next. I liked their shadowy pre-indoeuropean origin, so I had the Elves rescue a bunch from Celtic encroachment and give them a place to stay while they looked for a new world for them. The same treatment they gave the Neanderthals in the canon history of the campaign.

Arabs and Turks made it in later, in the late 80's or early 90's for the sole reason that we had some Arab and Turk looking minis. Previous to that I had exactly one Arabic sounding character in the world and he was a powerful mage (necromancer actually), so he could have gotten there on his own. Al-Khalid was just a name I picked out of a hat, basically. But in my long running Dempster: Phase 2 D&D campaign, Arabs and Turks started making regular appearances because of those minis. Hakim the thief was a party henchman and became a huge catalyst for adventure in his own right when he betrayed the party and made off with a flawless fist-sized magic diamond. Ivar , the party's PC thief and Hakim's former boss, tracked him back to his own homeland and attempted to get his revenge. That was easier said than done and gave us an entire campaign arc set in my pseudo-Arabia and eventually led to Ivar taking on Abdul the fighter as a regular Henchman. Turkish mercenaries were a small but significant part of my last AD&D2 campaign in Garnia circa 1999-2001. That campaign had a lot of stops and starts and player changes and ran concurrently with my Mighty Celts campaign that ended with the first colonization by Celts into Garnia.

In the mid-1990's I ran an AD&D2 campaign set in a fantasy Roman empire, so that eventually became a part of the world too. I placed it on the west end of the large continental mass that included Garnia, Frodia and the rest, far from the old campaign areas in what is an approximation of the Mediterranean world. That area also included an old fallen Egyptian empire, where the ancient Egyptians had been completely overrun by Goblins over the course of centuries. The Goblins there had almost completely adopted Egyptian culture and religion and language, giving us a super-civilized Goblin empire, complete with a Goblin Pharoah. Of course the Romans conquered the Goblin Egypt, and non-human slaves were pretty common in that setting. That game didn't run long, but it was interesting.

It was in this era that I started making my own maps. I used the map-maker for Civilization 2 and added the new stuff right on to the western edge of the old maps. I placed the Civilizations on the map and watched how these areas actually interacted with each other in game. It was an experiment that I found quite helpful for rewriting great chunks of the canon timeline. It also influenced me to add a few more cultures into the mix.

The early part of the 2000's, right after the release of 3e was an interesting time for my campaign world. I ran an entirely new viking setting when we started playing 3rd edition, that setting soon became part of Garnia too, off in the southern sea. Now the Vikings were here too. Around 2005 I decided that it would be cool to add in some of the civilizations from my Civilization 2 map, this coincided with me finding out that one of my country's names translated into Chinese was Ming Liang, right where I had placed China on my Civilization 2 world map. Obviously that was a sign. So I added the Zulus too, after realizing that I didn't actually have any black people in my world. The Chinese made me think of an old Oriental Adventures campaign I'd run in 1996-97, so my Japan cognate Tenchuko got plunked down off the main map, but near enough to Ming Liang to make all the stuff that happened there canon for my world too.

After that I got it into my head that, since it was fun to see the cultural interactions of wildly different cultures from across history play out in my campaign world (Civilization series fan here, Hello), I'd add in a few other cultures that have maybe died out or failed to thrive in our world that I would like to see there in Garnia. I sprinkled in the Nubian kingdom, the Mongols (I couldn't leave the inspiration for my beloved Steppe Warriors gaming guild out), the Kung San, Vietnamese Montagnards, the Aztecs and a few others; then I placed them near groups that they were culturally dissimilar to and mixed things up.

The only downside of this cultural/historical experiment is that I then don't get to use these cultures as touchstones for my demihuman and humanoid cultures like so many others can and do. I have worked hard at making my Elves have a unique and somewhat alien culture, but I still need to de-nordic my Dwarves. That would probably be more of a priority if anyone wanted to play a Dwarf. Gnomes fall into the category of their cousins the Dwarves, but less so. Halflings I have a really hard time not seeing as Hobbits. I work at it by looking at the cool illustrations of Halflings from early D&D stuff like module A1 or the old illustration from the Expert Book, tiny bad-asses rather than Tolkien-esque Hobbits.

The Orcs get a slightly different treatment from me. I always picture them as somewhat like Next Generation style Klingons. The Orcs even got their own Garnia adjacent kingom. Hobgoblins get to be somewhat Asian inspired, owing to the illustration in the Monster Manual. Goblins and Bugbears are something like less evolved or devolved Hobgoblins, like the forces of evil only got the mix right with the Hobgoblins. The Bugbears are their less evolved brutish cousins and the Goblins are their degenerate spawn. Trolls are just downright alien, they might as well be the aliens from the Aliens movies for all that we can fathom their culture or their motives. Giants are a tough one for me because I always want to make them like the Fomor and instead wind up with the Jotnar, score one for our Germanic Anglo-Saxon culture over my desire to make a more Celtic world, eh? Dragons are usually pretty alien too, reptilian but owing a lot to Beowulf or Fafnir, I know Germanizing again.

Kobolds get to be little dog-men just like it said in B2, Gnolls are hyena-men; no need to add a lot of culture there. Lizardmen are tribal reptiles, I always just play them as generic primitive tribesmen and have never had a problem. Pretty much every other monster is either rare enough that building them a culture would be a complete waste of my time or hasn't appeared in my campaign (yet). I like the idea of rare or unique monsters, probably as a result of my years of Conan comics, novels and short stories. REH and Marvel comics probably had more to do with how I made my world than Tolkien ever did, despite the Tolkienisms of pretty much every D&D world ever made. Like the great EGG, I have vastly preferred a humanocentric world, which is why my map looks more like Hyboria than Middle-Earth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jagatai's Hunt- An old character post I found

This is one of my old posts from the Steppe Warriors message boards.

The ger of the Khakhan was not a happy place this particular day. The Khakhan Jagatai and his wife Monelun were having a very subtle argument, a contest of wills, over what course their children's lives should be taking. Jagatai, for his part, was trying to make his children tough and capable, able to live and lead after his time was in the past. Monelun in turn apparently assumed he wanted them dead. Thirteen years is plenty old enough to raid into the settled lands, Jahanghir is a man, he thought. But that woman and her foals, she keeps them hobbled near the ger. Obviously there is a chance he'll get hurt, but he'll be with his arban! He has trained for this day since he was very small! He stroked the small grey cat sitting on his lap absently, for her part she grabbed his thumb with a paw and bit it gently.

In the old days crockery would have flown and the fight would have been heard throughout the auruq, Monelun had always been a rather spirited woman. These days only a very skilled observer would be able to deduce there was a problem. Jagatai and Monelun had learned to be subtle in their disagreements so as to protect their regal dignity. Jagatai, however was getting annoyed. He was supposed to be sitting here at court listening to the terms of a treaty agreement with a family of merchant princes; but dickering over just how much tribute would be paid to his people, combined with his quiet marital spat was too much for him to take. He motioned to his major-domo Shigikutuku, who then silently slid into position in front of the Great Khan and dismissed the audience. Jagatai set the grey cat on the floor of the yurt and stood up from his stool. He turned and shot one look across the room towards Monelun, whose green-brown eyes pierced him like arrows. So much for reconciliation now he thought as he strode toward the flap of the ger.

Outside the sky was blue and the air chilly. The Khakhan made his way to the corral for his favorite mare, the spirited one that reminded him of his wife, but had never held a grudge against him over anything greater than what treat was brought for her that day. The guards of the Keshik followed at a respectable distance, they knew the Khakhan would be in no mood for company today from long experience; they'd keep their distance with a small contingent and keep him in sight, but barely. These are, after all, well tamed lands; no enemy could get within many miles of the auruq unannounced. Jagatai bribed his mare with a piece of carrot then saddled her up, he'd go hunting today he decided. Handing the reigns to a bo'ol he called for one of the Keshik to bring his hunting bow. Once it arrived he mounted up and rode out from the auruq into the vast plain beyond.

::::

Hours later, with nothing but a marmot to claim for the day, but happy to be away from governing; Jagatai rode back toward the auruq. Suddenly a peccary burst forth from the underbrush right in front of Jagatai. He gave a whoop of joy and spurred his mare into the chase. The wily peccary ran for a small gully and Jagatai urged his mount into a burst of speed to jump over the edge into the gully after it for a clear shot.

From out of nowhere the world turned bright white, then red; fading around the edges of his vision towards black as the ground rose up to strike him in the back of his head and shoulders. He attempted to shake his head, trying to clear his vision. Enough success came in time to see a great tusked humanoid beast swinging a club the size of a tree trunk into his beloved mare's back. The mare screamed in horsey agony. Before he could make sense of what he saw, it swung again ending the mare's screaming and reducing her body to a bloody, pulpy mess.

Jagatai started to rise, and fell backwards; attracting the beasts attention. He took a quick assessment of his situation. His left eye was swollen shut now, the edges of his vision faded until it appeared he was looking through a cave at the creature; blood sprayed from his mouth and nose with every painful breath. He had no idea what had happened to his bow and his sword was still slung in its scabbard attached to the mangled mares saddle. The mannish thing stared at the fallen Khakhan and laughed a deep guttural laugh, then spoke in its beast tongue some foul words Jagatai could not understand as it took two long steps towards him raising its gore drenched tree trunk weapon for a killing blow.

Jagatai made silent prayer to the Tengri to grant him strength, and in one smooth motion rose, drew his knife and stabbed the beast in the groin, where the leg attaches to the trunk of the body, hoping that it would be made on the inside like a man and this blow would kill, if not instantly, surely. The monster howled with rage and swung it's huge club towards Jagatai, connecting with a glancing blow that sent the Khakhan reeling to his right. Jagatai staggered back into the beast and stabbed it again and again in the abdomen and legs, no longer targeting with precision, merely attempting to cause as much damage as possible before dying. The beast fell over backwards, twitching, it's chest and head sprouting numerous arrows. Jagatai turned his head to the sounds of hoof beats at a gallop and his black clad body guards rushing to his aid, he raised his hand in silent thanks before his vision faded completely.

::::

He awoke laying on his back inside his own ger, a masked shaman chanting over him and dancing erratically. As the shaman noticed that his patient awoke he stopped his dance and changed his chant, kneeling down next to Jagatai. He removed his mask continuing his new chant, Jagatai recognized him as Teb the chief Shaman of the auruq. The shamans' hands began to glow with a silvery white light and Teb reached down and grasped his stricken Khakhans' face none too gently. Jagatai felt a new wave of pain at the touch followed by the queasy feeling of his bone and flesh knitting back together. Vision returned to his left eye as the swelling receded. One of Tebs' assistants handed him a bowl decorated with the spirit sigils of Tebs' spirit guides. Teb put the bowl to Jagatais' mouth and bid him drink in his hoarse shaman's voice. The substance within smelled foul and tasted worse but Jagatai knew it would be a healing draught, and so choked it down. Pain dissipated throughout his body.

For the first time he took in his surroundings. His wife Monelun was within his sight, flanked on either side by their daughters Altani and Ebegei. All three wore looks of concern so Jagatai determined his injuries must have been severe. He croaked out “Where is Jahanghir?”. Monelun answered somewhat tersely “He left with his arban as you ordered. Yesterday.”. Her concerned look returned and she asked her husband “How do you feel?”. “I've had worse” he lied, and attempted a smile. “Liar.” she retorted and sighed a bit of relief. She knelt next to him, leaned over and kissed him on the brow. “Get some sleep” she said. And so he did.

Secret History of the Steppe Warriors

When the original Neverwinter Nights went offline I wrote a document I titled “The Secret History of the Steppe Warriors” so that I could record for posterity the events our gaming guild had been a part of in that realm while they were still fresh in my head. I distributed electronic copies to all of the Steppe Warriors and I had a copy sitting on our Yahoo Groups site so that anyone with access to the group could re-download it as needed.

However, in a fit of pique, I decided to delete the Yahoo Group as extraneous since no one was posting and the Steppe Warriors had, in essence, disbanded. I did not back these files up to my hard drive at the time because I was certain I already had copies of everything there. On my hard drive, in my documents there is still a folder called Steppe Warriors and it has a number of subfolders that include old copies and current copies and beta versions of every single official Steppe Warrior document; subfolders that have old message board posts and fiction written about our characters. What I don't have is a copy of the Secret History.

Doh!

This is particularly annoying in light of the fact that I have recently restarted the Steppe Warriors Yahoo Group and now I don't have our single greatest history document. I restarted the group largely so I could have some communication with former Steppe Warriors, whom I miss a lot. Kind of an alumni association. I also did it so I could have the guild structure in place for future online gaming endeavors. It is just easier having a ready made group of friends to game with, whether it's an RPG, RTS or whatever.

Now, the old Secret History was not without it's flaws. Complaints regarding it came mostly in two kinds. The Secret History was considered by some to be too unkind to the memory of Ogotai (Darryl C.) who was our first Khakhan or that the Secret History was too easy on the memory of Ogotai. I tried to be as unbiased as possible in my presentation of the facts and to show both sides of any contested arguments, but I know my personal bias showed particularly in the parts regarding the end of Ogotai's reign and the beginning of mine. Ogotai was certainly a polarizing figure of a man.

Sadly, gone forever are a number of minor stories and even vast swathes of history. We fought a number of inter-guild wars, some of them were just to roleplay our characters, some were in deadly earnest. We destroyed a number of guilds that made themselves our enemies and I am not sure I could name the roll call. We spawned a couple of child guilds, but only one comes to mind right now. The Secret History also documented mine and Darryl's entire history of play within Neverwinter Nights up to the formation of the Steppe Warriors. All of the guilds we had previously been members of, whose names I barely remember now for myself. The Secret History contained at least one minor anecdote about every single member we had, even if they left the guild early on, now I'd be lucky to remember the names of most of those people.

Ruby's Journal

Ashli has posted another installment of Ruby's Journal at:

http://muthroomsarekewl.blogspot.com/2011/01/i-got-best-piggy-back-ride-in-entire.html

Enjoy

Star Fleet Battles- Update

I still haven't had the time to play SFB with the kids. Ashli is still interested and I think it will be fun, but she had a drill team competition and didn't make it home until 2:00AM on Saturday night, followed by our regularly scheduled AD&D game on Sunday. She has today off but we have to work on her SCA armor so it'll be ready by Wednesday. Then she has drill this coming weekend.

However, I managed to grab the SFB volume 2 rulebook and the volume 3 boxed set on EBay this week, so I'll be able to play some serious SFB pretty soon :)

I am still looking for the Commander's Edition Volume 2 boxed set though, so if anyone sees it reasonably priced, I'd appreciate a heads-up.

Monday AAR 01-17-11

The party received the addition of Lee Ann's half-orc fighter Eema this Sunday and the added firepower really showed in the combats. The party woke up in the Hobgoblin leader's room with the door spiked shut courtesy of Lorenzo with Eema already there, hand waved into the party just because it was easier for me. Maybe we'll work out an explanation later. Sister Brangwen healed everyone back to full hit points and regained her spells without incident, then the party set forth into the unknown areas of level 1 of Dyson's Delve. They chose to finish exploring the man-made areas first and Eema caused them to get into a fight with some skeletons with her impulsiveness. Sister Brangwen turned three of them and the party fought the others pretty easily, too easily since I somehow forgot to place three of them on the map despite them being clearly keyed in the encounter.

They continued exploring and opening sarcophagi for a bit, then got a wandering monster encounter with a small goblin patrol. The goblins quite foolishly attacked, despite being outnumbered, because of their hatred of elves. They didn't last long. Next the party ran into another goblin patrol, this one a programmed encounter- the goblin rat-catchers. The party gained surprise against them and charged into battle. The goblin's ferret lasted longest, into the third round, and Eema was quite seroiusly injured by this point. Sister Brangwen cast her one and only cure light wounds spell. I don't let clerics take multiple instances of spells, I feel it makes them less combat medics and more adventuring spell casting holy warriors.

Having explored the entirety of the man-made part of level one, they then back-tracked to the natural cave entrance in the south wall of the main east-west corridor. They explored and found the way down to level two, fought the giant rats and then used the exit to leave and go set up a secure base camp in the ruined temple, mostly because Victor had to leave.

All in all, I think the party worked well together and the role-playing was fun. The only down-side of the day was that we didn't actually get a whole lot of playing time in because Lee can only make it after about 1:30PM and Victor has to leave by about 5:00PM and we waited while Mona made lunch after Lee got here. It was a good lunch, and it gave us some time to talk SCA for a while, but I have got to find a time better suited to giving us more game time. Maybe Saturday would work?

Friday, January 14, 2011

MegaMinis Grenadier Classics Review

I just got my order from MegaMinis in the mail today. I can say I am pleasantly surprised. I wasn't really expecting much from them because they were so inexpensive and I had gotten a bad review of them in a blog comment, so the bar was set pretty low. I mostly was picking them up because the kids wanted to learn to paint minis. I ordered exclusively from their Grenadier Classics line (except for the Pack-Mule), since I already had some of them from Grenadier that meant I'd have some basis for comparison. I have to say that they are probably better in quality than the original Grenadiers simply because the metal is less prone to bending, which leads through metal fatigue to breaking. Breakage is the bane of my old miniature collection. Under the best of circumstances any mini that sees use at all will occasionally suffer a mishap. Being knocked over or dropped, even from and inch or two, can cause significant damage to a lead miniature or at least it's paint job. The tougher lighter metal they are made from now seems more likely to cause less damage due to accidental mishandling. I can heartily recommend anything from their Grenadier Classics line and also their Pack-Mule. I will probably order some more minis from their other lines, given the quality of these ones I just ordered.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

D&D CRPGs

Computer RPGs and I have a long history, since I was a computer nerd from way back. I played Telengard and Zork and a bunch that no one has ever heard of. Today I am going to talk about D&D CRPGs.

The first one I played was "Pool of Radiance", which I have to admit I watched my friend Darryl play a lot more than I played myself. The entire "Gold Box" line from SSI was pretty much the same. They were essentially fairly long D&D modules, set in either the Forgotten Realms or Krynn. They were menu driven and the later ones had some mouse control options. I forget how many there were ultimately. I think the best ones were the first two, "Pool of Radiance" and "Curse of the Azure Bonds". I never finished any of them. They had a hard time holding my interest after a while because of the limitations of the format and the fact that I had plenty of opportunities to play actual live D&D with people.

The things I liked about them were the lessons I learned about D&D tactical combat and the house rules I picked up from them for my real D&D games, like holding your action. That was a big one. Holding your action may seem like an obvious rule now, but no one I ever played with had ever considered the benefit of going later than their initiative previous to then. Mind you we were teen-agers, but still. Even wargaming hadn't made us think of it because they pretty much all work on an I-go-you-go system too, with occasional breaks for opportunity fire. I may lament the fact that D&D has become a tactical miniatures combat game now, but tactics are real and were always important.

The other thing I liked was that the "Gold Box" format made my transition to online gaming easier via "Neverwinter Nights", the first one, that only was available on AOL, not the later one that everyone has heard of or played. "Neverwinter Nights" was a "Gold Box" game and the only one using that engine that was designed for multiplayer use. We used to get a couple of hundred people playing at a time. We had guilds and quests and special events more than a decade before WoW arrived on the scene. I founded a guild- The Steppe Warriors- with Darryl, who at the time was living in Utah. We figured it was the only way we could play together. I could go on at great length about the community and what an awesome time was had by all or the Steppe Warriors (I miss you guys) but I'll save that for another time.

Miniatures (again) and a bit more

First off, it is Clark Ashton Smith's birthday. I never read any of his work, but given his influence, it's on my to do list; along with H.P. Lovecraft. I am a big Robert E. Howard fan, so I don't know how I missed his two most thematically similar contemporaries.

Secondly, WotC has announced the end of D&D minis. I was just expounding on my love/hate for them last week. Now the blogosphere is abuzz with speculation and such. I guess it just settles my issue with them all together. They were the only WotC product I was still purchasing; and then only used off of EBay so I didn't have to deal with randomization. I guess this means Reaper gets to pick up their slack. Now I am completely free of WotC. I already own every D&D book I will ever want and if I want another copy they're out of print anyway, so it's retro-clones or EBay.

Now, does anyone know where I can find reasonably priced storage/transport containers for my lead minis? Currently they are stored in egg cartons, which aren't very protective and take up a lot of space for the number of minis inside; sterilite totes wrapped in bubble wrap, which is only marginally pretective; or in their original boxes which aren't very sturdy over time but provide excellent protection to the miniature and it's paint job. Chessex makes those hard plastic cases, but at twenty-five bucks a pop are they really worth it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1st Level?

Then you should read this primer from dangerous Brian-

http://dangerousbrian.blogspot.com/2011/01/1st-level-party-survival-guide.html

Excellent advice for newbies to D&D and good stuff even grognards might have missed.

Star Fleet Battles


Back when I was a kid I was a huge Star Trek fan. I discovered the show when I was in kindergarten. I may have seen a few animated episodes before then, but didn't really make the association. For the record I started kindergarten in September of 1974. I remember coming home from school, sitting down in front of the TV and looking for something cool to watch. It must have been raining or something because back in those days kids played outside. Anyway, I found Star Trek and was captivated,it was probably my first introduction to science fiction and I have loved it ever since. I even made my dad take me to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture when it came out and I loved it too.

As an aside, I don't think that ST:TMP gets enough trekkie love, sure it pales in comparison to the later original series cast movies, but they forget what it was like to not have any new Star Trek for so long, plus we were dependent on the whim of broadcasters for when we could see the old stuff. I was fortunate that the Canadian tv station we got (when the weather was good) ran syndicated Star Trek every day after school at 4:00PM until after I was out of high school. Thank you CKWS!

The point of all of this is that I loved Star Trek. I picked up Star Trek fan magazines when I could find them and when I could afford them. Same thing with Star Trek novels, of which there were far fewer in those days and the quality was all over the map. When I found a Star Trek game in the early 1980s I was pretty psyched and bought it. I was already a regular wargamer and had been playing D&D for a couple of years too, so the rules were not too complex for me. Me and my buddies (and one of their dads) started playing Star Fleet Battles pretty regularly.

I got the volume 2 boxed set in January of 1986. I remember it clearly because it is wrapped up in the memory of my Grandfather's death. My friend Tim M. went to Twilight Book and Game Emporium in Syracuse to pick it up for me and brought it to my house the day after his funeral. That Sunday also featured Superbowl XX, in which the Chicago Bears absolutely destroyed the New England Patriots.

I don't know what happened to my original Star Fleet Battles boxed sets. I think Tim might have my Volume 2 set, borrowed decades ago for whatever reason. But I just got a copy of my first boxed set, pictured above, off of EBay and when my Daughter Ashli saw it she said she wanted to learn to play.

I call that a win.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mushrooms ARE cool!

Just a quick note today- Ashli started an in character blog if anyone is interested. You all can find it at-

http://muthroomsarekewl.blogspot.com/2011/01/so-i-set-myself-on-fire.html

Carry on.

:)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday AAR- TPK #3

Just kidding. Close though.

Sister Brangwen (Mona) and Ruby (Ashli) met with an elf named Heian Galanadel (Victor) who had a map to an ancient elven citadel buried beneath a ruined temple.

For those of you playing the home game, I used the mini-megadungeon Dyson's Delve. I was a little behind in preparation because I had been setting things up on the campaign's Obsidian Portal site, blogging here and a bunch of other little projects.

John decided not to play for reasons I can only guess at, so Drisnir was absent from the party, back-storied out with a tale of a prostitute he'd fallen in love with and wanted to make an honest woman of. Em's character was absent and got no such story to explain why, which was odd because we knew she wasn't going to play for much longer. The party picked up a hireling named Lorenzo (which made me decide I need to keep a sheet of campaign appropriate names near me while I DM) to act as a torchbearer/porter on the expedition.

The expedition started off quite well. The party ran into no random encounters during their four days of travel north on the old Iron Trail and their were no planned ones. They had no trouble locating the old Temple of Epona that sat atop the dungeon complex. They quickly found the entrance to the crypt area. The goblin guards were no trouble for them, nor were their hobgoblin superiors. Ruby took them both out in a single round with her mad archery skillz. They made their way to the crypt area and made pretty short work of dispatching the zombie in the sarcophagus, except for Ruby fumbling a burning flask of oil and getting some minor burns.

Unfortunately the party then dithered a bit on which direction to go and got their first wandering monsters. Five firebeetles. The firebeetles won initiative and attacked the party, scoring rapid hits on the heretofore unhittable Heian. Heian dropped to unconsciousness, followed shortly by Sister Brangwen and then, despite her mad archery skillz, Ruby too. Only Lorenzo stayed standing to save the day. He took out the two remaining firebeetles with flaming oil. He then retreated to the Hobgoblin captain's room with the wounded, spiked the door and waited for Sister Brangwen to regain consciousness so she could start casting healing spells on herself and the others.

Tactically the party played better than they have in previous weeks, I think the channelizing effect of the dungeon setting helped immensely there. It sucks that a random encounter nearly took the party out (technically it did take the party out, Lorenzo is a hireling after all and was only fighting as a last resort to save his own hide). Mona forgot to level Sister Brangwen with regards to spells, which was a huge factor. I think she keeps forgetting that she isn't a fighter, despite the ecclesiastical name. Ruby owned the battle field with her archery, not so much with, one of Ashli's favorite tactics, flaming oil. Heian was not too bad, being lower level than the others made life a little more difficult, but I had given him xp=1/2(party avg. xp), which made him a level 2 fighter. That's an old house rule we had from the 2nd edition AD&D days when we had a new player join the game or an old PC died and was, for whatever reason, not resurrected.

Next Sunday John has assured me that he will be playing, maybe not with Drisnir, but playing anyway. Drisnir would be helpful being a level3 fighter, but John says he has lost interest in that character. Lee may make her first appearance in the campaign, but if she does we have to wait to start until after she gets out of church and makes it here, which sets us about two hours behind schedule and Victor often has to leave early; so I guess we'll see how that works out. If Lee plays, Em will probably want to play. Whether or not she plays her current character is unknown, but if she doesn't work on her character this week she won't be playing. I hate it when she tries to join the game at the last minute and holds everyone up while she rolls a new character and equips it.

I also created an NPC mage to join the party, because apparently no one wants to be stuck playing a first level magic-user, but the lack of spellcasters is not great for the party as a whole. I guess it'll be decided whether Gwendolyn the mage joins the party or not based on whether Lee wants to play a magic-user. I suspect she will want to play her half-orc fighter Eema. She made Eema back in October and we started to play a bit, but then that new campaign never even saw a real session of play because of work/school commitments.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Miniatures and D&D: My Thoughts

Ah, Grenadier's AD&D line, my first love. Like a lot of people my age, my first introduction to the use of minis with my D&D game came with Grenadier's official AD&D gold box line of miniature figures. My first box was the Dwarves set. I foolishly traded them away for some inferior unofficial minis so I could have a greater number of figures for my game. I immediately regretted that decision setting a pattern for my ownership of miniatures that continues to this day. I did manage to purchase a bunch of the other sets over the course of time though, coordinated with the other guys in my neighborhood D&D group so we could avoid too much overlap.

I had, ultimately, one large boxed set (5002 Monsters), and four small boxed sets (2001 Wizards, 2002 Halflings, 2004 Hirelings and 2007 Females). Tim M. (the regular DM) had one large boxed set (5009 Dragon's Lair) and six small boxed sets (2003 Dwarves [the reason I never replaced mine], 2005 Fighting Men, 2008 Thieves, 2010 Denizens of the Swamp, 2011 Orc's Lair and 2012 Dwellers Below), which I just fact checked at http://www.dndlead.com/Grenadier/Grenadier.htm .

We didn't have anyone else buying minis in our group (yet), and we preferred boxed sets to blisters since you got more bang for your buck, with a couple of caveats. I, for example, had terrible luck with the boxed sets between broken unfixable minis that clearly came from the mold messed up (Werewolf from the Monsters, Druid with dart from the Wizards), missing parts (again with the monsters, my poor wingless gargoyle, ) or just the wrong mini (Halflings box gave me the halfling thief from the thieves set instead of the slinger). It's like they had a 10% quota for messing with me. Only the Dwarves that I traded and the Hirelings came as they should have, I don't count the Females, they were a birthday gift.

Then there were the useless ones, the ones that were only good if you were planning to build a diorama. The Halflings gave us the lookouts, one standing on the other's head, the camp guard, lounging against a small tree and the lancer mounted on a pack-mule is of, at best, limited utility. The Thieves gave us the climbing thief, the thief opening the chest and the nearly useless thief with grappling hook. Just annoying. I loved them anyway though. I have a deep nostalgia for them. I would love to have them again, despite the fact that they are not up to modern standards as sculpts and they are small compared to today's pseudo-25mm scale minis (which are actually 28-32mm scale)

I sold all of mine off before the end of the 1980's because I wanted to get new minis that I could put better paint jobs on. I figured that I had like a decade of painting experience at that point and I could avoid all the old mistakes. When I first got them I had worked under the theory that I should just slap some paint on them and get them to the table. I mostly painted them with Testors model paints because that's what I had. After a few years of use they weren't looking good, so I sold them to my friends and used the proceeds to buy more minis (in theory anyway, I mostly used the money to buy beer, cigarettes and gas). My mini collection would recover eventually, but not with my beloved Grenadiers.

I have seen most of these miniatures recently, so I can attest to their primitive appearance when compared to newer minis. This leads us in to the story of Lance the lucky. Lance W., who was a member of my old neighborhood D&D group (actually 2 of them, after most of the old crew had graduated from high school and moved on he went out an recruited a new bunch to take their places, I was primary DM for the Dempster D&D group phase 2) went to Gencon about 10 years ago and spent most of his time at the auction (every time he has gone since he volunteers at the auction, he has gotten free admission more than once because of this), while he was there the auctioneers got a sealed suitcase for auction. It was late, they didn't open it up. The description of the contents was extremely vague. No one wanted to bid on it. Lance eventually bid five bucks for the suitcase. He won. The suitcase contained, among other things, a nearly complete set of Grenadiers AD&D miniature line still shrink-wrapped. Now you know why Lance loves the auction and why I call him, in this context anyway, Lance the lucky.

The funny thing is Lance had been buying old Grenadier lead all along. He had picked up the bulk of Tim's collection (although in real roundabout way, Darryl C. had bought them when Tim went through the same newer, better phase I did, Lance just managed to catch Darryl years later when he was in the mood to sell). I think he bought some of mine, and he had been hunting it at garage sales and flea markets since he got his first job. Lance even stayed with Grenadier into the 1990's as a loyal customer. Sadly Grenadier is no more. I wonder what happened to their old molds?

Scale Creep is the scourge of our time. It makes our old minis useless next to these huge minis produced today. Scale creep means that we have to either rely solely on old, no longer manufactured, increasingly expensive and difficult to find sculpts or replace our entire collections and start over. I blame Games Workshop and their Warhammer minis. I guess it's in their interest to try and get people to buy more, newer stuff all the time; and their bigger is better philosophy certainly seems to be popular, but I can't help but wonder- who gave control of the entire fantasy miniatures manufacturing industry to them? Historical miniature wargamers would never tolerate scale creep in their hobby. That's half of what the problem was with WotC's Axis and Allies miniatures line, the vehicle scales were inconsistent and not scaled to the soldiers. WotC had to re-issue all of the vehicle models redone to the proper scale to try and fix the problem and get the line taken seriously by what should have been the core audience they were marketed to.

D&D as a tactical miniatures skirmish game really irks me. Since 3e hit the market you haven't been able to play modern D&D with out minis. I really didn't care initially (when I started playing 3e, which was literally years after it's release) because I have played and enjoyed tactical miniature battles before. After a while it started to wear on me though, because all of the 3e rules are fiddly. I hate all of the conditional nonsense that I am likely to forget as DM. Attacks of opportunity were a good idea in theory, but in practice just make everyone move in a really super paranoid and weird fashion across the battlefield.

I didn't realize how much I had come to hate it until I eventually dumped D&D in favor of Hackmaster (4th edition, the D&D based one). The group I was DMing for played through a small, quick combat and it didn't occur to me to use minis for it or "battle-board" it up. It was like as a group we had some sort of catharsis. After that battle no one in the group wanted to use minis at all. We didn't and it was awesome. Don't get me wrong, we all had a long history of using minis with our D&D games, but I think they had become a symbol of the shackles of 3e and when we didn't need to use them we chose not to as a hallmark of our liberation from them. Kind of like how America drinks coffee instead of tea since the revolution.

Now minis have snuck back into my game, both because I loved them once so very much and because my kids were taught D&D using 3e (they insisted, they wanted the newest, best edition). I have bought a lot of WotC minis, both their D&D minis and their Star Wars minis. The D&D minis I bought for use with my FRPGs, the Star Wars minis partly because I love Star Wars and partly because I was hoping to entice John into my love of wargaming through a Star Wars gateway (unsuccessfully, I tried a similar tactic with Heroscape equally unsuccessfully).

I have previously mentioned D&D miniatures and their collectibility being a problem for me. It annoys me on the one hand to not know what I am getting, since I am old enough to remember buying minis that told you what was in a box, and I know that it is just a scheme by WotC to milk their customers of more of their hard earned money than a decent product should. What I have not mentioned before regarding WotC D&D minis is that they are moving farther and farther from being useful to an early edition player. New PC races are essentially useless to us, I mean we can use the dragon dudes for lizard men or draconians or something, but not what they are intended to be; the other elf looking people could be used for elves I guess, but they are not really producing suitable PC minis for some old school races (gnomes, cough, cough), not that 3e gnomes (or halfling for that matter) really looked right for old school games. They are also changing the appearance of a lot of older monsters. The Shambling mound comes to mind. It used to look like the swamp thing, now it looks like a poorly trimmed hedge.

Now, I am sure someone will point out that Otherworld miniatures has come to our rescue with awesome old school minis in a modern scale, and that's true. However they come at a premium price and they are made in England so the shipping adds to that. Now, I live in upstate NY, which is in the US, whose economy collapsed a couple of years ago. I also have 3 kids at home. I am a grown man and I can't really afford them, how are kids supposed to get them? Since I was a kid myself everyone I have ever played D&D with always wanted to have at least a miniature to represent their character. Many of those people were kids. Minis are too expensive for kids and they lack the instant gratification effect when you have to wait for them to be shipped. Plus they lack the appeal of pre-painted minis in that they are not ready to game with as soon as they arrive. Reaper is solving this problem a little bit with their new line of non-collectible pre-painted plastics, but they are typical reaper sculpts, not necessarily representing an early edition aesthetic.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hot topics today-

D&D4e makes collectible cards part of their game.

On the one hand I don't care because I don't play 4e. When the game was released I read through the PH and decided it wasn't for me, it had gone a little too far for my tastes from the game I grew up playing. So why should I care?

On the other hand, 4e is the new D&D, it is what people associate me and my hobby with, so I am getting tarred by it's brush. I never liked the collectible aspect of WotC's miniature line for the same reason I never liked CCGs- I like to know what I am buying and whether or not it'll be worth my money. I don't want to have to spend $7000 so I can get enough trolls for the encounter I had planned. Plus they'll all be the same troll mini, that bugs me. I like diversity in mini sculpts.

Also with CCGs there is always some jerk powergamer with more money than sense that builds the awesome deck of always win. You know what "Gamer" card game was awesome? Avalon Hill's Up Front (the Squad Leader card game). You know why? Aside from it's innovative design, you got all the cards when you bought the game. Sure there were expansions released later, but they just added new nationalities. Citadel's Combat Cards were fun too. Sure, they were basically just an advertisement for Warhammer in simple card game format, but if you bought a deck you could play and all the cards for the deck you bought were included.

Religion in RPGs.

Sure it is always there, omnipresent in D&D. A cleric in every party. But does religion ever matter? In my experience no. I have had some players that were really into playing their cleric as, say, a priest of Thor. All anti-giant and combat oriented, cool right? Sometimes. Sometimes it just doesn't work though, largely because, in my opinion, religion in D&D is by default Catholic. That means that being a serious heathen worshipper falls outside the scope of how the class feels. It really shouldn't, there is nothing mechanical about it, it's just that, as designed, the Cleric was supposed to be like a crusader knight. Later this was superceded by the Paladin, but every cleric is still Odo of Bayeux out there wielding a mace so as not to spill blood.

As a DM I have painstakingly created a realistic pantheon of gods and religious observances complete with holy days, based on my mad anthropology and history skillz, only to have it be completely ignored as essentially campaign world flavor text. Helpful for me as DM to set the stage, not so important to the players unless there is a plot hook embedded in the harvest festival. Even clerics (usually) seem less than interested in the day to day, season to season rituals of their religion.

Why is this? I think it probably has to do with the increased secularization of our society. Nobody I play with now or have played with regularly in the past is terribly religious, so they probably don't think about it often.

Missed my anniversary

I missed my one year anniversary with this blog.

For a recap- this blog has covered 3 separate campaigns in the course of 1 year.

First was an AD&D1 campaign set in my own world of Garnia that lasted four or five sessions before ending abruptly in the middle of what was most likely the final combat encounter of the adventure when my wife Mona paused to make dinner. That was my post apocalyptic Garnia game. Oddly enough, we will be restarting this one next Sunday.

Second was a Rules Cyclopedia game where I figured the more rules light version of D&D might keep the game flow going for the kids, particularly John and Em. That didn't really seem to matter to them particularly. I held John's attention but not really Em's. Em died about half way through Castle Caldwell. Ashli died literally on the second to last hit of the last encounter because of a failed save vs. poison. John and Ash were both pretty psyched about actually finishing an adventure though. We planned to do the Castle Caldwell dungeons in the next session, but we never had another session of that campaign. I have really got no idea why that was, but it might have had something to do with either Ash getting ready to join the Army reserve or Ash training for SCA heavy weapons combat or both. We pretty much spent the summer getting in shape, training sword and shield and then moving back to my old property and cleaning it up and repairing things. After school started up again we were really busy all the time. John was in football, Ashli is in Marine Corps junior ROTC and National Honor Society and pretty active in both as well as being in the Army reserve, so we really had to wait for the weather to get cold before moving on to gaming again.

Third was my extremely short-lived Oriental Adventures/Ruins and Ronin hybrid campaign. I was looking forward to it for weeks and it really was my baby. I had been subtly prepping everyone on a diet of cool feudal Japanese stuff during our evening family TV viewing time. It lasted a total of three sessions, all in the month of December and we only made characters during the first. Two TPKs in two weeks apparently killed the enthusiasm for the mystic orient.

It's all OK though, in a year I have discovered the OSR which led me back to my gaming roots and my family and I have had some good times with gaming. This year seems to be well on track to having a D&D game every Sunday. I only wish I could connect with someone local that was into wargaming, all my old wargaming buddies have left the area. I haven't been able to get so much as a game of Axis & Allies going with the kids. By the time I was Em's age I was already experienced at getting my butt kicked at numerous AH and SPI games :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Riches and Glory!

You’re no hero.
You’re a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets. You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished. There are treasures to be won deep underneath, and you shall have them.
Return to the glory days of fantasy with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Adventure as 1974 intended you to, with modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery. Fast play, cryptic secrets, and a mysterious past await you: turn the page…

This is the opening text of the Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG webpage, and it got me thinking. My buddy Lance used to deride these “new” players (particularly after the advent of Vampire: the Masquerade; not necessarily causal, just saying) with their need for character motivation. He'd say, often, “the only motivation we needed was riches and glory” or “we quest for riches and glory”. Riches and glory were the only motivation we needed, we didn't need an angst filled back story for our character. We were there to play and our ultimate motivation was to be the biggest, richest bad-asses in the campaign world. Even Lance's paladin Bordan had a wealthy bad-ass fixation, which is hard to do given the wealth restrictions on paladins, but he was very legalistic about them and got certain dispensations from the DM (Tim) on occasion (usually in connection with the campaign arc he had surrounding the quest for the 10 holy swords).

I read somewhere recently, probably on an OSR blog, that the art changed between editions and became more heroic, where in early edition stuff the adventurers were depicted more like grubby mercenaries. I guess I can see the change now in retrospect. Newer editions and the vast amount of additional available material for them kind of encouraged a straight-up heroic style of play and I kind of went along for the ride on that because I like heroes myself. But I kind of miss the morally ambivalent Conan the barbarian inspired hero. Conan wanted to be rich and powerful so he did what he could to get there and ended up king of Aquilonia. But he started out as a thief and a mercenary. He had a moral code that would probably put him on the good side of the alignment chart. He had interest that included wasting lots of his (often ill-gotten) riches on wine and women.

That's the character, more or less, that pretty much everyone I played with back in the day used to play.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Followers

I knew building that stronghold would attract followers :)

Seriously though, it's nice to see someone besides the people in my game are interested in what I have to say. Thanks for stopping by and checking things out. I don't mind the added pressure of making sure I post good insightful stuff regularly at all :)

I'll try and keep posting game AARs every Monday and my musings on gaming and other stuff as they come to me, sometimes that'll be twice daily sometimes not for days at a time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vikings!

I am thinking that I will explore an area of my Garnia campaign world with this next campaign that I haven't really touched on too much yet- the Viking settlements based around Kaupangrfjord. I have always loved the vikings, I am partially descended from them so I guess that makes a narcissistic kind of sense. My first long running D&D character Mandark was a Northman from Soderfjord. My initial SCA persona was Bjorn Asgeirssen. My only NWN module was based on the same campaign area of Kaupangrfjord and the isles. My long running alt AOL NWN character was Odinbjorn the berserk. I essentially wrote the Viking campaign sourcebook a year before the TSR version of it came out because I wanted to modify AD&D to fit a more historical/Norse mythological framework, we only ran a few adventures there, kind of a series of linked one-shots, but it got pretty good reviews from most of the participants.

My wife Mona is the only player from those games that I still have any contact with, but she remembers it fondly. At the time she started to write/draw a comic book based on the first adventure we played, she only got a few pages in but it was pretty cool to see my game in another medium. I almost remember the cast of characters. I pre-generated them based on what the players in the game were going to want to play, but at the last minute a couple of them switched. Knut the beardless, a massive berserker under a curse, was played by Bill N. Skuli Silver-tongue the Skald was played by his brother Danny. Mona played Sigrid Lignisdottir a priestess of Freyja and Darryl C. Jr. AKA "Little-Darryl" played her brother whose name I forget, but I remember he was an alcoholic and the party leader. His dad, Darryl C. Sr. or "Big-Darryl" played a grizzled old viking named Ragnar. Jamie W. played Ivar the only experienced woodsman and the only Christian viking in the party. Lance W. played a sorcerous and nasty fellow named Magnus.

I remember that Bill and Danny traded characters for the second installment and stayed that way there after, and that Big Darryl never made it back to any of the later games, I think Lance might have made it back for one more game. Darryl's girlfriend (later wife, then ex-wife) Muriel made it into one game as Kara Grey-cloak, but that was after TSR released the Viking Campaign Sourcebook (HR1) and I significantly revamped the characters and setting to bring them into alignment with actual AD&D rules. I wish I hadn't done that. We played it more before. I did run an entire, brief VCS campaign over one summer in the early nineties though and it was fun.

Black Orc Games

I just want to give a shout out here to Black Orc Games ( www.blackorc.com ), makers of Hundred Kingdoms and Warband and a lot of really nice minis. I have made 2 orders with them in the past month and their minis are both of excellent quality and relatively inexpensive. Additionally, both orders have included 1 extra mini for free and my invoice had a hand written note of thanks on it. I haven't got any of the minis painted yet, but the first bunch is primed and they look great. I got their Warband starter set and it comes with the rules, paints, brushes, a cloth tape measure, 2 20-sided dice and 2 warbands (totaling 10 minis) currently on sale for $15.00.

I initially found them while I was searching for new Samurai minis for my OA game, but they have a pretty varied line of figures that could be used for a bunch of different games. Their Panthera tribe make pretty cool Rakasta, their Avalon make for good standard D&D minis. They have modern zombies, D&D style dwarves, Samurai and tons of other stuff. I could keep going on and on, but this isn't meant to be an advertisement or to replace their catalog, I just wanted to publicly state my appreciation for their company. I haven't dealt with a company like this in a while, it's nice to be appreciated as a customer and not just a revenue stream.

Oh, I don't work for them and they are not relatives or anything. I am not pimping their goods just trying to raise their profile a little. I think their catalog can speak for itself if people get there and see it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What a difference a day makes.

My R&R/OA campaign got canceled today because my wife's parents, nephew and aunt came to visit. Victor still came over because apparently Ashli forgot to call him (or just wanted to see him) so, of course, we talked about D&D for a while (and SCA heavy weapons fighting- I gave him a helmet) during which time he stated that he'd rather just start a "regular" D&D campaign next time. Maybe he reads this blog? I don't know. Ashli had been talking for days about how she wanted to go back to playing Ruby, her Hobbit thief with the speech impediment and mushroom habit.

So it seems that we will be returning to Garnia post-apocalypse after all. I have some new ideas for that setting anyway. Poor Garnia. I have collapsed that civilization so many times before; civil wars and break-away kingdoms, the necromancer war, various barbarian invasions installing new dynasties in old established kingdoms, the troll war, the great orc war the war of the twelve. That's just the core human kingdoms too; the elves have their cataclysms culminating in the absolute annihilation of their civilization with the rise of man. The dwarves have their slow decline to collapse following the troll war. The hobbits with their lost origin and lost homelands. So many memories.

Now it begins again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Campaign?

Is there a new campaign beginning here? No, not yet anyway. I know the announcement that I had an Obsidian Portal account and was starting to put up my Garnia stuff was a tad confusing to some people, but I am still trying to run my Ruins and Ronin/AD&D Oriental Adventures hybrid campaign. I only started putting up Garnia stuff there because I wanted to see how everything worked there and Garnia is dead easy for me to write about; it's been kicking around in my noggin for nigh on to 30 years.

Holy cow that makes me feel old, but I just date checked myself and my earliest Garnia stuff is from right around 1980 (unless my memory is failing). I started the whole thing off as a vanity homage to one of my own characters- Garn the great. I played him in Chris G.'s super monty haul get rich and godly-powerful or die campaign through the spring/summer of 1980 I am pretty sure. By fall that campaign was over, and I was soon playing in Tim M.'s much better (and much longer running) D&D campaign. However, I was already designing my own world, centered on that mysterious castle (that I had designed for my character Garn!) and with Garn as chief deity of his own pantheon. That said, I probably didn't run any games in that setting until maybe as late as '85 or '86 using instead the world of Greyhawk or D&D's Known World. I know Darryl started doing cartography and helping me to write a world history when we were in 8th grade which would have been the '82-83 school year, so I was most likely running it with that group of gamers back then on a limited basis.

Anyway, my point was, R&R/OA will still be played tomorrow and, unless there is another TPK, the following Sunday and all of the for the foreseeable future. We all really wanted to try OA again and I was in the right frame of mind to do it, kami willing everything will work out fine :)

Like Art?

If you like art you should check out my wife Mona's deviantart gallery at:

http://monelun.deviantart.com/gallery/

Pretty good, eh?

Obsidian Portal

Luddite that I am I only just created an Obsidian Portal account to manage my World of Garnia campaign. I figure it's time I started getting the stuff out of my head and into the world. Come check it out, but not right away, at http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/garnia/