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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Been Sick, Busy too

I have been sick with some late winter/early spring thing that refuses to go away for the last ten days or so. Every time I think it's finally gone it rears it's ugly head for another round of sore throat or ear ache or sinus headache badness.

My kids were home this week from school too, which ate up a lot of my free time doing family stuff, but not too much game wise due to me, and them, not feeling great. We watched a lot of Star Trek, mostly got through the last season of DS9.

I finished the book 1215 The Year of the Magna Carta too, haven't started another yet, or taken any notes on the Expert book. Not feeling good, most of my free time has been watching stuff rather than reading, so I was just pleased to finish the one book. I did watch almost all of the Sharpe's movies though too, so now I have a bit of a Napoleonic war itch that needs scratching.

I was supposed to go play Dawn Patrol today with Darryl and Big Darryl, I was feeling good enough the day before yesterday when I confirmed the plans, but today the weather turned snowy and windy again and I woke up with a pretty bad ear ache; I'd hoped it would subside with time over the morning, but I finally called and cancelled about twenty minutes ago.

So, a week's vacation for the kids and we got nothing done here other than a lot of Star Trek viewing. Oh, and Lance and Audra came out one evening and we played Seven Wonders, Family Business and Naval War. I tied for 2nd place at Seven Wonders, won Family Business (first time playing too!), and was badly defeated at Naval War, which Mona won by a wide margin.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This Blog

Pictured- The Arms of the Lady Mattea Di Luna, mundanely known as my lovely wife Mona, my inspiration in all things.

I hope my blog is not getting stale. I noticed that I lost a follower today, it's happened before and it always kind of bums me out, like I let down somebody that was expecting something better of me. My blog was never really supposed to attract readers at all honestly, it was just supposed to be a writing exercise to help me organize my thoughts about the stuff I like to do. I just happened to discover the OSR through blogging and made it a big part of my life and what I blog about. Despite my desire to blog more about a number of things, things happening in my life, good, bad and just time consuming, have left me with less time to devote to blogging as regularly as I'd like to; so maybe that's the reason that I lost a follower, or maybe they just moved on in their interests. I can't tell who it was, as much as I'd like to have a personal relationship with everyone that reads my blog, it's not like it was when there were only a dozen or so of you; I can't keep close track anymore; I'll miss you just the same because it feels like a personal failing on my part.

Anyway, on to less maudlin things, I am actually trying to collect my thoughts for a review/retrospective on the Cook/Marsh Expert Book. I just want it to be good, not simply me saying something like "Cook and Marsh continued on in the vein set forth by Moldvay and it continued to be excellent"; while true, it's somewhat lackluster in comparison to the multi-part review that Moldvay's Basic book got. I am afraid I am going to need to go through it again and actually take notes, section by section, like I did with the Moldvay Basic book and make the comparisons to AD&D, that I keep trying to avoid doing.

I offered up the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion as a supplement to B/X for my players since there was some grumbling initially, at character generation and later with the higher mortality rate, about the lack of AD&D-isms in B/X. To my real surprise, every one of my players that I have spoken to so far has rejected it, even the one that really missed the AD&D death at -10HP rule; he stated that he was " this [Basic D&D] mode now.", and would rather just stick with it. My kids, who had originally missed separate races and classes, were all like, "We don't care about that now.". My wife never really cared which rules set we used. Audra is brand new to RPGs at all, so it really doesn't matter to her. Lee Ann I haven't spoken to yet, because she's always working lately, they're short RNs where she works; I suspect will not care either, although she had never played Basic D&D before I introduced her to it. Dalton I haven't spoken to yet either, but I strongly suspect he will prefer to stay with B/X, because he is planning on switching his newbies from AD&D to B/X-LL ASAP.

We play the Anarchy of Stephen and Matilda campaign this weekend, so I will get a chance to talk in person with everyone that I haven't yet. This weekend I plan to run Tim Shorts adventure "Knowledge Illuminates", so I am hoping everyone can make it. I am still reading 1215 Year of the Magna Carta, but I am better than half way through, which I consider pretty good since I am mostly reading it in the morning before breakfast and right before I go to bed at night. I suppose I could cut down on my OSR blog reading and really knuckle down on this whole getting more blogging/reading/campaign preparation done, but I get so many cool ideas from the OSR blogosphere. Even if they aren't things I would ever use, they keep me on my creative toes, you know what I mean?

In non-RPG news, I started my diet for real yesterday and started exercising because I found out that my Barony is hosting the Kingdom of Aethelmearc's Spring Crown Tourney, and it's holding it in Brewerton, NY; a town I practically grew up in, because it is my friend Darryl's hometown. The Tourney is being held the week before my wife's birthday and I found out about it on Valentine's day. This strikes me as too much coincidence to not be fate guiding my hand and forcing me towards this goal, so I am going to bust my ass to shake off the rust as a fighter, lose some fat and gain some muscle over the next three months and, hopefully, make my wife a Princess for her birthday. This is not an impossible goal, I have achieved similar goals in the past, just not won the Crown, although I came close, twice. This time, Deus lo volt!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gamer ADD and AD&D

It's no secret I have a strong preference for historical settings with a bit of fantasy thrown in for flavor, usually the folk beliefs of the peoples living in the setting at the time, sometimes something a little more fully fledged fantastic or even more gonzo stuff. When I set up a new D&D or AD&D campaign I usually take and create a quasi-historical setting with a new world and all the D&D monsters and toss in some real world cultures, usually from around the same time and place, so I know how they'll interact. I have found over the years that my players prefer a more "straight" fantasy D&D world, flavored with the cultures of our Earth to an actual historical setting, although they're usually cool with a historical setting if you leave in all the D&D-isms they've come to expect- Goblins, Orcs and other Humanoids, all the PC races, flashy, destructive Magic-User spells like Fireball, et cetera; which is why the 1139 AD Cornwall campaign is working so far, no restrictions.

That said, I am walking a fine line with my B/X campaign set during the Anarchy, I've been reading a lot of stuff about medieval England; which is really just supplemental to the knowledge I already have on the subject, but I need to refresh and build up my knowledge of that specific time and place. I understand this is more for me than it is for the players, but if I am not enjoying the setting, then it will show through into my game. The players are just as happy to be playing here as they would be in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos or the Kingdom of Furyondy, as long as they still have the opportunity to explore dungeons, slay Orcs and get some gold for their efforts.

My semi-secret plan is to start another game set in the same time and place with another group and have the two games influence each other. I may expand this to include an internet based game at some point too, but I am fearful of the new technology and DMing for a group of people I don't know, so that's in my "we'll see" category. I am ambitious enough to think that this game can last long enough to have players reach Name Level and have an effect on the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, or even start a new faction if they really want to. The current game is B/X and I am pretty happy with it, although the new Adventurer, Conqueror, King System looks like something I may want to check out.

I'd also be lying if I said I didn't miss AD&D, at least a little. Those bastards at WotC managed to announce the re-release of the 1st edition AD&D books at just the wrong time. I'd just about finished reading the Moldvay Basic book and was doing a lot of comparisons anyway. AD&D has a lot of nostalgia value for me and everyone I play with, even my kids, because I started them with it. People in my B/X game were already a little wary of the whole "Race as Class" issue, then we started taking casualties and the AD&D "Death at -10 HP" rule was sorely missed. My new Schrodinger's Adventurer rule hasn't seen play yet, so we'll see how it works out.

Speaking of house rules, I am having some trouble getting new house rules to stick; people just forget about them and so do I. I love "Shields Shall be Splintered", but it's useless if we never remember it. The d30 rule only gets used every now and again, usually when Dalton remembers it and reminds one of the other players to use it, or uses it himself and sets the example for the others to follow. The only "House" rule everyone remembers to use is the unwritten, never explicitly stated, I might face a player rebellion if I revoke, "Natural 20=Critical Hit=Double Damage"; every D&D or AD&D player I have ever played with has used that rule. I see on some blogs that some DMs don't use it to inflict double damage on PCs, but I have always figured what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The only thing I insist upon is that players roll 2 separate dice for damage rather than doubling one, and that strength and magic bonuses are only added after doubling.

Anyway, now everyone is all talking about AD&D again with the impending release of the core books and I am all caught up in thinking things like "Wouldn't it be nice to add a few more Class options? Multi-Classing? More PC Races", all those little rules that drew me into AD&D in the first place. Well, that and the fact that D&D was being marketed to kids and AD&D to adults. On the one hand I know a bunch of people would be pretty happy to switch things over to AD&D, on the other hand I really want to continue the game I have going with the rules set I have. Simple is nice. I am intrigued by the play possibilities of the stronger magic. The lack of multi-classing possibilities has significantly limited the number of non-Human PCs, which I like. There hasn't been a single Halfling yet, there were three Dwarfs and they all died, and just one Elf, she is still alive. The first adventure claimed the lives of three Dwarfs and two Magic-Users, I wonder what that says about the adventure? Other than Magic-Users should avoid the front line.

Should I switch to AD&D? Lance and at least two of my kids want to, Lee Ann favors AD&D, but is open to B/X, Mona doesn't care what rules set we use, I haven't asked Dalton yet, and Audra is brand new to gaming, so it doesn't matter to her. B/X was my idea to make the game simpler and faster; I also wanted to experiment with trying out gaming like it was 1981.

I went out and did some gaming on Saturday. I played a D-Day card game with maddeningly incomplete rules, as the Allies, I suffered a marginal defeat, but I think over the course of the game I figured out what the intent of the rules were. I played a tank battle board game from Milton Bradley, I think, that was sort of like a cross between Battleship and Stratego, I defeated Lance soundly at this. I played a Gladiator game called Arena Games that Lance had been wanting to teach me for a while, I also defeated him soundly at this. I then played Seven Wonders twice and lost both times, once badly, to Lance's 13 year old daughter. These new miniatures came in the mail while I was gone.

Heritage 25mm Historicals, they were Heritage and historical, I was compelled to bid, they needed a home.

Heritage Archers, same with these lads.

Martian Metals Wizard and Flunkie, you can't have too many flunkies, am I right? These are my first ever Martian Metals miniatures too.

This guy was just billed as "Wizard", the miniature itself is marked Ral Partha 1982.

These were billed as Ral Partha and Grenadier, I can attest to the Archer being Grenadier, he says so, the other guy either didn't arrive in the package or disappeared after I opened it when I got home that night.

Not pictured here are the two other guys that were inexplicably included in the package, a pair of older miniatures that I would guess are Grenadier, but I don't recognize them and they are mounted on bases that I am loathe to try and remove them from. They have a Norse/Saxon look about them, both have round shields, one with a tree on it, the other plain wood; one is armed with an axe, the other with a sword. Both are wearing chain and spangenhelms, the axeman's conical with a nasal. Both are bearded.

This book came in the mail today.

I said I was reading a lot about medieval England, this is the first book I have gotten specifically about the Anarchy. Currently I am reading 1215 - The Year of the Magna Carta, which is nearly a century out of date for my game, but keeps referring back to the previous century for comparison, which I was pretty sure it would when I bought it. King John is only two generations removed from King Stephen and the Empress Matilda after all, he is the grandson of Matilda and the Grand-Nephew of Stephen.

These miniatures came in the mail today too.

They are a variety of medieval axemen and I figured, no pun intended, that they might be useful during my quasi-historical B/X Anarchy campaign. They also have pride of place as the last things I am getting from EBay this month, as I ran seriously over budget by accidentally winning more of these miniatures than I expected to.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Possible New B/X House Rule

Since we keep forgetting about "Shields Shall Be Splintered", I am going to do away with it, it only would have saved the Dwarfs anyway. I was talking to my buddy Darryl though and he suggested a Saving Throw vs. Death, which I guess would actually be versus Death Ray or Poison, after dropping to 0 Hit Points or lower; if you make the save you live but are out of the fight, probably unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, if you don't you are dead. He suggested that you could be coup de graced by an enemy during that time too, but I usually assume out of the fight is assumed dead by most enemies. I have amended this rule anyway to the Schrodinger's Adventurer rule- You are neither alive nor dead until after the fight is over. When the fight is finished, assuming your side wins, you can make your saving throw to see if you survived and it was merely a near death experience. If your side loses, or retreats without taking your body I guess, it doesn't really matter, now does it? This cuts down on the lethality a little while still making the game a challenge. This also scales well with level, showing the luck, goodwill of the gods or just plain toughness of higher level characters. I talked it over with Mona and Lance and they both seemed to like the proposed rules modification.

Here's some stuff that came in the mail today-

As always, the pictures are from the EBay auctions.

The Ral Partha Warrior of Chaos here is a guy I never liked back in the day. I had really strong opinions about how there should be a certain amount of realism in our fantasy, that fantasy should be grounded in realism to make the more fantastic parts of it stand out against the realistic background. I still do, I got this guy to show how far we have strayed, this guy was once the line I considered uncrossable; now he is positively realistic next to the mainstream miniatures being produced by a lot of companies. His weapon is not terribly disproportionate, his armor, while ornate, is still reasonable protective and functional.

This is a Ral Partha Turkish Spearman, historical miniatures are always welcomed at my D&D game. There is a frightening amount of mold flash on some of these old Ral Partha minis though, and this is one of them.

Ral Partha Turkish Archer, another good looking historical mini.

This one is a Ral Partha Thracian Peltast, I have to admit I just ordered him because it looked like no one else was going to bid on him and I was winning a bunch of others, I have to admit I don't know what a Peltast is exactly.

Ral Partha Super Heavy Legionary, I have a Roman area in my Garnia campaign world and he is a cool mini.

Ral Partha Sung Chinese Light Infantry, another historical mini bought on a whim.

Ral Partha Sung Chinese Heavy Infantry, I bought this guy on a whim too, but I really like him.

Ral Partha Scottish Warrior with Axe, the first thing everyone noticed about this guy was that his junk was hanging out. My ancestors apparently charged into battle wielding axe and wang.

Ral Partha Scottish Archer, unlike his buddy the Axeman, this guy is not exposing his genitalia to the world.

Ral Partha Kieran, Male Pitfighter.

Ral Partha Katora, Female Pitfighter. A matched pair.

Ral Partha Ghoul. This is a creepy little guy, maybe moreso because of the knife.

Ral Partha English Knight, this one fits my current campaign pretty well.

Ral Partha Enchantress.

Ral Partha Armored Halfling, this is perhaps the smallest Halfling miniature I have ever seen. He still looks like kind of a bad-ass though, which is cool, because all too often Halflings look comical.

Ral Partha Adventuress Mounted, I read somewhere that the dismounted version of this miniature is the first representation of a female D&D character as a miniature. This mounted version dates to 1977.

Grenadier Crossbow soldiers, or so the auction said; if they are actually Grenadier they are very late Grenadier, because scale creep has set in pretty bad. They look great, they're just bigger than the rest of my older miniatures.

This guy was just called "Knight", he's a little on the large side too.

Grenadier Princess, not too much to say about her.

Grenadier Female Barbarian Archer, she needs a bow, not a problem, and she's huge next to older minis, which kind of bums me out.

Grenadier Amazon with axe, I have to take their word that this is a Grenadier, I can't make out the markings on the base, there isn't a lot of fine detail here either, so my guess would be that maybe she came with one of the Giants Club or Dragon of the Month boxed sets?

Broadsword Evil Guard, he kind of looks like he should be one of Thulsa Doom's troops.

Broadsword Dwarf with spear, you don't see a lot of Dwarfs with spears and I kind of like the proportions on him. A lot of Dwarf minis are just too bulky.

Assassins and Thieves. I thought this band of cutthroats could come in handy, my wife is absolutely grossed out and appalled by the gallows and refuses to have anything to do with it, to the point where I'll probably have to get rid of it.

A beat up 1st edition DM's Guide. Actually, it's not as bad as the picture makes it out to be, it's in about the same shape as the one I still use, with the exception that they actually trimmed off the part of the binding that was all tattered. I bought it as a gift for Dalton, who is 18 years old and new to DMing; the 1st edition DM's Guide is still the best tool for DMs out there.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mail Call 08 FEB 2012

I got a lot of things in the mail today that I consider useful for my current D&D campaign, or RPGs in general.

I have heard good things about this one from several bloggers, at first I was a little dismissive of it, since I majored in History in college and the European middle ages were my concentration within that major, and my minor was in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, plus I am in the SCA, but it did look like fun.

This I've just had my eye on for a while.

This guy was labeled "Grenadier Wizzards and Warriors Officer of the Townspeople", I figured I couldn't go wrong with that pedigree.

This little fellow is the Dragon from the Grenadier "Tomb of Spells" AD&D set, missing his wings though, so I'll need to figure out how to strip off the old paint and repair him.

This is another Grenadier AD&D mini, the Cleric, I think it was in the specialist box, it's a good thing I knew what most of these miniatures looked like because the EBay pictures for most of the auctions aren't that great. I hope I figure out how to take better pictures with my camera when I get these painted. I think it's interesting that all of the Grenadier "official" AD&D Clerics and Paladins are clearly Christian, it goes back to the whole argument for the assumed Christianity of early D&D.

This is the Werewolf from Grenadier's AD&D "Monsters" large boxed set, I had that once and sold it to my friend Pete when I was a junior in high school. This Werewolf is in better condition than mine ever was though, mine came with some sort of horrible molding defect that had the base broken off and not really repairable. Grenadier miniatures were always a crap-shoot for me, I almost always got something wrong with a boxed set, either broken miniatures or missing parts or just wrong miniatures in the box. The paint job on this guy is actually pretty good, although it could use some touch up and a seal.

The Vampire Lord, clearly modeled on Bela Lugosi's Dracula, despite the centuries of removal from the assumed medieval setting of AD&D.

The Mummy from the same Grenadier set is another one that looks like the movie monster.

This guy is the "Liche with Horn", from the Grenadier AD&D "Monsters" large boxed set, this is the first one I noticed had the name of the monster spelled differently than it was in the Monster Manual and I always wondered why the Lich had a horn instead of being depicted casting a spell. The paint job is clearly going to need to be stripped from this one, the color scheme is awful.

Another from the same "Monsters" set, this one is called "Lesser Orc with Waraxe", which leads me to ask the question- Did TSR have anyone on staff that looked over what Grenadier was doing with their official AD&D license? AD&D has neither "Lesser Orcs" nor "Waraxes". Just saying.

Same set, "Lesser Orc with sword", I'd also like to not that neither these "Lesser" Orcs, nor the other, presumably "Greater" Orcs in the "Orcs Lair" boxed set are Pig-Nosed Orcs, like in the Monster Manual illustration, I never noted that at the time, but I feel it is noteworthy now, as the first "official" line of AD&D miniatures sowed the seeds of not adhering to established descriptions.

Same "Monsters" set from Grenadier, this guy is a "Gobling with sword", that is not a typo, he is not a Goblin, but a Gobling; I can only assume this is some unholy crossbreed of Goblin and Halfling. Either that or the same people that should have been doing quality control from TSR dropped the ball on this too.

This one is the "Gobling with axe", same set.

This is the Ghoul from the same set.

This is the "Armed Wererat" from the same set, all in all, I got half the set for about what I paid for the whole set back when it was new. Ye Gods, I wish I had never sold a single one of my miniatures over the years.

These lads are from the Grenadier "Fantasy Lords" series, I grabbed them as a set because they're pretty cool and look like they'll fit in with my current Cornish 12th century thing.

This one was just labeled "Demure Female", I have no idea who the manufacturer is, but my wife has already started painting her.

I found this by accident when I was bidding on some other stuff the guy had up, I had tried to win this several times in the past and was never successful, this time I figured I'd try and snag it just because I will eventually return to my Oriental Adventures game, more monsters is always a good thing and back converting from 3e to earlier editions is pretty simple.

AC4- The Book of Marvelous Magic, I figured since I am playing a B/X game this could come in handy, I know it's Mentzer era, but they are about 99.9% compatible.

These guys are two Ral Parthas and a Grenadier, they were a good deal and I like old school miniatures.