Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Friday, August 31, 2012

Remember When I Said I Wanted To Get Some Magnets?




I found a place with reasonable prices and ordered some today. Here's what they look like-



Refrigerator Magnet.



Bumper Sticker Magnet.

What do you all think? Who wants one? I was thinking contest. Since this blog is "Powered by OSR", I was thinking of showcasing the talent of the OSR for everyone I play D&D with; so how about a One-Page Dungeon contest? Viking themed, since that's what I am running now, and either stand alone or able to be plugged in as a part of my mega-dungeon as a sub-level. Sound good?

Now, everyone who enters will get the refrigerator magnet, the top 3, chosen by me and whoever else volunteers to be a judge will get the cool bumper sticker magnet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Viking Stuff




I decided it would be easiest to go with the 2nd edition AD&D Vikings Campaign Sourcebook as written and add to it than it would be to convert from 2nd edition back to something earlier, mostly because I am a little pressed for time now, but also because I remember it being one of the better of the HR series. So it looks like I'll be DMing 2nd edition AD&D for the first time this decade tomorrow, good thing I saved my stuff. I am going to opt out of non-weapon proficiencies though, since they are an optional rule.

Now, on with the campaign premise: There is an island in the north Atlantic between the Faroes and Iceland. The year is 860 AD, Iceland has been discovered, but not settled. This island, called Dvergrholm, is the home of a band of actual, honest to goodness Dwarves who are fighting to regain control of their homeland from some evil Jotun-kind, Dokkalfar and their minions. Brave heroes are attracted to this island because of it's mystical nature, magic is strong here, and because of the opportunity for wealth and renown to be won in these battles. The island itself is roughly 15 miles north to south by about 10 at it's widest point east to west, it is dominated by hills and mountainous terrain in the center with new human settlements in the good, flat lands at the north and south ends. There is a second island called Sudrey to the south of the main island, it has no good places to land a ship and no human settlement.

There are Dwarven ruins on both islands in their interiors and those ruins often lead to mines, which often lead to a mega-dungeon complex beneath the island, think D-series, it's huge. The human settlements are like wild west mining boom towns, only with Viking adventurers. They are filled with traders looking to trade with the Dwarves for their exotic goods and with the adventurers for whatever they can haul out of the numerous caves and mines; Adventurers looking to score big and make themselves a name; people that realized they might not have what it takes to be top dog, but they can ride coat-tails and be lackeys and hirelings, shifty grifter types looking to fleece the foolish; and other sundry bits of the very best and worst that Norse society has to offer.

Now, I also plan on running this Pendragon style, so we run a few sessions and then everyone goes home for the rest of the year and comes back in the Spring, maybe have a few random events that crop up in the interim. I don't see a lot of PCs wintering here on Dvergrholm, presumably they'll have some responsibilities to their families and stuff to take care of and then there is always the need to build on your family line, so marriages will have to be arranged and all that goes with that too.

Given the "No Clerics" restriction, magical healing is going to be at a minimum, so I plan on having each player make three characters, a primary, a secondary and a tertiary PC. The primary PC and the secondary PC will travel together, the primary as the "Hero", the secondary as the "Sidekick", the tertiary being left behind in camp or in town as a member of the crew until the primary or secondary PC dies or is incapacitated for a lengthy period, he's "on deck", ready to go. In the event of an actual PC death, the tertiary gets promoted to secondary and another character gets rolled up to be the tertiary, sound good? Now, the death and dying rule I am putting into effect is going to alleviate some PC death, but will add a bunch of PCs with lengthy recovery times, so I thought this was better than retiring them because they were going to be out of action for 8-10 weeks at a clip sometimes.

I have come up with a simple table to help the players determine where their characters are from - if they need help, since none of us are actually from Scandinavia. I suppose they could also just look at it and pick a homeland, I just like randomness.


Roll 1d12
1-3: Norway
4-6: Denmark
7-8: Sweden
9-10: Ireland, Scotland or the Hebrides (roll a d6 or pick)
11: Russia
12: Orkney or Faroes (roll a die for even/odd or pick)

The table favors places that are either close by Dvergrholm or heavily populated. I considered adding a possibility of being a foreigner to the list, but foreigners don't have any rights in Norse lands unless they have a Norseman as a protector/sponsor, so I didn't want to encourage anyone to start down that road.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Viking Equipment II: The Non-Lethal Stuff




The comment on my last post from Ogotai made me think I might be doing part of the heavy lifting for his impending "Saga Heroes" campaign, but I don't really care since I'll be playing in it and I like Viking stuff anyway. I am not going to do a bibliography here or anything, but I'd like to point out that I am using other game books as sources for my prices- I didn't just make this stuff up myself and I don't know that they are accurate at all, but they do seem reflective of the Viking Age distribution of items. I have AD&D 2nd Edition HR 1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook, GURPS Vikings, Runequest Vikings, Runequest II Vikings and Rolemaster Vikings that I have been using as inspirational reading while I cobble together the campaign, the simplified money and prices are mostly from GURPS although I have extrapolated prices for some items not present in the GURPS Vikings book, from the AD&D book particularly, by comparing the listed prices of similar items when available, or translating the prices from one system to the other directly when an item appears in one book but not the other and the price makes sense, or just making an educated guess when it doesn't. So, thanks Steve Jackson Games and Graeme Davis for doing the heavy lifting for me and making my D&D game run a little smoother; I am using a modified version of your stuff here without your permission, so I hope you all don't mind. You guys seem pretty cool, so I figure it'll be OK.



Clothing-

Breeches, Wool 5 SP
Breeches, Linen 8 SP
Breeches, Leather 15 SP
Boots 80 SP
Shoes 40 SP
Tunic, Wool 5 SP
Tunic, Brocade 20+ SP
Cloak, Wool 8 SP
Cloak, Fine Cloth 20+ SP
Cloak, Fur 100+ SP
Undershirt, Linen 5 SP
Underdress, Linen 7 SP
Dress, Linen 12 SP
Dress, Fine Cloth 25+ Sp
Hat, Wool 2 SP
Hat, Leather 4 SP
Silk Jacket 1,600+ SP

Food, Provisions, and Lodging-

Snack 1 SP
Meal, Average 2 SP
Beer, Barrel (25 Gallons) 50 SP
Wine, Keg (4 Gallons) 100+ SP
Mead, Keg (4 Gallons) 100 SP
Figs (per pound) 160 SP
Raisins (per pound) 160 SP
Salted Herring (per 100) 6 SP
Lodging (per night)* 1 SP

*Ordinarily the Norse code of hospitality makes this free, but in a larger settlement you might find yourself having to pay for a room.

Livestock-

Dog 10 SP
Dog, Hunting 170 SP
Dog, Guard 250 SP
Dog, War 200 SP
Heifer 200 SP
Milking Cow 250 SP
Ox or Bull 1,500 SP
Horse, Riding 1,200 SP
Hawk 100+ SP
Ewe 100 SP
Ram 250 SP
Goat 150 SP
Sow 200 SP
Boar 400 SP

Miscellaneous Equipment-

Chess Set 30 SP
Hnefetafl Set 25 SP
Silver Arm Ring 50+/- SP
Gold Arm Ring 200+/- SP
Brooch, etc. 50+ SP
Bone or Antler Comb 1 SP
Small Knife 1 SP
Small Casket (6"x9") 5 SP
Sea Chest (2-3 cubic foot capacity) 15 SP
Door Lock 5 SP
Bone Skates 2 SP
Bearing Dial 1 SP
Cauldron and Tripod 20 SP

Transport-

Ox Cart 1,600 SP
Horse Sleigh 2,400 SP
Faering (Boat, 20') 800 SP
Sexaering (Fishing Boat, 40') 1,600 SP
Knarr, Small (Cargo Ship, 50') 10,000 SP
Knarr, Large (Cargo Ship, 75') 16,000 SP
Longship, Small (Warship, 60') 16,000 SP
Longship, Large (Warship, 75') 24,000 SP
Drakkar (Warship, 100') 240,000 SP



That's about all for today. My sister is still in the hospital, going on three weeks now. She was home for a little over a day last week before she had to be rushed back due to complications for an emergency surgery. So that is kind of a bummer, but she seems to be doing OK now and they are planning on transferring her to a better hospital in NYC as soon as she's good enough to go.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Viking Equipment and Money




In explanation I suppose I should explain the shift in genres here, when I wrote last time I was GMing a Legend of the Five Rings game and waiting on word back from the designer of 43 AD before moving ahead with it. My son asked to play AD&D at home again, and, serendipitously, I had just handed the GMing reins over to Darryl in the L5R game. Autumn approaching, I decided to pick up the aborted Viking campaign that we had barely started with the pregens I made. The pregens weren't real popular though, so I decided to let everyone make their own characters to play and make this equipment list to print out for them. We're also adding in a few house rules. No Clerics, Shields Shall Be Splintered, D30 Rule, 0 Hit Point Rule, and maybe a critical hit table from Star Wars Gamer. We're going to use the no Demi-Humans rule from the Viking Campaign Sourcebook from 2nd edition as well as the new classes and the "Gifts". I am also going to secretly track Glory to see if they attract a God's attention or if they get to go to Valhalla when they die, I got the idea from the Saga minigame from TSR.

The simplified version-

I had written a much more complex version of this and decided to just rewrite the whole bloody thing rather than force my players to learn to wrap their tongues around all the Old Norse words, weights and measures. I am also altering the more complex coinages of the early medieval period down to, at least for the present, three and they are all Silver, Silver Pennies are equivalent to an AD&D Silver Piece (but weigh in at about 20 to the ounce, rather than 10 to the pound; or about the weight of a modern American dime); the Half-Penny, which is 1/2 the size and value, and the Arab Dirhem, which is twice the size and value. Most stuff is being repriced by me, because I like to make the equipment list representative of the actual Viking Age, rather than some generic fantasy version of it.

Armor-

Helmet, Plain (Spangenhelm) 100 SP
Helmet, Improved* 200 SP



Shield, Round (Medium) [Center-Grip] 45 SP

Jerkin (Leather) 50 SP
Byrnie (Chainmail) 750 SP
Scale/Lamellar** 1200 SP

*The "improved" part of the helmet is Oculars, or Cheek-Guards, or an Aventail, perhaps even a Full Face Mask- each improvement is going to add 100 SP to the cost of the helmet and the protective value of improvements is only going to come into play versus called shots or critical hits, so your mileage may vary.

**Scale and Lamellar are not native armors to the Norsemen and really are anachronistic to the early period in which we are playing, but in the interest of keeping PCs alive and having some more diversity of appearance, I am going to allow them. They come from the east, Byzantium and the Saracens, the steppes of Russia.


Weapons-

Great Axe (2-Handed Axe) 100 SP
Francisca (Throwing Axe) 40 SP
Bearded Axe (Battle Axe) 60 SP
Hand Axe 30 SP
Woodsman's Axe 50 SP

Throwing Spear 30 SP
Fighting Spear 40 SP

Broad Sword 500 SP

Short Bow 100 SP
Arrow 2 SP
Quiver (10 Arrow Capacity) 10 SP

Knife 30 SP
Scramasax (Cheaply made Short Sword) 150 SP
Dagger 60 SP




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three Play Reports Behind and Then Some


I have been busy playing some RPGs with Big Darryl, Darryl Jr., Dalton and a couple of times with Big Darryl's wife Joann.

I'll start at the beginning - We played the second session of 43 AD, and we fought those battles and it didn't go well due to some extraordinarily bad luck on the part of the players rolling dice for the Romans. We also had to retcon a couple of things from the earlier session because we'd missed a couple of minor points in the rules in the first session. David wasn't there, so we all kind of missed him, but we knew it was kind of a long shot getting the kid back to game regularly anyway, he lives like 50+ miles away from his grandparents, and summer's almost over. Big Darryl was really not pleased with the character he had rolled and was starting to really show it in a big way after the Romans started losing battles big against the Germans, he actually wanted his character to desert at one point and had to be talked out of it, which was good because he ended up rallying the survivors in the end. The session was a meat grinder for the Romans though and we really stress tested the rules, we're putting the campaign on hold until after the designer gets back from vacationing in Australia so we can discuss a few points with him.

So, to keep the roleplaying going on, I dug out my Legend of the Five Rings 1st edition stuff and had everyone make characters for that. I figured it was a longshot for campaign play, but Dalton was into L5R and so was I. Darryl Jr. was always cool with AD&D OA back in the day, although he hates D&D now (3e killed the love), so I figured a fantasy samurai setting that wasn't D&D would be cool. Big Darryl might be a hard sell, since he's 70 years old and not really into Asian fantasy. I had that stuff with me because I anticipated ending early and I thought we might want to try out another game, and I wanted to push it on my group truth be told, since I had bought all the stuff for it, and continue to buy stuff for it. I bought an L5R Disk Wars starter on EBay because I'd never seen one before and it was super cheap, but I digress. We actually didn't finish character generation that evening, as it turns out, even when you have two (semi-)experienced players who are (quasi-) familiar with character generation, teaching it to others is still time consuming. So I gave each of them a book to keep and went home for the better part of a week.

My prediction about who would welcome the game turned out to be dead wrong. Big Darryl loved the setting, although his grasp of the rules is still a little shaky; and Darryl Jr. hated the bulky rulebook with it's immensity of stuff to read. Big Darryl liked it so much he talked his wife Joann into playing, and she hasn't played an RPG since the 1980s. So we ended up with Joann playing a Crane Bushi, Big Darryl playing a Unicorn Bushi, Darryl Jr. playing a Unicorn Bushi (he hadn't read a lot of the setting stuff and decided based on the fact that they are about 1/2 Mongol 1/2 Japanese, he figured he could roleplay that - he is a former Khakhan of the Steppe Warriors after all and a veteran OA player) and Dalton playing a Crab Shugenja. The father and son Unicorns are actually playing cousins.

I started them out with the adventure in the back of the book - "Ceremony of the Samurai" where they compete in the Topaz Championship. Dalton had played through the first day of this before with my family, but since the game didn't apparently stick with them, I decided it was OK for him to play it again. He's a good enough roleplayer to not ruin the surprises he knows about for the other players and not act on player knowledge; and he did just that. Roughly 3/4s of the way through the first day of the tournament I got a phone call from my wife that my sister was in the hospital and things were looking pretty dire, this was almost two weeks ago now and she's still in the hospital and things are still looking pretty dire. She's 300 miles away though and my parents went down to see her, there's nothing anyone can do at this point except hope, and pray if you are a person of faith. Still, her condition weighs heavily on my mind, and it's the main reason I've not blogged much for the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, that call kind of threw me off my game, but I got us through to the end of the first day. Since I need to keep myself occupied I've kept on playing games, although I haven't really been on my game all that much. I've missed stuff in the adventure and skipped some stuff, done some stuff just flat out wrong. I can't decide if it's because I am still really new with this system or I am too distracted to think straight. Anyway, last time Darryl Jr.'s son Dylan joined us and played one of the NPCs, Hida Fujizaka; so we had three generations of gamers at the table while I GMed. I wish the game had gone better, but maybe next time. I only have to finish up with day three and then Darryl Jr. has volunteered to take the reigns as GM to give me a break, since he "had to learn all the damned rules anyway"; and I'll actually get to play. I think I am going to be a Lion Bushi or maybe a Crab, although if Dylan sticks to the group I don't want to steal his thunder.

Here's some more stuff I got in the mail -



I needed this, I gave away three copies



Several of these were doubles for me, some were not. They were extremely cheap as a lot though $40.00 for the bunch, that was the minimum bid. I was a little surprised to win.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Banners on the Cheap!




Like several other OSR bloggers I was contacted by a representative of this company and given the opportunity to test out their product. I am just going to cut to the chase and tell you I am very impressed. My project was to make a double sided 2'x3' - 1” hex/1”square battlemat for miniatures while I game. I know a lot of people are doing their mega-dungeons and all, but I figured these are vinyl and a good battlemat is always a worthwhile investment. I ended up making two different mats because the website design process doesn't support printing a different image on each side, no biggie though, most of my battlemats have been single-sided

The design process was not easy for someone with as little graphics design skill as myself, I had to figure out scaling and measured things with a ruler at 100% size on my monitor and hoped that was right. I had some help in this in the form of the hex grid file that I got from Joseph Bloch at GreyhawkGrognard, I knew it's actual dimensions and could resize it according to my project. I suggested to the nice people at Banners on the Cheap that they might want to have some hex and square grid templates on file there if they are serious about the gamer market. I also suggested that it might be nice to be able to print two different images on the same banner, so you could have the “gaming standard” hexes on one side, squares on the other. Those are the only caveats and they are minor quibbles at worst.

Here are the pictures of the two battlemats I had made by them:




They aren't kidding when they call themselves Banners on the Cheap, my gift certificate easily covered the production of both battlemats and left enough to print this too:



“God in Heaven, on Earth the Khakhan. Ruler of all mankind.” Yes, I printed a Genghis Khan banner, he is the inspiration for so much of what I do after all, and the spiritual father of this blog.

Now, on to the good stuff. They lie flat, they never have the rolled up corners of Chessex or Crystal Caste mats, where you have to either tape them down or put heavy stuff on them. I have read other reviews, but have not had the opportunity to test yet myself, that they take marker well and do not stain. When I actually get a chance to use these for a game I'll certainly add a comment here. They are cheap, these two mats and the Genghis Khan banner (2'x2') came in at what I would have paid for a comparably sized single-sided Chessex mat, plus I can get them on demand in any color I want.

Just to state it again I am well pleased with these mats, and any gamer would be wise to run over to Banners on the Cheap to make a similar purchase- I'll even provide you their link:
Banners
Banners

They have sister sites for signs and magnets too, I'd imagine they have the same high quality and low price and I am thinking about getting some magnets printed as a give away for my blog, just because I'd like to throw some business their way.



Saturday, August 11, 2012

I'll be gaming today...

So I thought I'd share some stuff I got in the mail this week and never got around to showing you all-


I never bought this back in the day because I had the first edition version and it worked fine, but this was a good deal.


This is one of damned few female Mongol miniatures out there.


Still shrink-wrapped Clan War Oni. 





And the miniatures with the worst packing job I have ever seen, they were in a box, in a zip-lock bag with a few styrofoam packing peanuts surrounding the bag. These are the EBay pictures, one of the spearmen is pictured with a broken spear shaft. When they arrived here four were broken and all of them were bent badly.


I got something else too, but it has to wait until I get pictures of it to show you, so there's a cool surprise coming up! If you all ask nicely in the comments maybe my lovely wife Mona will dig out the digital camera and take the pictures while I am gone today.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Breaking News



Hackmaster Basic is now free.

Download it here.

I failed to announce the awesome sale they had to get rid of the stock of HM Basic books a while back, so to make up for it I hope I am quick enough to be a news source here.

Between the Erol Otus cover art and the feel of the rules, it's a new old school game. It's a little heavier on the rules than I am looking for these days, but it is a good game and it was the first game my daughter GMed and everything worked out fine. Your PCs are definitely not superheroes, they work for their coin.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Only 10 RPG books and a few other things




I have been meaning to jump on the OSR bandwagon meme of picking out which 10 RPG books I would take with me to a desert isle, presumably with a group of fellow gamers, and I realized that if I am limited to hard copies of books I actually own, while I have an extensive collection, it's going to be mostly, if not all, TSR (A)D&D books; and thus, a pretty boring list. Essentially it's the books on my desk- 1st edition AD&D DMG, PH, MM, OA and module OA1 Swords of the Daimyo, Holmes Basic, Moldvay Basic, Cook/Marsh Expert and modules B2 Keep on the Borderlands and X1 Isle of Dread. Now, if I get to assume that the last 2 modules are part of the boxed sets they come with, I'll pick James Pacek's "The Wilderness Alphabet" and the D&D Cyclopedia. I'll also have an extra copy of B2, unless I am allowed to switch out and put my copy of B1 in the Holmes box. There's only one non-TSR product on the list, and it's an alternate; it is an excellent book and I picked it over every other OSR product because of my preference for DMing wilderness adventures. More people should buy it.

Next, I have been doing a lot of reading. Legend of the Five Rings 1st edition RPG stuff, because I am GMing a campaign of that now apparently. I didn't think this one would take off as more than a one-shot, but everyone seems pretty into it. Roman & Celtic history and historical fiction because I am GMing a 43 AD campaign too, and I like to be both well informed and able to steal ideas from real history and from good authors. This game is off to a good start, even if some of the rules range from a bit to extremely unclear. Anyway, I have got more long days and nights of reading ahead of me, I just got these books over the last couple of days-




The First Man in Rome is actually a replacement of a replacement copy, it's one of those books I keep lending out and not getting back.


I liked Pompeii, so I am giving this one a chance too.



Miranda Green is just a great scholar when it comes to the Celts. 

Obviously the Yurt book and the book on Khubilai Khan are not for the 2 currently running RPG campaigns, they are for my Yurt building project and my long standing love of Mongol history respectively; I just felt that I should add them for completeness' sake.

I have also been working on my Garnia campaign world, I have two different areas that I am detailing right now. One area, I am waiting on art for from my wife, I forget from time to time that I usually fall to the bottom of her priority list for art projects. I want to strike while the iron is hot for me, while I am inspired to write about a particular topic, she needs to wait for the inspiration to strike her to illustrate that same topic. When we are in sync, things are great, when we aren't it is an agonizing wait for me; because it's always me waiting on art, I can't ever remember a time when she was waiting for my writing. The other area I want her art for too, because I want to move away from using public domain art or just pictures I found on the net; I figure if I ever get around to publishing any of this stuff it should have it's own illustrations and she's a great illustrator. She just doesn't appear to prioritize my projects over her own, which annoys me.

So while I have been cooling my heels and NOT working on those projects and NOT reading for 24 hours a day, I have fallen off the wagon and indulged in a few games of Civilization. I say a few games because I haven't played in a couple of years now and I apparently am not the Civilization powerhouse I used to be, that's a humbling experience. I had to drop down two levels of difficulty while I get my Civilization bearings back again and I am still not doing great, just not getting trounced. I used to play the game all the time heavily modded, I tried that and couldn't remember what all the mods did, other than make the game harder. I had to switch back to vanilla Civilization IV + Warlords + Beyond the Sword. I used to create mods for this game, I made an awesome Scotland Civilization, now if I make it to the modern age I am likely to be a 3rd rate power.