Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sessions 57 - 59: Adventures Around Marshton and Slag Mountain

Session 57
Date: 5/6/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPC followers: Nic Cage* (Ftr. 3, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 3, follows Uncle Junkal), Flipwaiter (Dwf. 2, follows Dak) and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv).
NPC hirelings: Dunsdonger (Ftr. 2) and Abbideck (Dwf. 2) were also along as hired mercs, four archers of Rogaland protected their Baron, and Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3) accompanied the group as an observer, though the latter was beginning, over time, to warm to Innominus' teachings about the Temple of Endra.

Early on Day 182 of the party's Arandish adventures, having just survived a snowstorm, the group awakened to light snowfall on the north bank of the Blintsflow River, fifteen miles southeast of the town of Marshton in Blint [hex 1517].

Marshton is in hex 1517; the city erroneously labeled "Marshton" in hex 1316 of the above map is in fact Blintsport.

The party took two hours to hide their boat, which was rendered useless by the overnight freezing of the Blintsflow, and then they hiked overland toward Marshton. On the way there, they were first assaulted by a swarm of dreaded eyepeckers,** which they fended off with flaming oil flasks and Viv's wand of lightning bolts, then were attacked less than an hour later by a bulette! While the open plains of central Blint are known as feeding grounds for these dreadful beings, this particular bulette was unusual: as Yor delivered the killing blow to the creature at the conclusion of a pitched battle, an old hag's voice sounded inside his head, saying "A curse upon you and your land!" Then the bulette flatulated mightily (right in Yor's face) and died. 

As Yor recovered from the stinky emission and pondered the unusual curse, Vivuli immediately set about x-raying and vivisecting the bulette's corpse. Inside its stomach the enterprising assassin found the partially digested corpses of six rodians, sailors by the look of them. Looting the half-digested rodian corpses, Vivuli recovered:

- a goodly amount of coinage and loose gems
- a couple of potions, of human control and giant strength 
- a decanter of endless water
- an embroidered kerchief identifying the group as members of Captain Blackskull's crew

Vivuli determined that all this stuff had been in the bulette's digestive tract since roughly the day before.

The group then pressed on to Marshton, reaching the small town in the late afternoon of Day 182 of their adventures. They checked into the One-Eyed Snake Inn and queried the innkeeper about where a group of dragon hunters could go to find extra hands in the town. After Dak and Viv both spent generously in the establishment, the innkeep suggested that they could find able-bodied warriors at the militia house on the north side of town, and also told the group that Ookla, the local wise woman, could help them with information about the precise location of Boris' lair on Slag Mountain.

 Ookla, Marshton's wise woman, advises a client.

The party paid a visit to Ookla the Wise, who lived above a small apothecary shop on Marshton's east side. They showed her the head of the dragon Zelda, and she was most impressed. She gave them directions to the lair of Zelda's mate, Boris, on nearby Slag Mountain. She also recommended a local mountaineer and guide named Jerry, who had been up on Slag Mountain before. Ookla was unable to shed light upon the significance of the bulette's curse, though.

After lurking around Marshton for several more days, the party set off to the east, toward Slag Mountain, on the morning of Day 188 of their adventures. Their guide, Jerry, took them first to the country dwelling of Oswald the goat rancher, who lived on a farm between Marshton and the mountain. The party stabled their horses at Oswald's place then ascended Slag Mountain in the late afternoon.

Up on the steam-vent-riddled mountain face, he group did battle with two giant snakes, vanquished them, then proceeded further upward. It got hotter. Claude the Ranger detected some snake tracks plus the tracks of some bipedal, ogre-sized magma creatures.

Session 58
Date: 6/3/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

"I'm always for retreating if you guys are." -- Uncle Junkal

It is near dusk on Day 188 of the party's Arandish adventures. Light winter snowfall finds our intrepid adventurers high on the southeast face of Slag Mountain, which lies on the Blint / Minoch border.

No sooner did Claude find some suspicious magma footprints on the steep switchbacks than the group was viciously attacked by two huge magma elementals. The party eventually dispatched these formidable beings, and Vivuli wrote his name in piss on one of their melted-magma corpses.

In the wake of the battle, Uncle Junkal received a telepathic message in his mind: "GET OFF MY MOUNTAIN OR I'LL FRY YOU ALL AND EAT YOUR INNARDS."

Taking this threat seriously, presuming it to be from the legendary Boris the Red Dragon, the party opted to immediately descend the mountain in the falling twilight, under moderate snowfall. They reached Oswald's homestead after midnight, and bedded down there.

A foot of new show fell overnight, and the party set off toward the west on Day 189 of their adventures. They decided to head northeastward to the Free City of Kaladar, approximately a week's travel overland.

All day of Day 189, the group was pursued and repeatedly attacked by a pack of werewolves of DOOM.

Which they killed.

"I'm here to kill for my god!" -- Innominus

Session 59
Date: 7/1/2012
PCs: Innominus (Clr. 7), Dak (Dwf. 6), Yor (Dwf. 6), Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 5), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 5)
NPCs: Nic Cage (Ftr. 2, follows Yor), Claude (Ranger 4, follows Uncle Junkal), and Rodrick (Thf. 4, follows Viv), Brother Lawrence of the Brothers of Carcoon (Clr. 3, follows Innominus), Flipwayter (Dwf 2, follows Dak), and Abbideck (Dwf 1) and Dunsdonger (Ftr 2), hirelings.

The party spends the next three days trekking overland through snow to Kaladar. The first day, they are attacked by horned cyclops, but eventually kill these enemies, tracking them to their lair, killing their extended families, and looting the lair.

The party's second and third days' travel were marked by the presence of saurian balrogs in the air overhead. The demons seemed to be flying regular patrol patterns. Early in the morning of Day 192 of their Arandish adventures, the party was attacked by a group of flying balrogs dropping fire gems! During this deadly bombardment, Brother Lawrence plus two good horses were completely incinerated.

Eventually defeating these foes, the party set off for the Free City once again, reaching the West Gate of Kaladar on the evening of Day 192 of their adventures.

* Nic Cage leveled up at the end of last session.
** Eyepeckers are an indigenous Arandish creature which you can find on p. 23 of The Lands of Ara Compendium 2011.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Delightful Deluxe T&T Photo

I was just updating some links and checking back in on the Trollhalla forum when I came a cross this blog offering updates on the new forthcoming Deluxe edition of Tunnels and Trolls. Of especial interest was this post featuring this photo:

I don't know about you, but I DEFINITELY want to get my hands on whatever game THAT gang is producing!

(Of course, I have already assured that I will get my hands on said game by contributing to the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter campaign.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

OSRCon 2013 Update

If you've been tracking the latest updates over at the OSRCon blog, you already know that due to various administrative and facilities problems, it seemed for awhile like OSRCon 2013 would not happen. Wrote OSRCon Director Chris Cunnington:

I’ll have a $1000 bill to use the [Lillian H. Smith Library] basement. I’ll have no way to collect money. And I’ll have four times the publicity/marketing burden than I did last year.

I’m stopping this before I take anybody’s money, before I’m committed. This started two years ago as a fun experiment. It’s time to get outta Dodge.

On the one hand, of course I was sad about this. I had a great time at both OSRCon 2011 and OSRCon 2012 and will miss playing RPGs in the basement of that beautiful library. However, a very good friend of mine is getting married in early August so there may be scheduling conflicts for me this year in any case. And in a way, I am happy for Chris because I know that putting on the full-blown Con each year is a LOT of work and stress and strain for him. It is my hope that scaling the Con back this year will give Chris and others an opportunity to regroup and think of a new way to go about this that is lower-key and less stressful.

In a more recent post, Chris announces that the Con is still on, but in a different location:

This year OSRCon will be over the August 3/4th weekend on the Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be at the Manulife Centre in the Party Room, thirty-one floors above Bay Bloor Radio. I live here so its easy to set up.

The Party Room is capacity sixty, well appointed, used for corporate meetings, has couches, a kitchen, and floor to ceiling glass windows. The view is fantastic. When people think of the Toronto skyline, they think of this.

So I urge you to attend OSRCon 2013; it sounds like the venue will be top-notch, and hopefully we can keep the momentum going from the first two years. Even if I cannot make it this year due to that wedding, I have my wonderful memories of the first two years, and want to publicly thank Chris for all he has done to make these engaging events happen in the first place. Hopefully this year's scaled-down event will help make OSRCon 2014 a possibility!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Says Spawn:

It occurs to me that there must be blogs and forums (fora, whatever) for fans and critics of the band Yes, of prog-rock fame.

Judging from my limited exposure to D&D blogs and forums, they must also have trolls, and probably someone long ago picked the handle

Owner of a Lonely Fart

and posts the most dastardly recriminations of post-Bruford or post-Wakeman Yes. Or something. Post-Dean cover art, probably.

Some compatriot of his has picked up another low-hanging-fruit-type handle: Fart of the Sunrise.

Another dead-ender has probably taken Long Distance Reacharound.

I have chosen not to Google these phrases lest I find my basest comedic instincts ratified by a blind machine.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skype Session Photos

Things are intensely busy in my work life and so I haven't been blogging much. But I am gaming a fair amount, both at my twice-monthly game at the local book shop and with my "home" campaign that games over Skype. And just to prove to you that I STILL EXIST, here are some photos from my latest Skype-based Labyrinth Lord session (played 3/10):

Spawn of Endra, who plays Innominus the Cleric.

Carl and Danny, who play Dak the Dwarf and Vivuli the Magic-User/Assassin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

J.R.R. Tokens

I've been watching a fair amount of King of the Hill lately and caught this amusing reference in a season four episode:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Historical Note on Graph Paper

Dit Le Spawn:

Stumbling through an old issue of The American Statistician today I saw a nice (if dry) little article, "Quantitative Graphics in Statistics: A Brief History", by James R. Beniger and Dorothy L. Robyn (1978; Vol 32, pp. 1-11). In it they mention the first known commercial production of graph paper (p. 3):

The rise of coordinate plotting is also documented in the commercial development of graph paper. Rectangular grid paper was first offered for sale by a Dr. Buxton in London in 1794. Buxton's product first appeared in published research six years later, in an article on barometric variations which included a footnote advertising the product [Howard*, p. 357]. Herschel made ingenious use of plotted data to calculate the elements of the elliptical orbits of double stars, and his 1832 paper on the subject included a ringing endorsement of graph paper: "Such charts may be obtained, neatly engraved; and are so very useful for a great variety of purposes, that every person engaged in astronomical computations, or indeed, in physico-mathematical inquiries of any description, will find his account in keeping a stock of them always at hand" [Herschel**, pp. 171-2].
D&D would seem to fall under the rubric of a "physico-mathematical inquiry of any description".

*Howard, L. (1800), "On a Periodical Variation of the Barometer, Apparently due to the Influence of the Sun and Moon on the Atmosphere," Philosophical Magazine, 7, 355-363.

**Herschel, J. F. W. (1833), "On the Investigation of the Orbits of Revolving Double Stars," Memoirs of' the Royal Astronomical Society, 5, 171-172; read January 13, 1832.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Tower of Frikkin' Death

Now that 2013 has arrived, Spawn of Endra and I have been talking about our next publishing project, the adventure module The Tower of Death. 

As I mentioned late last summer, the module is completely drafted, clocking in at just under 20 pages at present. It is my hope to keep it about that page count, or maybe even to trim some fat out of the prose on the next (hopefully final) revision pass. The Tower of Death has also been playtested, both by some of my "home" (Skype) group players as well as two different groups at OSRCon 2011 (see report here). Now the project merely awaits a final revision pass (my job), artwork (ideally, a cover by Johnathan and Daisey Bingham and interior art by Kelvin Green), cartography (by Spawn of Endra), and layout (also by Spawn).

In other words, not much has changed since my last lengthy update about the project, we're just now finally entering the final phases. The aim is to release the module at a reasonable price point in both pdf and POD formats by the end of 2013.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

NOT a review: Dyson's Delves Limited Edition Hardcover IS...

Pronounceth Spawn:

I got my copy of Dyson's Delves, the limited edition hardcover version, the other day from Lulu. This isn't a review since I haven't used it in play yet. I've just been reading it and looking at it and walking around my house with it and enjoying the thing as a physical, non-computer-enslaved object.

Saying the work of Dyson Logos is awesome (or even AEWSUM!!!!1!!) is like saying water is wet, charcoal is black, bacon is delicious, and so on. The reader learns nothing new about the subject with such descriptions of the obvious. Hence this is not a review.

Why buy this book when you can just download many of his maps for free? you might ask. Aside from the new material he's added and the clean layout ... and the thing is handy-sized and lays flat, and there are so many sweet maps right there in your hand and you don't have to be looking at a fucking computer to use them ... well, perhaps in terms of a stunted marginal-utility theory there is no point in buying this book.

But seeing so much quality work in one small package rather than having it stretched out over years of blog posts is impressive to me. Much easier to flip through a book than flip through a blog. I'm so happy this book exists, because -- yes there's all the 'inspiration' you can get from it, and even multiple layers of nostalgia if you remember the original post or have played one of these dungeons -- you get to see one person's style and sense of the B/X paradigm concentrated in one object. And it's all The Goods and none of the BS: no polemic; no "The Way The Game Used to Be" essay; no "What's an RPG?" introduction; no "Rah! Rah! OSR!". Just balls-out quality stuff on its own terms. It makes me want to play B/X D&D because it's self-exemplary of all the best, most challenging and fun aspects of the system, while not being system-exclusive.

For me this book stands alongside other recent idiosyncratic works I'm stoked by, like The Dungeon Alphabet and Vornheim: The Complete City Kit. In the after-times when the e-media evaporate I may still have these books as I negotiate the post-apocalypse.


Friday, January 18, 2013

I'm Pro-Fun

Humor in games has been on my mind lately, since Cyclopeatron mentioned it in a comment to this post, and James M. discussed it quasi-recently on Grognardia. Humor is also a core feature of Tunnels and Trolls, which I have been promoting of late. I suppose I have always been a firm proponent of humor in RPG's, largely for pragmatic reasons: I am clownish by nature, favoring comedy over other modes, so I find it constitutionally impossible to resist placing "funny stuff" into the campaign in certain areas.

For example, I love funny names for places (Bull-Licker Terrace, Snotream Harbor) and people (Ox-Head, Fish-Breath). Or, another: I want combat itself to be deadly and for real stakes to exist, yet my descriptions of foe deaths are usually excessive and pretty grotesque and/or scatological, e.g.:

"You slice open his stomach, and his last three half-digested meals spray out onto the floor. As he scrambles around on all fours, screaming in agony as he tries to gather up his spilled intestines, your final blow kills him and he falls to the floor. He flatulates horribly as he expires."

I think the core REASON I enjoy deploying humor into my campaigns is because I actually believe in fun. I want my game sessions to be fun. While I acknowledge the truth and beauty in the ideals set forth by James Raggi in his seminal essay "I Hate Fun," I guess at the end of the day, I am a somewhat lazy, low-genre type of guy and I want my cheap thrills and I want my fun. 


Mind you, I am aware that Raggi's post title is meant to be provocative, and that his real argument is not against fun per se but more against players who feel entitled to certain types of comfortable, predictable, non-deadly fun. I am largely in sympathy with Raggi's "anti-fun" position, and by claiming to like fun in my RPG's I am NOT disagreeing with a passage like this one:

"People out there have gotten the idea that if their precious imaginary equipment owned by their precious imaginary man is taken away from them, their fun has been sabotaged!

"The clue phone is ringing, and it’s a collect call for these fun-seekers: YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LIKE IT. Goddamn, risk and challenge and failure are as much part of role-playing as prancing around like Errol Flynn… er, sorry, Legolas (sorry, wouldn’t want to make a reference that the average modern person wouldn’t know off the top of their head) or something. Shit out there is trying to KILL YOU and there are critters out there that will fuck you up but good if you’re unlucky or not careful.

"What part of, 'The giant spider bites you… oh, you blew your save… roll up a new character!' is supposed to be fun or heroic? Obviously the game was built on a different type of satisfaction."

This is well stated. I too believe in creating a dangerous campaign universe and letting the dice fall as they may and saying FUCK BALANCED ENCOUNTERS. But I also want there to be some levity and laughter and pure, unadulterated fun mixed into my experience at the gaming table. And I don't mean non-diegetic, out-of-game fun like non-gaming-related jokes and the like, which are okay but best kept to a minimum IMO. Rather, I mean IN-GAME-WORLD levity and funny names and comedic weirdness and silly fun. This is a FANTASY world I'm running here, people, and so it can be whatever my players and I wish it to be! In my case, that means a place that is to some extent Monty Pythonesque and silly.

I think most of my players enjoy this humorous style of mine but it may be that some just tolerate it long enough to get back to other more serious and/or exciting parts for them. Overall, my players and I co-create a wide array of gaming experiences at our sessions, including boring ones, and occasionally downright un-fun ones, but also epic ones, and harrowing ones, and brain-teasingly mysterious ones, etc. So it runs the gamut.

But at the end of the day, I am pro-fun.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Supported Deluxe T&T

Today was payday; after paying a few essential bills and buying some much-needed toilet paper, my next priority was to make a $28 pledge to the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter campaign. The new edition of T&T has already met its funding goal, but I nevertheless encourage you to get in on the action. As I have discussed before, T&T is a delightfully fun, easy to play, and historically significant FRPG that really belongs in almost any gamers' collection. And at these prices, who can refuse? The Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter page reveals that one can get a pdf of the new edition at the low pledge level of $14; or you can pledge $28 like I did to get the softcover edition of the book (plus pdf); or ratchet up to the $60 pledge level to get the hardback version (plus pdf).

The Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter campaign ends on Tuesday, February 5th.

I am very excited about the new edition, and encourage you to read this blog post or this one for insight into what it will include. In brief (from the Kickstarter description):

"The minimum we intend to deliver is a book of at least 200 pages (and possibly a lot more) wherein designer Ken St Andre lays out new rules, including new options for character creation, better methods of character development, new playable kindreds, and new personas like Paragon, Specialist and Citizen.

"The book gets a complete graphic make-over, including new art and old favorites, and a new cover painted by Liz Danforth.

"The game will play much the same as it did in the 70s and 80s, and be backwards compatible to existing modules and adventures. It will still be fun, lightweight and customizable."

Wow! To me, the new Danforth art alone is worth the price of admission. Not yet convinced? Then watch this somewhat hyperbolic yet amusing video:

The take-home message: make your pledge to the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter, and see also Trollhalla, Ken St. Andre’s online home base for the T&T community.

Image copyright Liz Danforth

UPDATE: I'M IN THE VIDEO! Upon watching the Deluxe T&T promotional video a second time, I caught something: if you watch closely right around the 4:50 mark, you can see an image of me from OSRCon holding up my T&T 5th Edition Rulebook!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Carter's Appendix N


Inspired by Cyclopeatron, my new Upstate New York NEIGHBOR, I now offer my own Appendix N, which is kind of a deeper rethinking and synthesizing of some ideas I originally posted here and here:

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
As I have confessed beforeThe Hobbit and the LotR trilogy collectively constitute one of the strongest influences on how I view heroic fantasy and how I referee D&D. The Lands of Ara setting gets its single largest dose of "creative DNA" from Tolkien's Middle Earth. Like many Fantasy RPG'ers, when I picture a hobgoblin, it is The Hobbit’s hobgoblins I see. All of the action around Smaug's Lair -- the thrush knocking, Bilbo's sneaking in, etc. -- is totally iconic for me. And The Fellowship of the Ring's Mines of Moria are pretty much the scariest and most inspiring fantasy adventure locale I've ever read about -- note that Balrogs haunt my campaigns to this day. Thus, while I have always had a bit of gonzo in me -- especially where robots, dinosaurs, and inter-dimensional travel are concerned -- and also run things in a tonally lighter and more comedic vein than Tolkien does, I am forced to admit that The Professor's sense of his world, and the sense of history embodied by the races and setting of Middle-Earth, have been extraordinarily potent influences upon me as a sandbox-constructor.

Roger Zelazny, The Chronicles of Amber
Although I read these books awhile after my first early forays into sci-fi and fantasy, The Chronicles of Amber have exerted the second-strongest long-term influence upon me after The Lord of the Rings. Corwin of Amber is probably my all-time favorite fictional protagonist, and the first-person point of view and the gonzo setting of the Amber books simply can't be beat. These books deeply influence how I see magic and multiple dimensions working and interacting -- in fact, certain legendary Lands of Ara NPCs like Morag the Arch-Summoner* exist largely because of how captivating I find the concept of the princes of Amber and Chaos sneaking between dimensions via manipulation of Shadow. It rocks! And Zelazny's imaginative integration of mythical and folkloric beasts into the whole setting is damn memorable too. Hmm, perhaps it's time for a re-read?

Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars etc.
I read ERB's Barsoom books early, like in seventh grade or so, and I really loved them a lot. The world of Barsoom was so evocative for me; I can still see John Carter leaping around on those weird landscapes. Via ERB, I got into the whole science-fantasy mashup genre pretty early, though my D&D / LL campaigns favor an at least superficially Tolkienesque feel and look to them. Yet I nearly always throw a crashed spaceship or some aliens or some inter-dimensional travelers somewhere into my FRPG campaigns, and it's because I have always loved that blending of fantasy and sci-fi found in the Barsoom books (and in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber).

T.H. White, The Once and Future King
Merlin is my third favorite wizard after Tolkien's Gandalf and Monty Python and the Holy Grail's Tim the Enchanter (see next entry). I enjoy Merlin a lot because he is often portrayed as quite Druid-y and pagan, as in The Once and Future King when he turns Arthur into lots of different animals (including an ant!). White's interpretation of the rise and fall of King Arthur is sufficiently epic but primarily human in scale; it is also very funny, as in the sequences involving King Pellinore. But what I like best about this novel, or consider most influential upon my gaming, is its conception of magic: Merlin, Morgan le Fay, and other arcane types in this book (and in the film Excalibur) show us that arcana is nature-based and way more powerful than any single individual's ability to control it. I like that. Magic should never be totally rational nor masterable, and I think I drew that idea largely from Tolkien and White.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, dir. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones)
Like it or not, I love humor in my RPG's. I love grotesque comedy in general, and have been particularly inspired by The Holy Grail's Black Knight fight scene. I love the extreme volume and distance of the blood spurts once the Black Knight starts getting dismembered by King Arthur, and have long attempted to emulate that feel when announcing the combat results in my campaigns: blood and internal organs spurt intensely and far, and a surprisingly large number of blows land in the genitals. As one former player put it, my campaigns seem to take place in a “high-pressure world” where everybody’s blood and internal organs are under a lot of pressure, so as to shoot out really far once pierced in combat. I attribute this trend to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Krull (1983, dir. Peter Yates)
Again, Krull's mix of sci-fi and fantasy always worked well for me; this movie was a particular favorite of mine when I was a young lad. It's very D&D ish actually, with its rag-tag party embarking upon a perilous mission across many strange lands. Great stuff! And that magical glaive thingy was bad-ass.

And to conclude, here are a few things I've read lately that I hope will influence my game:

H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
Please see my review of this volume for more detailed comments, but in short, "HPL's command of written English is nothing short of dazzling. His prose manages to be just rich enough to paint a convincing picture of (creepy) set and (uncanny) setting without stepping over the line into overwrought "purple prose" a la many of Tolkien's descriptive passages or even our own beloved EGG. In short, I find HPL's language to be as evocative as Tolkien's but, at the same time, much more concise."

Lord Dunsany, The King of Elfland's Daughter
I will defer to Cyclopeatron's description: "Style and language. Where fairy tales and dreams intersect. I want stars, moss, and woodsmoke at my table. Dunsany is peerless when it comes to fantasy imagery." Agreed!

P.S. Vance, here I come!

* As is briefly mentioned here, Morag the Arch-Summoner is a legendary Arandish wizard who has lived in total secrecy for the past hundred years. He may even be dead or residing permanently in another dimension for all anyone truly knows. Even before his disappearance from human society, Morag was thought to be quite insane. In more recent news, the party in my current Arandish Campaign have found and identified artifacts seemingly related to Morag's cryptic activities.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls on Kickstarter

As I recently learned from this informative blog post, Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls has begun its Kickstarter campaign, which ends on Tuesday, February 5th.  I had  the chance to hear some advance scuttlebutt about the new edition from its creator, Ken St. Andre, at OSRCon 2012 last August. I am very excited about the new edition and plan to make a pledge to the Kickstarter campaign after my next paycheck clears in a few days.

As classic (5th-Edition) T&T rulebook artist and editor Liz Danforth recently wrote:

"I talked quite a bit about the pleasure I took in reillustrating the venerable Buffalo Castle solitaire dungeon, now the all-new Château Bison. Steve [Compton’s] graphic skill made it shine, inside and out, bringing my black-and-white linework to living color.

"In fact, the new [French] edition of T&T was so glorious to see, the old team at Flying Buffalo was blown away. Me too. I don’t live in the Phoenix Metro area any more, but the experience was the same for all of us. No sooner had it arrived than we started talking (or in my case, emailing) about how we’d like to see a new edition in English that looked this good."

And that is what we're going to get with the Deluxe Edition of Tunnels and Trolls: newly revised rules (still basically compatible with all previous editions), NEW Danforth art, NEW background on Trollworld, and perhaps even some new Bear Peters maps.

Make sure to get in on the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter, and see also Trollhalla, Ken St Andre’s online home base for the T&T community.

Sci-Fi Updates

During my recent blogging hiatus, a couple interesting things happened on the science-fiction front:

1. Goblinoid Games' Starships and Spacemen 2nd Edition came out! I was one of the project's initial backers on Kickstarter, so my hardback copy arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.

Photo courtesy of Dan Proctor

While I would one day love to run a pure S&S game, right now I am so busy running Labyrinth Lord games that this fine product is most likely going to see immediate use as a supplement to the games I've already got running. That is, I will cherry pick robots and equipment and monsters and the like from the S&S rulebook for use in my ongoing Arandish LL campaigns. Remember that I warned you long ago about my penchant  for including sci-fi elements in my fantasy. Gonzo lives!

2. The 2013 Traveller Calendar also became available. I now quote from an email sent by Marc Miller to the Traveller5 mailing list:

"The annual Traveller Calendar was the brainchild of Andrew Boulton, who for the past several years has assembled a truly talented band of artists to produce the calendar, proceeds of which went to various good causes.

"Sadly Andrew passed away this year and it looked like the next calendar would not happen. But the artists would not let that happen: Ian Stead stepped forward to manage the project; the artists all stepped forward with truly great Traveller art, and all wanted to make this a tribute to Andrew.

"Everyone donated their time; the Traveller permissions and licensing (as always) was donated.

"Now you are the last link in the chain: we hope you enjoy this calendar as much as we enjoyed putting it together."

The print version of the 2013 Traveller Calendar is available at Lulu and the PDF version at DriveThruRPG

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Grognard Games YouTube Channel

Thanks to David Macauley, who posted about this a couple days ago, I have recently become aware of an exciting new OSR-related YouTube channel, "Grognard Games":

The channel only has an introductory episode up right now but the show as a whole looks quite promising to me. I recommend that you check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Helmets Shall be Split in Twain!

Despite a rather busy holiday season so far, I have been keeping both of my main gaming groups going: the Skype-based "home" Labyrinth Lord campaign, and the campaign I run out of  Lift Bridge Books, the local book shop.

The latter group just met yesterday and continued its adventures marauding around in a parallel dimension dominated, on the one hand, by the vast, human-dominated city of Vornheim and, on the other, by a sinister Citadel commanded by a society of Dark Elves.* That gaming group is really picking up steam despite some wavering attendance over the holidays: yesterday our two regular core attendees were there plus two others, making a total of four players plus me.

A photo from a late November meeting of the Lift Bridge Old-School D&D Group.

During the session, one player made a pitch for an extension of the "Shields Shall Be Splintered!" rule, i.e., the "Helmets Shall be Split in Twain!" rule. It would work the same way as the Shields variant, but with only a 2 in 6 chance of working when invoked:

Upon a successful 2 in 6 roll, a helmet may be used to "soak" damage from a single attack, thereby reducing damage to zero. Soaking damage destroys the helmet; it is split in two.

* Once the group entered this dimension -- by opening a magical trunk in the underground lair of Zappo the Mysterious -- I had my first chance to use Vornheim, Zak S.'s fucking excellent city gaming supplement. (plans for a review in the near future). For the alternate dimension's Drow-inhabited lands I am mostly cherry-picking stuff from D3 Vault of the Drow.