Saturday, December 31, 2016

The first annual Monstrous Matters year-end awards...

...because I may as well pretend like my opinions are that important!

2016 is about to close out.  Here are some random reflections.

First, the non-gaming stuff:

WTF Event of the Year - The United States Presidential Election

I get that some bad stuff went down this year.  The entertainers who died got a lot of coverage.  On the world stage, the situation in Syria is pretty depressing.  And on a personal level, there was a tragedy in my hometown that people in a community that small aren't used to dealing with.

But when people around here talk about 2016 just needing to end, I can't help but think that a lot of it comes back to the U.S. election.  For what it showed us about American politics.  For what it showed us about lingering division in the country.  For what it showed us about the power of media (which we'll be sorting out for a long time to come).  And from my perspective (although certainly not from the perspective of a number of people I know and love), for the outcome.

Seriously, America.  What in the actual fuck.

There's really not much to say that hasn't been said many times over.  From where I stand, this was clearly the event that dominated the year.

From @DungeonsDonald.

New Song of the Year - Michael Bublé's "Nobody But Me"

Now, on to a happier note.  I'll admit that I don't really hear enough popular music to make a truly educated choice here, but when I hear a song that blows me away like this one did (and in such a genre-agnostic way), it oughta be recognized:

I couldn't find an easy link to the performance on The Tonight Show, which is the one I first heard, and which actually got to feature Black Thought of The Roots in the rap breakdown (rather than the trumpet solo above, which is also great), as on the album.  If you can find that one, it's definitely worth checking out!

Song That Would Have Been New Song of the Year, Hands Down, If It Had Been Released Several Months Later - Kendrick Lamar's "Alright"

Thank you to Atlanta community radio for letting me hear this song.  I make no claim to the emotions expressed therein, but I know they held a lot of power in the political climate we experienced this year.  It's also just a great song.

And now, for the games!

New Game of the Year - The Black Hack

In the OSR community, new games drop on a pretty regular basis.  It's kind of what we do, and it's a trend that lends itself to spreading one's attention all over the place.  So, when a game like David Black's The Black Hack comes along and gets people brewing and buzzing with such a central focus, it's worth paying attention to it.  Heck, I couldn't resist hacking it myself.

It also works as game, and it's a lot of fun!

RPG of the Year - Lamentations of the Flame Princess

James Raggi's game of Weird Fantasy is one of the real success stories of the OSR.  My buddy Ted has been running an awesome campaign using a bunch of the published LotFP adventures, which has helped to keep me connected to roleplaying in a busy year and given me a pretty good feel (I think) for the game's themes.  Check it out (you probably already did, long ago)!

Non-RP Game of the Year - Bohnanza

Yeah, these are just personal awards, so this one takes the prize by sitting idle in my game collection for about 15 years before making a leap to family favorite when it was pulled out of the closet on a whim this year.  I think this one has great potential as a "gateway game."  You gotta love "The Bean Game!"

Bohnanza on BGG

So...there we are!  Despite some struggles earlier in the year, and the stresses of the fall (as noted above), I have to say that I've actually had a pretty outstanding end of the year, and I hope you have, too!

Big thanks to all who have stopped by this little blog and become friends over the course of 2016.  I really appreciate being a part of your community.  Best of luck to everyone, and I'll see you in 2017!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Well, I finally saw Rogue One...

...and holy crap, is it awesome.  Some spoiler-free thoughts:

I thought The Force Awakens was pretty darned good.  Like a lot of other fans (and I'll note that my SW fandom is strong, but limited...), I left TFA with a general feeling of, "Man, that's what I've been waiting for to continue the Star Wars saga..."  After seeing Rogue One, The Force Awakens seems like it might have stuck to "the formula" a little too much.  TFA's characters were great, and I know it needed certain elements to truly continue the Skywalker saga, but after seeing what Rogue One did to stretch that Star Wars formula (while still feeling very much like a piece of the legend), I'm kind of thinking, "Maybe that's what I've actually been waiting for to continue the Star Wars saga..."

And I get that it doesn't really continue the saga.  It expands it, I guess.

Man, even the relatively weak parts of the film (I do have a few small...nitpicks, I guess) really aren't that bad.  Early on, I was afraid I was in for two hours of 45-second vignettes that would stitch together to tell us what happened.  The last time I had that feeling was early in Batman v. Superman, and that didn't turn out so well.  The storytelling really came together, though, and I think it might actually be the most emotionally powerful of any of the Star Wars films.  I totally get what folks mean when they say it's basically a war movie set in the SW galaxy.  It is, and it's a really good one.

If you're reading this and are on the fence about seeing it in theaters, I definitely recommend checking it out.  If you're on the fence about springing for 3D, I recommend that too.  It's quite a beautiful movie. find a Star Wars RPG campaign to play in.  Or maybe run.  Seems like a great time to finally take White Star for a spin...or pull out the old West End Games version for another run.

From Wikipedia...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Monstrous Monday Tuesday: Two more OSR Eeveelutions

In the lingering holiday rush, I didn't quite hit Monstrous Monday with this post, but I wanted to continue looking at Eeveelutions for old school RPGs by hitting the next two to enter the Pokédex...Glaceon and Leafeon.

These two showed up in Generation IV of the Pokémon games, adding Ice- and Grass-types to Eevee's evolved forms.  As with all Eeveelutions, they're as cute as they can be.

Leafeon is especially interesting to me, as it's depicted as a sweet little nonconfrontational, tree-hugging critter, with Pokédex entries like:

When you see Leafeon asleep in a patch of sunshine, you'll know it is using photosynthesis to produce clean air.


It basically does not fight. With cells similar to those of plants, it can perform photosynthesis.

So it basically does not fight, which is pretty cool...oh, I guess except for the times that it's forced to fight in a ridiculous bloodsport by the humans who hold it captive, which is, y'know, the entire point of the Pokémon franchise.

Here are the Glaceon and Leafeon entries at Bulbapedia, and here they are in simple forms for old school games...

(As always, I get these icons from the awesome site, which has tons of amazing bits of art to use in games, completely free of charge!  These cards are proportioned such that they can be printed out at 2.75"x3.75", with 1/8" then trimmed around the edges to bring them to standard poker size.)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In Bleakest Midwinter (a holiday adventure)

All right, I think I've got this to a point where it can be viewed by others!  Here's my meager gift to the OSR community this holiday season...a little adventure called In Bleakest Midwinter.

This is a venture into funnel-type adventuring, inspired by David over at The OSR Library.  It features artwork by my talented buddy (and the nicest guy you'll ever meet) J.R. Mounts (and you should check out his newest project, Stuck In My Head!) and a map taken from the freely usable stock of the incomparable Dyson Logos (probably also a really nice guy).

The PDF is A5-sized and will probably print decently doubled up on standard paper.  There are even front and back "covers" if you choose to go about it that way.

Any and all fixes and feedback are welcome.  Happy Holidays, all!

In Bleakest Midwinter from Google Drive (newest version)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Monstrous Monday: More Eeveelutions for old school games

It's still Monstrous Monday!  Just enough time for me to continue last week's look at the Eeveelutions for old school gaming by featuring the next two to hit the scene...Espeon and Umbreon.

These aren't quite as "elemental" as the first three, buPokémon's Darkness seems like it could easily be interpreted as Aether, and the Mind as an element should also work in this system, eh?

As noted before, I get these icons from the awesome site, which has tons of amazing bits of art to use in games, completely free of charge!  Also, these cards are proportioned such that they can be printed out at 2.75"x3.75", with 1/8" then trimmed around the edges to bring them to standard poker size.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Coming soon...

...and not that I think there's gonna be buzz for an upcoming "product" from yours truly, but I'm stoked about how this is turning out and wanted to post the cover.  Thanks to J.R. Mounts for that fantastic artwork!  Hopefully I can get this all ready for public viewing in the next few days...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wasteland Wednesday: The Flavors of the Post-Apocalypse

One of the central points of tension...okay, maybe not tension, but disagreement...that I see occasionally in the RPG hobby is the mixing of science fiction and fantasy.  Is it ridiculous to mix the two?  Can it make for amazing settings?

Well, obviously, the answer is YES.

There are limits, though.

A couple of years ago, Malcadon mused on the incompatibility of these styles on his EPIC FAIL! blog.  (He also put forward rat-eater fiction as a general term for Mad Max-styled post-apocalyptic stories...perhaps a reference to 2019: After the Fall of New York, and a descriptor which I rather like.)  Actually, what Malcadon wrote on was the incompatibility of Mad Max and Gamma World...basically that one is built on grit and the other on magic mushrooms, so mixing the two almost inevitably compromises what's great about one or the other.

Now, I am a big proponent of genre-mixing and gonzo high concepts.  But the more I think about Malcodon's thesis, the more I think he might be right.  There's something about those two that I just don't want to mix.

I'm not sure that it even comes down to the subject matter.  I think I'd be fine with throwing orcs and elves and crazy shamans into a Mad Max-style RPG setting.  Or in Mutant Future...why not have a campaign focused on scraping by and eating rats and getting fuel?  I even really like stuff like The Blood of Heroes, which doesn't really fit all that neatly into either category, and After the Bomb, which packs some pretty gonzo shit into a rat-eater shell.

But in my mind, I can't help but make...or at least try to make...some sort of distinction:  Is this Mad Max or Gamma World?  Battletruck or Planet of the Apes?  Hex or Kamandi?

Maybe it just comes down to this:  When did the world blow up?  Ten years ago, or a thousand years ago?

And maybe someday I'll just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb, no matter when it drops.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monstrous Monday: Old school Eeveelutions for old school games

Continuing the Pokémon theme...let me note that I've long been a fan of the so-called "Eeveelutions":

From Bulbapedia

One juvenile stage, with the potential to metamorphose into a variety of elemental adult forms depending upon the method and circumstances, is pretty fun.

There's also the fact that we've always thought our dog Brady looks like an Eeveelution.  (Jolteon, especially.)  Thus, his nickname (among others)...

(Out on the town with his late soulmate Marsha...)

So here are the three Generation I Eeveelutions, converted for battle in your favorite icosahedron-based combat system...

(Ah, and a couple of things I've neglected to mention in the past...first is that I get these icons from the awesome site, which has tons of amazing bits of art to use in games, completely free of charge!  Second is that the cards I put up here are pretty consistently proportioned such that they can be printed out at 2.75"x3.75", with 1/8" then trimmed around the edges to bring them to standard poker size.)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Murlocs by the fireplace

If you've ever wished that the fireplace video setting the mood at your holiday gatherings could have more gamer goodness to it, please let me recommend the Hearthstone Murloc Yule Log posted over at Blizzard's Hearthstone YouTube channel.

The most entertaining aspect of it for me is that the the shtick of murlocs singing Christmas carols should get old pretty quickly...but I still find myself laughing as each new song plays.  I guess that's a me problem.

For more murloc fun, check out Mark's take on them for Savage Worlds over at Cross Planes.

Also, here's a fun article on YouTube fireplace videos and their comments.

And then there's this.  Don't forget this:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wasteland Wednesday: Steel Monsters - The Secret Society

If you're anywhere around my age, you may remember Tonka's Steel Monsters toys...a line of 3 3/4" figures and vehicles which pretty blatantly copied the themes of The Road Warrior (although to be fair, there was a lot of that in the '80s).  When I was in the fourth grade, there was a period of time during which I was somewhat obsessed.

If you'd like to check out some of the toys, you can see them in collector extraoirdinaire Kevin Lentz's archives here.  And you really should check them out, as they're pretty awesome.

Anyway, I realized recently that the first comic included with the toys could be found at a Tonka site, but I couldn't locate the second comic anywhere.  I correct that oversight of the interwebs HERE, where you can download a PDF of the Steel Monsters' second adventure, The Secret Society:

Google Drive link

I hope you enjoy it!  (Also, if anyone knows of a third comic in the series, please let me know!)

Monday, November 28, 2016

(Pocket) Monstrous Monday: Underground Elemental Beastfighting (Revisited)

I was hoping to get this post up today, to get started again on Monstrous Mondays...and then seeing the excellent post by Tim over at The Other Side (on a "monster naturalist" campaign) energized me to make sure I wrote a bit about the 'Mons this week.

Pokémon has seen a bit of a surge in retro fun lately, starting with the focus on first-generation monsters in Pokémon Go.  Then, earlier this month, the newest set for the trading card game (Evolutions) dropped in English, also revisiting a bunch of G1 critters to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise.  And this new set doesn't just feature the older monsters; some of the cards are essentially identical to those from the game's very first set, and some are updated just enough to take into account the game's power creep over the years.

For example, back at the start of the game, one of the most dangerous Pokémon in the game was the quick- and hard-hitting basic beast Hitmonchan.  His original card looked like this:

Back in 1999, that was a force to be reckoned with.  Today, those stats aren't nearly as impressive.  So, for the new set, the designers have given us this:

Basically, they took a B/X character and converted it to Pathfinder.

Now, overall, this seems like it would be easy to chalk up to lazy design and an attempt to grab more of players' money while putting out minimal effort.  I'll admit, though...these nods to the game as it used to be make me want to pick it up and play again!  (And that's coming from someone who ridiculous as this probably sounds...that there might be a legitimate ethical problem at the heart of the Pokémon franchise.)

So, for today's Monster Monday, I'd like to start getting into the habit again of statting up monsters for the Underground Elemental Beastfighting theme that I've explored a little here on this blog.  It'll be easy this first time around...I'm just going to take a few of the beasts from the new TCG set and convert them to generic old school RPG monsters.  (Quick and dirty conversion rules:  HP/10, 1d6/30 damage, HD = Level/20 rounded up, bonus to hit for 1-energy attacks, penalties for attacks requiring 3+ energy, AC based on retreat cost...and a few little tweaks here and there...)

So let's see...may as well start with some basic elements that form a nice triangle, and go from there...

Start with water...

...which is sure to be good against fire...

...which should burn wood pretty easily...

...and bring us right back 'round to water.

Happy Monstrous Monday, all!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

8-bit Legend of Zelda battle map

This weekend, I decided to take on another quest to put my university's resources to good use before I no longer have access to them.  I'd been thinking for a while that I should use our poster printer to make some sort of battle map or game board, but I wasn't sure what to print.  Lately, I'd become intrigued by how nicely the layout of the map from the original Legend of Zelda would work as a gridded battlefield, so I decided to give that a try.  Here's the 36" x 48" result:

(Presley's just there for scale.  I guess.  Honestly, getting in the picture was mostly her decision.)

I put a grid of thin white lines over it to divide it into (roughly) 1-inch squares.  (Apologies for all photography from here on out...I need to figure out how to take better closeups of minis...)

It certainly didn't come out perfect, as you can see by the line crossing over the right side of the dark "doorway" pictured below...and the white lines are tough to see on some of the lighter terrain...but overall, I'm pretty darn happy with it!

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with it.  It's actually been a while since I've had much use for a battle map divided into 5-foot squares.  I know I could use it for an RPG or minis game that doesn't need a grid, but now that I've gone to all that effort...maybe I can put the squares to use.

Hmm.  I haven't played HeroClix in a really long time, and while the squares are a bit small compared to Clix maps, it would probably work okay.

I'm thinking it would be a perfect battlefield for the old 3.5-era D&D miniatures game.  (I never actually played that in a head-to-head fashion, but I did use some of the stuff in the Miniatures Handbook in regular D&D.  I liked it quite a bit!)  Maybe I can do some sort of hybrid of D&D Minis with OSR rules...taking some cues from the game I play with Lego...?  There have to be some cool Zelda or not-Zelda miniatures out there.  Heck, some basic Greenskins would probably work as Moblin minis (though they should maybe become Blueskins):

If I had started this months ago, I may have gone to the effort to print up the whole dang map from The Legend of Zelda.  That could be a hell of a campaign!

Now, to see if I have access to a university laminator...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Rufus the Bobcat vs. Brutus Buckeye

It's one of the biggest weeks of the year for college football fans.  With my Georgia State Panthers on a bye week, and the Iron Bowl looking like it could be a bloodbath, I guess my greatest interest today may lie in the huge Michigan-Ohio State matchup that kicks off in just a few minutes.

This seems like a great time to revisit one of my favorite unscripted moments in mascot history...that time that Ohio University's Rufus the Bobcat went crazy and attacked OSU's Brutus Buckeye...

And...another angle...

Actually, "favorite" might be overstating the way I feel about this incident.  I suppose it's kind of like the recent American presidential election...somewhat entertaining to watch it unfold, but please (oh please), don't let it become the norm.

The story behind the assault on Brutus might be even more entertaining than the event itself.  Rufus (or his alter ego, at least) apparently had it out for The Nut-Headed One for a while.

Friday, November 25, 2016

'Tis the Season...?

Lots of folks bemoan the early arrival of the "official" holiday season each year.  I have a feeling a lot of that is based on the fact that we take our holiday cues largely from commercial entities...which, yeah, are often worth bemoaning.  I dislike the way Thanksgiving has largely become a countdown to great deals.  (And I dislike the way my attempts to ignore that aspect of it mean that I'm probably missing out on great deals.)

However...I do love me some holiday cheer and holiday traditions...and it's never too early for those, right?  Laura and I spent our Thanksgiving evening decorating for Christmas...up went the (artificial) tree, the stockings for all of the four-legged Linnemans, the garland over every window and picture frame, and the ridiculous lights on the front of the house.

And...that most sacred of Linneman holiday traditions...the playing of The Nightmare Before Christmas!  If I ever need to be reminded to just smile and enjoy the simple magic to be found this time of year...there's this...!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Check out this great random deity generator...

I've been meaning to post a link to this gem for a while...

I'm currently playing in an online game of The Black Hack over at The Unseen Servant forum. seems to have stalled, as forum games so often do, but I was playing in one (and it was good fun!).  Both of my characters (yep, both as in the first one's dead) have been clerics, and when it came time to choose a deity, all I knew was that my first assistant-to-the-vicar probably worshipped some sort of sun god.

That's when Joel Priddy (cartoonist, fellow forum roleplayer, and keeper of the great blog An Abominable Fancy) stepped in with this awesome 5d30 random patron deity generator:

Now, I suppose that's readable as-is, but I hope you'll check out the source I yanked it from, the cleric packet from Joel's excellent series of Boilerplate Fantasy Playbooks.  Once posted to the forum, our DM rolled up a series of random gods, and the very first one...Tawmis, the Red Eagle of the Golden Heavens...sounded like my solar deity right out of the gate.  (If you want to know, my second cleric follows Yiol, the Pure Judgment of the Harvest.  Also a winner!)

Joel has also posted a 5d20 version of the table and a fun exercise in googling up images to represent the gods generated.

Tawmis seems easily represented by this picture:

This one, meanwhile, seems like it will require a little more creativity in the way of backstory...

Friday, November 18, 2016

The soldiers of S.L.O.P., part 2

I had a lot of time today to sit around anxiously waiting for word on how close I am to moving on from this portion of my academic career, so naturally, I tried to make myself feel better by thinking about the Swine Legion Opposing Persecution.  (Yeah, I think I've decided I like "Legion" better than "League.")

I figured S.L.O.P. needs some sort of logo patch, so I made this.

There's a lot of white space, but maybe that can be personalized from soldier to soldier.  Rank insignia, nicknames, slogans, whatever.

I also thought the logo would probably be used as a tattoo among the fighters.

(I really like that Rambo-pig.  If you do, too, you should check out artist leshaussebons' DeviantArt page!)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The soldiers of S.L.O.P.

I really wanted to get a quick(?) post in today...something to put a little gaming goodness on my mind, which has lately been occupied by my work, worrying about my work, and worrying about my country (in some order).  I've been able to surf the blogosphere some, but I need to let my mind wander with some good old geeky brainstorming.  So here I go...

David over at The OSR Library has put up a couple of posts on an excellent OSR funnel/adventure called Caveman vs. the Fire Apes.  His work really has me thinking about how fun it could be to run funnel-type adventures as a regular mode of gaming - just pick a genre that seems fun, run a really deadly adventure for a session or so, then move on to another before anyone gets bored.  At the very least, I think it'd be fun to design some of these, as a way to explore OSR gaming in a variety of genres without investing in a full campaign.  So...what would I like start with?  Inspiration struck this morning:

When we take the dogs to our regular hiking trail, we always pass by this place...

...and I'm always entertained by it.  Why?  Well, the backstory has to do with all the time I've spent driving around small towns on or near the coast for my work.  My coworker Meril is Indian, and during our trip several years ago to the Florida panhandle, he decided he'd like to experience a good old all-you-can-eat Southern-cookin' buffet.  We found one at this small restaurant (I'm afraid I can't remember the name) that happened to be one of those barbecue places that decorates with all sorts of happy - and often anthropomorphic - pigs.  Now, I remember back in the day, when I lived in Macon, GA, that I was often amused by the logo for Satterfield's Restaurant and Catering:

Pretty danged insensitive when you think about it from the pig's perspective, eh?  It's a smoking pig.  Hrm.  Now, I'll "admit" that I avoid eating pig...but even to those who love to consume the Other White Meat, there's something weird about that, right?   Anyway, for some reason, during that meal with Meril, the whole pig-promoting-BBQ thing finally struck me as one of the most ridiculous phenomena I would get to see regularly while driving around these United States.  Those happy hogs imploring you to eat the flesh of their brethren are everywhere.

Now, I know I'm not the first to be entertained by this.  There's a TV Tropes page for Let's Meet the Meat, and I've actually just discovered (while looking up some stuff for this post) the amazing, but now abandoned, blog Suicide Food, which specializes in pointing out these nihilistic marketing stories.  (Seriously, check out that site can find stuff like this fascinating logo for the Smokey & The One Arm Bandit BBQ Team...)

So, where am I going with this?  Well, after that meal, as Meril and I spent hours in the car passing many of these local eateries, we began to spin the legend of Justice Pig, the anthropomorphic hog whose mission in life is to rescue...and avenge...those of his species who have been forced to take on these humiliating roles in promotion of their own slaughter.  I've always imagined him as a Rambo-style commando, something like this:

(Be sure to check out artist leshaussebons's DeviantArt page, by the way...that's where I snagged that pic!)

He even had some catchy slogans:

Have another helping...of JUSTICE!


He's tough.
He's angry.
He's PINK!

Now that I think about it, Meril and I must have gotten pretty loopy on those trips.

Ah, so, where I'm going with this is that I'm thinking:  Why not make a funnel-type adventure for warriors like Justice Pig?  I can go with something like the Swine League Opposing Persecution (S.L.O.P.), dedicated to securing the freedom of rational pigs everywhere who are being held in marketing servitude.  The deadly nature of a funnel matches up with the life-and-death subject matter, and I even get to make a little bit of a statement about how ridiculous our approach to the use of animals can be, hopefully without coming across like some self-righteous a-hole.

So...first step, hopefully soon...I guess I need an OSR anthropomorphic pig race.

Looking forward to this.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dream Deceivers

I don't know how far I'll ever go with this blog into full review territory, but I do want to occasionally point out stuff that I think is worth checking out, which is the case with the documentary Dream Deceivers.

DVD cover from Amazon.

I happened upon this movie while looking for something to watch during lunch yesterday.  I ended up watching the whole thing (it's a bit under an hour) and liked it so much that I watched it again with Laura during dinner.  Here's the summary from IMDB:

Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives. Their parents take heavy-metal icons Judas Priest to court, claiming the band "mesmerized" their sons. The unprecedented trial is the framework for this one-of-a-kind, Emmy-nominated documentary.

At its most basic, Dream Deceivers is an interesting look at the anti-metal hysteria that gripped an era (and still finds various forms to this day).  At its best, though (which is most of the film), it's a moving story that spreads its sympathies around to all parties involved.  It's also paced extremely well.  There are no terribly shocking scenes (although one could argue that (1) the post-suicide video footage is a bit hard to watch, and (2) the first sight of James Vance's disfigurement may surprise you).  By the end, though, there's an almost palpable sense of the delusion holding back the sadness of the young men's families.

Dream Deceivers is currently on Hulu Plus and free through Amazon Prime (not sure about Netflix).  I'd love to hear your thoughts if you check it out (or have already seen it).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dungeons And Donalds

I realize I'm not "on Twitter," as they say, but the important stuff seems to find its way to the web.  How have I missed that this is a thing?

You can check out @DungeonsDonald here.  Good stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Yet another magic system...

I've been thinking today about a super-simplified approach to spellcasting in RPGs (especially those of the OSR variety), and the more I play it out in my head, the more I think it just might work.  Heck, maybe it's already out there somewhere in the million and one different mechanics for RPG magic that people use.

The root of the system was my admiration for the simple Hit Die as a general measure for fighting ability.  I learned D&D in the third edition era, so it wasn't until I started exploring older editions and retro-clones that I realized how much value there could be in a single number.  I'd love to be able to work with something similar for magic.  "Magic Dice" of sorts.  I guess.  So here's what I'm working with:

A character with X Magic Dice can cast spells up to level X and begins each day with a pool of X dice to use in casting.  When attempting to cast a spell, roll all of your magic dice; if the result is equal to or greater than the spell's difficulty (5x the spell's level), you succeed in casting the spell.  Whenever a character fails at casting a spell, add one die to their pool; when they succeed, remove one die from their pool (minimum of one).

Aside from my horrible use of pronouns in that paragraph, my biggest concern is probably that such a system could be exploited to cast low-level spells too often...although I guess that possibility is there with high-Intelligence Conjurers in The Black Hack, and it doesn't seem to break anything.

The spell list could be as broad or narrow as desired for the game, and it would be easy to add in "exploding" sixes...and rolls of "one" not counting for ensure that every instance of spellcasting has the chance to succeed or fail...

At any rate, I could imagine a really simple character advancement/construction system in which Hit Dice and Magic Dice are basically equivalent, so with each level, you just choose which one to add to your character.

UPDATE:  Joel Priddy over at An Abominable Fancy has done an excellent breakdown of success rates with this system using a couple of different target number progressions.  Be sure to head over there...not only does Joel use real-life mathematics to analyze this (rather than my typical "yeah, maybe that'll work..."), but his blog is always a great read...!

Margo the Magician.  Because I wanted a picture in this post, and this one kind of fit the theme.

Friday, October 14, 2016

War Games for Boy Scouts (ca. 1910)

Considering the strong connections that remain between the two pastimes to this day, I'm sure I'm not alone among RPGers in enjoying reading about the history of miniature wargames.  I've often looked over the timeline presented by The Courier and thought about how cool it would be to give some of those foundational rules a try.  You can often find digital versions of old rulesets online, but I recently found that I couldn't locate the rules from War Games for Boy Scouts, a book published around 1910 and packaged with a set of toy soldiers, anywhere.

Maybe it was just weak searching skills, but I decided that since I am still a student for a (hopefully) short amount of time, I'd put my school interlibrary loan program to the test and see what I got.  And so, with a BIG tip of the hat to the Georgia State University library (and the University of Oxford, which I'm pretty sure was the source), I'd like to share the book here for anyone else who's interested.  This link will take you to the PDF in Google Drive:

War Games for Boys Scouts by Sgt. A.J. Holladay (PDF)

I don't doubt that I'm violating some form of copyright with this, so...if you care that I've posted it and want me to take it down, please let me know (and let me know why).  For the sake of scholarship and fun, this seemed like the thing to do.

As for the rules, they're pretty darn short and seem to mostly govern the positioning of forces.  There's no randomness in combat; stronger forces always win a battle.  For someone who really wanted to amp up the old school in their OSR, though, these rules would work just fine in a campaign, and the simple presentation of combatant values (standard troops are simply worth two points, for example) would blend nicely with RPGs that use hit dice as a measure of combat strength.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reboot vs. Remake vs. Requel vs. Revival vs...

You know how sometimes you just feel like making a Venn diagram about something trivial?  I felt that way earlier today.

No real rhyme or reason to the examples I chose.  Maybe someday I'll get really ambitious and try to fill out each section more completely.

I'm not quite sure where Superman Returns should go on here.  I am pretty sure this was just another one of my procrastination tricks.  I'd love any feedback you have, though!

Back to work now...

(Click to embiggen.)

(EDIT:  Oh, I should probably get "Reimagining" on here somewhere, shouldn't I?  I think the whole thing might topple...)