Tuesday, March 30, 2010

James Mishler is back

He's no longer publishing, but his new gaming blog is up and it's sure to be one to follow.


Twin Cities Bloggers!

So imagine my surprise in stumbling upon another Harryhausen fan at Old School Heretic only to discover it's a local blog! So that makes four that I know of that blog on RPGs and gaming here in the Twin Cities:
I've also created a new blog roll "Twin Cities RPG Bloggers" just for locals in the list at right.

Cool stuff!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FOUND: Rules Cyclopedia!

This is just a bit of bragging on my part--though I'm sure everyone has had it on their shelves for years already. I just never got around to picking one up, and by the time I realized I wanted one, it was impossible to find.

So I'd been scouring used book stores for the last four years, to no avail. Then last week I found myself again in the RPG section of Half Priced Books--not thinking of it and THERE IT WAS!
And in great condition too! Anyway, glad I finally found a (thankfully, non-musty) copy. I apologize for the craptastic photos--this is as quick/dirty as it gets.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No more A's, Just XPs please!

A professor at Indiana University has replaced the grading system with experience points!
Students commenced the program as avatars at level one, which corresponded to zero XP and a grade of 'F'. They gained XP by completing 'quests', 'fighting monsters' and 'crafting'-- in other words, giving presentations, sitting quizzes and exams, and handing in projects.
Personally, I think it's a neat idea. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments.

Full story...

Fight On! #8 is out!

I just purchased this. Can. Not. Wait.

As if I needed more to read right now. But Erol Otus did the cover, and the venerable Jeff Rients interviews him in this issue. Mike D. puts up the TOC.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Original D&D art with an extra cup of snark

Always irreverent somethingawful.com has a new post on original D&D art. It's a far cry from the usual compliments and platitudes we usually see (and give, I for one am guilty!) to D&D artists. What strikes me about this though is....they're right! Not all the time, but some of the early art isn't that great.

Don't get me wrong, my lack of artistic skills are nothing to crow about. But it's fun to see just how much the hobby grew in such a short time. Between the original edition's debut in 1974 and the dawn of the 80s, the art substantially improved in to what  most of us think of when we think of D&D art: the era of Otus, Trampier, etc.

Anyway, their little stroll down memory lane is nothing, if not entertaining!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Swords and Wizardry White Box booklets now available a la carte!

Brave Halfling Publishing is now offering the four booklets from the S&W  White Box set as individual purchases. These are handy $4/ea. softcovers that are great if you've picked up the box and need to get extra character and spell books for your players. You can even buy them in bundles for players who don't need the DM guides, a complete set, and a "referee bundle"--perfect for starting up a new gaming group!

Have a look for yourself.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Vorpal Sword of Wonderland

 Beautiful sword designed by Deviant Art artist Merlkir
Just got home after seeing Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Definitely a feast for the eyes and I'm glad I went. I won't spoil it for anyone who wants to go, except to say that the Jabberwocky and Vorpal sword make an appearance.

Speaking of which, does anyone know when the first mention of the Vorpal sword appeared in D&D lore? Which book exactly?

UPDATE: An astute forum commenter over at Dragonsfoot found my answer:
First D&D appearance was in Supplement 1: Greyhawk (1975) under magic items as Vorpal Blade. It was a pumped up Sword of Sharpness.
Thanks themattjon!

Let's celebrate GM day with ideas, not ire

Yes, GM Day was yesterday I know, but hear me out. Recent developments in the last week have tainted the blogosphere with ire over the OSR's apparent attitude toward gaming. And I'm not going to rant (or link) back. That's well covered territory. There seem to be two sides to this, but I think there's a third that the "silent majority" would prefer to have heard: game and let game.

That's it. No eureka moment here, just go and play what you want whether it's in a big sandy box, on railroad ties, or using whatever other gaming metaphor puts fuzz on your navel. No one's forcing anyone to play a certain way or subscribe to their beliefs about Gygaxian naturalism for pete's sake.

From the Moldvay edition (1981), page B60:

I first got it in my brain that I wanted to try my hand at RPGs again, I wanted to re-learn the rules. I found blogs such as Grognardia and learned about a whole history to a hobby that I'd only barely waded into. By understanding where those ideas came from I caught on to an even greater realization: there's a whole community of people with great ideas of their own out there. So now, I spend my time focusing on one thought "how can I make this more fun." Setting, rules, what-have-you, are all meaningless if I can't make it enjoyable. So I beg, borrow, and beget what's exciting to me and let go of the rest.

Great ideas are made great by passionate players and GMs. They can emerge from anywhere and should be used with enthusiasm. And in the last two years the more vocal gamers (bloggers, etc.) have focused their energies in this direction. Blogs like Planet Algol, Eiglophian Press, A Paladin in Citadel and countless others that I read regularly are great examples of this. It's all relative to the people involved and how much of themselves they put into the game. Diversity of ideas is what feeds gamers' passion for the hobby. It's all good.

Sometimes our passion gets the best of us, but it's important to remember that this is a freakin' great hobby that takes a lot of brain power and energy to invent worlds and then invite our friends over to come and play in. I'm all for lively discussion, but why waste that energy on infighting? Unleash it on psionic, brain-eating illithids, I say!

Most people don't get to enjoy something as creative or gratifying as this hobby--and I'd venture to guess that they don't even understand it, or we wouldn't need public awareness campaigns. So for the rest of us who'd rather "imagine the hell out of it" over beers (root, lager, or ale) let's try and remember what brought us to the hobby in the first place--fill in your own blank, and roll with it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GM Day Sale at RPGNow, 25% Off

RPGNow.com also known as Drivethrurpg.com is having a hefty 25% off sale on a lot of their PDF inventory--through March 8. I've got my eye on a few items already and I've found quite a bit for more than 25% off. One thing I've been itching to do is pick up PDF versions of some of the print products I own so I have searchable copies (or just have back ups). Sales like these make archiving my stuff much less painlful.

System neutral templates--a little help

So over at Exonauts! yesterday I asked for some input on templates for system neutral material. As a few of you old school RPGers out there might not read that post, I've doubled up here to get suggestions. My original post:
So I've got a ton of posts on deck that I want to flesh out, (e.g., gadgets, enemies, etc.) but I'm still wading through rulesets. I'd like to start posting stuff without having to get into the crunchy bits of stat blocks that will essentially need to be converted anyway. I guess, I'd rather there was as little as possible at this point--allowing anyone who wants to yoink an idea can do so and incorporate with ease. So my question is: is there a good template out there for system neutral? Is narrative enough? How much crunch is too much--or not enough?

Ideas? Thoughts? I'd appreciate any suggestions in the comments.

 Feel free to drop suggestions in this post or the one on Exonauts. :)