Friday, August 31, 2012

Character Sheets for DCC

Is there a good one out there anywhere? I know that Purple Sorcerer has a nice-looking one up on their website, and I've found a few on the official Goodman Games forums, but nothing yet has really struck me as awesome or more useful than any other. I'm really shocked that Goodman hasn't released their own sheet, despite the fact that they released a sheet for 3.X D&D for their DCC (pre-DCC RPG) modules). Any suggestions out there for a decent character sheet?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

DCC Donnerstag: More Folio Fiends; Feathered Fiends, Part 2

So, you'd think that the week that I had my first DCC session, I'd be on point with my next DCC Donnerstag post, right? No such luck. Turns out that spending your whole writing day thinking about what you've got to prep before your next session can make you forget to write the article you planned on. So anyway, here's the next few bird-type monsters from the Fiend Folio. As usual, these are inspired by Jeff Rients and informed by Aplus.

Gryph

Init +3; Atk +2 beak (2d6) or + 2 grapple (1d6 plus see below); AC 13; HD 3d8; MV fly 45'; Act 1d20; SP Grapple/impregnation (see below); Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1; AL N.

These multi-legged birds are about the size of an eagle and have a razor-sharp and needle-pointed beak. One in three gryphs encountered are female; when encountered, a female gryph has a 35% chance to be "in a family way" and ready to implant her eggs in a passing adventurer. A pregnant female gryph will attempt to latch onto her victim and inject her tiny eggs into its bloodstream. The eggs hatch in 1d3 days, killing the host and releasing 1d4 baby gryphs. Some healing spells may help alleviate this unfortunate condition.

Seriously, how many monsters in the Fiend Folio needed to have "lays its eggs in you" as an attack mode? Further, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't find a picture of this guy on the internet; these things look neat and you all deserve to see how strange it looks. Really, I think the only reason I would use this monster is to show the cool picture of it. The gryph has the distinction of being one of the few monsters in the Fiend Folio that doesn't have multiple attacks, making it much easier to convert. 

Thork

Init +2; Atk +2 burning beak (1d6); AC 16; HD 3d8; MV 20" (fly 20"); Act 1d20; SP water spout breath weapon; Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +2; AL N.

A peaceful and largely benign creature if left to its own devices, the thork only fights when threatened, such as when noisy adventurers splash noisesomely through its native wetlands, perhaps in search of the valuable plumage of the thork itself (worth up to 200gp per bird). Often called a "boiler bird," the thork has a body temperature so high that it can heat water to boiling in seconds, a trait which it uses to shoot a gout of boiling water in a 40' cone in front of it instead of other attacks. This gout does 4d6 damage to all in the cone (Reflex save DC 13 for half damage); each thork can only deliver three of these attacks per day, after which a thork will try to evade any attackers.

This is my first "the monster *IS* the treasure" monster from the Fiend Folio. There are others in there, such as the carbuncle, awful monstrosity that it is, but I like the thork much better. I do have to say, I was tempted to write the entirety of its writeup with a lisp. I could easily see putting these guys on the wetlands encounter chart of a hexcrawl just to have something there that was more fun than your normal monsters.

That's it for this week. Next week's collection of Fiends will be a supplement to the Feathered Fiends series, with all of the birdfolk from the Folio collected in one place! Other DCC-related articles coming up include an in-depth look at the Luck mechanic and a write-up of a new deity and patron, the Metal Gods. And some campaign information in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Game of Taps: You Meet In A Tavern...

Last night, I ran my first Dungeon Crawl Classics game.

Last night, I ran my first rpg session in a bar. 

Last night, I assembled a group of seasoned, not-so-seasoned and so-seasoned-you'd-say-they're-preserved gamers at downtown Ypsilanti's fantastic Tap Room and we assaulted Goodman Games's Sailors of the Starless Sea. Some survived; most did not. 

A few months ago, I toyed with the idea of getting together a group of gamers to play a relaxed, beer & pretzels-style dungeon crawl at my favorite watering hole (and a favorite of a few of my players, would-be players and, honestly, the place where my wife works) in hopes that if we got enough people, we could have  filler games on off weeks, spinoff games taking up other tables, folks in the back playing different card games, etc. Basically, my hope was to turn an under-used room in the bar into a mini-convention, but now I don't even care about that part. Now, all I care about is my DCC game, its players, and having an amazing time with some amazing people. 

A few days ago, I was starting to get worried that I wasn't going to have enough players for the session, so I started inviting as many people as I could find. A Starbucks barrista. Two coworkers. Sure, that one coworker could bring his girlfriend. Stuff like that. While I was originally hoping for old schoolers, one by one I watched the old schoolers drop off the "hell yes!" list down to the "that sounds like fun!" list down to the "if I can make it" list down to the "not texting or calling Adam back" list. That's when I hit panic mode and started inviting everyone who I thought might be fun at a gaming table. In the end, the "invite everyone, expect a few" strategy worked, sort of like DCC's character funnel, and I ended up with an awesome cross-section of players:
  • Matt R.: A coworker, Matt's about ten years younger than I am but has a surprising amount of gaming experience. 
  • Chris L.: One of my favorite barristas at the Starbucks I go to when I'm at work (yeah, I know, hate me for going to Starbucks), Chris is a semi-pro computer gamer who has, somehow, never played a tabletop rpg before last night. 
  • Matt W.: Finally, someone my age! This Matt is one of my local old schoolers, but one who only just found out how many of us there are in the area. Matt may be cooking up a Runequest/Legend game for us here locally, but for now, he's at the DCC table and has, as a result of last night's session, become my "lieutenant judge."
  • Terra E.: was the only person I didn't know before we hit the gaming table. Terra's Matt R.'s lady and is pretty damn bad ass. 
We had another fella, a guy named James who knows my wife (you guessed it, from the bar) met up with us later, but at that point, we were already in the dungeon and didn't want to take time out to roll up four new characters. 

Right, so, every player started off with the DCC-recommended four characters, a fact which took some people aback, especially when we saw what some of the ability scores were looking like. I didn't over-explain much and let a lot of explanation happen as the need arose. Things like saving throws were glossed over until it was appropriate. For hit points, I let each player roll 4d4 and assign the results how they liked, which turned out to be a popular suggestion; from my point of view, it cut down on the total numbers of rolls happening at the table, so it sped up the whole process. For most other rolls, though, we took turns working our way around the table, each player taking a turn with a d30 or d% to add details to each character in turn. I was worried that taking turns could cause folks to lose interest in between rolls, but it actually ended up engendering interest in what the next person was rolling. "You rolled a jester? Seriously all you start with is a dart and silk pajamas?" Yeah, lots of that. Once everyone had their starting PCs nailed down, I borrowed each player's stack of index card character sheets and gave a quick rundown of each PC's idiosyncrasies as far as the stats read. 

We started in media res with me just reading the module's boxed text for the background and first area. I didn't bother trying to give them a story context or anything, we just ran with it. All in all, I think that worked better than if I had tried to wring roleplaying out of them since it was a brand new group where no one really knew each other (other than me). I'll add more context as the game goes on (and I'll cue you all in as that happens), but for now, it was time to get into the tomb robbing. 

Sailors of the Starless Sea is a pretty solid site-based adventure that fits thematically well in the whole pre-genre fantasy, swords and sorcery vibe DCC is working with. Playing the game in a bar meant that, as the players racked up a body count (both of villains and of their own characters), they got more raucous, started cheering and many a High Life was consumed leading to both questionable decisions and cautious playing.

I'm not sure how many "spoilers" of the adventure I should give away, so I'll keep it light with a body count. These deaths are in order to the best of my memory (oh, and no one named any PCs yet; that just seemed premature, like naming a Dothraki child before the age of three or something): 
  • The scribe; fell down a well (Terra)
  • The strong (Str 17) alchemist; burned by monster (Matt W.)
  • The stupid (Int 4) scribe; burned by that same monster (Chris)
  • The agile (13) blacksmith; killed by beastmen (Terra)
  • The brawny (Str 16) wizard's apprentice; killed by beastmen (Matt R.)
  • The strong (16) but horribly unlucky (Luck 4) soldier; killed by beastmen (Terra)
  • Some sort of halfling (I've lost that notecard); killed and likely eaten by a sea monster (Chris)
  • The jester who sucked at everything but being lucky (17); ended up being horribly unlucky and killed by a sea monster (Matt R.)
After the fight with the beastmen, Terra replenished her character pool with three new level-0's, but no one else took me up on the deal. Matt W. considered making the other three slaves, but was talked out of it when he realized that the other three folks who'd been freed from the beastmen were now armed and likely to try to get some revenge on a false liberator who had kept their compatriots enslaved. 

Speaking of Matt W., there were three deaths that I didn't note in that last because they deserve to be talked about separately. All night, Matt W. had been the "loot guy" of the group. "I'll take that bejeweled longsword." "A flask of oil? Of course I'll take it!" The loot guy. His greed was becoming so legendary, that he was making HIMSELF roll Willpower saving throws to keep from going for the easy coin. Well, when the group investigated a cursed crypt and were frozen in place by the curse, Matt R. & Terra left all of Matt W.'s remaining three PCs frozen in place, slowly being encased in ice and dying from frostbite. Unavoidable, they said. We had to save our own skins, they reasoned. He was a jerk anyway, they rationalized. So they let him freeze. But, oh fuck, he had most of the loot, they rued. And thus did pass into history Matt W.'s halfling moneylender, guild beggar and elven forester and did the PCs (except for Chris's PCs, who did not participate in the crypt-robbery) keep themselves from being able to list their alignments as Lawful. 

We still haven't finished the module, but should be able to do so next time, as well as get started on the next one and introduce some new players and PCs (new players have to go through the funnel, too). But what PCs survived the adventure, you might ask. Well, it was these guys:
  • An orphan (seriously, that's all it says; not particularly good at anything); Terra
  • An elf sage (stat penalties aplenty; this guy will probably not make it to level 1); Terra
  • A wainwright (healthy and lucky); Terra
  • A one-time squire, Terra's only original surviving PC has reached 1st level and become a thief (this PC's stats are out of control!)
  • A merchant-turned-wizard who is deadly with a dagger; Chris
  • "The Shoveller" was once a mere grave digger but has now become a determined (if not terribly skillful) warrior; Chris (seriously, this character, with no bonuses to speak of, accomplished more than any other PC)
  • An elven artisan has turned in his 1 lb of clay to beome, well, an elf; Matt R.
  • A locksmith put on a suit of chainmail and is wielding an ancient axe, cursed by chaos, and has become a warrior; Matt R.
The game was a blast to run and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, even the guy who lost all his characters. We're all excited to pick up again in two weeks and maybe we'll be able to add some other new players. This session proved to me that sometimes, people actually can meet in a tavern and have a great adventure together. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DCC Donnnerstag: More Folio Fiends; Feathered Fiends, Part 1

Last week on DCC Donnerstag (really, the first DCC Donnerstag), I took a tip from Jeff Rients and converted some monsters from the old 1e monster book, the inestimable Fiend Folio, as per Aplus's DCC conversion guidelines. Unfortunately, I just picked the easiest three monsters I could as conversion-fodder. As an experiment, it went well I think: the three were pretty quickly and easily converted, but looked like they could hold their own in their particular niches. The downside of the article is that there really wasn't much of a challenge to formulaically converting simple monsters or any theme uniting the monsters converted. So, this week, I'd like to give you the first installment of bird-themed monsters from the FF, this time with more information about how to use them and details on conversion logic. This article assumes that the reader owns or has access to the Fiend Folio; if you don't, you have bigger problems than missing out on information that a blogger assumes you've got. EBay that thing right away.

Achaierai

Init +3; Atk +3 terrible talons (1d8) or +9 bloodthirsty beak (1d10); AC 20 (legs) or 11 (body); HD special (body 40 hp, legs 15 hp each); MV 45'; Act 2d20; SP Toxic Smoke 10' radius (when reduced to 1 leg; 2d6 damage in smoke cloud, Will save DC 15 or insane for 1d3 hours); Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +3; AL C.

The long legs of the achaierai are both a boon and a curse to the adventurers encountering the towering flightless birds. These legs keep the bird's vicious beak at a safe distance; an achaierai is usually too far from targets on the ground to peck at them with that flesh-rending weapon. At the same time, these legs are covered in skin tougher than the strongest plate mail and end in sharp talons. Adventurers wishing to engage the achaierai at melee range must contend with these legs, each having 15 hit points. If two of its legs are destroyed, the achaierai loses its talon attack, but instead may now target foes with its beak (the achaierai still has 2d20 action dice); further, the achaierai now moves at 20' per round. If three of its legs are destroyed, opponents may now target the achaierai's body at melee range, but the bird releases a cloud of toxic smoke that immediately deals 2d6 points of damage to all foes within ten feet (achaierai themselves are immune to this smoke) who must also make a Will save (DC 15) or go insane for 1d3 hours. While its opponents are insane, the achaierai tries to escape, dragging itself away using its remaining leg(s) and vestigial wings. It may seem that the safest way to fight an achaierai is with ranged weapons, but archers, even those behind a wall of armored compatriots, provide irresistible targets for the birds.

I'll be the first person to admit that the monsters from the Fiend Folio that resonate with me the most are the ones that were illustrated by Russ Nicholson. Other bloggers may have found this beast a bit goofy, but I love the strangeness here. An enemy that you have to "kill" its legs before you can kill it? Just strange enough to be awesome. When I started converting the achaierai, the important parts seemed to be the preservation of the "kill the legs first" mechanic, making the "it can't hit stuff on the ground with its beak but neither can it be hit" logic meaningful (in the conversion, there's an escalation mechanic behind it; once you've done enough damage to it, it does more damage to you) and covering the escape contingency of the toxic smoke. On the topic of the toxic smoke, I wasn't exactly sure how to cover the smoke's "insanity" effect, so I just left it blank; I changed the duration of the insanity from 3 hours to 1d3 hours because 1d3 seemed more DCC-appropriate. Since the monster has no specific Hit Dice, all numerical effects had to find some other benchmark to be based upon. Long story short, I fudged a bunch of stuff to make it all make sense. 

Bloodhawk

Init +2; Atk +1 twin talons (1d4) and +1 bonus beak (1d6); AC 12; HD 1d8+1; MV fly 60'; Act 2d20 (+1d20; see below); Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0; AL N.

Bloodhawks earn their name by relishing the flavor of human blood and not for their coloration (which is a drab gray). In combat, the bloodhawk dives toward its intended prey, strikes and then flies away; the predator may make its two talon attacks against any one target along its flight path. If these attacks both hit, the bloodhawk may make a third attack, this time with its beak. The bloodhawk will target humans before any other potential prey, preferring the blood of men to that of elves, dwarves or halflings.

I took a little creative license with this one. First off, a Google Image search for "blood hawk," "blood hawk fiend folio" and "blood hawk fiend folio d&d" did not bring up the illustration from the FF that I'm right now holding in my lap, so no awesome illo to go along with this one. Maybe I'll get around to scanning this image at some point. Next, the bloodhawk really wasn't too interesting of a monster. It's a bird. It flies. It claws. It... beaks? Not terribly imaginative, but we can deal with it. The beast's original three attacks were a little too simple, so I figured we could add an additional effect to them and make the beak attack contingent on hitting the same target with both talons. A "fly-by attack" mechanic was sort of a no-brainer as well. 

Clubnek

Init +1; Atk +1 bony beak (1d8) and +2 sandy talons (1d6)
AC 11; HD 2d8; MV 30' (60' sprint 1/5 rounds); Act 2d20; SP Knockdown (Fort save DC 13); Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +0; AL N.

Mutant ostriches of the sandy wastes, clubneks may either attack foes with their talons or their massive, bony beaks. If the clubnek hits a single opponent with two talon attacks in the same round, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 13) or be knocked prone. Every five rounds, the clubnek may move at a 60' sprint speed for one round. During the round that it is sprinting, the clubnek does not provoke attacks for withdrawing from combat.

I have no idea why I remember the clubnek as being an interesting monster; it isn't. Really, a mutant ostrich should be pretty cool, but this thing is really kind of boring. The coolest thing it gets is that, once every five rounds, it gets to run faster. This thing obviously needed some spicing up, so I gave it the knockdown effect and made its sprint more useful by causing it to prevent free attacks for withdrawal. There's not much of a difference between a clubnek and an axebeak, is there? Oh, here's the difference: the clubnek had the good taste to be in the Fiend Folio so it could get a killer illustration. 

So, there you have it. I spent significantly more time on this week's conversions and I think it paid off. The bloodhawk and clubnek were pretty bland monsters as far as mechanics go, so I had to make them more interesting for Judges to use. There are plenty of other bird-monsters in the Fiend Folio, so this particular series of conversions has at least two more installments (although I'm not sure if they'll be the next installments of DCC Donnerstag). Until then, stay strange and have fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Traveller Kicks Ass

I have a confession to make: I came to Traveller way late in the game. As in, within the last year. How I got there was pretty strange, too, but I've fallen in love with a game that a lot of people around me mocked when I was coming up and cutting my teeth on different rpgs. However much anyone may love Traveller, we all have to admit that it does have a particular reputation, if only as the rpg where you could die during character creation.

Early Exposure

My first experience with Traveller ever was when my pal Andy bought a copy of MegaTraveller way back in the early 90's (I think we were Freshmen in high school at the time) and insisted that we make characters during Band class or something. Maybe it wasn't during band class, but it was definitely in the band room, which made sense since Andy was the band director's son. Back then, just making characters for a game never meant that you were going to play said game; in fact, I can recall many rpgs that we never quite took to the gaming table, but we all had several series of characters for. Andy also didn't always have the best taste in games, either (I almost threw in a jibe about ICE games there, but self-preservation instinct made me take it out), so when my second character in a row died without ever having been played, I started to believe that either we were "doing it wrong" or this game just wasn't for me. Since that was my last experience with Traveller for another twenty or so years, either was equally likely.

Why I Could've Hated It

I'm about to expose another dark (okay, not so dark) secret of mine: I hate randomness. Yes, I, like most other gamers in the world ever, got my start on D&D and the "roll 3d6 in order" style of character generation, but I was one of those awful geeks who doesn't play to play, he plays to win. The kind who doesn't give a damn if he's playing inside the rules so long as the end result is the one where he comes out on top. It's taken me years to get over this, and much of the 90's trend toward game balance (even meaningless sorts of game balance) helped a lot since it made me follow a consistent set of rules with relative equality between all characters. My distaste for randomness stays with me despite the years, and so when I was faced with Traveller's "roll 2d6 for each characteristic and get ready for craziness" approach to character creation, even adult Adam freaked out at first and thought more than a few negative thoughts about the system.

Why I Love It Instead

At some point, probably as I was reading through one of the roughly six billion supplements published for Traveller that introduces some new sort of system, subsystem or mini-game, I realized that the pure, true beauty of Traveller is that it is designed to BE an entire system of mini-games and subsystems with a cohesive setting and a hint of an rpg wrapped around that core of mini-gamery. That's when it sank in and that's when I fell in love with Traveller. (That's also when I made my peace with rolled stats in Old School rpgs.) Traveller does a great job of providing tools to sandboxers and DIYers while still allowing storygamers a surprisingly robust set of options as well. Traveller is a "hard sci fi ONLY" game, not being exceptionally good for approximating the science fantasy stuff that has done a great job of clogging up the market and, for me, that's a plus. Everything about Traveller screams "this is real sci fi" and not "we glued some LEDs to D&D to give it SCIENCE!" There's just too much of that today. Which, in all irony, is of course why my next planned Traveller game I'm building with a solid amount of Sword and Planet in it. I still haven't figured out if that's funny or not.

Traveller kicks ass for a lot of reasons, but this isn't really a review of it, so I'm not going to get into a blow-by-blow examination of any particular edition. Rather, I'd simply like to say that, somewhere over the last year, I've developed an intense appreciation for a game that I had previously underestimated. I've really enjoyed getting into Traveller and am currently working on a new campaign for it (more on that later) that I think I'll be getting off the ground soon (it's either that or DCC; either way, I win). As a side note, Marc Miller, the creator of Traveller, recently conducted a Kickstarter for what's being called Traveller5 and it was a resounding success and the game should be published in 2013. So, even if we can't get a playable edition of D&D in 2013, we can at least get some new Traveller action!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Visual Kickass Appendix: War of the Arrows (2011)

From time to time, I find a movie that I feel can make some form of important contribution to rpgs in general or a campaign I'm running in specific; these movies form what I'd like to describe as a Visual Kickass Appendix, a sort of modern Appendix N of film.

The Basics 

War of the Arrows is a 2011 Korean film about, you guessed it, lots and lots of arrows. Well, more "that involves" than "is about." After some political backstabbery that didn't translate well into English (or maybe I just need to pay closer attention next time), a boy (Nam Yi) and his sister (Ja In) are orphaned after their father is branded a traitor and their house is attacked by what I assume are political rivals. As Nam Yi flees with Ja In in tow, their father gives Nam Yi a really fancy shortbow and tells him to protect her with it. The brother and sister take up residence with another noble house where Ja In predictably grows up to be the object of the house's heir's affections while Nam Yi takes his father's advice seriously and spends of his days out in the woods hunting with some drinking buddies, talking about how he's the son of a traitor (whether that's true or not, that's what everyone thinks), being generally disenfranchised and disaffected, and learning how to be deadly-ass accurate with that bow. Tragedy strikes (as it usually does) when Manchu (perhaps most correctly identified as Qing dynasty Chinese, although the movie takes some liberties with mixing Manchurian and Mongol tropes) invade during Ja In's wedding to [nameless heir] while Nam Yi is off sulking in the forest. Long story short, the Manchu take Ja In "prisoner" as a gift for a Manchu prince and Nam Yi goes after her. Action sequences ensue. Lots of people, both Manchu and Korean, die.

The Skinny


I watch a lot of martial arts movies, and I fully expected War of the Arrows to be just another one. Instead, what I got was an example of a trend I've been noticing in many of the current generation of action films: the action sequences are tight, heroic but not over-the-top, the plot exists to support the action but is actually watchable, and so on. Overall, these newer action films (such as the recent Conan reboot and John Carter) have done a great job of redefining the action film. While the exposition of the plot may only exist to drive the movie forward from one action sequence to the next, that plot is actually pretty well-written without being over dramatized or under imagined. What we get in those action sequences is of high quality, as well. I expected overblown and ridiculous Wuxia-style madness but instead got a pretty great treatment of the athleticism and artistry of archery that never slid into the touchy-feely-ness that some martial arts cinema messes around with. War of the Arrows is very much an adventure, and its bare-bones treatment of its subject matter reminded me of old school Swords & Sorcery fiction (minus the sorcery), sort of like a Conan with a bow instead of a sword (oh, and Korean instead of Cimmerian).

At The Gaming Table


Every player who ever thinks about playing an archer-type such as a Ranger should watch this one, that much is a given. Further, I found that, as a DM, there were a lot of little things I found that were very interesting, stuff you might ascribe to being campaign elements. The Manchu who invade Korea have a plan, and they stick to it. They use well-developed military tactics. Nam Yi and his hunting buddies use small unit guerrilla tactics against the Manchu. One of the Manchu's most prized possessions is a strategic map which they use to coordinate many different units at a time. The real antagonist isn't the rapist prince but instead the general who does his bidding. Stuff like this make the movie a goldmine; not necessarily for stuff that you couldn't come up with on your own, but to see how it can all be put together in a cohesive whole that takes a movie that didn't need an awesome plot and dresses it up in the duds of a movie that has one. The lesson I ended up taking away from this film was: even when running a lengthy dungeon crawl or series of back-to-back encounters, it pays to not skimp on the details.

In the end, War of the Arrows was good Sword & Sorcery minus the sorcery. It was grim, it was gritty, sacrifices were made, prices were paid, and the protagonist ultimately triumphed at great cost. My wife came in at about the ten minute mark and needed a small (very small at that point) amount of catching up but ended up really enjoying it, too. You can find this one on Netflix (as of this writing), meaning (assuming you subscribe), your only investment is time and this is one investment that pays off big.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Did I Seriously Just Watch That? - Caveman Edition

Seriously... Quest for Fire (1981) in on the Netflix. Not sure why I watched it, but I did. Well, watched it while I was writing something. I'm really not sure why I sat through so many caveman sex scenes. I do have a few comments:
  • Ron Pearlman as a caveman; I think we all saw that one coming.
  • I don't think I've ever actually seen a good depiction of an atlatl in a movie before. That was a surprise.
  • We see three distinct groups of hominids in this movie: an australopithecene-like ape-beast (great DCC fodder, there), the main characters (I believe they're supposed to be cro-magnons but felt more like Neanderthals with better-than-predicted vocal ability) and then humans. It's neat that this movie actually gave a reasonable treatment to different sorts of hominids and had them co-exist (not peacefully, but still) which was incredibly likely.
  • The humans make extensive use of colored clays to color themselves as well as to make things out of. I remember learning somewhere that the human capacity for representational thought is most likely a direct result of our use of ochre from riverbeds to dye ourselves, our clothes and to write with (as well as those very rivers being a great source of fish, a fantastic brain food) and I enjoyed that detail being in there, even if they didn't use ochre (it was a gray and a black clay in the movie). [Side note: I'm pretty sure that most gray and black naturally-occurring clays in river beds have a fairly high sulfur content. If so, that set would have stunk!]
  • Caveman sex, even if the lady is a normal human, is still caveman sex.
That's all for now, thanks for checking in.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

DCC Donnerstag: Fiends from the Folio

A few weeks ago, Jeff Rients posted three monsters from the Fiend Folio converted into DCC RPG stats on his blog which he converted using the conversion guidelines that Aplus over at People Them With Monsters came up with. First off, I'd like to say kudos all around. Jeff did a great job with some quick, off-the-cuff conversions of classic monsters from my favorite old school monster book. Further, Aplus did the DCC community a huge service in working out these very simple and easy-to-use guidelines. Props to both of you.

But, as stuff like this does, it got me thinking. I love the Fiend Folio. I love Aplus's super-simple conversion guide. So, here's my go-around at converting some of my favorites from that fantastic tome. Okay, maybe the word "favorites" is a bad choice. For this attempt, I'm just going to shoot for what's easiest.

Osquip

Init +2; Atk buck-toothed bite +2 melee (2d6); AC 12; HD 3d8; MV 30' (Burrow 15'); Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +1; AL N; Giant, dog-sized rats with huge teeth and too many legs (at least 6). Not terribly intelligent on their own, osquips lair in town sewers or in dungeons and might make an excellent mount for a smaller humanoid, perhaps for something like the:

Xvart

Init +1; Atk teeny tiny swords +0 melee (1d4+1); AC 12; HD 1d6; MV 20'; Act 1d20; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C; Small, savage humanoids with blue skin and orange eyes, xvarts lair in underground caverns and delight in taking and torturing prisoners.

Ogrillon

Init +1; Atk bony fists +4 melee (1d6+1); AC 13; HD 2d8; MV 30'; Act 2d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0; AL C; Somehow, someone somewhere convinced orcs and ogres it was a good idea to make a baby together. The result was the ogrillion. Bigger than an orc, smaller than an ogre, just as dumb as either, the ogrillon pummels its foes into a pulp using its big and bashy bony fists.

Well folks, that's it for me for now. I hope you've enjoyed this inaugural edition of DCC Donnerstag and I hope to continue to bring more DCC-related awesomeness in the future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First of the 4e Grognards

A few months back, as I was gearing up for my first D&D game in years, I re-upped my D&D Insider subscription, which brought with it the inevitable blogging on the WotC community site. I'm not going to go into too much detail on that new campaign (yet) except to say that blogging about what was working (and what wasn't) with a split "couples' group" of veterans and newbies (in each couple but my wife & I, one of the folks was a seasoned gamer, the other had never played before) made for a lot of really solid material that was getting quite a bit of attention and comment and I started to believe that it must be really easy to get Wrecan to pick a blog for featured status (turns out that yes, it is; that's why my blog there was featured every month that I bothered to post). I wasn't worrying my pretty little head (hey, I'll admit that I'm a little biased) about the controversies and bullshitteries of the day, but just wrote about what I was experiencing, working on, working with, planning on, etc. and it just kept working out. Then, the unthinkable happened: the D&D 5e playtest was released and it was horrific.

To me.

And then, I made the mistake of blogging about what I didn't like about it.

Suddenly, the WotC Community was no longer a comfortable place to write anymore.

I've never considered myself an "old schooler" or a "grognard;" I've always looked at new editions as potentially valuable refinements on games I already liked. This is not just a D&D thing, either; WEG's 2e Star Wars rpg was far better than 1e in my opinion, for example. For me, though, D&D has always had a special "needs to more forward" status, a compulsion to continually move to the forefront of gaming to fit the trends that not only exist at the current moment in gaming, but to fit those that yet have to develop. In short, the publisher of D&D (whether TSR or WotC) needs to push the game further to keep it in sync not only with what gamers whant the game to be today, but also what they want it to be tomorrow. That's the result of a special position that D&D possesses in the world of rpgs: being the first one ever exist means  (again, to me) that it has a responsibility to stay an industry leader.

At this point, I'd like to say that I'm a huge fan of older editions of D&D (well, not late 2e) and am grateful that the OSR community and retroclones exist. I haven't had the opportunity to participate in much OSR goodness, but would love the opportunity to do so. I could blah blah blah platitudes about the OSR all night, but it wouldn't really get us anywhere. Seriously guys, I get it, and for more than just nostalgia reasons. So, back to the story.

Just a few pages into the D&DNext playtest package (for my pals in the future, that's D&DNext playtest package #1 from May of 2012), WotC had made it clear that their stated intent of making 5e work with all previous editions of D&D meant "all previous editions of D&D except the most recent one (4e)." To me, this meant that 5e was intent on being itself a retroclone. That the new edtion of the worlds most popular (and first) rpg would be a retroclone of itself (not of any particular edition but rather of most of them but not all and not in the entirety of any of those editions). I think my brain imploded when I realized how perverse that concept was; then and there I signed off from a future edition of D&D for the first time and realized that I, myself, had become a grognard.

I didn't write this post to discuss the merits (or detriments) of any one edition of D&D over any other. I'm saving that one for another post (sort of). I know that, as long as there have been new editions of older games, there have been those gamers who decided to bow out of whatever that new edition has brought. I'm sure many of you out there are old hat at being the grognards that you are as future editions you'll never play are published, go out of print and are eventually replaced by another new edition. For the first time in my life, I'm facing an edition I want nothing to do with. For the first time in my life, I've joined up with the grognards.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The World Needs More of This


After posting a video this kickass, I want to say something about it. But, I realize, anything that I have to say will add absolutely nothing to the experience of Korgath of Barbaria to anyone who would bother reading any rpg blog. So there you have it. Korgath. Enjoy it. If you didn't enjoy it, fuck you. Go somewhere else. The world needs more kickass geekery like Korgoth and that's what I'm putting on the table here.