Monday, April 25, 2011

Moldvay Basic

In a possible attempt to capture my youth, I have started to purchase old D&D rules. My last conquest was a decent copy of the Moldvay Basic set (Rulebook, B2, and even the box).

I had never owned this set, having started with Mentzer - which places me at being 10 years old when I started to play. I had had considerable fun with B2 however, and subsequently the 25th Anniversary 'Return to the Keep on the Borderlands'

I lovingly opened the box, the hole-punched side immediately caught my attention as I could not see through. There must be a piece of paper there, I first assumed that it was an invoice for the order - but was pleasantly surprised by this -

I have always scowled at the 'power gamer', I really do enjoy playing and DMing a game where the dice are a contributing factor to the outcome, rather than an annoyance on a natural 1. I still struggle to this day with 'Taking 10', if just because there are no dice rolled. I hate when I hear the words 'character build', 'dump stat', 'level dip', 'point buy', and any of a hundred other words that exist in the modern metagame vernacular.

But Borg touched my heart - I wonder when this guy was created and for what, even though I know the rules where not really looked at in the making - was the player amped about playing and then got sorely disappointed because he found nobody to play with - the lack of erasure marks speaks volumes to me when I look over items I bought for the game and never used - from time to time I look at notes I took about adventure ideas or maps I created and wish I had the time to play them all.

Looking at the sheet, I see someone who wanted to win, maybe at this point he hadn't seen where there are no winners or losers in D&D. I see someone who was afraid of the dungeon and inflated the numbers so that they didn't need to be frightened.

I am sad that no equipment was purchased, but can almost hear the guy who was going to be DM say, 'Don't buy any equipment, we will do that when you start to play.'

I see a kid that chose to be Neutral and know that Chaotic was likely not an option because the DM said so.

I am very glad that I had a chance to see this - I'm glad that whoever has owned this in the past didn't throw this out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


'He was perhaps eight feet tall, perhaps more. His forward stoop, with arms dangling past thick claw-footed legs to the ground, made it hard to tell. The hairless green skin moved upon his body. His head was a gash of a mouth, a yard-long nose, and two eyes which were black pools, without pupil or white, eyes which drank the feeble torchlight and never gave back a gleam.'
Three Hearts and Three Lions - Poul Anderson

This truly must be where the D&D troll came from. During the fight the regenerative qualities of the monster are described and finally they figure out how to kill him.

I have finished this book, first of the Appendix N books that I have read (besides Tolkien) , first in the list of Appendix N books - overall I enjoyed the book and can see how it had an impact on the creators of the game. I wonder what D&D would be like if ALL designers were required to read Appendix N in order to get a job.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Geas, verisimilitude, and adventure reasons.

Wow, Three Hearts and Three Lions really delivers in chapter 17 - The Geas spell? although like much of D&D this has origin in mythology, Gaelic is this ones origin, which makes a lot of sense taking the whole of the novel. Real neat to see it used outside of D&D

‘I could not learn your identity, Sir Holger. A geas has been laid on every being which might have told me.' 
Verisimilitude, another strange word that I learned from D&D, never seen it outside of D&D, but here it is. It is often spoken of when talking about setting design. Here is some information for those who want it.

‘Advertising,’ Martinus admitted. ‘Corroborative detail intended to lend artistic verisimilitude.’
Adventure Reasons, this fellow makes a good point and then lays out a few different things that Holger could be doing up north, this could be re-tooled as a statement of rumors for an adventure area.

'If you wish to preserve the secret of your goal, leave not quite so much room for speculation. Tongues will wag more when no firm facts bind them. Thus, some folk will guess you intend a knightly exploit like slaying one of the trolls which infest yonder uplands, often—as I’ve heard—stealing humans to eat; though the local people with whom I’ve chatted maintain such trolls are unkillable. Then again, other folk will insist that Sir Rupert went to beard the king of the heathen. But the peasant mind being what ‘tis, most will believe you seek a treasure of gold buried somewhere there.'

Friday, April 15, 2011

Invisible Servants

A bottle and three dirty goblets floated in and landed on the table. ‘About time,’ grumbled the sorcerer. After a moment, when the invisible servant had presumably left, he went on, ‘I declare, there is no decent help to be had these days....' -- Three Hearts and Three Lions - Poul Anderson

That is a classic D&D image. The spell would be seen by many as a waste, but having it to use was very wizardly. It allowed for actions outside of combat. It showed in it's simplicity that there is more to D&D than killing things.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Silver Cords

`Yasmina!' Again that far, weirdly dreeing cry, from realms immeasurable. `Aid me! I am far from my mortal house! Wizards have drawn my soul through the wind-blown darkness. They seek to snap the silver cord that binds me to my dying body. They cluster around me; their hands are taloned, their eyes are red like flame burning in darkness. Aie, save me, my sister! Their fingers sear me like fire! They would slay my body and damn my soul! What is this they bring before me? -Aie!' 
-- The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard

Outside of D&D, this is the first time I have seen mention of a silver cord.

What is neat here is that he is communicating to a Devi (which I assume is a holy woman, however it is a Hindu word), this information, which she hears as 'faint and far away'

Idea for adventure - A king has been cursed by evil sorcery. While still alive, he is trapped on the astral plane. The characters must brave the astral plane and find him. All of the information they have is in cryptic dream-like fragments spoken by the king and translated by his close advisor. An obvious twist would be the the advisor is part of the problem and has given them false information, maybe from some grudge on the characters or maybe the advisor wants some astral being defeated.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hex Crawl Map - Redo

Well, something just seemed plain with the last version, so I added some town symbols and such and changed some of the symbols.

Also, Started on Hex 0906 in detail, not happy with the effects on the borders, so I will likely make some changes. The scale here is each small hex is 1/2 mile and the large hex is 6 miles - or at least that's the scale I'm using.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hex Crawl Map

I have been reading about Hex Crawls. The only one I can remember doing that was specifically a hex crawl was The Isle of Dread. I played it with my friend Bob.

I would like to do this again, so I have started to work on maps for the Hex Crawl - I think I will use the following as the main map - going deeper into each hex as the need arises.

Maybe, this is what I will use if I play the DCC RPG.

Anyway, feel free to use this in your personal games.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Alianora the Swan-may and the Law/Chaos alignment war

So, I am reading Three Hearts and Three Lions from Appendix N.

Last night I was introduced to Alianora the Swan-may. In my mind, I always assumed the swan-may was a creation of D&D, seeing one in an Appendix N novel got me excited as it would be neat to make a clear connection from the book to D&D. Not so, here is some information about them, seems it is a popular theme across many cultures.

That is not a bad thing, anything that has a common theme across cultures should be easy to incorporate into the mythology of ones own campaign with relative ease.

‘And a chancy place ‘tis for mortals,’ said Alianora gravely. She leaned forward. ‘Which side be ye on?
Law or Chaos?’

Wow, that is a breach of etiquette - she basically asked what his alignment is. Holger answers ‘Law, I suppose,’ which at this moment says to me that alignment should be a tool and guideline, not a straight-jacket.

Also at this point in the story, he's not sure what to make of everything - I am hoping that through the rest of the book the author expands on this and 'Law' is what Holger would have done naturally, without thought, instead of it being a conscience choice. We'll see.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Karameikos Map - Jon Roberts Style

This map, well all my maps, are made with Campaign Cartographer 3. I also have a subscription to their Cartographer Annual which is basically paying for content that mappers better than me make.

I love maps and wish I could make my own 'style', but until that happens I will need to rely on the hard work of others.

Recently the annual was symbols in the style of professional map-maker Jon Roberts and being that I am looking through my old D&D books, I decided to use it for this map of The Grand Duchy of Karameikos. I did a mash-up of names from both versions of the Expert rules, the original had a few of the dungeons named on the map and the 'Blue Box' took these away and added a few more towns, Threshold being one of them.

Anyway, I hope you can get some use from this in your personal games.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Test Run

The other day I was looking at gaming things and came across DCC RPG, I read some about it, and it sounds like a neat idea, I am looking forward to giving it a test run when the Beta is released. Joe mentioned the primary resources he used being Appendix N.

I took out my 1st Edition DMG, and took a look at it - out of all the authors and books, I had only read Tolkien.

That, in my mind, is a shame - I often feel like I am 'Old School' - I have been playing D&D since '83 or '84 - my first experience was when the Player's Book from the Red Box was lent to me from a kid in 6th grade. I was immediately hooked, and at that point I had read NO fantasy. My first real fantasy novel was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks that was in 7th grade, later that year I would read the Hobbit, I then read some more Brooks, had a great time reading Eddings, and then Dragonlance hit the shelves - at that point most of my fantasy reading would be from people writing specifically for D&D.

I mean to amend this, not that the fantasy I read wasn't good, I have fond memories of these worlds, but I somehow feel that I have missed something.

So, I am going to take the Appendix N challenge - I am going to try to read everything on the list using them as inspiration for gaming and use this blog as a place to post my excited findings.

The other night I started on Poul Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions", from what I have seen so far the Paladin's warhorse might owe it's existence to this novel.

I also like to make maps - so from time to time I will post what I am working on.