Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Pirate adventures and pirate codes

Piracy is as popular in RPGs as it is in the rest of mass-media - perhaps even more so.  A semi-criminal or outright criminal band primarily loyal to one another and devoted to acquiring wealth could describe a pirate crew about as well as it does a Gygaxian adventuring party.  The wealth-sharing agreements of most adventuring parties, where the principal figures (the Player Characters) receive a greater take than their subordinates has a parallel in the pirate's code as well.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Review: "Cave of the Spiders" by Skip Williams

Dungeons and Dragons "Cave of Spiders" Original Adventure for 9th Level Characters
Time for another review of Wizards of the Coast's Original Adventures.  For a while it seemed like Owen K. C. Stephens had been holding the series up single-handed, but now Skip Williams (one of the D&D 3e designers) takes the reigns with Cave of the Spiders for 9th level characters.  Originally designed for D&D 3.5, the Cave could be played under the Pathfinder rules or another D20 system without too much trouble.  The window of opportunity to pick this adventure up free has closed, but $0.99 will get you a copy of Cave of the Spiders.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Alignment on leafworld: The four poles

Not so long ago, I talked about a strange flat world floating through infinite air.  The idea is still roaming around my head along with thoughts about alignment. Inevitably, that leads to thinking about how people align on leaf-world.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Gamebook regrouping: "Seas of Blood" by Andrew Chapman (Fighting Fantasy 16)

"Seas of Blood", Fighting Fantasy gamebook
This is a spoiler-free recap of how I feel I'm going with Andrew Chapman's Seas of Blood.  The book beat me on five attempts (if you don't mind the spoilers, you can read my summaries of attempt 1, attempts 2 & 3, and attempts 4 & 5) before I decided to take a break to let my memory get foggy and extend the experience.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Platinum pieces

One of the many oddities of D&D is the role of platinum pieces.  In the game, platinum pieces are usually highly valued as readily portable currency, but they are far more problematic than most groups assume.

Review: "Lest Darkness Rise" by Owen K. C. Stephens

Dungeons and Dragons "Lest Darkness Rise" Original Adventure for 7th Level Characters
This is another installment of the Original Adventures series reviews.  Once again, the author is Owen K. C. Stephens, but this time I'm reviewing his Halloween special for October 2004, Lest Darkness Rise.  The module was designed with a party of 7th level characters and D&D 3.5 in mind.  As the module doesn't make use of exotic sourcebooks, conversion to other D20 games (especially the Pathfinder RPG) is possible.  Although no longer available for free on Wizards' website, DriveThruRPG has $0.99 copies of Lest Darkness Rise.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Exporting the effect of AD&D ability scores: Intelligence and Wisdom

Previously, I've discussed a rationale for ability scores as potential rather than realised ability.  I'm trying to expand on that idea by looking at how one might export the functions of AD&D 1e's ability scores to character class and level.  (Briefly: the idea here is to keep the game more focused on these latter qualities because of verisimilitude and fairness.  It makes sense that skill is decisive and reducing the impact of random factors in character creation has long had an appeal.)  I chose Strength to start the discussion because it's the first in the book, but also because its functions in AD&D are widely spread.  In this post, I'll consider Intelligence and Wisdom.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Review: "The Day the Kobolds Ruled the World" by the GagMen

"The Day the Kobolds Ruled the World", Basic Fantasy (OSR) adventure for 1st level characters
The Day the Kobolds Ruled the World is a pay what you want module written by the GagMen comedy RPG podcaster collective.  As with their other modules, it's written for Basic Fantasy Rules but can be used for other light-weight D&D type rule systems without much trouble.  The adventure is aimed at a party of beginning characters in the fragile 1st to 3rd level bracket.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Arguing Alignment

It's hard to set foot in an online forum for discussing RPGs without coming across an on-going alignment argument.  I doubt that anyone has heard a sample of every position advanced in such debates, but it seems to me that the problems mainly boil down to a fairly simple system from the early TSR years being partly re-purposed as the objectives of D&D changed.  I'll mainly be advocating going back to the interpretation of alignment in AD&D 1e, as this interpretation can be used in any D&D (or successor game, such as the Pathfinder RPG) that uses the "3x3" grid.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A world that floats like a leaf

It's a strange thing that fantasy world-builders will happily allow for biology that defies reason, but when it comes to the shape of the world they stay shackled to the globe.  Suppose that there is a world that isn't a sphere.  Suppose that it has a different shape, but that the logic of that shape still gave its creatures a day to day experience that is easily imagined.  Where would imagining such a world take us?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Review: & Magazine, Issue 13

And Magazine Issue 13, a free resource for AD&D and OSR RPGs
Yesterday's review of &12 was so enjoyable I couldn't help but go straight on to issue 13.  & Mag suffered a bit of the "2016s" itself, so - to the satisfaction of triskaidekaphobes everywhere - &13 was their only issue out last year.  On the bright side, this issue is fully loaded with great articles.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Gamebook playthrough: "Seas of Blood" by Andrew Chapman, attempts 4 & 5

"Seas of Blood", Fighting Fantasy gamebook
Andrew Chapman's Seas of Blood killed me on the first try.  That's what should happen with a gamebook.  It also defeated me on outings two and three, in a healthy display of replayability.  Right now, I'm hoping to bring it down within ten attempts.  As always with gamebook playthroughs, Beware of The Spoilers from this point on.

Review: & Magazine, Issue 12

And Magazine Issue 12, a free resource for AD&D and OSR RPGs
Issue 12 of & Magazine came out shortly before my long hiatus and certainly had nothing to do with my case of "the 2016s".  Back in 2015, Bryan Fazekas was nice enough to share my review of issue 11 and remarked that he couldn't recall & getting any better praise than being thought-provoking.  I still see his point, but there are plenty of other fine things to say about & Magazine.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Gamebook playthrough: "Seas of Blood" by Andrew Chapman, attempts 2 and 3

"Seas of Blood", Fighting Fantasy gamebook
After falling well short of beating Seas of Blood yesterday, I'm going to take another swing and try to get a little further.  This is 80s-style re-playability, where the thing is hard enough that it takes several attempts to get through.  If you enjoy that sort of thing, be warned: there are spoilers ahead.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

WotC's "Original Adventures" series available on DriveThruRPG

It's come to my attention that Wizards of the Coast have released some of the Original Adventures series through DriveThruRPG.  That explains why the old giveaway series isn't on the archive versions of WotC's website.  It also means that complaining about Owen K. C. Stephens' module design will resume in short order.

Unfortunately, WotC have decided to slap a charge on the old giveaways (less than $1), so I can't really say these things are free any more.  I've gone back and fixed up my links to direct readers to the relevant pages and advise them of the cost, but haven't fixed up the index yet.  Perhaps I should add an index of reviewed cheap adventures?

Gamebook playthrough: "Seas of Blood" by Andrew Chapman, attempt 1

"Seas of Blood", Fighting Fantasy gamebook
My flatmate has a fantastic collection of gamebooks, many of which I remember owning and playing as a child.  I thought it would be fun to play through a few of them to see if I was actually any good at these as a kid, or whether I just cheated my way to the end!  Today I'm having a crack at Andrew Chapman's swashbuckling, throat-cutting Seas of Blood, a part of the "Fighting Fantasy" line published in 1985.  I think I last played this book in the mid-90s.  Note that this playthrough contains significant spoilers for the gamebook.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Preview: "Tukram's Tomb" by Davide Pignedoli

Tukram's Tomb, a free OSR adventure for 1st level characters
Davide Pignedoli recently released a "Beta version" of Tukram's Tomb with a call for feedback from anyone brave enough to venture within.  Tukram's Tomb is an adventure for the Crying Blades system (which I've never heard of, but understand to be in the same vein as Swords & Wizardry) or "any OSR system".  However, the rules used include ascending AC so some light conversion may be necessary.  There's a brief mention of first-level character but it's not clear how many adventurers are expected in the party.  The module is currently available as a Pay What You Want product.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The bath: a lively location for RPG campaigns

According to received wisdom about the middle ages, Europeans unfortunate enough to be born into that era were ignorant of the merits of bathing. As a result, public hygiene was poor and epidemics regular.  This could hardly be more wrong.