Sunday, February 26, 2012

Magic Realm Combat: Round 3

On to combat round three between the Black Knight and the Heavy Trolls.

In round two, the Black Knight undercut and killed Troll 1.  The Black Knight has been lucky so far, suffering only a couple of rounds of fatigue.

In combat round three, the Black Knight is going to do something a little different.  He is going to alert his mace so that he gets another quick attack.

As you can see, the Black Knight's "Fight M3**" chit is in the "Used this Round" box, on the right side of the combat sheet.  Because this Fight chit has a speed of 3, the Black Knight can use it to alert his weapon (since the speed of 3 is faster than the Troll's speed of 4).  The Fight M3** chit is placed in the "Used this Round" box, and is unavailable for any other activity this combat round.

However, playing that chit allows the Black Knight to play his mace in its alerted state with a speed of 3, meaning he cannot miss, since the Troll has a slower move speed of 4.

Once again, the Troll is placed in the top-most pink "Charge and Thrust" opponents box, and coincidentally the combat resolution roll of 2 results in the Troll moving to the bottom-most "Duck and Smash" box.  It matters not that the Black Knight's thrust attack does not line up with the Heavy Trolls duck maneuver, because the Black Knight's Heavy Fight chit, and the mace's speed of 3, combine to finish him off anyways.

You will note that the Black Knight played both a H6 Move chit and H6 Fight chit during this round of combat.  A character can only use a maximum of two effort stars per combat round.  Since the Black Knight's Fight M3** chit was played to alert his mace, he was unable to muster additional effort in his fight or move actions.  At the end of the third combat round, the Black Knight must set aside a third chit, representing the fatigue suffered in readying his mace for the killing blow on Troll 2.

The Black Knight was lucky.  He suffered three fatigue in dispatching the two Heavy Trolls.  The Black Knight can usually dispatch the Heavy Trolls if he attacks from hiding, however, he was caught flat-footed and in the open during this encounter, a position that would normally see him suffer at least one wound, and sometimes the loss of his shield or armor.

Magic Realm Combat: Round 2

During the first round of combat between the Black Knight and a pair of Heavy Trolls, the Black Knight failed to strike Troll 1.  Fortunately, the two Heavy Trolls also missed the Black Knight.

So now we move to the second round of combat, above.  Troll 1 is once again the target of the Black Knight, and is placed, initially, in pink attack box 1, with Troll 2 placed in box 2. 

Because the Black Knight missed during the first combat round, his mace becomes "alerted" (flipped over from its white to red side).  When alerted, the Black Knight's mace has a speed 3 regardless of the Black Knight's Fight chit speed, and the mace is faster than the Trolls' move times of 4.  That means we are guaranteed to score a kill, no matter what maneuver the Troll attempts, as we will undercut the Troll's maneuver.

Again, the shield is placed in the Thrust box, to cover the Black Knight's H4** Charge maneuver.  The H4** move is played, as we want to avoid the attack of the second Troll, if possible.

During the combat resolution phase, Troll 1 once again repositions to the bottom-most smash and duck attack box.  However, even though the Black Knight fails to line up with the Troll 1, the Black Knight's mace attack speed of 3 is faster than the Troll's maneuver of 4, so the Black Knight hits him.  Because the Black Knight used a Heavy Fight chit, the mace does heavy, rather than medium damage, thus killing the Troll (the red X through Troll 1 denotes a kill).

Troll 2 failed to line up with the Black Knight's Charge maneuver, as he was anticipating that the Black Knight would try to Dodge, and the Troll's M4 attack was not faster than the Black Knight's H4** maneuver, therefore the Troll did not undercut the Black Knight.

As a result of the Black Knight's double effort star (**)  maneuver, he suffers additional fatigue, so he will have to put aside a second chit.  Now the Black Knight will have to spend two "Rest" phases to recover the chits fatigued during the combat with these Trolls.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Magic Realm Combat Example

I promised a Magic Realm combat example.  Here is the first round of a combat between the Black Knight and a pair of Heavy Trolls.

As you can see, the Black Knight's H6 Fight chit, along with his Medium Mace, have been positioned in the top-most "Thrust Ahead (Hits Charge)" Attack box.  The H6 Fight chit was played, as the Mace is a medium weapon, and needs to be "overswung" with a heavy Fight chit in order to do heavy damage, and thus kill the Troll.  The Black Knight's attack speed of 6 is a slow attack: the Black Knight was counting on the Heavy Troll not changing his attack direction.

The Black Knight was attempting to strike Heavy Troll 1, who was originally positioned in the top-most pink "Charge and Thrust" opponents box, but that Troll switched to bottom-most "Duck and Smash" opponents box during the first round's combat resolution phase.  As you can see, the "repositioning roll" was a 2, resulting in a switching of the monsters in boxes one and three.

During the set-up for the first round of combat, Troll 1 was placed in the top-most pink Charge and Thrust opponents box.  Therefore, the Black Knight's shield was also placed in the left-most shield oval, to protect against that anticipated attack.  The Black Knight's Suit of Armor, of course, protects him from attacks in all directions.

Finally, the Black Knight's H4** Move chit was placed in the left-most "Charge" maneuver box.  The heavy move was selected because the Black Knight is wearing heavy armor, and therefore needs to play a heavy move in order to maneuver in his heavy armor.  The Black Knight's maneuver speed of 4 was selected because the Heavy Trolls have a speed 4, Medium attack.  Had the Black Knight chosen a maneuver with a speed of 5, rather than 4, both Heavy Trolls would have automatically hit the Black Knight, as the Troll's attack speed of 4 would be faster than his maneuver speed of 5.

The "double effort stars" (**) on the H4 Move chit tells us that this maneuver is very fatiguing.  As a result, the Black Knight will suffer fatigue at the end of the first round of combat, and will have to set aside one of his chits.  He will need to rest during a subsequent game day to recover from the effort expended during this first round of combat.

Because Troll 1 switched from box one to three during combat resolution, the Black Knight failed to hit and kill the Troll.  However, the two Heavy Trolls also missed the Black Knight, since neither "lined up" with the Black Knight's Charge maneuver.  And their attack speeds of 4 were not fast enough to undercut the Black Knight's maneuver speed of 4.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Is Wrong With WOTC?

How is it possible that WOTC continues to miss the boat on pre-painted minis? 

Paizo has already issued their Heroes and Monsters set of pre-painted minis, and are providing periodic previews of their next set, Rise Of The Runelords, slated for an early summer 2012 release.  You can find the previews of the next set of pre-painted Paizo minis at the Paizo website.

I've mentioned several times on this blog that I am not a Pathfinder player.  I find Pathfinder too fiddly.  But I appreciate the Pathfinder character art and the related miniatures.  Here are four miniatures that will be coming out in the next set of pre-painted minis.

Are pre-painted miniatures so unprofitable, that WOTC can continue to abandon this source of revenue, not to mention the spin-off interest it generates in the related game system?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Magic Realm: Combat And Player Skill

One of the areas in which Avalon Hill's Magic Realm differs, dramatically, from Dungeons and Dragons, is in the combat system. 

Magic Realm uses a highly deterministic system to resolve combats. 

A player chooses their method and speed of attack, their armor, and their maneuver.  They then cross-reference those three choices against the attack and maneuver of their opponent.

There is no "to-hit" roll.  There is no rolling for damage.  You either kill the native or monster, or you don't. 

Likewise, the native or monster either hits you or they don't.  If a native or monster hits you, they can kill you outright, grab you in preparation for a subsequent death blow, wound you, or do no damage.

With certain exceptions, your chance of killing or being killed is within your control as a player, and depends on your choices, before and during combat.

There are five elements to the combat resolution system in Magic Realm. 

The first element is your direction of attack. 

You may recall that in ADnD 2nd Edition, each weapon is classified by type, either (B)ludgeoning, (P)iercing, and (S)lashing. 

Likewise, in Magic Realm, players may select one of three attack directions during combat: Smashing, Thrusting and Swinging. 

When playing your attack in one of those directions, you must include two things.  One, you need to play a readied weapon.  Two, you need to play a fight chit or a gloves card that is at least as powerful as the readied weapon. 

For example, if you played a medium axe as your weapon, you would need to play a medium fight chit or medium gloves card in order to use it.  Playing the above heavy (or a tremendous) fight chit with the axe would allow you to "overswing" it, resulting in the next higher level of damage being inflicted if your attack is successful.

The next combat element is these pink boxes from which the monsters or natives move and attack. 

In Magic Realm, the monsters and natives are not sophisticated enough to attack and move in different directions.  They either charge forward, while thrusting with their weapon, dodge to the side while swinging their weapon, or duck while smashing down with their weapon.

You place the monster or native you are fighting in one of those pink boxes.  If you a fighting more than one, you must place each in a separate box, and if you are fighting more than three you can place any additional monsters after 3 in whatever boxes you choose.  It doesn't really matter which box(es) they are placed in: during the combat, the monsters will change directions, so you have no control on which box they finally move and attack.

The third element is your defences.  Many characters start with, or purchase armor.  Your active armor counters are placed in these boxes.  As you can see, the suit of armor protects you from attacks coming from any direction, while the helmet and breastplate protect you only from certain directions. 

A shield protects in any of the three attack directions, but can only be placed in one of the three circles.  Therefore, a player must decide in which direction she wants to be protected by her shield. 

The fourth element is your maneuver.  A player can play either a move chit or boots cards (either of which whose strength is at least as strong as the weight of the character and everything she is carrying) or the horse she is riding, in one of these three boxes.  I suppose she could also play the Magic Carpet, if active, or use her broomstick spell, if she is playing the Witch.

The final combat resolution element is the Used this Round box.  Players can play fight and move chits to perform certain extra activities, such as alerting a weapon, running away, or going berserk (in the case of the Berserker).  Those extra activities require that the chit used to perform the activity be put aside, in this box, and are thus not available, that round, for other activities.

We'll look at the how a combat round is resolved, in a subsequent post.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Appendix N February 2012 Update

Several fellow bloggers have recommended Karl Wagner's fiction so, during one of my forays to a used bookstore, I picked up a copy of Bloodstone (along with Han Solo's Revenge, a Star Wars novel published in 1979).

Abbey, Lynn:

Adams, Richard: Watership Down

Alexander, Lloyd: The Book of Three 1; The Black Cauldron 2; The Castle of Llyr 3; Taran Wanderer 4; The High King 5

Anderson, Poul: Ensign Flandry; Flandry Of Terra; Agent of the Terran Empire; The Long Night; Three Hearts and Three Lions; The Broken Sword; The High Crusade; A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows

Anthony, Piers: A Spell for Chameleon; On A Pale Horse

Ariosto, Ludovico: Orlando Furioso

Asprin, Robert A.: Thieves World I; Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn II; Shadows of Sanctuary III; Storm Season IV; The Face of Chaos V; Another Fine Myth

Barker, M.A.R.: The Man Of Gold; Flamesong

Baum, L. Frank: The Wizard Of Oz, Emerald City Of Oz, Land of Oz

Beagle, Peter S.: The Last Unicorn

Bellairs, John: The Face In The Frost

Bellamy, Francis R : Atta

Bloodstone, John: Thundar Man Of Two Worlds

Bok, Hannes: The Sorcerers Ship

Brackett, Leigh: Eric John Stark, Outlaw Of Mars; The Best Of Leigh Brackett; The Sword Of Rhiannon; The Ginger Star 1; The Hounds Of Skaith 2; Reavers of Skaith 3

Bradley, Marion Z: Sword and Sorceress Anthology

Brooks, Terry: The Sword of Shannara

Brown, Fredric:

Burroughs, Edgar R.: Pellucidar; Tanar of Pellucidar; A Princess Of Mars 1; The Gods Of Mars 2; Warlord Of Mars 3; Thuvia, Maid Of Mars 4; Chessmen of Mars 5; The Mastermind of Mars 6; A Fighting Man of Mars 7; The Moon Maid; Out of Time’s Abyss; Jungle Girl, Land of Hidden Men; Tarzan Of The Apes 1; The Return Of Tarzan 2; The Beasts of Tarzan 3; The Son Of Tarzan 4; Tarzan and the Lost Empire 10; At The Earth's Core

Cabell, James Branch:

Campbell, J Ramsey: Demons by Daylight

Carter, Lin: Thongor and the Dragon City; Thongor and the Wizards of Lemuria; Thongor Fights the Pirates of Tarakus; Zanathon; Tower at the Edge of Time; The Black Star; Beyond The Gates Of Dream; Down To A Sunless Sea; Journey to the Underground World; Warrior of World’s End; Flashing Swords 1; Flashing Swords 2; Flashing Swords 3; Flashing Swords 4; Flashing Swords 5; New Worlds For Old; The Young Magicians

Cervantes, Miguel: Don Quixote

Chalker, Jack L.: Midnight at the Well of Souls 1; Exiles at the Well of Souls 2; Quest For the Well Of Souls 3; The Return of Nathan Brazil 4, Twilight at the Well of Souls 5

Chandler, A. Bertram: The Road To The Rim; The Hard Way

Chant, Joy: Red Moon And Black Mountain

Cherryh, C.J.:

Cook, Glen: The Black Company

Daley, Brian: Han Solo At Star’s End; Han Solo’s Revenge; Han Solo And The Lost Legacy

Davidson, Avram: The Phoenix In The Mirror; The Island Under the Earth

deCamp, L. Sprague: The Complete Compleat Enchanter; The Compleat Enchanter; Lovecraft, A Biography; Warlocks and Warriors; The Fallible Fiend; Conan The Barbarian; Conan And The Spider God; Lest Darkness Fall; The Carnelian Cube; The Emperors Fan; The Reluctant King; The Goblin Tower; The Clocks Of Iraz

Derleth, August: The Trail of Cthuhlu

Dickson, Gordon R.:

Donaldson, Stephen: Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever

Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Lost World

Dumas, Alexandre: The Three Musketeers

Dunsany, Lord: The King Of Elfland’s Daughter; Over the Hills and Far Away; The Charwoman's Shadow

Eco, Umberto: The Name Of The Rose

Eddings, David: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen Of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry, Enchanter’s Endgame

Eddison, E. R.: The Worm Ouroboros; Mistress of Mistresses; A Fish Dinner In Memison

Ende, Michael: The Neverending Story

Farmer, Philip Jose: The Maker Of Universes 1; The Gates Of Creation 2; A Private Cosmos 3; Hadon Of Ancient Opar

Fiest, Raymond: Magician

Finney, Charles: The Unholy City; The Circus of Dr. Lao

Foster, Alan Dean: Nor Crystal Tears, Splinter of the Minds Eye; The End of the Matter; The Tar-Aiym Krang; Bloodhype; Orphan Star; For Love Of Mother-Not; The Time Of The Transference

Fox, Gardner: Kothar Barbarian Swordsman; Kothar and the Conjurer's Curse; Kothar and the Wizard Slayer; Kothar and the Magic Sword; Kothar And The Demon Queen; Kyrik Warlock Warrior; Kyrik Fights The Demon World; Kyrik and the Lost Queen; Kyrik and the Wizards Sword; Warrior Of Llarn

Funke, Cornelia: Inkheart

Gardner, Craig Shaw: A Malady Of Magicks

Garner, Alan: Elidor; The Moon Of Gomrath; The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

Gemmell, David: Legend

Goldman, William: The Princess Bride

Glut, Donald F: The Empire Strikes Back

Gygax, Gary: The Samarkand Solution; The Anubis Murders; Infernal Sorceress, Death In Delhi

Haggard, H. Rider: The People Of The Mist; The World's Desire; When The World Shook; She And Allan; King Solomon Mines; She

Hambly, Barbara: The Time of the Dark, The Walls Of Air, The Armies of Daylight, The Ladies of Mandrigyn, Dragonsbane

Harrison, Harry: The Adventures Of The Stainless Street Rat; The Stainless Steel Rat

Heinlein, Robert: Glory Road

Hickman, Tracy:

Hodgson, W.H.: The House On The Borderland

Holmes, John Eric: Mahars of Pellucidar

Howard, Robert E.: Sword Woman; Almuric; The People Of The Black Circle; Red Nails; Shadow Kingdoms; People Of The Dark; Beyond The Black River; The Hour Of The Dragon; Black Hounds Of Death; Conan 1; Conan Of Cimmeria 2; Conan the Freebooter 3; Conan the Wanderer 4; Conan the Adventurer 5; Conan the Buccaneer 6; Conan The Warrior 7; Conan The Usurper 8; Conan The Conqueror 9; Conan The Avenger 10; Conan Of Aquilonia 11; Conan of The Isles 12; Solomon Kane, The Hills Of The Dead; Skull-Face; Black Canaan; Swords Of Shahrazar; Marchers Of Valhalla

Hyne, C J Cutliffe: The Lost Continent

Jakes, John: Brak The Barbarian; Mark of Demons; The Sorceress

Jackson, Steve: Fighting Fantasy

Kline, Otis Adelbert: Swordsman Of Mars, Outlaw Of Mars, Planet of Peril

Kuttner, Henry: The Mask Of Circe; Elak Of Atlantis, The Dark World, Robots Have No Tails

Kurtz, Katherine: Deryni Rising; Deryni Checkmate; High Deryni

Lanier, Sterling: Hiero’s Journey; The Unforsaken Hiero

L’Engle, Madeleine: A Wrinkle In Time

Le Guin, Ursula: A Wizard Of Earthsea; The Left Hand Of Darkness; Tehanu; The Farthest Shore

Lee, Tanith: The Book Of The Damned I; The Book Of The Beast II; The Storm Lord, The Birthgrave, The Dragon Hoard, Night’s Master, Death’s Master

Leiber, Fritz: Swords and Deviltry 1; Swords Against Death 2; Swords In The Mist 3; Swords And Wizardry 4; The Swords of Lankhmar 5; Swords and Ice Magic 6

Lindsay, David: A Voyage To Arcturus

Lovecraft, H.P.: The Doom That Came To Sarnath; The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath; The Shadow Over Innsmouth; At The Mountains Of Madness; The Lurker At The Threshold; The Tomb; The Watchers Out Of Time; Waking Up Screaming; The Dunwich Horror

Martin, George R.R.: Dying Of The Light; A Song Of Ice And Fire

Matheson, Richard: I Am Legend

McCaffery, Anne: The Ship Who Sang; Dinosaur Planet

Merritt, A.: The Ship Of Ishtar; The Seven Footprints Of Satan; The Moon Pool; The Face In The Abyss; Dwellers In the Mirage; Creep Shadow Creep

Miller, Walter: A Canticle For Leibowitz

Moorcock, Michael: Legends From The End Of Time; The Jewel In The Skull; The Mad God’s Amulet; The Sleeping Sorceress; The Runestaff; The Lord of the Spiders; The Masters of the Pit; The City of the Beast; The Warlord of the Air; Stealer Of Souls; Stormbringer; Elric of Melnibone; The Sword Of The Dawn

Moore, C.L.: Northwest Smith; Jirel Of Joiry

Morris, William: The Well At Worlds End I; The Well At Worlds End II; The Wood Beyond the World; The Water of the Wondrous Isles

Mundy, Talbot: Tros Of Samothrace; Avenging Liafail 2; Liafail3; The Praetor's Dungeon 3; The Purple Pirate 6

Niven, Larry: The Man-Kzin Wars; A World Out Of Time; A Gift From Earth; Tales of Known Space; Neutron Star; The Magic May Return; The Magic Goes Away; The Flight of the Horse

Norman, John: Tarnsman Of Gor 1; Outlaw Of Gor 2; Priest-Kings Of Gor 3; Nomads Of Gor 4; Assassin Of Gor 5; Raiders Of Gor 6; Captive Of Gor 7; Hunters Of Gor 8; Marauders Of Gor 9, Tribesmen Of Gor 10, Slave Girl of Gor 11; Time Slave

Norton, Andre: Quag Keep; Exiles of the Stars; Warlock of Witch World; High Sorcery; Witch World; Sargasso Of Space; Lord Of Thunder

Nowlan, Philip F.: Armageddon 2419 A.D.

Offutt, Andrew J.: Demon In The Mirror; Eyes Of Sarsis; Web Of The Spider; Conan, The Sword of Skelos; Conan The Mercenary; Swords Against Darkness I; Swords Against Darkness II; Swords Against Darkness III; Swords Against Darkness IV; Swords Against Darkness V; The Iron Lords; Cormac Mac Art

Piper, H. Beam: Space Viking

Pratchett, Terry: The Colour Of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort

Pratt, Fletcher: Land Of Unreason; The Blue Star; The Well of the Unicorn; The Carnelian Cube

Saberhagen, Fred: The First Book Of Swords; Second Book Of Swords; Third Book Of Swords; Empire Of The East

Schmitz, James: The Witches of Karres

Shea, Michael: Color Out Of Time; A Quest For Simbilis; Nifft The Lean

Sims, John:

Sirota, Mike: Master Of Boranga

Smith, Clark Ashton: Lost Worlds Volume 1; Lost Worlds Volume 2; Out Of Space And Time 1; Out Of Space And Time 2; The Abominations of Yondo; Genius Loci; Poseidonis; Zothique; Hyperborea; Xiccarph; Tales Of Science And Sorcery; Other Dimensions 1; Other Dimensions 2

Smith, L. Neil: Lando Calrissian and the Midharp of Sharu; Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of Thonboka; Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Osean

Smith, E.E. ‘Doc’: Triplanetary

Springer, Nancy: The White Hart

St. Clair, Margaret: The Shadow People; Sign of the Labrys

Stasheff, Christopher: The Warlock Wandering; A Warlock's Blade; Warlock And Son; The Warlock Is Missing; Her Majesty's Wizard; King Kobold

Stewart, Mary: The Crystal Cave; The Hollow Hills; The Last Enchantment

Swann, Thomas: Green Phoenix; Day Of The Minotaur; Cry Silver Bells; Moondust

Tolkien, J.R.R.: The Hobbit; The Lord Of The Rings

Tubb, E.C.: The Winds Of Gath 1; Derai 2; Toyman 3; Kalin 4; Jester Of Scar 5; Lallia 6; Technos 7; Veruchia 8; Mayenne 9; Jondelle 10; Zenya 11; Eloise 12;

Van Arnam, Dave: Star Barbarian

Van Vogt, A.E.: The Voyage Of The Space Beagle; Quest For The Future

Vance, Jack: The Languages Of The Pao; The Dragon Masters; The Best of Jack Vance; The Dying Earth; The Eyes of the Overworld; Cugel’s Saga; Rhialto The Marvelous; Trullion, Alastor 2262; Wyst, Alastor 1716; Marune, Alastor 933; The Faceless Man 1; The Brave Free Men 2; The Astura 3; Lyonesse 1; The Green Pearl 2; Madouc 3; The Face 4; The Blue World; Galactic Effectuator; Big Planet; City Of The Chasch 1; Servants of the Wanhk 2; The Dirdir 3; The Pnume 4; Suldrun's Garden

Verne, Jules: The Mysterious Island

Wagner, Karl E: Bloodstone, Death Angel’s Shadow, Dark Crusade

Weinbaum, Stanley; The Black Flame; A Martian Odyssey

Wellman, Manly Wade: The Old Gods Waken; The Hanging Stones; The Lost And The Lurking; After Dark; Silver John; Who Fears The Devil?

White, Theodore: The Once and Future King

Williams, Robert M.: Return of Jongor

Williamson, Jack: The Trial Of Terra; The Legion Of Space

Zelazny, Roger: Nine Princes In Amber; The Guns of Avalon; Sign of the Unicorn; The Hand of Oberon; The Courts of Chaos; Jack Of Shadows; Dilvish, The Damned; The Changing Land; Isle of the Dead; Trumps of Doom; Blood Of Amber; Sign Of Chaos; Knight Of Shadows; Prince of Chaos

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Essence Of DnD: Why 5E Will Fail The OSR

There's been much talk, by the developers of the "next" version of Dungeons and Dragons, about their intention to incorporate the "essence of DnD" into 5E.

Oddly, I don't think i've seen a single explication of what the DnD Next developers mean when they use that term. And that deafening silence leads me, inevitably, to the conclusion that they may not actually know what the essence of DnD is.

Without a re-introduction of the essence of DnD, i'm afraid that the development of 5E will fail in one of its stated objectives: to end the edition wars and bring all DnD players back into the fold.

And honestly, it's not all that hard to discover the essence of DnD. One has to look no further than the plethora of excellent OSR blogs, and read some of the pre-1980 fantasy literature (those tales often referred to, by OSR types, as comprising Appendix N) to inform your understanding.

If the DnD Next designers need some further direction on where to start, I would offer up the following two resources: one, Chevski's article on Picaro and the Story Of DnD, and two, Clark Ashton Smith's The Tale of Satampra Zeiros. Those should give the DnD Next designers a nice, basic introduction to the essence of DnD.

Perhaps if they read those two items, and do further research thereafter, the designers of 5E will not fail the OSR.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dungeoneer Unboxing And Play Example

Thomas Denmark, the designer and artist behind Dungeoneer, recently linked to a video providing an example of play for his dungeon delve game.

Here is another video by the same individual, of an unboxing of Tomb of the Lich Lord.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Unintended Effects

One of the unintended effects of other OSR bloggers abandoning their blogs is that spammers are quick to adopt the former site for their own ends, complete with built-in followers.  Countdown To Game Time was a great little D&D blog that went off the air and has now been turned into a spammer blog for, i'm guessing, some sort of online poker website.

It's probably not just me, but i'm finding it difficult to remove myself from those blogs once one of the spammers takes over.  There's a bug in blogger that is preventing my from accessing my Manage Blogs feature so I can remove myself, a bug that I have politely mentioned to blogger but seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

I mention this because, in trying to remove several of these now-spammer blogs from my reading list, I unintentionally BLEW UP MY ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL BLOGGERS LIST.

My apologies to my many fellow-travellers.  If you would like me to re-add you to my "re-built" international bloggers list, please comment to this post with your blog address.


EDIT: By International Bloggers, I mean non-Canadian bloggers.  Also, if there any Canadian DnD bloggers that are not on my Canadian list, please let me know.

Arthurian Heroes In Deities and Demigods

I am confident that the first and last illustrations are by Jeff Dee. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to the identity of the illustrator for the 1980 Deities and Demigods Arthurian Heroes?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Magical Boots

There are five boots treasures scattered throughout Avalon Hill's Magic Realm, to be found in the monsters' treasure hoards and natives' possessions.

Like the gloves treasures (providing their owners with fatigue-free attacks and other benefits), magical boots treasures provide their users with fatigue-free movement.

That is of particular value during combat, as combat is where fatigue is usually suffered.

The first set of boots is the Elven Slippers. When equipped, they provide the wearer with the equivalent of a light move chit with a speed of 2 (remembering that a move speed of 1 is fastest).

Many of the light characters, like the Elf, Woodsgirl or the Swordsman, already have an L2 move chit. However, that move chit may be played only with some effort. That additional effort is denoted by the existence of "effort stars" on that character's move chit.

For example, those three characters may have an L2* or L2** move chit. The single star means the move is somewhat fatiguing, while the double star means the move is very fatiguing. The possession and donning of the Elven Slippers, then, allows those characters to avoid fatigue when performing that speedy move.

Others, like the Druid, Magician and Witch, have no L2 move chit at all. The Elven Slippers are of enormous benefit to them.

The Elven Slippers are only good for light characters, carrying only light equipment. The Elven Slippers cannot be employed if the character is a medium character, or if the light character is carrying medium or heavier equipment or treasure.

When worn, the Shoes of Stealth provide the wearer with a light move with a speed of 3. Though not as fast as the Elven Slippers, the Shoes of Stealth provide the wearer with another benefit: allowing the player to roll one die, instead of 2, when attempting to hide.

In Magic Realm, every dice-roll is made with two six-sided dice, with the higher of the two numbers used to determine success. Since lower numbers are better, only rolling one die on in-game attempts improves your chances. In this case, since a 1 through 5 means you successfully hide, and a 6 means you fail, the Shoes of Stealth improve your chances of hiding, on a single attempt, from 70% to 84%.

Again, only light characters, carrying light equipment, can wear the Shoes of Stealth. However, they are the ones who most need an improved chance of hiding, since they generally rely on hiding and fleeing from, rather than battling, the monsters of the Magic Realm.

The Quick Boots are useful for light and medium characters alike.

With a medium move and a speed of 3, light characters will appreciate the additional carrying capacity this set of boots affords, while the medium characters will find the speed of 3, with no fatigue, of great benefit.

Most medium characters, like the Amazon, Captain, Pilgrim and Wizard, can all benefit from wearing the Quick Boots. Both the Amazon and Captain have M3 move chits, but the Amazon has one effort star on her chit, while the Captain has two, so they normally suffer some fatigue when performing that action. And neither the Pilgrim nor the Wizard have the ability to make a medium move with a speed of 3, so these boots are a real boon to them.

Even the Black Knight, if he trades his heavy armor for a medium breastplate and helmet, can take advantage of these boots.

The Quick Boots are also the only set of boots that provide fame if possessed. These boots of of no use to the heavy characters, other than the fame and notoriety they provide, or the gold that can be collected from their sale.

The Power Boots provide a heavy move with a speed of 4. They are of benefit to all characters (the light and medium characters for the additional carrying capacity, the heavy characters for the relatively fast move time that avoids fatigue).

The medium and heavy characters will appreciate wearing these boots, since a H4 move chit is normally accompanied by two effort stars.

The Dwarf, in particular, benefits from wearing the Power Boots, as he has no H4 move chit, and must usually rely on his duck move, which is sufficient for battling the monsters and natives, but is a fatal weakness when facing off against other characters.

Our last set of boots is the Seven League Boots. In addition to providing a tremendous move with a speed of 5, the Seven League Boots also allow the character to record an extra move every game day.

Those extra moves add up. Normally, each character has 4 actions per day. An additional move per day provides up to a 25% increase in the number of actions the character can perform.

The Seven League Boots can be worn by any character, and like any magic item that provides extra actions, should be equipped immediately.

While the speed of 5 may be slow, for a light and medium character, that is a reasonably fast move speed for a heavy character, and, again, avoids those heavy characters having to suffer fatigue.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Module B4: The Lost City

I was never a huge fan of Jim Holloway, but I do love the artwork from module B4, The Lost City.

The Lost City provides both story-based adventures and a sand-box setting. It includes foreshadowing, humour, opportunities for pitting competing factions within The Lost City, kooky NPCs, a Big Bad End Guy, tricks and traps, and hooks for additional adventures.

B4, The Lost City, along with B1, In Search Of The Unknown, and B2, Keep On The Borderlands, are excellent examples of good adventure design.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The More I Post At WOTC, The Stoopider I Get

I can objectively demonstrate that posting on the WOTC D&D fora actually reduces your intelligence.

To wit:

Einstein and Hawking are two of the smartest guys that ever lived.

They never posted on the WOTC D&D fora.

Therefore, we assign them a score of 0, for no posts.

The more a person posts on the WOTC forums, the less time they have to become an Einstein or Hawking. Therefore, the WOTC poster's potential for genius is inversely proportional to their number of posts.

Thus, we take the inverse of the WOTC poster's posts to represent their potential for genius.

Since Einstein and Hawking have 0 posts on the WOTC fora, we take the inverse of their posts, which is 1/0, so they receive an infinity score on the genius potential scale.

For me, i'm up to post 37, which means i'm already down to 1/37 on the genius potential scale, or 0.027.

I'm getting stoopider by the minute.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Microquests: Death Test 2

Every 1970's game design house was strongly affected by the success of TSR's Dungeons and Dragons game.

If you look at the history of such established chit-and-hex firms as SPI and Avalon Hill, you see mad scrambles to catch up to the phenomenal growth curve of TSR, and capture some of the role-playing game market.

Then there were upstarts, like Metagaming, that came onto the scene just as TSR was finding its legs. But, despite being contemporaries, and settling (initially) into discrete niches, you still find them trying to horn in on the success of D&D.

Like SPI and Avalon Hill, Metagaming desperately wanted to penetrate the roleplaying game market. Their unique business model was microgames; small format chit-and-hex games that could be carried anywhere, and played anytime.

But after Metagaming's success with the Steve Jackson-designed Melee microgame, and subsequent further success of the spellcaster-based follow-up, Wizard, Metagaming poured significant energy into expanding those two games, creating what they hoped would be a full-fledged RPG competitor to D&D. That expansion led to the creation of "The Fantasy Trip", being Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard and In The Labyrinth.

With the departure of Steve Jackson from Metagaming, TFT would subsequently become GURPS.

One of the Metagaming Melee and Wizard supporting lines was a series of Microquest boxed supplements. These were small format boxed adventures, that provided everything you needed to run a pre-programmed game, in either solo or game-mastered mode. Those microquests were not terribly sophisticated, as they were typical hack-and-slash fare.

But they included the most wonderful cardboard counters!

The above counters are from Death Test 2, a maze and set of arenas below Thorz' palace, intended to test the character's mettle, in anticipation of eventual employment in Thorz' mercenary army. As I observed earlier, the combination of skeletons, weapon-wielding octopuses, and other assorted denizens, was welcome inspiration for our middle-school imaginations.