A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Roundup

Howdy folks.

I apologize that this blog has had very little to do with running or dice.  C'est la vie.

For Christmas, the Williams family went north to see Krissi's folks.  We flew out on Christmas Eve, and thankfully Piper was awesome for both legs of the flight.  She flirted with some folks sitting near us, smiling and watching folks intently.  The other Williams clan was also out of town for Christmas, and so we ended up stockpiling the dogs at our house.  We had a few really awesome people agree to check in on them and make sure that they were all fed and taken care of.  Humorously, our friends were also traveling to see family for the holidays, and were within 45 miles of us to see their folks.

Spending Christmas with Krissi's folks was excellent.  We had a great time and everyone was thrilled to get to see Piper.  The traveling was rather tiring.  It went well, with regards to Piper and so forth, but its just taxing.

Piper made out like a bandit, and got enough gifts for three babies.  Folks were very generous.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas

Its that time of year, boys and girls. That's right, every year on this month, liberals and godless atheists around the country gear up in their masks and robes and serve a little fresh newborn baby and plot the annual war on Christmas.

Actually I was going to gripe about this whole semantic/ideological tom-foolery that goes on about this silly semi-religious holiday.

I saw someone on facebook join the group "its MERRY CHRISTMAS, not happy holidays!", and I wanted to ask him if he yells at every person who calls it a yam, "Its a SWEET POTATO, not a yam!" Because if I wish you Happy Holidays, its not because I carefully made a plan to deny Christmas. Honestly, I don't care that much - you care way more than I do, Mr. Red Faced Angry About The Holiday dude.

So in part, its just semantics. You say potato, I say potato. But I know that there also more to it than that. I'm one of those godless liberals. So yeah, I don't dig your nativity scene, or your Happy Baby Jesus Day, but I'm not going to be a dick about it to you. I like Christmas just fine. Its a fun time of year when we all pretend that we're much nicer and more generous than we really are. Its our one time of year that we are charitable and kind to our fellow humans. So I'm down with Christmas.

Come down off of your high horse, Holiday Agitators. Its Christmas to you, its Hanukkah to some, and Kwanzaa to others, and Solstice to still others. For me, its just a fun holiday.

For some of us, Christmas is flipping cool mostly because of nostalgia. Its a time that often reminds us of our childhood. It brings back emotions and tastes and feelings and memories of people and times and places and things long since past. I don't celebrate Christmas for Baby Jesus' sake. I don't celebrate it because I believe that Santa needs me to. Really, I just celebrate it because its fun and it reminds me of simpler time - when the most I had to worry about was grade school and the cute girl in class and presents.

So yeah, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

And try to have a good time. Remember the part earlier about being nicer to folks this time of year? Take it to heart. When a godless liberal wishes you Happy Holidays, tell them "Merry Christmas!", or even "Happy Holidays!". Because its a holiday, and quite a few of us are happy about it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wheel of Time

I've been rare on here, mostly because I've been busy with baby stuff and other things, but sometimes I just don't feel like writing, y'know?

For no good reason, other than that folks have been chatting about them recently, I've been thinking about the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan.

Chances are that if you're reading this blog, you're familiar with Jordan. I got my hands on his books years ago, late high school, I think. If you're somehow not familiar with his work, he's a fantasy writer (think Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), who is incredibly long winded. Rather, each of the books in the series are 300,000+ words, and there are currently.. 12 books in the series.

I made it to book 9 before I gave up on the series.

Recently I've considered picking them up again, with the purposeful intent of only reading through to book 5 or 6 or so. Part of my reason for wanting to pick them up again is that the early books are really good. I remember my strong sense of wonderment and fascination with the characters and the world that he'd created.

I swear I think I had some clever insight or something when I started this post. Anyway. I wonder where my copy of book 1 is.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Health Care, analogized as Pizza

sane people: "Since we're hungry lets get some pizza."
the far right: "Oh, no way, I refuse to eat raw fish."
sane people: "There's no raw fish on pizza..."
the far right: "raw fish carries bacteria you know, and can easily kill people."
sane people: "But, there's no raw fish on pizza."
the far right: "If you get pizza, it will fundamentally change everything."
sane people: "pizza doesn't have raw.. wait, what?"
the far right: "Yeah, you ordering that raw fish pizza will fundamentally change this country."
sane people: "Well, there's no raw fish on the pizza, but-"
the far right: "Raw fish kills tons of people."
sane people: "- if you want to suggest something different..?"
the far right: "How about not raw fish pizza? it will destroy america."
sane people: "How will it destroy america?"
the far right: "You must want to kill people, that must be why you're ordering raw fish pizza."
sane people: "Look, I just saw that everyone was hungry and am trying to feed us."
the far right: "Communist."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Running AND Dice!

Two birds, one stone.

So I've gotten my fat and lazy ass back into running again. After more than a year "off", I've managed to get back on the bandwagon and started doing some regular running again. At the moment, I'm working on doing four or more instances of 3 miles around the park in our neighborhood. Its an added bonus that Krissi gets Piper out in the stroller to go around, so I have excellent company.

I've also been keeping my gaming bug going, lately with some Play by Post gaming. I'm running a few games, and playing in a couple as well. Most of the games are full, but if you're interested, email me, or create a login on RPOL.net and rMail me at xjermx.

I'm running a Vampire the Masquerade game, and a pair of Horror games, as well as some Houses of the Blooded. I'm also playing in a Labyrinth Lord game, a couple of "free form" games, and a Vampire the Requiem game.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gaming related annoyances

Awhile back, I posted a question to the too-clever-for-their-own-good gang over at The Forge. Its the place you go to talk about indie games, or how to play games - and I mean 'how to play' them in the snooty Simpson's comic book guy voice.

I asked a simple question, and gave some context.

All of the answers completely ignored the question, and provided tons of feedback about my context.

Let me analogize: Let's say you post on a home repair website, "Hi, I'm replacing the garage door to my home, and I wonder if you would recommend brand A or brand B?"

And you receive some responses:
"Interesting project. Sounds like your home must be aging some. Have you checked to make sure that your roof is not leaking? A leaking roof can really kill your home, it causes all sorts of problems."

"When I'm replacing a garage door, one of the first things that I always do is mow the lawn. Why? Well because an unkempt lawn looks awful, and just drives me nuts!"

"Instead of replacing your garage door, have you considered tearing down your garage? You could convert it into a patio or a nice garden."

I even posted a followup, to point out that no one was really addressing my question, and that the context was just that - context. To which my replies were like this:

"Well, I don't understand why you are not concerned about your roof. Doesn't sound like wise planning to me!"

Gee, imagine that. Someone on the internet needs punching, AGAIN!

Second gripe:
Nit picking over pregenerated characters. I'm running a game with pregens. Thusfar I've had almost no problems, everyone is fine with playing what I've handed them. Except one dude, who wants to nit pick over it, and then when I'm less than willing to start changing stuff (or letting him play characters that are not available), he's not interested. Good riddance.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Players Wanted, Let's Try This Again

I'm either optimistic, or a glutton for punishment. After a less than amazing response to my post about skype gaming, I'm hoping that if I beg a little harder, I'll get a little pity and can get a few people to throw their lot in.

Here's what I'm running:

It's called Digging for Dead Gods.

Its a Call of Cthulhu scenario, but wait - don't draw your conclusions yet. This is not a CoC scenario in which the good guys do some investigating, and then beat up some cultists. This has been referred to as a "blood opera". Its nasty. And you'd be playing bad guys. Sortof. But you know, there's always someone worse - or in this case, something.

So if you're even somewhat interested, please drop me a note. It is a one shot, and I see it taking about 4 hours, but I'm pretty flexible about when we run it, and will try to coordinate in order to get 6 people together at once.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Players Wanted: Online One Shot

I'm looking for people to participate in a one shot skype-style role playing game.

I don't want to give it all away, but it's a horror themed game. We'd play most likely on a weekday evening, around 7pm central time until about 10 or 11 central. I've got six slots available, and its first come, first serve. Though if I can somehow find an even dozen, then its TWO one shot online games.

Serious, I need you. Post in the comments or email me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4e Lightning Storm

Someone please use this idea, if you're running a 4e D&D game. I suppose this could be used in any game, really, but all of the juicy mechanical bits seemed right for 4e.

Take any outdoor scrap, and throw in a terrific lightning storm!

Jagged bolts of lightning crash furiously all around and amidst the fight. Each round, roll 1d6 each round for any character with significant metal (armor, weapon, etc). On a 1, let them make a save of some kind for half damage against a lightning strike. Use the Damage by Level thingy to figure out how much damage to dish out, but it should be on the high side, probably. Goes for PCs and monsters, of course. Keep in mind that if armorclad PCs are fighting some kind of non-armory opponents, it'll put the PCs at a more significant disadvantage than if they were fighting chainmail orcs or something. For anything not in armor, make it a 1 in 10 chance of a lightning strike. Oh, and let anyone hit, and anyone adjacent be stunned or dazed for a round.

For added fun, throw in some rain-slick, anyone moving more than 10 feet makes a save or ends up prone.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

Happy 4th of July, folks.

We did the Firecracker 5k yesterday. Maddie and John registered, but then had a wedding to go to, so they sent us in their place. Took a ton of pics, enjoyed just taking pics of the crowd. I'm dumping the lot of them here for your enjoyment. We walked it, since we had Piper with us. Also, she finished it just ahead of me...

Then I got out and did a run today! Yay running! 2.5 miles, and another .5 walking. It was H O T.

Also, I'm going to make an effort to get this here blog back on track. I don't wanna make promises that I can't keep, but I'm going to try to do some more running (despite the heat), and make some more frequent gaming related posts. Woo!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Food: Yum!

I came home from work this evening, and looked in the fridge and the cabinet, and was at a loss for what to eat.

We've done "Jerm's Chicken and Rice and Green Beans" to death. To. Death.

We had a pound of ground beef in the fridge that we needed to eat, and I felt like potatoes. On the other hand, I was feeling so uninspired... hm, potatoes and ground beef? Uninspired.

Trying to just do something a little bit different, I wondered if I could do a schnitzel- breaded meat. I was working with ground beef though.. so I did a little searching and quickly found a recipe.

So I did my good ole sliced up potatoes with olive oil and emeril's seasoning. Along with breaded hamburger patties. Also on a lark, I made up some onion soup. 2 cups of water, 2 beef bullion cubes, about 1/4th of a cup of diced yellow onion (should have used about twice that much onion).. I was uncertain if the onion soup would come out, but it was quite good. Then at the last minute I threw some green beans on the stove, and we were good!

I love food.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This post is half baked, for that, I apologize. Surely you've had something spring suddenly and randomly into your mind, and then posted a long rambling post to the internet about it, right?

I love me some conspiracy theory. Sorta.

See, conspiracy theories seem to swim around in two ponds, like a venn diagram. The ponds are connected, and some conspiracy theories are in the "plausible" pond, and others are in the "okay, I'm not really that crazy" pond.

Aliens at Rosewell New Mexico in the 50's [edit: 40's, get it right. duh.]? Sure, I'm in. Something Bigger at play in JFK's assassination? I'll bite. We never landed on the moon? Wait a second, slow down there. The Illuminati move quietly and powerfully through the world, moving nations like pawns? Nah, I wasn't too crazy about DaVinci Code. (BTW, that's another gripe I've got, which I'll get to later, or another time).

See, conspiracy theories are really just alternate theories about what really happened. And we all know, or at least can assume, that perhaps during a few points in human history, something happened other than what we've read about in history books or in the news or on wikipedia. Because.... big shocker here... sometimes we lie about stuff.

There's a certain stigma associated with conspiracy theories. Coming right out and saying "Hey, I don't believe everything that I read in the news and in the history books." can really get you labeled a weirdo, depending on the kind of people that you hang with.

But how much "alternative theory" can you buy? A little or a lot? I'll buy that Lee Harvey Oswald was not alone in the shooting of JFK. I'll buy that there were aliens, or something other than a weather balloon at Roswell. But faked moon landings? I guess conspiracy theory is subjective. I'm sure it plays into each persons understanding of the world, science, religion, philosophy, etc. While I'll buy some things and not others, someone else will pick a whole different set to believe in. If I had way more time and such, I'd create some sort of poll, or, I dunno, maybe research it with google or something, because surely someone's already done this - take 10 or 20 fairly common conspiracy theories, and go around and poll a few thousand people and see if they believe it is real or nutty. I expect that some would get high buy in, like JFK's assassination, while others would get somewhat lower buy in, like - I assume - fake moon landings.

Is the idea of he US being aware of an impending attack on Pearl Harbor a conspiracy theory? /random

One of my favorite conspiracy books, and aptly named, is Conspiranoia, you're welcome to read it if you ever come to my house and use the bathroom.


Y'know who bugs the crap out of me?

People who do not pick up on subtle, or sometimes not-so-subtle cues on the telephone. Especially on work related calls.

I'm a busy guy, and I assume that you are too. That's why when I talk to you, I'll usually ask you if this is a good time, or if I've caught you in the middle of something.

Its also why I try to pick up on subtle cues during the call. Are you talking to other people in the background about a problem with a server? Sound generally rushed and hurried? These are easy examples of cues that signal that this is a bad time for a long phone call.

If you have some information to share with me, great. If it takes you more than two or three minutes to share that information with me, we probably need to arrange a phone call, or you need to send me a long email.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Freedom of Speech

In your opinion, should Freedom of Speech in the US be uncompromising and absolute, much as it is today? Or should there be fast, hard limits on it?

In the same way that you cannot go into a crowded theater and yell "fire", isn't hate speech similarly endangering to the safety and health of others?

I'm aware that putting limits on Freedom of Speech can be said to be a slippery slope, and I'm certainly all for protecting my civil liberties. But I'm not happy with Freedom of Speech encompassing Freedom of Hate.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

D&D 4e, a year later.

Some of my fellow RPG nerds have been doing these 'D&D 4e, a year later' posts, and I figured, "Hey! I like posting about nerdy gaming stuff. Why don't I hop on this?" And so I am.

About this time last year, D&D 4 was on the shelves, and gamer nerds were still split on whether it was the most awesomest [sic] ever, or whether it was bringing death and ruin (and not the cool kind) to gaming. Ohhh, the D&D4 = MMORPG/WoW threads were so long. sigh. Good times.

Before 4e came out, I'd sworn off D&D. I'd gotten fed up with 3.x, and had gotten somewhat heavily into the indie gaming scene. I had a blast with some of these games, and as I've mentioned before, it was a great run for me, because it really opened my eyes up to a lot of neat stuff about the deeper theory and mechanics of gaming. As a total aside - posting sentences like that always makes me cringe just a little. But hey, nerds get into whatever they're nerding out about. I'm sure that somewhere, right now, someone is posting about the minute differences in two brands of fishing rods. /nerdtastic

Back on track: I followed the pending release of D&D4 like a stalker. You ever sit on a forum and hit 'refresh' like you're pushing the trigger on a morphine drip? That was me. I was stoked. Finally, I thought, a D&D that I can get back into.

So it came out, and I got my gamer buds together, and we ran some D&D. It was pretty awesome. Games were easy to prep for, mechanically speaking. "Powers", both for player-characters, and for monsters and bad guys were cool and fun. The players had a good time, and I had a good time. In the end, the arrival of babies in our lives put a nix on the game, but to be honest, after running the game for a little over six months, I'd begun to get burned out, mostly with the game system itself. So yeah, I'd gone from "D&D4 may be one of the most awesomest [sic] things ever", to "Eh, its fun." in six months.

Part of what turned me off was the combat system. I'm not trying to say that it was not fun or cool, just that after six months, the time it took to run even a simple combat had begun to outweigh the cool and fun. As a high fantasy tactical combat game that borrowed from action movies and games like final fantasy and world of warcraft, it excelled. But the fights were the focus of the sessions.

I'll pause here and concede that this has as much to do with system as it was the way I was running the game, but this quickly devolves into the System Does Matter argument. I was running the game, mechanically, as it was intended. We had time, in our game sessions, for about two fights, and some exposition and story before, between, and after the fights.

Anyway, my objective was not to rag on D&D4e. I suppose, instead, my goal was to compare Then And Now.

As I've posted here, I've begun to run some Labyrinth Lord games, which is a reworking of "old school" D&D, and have thought some about games like Shadowrun, and even Vampire the Masquerade (not Requiem, but that's for another post). D&D4 was fun, and I know a couple of folks who are still playing in other 4e games.

And that's all I've got.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 Brouhaha

Chalk this up to me ranting into the void of the internet. I don't think any of you are big into Left 4 Dead.

So Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2, a sequel to their incredibly well selling team based zombie shooter, Left 4 Dead. How's that for a gob of descriptors?

The internet has its panties in a wad, apparently. Masses of unwashed and rebellious nerds are screaming angry that Valve would have the audacity to be working on a sequel, a mere year after the release of the first one.

This is my note to those screaming masses. Get over it. You're just pissed because you think its "too soon". Don't be a dumbass. You know you'll end up rushing out and buying the damn thing. (Because it will, in all likelihood, be awesome, which is kinda the entire point of Valve creating a sequel. Doing it again, just better.)

That is all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Labyrinth Lord

Ran another game of Labyrinth Lord this past weekend. I'd initially hoped to have as many as five people attend, but only Jerry and Jason were able to make it. Still, we played, and had a good time.

My two players each took two characters into the dungeon, plus two retainers that one of Jason's characters had hired, giving us six warm bodies.

In brief format, they went back into the temple, did some more exploring, fought a room full of skeletons, very successfully, I might add, fought some goblins, then fought more goblins, and actually managed to force a bunch of the goblins to drop their weapons and flee, leaving their treasure behind. So there was a goodly bit of treasure and a goodly bit of XP to be had.

The party continued exploring, finding a room with concentric iron circles in the floor, and through an accident later, discovered that it produced a vision in one of the characters, sending that character on a quest for the Iron God to cleanse his temple. Further in the temple, they found an area that produced bazaar illusions and hallucinations. After a bit, they retreated from that section of the temple.

After running a game two weekends in a row, I'm going to have to revert to something a little less frequent. I'm hoping perhaps every other weekend, but we'll see how it goes.

Oh, Sims 3.

Between changing diapers and playing with Piper and catching season one of The Tudors on DVD with Krissi (its FANTASTIC, btw), and trying to keep up with dishes and such things, and running the occasional Labyrinth Lord game (which I did Sunday, and I'll get a recap up for you soonish), and playing Ogre Battles on the Wii, I try to squeeze in time to play the occasional computer game.

So, Sims 3.

I've been a mild fan of each iteration of The Sims. When the first one came out a bajillion years ago, my brother and I sat on computers side by side and played for like 36 hours. Then, having wrung everything we could from the game, neither of us touched it again. Sims 2 came along and had a bunch more cool features. Krissi and I, and some of our friends played it some, off and on. But again, it was a pretty mild commitment. Now Sims 3 has come out, and I've been playing around with it a little.

Its super neat. Nice graphics. Nice features. There's a laundry list of cool new stuff that you can do in this one, that you could not do in the previous ones. I entertained myself yesterday by starting a game based on a twisted MTV Real World - I made sim people based on Paris Hilton, Martha Stewart, David Beckham, and Jeffrey Dahmer. "Why?", you ask? "Why not!", I answer.

I won't make this into a full review. There's other, better places you could go if you were that interested. But its a lot of fun.

Friday, June 5, 2009

We won a vacation from travel scammers!

The other evening, we got a phone call from someone who wanted to send us on a vacation!

While at the Italian Festival, Krissi and I were stopped by someone at a booth who was asking people to fill out cards to register for a vacation giveaway. Why not? So we filled them out and continued on our way.

Well, I spoke with the person at length about it, but it turned out that I was wasting my time, and his. Early on in the call, I forget what term he used, but he indicated that they operated on a one call basis. What he was offering was 5 days and 4 nights in Orlando, and 3 days, 2 nights in Daytona. We'd be staying at AAA rated "Three Diamond" hotels, where our food would be free, and we'd get two adult passes for one day to the theme park of our choice, and also a coupon book with free passes to all kinds of museums and such. All we had to do was to get down there, and to give him $500.

I'm sad to say that I was not clever enough to just hang up the phone right at the beginning, and I wasted thirty minutes talking to him, despite my suspicion about the offer. In the end, I understood more clearly, thanks to some web searching, that we were almost certainly dealing with a "Ramada Scam". No wiki entry, sorry. Apparently our $500 would possibly have gotten us into the Rape and Stab Motel, or the confirmation info that we would have gotten later would have detailed information completely different than what we were talking about on the phone. Not only that, but we're on a rather fixed budget and tight income right now, and even if you told me that we could fly to Paris for a week, and only for $500, and you were not lying or scamming me, we still wouldn't/shouldn't afford it. $500 is a healthy chunk of our mortgage.

Anyway, I'm just sharing the experience with you. We're in good shape. Even though I didn't hang up on them right at the get go, we didn't get trapped or give anyone any money. In the end, when I turned him down, I was surprised that I didn't get any hard selling tactics, no pushiness after my "no".

It also made me think more about raffles and drawings and filling out stuff like that. I wonder if they call everyone who filled out a card. In fact, our other cell phone rang while I was on the phone talking to them, and we wondered if they were calling our other cell to tell us how we'd "Been selected for the vacation give away!", but it was not. Heh.

Yeah, its easy to get trapped by greed. I suppose that's why we filled out the cards in the first place. Hey - who doesn't want something for nothing? The only problem is, there's no such thing. You'll get something alright, but it won't be for nothing.

I don't think I'll fill out anymore "win this thing!!" cards anymore, though.

P.S. If anyone from the Italian Festival stumbles across this, you might not invite anyone affiliated with Resorts Tours & Accommodations, Inc. back!

Online Game

Last night I had the pleasure of taking part in an online Labyrinth Lord game, run by James "Jim" Raggi. It was the second game in a limited session run, I was not present for the first.

I kicked the thing off on an crummy note for myself. It was scheduled to begin at 7pm Eastern time, and because I did my very simple time conversion backwards, I thought it was beginning at 8pm Central time. At 5:52 by my clock, my brain suddenly started working correctly, and I realized that I had goofed up. To make matters worse, Piper had been fussy all day, and Krissi was at her wits end. I had just begun to make supper, thinking that I'd be able to do some stuff until 8. So this was a fiasco of my own creation. I nearly bailed on the game, but with my forgiving wife's consent, I sat down and worked on getting hooked up. Yeah - a fiasco at first, I didn't even have skype installed on my PC, and even though I already had stats for my characters, I had not done the rest of the creation process, thinking that I had another two hours to do so.

Finally I got connected with Jim and the players, and after apologizing for running late, and after getting everything lined up and setup, we got going around 6:30 central time.

The game consisted of Jim running us through what I believe is an adventure that he's in the process of testing before publishing. Death Frost Doom. So I won't get into too much specifics. We played with Skype and a chatroom & dice roller via Dragonsfoot.org This seemed to work very well. I've used Skype a little bit before, and it seemed to perform flawlessly for this application. The other players were a great bunch of folks, and I need to get in touch with each of them and thank them for such a great game as well. There were five of us players, myself- playing a thief, Beecham the halfling, Seneva the dwarf, Roland the fighter, and Vander the cleric. (sorry about no link love for Roland or Vander, I don't have links).

The adventure consisted largely of exploration, we didn't have any combat, and the only dice rolling was thievery skill stuff. I loved the exploration, it was thoroughly fun and old school. The tricks were clever- difficult enough to require us to think and plan, but not so difficult that we had no chance to figure out a solution. Jim did a fantastic job, both with creating the adventure, and with running it. The players were awesome as well. Due to an odd sequence of events, there came to be a distrust and suspicion of my character, Cerran the thief. This provided for great role playing, and we all hammed it up immensely.

Sadly, I think that Jim intends for this project to be a very short arc, as in, I think that was it. While our party was not as successful as I'd have liked- the GM gave us a clue and we forgot about it, and it was a rather important clue - we all had a great time. I just feel might sorry for all of the people that live in that region of the world.

Just for the record, I'd totally do one of these again!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MUD Musing

I played on a MUD (a non-graphical, text only Massive Multiplayer Online Game) called Medievia a long time ago. In fact, its partly because of it that I became fast friends with quite a few very cool people. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is my short attention span, I moved on and haven't played on Medievia actively in many many years, aside from very short stints every six months or so.

I got a wild hair a few weeks ago and decided that I wanted to kill text-based monsters for virtual experience points, but that I didn't want to do it on Medievia. So I looked around for a few minutes and settled on trying Aardwolf. Its a pretty cool MUD, large player base, and not overly complicated like some MUDs can be.

I played Aardwolf here and there for a week or two, before getting bored and moving on to other interests. But while I played I made a few observations. Firstly, that the MUD is very well put together, from a player/newbie perspective. I'm not new to MUDs, but this one was new to me, and had a significant number of features that were new to me. The newbie 'walk through' was fantastic. It was informative and helpful, and even scalable - depending on whether you were completely new to MUDs or just new to Aardwolf. The staff and other players all were friendly and helpful. There were lots of little features that really seemed to make the whole thing really shine. One thing that I began to notice after awhile, that seemed to detract from it though, is the quest system. Briefly - to get levels, you kill stuff and get XP, but to get 'wishes', and sweet special items, you need quest points, which you get by running quests and campaigns. Quests are basically "go here and kill this mob" kind of thing, but always with some flavor, and they were fun and not difficult. These wishes and special items were sweet enough though, that quest points (with which to buy them) were a pretty important currency in the game, and not one that was transferable. "Quest grinding" was a major part of life on the MUD. And they're all solo too - at least at the lower levels (I seem to recall some mention that at very high levels, some campaigns were not solo).

One of the things that I did enjoy about Medievia was the way grouping, or forming worked. You and other players got together and killed monsters for XP. The same thing existed on Aardwolf, but the focus on solo questing seemed like a barrier to group play.

So anyway, the moral of the story here is that Aardwolf is a cool MUD, but that grouping at lower levels seems totally nerfed in favor of quest grinding.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Labyrinth Lord Game

I totally do not have the time (or really the energy, even) for the full attention that this deserves, but if I don't post something, it'll get nothing.

So here's my quite short writeup of our Labyrinth Lord (old school D&D) game from this past weekend.

Jerry, Andrew, Jason and I got together. We blazed through character creation, and we continued the trend of letting each run two characters.

The characters were off to plunder the ruins of the Temple of the Iron God, which had been destroyed recently by divine fury. The above ground ruins were just so much gravel and large hunks of rock, so they descended into the temple via the stairs that they found. Inside, they practically ran through the first room, right past a huge statue holding an urn, and through one of the available doorways. A long passage, a right turn, and a doorway. Through the door was a room, and in that room was another doorway. Through *that* doorway, were nine goblins. Battle was joined! They ended up a little over their heads when two of their fighter types charged into the goblin room. Jerry's figher, Richard, took a good hit and was down, even the Last Breath Chart couldn't save him. Jason's fighter was in the room and surrounded, and things were looking grim, when Jerry's elf, Neemon, used his Sleep spell to end the fight. The party had just finished dispatching the sleeping goblins when the door behind them, that they'd come through, burst open and eight more goblins came rushing in (they did not know that there was another guard post in the room just beyond, and upon hearing the sound of combat, the goblins ran around to come in behind the party). Things went from bad to worse when one by one, the good guys dropped. Jason's Cleric hit the ground, but was only unconscious for a few rounds. Jason's Fighter hit the ground next. Despite that the party was slowly killing off the goblins, they were being killed off even faster. Andrew's Thief, the aptly named "Deathly Ill" went to 0 hit points, but excelled on his Last Breath roll, and was back on his feet and still in the fight. It didn't save him from being dropped again though, a few rounds later. Neemon had the same luck, getting nailed, but then springing back to his feet to carry on the fight. Jason's Cleric, who'd dropped unconscious earlier in the fight, got back up, and they finally broke the goblin's nerve, and after dropping one of the goblins, the rest (failed their morale check) and broke and ran.

The party hobbled back to town, where we discussed their future. Due to their wounds, at least one member of the party required 17 weeks of recovery time (!!!!), and since supplies were hard to come by in this far-flung border village, staying there was costly. In fact, the bill came to 300 gold pieces per (living) party member. They'd be having to go back into the Temple just to pay off their hospice expenses. Before venturing back in, they hired a few retainers, a trio of crossbowmen, and a heavy infantryman. So armed and rejuvenated, they headed back into the Temple. They had better luck this time with their exploring, finding that there was a passage through the urn that the large statue held, and so they explored further into the depths of the temple.

We're scheduled for more next week! Good fun!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Italian Festival

This will be quick, because I don't have time to be particularly verbose, but I wanted to post this.

We went out to the Italian Festival today in Memphis. It was great for us to get out, but holy cow - its crazy different with a baby. Before, we could just shower and dress and hop in the car and we were gone. Now its an involved and complicated process involving checklists and committees and such.

Anyway, we drove up there, found some parking about a solid block away, and made it to the festival shortly before 1, fortuitously just in time to get in for free, instead of the $10 a head they'd be charging. We wandered around, skimmed past all of the private booths, stopped and grabbed some food at the vendor stations, enjoyed some delicious Fat Tire beer, and did another loop around the park. We were there for a little over an hour. The weather was pretty nice, in the low 80's, and alternating between a little overcast, and really bright. In short, we had a really good time getting out and walking around the park.

Now my gripe: I'm glad we didn't have to pay to get in. In retrospect, $10 a head would have left me feeling disappointed. Granted, we were there before the band was playing, but that was okay with me, we didn't come to see the band. And our baby is confined to a stroller, and could not go and enjoy the little kids park area. But my biggest beef with this (and with Bar-B-Q fest) is that its a big private party that the public is pseudo invited to. Now, I'm not trying to pick a fight with any BBQ fest people or anything, I know they do these things as food competitions, but it seemed weird to walk by the fourty-odd food tents, each of which was marked 'private party - invite only', and to then make our way back around to the little vendors selling pizza. The food that we got from the vendors was fine, but the private party thing is weird, it feels like a high school party, and I'm not cool enough to do anything aside from stand against the wall and sip my soda.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dear World,

Dear World,

This sorta belongs on my baby blog instead of here, but I don't really want to mar it with this post.

So here goes:

Please quit with the racism and homophobia and the all-around hatemongering.

I've got a kid now, and while before I could just grimace, or ignore it, now I've got someone who's going to be learning by watching and listening to what goes on around her. At the end of the day, I don't care if she swears like a sailor, but I dread hearing a racist word that she picked up somewhere.

Obviously, I intend to provide her with an environment that will encourage her to think of all people as equal individuals, worth of respect - but it makes me wonder, when do you tell your kid about the things that you wish that they'd never find out about? I'm sure they discover it soon enough on their own.

Anyway, I'll cut this short.

So yeah, World, if you could work on that, it'd be great. Thanks.

This is not a real post

I started to come do a quick catchup-update, but I typed like three boring things, and thought "No one wants to read 'hi, I'm still real boring, nothing much new to tell you aside from that I'm not running and I wish I was, and that I get to play D&D this weekend',". That's not a post.

So instead, you get this. Think of it as a ping. Just a keepalive. I'll be back with more thrilling content eventually. Also, my apologies about my 365 project. I'm giving up on backposting photos here at this point, because I'm pretty sure that no one wants to scroll through 100 photos on here. Maybe I'll just link to my picasaweb album when I get it updated.

I need about 8 more waking hours in the day. I'm lying, I wouldn't really get more done.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Come play D&D with us!

Anyone reading this and living in the Memphis area interested in getting together for some old school D&D gaming?

No experience necessary - on the off chance that you read this and are not a gamer nerd, but are interested, that's cool too!

I'm trying to find a few more people to fill out a group that would play occasionally on the weekend.

Reply in the comments if interested!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monsters and Morality

I think I touched on this subject awhile back, during my D&D 4e game.

This has been on my mind again lately, and I've read or heard a few clever and/or insightful perspectives and thoughts on this subject.

In short, we're taking about killing stuff in your role playing game.

To give us a little more focus, lets talk solely about D&D/fantasy gaming.

Another blogger (if I were less lazy I'd link and credit, but I suck) recently had some similar musings, discussing how "intelligent monsters" in fantasy were largely an invention of Tolkien. Before him, most of the bad guys that Conan and others fought were human in nature. Whatever clever fellow it was that I'm talking about went on to describe that Conan typically did battle with whoever stood in his way and tried to stop him, and we did not really have evil races, the way we do in Tolkien with orcs and such.

Killing orcs and other baddies is a staple of D&D. And in its most simple (pure, if you will) form, there is no morality to it. It just never comes up, from players or the GM. Orcs and goblins and so forth live in dungeons, and its up the adventurers to go in and kill them and take all of their shit.

But as we all grow up, or invest a little more thought into our games, we wonder things like "What do we do with orcish children, or orcish prisoners?". Many a paladin has shuddered and writhed in angst and confusion, trying to justify killing defenseless children, despite his or her Lawful Good alignment.

Another clever fellow suggested that there's no such thing as orcish kids. Orcs, and all other manner of nasty monsters are not mundane biological creatures, the way that humans are. No, they are spawned from the energies produced from murders and rapes and torture hatred and all sorts of other nastiness. They aren't born and raised. They are formed from some nameless and invisible mist, and spring fully-formed and armed, ready to spread hate. In this scenario, there are no monstrous humanoid societies. Bands, maybe. This removes much of the morality from it, nipping it in the bud, so to say. They are, quite simply, evil. And I'm a big fan of this strategy.

You can certainly go far with morality plays in D&D, and have a great time with it, but I think that it depends on what kind of D&D game you and your players are after. Political and religious infighting and such is great territory for shades of gray.

But I think that killing monsters and taking their stuff is easier when you don't have to agonize over it.

'Course, there are whole games devoted to the morality of it all, like Vampire and Sorcerer and such. And I love those too.

(mmmm its nice to blog about gaming and get some of this stuff off of my chest!)

This thing still work?

Man, I've had like no time/energy for blogging, really.

Go figure.

In other news, my project 365 is still clinging to life, barely. I fear it'll be a project 361 or 357 or something of that sort. I know I missed at least one day, and who knows how many other days I've missed and not even noticed.

Anyway, I AM still taking some pictures. Almost all of them are of my cute kiddo, and I'm finding very few opportunities to snap descent photos of anything else.

It is what it is.

Eventually I'll try to do some uploading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Note To Self: Get Some Stuff Done

Crap, I have got to start getting a few things done.

I mean, sure, I have a good excuse for not doing stuff, but I have gobs and gobs of pictures that I need to sort through, tag, upload, etc. And lots of other stuff. Ahhhh, what'd I'd give for about another 8 wakeful hours every day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How I'm Ruining Gaming For Myself

I'm being a real jerk to myself.

I loaded up Civilization 4 and started playing. See, I practically grew up playing the Civ line of games. So I'm totally in love with them.

The problem is, I'm gaming the hell out of it. I'm trying to get 110% efficiency, and when something doesn't go the way I want it, I reload the game. And it totally freaking sucks, because instead of enjoying playing Civ, I'm letting myself get frustrated when it doesn't go how I want it to.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Dominion: The Return of John

Alright folks, John has redeemed himself.

We got Jason involved as well, and played through a rousing game of Dominion, and despite my best efforts to dominate the victory cards, John managed to secure a victory for himself.

Its a great game, and we're looking forward to trying out different card combos.

Hurray for Friday. Zombie walk tonight, woozah!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dominion: Great Success! (for me, at least)

We played Dominion last night at John's place, and he lost. Terribly.

I'm taunting him openly because I'll gladly allow a rematch. A chance for him to save his dignity, and avoid me taunting him on the internet.

So yeah. Dominion rocked my socks. I love love love simple-yet-deep card games, like this one, and For Sale, and Citadels, and even It's Alive and Guillotine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Zombie Walk 2009

I've waited till the 11th hour to do so, but here's some pimping of the 2009 Zombie Walk in downtown Memphis!

Copied from here, and I believe quoted from my friend Lindsey:

"This is the third-annual zombie walk in Memphis. Friday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m., we’ll step off in front of the New Daisy on Beale, heading down this route. We offer professional makeup help for people who need a little boost. This year, our artists will be stationed at Handy Park starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday. The line gets pretty long pretty fast, so it’s best to come early. It’s even better to do your own makeup at home and show us how creative you can be (fellow organizer Patrick offers online tutorials at www.hauntedweb.com). Our artists zombify you for free, but tips are appreciated.

Aside from coming already zombified or getting zombified by our artists, you also have the option of placing a duct-tape X on your shirt and positioning yourself somewhere along the route, and the horde will devour you.

The zombie walk is a public art performance spectacle sponsored by a small group of volunteers. It’s not tied to politics or a particular cause or business or charity or anything like that — it’s just a chance for people to get dressed up and come out and have a good time and give the tourists downtown something to talk about. We tend to see a lot of horror-movie enthusiasts come out.

We always try to schedule it to coincide with art trolley tour night, because that helps guarantee that there will be foot traffic along South Main. We always start at Beale Street for the same reason. Crowd reaction is usually just as interesting as the zombies themselves.

The past two years, we’ve had roughly 300 zombies come out to join us. We’re always hoping for bigger crowds, so we’ll see how this year pans out. We do our organizing mostly online, via MySpace and Facebook. We’re online here: http://myspace.com/memphiszombies, and we have a Twitter account at http://twitter.com/memphiszombies."

So for you locals, be sure to go join the undead, or at least come and be entertained.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Born OK the first time

The other day, while out running an errand, I saw a truck in the Lowe's parking lot with a couple of bumper stickers on it. I don't spend much time reading bumper stickers, but I noticed an Obama sticker on the truck, and slowed down enough to read the other two. One said "I vote Constitutionally", and had the ACLU web address on it. Cool. The other said "Born OK the first time." HAH! I then realized that I'd left my phone in the car, went and grabbed it, passed by the truck again, and stopped to take a pic of the Born OK sticker with my camera phone. As I clicked, I heard a cart rolling toward me, and saw an older - maybe 60 years - white lady pushing a cart right toward me.

"You like that sticker?" she asked.

"I do. Is that yours?" I asked, indicating the truck.

"It is."

"Well I agree with you!" I declared, and smiled at her, and headed into the store to do my errands.

Afterward, I wished that I'd stopped longer and at least exchanged more pleasantries. Helped her with whatever she was carrying maybe. Told her that I appreciated the stickers on her truck, and that it was always nice to randomly bump into someone of a similar philosophical/political bent, especially as Red as our state is.

So... next time you get a chance, hug a liberal atheist! Or at least smile and say hi. We don't bite!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Heroes" RPG

Some people might hit me with a tire iron, but I was mulling over a game involving non-super Heroes, done with Watchmen in mind. What would it be like if people really put on capes and spandex and went out to fight bad guys? We'd play up how they have no real place in the world, and all of the huge gray area between right and wrong.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 100: Oooh! Shiny!

(for Saturday, April 11)

Day 99: Piper in Pink

(for Friday, April 10)

She's pretty darn cute.

Day 98: Fuzzy In Black

(for Thursday, April 9)

This hot little thing was hanging out on my back porch.

Day 97: Pink Headband

(for Wednesday, April 8)

I don't really have anything to add.

Day 96: Berry

(for Tuesday, April 7)

Gregg, my father-in-law, has a D80, which I've barely been able to put down. It's an awesome camera.


Day 95: Piper and Yazhi

(for Monday, April 6)

Yazhi is super awesome with Piper. She's been very curious and interested, downright mothering, it seems. If we let her, Yazhi will get halfway into the bed and hover over Piper. Its pretty dang cute.

Day 94: Heading Home

(for Sunday, April 5)

Wooooo, going home from the hospital.

Everyone is doing totally great!

Also, I'll make you a promise - not every pic in my project from here on out will be of my very cute baby. (a lot of them will, but not every single one. best I can do)

Day 93: Mom and Baby

(for Saturday, April 4)

This was 3AM on the 4th. A night of feeding and diaper changes, and acclimating to change.

Day 92: Birthday!!

(for Friday, April 3)

Here we are! Everyone knows, I'm sure, especially since I'm catching up here.

Piper was born at 7:41 this morning. C Section went fine. Baby and mom (and everyone else) are doing just great. She was 8 pounds even, and 20 1/4 inches long.

Day 92: Packed

(for Thursday, April 2)

And a runner-up weather photo.

We talked to the doctor today, and we will be going in for a C Section on Friday, April 3. Here we gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Day 91: Capleville School

(for Wednesday, April 1)

The abandoned Capleville School on Shelby Drive is always fascinating to me, in the way that abandoned structures are.

I stopped to take some photos, mindful that its in a shady part of town. I looked around before I parked, made sure that there was nothing or no one suspicious looking, and that I was in clear view of the road. I locked my car and walked up the sidewalk, checking the place out, taking some photos. I could peer into the courtyard within, and in though doors standing open. I have no idea at the story behind the place. How long its stood empty, or why. Though I'm sure its a dull story about city finances or zoning, or some new school building somewhere. It's brick, and I would guess its only stood empty for a few less-than-ten-years. Still, windows are broken, its weedchoked, and there are holes in the walls and vandalism. I very briefly thought about going inside, or even right up to one of the doors to take photos, but its clearly marked with no trespassing signs, and I have no idea what kind of ruffians might be lurking within. Urban spelunking certainly appeals to me though.

Just as I'm about done taking photos, and slowly heading back toward my car, which was still in eyesight, I see a light colored SUV pull into the little driveway where my car is parked. I figure maybe he's turning around, but no, he stops, just a dozen feet from my car and sits in the SUV, watching me. He looks hispanic maybe, youngish. Now I'm watching him, still taking a couple of quick shots of the school. I'm thinking "Great, I'm going to get robbed out here." Still, I'm standing 10 feet from the street, where there is some traffic. So I continue to mosey over, watching him watching me. My car is between me and him, of which I'm a little glad, since I'm going over worst-case-scenarios. I get within voice distance as I approach my car, and give him a friendly "How's it going?", I wonder maybe if he's stopped to ask me for directions or something. He asks "Do you know who owns this place?", and I'm like "Uh, no, not really....", and then I realize that I'm standing fifteen feet away from this sign. "It's city or county property I suppose."

He fishes around his neck for a second and then shows me a badge that's hanging from a chain. "I'm a cop," he says. "Oh good," I think.

He doesn't give me a hard time, and I volunteer that I'm just taking a few photos. He nods at me and pulls out onto the street and drives away. I hop into the car and drive away as well.

Ahhh, the tiniest hint of danger is exhilarating.

Day 90: Conficker Countdown

(for Tuesday, March 31)

Some last minute server-patching at the office.

Day 89: A Little Bit of Reading

(for Monday, March 30)

Day 88: Olive Garden

(For Sunday, March 29)

I'm such a hypocrite. One day we'll go back to not spending our entire income on eating out.

Also: Sorry, if you're seeing this on a feed reader. I'm catching up.

Day 87: Wind over Hernando

(For Saturday, March 28)

The pic for today was nearly Michael and Jerry and I playing some old school D&D down in Hernando. It was SO FUN.

We had a really good wind storm, and I stopped to take a picture of some of the weather.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire

Alright gang, did you catch Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire? Oh it was SO FUNNY. We loved it. And since we know that TV loves to yank good tv shows, I implore you:

Go and post a comment here and let Comedy Central know how much you liked it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hello World!

Just popping on here to say that I'll be spotty on here for a bit. For those of you waiting breathlessly for my next photo, I'm sorry, you'll have to wait a bit longer. I'm still taking them, but I've proven that I'm lazy about getting them uploaded, now more than ever since I'm busy taking care of a new baby girl. Huzzah!

I'm still taking photos, and hopefully you'll get a huge dump of them sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Players as Monsters

My apologies to anyone whose eyes glaze over when I get all gaming nerdy. But I gotta get this one off of my chest.

Ideally done with two different groups of players. One group: the adventurers, other group: the monsters.

The monster group gets a dungeon layout, randomly generated, or drawn, or whatever. They get to lay out what goes where (Which is what I did in my previous Old School game, printed off a randomly generated map, and then figured out what the rooms where for myself, so we had a temple, and dormitories, and garbage room, and kitchen, and so forth). And the monster players get an allowance of some type to setup traps and things. They have a finite monster population in the dungeon, yknow, 40 goblins or whatever. Once setup, the adventurers get a go at it. I'm imagining in a completely different session, not "head to head" really. Anyway, the players move through the dungeon as best they can, dealing with traps and monsters until they are killed off or forced to retreat to rest and rearm. Then, during that lull, the monster players may get an opportunity to reset traps, make plans for how to deal with additional assaults, etc. And we proceed either until one side kills off the other, or until some scoring system declares a victory for one side.

Yknow, because only in the most arbitrary and static dungeon do the monsters stand around quietly waiting on adventurers to knock on their door and kill them.

Actual Play, Part II

I forgot to mention that I had planned to have all characters doing standardized damage. 1d6 for one handed weapons, 2d4 for two handed weapons. The players complained expressed a desire to do individualized weapon damage, and so I relented.

The party regrouped after Richard's fight with the mole man, and wanted to head into the small door. Beyond, they found a short, empty passage, ending in a stairway going down, and with a door on the left side of the passage. They checked out the door, carefully listening for sounds and so forth, then opened it to peer inside, and saw three faces peering back out at them. One character threw open the door, while two others rushed in to fight against three of the molemen and two rats.

Two interesting things happened during the fight. The first was that one of the badguys rolled and then confirmed a fumble. I rolled on my Wicked Table of Fumbles, and the result indicated that he'd struck an ally. I narrated him loosing his balance and his sword going out wide and opening up the guy to his right (molemen are right handed, you know), since he rolled enough damage to kill the dude outright. Also, I pseudo-killed the first character here. Michael's cleric had rushed in, and got jabbed twice, taking to 0 hit points.

I had initially set out to do it the old fashion way, where 0 hit points = dead, new character time. After perusing some house rules, I'd decided to try being somewhat less lethal, and so I created a house rule and table, so that when reduced to 0 hit points (And the GM was feeling benevolent), you got a 1d6 roll. 1 = dead, 6 = back on your feet, and between was varying degrees of nastiness, like coma and limb loss and such. So Michael's cleric hit 0 hit points, got his 1d6 roll, and got a 6, so he was still in the fight!

The party dispatched the molemen and rats. Combat was a breeze for me to run. I didn't watch the clock, but the fight with four characters and five bad guys lasted probably 15 or 20 minutes. Far less time than with stuff I've run recently. And more fun too, in a way. I narrated the players through the combat, and it was fast and fun and loose. No one looked at rule books.

After the fight, the characters were bloodied, and so they headed back to the Keep to recuperate. Arriving back at the cave later, they wanted to keep an eye out for any sign of traffic or recent activity. I told them that they could see some sign - there were a few objects sitting just in the entrance of the cave. As they carefully approached, they saw that it was 4 human heads. Payback for the 4 molepeople that they'd dispatched. They proceeded inside once again, back through the secret door, and into the passage.

There was some discussion here about which way to go. They could take the stairs that went down, or they could check out the door at the end of the long hallway. They elected to check out the door. (Note - Michael and Jerry chose the door because they were totally in the spirit of old school, and were concerned that going down the stairs was in effect going to the Dreaded Second Level of the dungeon.) I described it as a large wooden door with a pull ring in the center of it. They lined up before the door, ready to do battle with whatever lay on the other side. One character pulled the ring, which came out slightly, and then the floor dropped out from beneath them. When I designed this particular trap, I wondered how many characters it would kill. It was 10' wide, the width of the passage, and 20' long, surely enough to capture most or all of a party as they tugged the ring (the trigger). I hadn't though a lot about it, but I'd planned to have anyone standing on the trap fall into the pit, and take the damage (2d6 for the 20 foot fall, 1d4 x 1d6 damage for hitting spikes at the bottom). Now, with the entire party standing on the trap, I wavered, and flipped through Keep on the Borderlands, which I had nearby, to see if the folks who originally wrote this stuff had a method for throwing characters into pit traps. I found one, which suggested a 50% change of falling in, so I went with it. Even so, the players were a tad skeptical of how their characters could avoid falling in, but we handwaved it to an extent, figuring the mechanical noises right before the trap opened were a sufficient alarm. By luck three of them avoided falling in, but Michael's thief went into the pit. He took *a lot* of damage, far more than he had hit points. I went ahead and let him roll the Last Breath 1d6, it was generous on my part, but I did so because we were playing our first 'test' session, and I was still enjoying fiddling with my Last Breath chart. He ended up not dead, but in a coma for 4 weeks, plus a few weeks of recovery time. I explained that in the future, when a character took massive damage like that, he would simply be dead, with no followup roll.

I do not recall which time, but once, when Michael's character was reduced to 0 hit points, he offered the character sheet to me, and asked if wanted to rip it, or keep it, etc. We did the Last Breath, so it was not a big deal. Michael was not bothered by his near death experience(s), and in fact had indicated to me previously that he had an interest in seeing a character die. He's played RPGs lately that treat characters with kid gloves, and every fall has a bunch of big comfy pillows beneath it, it was in an odd way, refreshing to play in a setting where there were in fact lots of sharp pointy things that could very easily kill a character.

The party managed to get the unconscious thief out of the pit and headed again back to the Keep. Michael looked over his other stats, and after a few minutes, decided to make another thief-ly type. He was also pleased when his randomly generated starting money allowed him to buy better armor this time around.

Back to the cave, they went quickly to the secret door, only this time, the molepeople had been busy preparing for them. Jerry's elf moved the right rock in order to open the door, but was doused in oil from a hidden tube. He then ducked JUST IN TIME as a gout of flame shot out from nearby, rigged to light him up. BB-Q Elf. Yum. The party paused, and Jerry wisely wanted to try to wash the flammable oil out of the elf's clothing. There was a still pool in one corner of the cave, which the elf began rinsing his clothing in. At this point, Michael, really getting into the vibe of old school play, expressed some concern about the dark pool, and that it had not been searched or really declared 'safe', and I pointed asked Jerry if the elf was bathing in the water. Jerry said no, that he was on dry ground, just rinsing his clothing. One of Michael's character started probing the water with his 10' pole, and it was deep. Michael wanted to do a little testing and exploration with the pool, I believe, but Jerry convinced him to press on into the labyrinth.

They made it through the secret door this time, as it apparently needed to be manually reset. They ignored the large door and its pit trap, and went through the small doorway again, narrowly missing an improvised dagger trap, and then fighting against some rats. I'm using Morale rules, so at one point, the last rat fled. They headed down the stairs, and into the labyrinth proper. Now we were doing some real dungeon crawling. The hall was somewhat narrow, only 5 feet wide, and they took a right, explored about 150 feet of dungeon corridor before coming to a door. They went through, into a room with eight molemen, armed, sitting around a table, with two more sleeping in the corner, and a giant rat lying beneath the table. The party charged in, and the elf cast sleep, putting 5 molemen and the rat into a deep slumber - one that they would never awaken from, as it turned out. The characters charged in to do battle, and to slay the sleeping molemen. Almost right away, the molemen lost a morale save, and so the three remaining ones took off, running through a door on the far end of the room. The party paused long enough to make sure that they would not be followed before charging after the fleeing bad guys. They hit a fork in the tunnel almost right away, and Jerry wanted to know if his elf could tell which way they went, thanks to his infravision. I shrugged and said, sure, maybe, and rolled a d6. The dice gremlins smiled upon him, and he could see the faint heat of their footprints, quickly fading, but headed to the left. They followed, and the tunnel split again - and again the dice gremlins were on Jerry's side, but this time he could see that they'd split up. they picked a passage and continued the pursuit. They came again to a split, but this time, they could not tell which way their quarry had gone. But they heard the sound of a door close from down the right passage, so they charged that way, throwing caution to the wind. They rounded the corner and saw a closed door with two levers on the handle. Jerry's elf grabbed the handles and threw the door open, and fell right into the pit that opened up beneath his feet. Beyond the door was a large dining hall. One of their fleeing quarry, and two dining molemen were there, and they turned to do battle with the party. Richard the fighter leapt into the room. One of the molemen swung at him, but Richard dodged the blow and took the nasty creature's head off with one blow. The other two turned and ran.

We were out of time for gaming, and so they pulled the unconscious elf out of the pit trap. He'd been reduced to 0 hit points by the fall, but had rolled reasonably well on the Last Breath table, and was only unconscious for an hour or so, and weak for a few days after. They made their way back out of the labyrinth, as they heard the sounds of pursuit behind them - apparently the molepeople had gathered and were on the attack. They made it back to the Keep, and that's where we broke off.


I certainly had a great time. It was fun to run with the loose rules, making it up as I went. I think I did a good job of being descriptive enough to give the players a good idea of what was going on, and to immerse them into the game. I enjoyed that combats were short and sweet. I loved not having to spend tons of time flipping through pages looking for rules. It was both as deadly, and as forgiving as I'd hoped. I "killed" three characters, but each of them survived, and will fight another day, though it will take the thief a few weeks yet to recover. I'm going for a mix of fast and loose play, with a dose of simulationism - they have to keep track of which character is mapping, which character has the torch, etc. We are not tracking number of arrows, or rations and such, within reason. If they end up lost in a dungeon, then well get concerned about how many torches they have left, and how many days of food they have.

My demo game was, for me, and I believe for my players as well, a smashing success. And I'm looking forward to running it again when time (and baby) allows.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old School D&D Actual Play

Big thanks to Michael and Jerry who got together with me on Saturday to play with Labyrinth Lord.

Now, straight to the game.

We chatted for just a few minutes about old school D&D, its mindset and comparison to more modern D&D. Turns out I was the minority, both Jerry and Michael had played old school stuff before, even if long long ago, while I only go as far back as 2nd edition AD&D. Anyway. We discussed some of the house rules for a moment, and then decided to go straight into creating some characters. I had each of them roll 5 sets of stats. Its done the old fashion way, 3d6 in order. We ended up with at least one 3. I do not think that we got any 18s. I told them that they could trash one set of stats if they wanted, and roll another set, which I know Michael did, and Jerry might have done as well. I told them that they'd each be playing two characters, so they spent a few minutes deciding what which sets of stats and which classes they'd be playing. We ended up with Jerry playing Richard, a Fighter, and Neemon, an Elf. Michael had Derek the Cleric, and Ciric, a Thief. I let Jerry pick the spells for his Elf instead of making him roll them randomly, and I think that going forward I'll stick with random rolls. They bought equipment, and before too long, we were off. Oh - I also had my AEG Toolbox book along, which is an awesome resource. Since I wanted to flex my dice, I offered them 100xp per character if we could randomly generate some of their character stuff, concept, traits, appearance, a miscellaneous personal effect, etc. It was kinda cool, and we got some odd stuff like a character that stutters, one that is being pursued by some kind of good aligned entities for some reason, a Thief that keeps being mistaken for someone else, and that someone else is ruining his reputation, and someone who has a woman who follows him from town to town, wanting to marry him. This was largely just flavor, we did not take the time to do much more with it, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

I'm using the Keep from 'Keep on the Borderlands' as the base of operations. We skimmed through their arrival in search of adventure, and their finding out that a small nearby village had been raided at night by parties unknown, stealing away some of the inhabitants. The local lord's men had tracked the unknown raiders back into the hills to a cave, but had not gone into the cave.

The characters picked up here, and made good time to the cave. I worked on providing good descriptions of the land around them and such, without becoming overly verbose. We grabbed some graph paper, and determined which character was doing the mapping, though I did the actual drawing on the grid. I figured it was going to be too explain accurately enough for someone to draw stuff without the game devolving into a grid drawing game, so this was the simplest fix, and it seemed to work just fine. The party had the elf scout ahead a bit, into the cave. He did not have to carry a torch, thanks to his infravision, and the party followed at a safe distance behind. The cave had some alcoves and branches, but did not extend very far, and was only a few thousand square feet. It was all smooth, natural walls, and with no other apparent exits, though one side passage did end in a pool of water. They quickly began to scout the walls for signs of a secret door, and luck with with them, for not only did they search in exactly the right spot, right off the bat, but the dice smiled upon them and they discovered the door. We did some searching for traps and found nothing, and proceeded inside.

Beyond the secret door was a long hall, perhaps 80 feet or so, about 10 feet wide, with many old tapestries hanging from the walls. At the far end of the hall was a large wooden door, closed. The party began checking the walls behind the tapestries, and immediately discovered a door on the north wall, and a hole in the wall on the south side, large enough for a human to crawl into. They peered down it by torchlight, and could see that it went south pretty straight for thirty feet or so into darkness. While the rest waited in the passage, keeping a sharp eye out, Richard the fighter, with torch and ax in hand, shimmied his way into the hole and crawled along on his belly. He saw that the narrow space ran for about forty feet in total before letting out into a small, apparently closet sized chamber. As he made it to the chamber, he was surprised by an attack from a creature within the small room. Richard dove in and was wounded by an albino humanoid creature with a sword, before Richard killed it with his ax.

I should note here that I was having a blast doing narrative and descriptive combat, and just 'winging it'.

Also, I'm lazy and am going to break this up into more than one post.

More later.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 86: His and Hers

Should that say Hers and His? I dunno.

My apologies for doing like eight of these in one whack.

I resolve to make a concerted effort at uploading daily this coming week.

Day 85: I Don't Have The Words

A bajillion sarcastic, scathing things spring to mind.

I feel like a deer in headlights.

Then again, I pretend that I'm so much better. I was there to flip through D&D books and comic trade paperbacks.

Day 84: A Walk Around The Park

Day 83: Nightlights

I won't say that I'm getting burned out on my 365 project, but I've been in a rut about photographs. Part of the problem is that I'm not taking it seriously. I'm not looking for a photo, unless one just catches my eye, or until it gets late and I realize that I haven't taken a photo.

I've driven past things numerous times and wanted to take a picture of it, but I'm always headed somewhere in a hurry. I'm going to make an effort to give my hobby a little more time.

Day 82: Springtime in Horn Lake

(not every photo gets to be an inspired work of art)

On the other hand, I love the big park that's situated right out in front of my house.

Day 81: It's Alive! (Now with more Todd!)

I'm a terrible nerd.

Do you know that I have never been to a con?

Most card carrying nerds have been to more cons than they have fingers; some, dressed as Boba Fett, Vash the Stampede, or Fuzzy the Furry Cat.

No seriously, last year, I thought very seriously about going to GenCon. Every year, I think about going to MidSouthCon, but its always on the weekend of my wedding anniversary, and so the timing is just never quite right. I had no idea that this year it was scheduled different, and it was held in Olive Branch. So I have a certain amount of guilt now about not having gone. Then again, its money and time that I didn't have in the first place.

ANYWAY - our old friend Todd was in town, and its always a treat to hang out and play a game with him. I mentioned in a previous post that Todd ran some old school Sword & Wizardry at the con, and chatting with him about it fueled the fire for me.

Also, we played a game of Agricola, and It's Alive. It's Alive was an immediate success for me, since I seem to love these fast, rather simple games.

Maybe one year I'll make it to a con.

Day 80: Peek-a-Boo

Beth discovered that hiding a baby beneath a blanket, cuddled close to her, soothes and quiets them.

Day 79: Stone Age Sunset

Note to Self

Upload some photos, slacker.

Gearing up for some Labyrinth Lord

Sooooooo, it looks like tomorrow I'll be running a 'demo' Labyrinth Lord game for a few people.

I keep referring to it as 'demo' because, at least for me, it separates it distinctly from a 'non-demo' game. For me, its all about expectations. In a demo game, we will all agree that no one is super familiar with the material and mechanics, and things might be slow and/or wonky, but that we'll push through it. Its about experimentation, trial and error, and testing.

I'm super excited because I've been fiddling with Labyrinth Lord stuff in my head for weeks now, and this should be a fantastic outlet for all of this pent up energy.

I'm a tad nervous about it, since, well, I've never played in or run a game of it, and so the material and some of the mechanics are either foreign to me, or still somewhat unfamiliar. For instance, I'm going to try running without a mat and grid. This was how I played D&D for years and years, until 3.x, and I've become so accustomed to that style of play that its strange and intimidating to think of playing without it. I kinda have no idea how I'm going to keep up with more than three or four monsters, and keep the players in the same headspace that I am, and track mechanical stuff like hit points and so forth.

But I'm excited.

I'm excited about rolling Random Wandering Monsters.

I'm excited about somewhat arbitrary traps and monsters.

I'm excited about the prospect of killing a character or three. (!!!!!!)

I'm excited about kicking it old school.

3D6, straight down, baby.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


My friend Dave, a master of articulation, hits the nail right on the head, as usual.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Things

1. Short D&D and gaming ramble
2. Mississippi is stupid
3. Exercising is kinda tough

Item 1. Over the weekend we played Tomb, Descent, Agricola, and It's Alive. It's alive was new for me, and I enjoyed it a lot. Descent was a marathon session, but we all enjoyed ourselves (most of us did, anyhow). Tomb is generally only half fun for me. The two elements that keep it from being a winner in my book are the somewhat vicious PVP aspect to it, and the difficulty curve, if you will. Basically, its a cut-throat game of looting tombs, where you want to screw the other players before they screw you. Maybe I'm just no good at the game. The difficulty curve that I'm referring to works somewhat like this, for me: Spent a few turns building up your party, raid one or two small tombs. Then, either get hit with a wicked PVP thing that eliminates your best dude, or you just get straight up taken out by monsters in a Tomb. Start over. Moving right along, Agricola is a very clever and fun game, but again, I think I'm just no good at it. I enjoy the resource gathering and management of Puerto Rico, but somehow I don't enjoy the same kind of mechanic in Agricola.

Still working on item 1. Our friend Todd was in town, and it turns out that he's into this retro-clone thing as well, and was running a Sword & Wizardry game at MidsouthCon. That's super cool to me, so I chatted him up as we setup Agricola, and picked his brain for all of the stuff that was working for him. He doesn't use a grid/map/etc for his old school game. We all chatted then about how when most of us started playing D&D, in 2nd edition, we never ever used a 'battlemat', sometimes rough sketches or an occasional diagram, but no grids. But that now, having played 3.x and 4th editions of D&D, the grid system was so firmly entrenched in my brain that it was somewhat difficult to imagine playing D&D without it. But it was cool to chat about it, and seeing Todd running the stuff just added fuel to my fire.

Item 2, Mississippi is stupid. I'm sure TONS of motorists would disagree with me, but I'm an old dude who pays my taxes and appreciates cops, and so I'm all about things that will help to reduce speeding and running red lights. But no, not in Mississippi. Mississippi's government has decided that there will be no 'red light cameras' in the state. I'm disappointed.

And for item 3, I'm doing the P90X workout. Its a hard core workout program that I've borrowed from a friend. I "fooled around with it" last week - tried out two of the routines, and after each, I felt like I'd gotten beat up by Jet Li. This week, I've 'rebooted' and started over, and its going much, much better. Don't get me wrong, its still crazy tough, but now its not severely painful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 78: Cosmo

Aren't you glad that you get to see photos of all my animals? Oh, I bet you are. Don't lie.

Day 77: Eating Out (Again)

If you catch me at the right time, I'll give you a long story about how we don't eat out often. About how its wasteful spending. About how we eat food that we make at home, because its more healthy and more cost effective. And you'd get to look around my kitchen and see that I do dishes too infrequently.

But I wouldn't really be lying. Just a little. Lately, we have been eating out quite a bit. In all seriousness, we're assuming that once the baby is born, it will be a while before we end up getting to go out to eat, so we've been living it up a little.

Day 76: Staredown

Day 75: Aloe

Sigh. Not every photo is inspired. This one was me struggling desperately for something that was not mind numbingly terrible.

We've got an aloe plant that we bought like 4 years ago. It sits on top of our bakers rack, and doesn't cause much trouble.

Kinda looks like some kind of squid like Cthulhu creature here though, doesn't it?


Day 74: Lonnie's

Our favorite place to eat, Lonnie Tant's, its at 1306 Goodman Rd in Southaven, MS. Go eat there!

We'd driven past it a hundred times. One evening we decided to go out for food, and on a lark, I suggested that we go try it out. It was in the later part of the evening, after the supper rush, and it was just us and a few other customers in there. A fellow stopped and chatted with us, and as we sat and ate, we conversed about beer and food with this guy, who turned out to be Lonnie, the owner. And the delicious food, and Lonnie's great charisma and personal care for his customers is what keeps us going back. If you go, I suggest the Tantaroni, though the Ham and Salami and Cheese is also a favorite of mine. The italian dressing that they put on it, which they make themselves, is amazing.

Go eat at Lonnie's.

Its just the uploading I'm lazy about

I'm still taking photos, I'm just a huge slacker about getting them off of my camera and onto the intarwebs. I'll upload soon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Labyrinth Lord House Rules and Notes

When I run a Labyrinth Lord game, which is available for free download right here, I will be making use of the following house rules and notes.

Much of this is gleeful borrowed from JRients.

Notes and Stuff To Be Aware Of:

Destiny Is For Suckers
The GM is not going to hit you with some world-spanning epic plotline that he expects you to follow. Adventures will be proposed, but if you choose to not take the bait that’s entirely okay. The GM is entirely prepared to just make stuff up on the fly if you opt to go off-script, though he may call for a brief recess to whip something into shape. Either way, you are free to seek out the adventures you want.

The Games Rules Are Not a Physics Engine
Labyrinth Lord is a great refinement of the awesome Basic/Expert D&D of yore. The GM is in love with many of his house rules. But neither the rules as written nor the house rules are as important as having a fun, exciting, imaginative adventure. Sometimes things will happen that aren’t described in the rules. For example, let’s say your PC falls into a 20’ pit. The rules say you take a couple d6 of damage and get on with the game. But the GM might say “You don’t lose any HP, but you landed awkwardly and you’re pretty sure from the pain that you broke something in your left arm.” On the plus side, if you want to attempt something not handled in the rulebook the GM will generally give a lot of latitude. In fact, the more you do stuff that isn’t strictly in the rulebook, the better your chances are of making it to second level.

Cleverness and Spirit of the Rules
The Labyrinth Lord's job is to be a neutral party and run a fun adventure, making rulings, running the bad guys, and basically keeping life interesting for the players. Players are totally encouraged to be clever with their use of spells and anything that they can get their hands on. With that said, the LL will be keep an eye on the Spirit of the Rules, meaning that stuff that seems to break the game or give a weird loophole will be adjudicated and we will move on.

Dungeons Aren’t Just Big Lairs
When you go down into a dungeon you are leaving the normal world behind you. Different laws of nature can apply, almost as if the entire dungeon is located inside a nightmare. Staying too long in a dungeon drives men insane or transforms them into horrible monsters. Only the brave or foolhardy would dare venture into these hell-holes. Still, that’s where all the best treasure is to be found.

God is a Dragon and Satan is a Frog
The Lawful faith is basically a faux catholic medieval affair called the Church of the Great Gold Dragon. Chaotic types tend to worship various loathsome toadlike demons.

All Politics Are Local
At the present there are no world-spanning empires and few decent-sized kingdoms in this world. Certain city-states are able to rule over nearby towns and villages. But for the most part urban areas have a great deal of independence for outside authority and the feudal ties between the various rural Lords are often quite tenuous.

Life, Jim, But Not As We Know It
Dwarves, elves, halflings, goblins, orcs, trolls, and all those other standard D&D monsters can be found on here in this world. But they don’t always look or act exactly like their baseline D&D counterparts. For example, elves always wear hats and many goblins know strange magics. It is up to the players to find out more about the difference between the monsters here and run-of-the-mill monsters.

Its a Cruel, Cruel World
Its important to note that death is a very real and likely result of walking into monster infested dungeons. Characters will die. While more modern systems make the game all about your character, this game is really more about the party against the dungeon. So when a character dies, we mourn and move on. There are some house rules below that try to make death slightly less frequent, and govern bringing in new characters.

House Rules

Turn, turn, turn that gang of vampires. That gang of vampires.
When a cleric succeeds at turning undead roll 2d6 for number of creatures affected, regardless of hit dice. (This really gives turning some oomph at higher levels. And it gives me an excuse to use oodles of badass undead.)

The gods loathe fence-sitters
Low level clerics can be of any of the three alignments, just like any other class. However, upon achieving seventh level a neutral cleric must choose to align themselves with Law or Chaos. Staying with neutrality means you’re stuck at sixth level forever. If you’re a neutral cleric of the Lawful-oriented Church of the Great Gold Dragon the presumption is that you’ll go with Law. Similarly, neutral clerics of the Frog Gods of Chaos generally join the chaotics. You may opt to go the other way, but you are considered to have secretly converted. Only clerics of chaos can cast the reversed versions of standard cleric spells and they cannot cast the normal non-reversed spells.

It’s not just an adventure, it’s a job.
Every cleric is a member of a hierarchy of their faith, and must answer to that hierarchy. When a cleric reaches third level they can expect an appointment to a post as a village priest, whereby they will be responsible for maintenance of the local shrine, oversight of the lay members of the faith and officiating at the proper festivals. Reaching sixth level generally leads to further promotion to a bishopric, resulting in either appointment to the leadership of a large urban temple or as a supervisor over a group of village priests.

No double dipping
Miracles are not dime-a-dozen repeatable events and therefore the same spell cannot be memorized twice. That is to say a second level cleric can memorize one cure light wounds and one resist cold, but not two cure lights or two resist colds.

Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances
Character statistics are rolled 3d6 in order. The human classes do not require any stat minimum to qualify, so you can play a stupid Wizard, foolish Cleric, klutzy Thief, or puny Fighter in the dice rolls go that way. If you are unhappy with your character to the point of considering kamikaze attacks, at least get killed as smartly as possible by absorbing some hits that might land on better qualified adventurers. Finally, you can march your character off to the ogre's stew pot if you desire, but wouldn't you rather be playing D&D than holding up the game doing another character?

Random Bonus Languages
The additional languages granted by a high Intelligence score indicate starting languages only. See the [not yet] attached random bonus language charts to determine additional starting languages. Anyone, regardless of Intelligence, may attempt to learn more languages in play.

Fast Equipment
[I plan on using some pre-made adventuring packs for people who don’t want to take the time to buy equipment.]

Shields Shall Be Splintered!
[‘Nuff said.]

Critical Hits & Fumbles
A natural 20 on the ‘to-hit’ roll indicates a potential critical strike. Another 20 on a confirmation roll calls for a percentile roll on the Labyrinth Lord’s Super Secret Critical Hit Chart of Doom. Similarly, a natural 1 indicates a potential fumble, with another roll of 1 confirming, sending the poor character to the Double Secret Probationary Fumble Chart of Wailing, Moaning and Gnashing of Teeth.

It’s All in the Wrist
Two handed weapons only automatically lose initiative when the optional Individual Initiative rules are being used. Which won’t be often.

One Last Breath
Any time a PC runs out of hit points, that character is allowed to make a single d6 roll on the table below. This is at the Labyrinth Lord's discretion, and and the LL is well within his or her right to declare the character dead outright. If the character dies, see rules for replacement PCs below. This table can only be rolled on once per session by a player. If a PC rolls a 6, hops up, and ends up getting whacked again, she's just dead.

1 "He's dead, Jim."
2 "He may never walk again." Character has suffered a brutal and grievous injury and is unconscious. 2d6+12 weeks to heal. Permanent disability, possible limb amputation (up to DM, expect something nasty)
3 "It looks bad.." Character is terribly injured and unconscious. 2d4+9 weeks to heal. Permanent disability. (Up to DM, perhaps loss of 1d4 points from one or more ability score)
4 "I think she'll pull through." At 1 hit point, unconscious. 1d4 weeks to recover. All ability scores at -2 for 1d4 weeks after recovery.
5 "That was a nasty hit.." At 1 hit point, unconscious for 3d4 rounds. -1 to all ability score for 1 week.
6 "And she's up!" Regain 1d4 hit points (count up from 0), no adverse effects*!

Hi! I’m the new party member!
Replacement PCs will be made just like starting PCs (3d6 in order, 0xp). A new PC can join the party immediately if the player desires. Alternatively, the replacement PC can be designated the heir of the dead PC, and as such is entitled to the old PC’s non-magical treasure (minus a 10% inheritance tax) and one magic item of the player’s choosing. However, the heir can only join the party when it returns to civilization or at the start of the next session, whichever comes first. Heirs must be of the same race as the deceased. As an additional alternative, a replacement may be created in the usual fashion, but begins with half of the XP that the deceased possessed. This is a safety mechanism in case you die and do not have a handy henchman around to promote, and don't want to start over completely.

Every hero needs a sidekick
To avoid the hassles of starting over with 0xp and rolling up a new character in the middle of a game, the players are encouraged to recruit henchmen. Henchmen earn experience at half rate and normally expect a half share of treasure. They are generally loyal and normally the player runs them as secondary characters, though the Labyrinth Lord reserves the right to step in when needed to protect the interests of the NPC proletariat. If a character with a henchman is incapacitated, the player may immediately promote the henchman to full PC status. The new PC may be bumped back down to the ranks of the sidekicks should the original PC be raised from the dead or unpetrified or whatever.

Friends, we are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Bob’s cleric. What was his name again?
When an adventurer dies and the party is unable (or unwilling!) to have them raised from the dead, a promoted sidekick (see above) may opt to give the corpse a Heroic Sendoff. This requires at least 24 hours and something cool like a bigass funeral pyre, the raising of a burial mound, or a funeral ship floated down the river. The corpse must be armed and armored for combat, as appropriate to the class of the character. Each party member may donate up to 100gp times the level of the stiff as additional grave goods, the amount being spent is converted to bonus XP for the donor. Each party member may also donate one magic item to the grave. Scrolls, potions, and other one-shot items net a bonus of 250xp, while more permanent items get you 1,000xp. Magic items that would have been unusable by the deceased do not count.

You Shall Be Avenged!
Horus, the God of Vengeance, was slain some time after the fall of the long-gone Venuzian Empire. Yet somehow a trace of his power lives on. When a party member dies and the party causing the death is not immediately slain, a fellow party member may try to invoke the Vengeance Oath. Swearing “by the Dead God” that their friend’s death shall not go unpunished, the party member(s) roll d20. On a 1 they are filled with the Horus-Power. They are immediately under the effect of a quest spell (no save), but d6 statistics of their choice are temporarily boosted to 18 until they achieve their vengeance! Promoted sidekicks and heirs can take a Vengeance Oath, but non-heir replacement PCs cannot.

How do you afford your Rock-N-Roll lifestyle?
At the beginning of each session all PCs will be assessed living expenses for themselves and their henchmen, at 1% of their XP in gold pieces, minimum 1gp.

Ale & Wenches
Optionally when paying expenses as per above a PC may opt to ‘live it up’ by spending 1d6x100gp on general debauchery. The amount spent is converted into bonus experience points. However, rolling above your character’s level of experience indicates a roll on the Secret Carousing Mishap Chart. The 1d6 x100gp figure only applies in backwater burgs like the town near the starting dungeon. Should you travel to bigger towns or cities you can roll a larger die when raising hell.

Alternate Monster XP Rules
Each gold piece worth of treasure brought back to civilization still earns you 1 experience point. For defeating monsters will yield 100xp per hit die. That makes low level monsters worth a lot more but high level monsters score fewer points. Also no bonus XP are gained for special abilities, so a four hit die ogre is worth as many XP as a four hit die wraith that drains levels and is impervious to normal weapons. Pick your foes carefully!

Pick a Faith
Cleric’s must belong to one of three religions in the setting. Lawful clerics must choose between the Church of the Great Gold Dragon (a faux medieval Catholic sort of thingy) or the Twelve (a ‘pagan’ type pantheon with a dozen or so gods and goddesses). Chaotic clerics must choose between the Twelve or the Frog Gods (slimy, grinning amphibian demons). Neutral clerics can opt to be priests of the Gold Dragon, the Twelve, or the Frog Gods. There aren’t a bunch of mechanical differences between the three faiths, but it can make a difference when dealing with NPCs. Other PCs are encouraged to pick a religion, even if they aren’t particularly pious.

Dungeons is Dangerous
Ending a session inside a dungeon requires a roll on the Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom. Make sure you get out before the session ends!

Home Is Where the Spellbook Is
Magic-users, elves and other arcane spellcasters are not required to carry spellbooks on their adventures. After six or more hours sleep and a brief period of meditation a wizard is able to realign their neural pathways into the patterns needed to focus spell energy. This allows the caster to recharge the previous day’s load of spells. Studying a spellbook is only required for initial memorization and to change the wizard’s spell selection.

No Double Dipping, Mages either
Memorizing the same spell twice sets up destructive interference in the brain of a wizard. Thus a second level magic-user (who can cast 2 spells per day) may safely memorize sleep and charm person, but not two sleeps or two charms.

Membership Has Its Privileges
Newly minted level 1 magic-users and elves are assumed to have apprenticed in the traditions of the Sorcerer’s Guild of H’Kaag, an ancient city ruled by a council of magic-users. As a benefit of belonging to this long line of wizardly inheritance, new PCs begin play with a spellbook, written in the language of their choice, containing the mystic formulae for all the first, second, and third level spells taught by the Guild (see attached list). However most of these spells are not yet fully understood by fledgling mages of 0xp. The player rolls d6 plus their Intelligence modifier (minimum result 1) to determine how many spells they actually understand well enough to memorize and cast. The rest of the spells in the spellbook are not fully understood and may not be memorized.

Each time a new level is achieved the player may attempt to understand more spells by making an Intelligence roll on a d20. If the roll is under the Intelligence of the character, the spell is completely understood. If the number is higher than the Int score, the spell remains incomprehensible and cannot be used. If the roll exactly equals the Int score the spell is partially understood and may be memorized and used if the character is brave enough. Dice are then thrown only for spells that the character could possibly cast. The player may then pick one additional unknown spell or two partially-understood spells that are now automatically understood by the wizard.

The Alchemist Option
The automatic spell(s) learned upon leveling up assume that the magic-user has been studying spell formulae during the course of gaining the level. Alternately, a wizard may opt to putter around with potions instead. This option costs 2d6 x 500gp in laboratory expenses, paid at the time a new level is gained. The decision to take this option must be made before the dice for cost are thrown and if the magic-user cannot afford the cost what money they have is forfeit and nothing gained by their efforts. If the cash is available, the player must roll lower than their character’s Intelligence on a d20 to gain knowledge of a random potion formula. Potions are created at a rate of money and time set by the Labyrinth Lord, but typically around 500gp and 2 weeks. Roughly 1 in 6 spellbooks include a potion recipe. (And 1 in 12 spellbooks contain miscellaneous useful arcane knowledge.) Elves may not select the alchemist option.

Scrolls for All
Magic-users of any level may make scrolls of any spell they can understand. The cost is 250gp and one week of time per spell level. Up to three spells may be inscribed upon a single scroll. Starting at 9th level the magic-user can roll to understand spells of levels higher than they can cast, which allows them to make scrolls of spells they could not otherwise use. Elves follow the standard scroll creation rules.

Books or Beer?
Magic-users and elves must choose between being studious scholars of the magical arts or carousing with their adventuring buddies. Taking advantage of the Ale & Wenches rule makes the Alchemist Option impossible and cancels the die rolls for comprehending new spells. You still get your automatic spell pick, though.

The Right Weapon for the Job
Player character weapons that are one handed do 1d6 (plus modifier) damage. Two handed weapons do 2d4. Longbows and heavy crossbows do 2d4, other ranged stuff does 1d6.

Ready Team? Go!
Flickering torchlight gleams off of a blade as it spins through the darkness. A sickening crunch from behind you where the Magic User is supposed to be. A terrible cry of agony from off in the darkness ahead. The chaos of battle swirls around you. Let's face it, fighting monsters in a dark dungeon corridor is not a football game. There is no time for a huddle or a time out. Players are strongly encouraged to play their characters, and to strategize with the other characters [instead of with the players]. Combat will be run with brutal efficiency. Don't discuss the fight during the fight, unless your character is taking a moment to yell something over the din of battle.

Draft: We will primarily use party initiative rules. During the party's turn, players will go in order of Dexterity, with the player who has the highest DEX having the option of going first, or holding his action. If he or she holds their action, they may jump in at any point after another players turn. Important note from the rules cyclopedia: "In a round where things are happening simultaneously, every character and monster who chose to attack gets to roll all his attacks. Even if one character's attacks killed an opponent, the opponent gets to roll his attacks because they're taking place simultaneously."

Roll 'em
There is a character generator here. Feel free to use it. Bear in mind though that ability score rolls must be done at the table.

Other tables and awesome stuff that I'm borrowing:

Carousing Mishaps

1) Make a fool of yourself in public. Gain no XP. Roll Charisma check or gain reputation in this town as a drunken lout.
2) Involved in random brawl. Roll Strength check or start adventure d3 hit points short.
3) Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Roll Charisma check. Success indicates a fine of 2d6 x 25gp. Failure or (inability to pay fine) indicates d6 days in the pokey.
4) Romantic entanglement. Roll Wisdom check to avoid nuptials. Otherwise 1-3 scorned lover, 4-6 angered parents.
5) Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much you lose. (No additional XP for the second carousing roll.)
6) Gain local reputation as the life of a party. Unless a Charisma check is failed, all future carousing in this burg costs double due to barflies and other parasites.
7) Insult local person of rank. A successful Charisma check indicates the personage is amenable to some sort of apology and reparations.
8) You couldn’t really see the rash in the candlelight. Roll Constitution check to avoid venereal disease.
9) New tattoo. 1-3 it’s actually pretty cool 4 it’s lame 5 it could have been badass, but something is goofed up or misspelled 6 it says something insulting, crude or stupid in an unknown language.
10) Beaten and robbed. Lose all your personal effects and reduced to half hit points.
11) Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewelry. Roll Wisdom check for each magic item in your possession. Failure indicates it’s gone.
12) Hangover from hell. First day of adventuring is at -2 to-hit and saves. Casters must roll Int check with each spell to avoid mishap.
13) Target of lewd advances turns out to be a witch. Save versus polymorph or you’re literally a swine.
14) One of us! One of us! You’re not sure how it happened, but you’ve been initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Did you really make out with an emu of was that just the drugs? Roll Int check to remember the signs and passes.
15) Invest all your spare cash (50% chance all gems and jewelry, too) in some smooth-tongued merchant’s scheme. 1-4 it’s bogus 5 it’s bogus and Johnny Law thinks you’re in on it 6 actual money making opportunity returns d% profits in 3d4 months.
16) Wake up stark naked in a random local temple. 1-3 the clerics are majorly pissed off 4-6 they smile and thank you for stopping by.
17) Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling d6 x 1,000gp paid. All weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
18) Despite your best efforts, you fall head over heels for your latest dalliance. 75% chance your beloved is already married.
19) When in a drunken stupor you asked your god(s) to get you out of some stupid mess. Turns out they heard you! Now as repayment for saving your sorry ass, you’re under the effects of a quest spell.
20) The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! Accidentally start a conflagration. Roll d6 twice. 1-2 burn down your favorite inn 3-4 some other den of ill repute is reduced to ash 5-6 a big chunk of town goes up in smoke. 1-2 no one knows it was you 3-4 your fellow carousers know you did it 5 someone else knows, perhaps a blackmailer 6 everybody knows.

Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom (d20)

1. You lucky dog! You manage to somehow escape the dark forces of the dungeon. You return to civilization, naked and half-delirious.
2. Waitaminute, Lefty’s not right handed! Situation appears to be #1, but you’ve been replaced by a shapeshifting badguy.
3. Maimed. You escape but suffer the effects of a random critical hit. Also, 50% of your stuff is gone, randomly determined.
4. Alas, you are no more. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains and your stuff back to civilization.
5. Pining for the fjords. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains back to civilization, but your stuff is lost.
6. Dead as a doornail. The general location of your body is known to any surviving comrades.
7. Your stuff has become part of a dragon’s hoard and your body part of a dragon’s supper.
8. That is an ex-character. The location of your body is unknown to all.
9. Bought the farm. Your body and possessions irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc.
10. Also dead. Your body is irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc. but your stuff is still around for some other jerk to nab at a later date.
11. Held for ransom by seedy humans. A member of the Thieves Guild can arrange release for 1,000gp per character level. 1 in 6 chance the money disappears.
12. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on and the type of monster holding you captive.
13. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on, but not the type of monster involved.
14. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the type of monster involved, but not what level to search.
15. Captured by monsters. Unseen monsters spirit you away to an unknown location.
16. A fate worse than death. Drafted into the ranks of the monsters. Roll d6: 1-2 undead, 3 lycanthrope, 4 charmed, 5 polymorphed, 6 other.
17. You and your stuff are sacrificed to the loathsome Frog Gods in order to gate in d6 Croaking Demons that are added to the dungeon key.
18. A gorgon or somesuch has petrified you. Escaping characters know what level to search for your statue.
19. Lost in the dungeon. GM sets your location each session. Re-enter play if the party finds you.
20. Opportunity for betrayal. Pick one other character who got away safe. Roll 1d6, 1-4 he takes your place and has to roll on this chart while you escape, 5-6 you both suffer the fate rolled by your victim.

Results 4 through 7 on the chart allow the surviving members of the expedition to swear vengeance against the killer(s), as per the You Shall Be Avenged! rule in the house rules info. Result 3 offers the same option if you make it out of the dungeon only to succumb to some lethal critical hit effect.

Anyone who is captured gets one chance to escape on their own power. The base chance is 1 in 6, increased to 2 in 6 if their character level is higher than the dungeon level of their prison. Treat successful escapes as result ‘1’ on the chart above. If more than one PC is trying to escape, all escape rolls are at 2 in 6 (3 in 6 for higher level characters). If you don’t escape you must be rescued or maybe ransomed. For each session of play that you languish in captivity or wander lost there’s a 1 in 6 chance of some worse fate befalling you.