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

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.


Initiative in combat is a weird thing in role playing games.

It's pretty much impossible to model the simultaneous and chaotic movement of a fight.

D&D and a ton of other games do it the easy way, by having people go around the table in some order, each taking their action.

This approach is super simple but always bugs me when I think about it. Granted, I'm not trying to completely accurately model a fight in my D&D game, but sometimes I do like trying to model the chaos and confusion of it.

Barring being able to actually have everyone do simultaneous movement and action, I have an idea or two about ways that I could do it, in a Labyrinth Lord game, for instance.

Using group initiative, when it is the party's turn, they go in order of Dexterity, highest to lowest. Even better if you've seated them around the table in that order. The player with the highest Dex either declares his movement and actions, or holds. The player with the next highest Dex then either declares her movement and action, or holds. A player that has held may then declare their movement and action after any other player has completed their declaration. Thus, if Frank has the highest dex, followed by Suzie, Joe, and Sam - Frank can hold, then Suzie goes ahead and declares her action, and Frank then jumps back in and declares his actions. Now, bear in mind that we're just declaring actions. No one has moved yet. That all happens in order of highest Dex again, just as outlined above, but declarations all happen before any moves or actions. And you can't deviate. You either do what you said you'd do, or do you don't.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Messing around with Labyrinth Lord

I'm still worrying over old school D&D. I have a copy of the Rules Cyclopedia, but every time I open it and flip through it, the rules go from pretty simple and basic to crazy 2nd edition AD&D complicated. And part of what has drawn to me to want to fool with 0e is its supposed simplicity, lack of thick volumes of rules, and "rulings, not rules" philosophy.

So I'm cracking open my printed copy of Labyrinth Lord. And I'm going to spin the wheels a little here.

Rolling some scores: 13, 12, 7, 6, 12, 12. I'll do 5 sets, and these are going to be 3d6, going straight down, by the way. 8, 7, 9, 11, 6, 14. 15, 14, 14, 9, 14, 7. 17, 7, 13, 13, 14, 11. 8, 17, 16, 8, 14, 9.

That gives us the following.

STR 13 | 8 | 15 | 17 | 8
DEX 12 | 7 | 14 | 7 | 17
CON 7 | 9 | 14 | 13 | 16
INT 6 | 11 | 9 | 13 | 8
WIS 12 | 6 | 14 | 14 | 14
CHA 12 | 14 | 7 | 11 | 9

Looks like we may be fighter-heavy. Characters are not created equal!

The first dude has a decent strength, and not terrible wisdom, charisma and dex. That makes him a fair fighter, thief, or cleric. With his terrible Con and Int, I'm going tentatively call him a Thief. Even though he won't get an XP bonus with his 12 Dex. If we set him up as a fighter, he'd get a +5% XP bonus. We'll keep that in mind. Meanwhile, meet Tim the Thief.

Dude number two has pretty terrible stats. Fighter is out, thief is out, cleric is out. His Cha isn't bad, and his Int isn't terrible. This might be our magic-user, maybe even an elf. On second though, with his low Str, he'd get an XP penalty, so we'll call him a magic-user. Mike the Magic-User.

Dude three would make a good fighter, or even a cleric or thief. Or dwarf for that matter. Looks like we've got theives and fighters taken care of, so I'm going to call him a cleric. Charlie the Cleric.

Dude four... Yeah, I'm gonna say Dwarf. That +10% XP bonus will rock. Dimili the Dwarf.

And five.. I'm thinking Halfling. His strength kinda sucks, but.... actually, I thought that halflings were thieves, but apparently they're not. They're just.. halflings. Weird. He's gonna be the thief, introducing Thomas the Thief. So that first dude, Tim, is now Frank the Fighter.

Fighter, Cleric, Magic User, Dwarf, Thief. Sounds like a damn well rounded party to me.

Money: Frank gets 90 gold, Charlie 170 gold, Dimili 150, Mark 170 and Thomas 100. (3d8x10)

Eh, I'm getting bogged down trying to buy gear for them, so I'll come back to boring details later.

How about hit points for some first level adventurers?

Frank ends up with 5 (-1 from the 6 I rolled, due to his crummy Con), Charlie rolled a 1!!! But we'll use the option rule and let him reroll on a 1 or 2. He ends up with 5, thanks in part to the +1 from his Con. Dimili also rolled a 2 and will reroll, ending up with 9 hit points, including the +1 from his Con. Mike rolls a 1d4 for his hit points, and perhaps abusing the reroll a bit, finally rolls something not a 1 or 2, and has 4 hit points. Thomas the Thief ends up with a whopping 6 hit points. Kazam!

Letsee, their saving throws and THAC0 and all that are in the book, so I've got that.

Spells. Mike can choose two 1st level spells and a 2nd level spell to have in his spellbook, so he takes Sleep (of course), Charm Person, and Phantasmal Force. Charlie does not have to choose spells, and can pray for any available to his level.

Gee. Assuming we got all of those details worked out, we're pretty much ready to play!

That's it for now, I'll be back with more later on.

Day 73: What's my focal distance, people?

From 365

Serious. Can someone help me out?

I took some experiment shots, with an object in the immediate foreground, and some stuff in the medium distance, and played with macro and super macro, and focal distance. I guess, still being a newbie, I like the cheap thrills of objects close up being in focus, and stuff at a distance being blurry. Since pretty much learning as I go, by trial and error, I'm taking series' of photos and then comparing the differences in what I took, and trying to learn from that.

What I was trying to do here was to play with the focal length (is that even the right term?) Here is the same shot, with the medium distance stuff in focus. I achieved this by playing with the manual focus, which obviously does work, but it slightly annoying on my camera, because I have to be in manual mode, and I have to hold down a button and use my zoom lever to focus. And it doesn't have any kind of indicator aside from simply seeing how sharp the stuff is in front of me. And I figured there'd be some kind of numerical reference for its focal length, but all of those pictures have the same info - focal length 6.3mm. I guess I need to go read about it.

So anyway. I'm still learning, a lot. And slowly. But I'm enjoying myself. I need to figure out what the hell a macro is too, since I'm familiar with macros in the computer sense.

Day 72: ISO 400

From 365

So, about my photography project.

I think I've mentioned that I have not had the pleasure of taking a photography class. This is something that I have resolved to correct in the not-too-distant future. Hence, things like F Stop and F Number, and gobs and gobs of other stuff are all new concepts to me. Shutter speed I've mostly got, though I did entertain myself for a few minutes, experimenting with shutter speed vs how much light it would capture.

Almost everything I've been shooting has been on auto. I've begun exploring the Manual setting. WoooooOOOOooooo! I know, right?

And frankly, its rather intimidating and almost overwhelming. Shutter speed, ISO, Aperture/F-stop, and that's before I even start really tinkering with photometry, white balance, focus mode, etc. Speaking of focus, the one minor bone I have to pick with my camera is that the autofocus likes to act up. I end up struggling with it fairly regularly. There is a manual focus, but.... well, I'll discuss that in my next post.

So anyway, that's us at our friends place watching Night Watch. Woo!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Brief Post on Gaming

So, I've started this post like half a dozen times today, and its been abortive every time. This time, I'm going to post this, for better or worse, even if I get to the end of it and have no point.

I'm a huge role playing game nerd. My fancies are broad and varied. I'm not a "D&D only" kind of guy. And I approach my hobby in a very Obsessive Compulsive fashion. It always goes like this: Jerm gets SUPER CRAZY excited about game X. Jerm spents gobs of time and attention on it, perhaps strongarming people into playing it. Game runs smoothly for awhile. Jerm's attention begins to wane. I'm like the media when there's a big **something**. I'm all like "LOOK EVERYONE! LOOK OVER HERE!!" and then its three days of NON STOP coverage of nothing but that one thing. Then it starts to trickle off, and soon you don't hear about it anymore. I'm whining, and yes, I do like cheese, thank you very much.

So. I think I started this because my blog is, in theory, partly about my gaming hobby. And when I'm quiet about it, it feels somehow like I'm betraying myself, or my blog, or you (stop snickering).

I'm kindof in a minor funk with my D&D game. We lost Maddie and John, and with Krissi due to deliver just weeks from now, my game has a weird limbo feeling to it. I still like the game, and 4e, though I confess that I've been somewhat seriously entertaining the idea of trying a retro-clone game, Labyrinthine Lord or Swords & Wizardry or something. With our baby's arrival being right around the corner, it has my panties all in a wad, so to speak. I've talked long and loud to anyone who will listen about how I intend to hop back into gaming as soon as I can. Not to the neglect of Krissi or the baby, certainly. Its just something that I intend to make every effort to continue to do.

Heh, you know, now I remember that I was going to use this post to chat a little about 4d vs 0e retro-clones. Someone's post this morning about character death made that little buzzer go off in my head. And it made me think about, and chuckle about how I seem to be doing loops to some extent, with regard to my role playing game philosophy. Which also makes me chuckle because I spend WAY too much time and energy thinking about a game that I imagine tons of people play without giving it much more though than you would to a really good game of monopoly. Its like I get paid for this stuff or something. But I don't. Anyway, it wasn't so long ago that I was whinging about how much I hated D&D. And then I was talking about how character death was a terrible mechanic in a game. And now I find myself drooling over 0e, which is basically a player character meatgrinder.

I'm sure there was a point, or three that I was flailing around for, but I don't think I've grasped at all. If you've read this far, you deserve a medal.

Heh, the title of this post has "brief" in it. Hilarious.


Do you ever type up a post about something, and stop in the middle of it, and think about it for a minute, and wonder if you're really crazy and COMPLETELY narcissistic, and maybe kindof a jerk, and then get fed up and frustrated with the whole post, and with questioning your topic and tone and style and so forth? And wonder "Why am I even bothering to type this?" Cause I do.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 71: Company for Lunch

From 365

A bunch of em were in my backyard digging for lunch. I saw them pull a few earthworms out of the ground, and wanted to catch a pic of one having its lunch, but alas, I had no success.

Day 70: Portrait in the Dark

From 365

Day 69: These Flowers Look Kinda Angry

From 365

Day 68: Animal Television

From 365

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Here's my gripe about firearms.

What do people use firearms for? And I mean actually use them for. Hunting. Practice shooting. Killing people in churches, schools, and small towns. Oh yeah, and occasionally shooting and killing someone that's trying to hurt or kill someone else.

Call me biased. Call the media biased. Sadly, I see lots of law abiding and legal gun owners who are very zealous about their guns, and very steadfast, willing or even eager to use them in defense of their lives or property, and I see lots and lots of gun crime. Just to go ahead and nip this, saying "See! This one dude used his gun to shoot and kill a VERY BAD PERSON who was trying to use a firearm illegally!" does not work for me. Its still gun violence. It does not solve anything. It is an isolated case of someone meeting violence with violence, and taking one bad guy off of the street. Forgive me if I'm not overwhelmed with joy and amazement.

I started to write that my beef is not with gun owners. But I suppose it is. I just don't believe that guns are effective at solving anything. Killing people, absolutely. But not at solving problems. Gun owners say that their guns are for their own protection, yet in the US, we see gun violence on a daily basis. And 99 times out of 100, its bad guys killing bad guys, or bad guys killing innocent people. Legitimate gun owners aren't even in the equation. So I ask you: What's the use? Until we either arm everyone in the country, and make absolutely sure that they're using their firearms responsibly, or we take guns off the street (yeah, I'll say it, make them illegal in the US. Flame me.), we will continue to see gun violence.


(For my gun loving buddies, this is not me being passive aggressive toward you, just me ranting.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 67: Empire

From 365

I'm a huge computer game nerd. This was one that I've looked forward to for quite awhile.

Now, back to kicking some Prussian ass.

Day 66: A Bee

From 365

Took a few shots of the pink cherry tree in our front yard, and it was tough to choose which one to upload.

Day 65: Hueys, post Watchmen

From 365

I picked up the Watchmen trade paperback fairly recently. I was never really a comic nerd. Surprisingly, some of my friends are comic nerds, and yet I'm the only one to have read it.

We went and saw the movie Friday night. We all enjoyed it. Its impossible not to compare the book and the movie. The movie was very faithful in most respects to the book. There were parts that were dropped or shortened, either for simplicity or for the sake of time. And while I'm sure that Alan Moore and purists would argue that it does in fact completely destroy it, I say that the movie is still a great story. It does mostly capture the spirit of the comic. There are some minor differences, and some slightly-more-than-minor differences. But it's good. But you should totally grab the comic and read it. Catching all of the stuff in the comic that was not in the movie is very very very worth it.

We all went to Hueys afterward to chit chat. I have to mention my friend Jeremy, who is a lucky S.O.B., he's had two wrecks in a week, one on a motorcycle. He's fine, but quite sore. I really feel bad for him. He's a car nerd, and the first wreck was in his beloved SRX, which took some serious damage, but is not totaled, and will be able to be repaired. AND THEN, he laid his motorcycle down. Like I said he's fine, and we're all glad for it. Hopefully, this was his run of bad karma and he's good for a long long while.

Day 64: Machinery

From 365

Part of the manufacturing process of hardwood flooring.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 63: My Rack

From 365

A few of my servers. In my rack.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 62: Airport Drive By

From 365

I hate cop out days. Like, really really totally cop out days. Someone put up a photo recently, and claimed it was a cop out, and I was like "Really? Cause that photo looks awesome."


Today was really really totally a cop out day. This was me driving by the airport on the way home from some off-site labor. Be glad its not a pic of the delicious hummus sitting in front of me.

Day 61: Telecommunications

From 365

Work work work work work work work work work work work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How about your playlist?

Let's talk playlists on our mp3 players.

Here are the artists on mine, share yours!

Alice in Chains
Amy Winehouse
The Breeders
Coal Chamber
Coheed & Cambria
The Dandy Warhols
Dead Can Dance
Dirty Vegas
Foo Fighters
Green Day
Gwen Stefani
Johnny Cash
Julia Darling
Juno Reactor
Kid Cudi Vs. Crookers
Lady GaGa
Marilyn Manson
Massive Attack
Nine Inch Nails
The Old haunts
Only Son
A plus D
Powerman 5000
Regina Spektor
Rob Zombie
System Of A Down
Tanya Donelly
They Might Be Giants
Throwing Muses
Veruca Salt
White Rabbits
The White Stripes
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
65 Days of Static

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 60: Snowtracks

From 365

So, sadly I do not have a good picture from the baby shower, but I can say that it was immensely excellent. Maddie did most of the organization and the mothers pitched in to put it all together. We had an awesome bunch of folks come by, and they brought us tons of awesome loot, and we are incredibly appreciative.

Naturally, on the day of the baby shower, it started sleet around 1, and by 3 it was snowing. It continued to snow throughout the afternoon and evening, and overnight. We woke Sunday morning to a few inches of snow on the ground. For the Memphis area, this is quite a blizzard!

Day 59: Rain

From 365

It was 60 degrees one day, and 30something the next.

Day 58: Oh Look, Another Food Picture

From 365

Salad this time.

Yum. (No, I'm serious!)

Day 57: Ovi

From 365

My brother in law's new golden retriever puppy, Ovi. Named for a hockey player, who's name I cannot spell, or even successfully google for a correct spelling.

Day 56: Medical Records

From 365

A regularly scheduled visit with the Obstetrician. So far so good.