Friday, April 25, 2008

Orcs - Defended

Orcs are cooler. Nuff sed.

Here are some stats (increasingly levels of interest) of orc warriors. Note these use the houserules from our C&C campaign - which means weapon specialization, advanced initiative rules, and non-weapon proficiencies

1st Level - warrior
1HD 6HP AC15 (scale mail and shield), broadsword (+2, 3/2 att, init+6, 2d4+2dam), throwing axe (+1, rng10, init+4, 1d6dam) saves:Phys, skills: fire building, direction sense, language(common), animal lore

3rd Level - hunter
3HD 18HP AC16 (scale mail, shield, dex), short bow (+6, rng60ft, 2 att, init+6, 1d6+1dam), large mace (+4, init+8, 1d10+1dam), dagger (+4, init+2, 1d4+1dam), saves:Phys, skills: tracking, running, bowyer/fletcher, language(common)

5th Level - mercenary
5HD 30HP AC16 (steel breastplate, dex), flamberge (+7, 3/2 att, init+8, 2d4+6dam), hvy crossbow (+6, 1/2 att, init+10, 1d10+1dam), battle axe (+6, init+6, 1d8+2dam), saves:Phys, skills: riding, gaming, weather sense, direction sense, language(common)

7th Level - captain
7HD 49HP AC18 (full chain, shield, dex), long sword (+10, 2 att, init+6, 1d8+4dam), godentag (+9, 3/2 att, init+6, 1d6+5dam), saves:Phys, skills: healing, language(common), rope use


Monday, April 21, 2008

Orcs - Considered

Orcs are probably one of the favorite races in mine (and most people's) Roleplaying (see my article below about the Extensive influence Tolkien has had on my gaming history). Bad guys, foils, cheap sword-fodder - sure, but they are also a fascinating thing to consider. Imagine a race that is (perhaps) created as a shadow of other more gifted races; have a short lifespan; dwell in the nastier parts of the world; are not gifted with magic, intelligence, nor culture; live and die by the sword alone. Could such a race exist? I mean, outside of Stalinist era Russia.

I have portrayed them (and seen them portrayed) as elemental embodiments of filth and hatred; as a variation on Neanderthal man; as anti-Elves; as just another fantastic humanoid "why-can't-we-all-get-along" race; and as the comic relief bad guys that pale before the true evil (as in the Warhammer universe). I believe I will continue with my strange mix of perhaps the first three concepts I listed above. Some sort of embodiment of filth - a primitive sort of man with stone age abilities thrust into an age of iron - and the antithesis of the harmonious and magical Fey folk.

One last thought - a great old friend of mine summed them up thus: "An orc is often not encountered unless he (and it almost always males encountered, outside of a lair is performing some task for the tribe - be it scouting, hunting or raiding. Even the practice of exiling the weaklings serves the tribe - for it continually tests the lands bordering the tribe for their strength to contain stray orcs. A patrol of orcs is a cunning, animalistic machine that seeks the best advantage against any foe, and will seek to strip all manner of weapons, armor, food, goods, and wealth - all the while reveling in the most brutal techniques of taking these. On the other hand, an army of orcs is a fearsome sight - it is the whole tribe, on the move, for the single purpose of accomplishing some fearsome martial feat. Destruction of a neighbor, establishing a new tribal home, or performing the bidding of some stronger, charismatic ally - these are but a few of the possible motives that a tribe could have for going to war. As it represents the life of the tribe - for all of the warriors (the strength of the tribe, and also its ability to recreate and propagate) are involved, and the stakes in this game are life and death. The next level of organization - a host of tribes - is almost too terrible to consider, when one thinks of the effects it would have on a civilized land."

Hail the filthy orc, my friends, and do not underestimate him.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The World of Greyhawk Campaign continues

The World of Greyhawk campaign progresses...

The adventurers (Pope of Pain, Nords, Gilmore Badgerbreath, and Annalise of Ehlonna) completed clearing out the dungeon of the norker Bear cult that they had uncovered last time. Some good treasure was found, and lots of evil was vanquished. Annalise, the new member of the party (a Half-Elven Cleric of Ehlonna, with a habit of bringing home strays . . .) fit in very well with the group.

In addition to dodging traps (poison needles, iron cages dropped from the ceiling, hordes of infected giant rats, nauseating gas clouds) without a thief (good thing for the Dwarf in Plate Mail), the group fought a diverse group of vile monsters - ranging from norkers under the influence of diabolical, sorcerous maggots; giant bears; acid covered zombies; and a wild eyed primitive shaman bent on cutting out the hearts of our heroes, and dining on their livers. All for some lousy pieces of Dwarven Platinum and a crummy set of magic horse shoes. All that is gold does not glitter, my friend.

Next week - on to Kreftheim - the Dwarven mountain town in the Rakers.


Monday, April 14, 2008

RPG Plots

List of RPG Plots

I've seen these (and even an earlier version of this one) before, and they are always a good source of inspiration.

Not that inspiration is needed for the "Ice Grotto of the Night Hunter", my current adventure I am writing. But still, maybe sometime.


Free RPG Downloads

Free RPG Downloads

Legitimately Free. Not like the stuff I get from Bit Torrent. This is is Legitimately Free.

And apparently you get what you pay for.

Just kidding - some of this stuff looks interesting and worth a read if it is related to something you are playing or running or writing.

But I noticed, not a lot of Erol Otus artwork. Pity.


Creepy Robot from another Dimension (Boston)

This is a really creepy robot. If I saw it I would want to thump it. The robotics work is amazing, but it is really creepy looking. And what is with that buzzing sound?

How many Hit Dice does it have? and can I get one as a pet for my Norker Shaman?


Humans vs. Zombies - LARP

Humans Vs. Zombies

This looks like a pretty cool live action game - I wonder how it would go over at MarsCon?


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Greatest Adventure

Erol Otus, if the Hobbit isn't enough for you.

I am so psyched for old school rpg'ing. I have been working on adventures for my C&C campaign in Greyhawk. The following titles deserve Erol Otus art, or my name ain't Astinrut the Munificent.

-Lost Dungeon of the Fishman Menace
-Ice Grotto of the Night Hunter
-Impenetrable Lair of the Goblin Prince
-The Traveling Menace of the Ice Crone
-Hidden Fortress of the Shadow Rose

Man, I need another d4.

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So, I was taking a brief break from doing a presentation for tomorrow, and what did I do? Did I work on my C&C campaign? Did I update my Board Game Geek listing? Did I write a review of one of my wargames?

Nay, gentle reader, I did none of these. I painted some character figurines. Or I should say, I partially painted some character figurines.

The hobby of my youth, painting figures - the thing that got me into wargaming and roleplaying, from boardgaming - is still with me. And (I'm glad to report) it still has the ability to sooth the frayed nerve and provide solace to the tired mind.

Almost like a good single malt and a bowl of fine pipeweed.


Monday, April 7, 2008

All my gaming can be blamed on Tolkien

DM of the Rings I: The Copious Backstory Like many gamers my age, my ideas for gaming (especially fantasy gaming; but equally fantasy roleplaying and fantasy wargaming) come from a heavy dose of Tolkien, and Tolkien imitators.

Sure there are the others - Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, Jack Vance, Robert Howard, and the others - but Tolkien looms largest.

My initiation into fantasy gaming came around the end of the 70s, which saw a resurgence of Tolkien-mania in the US - with the release of the Ballantine paperbacks, and also the Hobbit animated TV special, the Bakshi movie (terrible now, but oh I loved it then), and finally the Return of the King TV special. It all made me gooey and weak in the knees.

Around the same time, I was reading (and rereading) the Tolkien stuff, I was also reading Greyfax Grimwald, Peter Pevensey, Thomas Covenant (still don't like him), and Shea and Flick Ohmsford. But Frodo Baggins stuck with me. As did uncle Bilbo. Only later did Fafhrd and Conan and Elric and Cugel come into my quarry of literary foundation stones for writing and gaming.
Even today, my current (although still fledgling) Castles and Crusades campaign that is based in the World of Greyhawk has strong themes that are quite Tolkienesque. There is (unbeknownst to the players - and you who are reading this know who you are) an overriding evil presence in the campaign, who through lesser agents seeks to subvert various neutral forces in the world towards evil; the Dwarves are an old (but not as old as Elves) race that are quite suspicious; the Orcs and other goblinoid races are created in a much lesser sense then Man, Elf or Dwarf were created (and for evil purposes); the current crisis for the world will be solved by a quest on a personal level, despite the engagement of mighty martial forces on all sides.
It is a good basis for a worldview of the fantastique. I do not regret it at all.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Really, what was he thinking

So, last night I was spending some time hanging out with my friend, who just so happens to be the owner of the FLGS that I frequent. We were talking about stuff, geeking old games, and just having a good time. There were a couple of games going on in the store (a Legend of the Five Rings game, a 3.5ed D&D game, and some GW miniatures battles). We were having a pretty good time talking about the weapons of mass destruction presented in GURPS Lensmen.

Then this guy walks in the store.

He seemed like a pretty feckless typical gamer, hanging out in a FLGS on a Saturday night, maybe just off a day of campaigning, or maybe after a failed date, or maybe just cooling his jets looking for new gaming product to peruse or purchase. After a couple of rounds through the store, he approaches us up at the counter. Previously, when asked if he was interested in anything, he cooly replied that he was just looking. Typical, so far.

Then he asks if we knew of any RPGs currently going on, and if we knew (further) of any that accept players - he was looking to join one. Honest enough question, and I give him kudos for asking it. Many people are hanging around and looking for game, but don't know to ask for it (or worse, are scared to ask for it). Gamers, and more typically, FLGS denizens, are usually friendly enough if approached openly by other gamers.

Well, the owner and I pondered for a moment or two, thinking of the games that we knew of (I am sadly out of the loop, but I have a LITTLE current game schedule moxie). The owner looks at me, blank faced. We both knew the DM who was running the L5R game very well, as well as all the guys in the game, and knew that they had all gamed together for many years, and also that the game was at critical density. I was thinking of other options when the feckless wandering gamer then spoke up some more.

Now, recall that he had just asked if there were any games that we knew of that were open, and that he could join. He then proceeds to tell us how in the past couple of games that he was involved in, that he was invariably kicked out and asked to not come back by the DMs involved, for power gaming. He began bragging how he had wizard characters who came up with spells that could cause everyone in a kingdom to start growing hair uncontrollably. He talked about his area affect damage spells that were unstoppable and that could handle any encounter.

In short, he bragged about being the worst, nightmarish, nasty sort of gamer that a DM could unwittingly invite into their game. A braggart power gamer.

At which point, I knew what I had to do. I directed him to join the 3.5ed D&D game. You see, the DM of that game - a long time friend of mine - is the very worst ruthless guileless shameless merciless DM that I know of. And he makes it worse by wrapping up the abuse inside of roleplay. Game balance? Fair scenario? Joint Storytelling? Never. This was indeed the game for our new 6th level Braggart.

At this point, before I could boldly point the fellow back to the game room where the attrocities and crimes were being committed (the 3.5 game), one of the long time players in that game came up front to purchase a drink. I asked him - To protect the blood of the innocents, I will only use initials here.

Me - "So, E, do you think that M has room in his game. There is a new guy here who is looking for a game to join."

E - "Sure." (smirk) "You know M always has room for more players. He is open to anyone. Thats the sort of game he runs."

So off we sent the 6th level Braggart, to join the game.

A moment later, I confessed to the FLGS owner, "B, you know I almost feel guilty for setting that up and sending him back there."

FLGS - "What do you mean? Which do you feel sorry for - Braggart, or DM?"

Me - "Well, both, but I hope he doesn't ruin M's game."

FLGS - "Don't worry about it. M knows how to handle players like that. I would be surprised if we hear that he had an adverse effect on M's game. And if he does, then we know that M deserves it. Don't worry about it."

Ahhhh - the wisdom of your FLGS owner. Don't discount it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Wargaming Posters from the India Wargamers

India Wargamers have, among other things, given us great wargaming posters over the past years.

These guys have some great files on their website, like battle reports, rules, and interesting how-to articles.

Check out the medieval variant for Piquet they published, as well as the nice campaign setups.


Matrix Game for World of Greyhawk skirmishes?

Matrix Games

Why not, I say. The only thing is that I would have to find a willing victim to play against, since the idea of coming up with arguments and counter arguments seems like a little too much Sybil level schizophrenia to me.

But consider, the next time in your RPG you have a local Baron getting uppity against his feudal overlord, and it comes to a skirmish, battle, or war. Using a matrix game to resolve it could be really interesting, can be accomplished quite quickly, and could generate some really interesting side results to affect the RPG campaign.


Queen of the Celts

Queen of the Celts from Avalanche Press is their wargame of the conflict between the Romans and the Iceni. You know, the celts of Britain who were led by the very able Queen Boadicca. I know, before you even think it (much less write it), that there are other alternative spellings of her name. And don't get me started on acceptable pronunciations. But given the alternative artwork (shown above) that you can order the game with on the cover (see the web page for the normal, retail version of the artwork), I think that her name should be pronounced Bodacious.

The game itself is part of the Rome at War series, and really looks quite good. And as the publishers know, everyone loves a celt. Especially one with (historically debatable) a figure like shown above.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

More Castles and Crusades - in two weeks

Castles and Crusades continues for the adventurers, in two weeks, with more dungeoneering and then back on the road to Kreftheim.

Expect heavy spiders, with a spot of giant bears, and continued norker influence. That is the weather report.

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Pope, Gilmore, and Nords - on the road

Castles and Crusades campaign update.

The Pope of Pain (Jaques Guerrable, Paladin of Ehlonna) and Gilmore Badgerbreath (Gnome wizard of no great stature) traveled along the Rakers mountain pass from Vanehold Castle towards the Dwarven stronghold of Kreftheim in our Castles and Crusades game. They were joined by Nords the Dwarf.

Along they way they met Goatboy, and rescued him from a bear trap.

Then they were ambushed by some giant ticks. Then they fought a great bear. Then they killed some norkers (goblinoids), and looted a dead Dark Elf.

All in all, a good night.


Goatboy joins C&C adventuring group

Every great adventuring group needs an npc. The Castles and Crusades adventuring group met and rescued a Satyr from a bear trap in the adventure on Thursday night (april 3). Now, rescuing a satyr is nothing special, but then the players got to thinking that having one around might be interesting and somewhat useful. Hence, I am making up the NPC of Diomides the Bard. Also known as Goatboy.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gnomes in 4ed AD&D

Uncle Bear has an article pointing out that WOTC has decided to drop Gnomes as a pc.

One more reason for me to stick with Castles and Crusades. I don't mind using rules from 1st and 2nd AD&D, but once the game lost its TSR label, it went down hill, in my opinion.

Dropping Gnomes? They gotta be nuts.

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