Monthly Archives: January 2014

T&T Solo Campaign, Part III

I have to say, as this moves along, it is getting less interesting. While these solo games are very playable, I kind of have the same problem with them that I have with computer games. Which is, I get bored. See, I play RPG’s more for the social interaction and character immersion than I do for the simulation. In World of Warcraft there really is no such thing as a clever plan or outwitting the Boss. When I play D&D with a GM and other players, we interact with our environment and our environment reacts to us, you just don’t get that in a computer game. You also do not get that in a solo adventures. At first I played out my interactions with NPC’s in my head, but as I went along I kind of stopped doing that. Further, when I was picking which path to go down, early on, I would try to choose the one I thought would be the most fun. As thing progressed, I started picking things based on what would get me through the adventure the quickest. I have one more week of play and one or two adventures to complete, I am REALLY hoping to be 2nd level by the time I finish.

40th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons

This weekend will mark 40 years since Gary Gygax introduced the world to D&D, for good or for ill. I make no secret that D&D has been very significant to my life. Some of the best moments of my life were not spent in this world, but rather in the world of D&D, with my friends, doing the things we literally dream about. Sure, none of it was real, but to me it was no less important. The experiences of Evro and Brandon or Bob the barbarian and Simon (picture Dumb and Dumber in plate mail), were just as important as the things that happened to us in the real world. I can say with some certainty that I preferred the D&D fantasy to the reality of High School. Even today, when my life sucks, I look forward to Friday night, when I can uncork my imagination and spend a few hour with my best friends drinking ale, killing orcs and seducing bar wenches. So thank you Gary Gygax, you may not have cured cancer, but you did provide an awkward teenage boy with a life long passion and several lifetimes of friends and experiences to match. Thank you.

Stories dragging on and on

I don’t really like 800 page books, I especially don’t like 7 book series of 800 page books. Unfortunately, this trend is now affecting Comic Books as well. For some reason the current crop of Comic Book writers have taken to writing stories that develop at glacial speeds. Please, if you can not write a Comic Book story in 3 issues, 4 at the outside, give it up, you are in the wrong business. For example, DC’s current crossover event Forever Evil is by itself a 6 issue mini series, now add in the three other 6 issue mini series that tie into Forever Evil and both Justice League and Justice League of America are tying in as well. That is 36 issues over 6 month period for this story line, we are barely 4 months in and I want it to be over with already, no more navel gazing Lex Luthor.

Forever Evil is not the only story line dragging. Both Earth 2 and Worlds Finest are killing me as well. Earth 2 is currently in a story line about the re-invasion of earth by Darkseid, okay, fine and dandy, this could have been done in 4 issues, The Legion of Superheroes did the Darkness Saga in 6 issues, we are currently on issue 12. Worlds Finest is almost as bad, They are currently telling a story about Power Girls abilities going all wonky on her, 2 issues right? We are on issue 6 of this story line and we are about to cross over to Batman/Superman. Please make it stop.

T&T Solo Campaign, Part II

So this last week I did not have nearly the free time I had the previous week. I suspect I could have finished Four Jars of Mead in half an hour if I had the time to dedicate. This solo game can go one of two ways, if you make all the right choices and make all your luck rolls, you will be done in like 5 minutes. If you are at all like me, when in game playing a character, making good decisions is very rarely fun. Regardless, this adventure is not worth much in the way of experience points, so my guy is still first level.

  • Good: It is short and mildly entertaining. If you are starting a solo campaign, I’d do this one first.
  • Bad: It is WAY too short, not nearly enough options and it is pretty easy to tell which options will lead to disaster and which ones will get you home in time for dinner.
  • Ugly: If you decide to play the fool, it is easy to go completely off the rails and end up mugged and penniless.

My next solo adventure is the Temple of Issoth for those of you who are following along with me.

A Monsters!, Monsters! game I want to run

The opening scene, Four orcs are standing on the extreme edge of a battle that ended decisively against their side. The Dark Army is broken, their generals, the Nazgûlare all dead, Sauron is destroyed along with the One Ring and even the Tower has fallen. One orc looks at the other and says, “Well then, I guess that’s it?”, another responds “Yep”, the third orc says “Didn’t see that one coming.” and the final orcs says “What now?”.

 

Game design and Theory

I have been thinking about variations on the basic class system used by Dungeons and Dragons. For those of you who don’t know, the class system in D&D is there are 4 classes; Cleric, Fighter, Magic User and Thief. Some of these classes have sub classes, like; Druid (Subclass of Cleric), Paladin (Subclass of Fighter),Illusionist (Subclass of Magic User), and Assassin (Subclass of Thief),What I was thinking is a more structured line of sub-classing and eliminate the need for multi classing of character. Basically all subclasses are a combination of two classes, with a major class and a minor class, something like;

Cleric+Fighter = Paladin
Cleric+Magic User = Druid
Cleric+Thief = Bard

Fighter+Cleric = Monk
Fighter+Magic User = Battle Mage
Fighter+Thief = Ranger

Magic User+Cleric = Sage
Magic User+Fighter = Arcane Warrior
Magic User+Thief = Illusionist

Thief+Cleric = Charlatan
Thief+Fighter = Assassin
Thief+Magic User = Ninja

Review: Monsters! Monsters!

Product Summery:
Name: Monsters! Monsters!
Publisher: Flying Buffalo
Author: Ken St. Andre
Line: Tunnels & Trolls
Cost: $14.95 (PDF $7.50)
Pages: 40 pages
Webpage: http://www.flyingbuffalo.com/mm.htm

Monsters! Monsters! was one of those games I really wanted to play back in the day, but for whatever reason, we never got around to it. The premise of the game is, the monsters in the dungeons get tired of having their homes continually raided by adventuring parties and they strike out to raid towns and such occupied by humans, elves, dwarves and hobbit. I have also heard of this game being played in the context of the monsters deciding they want to be heroes, because well heroes get all the good loot, all the pretty girls and get invited to all the best parties.

First let me say, from a nostalgic point of view, this book is great. The writing style is light and irreverent, as was common at the time this was originally published.The art is crude, it is about the same quality as your standard teenager van mural. This was very much a product of its time, however, by modern standards, this books appearance and layout are crude and unprofessional, art ranges from bad to worse. If someone released this product today, they would be laughed out of the business.

I like the Tunnels & Trolls game mechanic, characters are easy to generate, combat is quick and simple and you only have to use 6 sided dice, which may or may not be a good thing. I am told in the 7th edition of the game, there is a skill system in place, but none of that is here. This book is pretty much a verbatim reprint of the book that came out in 1976 and the rules are based on T&T 4th edition. You start out by rolling 3d6 for each attribute, Strength, IQ, Luck, Constitution, Dexterity and Charisma. You then draw from a standard 52 card deck and the card you get determines what type of monster you are. An Ace of Spades will make you Dragon, while a Seven of Diamonds will make you a Giant Slug. You then modify your attributes according to your race, the Dragon gets to multiply his Strength by 25, while the Giant Slug only gets to multiply his by 2 and because he has no arms, his Dexterity is limited to 3. I suspect if this game were going to be played by the book, it would take considerable amount of player buy in.

My original copy of this game has went missing along with a couple of hundred odd issues of the Dragon magazine and 10,000 Magic cards. So I was happy to hear Flying Buffalo reprinted this last year for Gen Con. The old geezer in me is happy to it reprinted exactly as I remember it when I was teenager. The modern gamer in me cringes as what passed for Tier 2 RPG back in the day. This is on my list of things to play this year, I might make Bruce run this for me so I can play a Kobold named Mog who wants to be a Paladin.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 1
Game Mechanic: 3
Setting: 5
Overall: 3

NSA, encryption and me

Every year I go to the hassle of renewing my PGP keys. I have done this every year for at least 10 years, I dutifully post my public key on my website and I lave a link to it in the signature of my most of my emails. In that time, not a single person has ever used it for anything, nor has anyone ever asked me to use PGP, or even exchange keys. I expect this from normal not paranoid type of people, but I know plenty of Conspiracy Theorists and none of them use it either. I also expected to see more people want to use encryption with the recent revelations concerning the NSA, but again, nothing. Learning curve and technological barriers are not really an excuse, making a key pair and using them is trivial these days, anyone can do it nearly seamlessly.

Gaming thought of the week

Back in 1980 when I was just starting out playing D&D, the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook cost just $10, the Monster Manual was $10 as well and the Dungeon Masters Guide was a whopping $12. Today, reprints of those same books are selling for $35 a piece. I acknowledge this was a different time and inflation has cause the value of the dollar to go down. However, I do not remember $10 being too expensive, everyone I know bought a copy of the PHB without blinking. Today, I think this hobby has simply gotten to expensive for kids to get into cheaply.

So one of the things I am mulling over in my head is a dirt cheap RPG, where a hard copy can be bought under $10, heck maybe even under $5. I am thinking specifically about printing it in a 32 page Comic Book format. Three books, a PHB, a Monster Manual and a GM Guide, each for $5. They would not wear well, but replacement would be cheap and if demand warranted it, I could produce a consolidated book in the form of a 128 page Trade Paperback, for say $20 to pay for better binding, higher quality paper, and an adventure. One of these days I might find a Printer outfit and get a price on printing say 1000 copies of each of the books I am proposing. If I can get them printed for say $1.50, that is a $1,500 investment that might yield me back say $2,000 assuming I can find a distributor who will purchase them for about 40% of cover or about $2 per copy. Of course this does not include things like paying art, advertising, marketing or god forbid getting a cut myself. The first run would most likely be a money looser, even if every copy sold.

Castle Buffalo is done

Finished Castle Buffalo tonight, took me about 3 total hours. While nothing replaces a good GM, this was overall a good experience and I will continue the campaign.

  • Good: Came out with a Con of 30 and a Str of 37, gained 490 XP, 120 GP, 210 SP and 3 magic aspirins.
  • Bad: Once I started bumping up Monster ratings by 10, the monsters became more of a challenge and some of the monsters in there are outright mean and tough, even after my Con was doubled I walked out with less than 10 hit points.
  • Ugly: The ass hole wizard at 8D reduced my Cha to 5 when I refused to flip a coin with him the first time in the room.

My next adventure is Four Jars of Mead, hopefully i will make 2nd level.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/111159/Four-Jars-of-Mead—FBI0093

T&T Session 1

I dove into Buffalo Castle this morning and played for about an hour. During that time I fought 1 Octopus, 10 Buffalo and 3 Blood Bats. I picked up 260 experience points, 20 gold pieces (GP) and 10 buffalo hides worth 5 GP each. None of these monsters was particularly hard to kill and the only damage I took was spite damage that occurs when the looser of the round rolls a 6. I was a bit concerned about this, so I did a bit of research and sure enough, I have an early version of the module and it is suggested that players of 5th edition or higher should add 10 or more to the MR of encountered creatures. So going forward I will add 10, and if I still find it too easy, I will start adding 20 to the MR.

Tunnels & Trolls Solo Campaign

My plan at this point is to play through the month of January and then decide if I want to continue. I will play from January 5th to February 2nd, that is four weeks. I will attempt to play 4 hours a week and when i sit down to play, I will play for a minimum of 1 hour. I will start with Buffalo Castle and whatever level my character is at that point will determine what adventures I play next.

I have about two dozen T&T solo adventures of various levels, which I think will be more than enough to keep me going for a while. I am actually very surprised at the amount of free material there is for this game. I am pretty sure a new player could play this for a year without spending a single copper piece. There are also a good amount of these solo adventures available as PDF, most for under $4. So between the stack of modules I bought back in the 80’s, the modules available online either free or cheap, I really can keep going with this for as long as I care to do it.

Me rolling up my T-n-T character

I rolled up my Tunnels and Trolls character, for those of you who don’t trust me, here is the video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJvNckTNfPQ]

I rolled 4d6 and took the best 3 for my character, I don’t think I will have to worry about power creep here and I wanted to have a decent character. In a game where there are other players, having a sub 10 attribute can be fun and interesting, in solo play it simply holds you back. I rolled 17, 12, 14, 15, 16, 10 and here is the resulting character.

Character Name:____________________  Type: Warrior  Kin: Human Level: 1st
Height: 5′ 11″ Weight: 190 lbs Hair Color: Brown Eye Color: Brown Gender: Male
Str: 17 Int: 12  Luk: 14 Con: 15 Dex: 16 Chr: 10 Adds: +11
Possible Weight: 1700 Weight Carried: 400
Adventure Points: 0

Equipment:
Weapon: Scimitar Dice- 4 Adds- 0 Weight- 100
Weapon: Poniard Dice- 2 Adds- 0 Weight-10
Armor: Complete Leather Hits- 6 Weight-200
Armor: Buckler Hits- 3 Weight- 75

Other Inventory:
Backpack
Lantern w/oil
Iron rations
Hammer w/pitons

One of the things I plan to do this year

One of the things I really want to do is play, rather than GM some sort of RPG. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind GMing, in fact just the opposite. However, I do really enjoy playing as well, but unfortunately, I really don’t have time to dedicate to another full time game group. So my plan is to do some solo questing.Playing D&D solo is a lot like masturbating, while it is not nearly as satisfying when done with other people, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

One option I have is to start with Judges Guild Survival of the Fittest. It is a solitaire dungeon for 1st level D&D characters. Reviews seem to indicate it takes about one evening to complete (4-5 hours). I really do not have that kind of time to dedicate to this, I will probably play an hour a night maybe 3 times a week if possible. Hopefully I will finish it up inside of say 2 weeks. After finishing this, I could probably entertain myself pretty steadily with randomly generated dungeons.

Another option I have is a company called Avalon Games publishes modified Pathfinder RPG system designed for solo play. They have a couple of quest books out which are suppose to be complete campaigns for solo play or playing in a group with no GM.

Finally, rather than D&D, I can go with Tunnels and Trolls, for which I have a small pile of solo adventures that I bought over the years but never played. Additionally, there seem to be a lot of other T&T solo adventures there that are either free or extremely cheap.It really looks like I have access to material here and this is probably my best bet.

It is a good possibility this will bore me in much the same way World of Warcraft bores me, but there is only one way to find out.

Sex, violence and hangups

It is interesting that as a whole, everyone hates violence and everyone likes sex. I mean there are a few deviants out there who do not fall into these categories, but really they are few and far between and the truth remains. This probably does not surprise anyone and I doubt anyone would argue it with me. So my question is, if everyone hates violence and likes sex, why do we have so many hangup about sex and so few about violence?

Case in point, I can spend all day Saturday watching all manner slasher flicks and war movies, go to work on Monday and tell everyone this is what I did and no one will bat an eyelash. However, if I spend all day Saturday watching porno, then went to work on Monday and talked about the porn marathon, everyone would think there was something wrong with me. Why is that?

Another case in point, showing someone being graphically murdered in a movie might get you a PG-13 rating, but with a little push back could probably get it set to PG. Show some bare breasts and it is automatic NC-17 rating and you might be able to pull off an R if you are lucky. Why is that?

It is extremely easy to find studies and cases of people suffering longer mental illness due to violence, even if the violence was not perpetrated directly against that person, PTSD anyone. I think you would have a really hard time finding many instances where a bare breast or an exposed penis directly caused anyone to need long term therapy. Someone is getting shot on TV every single night of the week, no one raises an eyebrow, but Janet Jackson has a wardrobe malfunction, a partial nipple can be seen for like 2 seconds and it might as well have been the apocalypse. Why is that?

Shall I go on or does everyone understand my confusion?

DogeCoin VIII

Okay I am done with this project, it seems to have gotten way too strange. This morning on my IRC Chat I had a message waiting for me that said “So long and thanks for all the fish.”. Several things have weirded me out about this. First, my IRC server is internal to my network, I set it up for PezWitch and I to use, there is no access to it from outside our house. Second, the user name was DMO, which is the name of the program I have been working on,  it stands for “DogeCoin Mining Operation”. Third, when I traced the IP address of where the connection came from, it was 10.0.0.1, the IP is for node 0 of the DogeCoin Cluster. Finally, all of my work is gone, the program, the database, the source code, all of it. Mind you, this could simply be the work of a hacker, but I have to tell you, I feel a bit like I have just seen a ghost, really creeped out.