Monthly Archives: September 2016

HackMaster Future

Bruce is running a HackMaster game. He says he will do it until he gets tired of our shit, which is fair. I have not been a player is about 3 years, maybe a bit longer. My last decent character was Zymmer, a halfling thief. Prior to that was Abarat, who I think died like 4 times. I rolled my stats, 3d6, straight down. I then blew most of my Build Points pumping my Strength up to 17 and my Constitution up to 15. Since this is going to be a desert, India themed game, I went with a dual wielding Scimitar’s as my weapon of choice.

Name: Alhazred, Race: Half-elf, Class: Fighter 1, Alignment: Lawful-neutral
Height: 69, Weight: 136 lbs, Age: 20, Sex: Male, Handeness: Left

Ability Scores
Str: 17/12, Dex: 9 /17, Con: 15/64, Int: 9 /37, Wis: 11/9, Cha: 8 /52, Com: 11/37 Honor: 14

Hit Points: 32

Melee Weapons
Sword: Scimitar +3 to Hit, +7 to Damage | S 1d8 | M 1d8 | L 1d8 |

Weapon Proficiencies
Advanced Two-Weapon Fighting – Basic, Sword: Scimitar – Specialized


Survival, Desert 14%, Language, Modern: Elf 100%, Language, Modern: Common 12%, Riding, Land-based: Horse 16%

Alhazred’s was raised in the deserts by his father who belongs to a nomadic tribe of elves. His human mother died many years ago. Alhazred is not terribly smart, pretty or coordinated, but he is sturdy, strong willed and disciplined. Although often he comes across as awkward and anti social due to his heavily elvish accented speech, he is actually good natured and easy to get along with. Alhazred has a twin brother named Jouni, whom was sent to train as a hunter after their mother died. Alhazred remained with the tribe to become a tribe guardian.

Castle Defiant Sandbox

I have written before about the Dungeon Fantasy (DF) boxed set Steve Jackson Games (SJG) has kickstarted. It looks like it will fund very nicely and will be released mid 2017 sometime. The one thing it will lack of course is a setting, their stance on this is all DF games start in a Tavern somewhere. This to me means “Sandbox” game and fortunately SJG has already given us something we can use. In their already published fantasy setting Banestorm, there is a nice isolated area called Castle Defiant.

Castle Defiant makes for a classic sandbox area, the human colony gives the adventurers a place to go to spend their money, the Lord of the castle gives them someone to assign them missions and or a foil, depending on your preferences. To the north is Caustigus’s swamp and Bulgaren’s orc’s beyond that. To the east is the steppes of the Orclands where all manner of foul creatures live. To the west is a dark forest where the elves are battle hardened from centuries of conflict with orcs and lizard men. To the south lays a mana rich area stalked by wizards and demons. In other words, plenty of places for hapless adventures to get into trouble.

The idea is the Caithness civil war is now over and a new age of prosperity is being ushered in under King Connall and Queen Bronwyn, in other words, everyone in Caithness is now pretty bored and eyes turned towards the Orclands for adventure. A small army was sent to retake Castle Defiant from the rogue dwarf Bulgaren, who retreated back across the swamp to the protection of his crater fortress to plan his next steps.

As my first step in this process I have laid out a map of the immediate area, roughly the 50 mile area around the castle, as is standard for hex crawls, each hex is 5 miles. I did the original map in about half an hour cribbing information from Orcslayer and the Orclands entry in Banestorm. I them posted it in the SJG forums and got a few suggestions to add some detail. This is the map that I came up with.


This is a small area even for a sandbox game, I think the suggested area is something like 200 miles by 200 miles and this is about half that size. However, I view this as the center of a much larger map about 300 by 300 miles, giving plenty room for dungeons, towers, caverns, tree fortresses and all manner of other adventuring locations. The next step is to outline the political and social structure of Castle Defiant, name the lord and other significant persons. Perhaps map out the town and name local establishments like the earlier mentioned tavern, where all the adventures start.

Repost: How to be a good RPG player

I am re-posting this because of a forum thread I read recently, where a player was complaining about how bad the game he is playing in is. From his own description of what was happening, it was obvious he was failing at 3, 4 and 5. This is something that needs to be gone over again. I think most of us, including myself, fail at one of these, or occasionally two, but by god, if you are failing at 3 of them, the problems with the game are probably you.

1. Know the rules of the game you are playing. You don’t have to memorize every book, but you should at the very least be able to roll up a character and understand the basic dice mechanics of the game.

2. Know how to make a decent character, know what constitutes a good character. Building a D&D character that averages less than 1 point of damage per turn is a useless character, on the other end of that scale, a Call of Cthulhu character whose primary skill is shooting/punching things, is likewise useless.

3. Know your group. Try to get to know everyone in the group, try to find out what they want out of the game and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If you are not a good fit for the group, politely drop out of the game.

4. Know your GM, know what kind of game he wants to run. Find out what his expectations are, does he like a fast paced shoot em up game, or does he prefer a slow burn plot. Build characters that play to your GM’s strengths, don’t build characters that exploit or highlight the GM’s weaknesses.

5. Be a player that other players like to be around, play characters other characters want to be around. If you find yourself uttering the words “I am just playing my character!”, you have failed this one.

GURPS and Me Part II

I was a pretty early adopter of GURPS. I remember being introduced to it via Man to Man in 1985. We played through most of the combat scenarios and OrcSlayer prior to the full GURPS rules coming out in 1986. I was a GURPS play tester for several years as well. If you look in the first edition of Tredroy, Space and Martial Arts, you will see my name listed, I did a couple of others, but my contributions were too small to be of note. In those first 4 years, I was a very active GURPS player, we did Fantasy, Autoduel, Supers, Horror and Cyberpunk. I think we may have even dipped our toes into Swashbucklers for a few games.

Then came the 1990’s, where I played a grand total of two games, neither lasting more than 6 months. When I assembled the first players of my current group, I was way more interested HackMaster and AD&D 1E than I was in GURPS, although over the last 14 years we have played GURPS a few times, we (or maybe I) gravitated back to our old standby’s. I think the reason for this is GURPS had by this time become overwhelming, even in just a single genre, there are too many options and even a set of experienced players got confused by the sheer weight of it all. It did not help that now I have a full time job and a commute, so writing my own adventures is difficult, so I rely on a steady stream of modules to fill in my campaigns, which GURPS never had enough of.

With the new Dungeon Fantasy boxed set coming out, I admit I am kind of excited. Steve Jackson Games hope is this will reinvigorate their print RPG product line, which has been sidelined by Munchkin for the last several years. This is really a good time, as the market has been expanding for the last couple of years since D&D 5E came out. It is my hope that this will lead to some actual adventures being published, even if they are PDF rather than print, which would make the possibility of my running a long term campaign much more likely. However, even if this happened, we would be talking about a game I will not be running for at least 2 years, so there is plenty of time to see what happens.

GURPS and Me

Steve Jackson Games today launched a new Kickstarter for Dungeon Fantasy.

I have contributed my $50 to the cause. I have written off and on about GURPS since the beginning of this blog. The 30th anniversary of the game is coming up and it is hard to believe that I jumped on that bandwagon so long ago. For a good 4 years, it was my game of choice.


At this point I kind of have a love hate relationship with the game. On the one hand, at its core, it is an extremely flexible system that lets you build any type of character that you want, with a unified and well balanced game mechanic. On the other hand, it is a monstrosity of a game, with way too many options that leave players and GM’s dazed with confusion at times. I am currently using it for my CyberPunk game and in the last several years I have used it for the odd fantasy game as well. Some of these games went well and some of them went very badly.

I think I like the theory of GURPS more than I like the reality of playing GURPS.