My tweets

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

Female armour

Thursday, 30 June 2011 14:16
claidheamhmor: (Guildwars Evaline 1)
Roleplayers will know all about this one...

Books, books, books

Thursday, 9 June 2011 16:15
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
I've been quite busy with reading lately.

The Southern Vampire Series
First I read the entire Southern Vampire Mysteries series, by Charlaine Harries, on which the True Blood TV series was based. The books are addictive; lightweight, but entertaining and easy to read. A different twist on romance novels. I really like the first-person view, and the attention to nominally trivial items and events; it makes the Sookie seem much more real.

Then I re-read Dune, which I last read some 20-odd years ago. Sadly, it appears that I remembered all the good bits; it wasn't nearly as interesting as I'd remembered. I did enjoy it, nonetheless. Plenty of stuff was derived from Arabic/Hebrew cultures, and it was interesting picking those out. I was also amused to note a fair bit that must have influenced Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

Currently I'm re-reading the Dragonlance Chronicles. The writing (at least, in the initial books - it did get better) is as amateurish as I remembered, and you can see how much it was based on D&D characters, in that the books characters feel like D&D characters rather than living, breathing beings. Still, it's entertaining.

I've read all of these as ebooks; it's damn handy having a selection of books with me wherever I am, so I can just resume my reading while waiting in a queue, or sitting in traffic.

Roll a d6

Saturday, 7 May 2011 09:50
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
The D&D players may find this amusing. I don't think much of the music, but it's entertaining.

Zoo City

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 15:30
claidheamhmor: (Aes Sedai)

Many years back, one of the D&D players that played in one of my many D&D campaigns was a pretty teenager named Lauren Beukes; she moved on to university in Cape Town, became a journalist, and then started writing books, first Moxyland and then Zoo City.

The blurb for Zoo City reads:
"Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things. To save herself, she has to find the hardest thing of all... the truth. Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a client turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, she's forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons. Being hired by famously reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass, marked by their animals, live in the shadow of the undertow. Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the underbelly of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she'll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own. Set in a wildly re-imagined Johannesburg, it swirls refugees, crime, the music industry, African magic and the nature of sin together into a heady brew."

Last week, she won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best science fiction novel published in the UK during 2010, for Zoo City. That's certainly moving up in the world! Incidentally, the artist who did the cover, Joey Hi-Fi, won Best Art at the British Science Fiction Awards.

Lauren Beukes Talks (Channel24)
The Arthur C Clarke awards: why Lauren Beukes deserved to win (

I read Zoo City last year, and I must admit that I had some rather mixed feelings about it. On the one hand: it was really, really innovative, with its focus on Johannesburg slums and society, and many of the concepts were fascinating. The research done was extensive, and one could really get a feel for the environment. In many ways, it was very gritty and very real.

On the other hand, I found it very choppy and confusing (even for a native Joburger who understands a lot of the slang), and very difficult to get into. Reading it was quite hard work. [ profile] ereneth, what did you think? Have you lent it to [ profile] ihlanya yet?

Thorny dice!

Friday, 1 April 2011 13:20
claidheamhmor: (Green D20)
OMG, I so want some of these dice!

My tweets

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Thursday, 10 March 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I had forgotten about it, but a recent episode of Darths & Droids reminded me of the Wandering Damage table that was in one of Dragon Magazine's April Fool's issues.

How To Use The Wandering Damage System

First there was the wandering monster. They serve well when applied in hordes, but why not cut out the middleman and just deal out damage to the characters directly? It makes for a smoother, faster-paced game, and if you want to kill off characters quickly, it can only be beaten by divine intervention by Cthulhoid godlings.

Instructions: Whenever a player annoys you in any way, by wearing tasteless clothes or eating the last corn chip, ask him to roll a d20. He may become worried that he's rolling a saving throw. Ha, ha!!! Little does he know that he just rolled on the Wandering Damage System matrix!!! Repeat the roll as often as desired.

The Wandering Damage System Matrix
Roll Result
1 Your character has fallen down a flight of stairs; roll his dexterity or less on percentile dice, or else consult Limb Loss Subtable.
2 The monster your character just killed gets up and attacks him, doing 8-80 points of damage.
3 Your character smells smoke; his right arm is on fire. Take 14 points of damage and save vs. gangrene.
4 Your character cuts himself while shaving; consult Limb Loss Subtable.
5 Your character's nose hairs catch fire and he dies of smoke inhalation.
6 Your character stumbles backward into a yawning chasm and disappears from view.
7 The next time your character says something, he eats his words, chokes on them, and dies.
8 Something cuts your character's nose off, doing 2-12 points damage and really messing up his charisma.
9 Your character steps on a piece of glass; consult Limb Loss Subtable.
10 Your character suddenly catches a severe case of brain death.
11 Something invisible chews on your character, doing 6-36 points damage.
12 Your character develops an incredibly severe case of arthritis and can grasp nothing with his hands; he drops anything he's holding - and if that happened to be a sword or an axe, consult the Limb Loss Subtable.
13-20 Consult the Random Damage Subtable for no reason whatsoever.

Limb Loss Subtable (roll d6)

1 - Left leg gone
2 - Right leg gone
3 - Left arm gone
4 - Right arm gone
5 - Head gone
6 - Torso cut in half

Random Damage Subtable
Dice roll Result
01-05 Take 10 hit points damage.
06-10 Take 15 hit points damage.
11-20 Take 30 hit points damage.
21-25 Take 10 hit points damage and consult Limb Loss Subtable, modifying die roll by +5.
26-30 Take 10 hit points damage and roll again on Wandering Damage System Matrix.
31-35 Take 15 hit points damage and then take 30 more.
36-40 Roll every die you own for damage.
41-45 Take 17 hit points damage.
46-50 Take 42 hit points damage.
51-55 Multiply your character's age by 5. Take three times that much damage.
56-60 Take 24 hit points damage and then take 31 more.
61-65 Take 1,000 hit points damage and roll again.
66-70 Roll every die within 30 feet for damage.
71-73 Add up the total hit points of everyone in the party. Take that much damage.
74-75 Take 3 hit points damage and consider yourself very lucky - for the time being.
76-00 What? You didn't get hurt? That's impossible - this system is foolproof. Roll again.

My tweets

Friday, 19 November 2010 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
[ profile] montecook (one of the D&D game designers) reposted a 2005 essay of his on the topic of Star Wars. It's interesting reading - go and take a look:

Star Wars and Me
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
A few days ago, Wizards asked on Twitter:
"If you could invite anyone, living or dead, fictional or real, to play D&D with you, who would be in your party and who would be your DM?"

Well, there are a few people, both local and overseas, who I would quite like to play D&D with, but let's exclude them for now, and do some celebrities.

Well, I'd like a storyteller or world creator, so an author would be nice. How about Robert Jordan then; he'd design a huge, massively detailed world, complete with NPCs, customs, etc. etc. Also, his campaign would be sure to last for at least 10 years. Alternatively, there's Jack Vance, whose world would be strange and his NPCs dastardly and greedy. Also, Robert E Howard, for some rollicking heroic fantasy.

For the players, I reckon actors or entertainers would be quite fun, so here's a list of them:
Vin Diesel - because he already plays D&D.
The main cast of Legend of the Seeker: Craig Horner, Bridget Regan, Bruce Spence (he'd be fun!), Tabrett Bethell, and Craig Parker. They've done LARP, time for pen & paper now.
Emily Deschanel, from Bones: I think she could have fun. Also, she's hot.
Kate Winslet: I reckon she'd be good.
Peter Wingfield (Methos from Highlander): He has a laconic way about him, and a dry sense of humour.

No doubt more will occur to me, but that's a good start.

Who would you like to play D&D with?
claidheamhmor: (Guildwars Evaline 1)
I get a newsletter from, and in addition to ads for the role-playing products they have for sale, they also have articles, cartoon strips, and so forth.

Last week they had this article, which I thought was an excellent way of getting the players to create an adventure themselves.

A Better Game

As you might have guessed, the character of Ray in "Bring Dice and Chips" is based in part on a real person*, as are most of the characters in the strip. It's important to note, however, that they are all amalgamations of numerous influences, including some purely fictional ideas.

In Ray's case, however, there's a lot about him that I draw on for the character. Ray Greer (who, along with George MacDonald and Steve Peterson, was one of the Original Hero Games Three) was one of my earliest mentors. I learned a great deal from him about running games, both at conventions and elsewhere, and about connecting with players on a level that dramatically enhances their experiences.

Ray once shared a grand secret, one that truly astounded me when I heard it. Now, many years later, I am going to reveal it to all of you. It is a masterful tool for running a game in an improvisational style. Though expressed in terms of solving a mystery, you can use this approach for both short term plots and over-arching storylines.

So, here it is. Ray Greer's Ultimate Mystery Game Off the Top of Your Head System.

(Yeah, I gotta find a better name than that...)

Take a situation that presents a problem to be solved.

The local constable calls upon you to help him figure out who killed local merchant and alleged loan shark, Jonas the Grand. You're shown his body, laying where he was found behind his shop. He's been stabbed multiple times.

Present four random clues. You don't really have to think them out. Just choose four things that the characters can discover.

A nearby resident heard a dog barking furiously for many long minutes.

The letter "R" is scrawled in blood on the wall next to where Jonas lay.

A blue feather is in the alley that runs to the back of the shop.

Jonas was known to be planning a trip.

You don't need to know how any of these clues actually fit or define the story; in fact, it's best if you have no pre-dispositions about them at all. Plan on having one of them be a "red herring," not really impacting the mystery at all. Don't decide which one that is, though - not yet.

Now let the players start conferring about what they've discovered. As they ask questions, figure out answers to them. As they suggest theories, note the ones that most intrigue you and mentally log them as possible solutions to the mystery. Play off their questions and their actions, building the solution to the mystery around their ideas.

Now here's the kicker - whatever their first suggested solution is, it's wrong. Whatever their second resolution is, that's the correct resolution.

So, for example, let's say the players in the situation above begin by looking for someone who's name starts with an "R" as their main thrust, focusing on anyone that Jonas had business dealings with. You decide that there's a dark and nefarious character named Renthro Garr who some folks think Jonas double-dealed in a recent business arrangement. Throw in that he's known to wear a cap with blue feathers in it. Now they will do everything they can to prove that he's the culprit.

He's not. You might decide that he's actually Jonas' cousin, and their constant interactions actually had to do with family matters. This can be why Jonas was planning a trip; to go see family and set some things aright. Now the players are scrambling to figure out what really happened. One of them might throw out "Hey, what about that barking dog?" They start looking around for dogs in the area that might have been the source of the noise.

You decide they don't find one - that the dog in question was with the attacker. One of the players, out of nowhere, asks "Hey, does the constable have a big dog?"

Boom. You like it. "As a matter of fact, he does. A huge mastiff with a deep voice."

The heroes figure the constable must have owed Jonas a great deal of money, and he tried to make Renthro look like the culprit. They surmise that he had no idea Renthro and Jonas were actually family; that by having the heroes pin the crime on Renthro, the constable would get off clean.

You hear this, you like it... and now they've solved the mystery of the murder of Jonas the Grand. The players think you're a genius, and all you did is let them more or less work out the story.

As you think on this, you'll start to see how such "dangling plot threads" can help you really make your campaigns sing with your players.

~ SPF (06/10/2010)

* - Note that the "creator egotism" aspects are drawn from other sources, as are the more bizarre behaviors.

Truly bloody

Monday, 17 May 2010 15:28
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
D&D last week was fun (well, for me, at least, as DM). A 5-month long plotline came to culmination, with an NPC the group had rescued from angry villagers turning out to be a cleric/sorcerer with a secret. She was really a creature who desired to summon her deity, the Wolf God, bodily to the world, by using energy she got from possessing people.

Essentially, it was most of the second season of True Blood's "MaryAnn" plotline blatantly ripped off, complete with an attractive "woman" who controls others (and their eyes go black), with claws and massively wounded victims, and with a final scene consisting of possessed characters and villagers, and a sacrifice. Some of the confounding factors: the woman, Ny'essi, was a creature that was not evil, but neutral, being supremely focused on her own goals and not having any particular malice to humans (whom she regarded as convenient tools and pets); this threw the "Detect Evil" users off a bit. She was also a sorcerer with a specialty in deception and illusion; indeed, the final showdown featured a illusion of herself, with her using Alter Self to disguise herself as a possessed villager. And to confuse the group when she was travelling with them (in the early days while still asserting her possession over them), she put blood on their hands on occasion at night in order to confuse them when dead people were found with terrible wounds.

Fun times...


Monday, 3 May 2010 16:27
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
A while back I discussed D&D 4th Ed. vs. 3.5, and which direction to take our gaming group. A few people here - [ profile] cj_ruby particularly - and on the D&D communities I posted to suggested a look at Paizo's "Pathfinder" game, basically D&D 3.75, written by many of the people who wrote earlier editions of D&D.

After some discussion at D&D, [ profile] greywand took a look, and bought the PDF rulebooks for Pathfinder, and passed them on to us to check out.

We're impressed. The rulebooks are well-laid out and very clear; much better than 3.5 (or 4, for that matter). They maintain the D&D 3.x concept while cleaning up messier rules and improving and enhancing a whole lot of stuff.

We've started playing it, and so far, so good. We created our characters as Pathfinder characters and I've bought the "Rise of the Runelords" adventure path, and we've started that. It certainly is nice to start with a pre-generated adventure scenario, rather than making it all up as we go (because I'm too lazy to do stuff beforehand).

I've ordered the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and the NPC book, for a total of R655 from The local brick-and-mortar games shop, Wizards Books, wants to sell the core rulebook on its own for R700; for that sort of price difference, I'm prepared to wait a couple of weeks for delivery.

D&D 4 is apparently a very playable system, from what I gather, but it's a new game, not D&D as we know it. I've got 27 years invested in D&D, and limited time, and for me (and our players, I suspect), it makes sense to use a backward-compatible system.

Another selling point for me is the compatibility: it's d20 game-system, and there's a hypertext SRD for Pathfinder (which I have running locally off my BlackBerry - 20000 HTML files!), so there's plenty of support and compatible products and articles. With 4th Ed., it seems that everything involves a purchase or online subscription (which, I guess is what Wizards wanted).

D&D - 3.5?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010 15:23
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
After going through the D&D 4th Edition books again, and reading up on a few articles, we had a chat with our Wednesday D&D group, discussed all the options, and it looks like we'll be sticking with D&D 3.5, albeit with some modifications (like switching to a spell-point system).

Some of the reasons for this are:
  • The reliance of 4E on battle mats and figurines during combat, and the precise character positions etc. during combat is going to be a problem for our easy-going group.

  • 4E breaks compatibility with older versions of D&D; it's essentially a new system, and if we have to change systems altogether, why 4E over something else? We have years of experience in D&D ranging from Basic to 3.5, all of which had the same basic ethos, and it makes sense to leverage that. 4E is a system taken from MMORPGs.

  • The constrictions in 4E seem irritating - stuff like the skills one can use, and the requirement for parties to have each of the four major foodgroups roles represented. We like it casual.

  • Increased complexity in powers etc. I like the idea behind it, but it sounds like it'll be a real problem for our group to keep track of. We're into the role-playing more than the roll-playing.

I do want to give the spell-point system a try; that might resolve one of my bugbears in 3.5, the whole thing about "memorising" spells every day. I know it's based on Vance's books, but it seems strangely out of place in a fantasy world, and it does mean a fair bit of housekeeping on daily spell selections if you want to do it right.

I do like 4E's "at will" and "per encounter" powers for the various classes; it may be nice to do something like that in 3.5, especially for the spell-casting classes (certain cantrips?).
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
If you've played D&D, you may remember the artwork in the Races chapter of the Player's Handbook, showing male and female examples of the various D&D races.

Well, Matt Jarrett has done something similar, except with the characters being totally nude. Here they are (warning: the pics are probably NSFW):

Male D&D character races
Female D&D character races

I quite like the way he's emphasises the differences in the races.
claidheamhmor: (Guildwars Evaline 1)
Can anyone point me to decent 4th Ed. D&D resources? I'm thinking particularly of things like adventures and modules, but anything else useful for 4th Ed. newbies would be handy too.
claidheamhmor: (Fiday)
Here are some odd links for today:

20 Tattoos You Don’t Want To Get (If You’re A Girl)

The Biggest Bugs on Earth

9 Weird, Mouth-Watering Meats

7 Vampires Around the World Worse Than The Ones In Twilight
This one's interesting because I hadn't realised that the Malaysian penanggalan was a real world creature; I loved using it in D&D (it was in the 1st Ed. Fiend Folio). "You smell vinegar..."
claidheamhmor: (Default)
I got this from [ profile] redqueenmeg's post:

Man bound over for trial in hammer attacks
Courts » Motive may have stemmed from 'Dungeons and Dragons' game and jealousy.

By Mark Havnes
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 08/17/2009 07:06:43 PM MDT

Cedar City » When Logan Bryson suddenly awakened in the early morning of May 30, he thought he was having a bad dream until he realized someone was beating him with a hammer.

"I didn't realize I was being attacked until I fell to the floor with my arms up to defend myself," said Bryson, who took the stand Monday in 5th District Court in Cedar City during the preliminary hearing for Zachery Frank King, charged with beating Bryson and Daniel Shokrian at Shokrian's home in this southern Utah city.

King is charged with two counts of attempted aggravated murder and a count of aggravated burglary, all first-degree felonies. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge G. Michael Westfall bound King over for trial.

King, who agreed to be arraigned after the preliminary hearing, pleaded not guilty to the charges before being returned to the Iron County Jail.

Testimony Monday suggested a motive for the attacks may have grown from the trio playing the fantasy role-playing game "Dungeons and Dragons" and jealousy over a girl who King and Bryson knew.

Bryson, 23, suffered a concussion and bruises in the attack; Shokrian, 20, lost some vision and his ability to read and write, which he is trying to recover through therapy.

Bryson and King knew each other at school and had spent time the previous day playing "Dungeons and Dragons" with Shokrian, who was acting cocky during the game, according to Detective Nathan Williams. Shokrian was directing the game as Dungeon Master, and King didn't like what he was doing with King's character, Williams said.

Detective Michael Bleak testified that during an interview at the police station, King told him he went home after playing the game at Shokrian's house, took an over-the-counter sleeping pill and went to bed. He awakened angry, found a hammer in a tool shed and drove to Shokrian's house, entering through an open window.

Bleak said King told him he went to Shokrian's bedroom and said, "I hate you," and started hitting Shokrian with the hammer. King then went to the room where Logan was sleeping and attacked him.

Bleak said that King had an issue with Bryson for dating a girl after both said they would not date her.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

ICON 2009

Monday, 13 July 2009 13:21
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I took a day off from work on Friday, and we went off to the ICON 2009 games convention. We hung around a bit, bought some rather pretty dice, coffee mugs and stuff from some of the stands there, and munched on curry and hotdogs. It was nice to chat to [ profile] magependragon, who had flown up from Cape Town to be there, and to meet [ profile] phaezen. We were hoping to find ourselves a game to play, but the convention rules (more about that below) were not conducive to casual games.

On Sunday we went again, because the afternoon games are apparently meant to be re-runs of modules from previous years. We met up with [ profile] ticktock_za, and looked for games, but at 14:30 it seemed the morning sessions were still running, and time-wise, that was definitely going to be an issue.

Some comments about the convention, from the point of view of someone not involved, and someone who is a casual gamer (at least from the point of view of those who belong to the gaming societies):
  • Bad hair abounded - far too many people (especially males) with long, lank, unwashed hair, and with scruffy facial hair. Also, it seemed that far too many people thought wearing goth outfits made them look cool.

  • The stalls there didn't have much of interest (well, to me, at least). I suppose if you're interested in overpriced 6" figurines and comics, it must be paradise, but there were no novels, and a rather so-so (and very overpriced) selection of game books.

  • There's no place there for the casual gamer who wants to drop in with his/her gaming group and play one of the modules for fun. From Friday morning till Sunday morning, all the modules are either competitive or semi-competitive, and according to the rules (which are not mentioned on the brochure), groups are split up so that the don't sit at the same gaming tables. This is because the scoring for the modules is apparently done by peer voting (I say apparently because the brochure does not state how scoring is done), and the assumption is that teams will vote each other higher scores. This means there's no way for a group of friends to play together, or for casual groups. Since that's the major reason I'd want to play in the convention, it's a bit of a downer. The Sunday afternoon session (if it even took place) was too disorganised.

  • Organisation seemed somewhat iffy. I can see a bunch of people went to a heap of effort, especially with things like catering, but the gaming side of it wasn't too good. Registration tables weren't clearly labelled, were usually unmanned, and games seemed to be starting hours late (and I gather this is an issue every single year).

  • The convention is not at all inviting to casual players or new players.

I can think of a few things I suspect would improve aspects of the convention:
  • Provide free shampoo samples. (OK, seriously now...)

  • Encourage the stall resellers to bring along science-fiction & fantasy novels, and to provide show discounts.

  • How about a stall from one of the music/movie stores, like Phase 2 or Look & Listen, selling a selection of science-fiction & fantasy DVDs?

  • Make the brochures clearer and more detailed. If it's a problem for printing, at least make a link to a web page with the details.

  • Stick to the schedules. If a module is scheduled to start at 9AM, start at 9AM, and let latecomers be penalised.

  • In the module descriptions, detail how scoring is done, and detail rules like how groups are split up. I also wouldn't mind the odd module that's scored the old way - by the group reaching objectives or defeating obstacles.

  • Make some effort to cater for new/casual gamers. This could be things like "demo" tables where volunteer GMs run newbie players through simple adventures (the boardgames people had something like this), and allowing gaming groups to play the modules as groups, but unscored, so they don't get rated and ranked against competitive players.

Of course, all this is my opinion. I've only been playing role-playing games regularly for 26 years or so; more experienced people may have better ideas, and no doubt some of this has been considered by the organisers before
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
This was amusing:

10 Business Lessons I Learned from Playing Dungeons & Dragons
Submitted by Esther Schindler on Sun, 07/05/2009 - 12:26.

Throughout my 20s and 30s, I played D&D and other fantasy role playing games at least once a week. Doing so did more than teach me the rules of combat or proper behavior in a dragon's lair. I gained several skills that truly did help me in my career.

Note that by "Dungeons & Dragons," I don't mean necessarily the very structured fantasy world made famous by Gary Gygax. I played in standard D&D and other created-worlds (such as Harn), but mainly I played in independently-created universes, at the whim of a particular dungeonmaster (DM).

I got real jobs as a result of playing D&D, one of them directly. One DM hired both my husband and me after we'd played in his universe for five months, because D&D is a great way to find out how someone solves problems and copes with stress. However, in this post I'm not talking about people-networking but rather gaming skills that map to real life. After coming up with a short list on my own, I asked the three primary DMs in my life for their suggestions. I'm grateful to Bill, Ivan, and (especially) Steve for their help. Which probably is an outgrowth of the first lesson....
  1. Feed the DM. Gamers laugh as they say this (and slide the veggie tray in the DM's direction), but it's important to treat those in power with extra kindness. The DM is busy rolling dice for your battle with the monster, while simultaneously responding to a scribbled private note from another player ("My character Rumin Bard is stealing gold from the cleric's saddlebag") and preparing for an interaction at an upcoming crossroad your party hasn't reached. If you take care of the DM (or your manager), perhaps he'll be kind to you. Or to your character. (Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.) Or he'll answer silly questions sent to him by e-mail, 25 years later, because he continues to be your friend. (In feeding the DM, it helps if you can cook.)

  2. One spell, used well, can be more powerful than an entire book full of spells. I first met Ivan when he showed up for a game in Steve's standard D&D world. Ivan drew up a first-level wizard character who had almost no hit-points and only one wimpy spell: cast an illusion. Whereupon Ivan's character cast an illusion of a 5th-level illusionist... and proceeded to run that powerful "5th level illusionist" through the rest of the game. Years later, Ivan played in a play-by-mail dungeon (yes, children, we did those things before e-mail) in which the DM permitted custom spells. Ivan's "swap" spell seemed Mostly Harmless: Transpose a 1" cube of anything with another 1" cube of anything. Whereupon Ivan set up a magical FedEx business (for very short messages) and a sideline of an assassin-business (swap a square inch of heart muscle with anything else; who could tell that murder was done?). This taught me to get everything possible out of the tools at my disposal. It also taught me to expand my notion of "What do I have, and what can I do with it?"

  3. It's better to out-smart an orc than to fight one. Young D&D players get into the game because they want an endless repetition of "Find a monster. Kill it. Get its treasure." But your character (and career) can get hurt that way. If instead you set up a situation in which the orcs think that they were attacked by the goblins, the orcs will blow up the goblin castle in retaliation. That leaves your party to walk through afterward, picking up the spoils (and the experience points). "Let's you and him fight" is a very effective business strategy... or it's far safer for you, anyway.

  4. "I'm the DM. I'm not there." D&D players often turn to the DM to ask for information about the universe. ("Is the person offering me this three-headed dog trustworthy?") The DM often doesn't know, or he isn't telling; just because he puts something in your path doesn't mean you need to trust it, accept it, fight it, or buy it. Experimentation without investigation can be very painful; learn to ask questions. Steve didn't ask a single clarifying question about the beautiful fairy-fly before he decided to catch it... and it burned a hole straight through his character's hand. Don't rely on assumptions, particularly in a world (or an office) you don't know. It's the wrong assumptions that kill you. (Particularly in computer consulting contracts.)

  5. The best quests require a mixture of skills in the party. Find new friends and cultivate ancillary skills. That pesky little hobbit thief may eat you out of house and home, yet sometimes he comes in pretty handy. This is the point of all those tedious "diversity training" exercises from your HR department; perhaps the message would get across better if they talked about the apparently-weak wizard and the bard with those amazing negotiation skills.

  6. Simple and internally consistent is more fun than random. My dungeonmasters assure me that, while all players are "chaotic neutral" no matter what their characters' allegiance might be, the fastest way to upset the game is to be completely erratic. (Well, next to running out of food.) I like to think that most software developers understand this point, and then I see evidence to the contrary.

  7. You create your own traps. If you fall into a habit, the universe will bite you. One player had a "standard door-opening procedure" that rarely was effective, but John did the same thing every time. Another player regularly became "party leader" by bullying in the name of leadership; based on Ron's longtime behavior, the DM set up an irresistible scenario that Ron fell for... and his character barely escaped. (Ron never realized it was his own human weakness that inspired the trap.)

  8. Treasure is not always what you expect it to be. Both a rock and an egg hold hidden treasures if you know how to craft or care for them. Thought and creativity tend to win out over immediate return.

  9. You don't have to read all the books, but a modest description of the beast you are about to face is better than facing a daemon and trying six dozen spells before finding the right one. (If you live that long.) Do not eschew documentation. Learn from others' mistakes — or from your own. Draw a map as you go. It is easier to avoid the pitfalls and to find that hidden room the next time through.

  10. When selecting a weapon or tool, bigger is not always better. Unique weapons tend to identify the heroes in the room.

So what did I miss? Add your own D&D-to-life lessons in the comments.

Source: Javaworld

...but I preferred this list, found on Slashdot:
  • The little people are expendable. If you have to kill or lose a few thousand orcs or zombies, no prob. It's the major characters that matter.

  • When in doubt, kill it. There are no noncombatants.

  • The purpose of life is to acquire power. Self-explanatory.

  • Having a thief around to steal from the little people is a useful asset. Grinding is for losers.

  • The most aggressive player runs things. Just like high school.

claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I see [ profile] herne_kzn mentioned that Dave Arneson, co-creator (with Gary Gygax) of Dungeons & Dragons, died at 11PM last night. His and Gary's creation changed my life immeasurably, and I'm sad to see him go. :(
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
Nicked from [ profile] magependragon.

"I'll get the one in the back. That's one hobgoblin who'll regret ever lifting a bow."
Rangers are watchful warriors who roam past the horizon to safeguard a region, a principle, or a way of life. Masters of bow and blade, rangers excel at hit-and-run assaults and can quickly and silently eliminate foes. Rangers lay superb ambushes and excel at avoiding danger.

As a ranger, you possess almost supernaturally keen senses and a deep appreciation for untamed wilderness. With your knowledge of the natural world, you are able to track enemies through nearly any landscape, using the smallest clue to set your course, even sometimes the calls and songs of beasts and birds. Your severe demeanor promises a deadly conclusion to any enemy you hunt.

When you catch sight of your quarry, will the transgressor perish by swift bow shots from a distance, or by the twofold blades that glint and glitter in each of your battle-scarred hands?

claidheamhmor: (Guildwars Evaline 1)
Something else, while I'm on the topic of D&D: [ profile] montecook had a bunch of recommendations for some cut-price D&D products, so I bought Castle Whiterock for only $5. I figure that at that price, it'll be worth it even if it merely gives me ideas.

Here's a description of Castle Whiterock:
Castle Whiterock is a complete campaign. This box holds more than 700 pages of material, enough to take new characters to 15th level and fuel a campaign for years. It contains:
  • Four books detailing the dungeon’s 15 levels and 14 sub-levels, colored according to level: red book, blue book, green book, and black book. Every map location is fully described with stats included.

  • A 56-page gazetteer of the Kingdom of Morrain, including the town of Cillamar.

  • A 48-page book of maps.

  • A 32-page book of player handouts.

  • A poster map showing Cillamar on one side and the final two levels of the dungeon on the reverse.

  • Six loose-leaf character sheets of the pregenerated heroes, ready to play out of the box, plus one blank character sheet to copy for later use.

  • A 16-page index and glossary.

I guess some of my D&D players had better get used to dungeon-crawls...
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
This was quite amusing:

I was quite amused that one of my favourites, Morgan Ironwolf, came in as one of the coolest characters.
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
[ profile] iskender wrote an interesting post, On Women and Men and Gaming the other day. On a similar theme, I saw another interesting article today: Beauty or Brawn - Have You Got the Baals?

Both well worth reading.
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I surmise from a blog entry by Michael Goldfarb on The McCain Report that John McCain apparently disapproves of D&D players:

It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.


D&D 4.0

Monday, 9 June 2008 16:01
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
I ordered D&D 4th Edition from Amazon last night, the gift set with three core books in the slip cover. Hope they arrive soon!

4th Ed. sounds interesting, and I look forward to going through it. Judging from the changes I've read about, there won't be any possibility of converting existing characters to the new version; they'll have to be started anew. Integration into existing campaigns should be feasible - as a continuation, at least - but obviously some changes may need to be made.

Bloodsucking D&D

Friday, 23 May 2008 16:22
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
The mini-adventure I was running in D&D in the Verdant campaign ended on Tuesday with the defeat of the vampire the group had been tracking down. I must saw, it was amusing running the vampire as a bit of a non-combatant. Bromscarux was a sorcerer vampire, with all the usual vampire capabilities, like gaseous form, Domination, bat summoning, and so forth, but he was also extraordinarily charismatic, and had a stock of spells based around misdirection and illusion. He could conceal detection by Detect Evil, he could alter form, he could create and maintain illusions. The party never knew what they were dealing with, and it kept them on their toes. Bromscarux, along with his love of beauty and finery, also had a thing for young boys - he liked those who could sing beautifully, and would kidnap boys and keep them around to sing to him. He was still in mourning for his long-dead male lover.

Fun. I wonder if he's really dead.

D&D meme

Friday, 14 March 2008 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
Interesting meme nicked from several people. Looking at the results of some people, I think I may have been a bit too modest... :)

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard/Sorcerer (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:







Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Detailed Results )
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
Last night at D&D, we toasted Gary Gygax for making it possible for all of us to be there.

I first started playing D&D back in 1983, using the red book Basic D&D set; my parents had brought it back from the UK for me. I involved classmates at boarding school, and on holiday, friends of my father. My grandmother went overseas, and brought back from me all the original AD&D rulebooks, plus 20 or so modules, and 13 boxes of miniatures; I started in the World of Greyhawk, Gygax's creation, and loved it. When I went to university, I played with other students, and friends and I played too. I've been playing D&D virtually continuously for a quarter of a century.

I've made many friends through D&D, many of whom are still good friends, and many I still keep in contact with. In many ways, I owe my friendships with [ profile] greywand, [ profile] ereneth, [ profile] ihlanya, [ profile] fsnut, and [ profile] ticktock_za to D&D, not to mention friends I may have met through LJ, but stay in contact with because of D&D.

Years and heaps of my money, have been dedicated to D&D. It's fair to say that my whole life has been changed by D&D. All of that is because of a man named Gary Gygax.

I think this cat says it well:

Fare thee well, Gary, and thank you.

D&D meme

Sunday, 17 February 2008 19:22
claidheamhmor: (Conan)
The D&D meme, nicked from [ profile] gridlore. It's awfully amusing...two of the randomly-chosen LJ friends are roleplayers, and two are actually LJ accounts for characters in the campaigns I play in (one of them being my character).

LiveJournal Username
Ever played AD&D? Come on, The Truth Now...
How many AD&D books do you own?
Do you currently play any RPG at all?
Love it, or Loathe it?
Who will YOU be in this little adventure?
How old were you when you played your first RPG?
The sexy Barbarian with a BIG Sword:fsnut
The scarily talented Magic-User:elendriel
The short but nimble-fingered Thief:doralice1
The dedicated, holy Cleric:nimnod
The sweet-tongued Elven Bard:aryanne_windy
The tree-huggin', animal lovin' Ranger:fireheart1974
The height-deficient, fearless Dwarven Fighter:faye_morgainne
The haul of your little adventure?$96,004,396
This Fun Quiz created by clayshaper at BlogQuiz.Net


claidheamhmor: (Default)

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