Monday, April 30, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: The Sundered Empire and Lynn

Apologies for not posting much in the last couple of days, and for not having any updates to my "Mapping Beyond the Flanaess" series lately. Hopefully today's post will make up for that with three, count 'em, three new maps. These cover Thalos, the Free States, and Drazen's Horde, finishing off the Sundered Empire region. This batch also includes the Empire of Lynn, detailed in François Marcela-Froideval's series of graphic novels Chroniques de la Lune Noire. Way down in the southwest corner, you can also see part of the Tarquis Dominions and Ishtarland from the DA #1 map. I'm including the previous map of Ravilla and Mordengard (in the upper-right, below), so you can see how everything lines up.

This was, in many ways, the trickiest batch of maps to do, not only because they all needed to be done together (because as you can see above, the way the grid lined up, several places such as Thalos and Lynn really need the adjoining map to give context), but also because I needed to fully integrate all three of the main sources for this region; the Sundered Empire (itself made up of several books, modules, and Dragon magazine articles), the Black Moon Chronicles region (mostly in French, but the graphic novels do give occasional snippets of geography), and the Dragon Annual #1 map. Sometimes these three sources flatly contradicted one another (as with the placement of the Empire of Lynn) or needed some slight nudging to make them work, but on the whole, I think things came out pretty neatly.

As always, click the above maps to embiggen, and the download for all the maps in largest size is off to the right in the Free Resources section. Up next; we go south again, and then back east, covering the Tharquish Empire, the rest of Ishtarland, and the Barbarian Seameast.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reminder: Adventures Dark and Deep Open Playtest Ending Soon

Just a gentle reminder that, if you want to participate in the open playtest for Adventures Dark and Deep, you'll only be able to download the playtest versions of the three rulebooks-- the Players Manual, Bestiary, and Game Masters Toolkit, for another couple of days. As of May 1, the open playtest will be officially over, and they will no longer be available. Naturally, input and feedback after May 1 is more than welcome and encouraged via the Adventures Dark and Deep forums, but no more playtest versions of the rulebooks will be available. Until then, you can still download them here.

And while you're there, don't forget to purchase the Witch and Necromancer character classes, which can be used with most old school type games! (Save 20% if you buy them both with the bundle offer!) That's two awesomely evil protagonists to throw at your players, with scores of new spells to befuddle and threaten them!

Average Healing by Level

Just a quick number-crunching exercise today. This is the average amount that a cleric and druid can heal, in a day, assuming they get the 2 bonus 1st level spells for a high wisdom score and memorize the maximum number of Cure Light/Serious/Critical Wounds spells. Some of the variations are interesting, because even though the druid's curative spells are higher level than those of the cleric (cure light wounds is a 1st level cleric spell, but a 2nd level druid spell), they still get more of them at certain experience levels.

Level Cleric Druid
1 14 0
2 18 14
3 18 18
4 23 18
5 23 23
6 23 33
7 33 37
8 43 47
9 64 47
10 90 57
11 95 78
12 99 105
13 109 131
14 136 162
15 157 n/a

Useful when calculating group effects on large numbers of figures. (Like in mass combat... ahem.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Geekdad Interviews Steve Jackson re: Ogre on Kickstarter

Over at Wired Magazine's Geekdad, Steve Jackson was recently interviewed about the phenomenally successful Ogre Designer's Edition kickstarter campaign. So far it's only halfway done, they've blown past $300k, and they're still trying to think up more stretch goals. Definitely worth checking out!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's Reprintapalooza at Wizards!

EDIT2: Nope. Not a hoax. It's up on the Wizards of the Coast website

EDIT: WotC has apparently confirmed that this, along with the 3.5 reprints, is a hoax.

I just can't keep up with all this. Now they're reprinting the original Dungeon! board game this October. Excellent news, of course, but why can't they just come out and SAY what the heck they're doing!? Why all this dribbling it out in secret!?

Is "Provolone" D&D Next?

EDIT: Turns out B&N has now taken down "Provolone" and the two 3.5 reprints that were up there yesterday.

I think D&D Next is scheduled to be released on September 18 of this year.

In the comments of my post from last night pointing out the "reprints" of the Players Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide, sharp eyed James Mishler pointed out that the Wizards RPG Team also had something called "Provolone" scheduled for release the same day, which was also available for pre-order:

James thought-- justifiably so, I think-- that this "Provolone" was the Monster Manual, since that would complete the trio of 3.5 core books. But the more I think about it, the more I think the identification of the first two books available for pre-order on September 18 was a mistake by Barnes & Noble. I think they're the D&D Next books.

Because "Provolone" sure sounds like a code-name to me.

It would make a certain amount of sense; it's certainly been the case that online booksellers, especially the massive ones like Amazon and, have screwed up details of forthcoming gaming products often enough in the past. I think Barnes & Noble put those entries "live" on their website early, by mistake, and the identification of the first two books as 3.5 was also a mistake. I note that none of them appears on the website. That wouldn't make sense if this really was a 3.5 reprint.

If my theory about a B&N screw-up is true, that leaves us with the notion that WotC is rushing to get D&D Next out the door. The official announcement was January 9, 2012. But we know they've been working on the game for at least a year leading up to that (and probably longer); they had a complete (although not polished) game ready for the D&D Experience convention that same month, and we know that the initial playtesters have had a complete game in their hot little hands for about the same amount of time.

It would finally make the timing of the announcement make sense. Remember how a lot of people were wondering three months ago why WotC would announce 5E while 4E was still on the shelves? Surely they knew the announcement would kill 4E's sales; how could they take that for a whole year or more, until 5E was ready to release?

I think a September release date suddenly makes that all make sense. The design of D&D Next is pretty well wrapped up. They're just polishing it at this point. The input from the open playtest will be used to patch up any glaring holes, anything that's broken mechanically that they missed with their in-house and non-disclosure-agreement-burdened testers. Maybe they figure three months or so is enough time to catch and patch any glaring holes. They'd certainly have enormous pre-release buzz at GenCon, and might just have some previews of the books there (or an early convention-only release, if they can swing it).

Could this be why Monte Cook jumped ship? Because corporate was pushing to get the game out this year, before he thought it would be ready?

All this is just speculation, of course, but it does fit the available facts, and makes some moves from January that didn't make any sense suddenly seem not so crazy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

More WotC Reprints; 3.5 This Time. WTF?

EDIT: Turns out B&N has now taken down "Provolone" and the two 3.5 reprints that were up there yesterday.

Well isn't this interesting? It's certainly been a day for news from Wizards of the Coast.

Remember how the reprints of the core 1E rulebooks caused such a stir, and they were then postponed a bit? Well now it seems that Barnes & Noble has put two of the 3.5 rulebooks up on their website for pre-order, going on sale September 18:

Players Handbook
Dungeon Masters Guide

Maybe Monte Cook disagreed with the corporate decision to re-release 3.5, as he thought it might compete with 5E? That's pure speculation, of course, but there's a lot of oddness coming out of WotC in the last day or so, and no mistake.

D&D Next Public Playtest Starts May 24, Sans Monte Cook

So it seems that WotC is giving me my birthday present a day early this year.

It's just been announced that the public playtest of D&D Next (whatever it ends up finally being called, that seems to be the going nomenclature), is starting on May 24, the day before my birthday. So we'll have an open playtest version of the rules to kick around for a while. I've been cautiously optimistic about the next version, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they've come up with, and whether the details can live up to the broad strokes they've been talking about.

I was a bit taken aback, though, by the simultaneous announcement that Monte Cook has left the D&D Next design team. As he says on his website:
Last week I decided that I would leave my contract position with Wizards of the Coast. I am no longer working on Dungeons & Dragons, although I may provide occasional consultation in the future. My decision is one based on differences of opinion with the company. However, I want to take this time to stress that my differences were not with my fellow designers, Rob Schwalb and Bruce Cordell. 

I'm not really sure what to make of that. He had no issues with the design of the game, but with something that the corporate folks were doing with it. What could that be? Marketing strategy? Terms of an SRD-like license? What could they possibly have done that would force him out like that? I'm sure we'll find out eventually, but it does open up a bit of a crack in the pretty solidly optimistic edifice they've managed to craft thusfar.

I remain cautiously optimistic, but my level of caution just went up a notch or two.

Harold Johnson on the Mythology Behind Tamoachan

Over at ENWorld, someone posted a question about one of the figures in the venerable Greyhawk module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. Greyhawk scholar Allan "Grodog" Grohe then consulted one of the original authors of the module, Harold Johnson, and got the following in reply. I thought it was a fascinating look into the background of one of the classic modules of the early 1980's, and deserved to be repeated.
Allan, It's been a while since I checked my source materials, but I'll look for them. When I wrote Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (that should have been Tamoanchan, but the "n" was dropped by an editor proof), I was fresh out of college with a raft of mythology resource books and recently published research articles. I will attempt to find the source material. For what it's worth, the names were drawn from my research of gods and demigods of Olmec, Toltec, and Incan societies. I used the names to inspire the creation of several of the monsters - for instance Xilonen is known as the Hairy Mother Goddess of Maize and hence the polyp, Xipe was a cannibal war god who wore the flayed skins of his victims, and the gibbering mouther was modelled after -Tlazoteotl- the earth mother also referred to as the Gibbering Mother, described as a being that was all mouths and eyes in my resource material. I justified my almagam of mythologies under the model used by Greco-Roman gods where neighboring pantheons were adapted and adopted by the ruling society and often identified as the same god using an ancient name. If at the core of all mythology is a shared pantheon of gods, their names and spheres of influence will change with each new dominant society. Mezo-American mythology has many differently named gods that share identical spheres of power. I also adapted the scholarly theory that many gods were once heroes and rulers and historically dominant figures, whose stories and deeds were mythologized as they receded into the vague mists of the past until they transformed these heroes into gods - in a manner similar to the deification of the pharoah. From that point of view - some of the ancient beings of power who may have been viewed by the common folk as gods, were no more than a fantastic beast who gained legendary status. As a DM, you should not confuse physical, mortal beings as gods, though the common people in the game world often do. Gods are a principal or essence of a sphere of power and as such a physical shell is most likely a champion of the god in question, a possessed servitor, or a physical avatar - which is no more than a single hair or finger of the actual being worshiped as a god. At best these creatures are demigods or heroes, sharing god blood, servitors possessed by a fraction of the god's power, or they are merely awe inspiring creatures of legendary status. I'll let you know what my source materials say about these creatures as soon as I find it.
Allan, I have yet to dig into my files in the garage, I have only looked online and in my active files in the house. This is what I have determined thus far. Xilonen, Xipe, Kalka-killa, and others in the tomb are not the gods, only representations of the gods used by the priests of Zotz. They are only creatures/monsters. Most of the names relate to specific gods in the Olman pantheon however. Kalka-Killa, Chitza Atlan, and Nanahuatl were made up names derived from actual deity and Mezo-american site names, but did not relate to a specific name. Kalka-Killa was derived from a couple Incan deities - Mama-Quilla and Ka Ata-Killa - both are Moon Goddesses. In the references I located, they are listed next to the Crabman in Inca statuary. Since the zodiac sign for the moon is Cancer, the Crab - I was inspired to make this representation a giant hermit crab. Chitza Atlan is essentially the guardian of the dead, sort of the mesoamerican equivalent to Charon the boatman. At best, he is a demigod. This centaur mummy is not actually a centaur, but a taxidermical contrivance stitching the torso of a man to the body of a horse. Technically, it should not even be an equine body, since the mesoamericans did not possess horses, so it is more likely a llama or large white tail deer body (or moose or buffalo). Nanahuatl was a blank faced creature that was to represent the every man, but was essentially a variation on the doppleganger. This is at best a lesser god and at worst a common monster. By the way, Zotzilaha really means "cave of the bats" and referred to the home of the Zotz or Camazotz which by mythological description fit our more Anglican depiction of a vampire. Camazotz may be one creature, but more likely it represented a type of legendary monster race, like the harpies or original gorgans which were a finite number of individuals. In Mesoamerican lore Zotzilaha may be the birth place/parent of Camazotz. I will keep looking for my original source documents to see if there is a greater clarification, but for now I think this should satisfy your gamer's query.
(Reposted with permission.)

EDIT: Additional information from Harold Johnson can be found here.

Gary Gygax Defends D&D on "60 Minutes"

From a 1985 episode of CBS's venerable news magazine "60 Minutes", with Gary Gygax in a particularly dapper sweater...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: Ravilla and Mordengard

Now we really start getting to the heart of the Sundered Empire; the elven Empire of Ravilla (a collection of gray elf city-states in the open land, and wood elf settlements in the large woodland I call the Deepingwood) and the dwarven People's Republic of Mordengard. Tucked away in the southeast corner of the map are several of the numerous human, gnome, and halfling lands and settlements that sprang up when the Empire of Ravilla withdrew to consolidate its borders (hence the name of the setting). I also made some substantive changes to the Naresh map to reflect the fact that Ravilla's borders should go all the way to the mountains. Here they are side-by-side:

As always, click to embiggen, and the links to the latest, greatest, and largest versions are over to the right in the "Free Downloads" section. Up next: another turn southwards, getting most of the rest of the Disputed Regions, the Elvanian forest (the upper reaches of which are in the southwest corner of the current map), Drazen's Horde, and down as far south as eastern Lhynn and the Tribes of Enlaves (and even a bit of fabled Ishtarland, land of the two rivers).

The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

Monday, April 23, 2012

So Many Pots A-Boilin'...

I just wanted to step back a minute and take stock of the various projects I'm working on right at the moment.
  • A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore: This rules supplement for AD&D, OSRIC, and compatible games was successfully funded on Kickstarter. The manuscript is done and sent off to the editor, the artwork is being done as I write this, and we're on-track for a July release.
  • Adventures Dark and Deep™: The rulebooks are pretty well done at this point. The open playtest ends one week from today (all comments and observations still more than welcome, but no more free downloads of the rules), and depending on how things go with A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore, the release might get moved up from the currently planned summer of 2013.
  • Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: Seven out of the seventeen maps are done. 
  • Beyond the Flanaess Gazeteers: These would be designed for use alongside the maps. I envision at least four: one for Woguo and Zindia, one for the Celestial Imperium, one for the Sundered Empire, and one for the Black Moon Chronicles region. The first one is about 70% done and the next one is outlined.
  • Temple of the Old Ones: An adventure module for this year's DexCon convention in July. Outlined.
  • Unnamed module: The stretch goal for both A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore and James M.'s Dwimmermount Kickstarter campaign. Outlined, deadline July.
  • The Great Greyhawk Campaign: Yes, after I mused about it, I actually started to write the damned thing. No idea how long it'll take me, or if it'll ever get finished, but writing has begun. 
  • Sail the Solar Winds: A sci-fi space opera RPG. Little more than a title and some background in my mind at this point.
  • Greyhawk Heraldry: I'd like to continue redoing the various heraldic designs of the Flanaess. So far I've got 12 done, and by my count there are at least 78 total, not counting the ones that got revised over the years as the setting moved from 576 to near 600 CY.
  • My Minifigs World of Greyhawk photo gallery. This is eternally on simmer, as I continue to gather photos from eBay and anywhere else I can.
  • Painting! I've got one starter army for Field of Glory done, but now that I'm back to Greyhawk, I'm thinking about redoing some of them to better fit. Plus I've got another starter army waiting, plus a gazillion goblins, elves, skeletons, dwarves, etc. etc. etc. I'm pretty much out of Ogre stuff to paint (well, not really, but I'm probably not going to be painting any of the rest any time soon), and I've got some renaissance ships that I'm holding off assembling and painting until the rest of the order gets out of backorder limbo).
  • Running my ADD Greyhawk game. Every week, alternating Fridays and Saturdays. Just because I don't have enough to do.
So the good news is that the biggest project (ADD) is done except for the touch-up work, applying changes based on the ongoing playtesting, and getting it ready for production. The bad news (from my standpoint, anyway) is that I've got a lot of other things happening, some of which have very real (and looming) deadlines. Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to write I go!

Some More Greyhawk Heraldry

Last year I used Inkwell Idea's wonderful Coat of Arms Visual Designer to come up with some .png files of heraldry from the World of Greyhawk. These have the advantage of being sharp and scalable, which often isn't the case with scans from the books. Now I've got the pro version and have been doing some more work in it, finishing up the images in GIMP when needed (such as adding the Iron League's signature fret in the upper-right corner). Here are the results...



Duchy of Urnst:

County of Urnst:


Wolf Nomads:

They're Made out of Meat

Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to listen to this radio adaptation of Terry Bisson's short story "They're Made Out of Meat." I had heard of it, but never read (or heard) it before. Terrific stuff.

Hat tip: Contrary Brin

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do We Want Ogre Miniatures? Steve Jackson Wants to Know!

As most of you know, Steve Jackson Games is currently in the midst of a hugely successful Kickstarter Campaign for a new edition of Ogre with top-notch components. They blew past their initial goal almost instantly, and are now undertaking an online survey to see what their next stretch goal should be.

One of the options is to commit to bringing back the miniatures line in 2013.

I realize that my love of Ogre miniatures is not something shared by all of the readers of this blog, but I think it would be an enormous boost to the hobby as a whole to see a game that won an Origins award when it was introduced brought back to life. It really is a fantastic game, and if the miniature line was restarted, it would make the game accessible to new players once again.

So please, take a minute to check out the survey, and if you can find it in your heart to give the "Commit to bring back Ogre Miniatures in 2013" option high marks, I will be quite grateful. And, of course, consider making a pledge to the Kickstarter campaign. It's a hell of a game, and it looks to be a hell of a version.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

1970's Sci-Fi Marathon

If I was going to organize a movie marathon of pre-Star Wars 1970's science fiction movies, I'd probably pick:

Coincidentally, TCM is running all but the last of those movies tonight (they chose Close Encounters of the Third Kind instead of Colossus: The Forbin Project, which is a choice I can understand even if I don't agree with it). The only problem is, how do I stay up 'till 5 AM to watch them all?

Minifigs World of Greyhawk Gallery Updated

As I find new pictures of the old Minifigs World of Greyhawk figures from the 1980's, I tend to save them up and post them in batches. Well, another batch has been put up on the page. This one includes heroic mercenary cavalry, a picture of the Overking's Heavy Guard Foot in the blister, a better shot of the armored dinosaur/flying dinosaur blister, and a few other odds and ends. Enjoy! (And as always, there's a direct link to the page over to the right, in the "Free Resources" section.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: Ahmut's Legion and the Blasted Desert

Hot on the heels of my last map comes the next in the series, this time finishing up (completely) the lands of the Celestial Imperium and moving more into the territories of the Sundered Empire. I've also redone the last map somewhat, adding a number of petty states west of the mountains to fill in what are collectively known as the Disputed Regions, and the Celestial Sea also got a touch-up in the southwest corner, adding a couple of coastal towns. Here are the four maps that connect to one another; the newest one is in the lower-left.

As always, click to embiggen, and the full-sized version can be downloaded off to the right in the "Free Resources" section.

I anticipate that the new map will get some more touch-ups, especially in the large desert area, once the adjoining map gets done. Some notable features; the Kingdom of Prestoria, which I envision as having been founded by Pholtan zealots, refugees from the Pale, some two and a half centuries ago, and now a model Flannish nation in the midst of the lands of the heathen. The mysterious isolated city of Shemhamforash in the midst of the mountains known as the Spine of the World. The Duchy of Sitang is in a pickle, strategically speaking, because although it remains loyal to the central government of the Celestial Imperium, they were almost completely cut off when Shuyin declared its independence. And of course the motley assortment of petty states betwixt and between the major powers of the Sundered Empire; the maps above cover Ahmet's Legion (a vast army of undead associated with a cult of Nerull called the Red Scythes) and the demonic gnoll kingdom of Naresh.

Next up, I go west again, covering Ravilla and Mordengard.

I Blame the High Cost of Miniatures on Instability in the Mid-East

Back in the mid-1970's, the price of oil was so high because of the various OPEC embargoes that SPI actually had to stop including a tiny die with their games because plastic was too expensive. They included a little piece of paper in the game explaining why there was no die, and offering to send one to the gamer if they really wanted it, for the cost of postage. Eventually prices went down and dice started appearing in SPI games again.

I recall that story because there are two games in which I'm very interested, and for which I just saw some pricing details. Sweet Reason!

The first is A Call to Arms: Starfleet by Mongoose Publishing. It's a game set in the Starfleet Battles universe, and features some great looking classic Trek ship miniatures. The fleet boxes go for around $100 and sport 16 starships. That's $6.25 per ship. The squadron boxes are even more ruinous; $40 for 5 ships, or $8 each. And if you want to purchase ships individually, they run an incredible $15 each! Just to put that into perspective, you can buy a 1:2500 model kit of the Enterprise for less than that.

The second is the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games. Now, I know that FFG is usually on the expensive side, because their components are top-notch, but their $40 core set comes with a measly 3 ships (or more than $13 each), and additional ships can be had for $15 each. And a set of 6 dice will set you back another $10.

Maybe I'm just spoiled by the miniatures I do buy; only metal, and usually in smaller scales like 15mm or 1:350/microarmor. But wowzers, those ship miniatures seem awfully expensive!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Kingdoms of the Marches and the Disputed Regions

As I continue to move westward across Oerik with my "Mapping Beyond the Flanaess" series, I find myself on occasion needing to reconcile disparate sources. In addition, I am keenly aware of a problem with the various sources that cover western Oerik; specifically, they're just too frigging big and empty, compared to the Flanaess. (This last point was explicitly mentioned by Nellisir in the comments of my last post, and it's one I completely agree with.)

At present, the two sources I'm dealing with in western Oerik are the map found in Dragon Annual #1 (which came with a single page of thumbnail descriptions of the lands it depicted), and the Chainmail game of 2001/2002, which featured the northwestern corner of Oerik as its setting (called "The Sundered Empire", for the elven Empire of Ravilla which used to dominate the entire region). Here they are for reference:

My immediate problem lies with what are called the Kingdoms of the Marches on the DA #1 map (on the bottom). The accompanying text describes them thus:
A temperate land filled with princely states. Perhaps another locale colonized by seafarers from across the Solnor (Ocean).
Setting aside for the moment the question of where they might have originated (although it is plain that they share the same sort of pseudo-European culture of the rest of the Flanaess, from the above description), if one looks at the map of the Sundered Empire (on the top), it's clear that the area is actually held by Ravilla, which is an empire of elves. Fortunately, the "Elven Lands" on the DA #1 map fits in well with that, so it seems to be a question of what to do with the "Kingdoms of the Marches".

We're given some latitude by the fact that the DA #1 map is presented as a sort of "player's map", and no guarantees are given as to its accuracy, especially in terms of small detail. Given that, it seems a small thing to shift it down just a tad, south of the Empire of Ravilla. But that puts it squarely in what Chainmail calls "the Disputed Regions". And that's all to our advantage.

From my reading of the Chainmail material, the "Disputed Regions" aren't ever really fleshed out. They used to be under the control of Ravilla, but the elven empire has withdrawn its influence over the years, leaving a vacuum that's been filled by the other factions (Naresh, Ahmut's Legion, etc.), and leaving a big empty hole in the middle where the fighting is supposed to take place (implicitly).

And there we have the solution not only to the question of reconciling the two sources, but to filling in the broad expanses of western Oerik. Shift the Kingdoms of the Marches south just a tad, and they fill in fine for the Disputed Regions. and, since they're a collection of "princely states", they are both a) politically disorganized and broken into many small nations and (potentially) city-states, and b) allow us to fill the gaps between the various big factions of the Sundered Empire with many small states, adding much-needed interest not only to the map, but to the geopolitical situation in the region. None of the "princely states" would be a power on the level of a Ravilla or a Mordengard, but certainly would add for enormously interesting play as a collection of squabbling minor powers with constantly shifting alliances, interests, and so forth.

One question remains; what distinguishes this anarchic land of petty princely states from the "Free States" on the Sundered Empire map? Well, the text of the Chainmail rulebook gives us the answer, I think (and also provides the next link in the chain of source material). Page 18 mentions the "Free Cities" as a "loose assembly of city-states" which is good for little else than providing mercenaries for the major factions in their quest to recover the dead god Stratis's panpoly ("The Godwar", which forms the chief impetus for action in the Sundered Empire setting), and thus have one of their number become the next god of war. Stratis was the neutral brother to evil Hextor and good Heironeous, all of whom are sons of Stern Alia.

So there we go, I think.

The "Disputed Regions" of Chainmail are the same as the "Kingdoms of the Marches" of the DA #1 map. Petty squabbling bits of dirt that the surrounding powers see as little more than a battleground. None of them has large population centers; towns are going to be capitals here. The "Free States" on the Chainmail map are actually a collection of city-states, sufficiently divided to not count as a faction in the quest to become the next god of war (yet), but a source of mercenaries, and because of their urban nature, distinguished from the Disputed Regions on the map.

And, we might surmise, one of those city-states is called Lhynn (the Empire of Lynn on the DA #1 map-- more on that at some later date). It's powerful enough to be labeled an Empire, and has expanded its influence eastward across the desert. But in a desert waste, such notions as territorial integrity are notoriously ephemeral. It's distracted by its own issues, but who knows what could happen if it took an interest in the Godwar?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: Naresh and Northwestern Suhfang

Apologies for the time it's taken to get to the next map in my "Mapping Beyond the Flanaess" series. I was waiting for some materials to come, since the maps are now definitely moving into the Sundered Empire region. Here we have the northwestern portion of Suhfang, the demonic gnoll realm of Naresh, and the western High Khanate. I'm including the central Suhfang map next to it, so you can see how it connects to the whole.

As usual, click to embiggen, and the link to the best-res version is over to the right, in the "Free Resources" section.

I anticipate a new version of this map will be forthcoming with changes to the lands west of the Stormwall Mountains once I get to work on the map immediately west of it, because that's just how these things go. But this'll do for now.

Note in particular the winter ice bridge that connects the mainland of western Oerik to Telchuria (aka Hyperboria). Naresh controls everything from the Arfast Forest to the towns beyond the Flailwood, but it's mostly scattered pockets of gnolls and other fell beasties, scattered over a wide area. Their southeasternmost lands used to be under the control of Suhfangese expatriots who had set themselves up as local warlords, but who grew too reliant on their gnoll mercenaries and were overthrown one after another, until now the gnolls are coming up against Suhfang itself. Naresh also disputes the claim of the High Khanate to the Last Plains and the Spearguard Peninsula, and clashes between the two are common, but for now the attentions of Jangir, Priest-King of Naresh, are turned westward...

EDIT: By the way, there's just one new map, covering both Naresh and northwestern Suhfang. The map I posted next to it is the Central Suhfang one. A couple people seemed to be confused by the naming.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

End of an Era

I got to see the shuttle atop the 747 transport aircraft back in 1990, when I was in basic training in the Air Force and the plane flew over Lackland AFB. My wife got to see it today, as she was in Washington, D.C. on a field trip with her class. Coincidentally, we both got to see the shuttle Discovery.

I am a huge supporter of manned space exploration, and it's one of the few things that breaks my normally libertarian sensibilities to say it's worth the expenditure of large amounts of public money, because the payback really is enormous, as opposed to the tens of thousands of ratholes Washington normally finds to pour the public purse down into. (For those who buy into the "robots can do it cheaper" argument, I invite you to read this article by Jared Keller in the Atlantic Monthly; it ain't just Tang and tinted sunglasses.)

So this is an enormously bittersweet time for me, as not only are we seeing the symbolic end of an era of American manned spaceflight (especially with the International Day of Manned Space Flight just 5 days behind us), but that it's a self-inflicted wound that the smallest smidgen of political will could have overcome. That said, I'm greatly heartened that SpaceX has been given approval to do a cargo run to the International Space Station. If we can't have both a private and a public space program, I'm glad that the government is at least getting out of the way of private industry on this one.

R.I.P. The United States Space Shuttle Program, 1976-2011
  • 134 missions, including construction of the International Space Station, the Magellan space probe, the Galileo space probe, the Ulysses space probe, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, deployment and servicing of dozens of satellites, and countless experiments in microgravity.
  • 14 lives lost. (Challenger's STS-51-L Crew) Commander Francis "Dick" Scobee, pilot Mike Smith, mission specialists Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka and Ron McNair, and payload specialists Greg Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe; (Columbia's STS-107 Crew) Commander Rick Husband; pilot William McCool; mission specialists Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark, and payload specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut.
  • $209 billion over its lifetime of 35 years (approximately the same amount spent on the U.S. Forestry Service).
  • 3.5 millions pounds of payload lifted into low Earth orbit.
  • Almost 200,000 man-hours in space (1,323 days for various shuttles aloft).
  • 355 different astronauts participating in various Shuttle missions, including 49 women, and all hailing from 16 different countries.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday is Sundered Empire Day

That's what it seems like, anyway. Today the postman dropped off the research materials for my Mapping Beyond the Flanaess project, as I'm now moving into the territory that was used as the setting for the Chainmail miniatures game from 2001/2002, known as the Sundered Empire. It sits in the northwestern corner of Oerik, and fits in pretty nicely with the rest of the info we have. I was able to snatch up the three books I needed from eBay at low low prices. So I'll start to scour the three books; Blood & Darkness, Fire & Ice, and the Ghostwind Campaign for any suitable information, and begin to press on westward with the mapping. Woo-hoo!

Open Playtest Ends May 1st

With the successful conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign for Adventures Dark and Deep™: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (and a big THANK YOU again to everyone who pledged!), the open playtest for the full-blown game can move into the next phase. The full stand-alone Adventures Dark and Deep™ game consists of three books; the Players Manual (currently 266 pages without art), Game Masters Toolkit (144 pages), and Bestiary (358 pages).

As of May 1, the playtest versions of the books will no longer be available for free download. The open playtest began on December 11, 2010, making it approximately a year and a half in length.

Naturally, I hope everyone who has downloaded the books (all of which are currently standing at v1.2, with no plans for any further versions) will continue to play the game and provide feedback on the Adventures Dark and Deep™ forums. But as of May 1, no new playtesters will be added.

The current planned release date for all three books is Summer of 2013. As you might expect, that's subject to change.

For those who might not know, Adventures Dark and Deep™ is an attempt to explore what the game might have looked like if Gary Gygax had been allowed to keep developing it, based on several articles in Dragon magazine, numerous bits of information given in various online fora, and other writings. This is a best-guess based on the information available, the result of years of research and an open playtest that's lasted for more than a year and a half. Everything comes from his public statements; there's no insider information at work.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Genre-Specific Cross Promotion

A day or two ago, I came across a website called Celstyle. It's an intriguing idea-- they present themselves as a one-stop-shop for various role-playing games designed by different people and sold by different companies, but all dealing with anime-type themes. (What we used to call "Japanimation" back in the day.)

Now, I know that anime has a rabid fan base all unto itself, and thus something like this could make sense. Get into the zeitgeist of anime fandom, mentions on the prominent anime blogs, podcasts, etc., and you have a good chance of not just selling one product, but potentially several, since they're all very specific (almost micro-RPGs, since some of the topics are so very specific), and the site promises that all are very rules-lite, making the barrier to entry for non-gamers very low. The general concept intrigues me.

I wonder if there are any other genres that something like this could apply to? Horror? Apparently someone tried to market some horror RPGs at a large horror convention recently and got stomped on, figuratively speaking. But is that a function of the genre, the games, or just a fluke of that particular convention? Jessica over at Changing the Rules gives a much more in-depth analysis of why he might have failed, but I wonder how other genres might work for such genre-specific game promotion.

Fantasy seems unlikely, since there's not too much of a purely fantasy fan-base that doesn't already include some gaming components, but science fiction could work a little better, I think. Maybe something that marketed specifically to the various science fiction fan clubs out there (and there are thousands of tiny and not-so-tiny clubs all over the world). How about romance? World War II? Something else?

I think it's an interesting concept that bears exploration, if nothing else.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Last Day for the Kickstarter

No hard sells, no more stretch goals, just a quick reminder that the kickstarter for the Adventures Dark and Deep™: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore ends tomorrow at midnight eastern time. If you've been waiting 'til the end to make a pledge, well... the end is here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Mystic

From the upcoming Adventures Dark and Deep™: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore, by the incomparable Brian "Glad" Thomas.

(Click to embiggen.)

New Bonus Goal for Kickstarter!

Wow... Kickstarter trifecta in effect!

I just wanted to thank everyone who helped us surge past the first bonus goal. Everyone who pledges $10 or more will now get a copy of the bonus adventure, specifically designed to show off the new character classes.

But wait! This adventure will also tie in to one of the seminal projects in gaming today, James Maliszewski's megadungeon Dwimmermount, which just so happens to be in the final days of its own Kickstarter Campaign. A treasure map found on level 2A of that dungeon can lead to the bonus adventure we just reached for A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore. If you haven't already, please take a few minutes to check it out. It's well worth doing so!

And that leads to the next bonus goal. We've got a little over 2 days to go. Can we stretch out and hit $5,500? If we do, everyone who pledged $10 or more will also get a pdf copy of the map and key for Dwimmermount's Level 2A, The Laboratory! You can play the bonus adventure as a stand-alone game, or in conjunction with this masterful megadungeon level. Wow!

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore should also work pretty darn well as a supplement for another game which, you guessed it, is also running a Kickstarter campaign. Myth & Magic is based on 2nd edition, but with some interesting tweaks to make it smoother and more accessible to folks who never had the opportunity to play 2E back in the day. Again, check it out!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ogre Designer's Edition Kickstarter

Keeping with the Kickstarter theme, some of us on the official Ogre email list were given the word that the Ogre Deluxe Edition game is now on Kickstarter!

This is one gorgeous-looking game. Thick, chipboard counters, three-dimensional cardboard Ogres, nice big maps... If I can't have Ogre Minis, this is the game to have. They're measuring the thing in pounds, for crying out loud. 14 pounds, and perhaps more if they meet some of their stretch goals.

But wait! I can have Ogre Minis! Turns out that a pdf of the revised Ogre Miniatures rules is one of the lower-end rewards. Perhaps if there's enough interest, they'll figure out a way to restart casting the miniatures themselves.

So head on over to Kickstarter and see about supporting this classic and fun-as-hell game. (And while you're there, you might want to pledge to my own A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore, if you haven't already!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kickstarter Stretch Goal: 5 Days and $337 to Go!

As of right now, we stand a mere $337 away from meeting the first stretch goal for the Kickstarter campaign, and have 5 days to go until the campaign ends.

The stretch goal should be a lot of fun; a pdf adventure module specifically designed to showcase the new character classes in the Adventures Dark and Deep™: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore book. The new character classes: bard, jester, mystic, savant, and mountebank will get to strut their stuff in the adventure, which can of course be used with other character classes as well. Anyone who pledges $10 or more will get a .pdf copy of the adventure, as well as the normal rewards.

So if you haven't yet pledged, please do so to help push us over the edge for the stretch goal. If you know someone whom you think will enjoy adding the new classes, spells, combat system, and other rules to their AD&D, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, etc. game, please spread the word!

You say you don't know what Adventures Dark and Deep™ is all about? Well, you can see your Humble Author in a video clip explaining it at the Kickstarter page. You can also read a quick thumbnail description here.

"Thanks for your support."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is a Samurai Just a Fighter in Funny Armor?

This past weekend I posted about how I might approach an "oriental adventures" rules supplement, essentially saying that, where the OA book published by TSR was jargon-heavy and skewed more historical (and was heavily weighted towards Japan), I would skew mine more towards Samurai and Kung-Fu movies, and would try to make it more accessible to an English-speaking audience with a limited knowledge of historical Japan and China (and that I would balance it more between the two cultures).

The post generated a lot of good discussion and links, but regular GG commenter (and player in my campaign) Hamlet made the following observation (quoted here in part; go to the original to see the whole thing):
"...all you really need is a pamphlet covering the basics. A glossary of terms, a few pages describing culture and honor and the like, which can be done for Japanese, Chinese, Indian, assorted "other" cultures of the region...

"...for the most part, you have everything you need to run a campaign of samurai and ninja already in the core books. The PHB only needs a very light reskinning, which can be done in a matter of a few pages, to fit the bill. Fighters are now called Samurai or Bushi or whatever. Ninja would probably be thieves or multi-classed if demi-humans"
I found this a very interesting approach, and wanted to highlight it as a counterpoint to my original post. Is a new class beyond fighter (or cavalier) really needed to play a samurai, busei, or kensai? Or can you do it with just a new list of armor and weapons? What's a wu jen other than a mage with a different list of spells? Do ninjas need to be a class of their own, or, as Hamlet posits, can you just use the existing 1E thief (or perhaps assassin) class, wear a mask and hood, take a proficiency in shuriken, and be done with it? And do you really need an honor mechanic?

Any thoughts?

How the Enterprise Almost Landed in Las Vegas

When I read this story, I was absolutely flabbergasted. I fancy myself a hard-core Star Trek fan, but had absolutely no idea that there were plans to build a life-sized USS Enterprise and put it in downtown Las Vegas as a tourist attraction. Let alone how close they came to actually going through with it.

Apparently they had the plans, the permits from the city, the funding from backers, and the license from Paramount. All they needed was the blessing from the studio CEO, Stanley Jaffe. And he said "no", afraid that if the $150 million attraction was a flop, it would remain prominently in the public mind for years, rather than the few months a movie flop would. I've got to say, that has to go down in history as one of the poorest decisions in history, when one thinks about how successful the franchise has been since 1992. They would have made their money back a hundredfold.

This goes way beyond the Star Trek Experience that eventually was produced (and to this day I am kicking myself for not visiting it while I could). I mean, the actual USS Enterprise! Life sized! The mind boggles.

Read the whole story. It's inspiring in its audacity, fascinating in its details, and tragic in its conclusion.

Hat tip to Aint it Cool News.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

...and feasted on their brains

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. --Matthew 27:51-53

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How I Would Approach Oriental Adventures

I was as thrilled as anyone in 1985 when I got my copy of Oriental Adventures. And instantly a group of NPC adventurers from the West showed up in my Greyhawk campaign for a few sessions, then faded away. I put an OA adventuring party in my Castle of the Mad Archmage, just to spice things up, as well. But on the whole the published OA book was kinda... meh. And I think I know why.

First, it's filled with terms that nobody either recognizes nor understands. Quick! Which of these lives in the water: hai nu, hsing-sing, con-tinh, or bisan? No offense intended to anyone, but the names of the monsters are largely gibberish to dumb Americans like me, and I think that went a ways towards making them less approachable and ultimately less used. Yes, there are goblin spiders and gargantuas (Godzilla and King Kong), but they're a distinct minority.

Now, when you come to the character classes, it gets much better, but there are still things left to be desired. You know what a samurai, a ninja, a yakuza, and a ronin are. Wu jen? Yeah, I can internalize one more class name, and I think I've heard that somewhere else before. Shukenja? Is that the cleric analogue or something else? Sohei? Um... is that the cleric analogue or something else? Is a bushi a fighter? Are there even "just fighters" in an OA game?And a kensai is something like a cavalier, right? But isn't that what a samurai is supposed to be? And why are they all Japanese?

This guy was a Wu Jen, right?
There's points one and two: make it accessible to dumb Americans like me. And make it broader than just medieval Japan.

The good news is that this work is largely done, although not in game format. There are two distinct genres of film that could be mined here: chanbara and wuxia. They are, respectively, samurai movies and kung-fu movies, and they have very distinctive tropes that identify them as such. Any setting or set of rules that would attempt to portray an oriental-based fantasy game would need to have those genres firmly in mind, because they define "eastern" fantasy as Conanesque "Swords and Sorcery" and Tolkeinesque "High Fantasy" define Western fantasy.

And that's point three; it shouldn't just be Dungeons and Dragons with new classes and spells. It should be oriented (pun intentional) towards the specific cultural tropes that define chanbara and wuxia. Where swords and sorcery has its standard themes of a morally apathetic universe, barbarian outsider vs. corrupt civilization, and small-scale stakes, and high fantasy has its themes of universal good vs. evil, everyman-evolving-into-hero, and familiar-world-with-a-twist setting, we see chanbara as exploring the theme of duty vs. morality, the code of bushido, and "invented tradition" that goes beyond the historical model. Wuxia is quite distinct from this, featuring the xia code (roughly a Chinese equivalent of chivalry or bushido), personal loss leading to personal growth (usually through intense martial arts training), and a setting that is at its core corrupt, requiring the administration of law and justice to be handled by heroes because such things are beyond the vast corrupt and distant bureaucracy of government.

Actually a fair representation of Wuxia-style film. No joke.

The point being that there's a huge well of well-established mythology (in bonus visual format) there that's at least somewhat accessible to dumb Americans like me. It's obviously not going to be historical, but it's exciting and accessible. Like Excalibur or Conan.

I should point out that Bollywood also provides a similar framework for yet a third genre of Indian-based non-European fantasy; complicated love triangles (often including long-lost relatives), unrepentant villains who are villains for the sake of being villains, and a self-conscious mixture of action, comedy, and Broadway-style dance numbers. Well, maybe that last doesn't have too much application in gaming...

Friday, April 6, 2012

11 Years Later, and We're Still Nowhere Close

On this day in 1968, one of, if not the greatest science fiction film of all time debuted. I was but a wee lad of 2, but seeing this movie in the theater is one of my earliest memories.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: First Impressions

Folks who pre-ordered the Dungeon Crawl Classics game from Goodman Games got their link to download the accompanying .pdf version last night, and I've had a chance to look mine over. Note that I've not done a thorough cover to cover reading, nor have I played the game, but I did glean enough to get some first impressions.

My overall impression is that this is going to be one raucous game to play.

Some of the basics; the rules and appendices are 450 pages, and the book has an additional 38 pages with a sample adventure, some ads, and some additional artwork. Layout is generally two columns, justified, which is perfectly fine for my middle-aged eyes. Sometimes the layout is broken to accommodate some larger or irregularly shaped piece of art, but I didn't have any issue with that. The art itself is numerous and varying in quality, being done by a variety of different artists (including the late Jim Rosloff, to whom the book is dedicated, and whose last 4 pieces of art are found within). There's a mix of serious and silly, including actual cartoons with captions, but not nearly as much artistic silliness as, say, Hackmaster. I love the inclusion of actual cartoons, which harkens back to the old Dungeon Master's Guide.

The structure is fairly conventional; there are sections on the various character classes (cleric, thief, warrior, wizard, elf, dwarf, halfling-- yes, this game has race-as-class), a brief section on skills, then equipment, and then combat. Combat's worth mentioning because it features numerous and graphic critical hit and fumble tables that are quite reminiscent of the old ICE Arms Law/Rolemaster ones. There are also rules for spell duels, where wizards are able to directly counter one anothers' spells in the middle of combat. Then there's a chapter on magic, complete with spell descriptions. There's a section on quests and journeys, judge's rules, magic items, and finally monsters.

The monster section has a particularly excellent section on the difference between "the" and "a" monsters. Does the world have more than one cockatrice? Does it matter to someone who's never ventured more than a few miles from where he was born? Great, short but thought-provoking stuff like that is found throughout the book.

The character classes only go up to level 10, which we are informed is a plateau that should only be reached two or three times in an epoch, and when it does happen, indicates the characters are at the status of a demigod. Level 5 seems to be the normal expected maximum in the game, and requires 490 x.p. to achieve. Given that "an extremely difficult encounter involving multiple fatalities" is worth 4 x.p., it'll probably take most gamers a little getting used to the lower scale of experience points. Sort of like playing a 1960's pinball machine today. There is a nice section on awarding x.p. for non-combat activities, with specific examples for each class.

While there are a plethora of random tables, the real meat of the game are the spell tables, which most people have been talking about. 83 wizard spells (out of a total of 716, we are told) are detailed, plus 36 cleric spells, and 15 "patron spells", which wizards can attempt to cast at the behest of a supernatural patron. Dealing with such is dangerous, though, as they may exact a high price for their assistance.

And that can be said of most magic spells; it's potentially dangerous. Every spell requires a roll on a table specific to that spell. Results can range from corruption (where the wizard is physically deformed by the casting of the spell) to simple failure, and then a range of increasingly-powerful effects. The die roll is modified by the level of the spell and the level of the caster. To take but one example, spider climb can fail and make the caster simply stick to the floor, unable to move, or could cause him to grow spider legs from his back and climb with great agility. Spectacular success means that both the caster and those around him can climb and cast spells like a spider for a day. Spells are semi-Vancian; the caster may or may not lose the spell once cast, depending on the die roll.

Each spell is also customized for each caster by means of what is called "mercurial magic", where the wizard rolls percentile dice the first time he learns the spell, and that determines the effect that spell has when cast. It could be that when my wizard casts spider climb, there is an accompanying clap of thunder, while when your wizard casts it, someone close to him dies. Once rolled, the effect is permanent for that spell and that wizard.

As I say, I've not had a chance to play the game, but I could see it being a tad too random for an ongoing campaign. The wild and woolly randomness of the magic system could be great fun for a one-off adventure or a convention game, but might grow frustrating when you're trying to pull your wizard character up to second level. Or your warrior character, for that matter; some of the spell misfire effects will affect your companions. My fighter could end up with the head of a chicken for three days because you blew a roll. In fact, that's even the subject of one of the illustrations in the rules. I kid you not.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy First Contact Day!

Star Trek lore tells us that on this date in the year 2063, space pioneer Zephram Cochrane, inventor of warp drive, will make first contact with a Vulcan scout ship, leading to the eventual formation of the United Federation of Planets. Well done, Dr. Cochrane.

Of course, in the Mirror Universe, he killed the vulcan crew and looted their ship, which eventually led to the enslavement of the planet Vulcan by the Empire. Well done too, Mirror Dr. Cochrane.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199

ICV2 had this up this morning. I knew Space Battleship Yamato (known in the US as Starblazers) was popular, but had no idea they were re-doing it. The clip below is in Japanese, but wow... just... wow...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Kickstarter Bonus Reward!

Well, we've got a week and a half to go, and the pledges keep coming in. Here's something that will hopefully stir up a little more interest for those who haven't yet pulled the ol' pledge trigger.

If we pass the $3,500 mark, each and every person who pledged $10 or more will also receive a pdf adventure module specifically designed to highlight the various character classes in the book and how they can be used in an urban, wilderness, and dungeon environment. The adventure, to be written by the same Humble Author who wrote "A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore", will feature examples for game masters to help their players get the most out of the various character classes in the book.

Tell your friends, tell your fellow players! And thanks again to everyone who has already pledged.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mapping Beyond the Flanaess: The Celestial Sea

As promised, yet another in my series of Darlene-style maps that take things on Oerth beyond the confines of the Flanaess. This time, we see the Celestial Sea, southern Suhfang, the Isle of Dragons, and Erypt. This brings most of the lands of the Celestial Imperium into view, with only a few of the westernmost provinces and border marches left to do. I also touched up the Zindia/Golden Jungle map based on decisions made doing this one. As always, click to embiggen, but even larger versions of the maps are available off to the right in the Free Downloads section. Here are four of the five maps put together to get the whole effect...


Also, please take a minute to check out the Adventures Dark and Deep Kickstarter campaign. Help make the ADD rules supplement, suitable for use with all 1E-compatible games, a reality!

Monday, April 2, 2012

DexCon 15 Registration Now Open!

Pre-registration and GM event registration for one of my regular conventions has just opened. DexCon, held in beautiful Morristown, NJ, will run from July 4th through the 8th of this year. It's a wonderfully eclectic mix of board games, RPGs (with an emphasis on indie RPGs), miniatures wargames, video games, and LARPs. It's held in a really terrific hotel, right in the middle of town, with easy access to a tremendous array of great restaurants. I can't recommend this convention highly enough.

This year, I've submitted the following events:
  • Ogre Miniatures ("Operation Shockhammer")
  • AD&D 1st Edition / Adventures Dark and Deep ("Temple of the Old Ones" - a new adventure)
  • The Awful Green Things from Outer Space (the old Steve Jackson classic by Tom Wham)
As always, if anyone else wants to submit some old-school gaming goodness, I'll put together some flyers and hopefully drum up some additional interest. Let the Invasion of the Awful Grognards from Outer Space begin!

Egyptian pyramids found by infra-red satellite images

From the BBC:

Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt. 
More than 1,000 tombs and 3,000 ancient settlements were also revealed by looking at infra-red images which show up underground buildings. 
Initial excavations have already confirmed some of the findings, including two suspected pyramids.
I think it is so cool that there are still so much history that is still left to be discovered. I mean, entire pyramids!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Kickstarter Update - We Made It!

I am most pleased to report that the kickstarter campaign for Adventures Dark and Deep™: A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore has reached its goal! No joke.


An announcement regarding further incentives to take us past the initial $2,500 level will be coming out in a day or three. But I want to thank each and every person who made a pledge to see this project come alive, and encourage everyone to tell your friends who might be interested to back it. It really means everything to me that you all had enough faith in me and the project to see it become a reality.

Thank you all.

Repost: My Favorite April Fool's Joke Ever

Some classics never get old...