30 March 2024

Time spent running and playing editions of D&D

A curious thought came to me - how much of each edition have I played? It feels like I have been playing a lot of 5e recently - have I in the grand scheme of things?

Starting off my time was split with different campaigns more or less being different systems - the three big starting ones were World of Darkness, WHFRP and AD&D 2e - that was my teen gaming; threw in a smattering of one shots here and there but that was the bulk of it

Hitting Uni - I ran 3.5e, played more World of Darkness and WHFRP plus some freeform nonsense from time to time.

Post college it became almost all 3.5e - run as PBEM or played as Living Arcarnis - but all the same system. 4e happened but I never picked it up; work was ramping up and my social circle was both smaller and not interested.

Rolling off that into recent years I saw 5e happening but I was buried under career stuff so did not bother to make the leap to the new system. I kicked off a campaign in 2018 using 3.5e and another in 2020 which is still grinding along.

I finally picked up 5e in 2019 when I started going to my local games club - since then I've run and played quite a lot of it there and as part of pandemic-driven online campaigns.

Post-lockdown I've gotten in a few other games - Spire, Scarlet Heroes - but mostly D&D.

So which system have I put most hours on? I went back and checked (best estimates before 2018) and...
...it looks like I *still* put more hours in running AD&D than 5e - and that 3.5e dominates both of them. I guess when you have no other committments as a teen you can really crank those long form campaigns.

28 March 2024

Dwarven Synthetic Cuisine (RPG Blog Carnival)

Another idea for VDonnut Valley for the topic of Feasts, Foods and Fancy Drinks, oh my!. You can see the rest of the topics for 2024 on Of Dice And Dragons 2024 Blog Carnival hosting list.

The old Dwarven Empire were masters of alchemy based off botany. The empire fell and with it their easy access to their plants. The cultural tastes remained but the source was gone - everything was recreated from alchemy and minerals. Now dwarves live on mostly synthetic diets and swear they taste better.

23 March 2024

Review: Jinx's Almanac (Brancalonia)

tl:dr; a solid adventure anthology that has been a reliable source of one-shots

Is wear on a book from being carted too and from games nights a tragedy or marks of heroic purpose? If we take the latter then Jinx Almanac is one of the most useful books I have gotten my paws on anytime lately. Taking note of the points about whether one can review an RPG that you have not played, this is one book that I have surely earned the right to review.

This is a collection of digital magazine articles, special editions, modules and all sorts of ancilliary stuff that was published for Brancalonia and then collected during the second crowdfunding campaign. It is a big grab bag of stuff that has a surprisingly dense amount of gameable content. I got mine from the second Kickstarter campaign along with the Empire Whacks Back.

Cover art by Lorenzo Nuti

We are well past first impression territory here - we have the same Brancalonia art style - old paper with wine stains on it, consistently pretty and evocative art both new and public domain with nice clear layout from a design sense, even if some decisions about the sequencing of information are a bit odd.

20 March 2024

Rare Feasts from Magical Terrain (RPG Blog Carnival)

A second thought for this months blog carnival from VDonnut Valley for the topic of Feasts, Foods and Fancy Drinks, oh my!.

Based on an anecdote from family about how particular meat from particular places tastes good because of what the wind blows there from a particularly grim industrial accident, stealing a bit from the French idea of terroir, we have reasons that foods might be sought after that tie to where they are from.

This builds from our previous strange weather from magic terrain combined with some food item generators.

As a workflow this is:
1. Figure out your unusual meal courses - great starts for this are Monster Menu-All Part 1: Eating the AD&D Monster Manual by Coins & Scrolls. You could also tap Box Full of Boxes great Local Cuisine Generator or Random Table of the Week's Local delicacies or the d30 offal ideas for giant appetites elsewhere on this blog.

2. See why the source is special. Roll up a strange weather effect and terrain type from strange weather from magic terrain - use the weather effect to give you how the food type was affected and the terrain type to give you the nature of the difference.

3. Spice to taste. Back reference our previous Lavish feasts and high tables and see if you want to layer any additional things on - the 'materials' and 'difficult to execute foods' might be taken care of by what you have rolled up already or maybe you want to spread yet more extravagance into the mix.

My own test case for 'why' the terrain is strange and what is being harvested from it was a house of summoners who threw a big feast to impress their patron - I pulled Mimic, Salamander and Dragonturtle from Coins and Scrolls list, then diced up some magical terrain locations to see where they had come from.

First I got Meteor Fields and Intrusive Outsiders, second I got the Black Earth and Flooding; this gave me mimics that had come down on meteors, grown up in a meteor field and caused wierd extra-sensory effects when consumed followed by Salamanders drowned when positive-energy Black Earth flooded - incredibly nutrious and energising stuff. I felt dragonturtle was interesting enough on its own and served that as was.

Given the fuss that people in the real world make about tiny shifts in soil quality and breeds of crops and animals in the taste of things at their table I am sure that nobles, worse long-lived nobles like elves, worse elven noble mages would have preposterously refined tastes, insisting on things being Just So. This type of thing also makes fabulous treasures - finding some delicacy well preserved on a dark shelf in a dungeon? A fortune to the right buyer... or a quest in its own right.

18 March 2024

Shiny TTRPG links #164

A chonky stack of links this week with a significant archive diving block. Even more can be found on the previous list found here or you can check the RPG Blog Carnival or on Third Kingdom Games news roundup. No r/OSR blogroll, reasons remain unknown. Originally inspired by weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links.

Whose Measure God Could Not Take gives us Adventuring Tavern Generator

Dungeon Fantastic gives us What it takes to live & thrive in Felltower, Part I: Characters and What it takes to live & thrive in Felltower, Part II: Players


US National Archives releases early D&D versions in David L. Arneson vs. Gary Gygax and TSR Hobbies, Inc

Blue Bard may vanish on 4th April - We Had A Good Run

Lixu gives us Dark Sun OSE Players Handbook and Dark Sun OSE Game Masters Guide

16 March 2024

Capsule Reviews #7: Castle of the Silver Prince

Since there is just so much content in this entire campaign setting I am going to skim it capsule-review style in recognition of it could be some time before I get through it all in detail. Short answer, this is a colossus of a project, with material for years of play.

You can get the authors own overview of all the bits and pieces in the launch-day blogpost

Castle of the Silver Prince Module - comes in a bunch of variant covers, I went for the limited edition orange spine. This is a donkey-killer of a giant book detailing 470 locations across the 8 levels of the castle. There is a complex interplay of magical seasons that make each entry sizeable - as well as all the descriptive markers of odor, features, structural aspects, hazards (traps, monsters, etc.) and secrets we have some of those changing depending on what 'season' the castle is in - randomly determined on arrival. So in fact we have 470 locations x 4 as places to explore - and a ticking clock every time the party enters the castle - which together make this a colossal place to explore and one that really captures the old-school 'every time, start at the door' feel which makes sharp mapping and discovering short-cuts a key piece of play. This book also has a proposed shared background for party membes - the house of Wicke - which is neat and comes with some nice ties into the campaign background.

The campaign premise is that the party gets a charter to reclaim a border castle between two nations - where that castle construction, its residents, the leadership of one nation, its one-time master and some of the monsters lurking in the region are all linked. Clues to events and elements within the castle can be found out in the wilderness around it and as the campaign begins, two grand competing forces are swinging into play as the campaign begins making the castle the fulcrum around which the fate of the region turns. Events ratchet up overtime, motivating returns to the castle to try and save humanity from two dread fates.

The books are supposed to be used with the Module open on the location you are at, the Maps book open to the right map and then you can look up the bits and pieces at that location in the Appendix. With a little wearing-in I can see this working quite well = Map book changes slowy, locations in the Module change as the party moves and you can flip over and back through the Appendix. I cnn see the Maps books will need to be weighed down at the corners but it does all feel suitably epic.

13 March 2024

Lavish feasts and high tables (RPG Blog Carnival)

For this months blog carnival we are back to the host VDonnut Valley for the topic of Feasts, Foods and Fancy Drinks, oh my!. You can see the rest of the topics for 2024 on Of Dice And Dragons 2024 Blog Carnival hosting list.

I've talked about Food in world building before, this time we delve deeper into what is served at the noble tables of the dragonbloods - or what is served when the point is to dine extravagantly?

All this will of course be set against the backdrop of the hosts day-to-day extravagance - chairs of rare woods, hangings of extinct beasts, paintings by great masters, war trophies, relics - all the things that are rare and coveted are just the frame for the feast.

For best impression the hosts would like to hit as many of these as they can - getting more extravagant and perhaps reaching the bounds of the hosts tastes and/or courage as we go down.

11 March 2024

Shiny TTRPG links #163

Some curious links from about the internet. Even more can be found on the previous list found here or you can check the RPG Blog Carnival or on Third Kingdom Games news roundup. There is no r/OSR blogroll this week for reasons unknown. Originally inspired by weaver.skepti.ch End of Week links.

Various and Sundered Items presents GLOG Class: Flock of Sheeple

The Burnt World of Athas releases the magnificenty Dark Sun 3e

Maynooth University has a Writing for Role-Playing Games Microcredential

Tales of the Lunar Lands gives us Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like RPGs...

Playful Void shares Red Button Monsters

Archstone Press gives us Lonely Fun in the NSR

Pelgrane Press archive diving finds Problem Solving vs Problem Protecting

Trilemma Adventures gives us Whose Mechanic is it Anyway?

All Dead Generations shares Beyond the Crystal Frontier - A Gazetteer of the World

Against The Wicked City gave us Bringing Down the Hammer, part 12: my own private WFRP

RuneHammer writes Plasticity

Sea of Stars gives us Dragons Feasts and Foods

Save vs Total Party Kill shares Mordheim 2024

Flintlocks and Witchery gave us Here's Some F*ckin' DnD!

09 March 2024

Player perspective after four years of play

With four years since session zero now under our belt I thought I would pull together some of the player views on the Ducal House campaign.

I polled my players and a couple of themes droped out:
- depth of the world
- NPC interactions and political intrigue
- no solutions, only problems
- character evolution through their campaign experiences

On depth of the world they said they liked how much time they have spent in the world, how familiar it now is - particularly after the significant amount of time in the starting city. Now as they return after quite a lot of time away - re-encountering NPCs and being back on well known terrain is something they are enjoying. The interaction with the world now has a fluency that is in line with what the characters that actuall dwell in this world ought to.

Deep record keeping is becoming a challenge which ties to long real-world calendar time passing while the game-world turns relatively slowly within it. The Bard has taken to bi-annual re-reads of their notes to try and keep it all in mind. Enjoyment of the world and its intracicies is had despite it being hard to retain.
I enjoy the world and intricacies, but they refuse to stay in my brain (shoutout to our great bard for the notes and our cleric for having the brains)
our actions have consequences, even the minor ones. I very much enjoy hearing rumours filter back or learning that something we neglected in the beginning has not died as a story threat but has been brewing in the background. it feels immensely rewarding and daunting at the same time to know that what you do matters...for the better and for the worse
familiarity with the world from having spent so much time in Thenya, and even after quite a lot of time away - spent the time, got to know the place - and can really look back and see how we have grown. It feels earned.

06 March 2024

Review: Flee, Mortals!

tl:dr; a toolbox for building intricate, challenging combat encounters with gorgeous art and tons of encounter ideas.

The MCDM Monster Book - built around 'action oriented monsters' - the revamp of the 5e monster manual that MCDM has been talking about for a while prior to launching the kickstarter. I backed it since I agreed with the thoughts about some of the issues and was interested to see what solutions they came up with.

Gorgeous book, great art, slightly glossier, lighter paper than the standard WotC book but it makes a bigger book not take up more space. The dust cover really makes it stand-out on the shelf. All the little quality elements are great - sewn pages, ribbon, dust cover - the finish is very good. Getting my hands on a copy here in Europe involved shelling out ridiculous shipping fees but in for a penny I guess.

04 March 2024

02 March 2024

Tracking "Strict Time Records" in a campaign

tl;dr: reviewing time records from an urban/wilderness campaigns highlight how time is the key resource in cities

Nudged into action by Vladars blog on Strict Time Records I dug out the data for my home campaign. My feeling was it was a less meaningful thing since we started as an urban campaign where the resource is not torches or food but time - and because every half hour was precious we progressed relatively slowly down the calendar. The party was happy to split up to get things done *in space* but not in time - reconvening regularly to compare notes and plan next steps every couple of hours.

I took a look at how we progressed down the calendar over the course of the campaign - each in-world month is 30 days.