Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Editorial Content

Today I became a bit disturbed when I read someone's blog.  A blog that's usually about gaming, and D&D in particular.  I am not going to mention the name of the blog, because I no longer want to promote that blog.  Trust me, I am a big advocate of free speech, but I feel that with that freedom comes a certain responsibility.  The post on this blog was to say the least, very political, ( at least in my opinion ), and the blogger came across as being very abrasive.  I understand having strong feelings about something, but what was said, and how it was said was to me just plain wrong.

Why am I even discussing this?  Because, as a blogger I want to be clear that no matter how many people read this blog, or how many followers I have, this blog will always be about gaming, in one form or another, usually role-playing.  I am not going to try to foster my beliefs and opinions on my readers, unless it's about gaming.  Especially if my readership grows, to do so would be wrong in my opinion.  If I want to blog about something political, religious, or whatever, I have other blogs for that.  Or I can start a new one.  I went to that blog today expecting something about gaming, or close enough to warrant my attention, and that's not what was there.  I read it anyway, and in a way I felt betrayed.  The blogger is entitled to their opinion, they can even blog about it, but if you have a blog that is supposed to be about a certain subject, and you change the editorial content in a big way, then it's deceitful.  Even if it's just for ONE POST.  You have the followers for a reason, stick to your usual content.  I am NOT INTERESTED in your political/religious/whatever views, unless it somehow pertains to the subject of your blog, and even then I'm probably not interested.

If you want to blog about politics then start another blog, if your blog is about gaming, then blog about gaming.  I understand there may be the occasional off topic post, but this post was beyond the pale, and in a way very hypocritical.  I understand that it is their blog, and that they can blog about whatever they want, but I don't have to promote it, read it, or support it.

I don't mind the occassional "slice o' life", biographical, what's going on in my life posts.  In fact I enjoy those as much as anything else, even when it doesn't have much to do with gaming. 

Anyway, thanks for reading.  Tomorrow, back to something gaming related, and hopefully fun, informative, and entertaining.  I promise I will try to hit all three...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Talk about a real life successful savings throw!

Check this out! A 10 year old Australian girl survives being stung by one of the most venomous creatures in the world, a box jellyfish.  The full article is here .
Normally, when a person meets a box jellyfish, the result is near instant death for the human. But Rachel not only survived her encounter; several months later, she's doing reasonably well. Her surprising story of survival has led at least one professor to credit her with being a medical marvel.
The amazing thing is that, the girl didn't get stung just once, but many times!  Miracle?  Who knows, but I've always heard from Fire Fighters, EMTs, and Paramedics, that if it isn't your time to die, then it isn't your time.

Something like this makes me want to rethink the way hit points, wounds, and saving throws work.

Funky Mood and a Full Moon

I've been wracking my brain trying to decide what to post today, and well, all I can say is that I'm in a funk.  I don't have writer's block or anything, just not feeling it today.  I was going to scan and post some art work I did way back in high school, but for some reason my scanner is not working.  Which just adds on to the funk...

Anyway, it's early yet.  I may yet make my savings throw, and break free of the funk curse, and post something.

There's a full moon tonight, I think that may be affecting me. Aaaarrrroooooooooooooooooooo!  Also, I think I need a cookie.  Cookies are good...  especially big cookies, with chocolate chips...  and a big glass of milk...  followed by a brownie...  with walnuts...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Break Over, Time to BLOG!

I decided to extend my birthday break from blogging to include the weekend, but I'm back now.  I'm feeling good, and feeling rested.  I even watched a little television, which I rarely do these days.  The old brain machine is still churning with ideas, and I hope to get to most of them.

As a general rule, I'm usually not one to "drop names", but the mapping project I mentioned before was for none other than Tim Kask.  What?  You don't know who Tim Kask is?  Then check out his wikipedia article, or his Q & A over on the Dragonsfoot forums.  A google search will bring up plenty of information about Tim, so google away!

If you don't know who he is don't feel too bad, when I first replied to his request for mapmakers on Dragonsfoot, ( his forum name is kaskoid ), I had no idea who he was.  He also posted the same request on the Cartographer's Guild forums.  When I saw his name on the email he sent me, then my brain started to get that certain itch, so I googled him, and was surprised to see who he was.  He's about as old school as you can get.

Anyway, I finished the maps on my birthday, and sent him the jpegs.  Now, I'm not 100% sure he's going to use them, but when he mentioned he was going to send them to an artist for the cover work I think that's a good indication he's going to use them.  So if you play in one of his upcoming convention games, at either North Texas RPG Con, or GenCon, ( I'm not sure at which one he'll be using them at ) then there's a good chance you'll be dungeon crawling through my maps!  Yeah, I'm getting a big kick out of this!

I've been looking at the Open d6 Ressurection wiki site, and really like the system.  In all the years I was a hard-core gamer, I never once played in a d6 game!  Well, maybe once at a convention, my memory is kind of fuzzy.  I may use it for my weird west campaign world, or not, still undecided on that.  It just seems like a nice modular system, that I can pick and choose what I want to use, and it seems  flexible enough to add house rules, without it getting all wonky.

One thing I really want to explore is online role-playing.  I've tried the play-by-post, but never really got into it.  It's been a while, and I need to research all the options now available.  The only drawback is that my bandwidth is horrible right now, so I don't think that skype thing is an option.

Okay, enough for now.  I'll be back tomorrow, and hopefully with something interesting!  Keep rolling those dice!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Prowling eBay.

Between yard work, and my current mapping project; my blogging today will be negligible.  It's also my birthday tomorrow, and I've been prowling eBay all evening.  I remembered I had a little money in my PayPal account so I thought, what the heck!  I might as well start rebuilding my collection.  Of course there's a ton of stuff I want, and limited funds...  aarrrggghhh.  I think I need to make a list and prioritize my gaming purchases.

I think I've decided what I want, but not 100% positive.  Anyway, due to it being my b-day tomorrow, I probably won't be posting again until Friday.  So until then, have fun, and keep rolling those dice!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Public Domain Images

I was going to post another magic item, but magic items are a dime a dozen in the blogosphere.  Of course I'm not saying there aren't some great and creative maigic items out there!  Anyway, there's always tomorrow for magic items.

Instead, I found this great website, Laim's Pictures From Old Books , it is a tremendous source for public domain images.  If you don't already know about it, go check it out!  Here's one I found...

This house plan would make a great map for a Call of Cthulu scenario, or anything else in the horror genre.  "Professor Simmons!  There's something strange in the sitting-room! Aaaaaarrrgggghhh..."

"It's been ages since there's been a wandering adventurer..."

Anyway, I hope you find the website of some use.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mysterious Scroll

©2010 Frank C. Anderson, Jr.
 These mysterious scrolls are usually found in the workshop of a wizard's lair. However, they are very rare, and of unknown origin. Larger than normal magical scrolls, and covered in strange glyphs they have no similarities to magical scrolls. The scroll itself is thicker than parchment, or papyrus, ( about a half an inch thick ), and seems to pulsate as if it were alive. The glyphs have a reddish glow, and also have an interior greenish glow. If the scroll is touched or picked up it feels warm, and almost flesh-like. A Read Magic spell has no effect, and neither will any sort of scholarly read magic skill.

If a character touches one of the glyphs there can be a variety of effects. Only one glyph can be touched per day, and if another glyph is touched, the character is shocked for 1d6 damage. The scroll can only be used 3 times a week, otherwise the character will take 1d6 points of damage every attempt to use the scroll above that. A GM is free to determine the glyph's effects, and the following is merely an example...

It can either be a roll or correspond to the order of the glyphs on the scroll.

1. The character relives a horrible experience, but gets a +1 to a future savings throw versus fear.
2. The glyph is transferred to the characters hand, and can be used once to heal 1d10 points of damage. A  different glyph appears on the scroll, and has a different effect.
3. The character can see into the Ethereal Plane for 2d6 hours.
4. The character's skin temporarily turns green for 2d12 hours.
5. The character doesn't need to breathe for 1d20 days.
6. The scroll absorbs 1d6 hit points from the character, and is recharged twice that number.
7. The character's skin temporarily turns a deep black for 1d10 hours.
8. The glyph is transferred to the character's hand, and can be used to Teleport up to 100' once.
9. The character is shocked for 1d10 points of damage, and the glyph changes to a different glyph.
10. The character's hearing is heightened for 1d6 days, but cannot speak, +3 to hearing perception rolls.
11. The character upon touching the glyph will understand how the scroll works if they make an Intelligence roll, but they won't know the effects of the glyphs until they touch them. The glyph then disappears and is replaced with a different one.
12. The character's hair grows to twice it's current length.

The scroll will come with 1d20+5 charges. As the charges are consumed the glow of the glyphs is diminished. Once 100 charges are used, then it will need to be "nourished" with the blood of the characters who use it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Unusual Gaming Aids

I spent a large part of Saturday doing a little house work.  Dishes, laundry, organising... bleh.  I still have a lot left to do, but I made some progress.  After that I took a break, and laid down for a bit of a rest, and started brainstorming about my next blog entry.  I'm sure I had some great ideas, but as I was telling myself to get up, and start writing... I fell asleep.  Oh well... pfffft go the ideas...

Actually, I remember one of the topics I was thinking about, and it had to do with non-traditional gaming aids.  Something besides the usual battlemats, and minis, maybe the odd prop, but something different...

I was thinking about Silly Putty® as a miniature, ( perfect for blobs, and you can get it in a variety of colors ), and was trying to think of other unusual gaming aids.  A lot of people will use theme music and sound effects, but how many GMs use other "atmospheric" game dressings?  Like perhaps black light bulbs?  Or a fog machine?  Actually, even with a chiller these things aren't the best idea.  I discovered this at my first ever Halloween party.  I was using a chiller, which causes the fog to hug the ground, and it still gave someone a bit of a problem due to their asthma.   Oh well, live and learn.

What about a strobe light?  I discovered that a strobe light in complete darkness, combined with blowing soap bubbles, is down right freakiness.  I'm not sure how you would use that in a gaming session, but maybe a LARP?

I guess if the atmospheric dressings effect the game in an adverse way, then they should only be used a short time for a very dramatic effect.

One time I wanted some unusual terrain.  I actually needed to depict some strange, rocky growths, so I used some popcorn, popped with a hot air popper, and hot glued it to some cardboard.  Then I spray painted it red.  The players where to say the least, unimpressed, and just walked through the area without so much as checking out the rocks, or searching the area.  Oh well, the hazards of the sandbox I guess.

All I got for now.  What have you guys used for unusual gaming aids/props?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Creativity, the Blogosphere, and You

I was reading a blog entry on JoetheLawyers blog, JoetheLawyer's Wonderous Imaginings , about how he felt he didn't contribute to the gaming community in the form of anything creative.  Here's my reponse:

I think amost everyone who writes in the blogosphere of gaming has something to contribute, and believe it or not, sometimes the most mundane thing can create a creative spark in someone. So just because you're not creating a new monster, magic item, or NPC every week doesn't mean you're not "in the game."

As far as being creative, whether it's fiction, making stuff up, art, whatever, the best piece of advice I ever received was, "Do not fear the blank page." Or blinking curser in this case.

There's a lot of great advice online about being creative, and yes it is a skill that can be developed. Yes, some people come to it naturally, but you can get more creative. It's truly a worthwhile skill to develop. Just keep at it. Remember to write the ideas down as the come to you, no matter where you are. If you don't, you will forget. A small, cheap notebook is all you need, nothing fancy. I found the more I pay for a notebook the less likely I will use it! ( Like the Moleskines. )

I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Zanazaz ( Is thinking I need to copy this for my blog post tonight... )

Okay, so I'm being lazy, and using this as a post, but I feel it has merit, and that ANYONE can be creative if they just try.  Get out from in front of the television, or in some cases the computer, and create.  Sometimes being a little creative will snowball into more creativity, and it becomes easier over time to be creative.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Chaotic Campaign Formulae

During one of my recent voyages through the blogosphere, I found a great post on Places To Go, People To Be about a unique method for campaign creation.  There was also a link to this post on Jeff's Gameblog.  So I decided to create my own "formulae" for campaign creation, yet another great creative exercise.  Now my formulae is still incomplete, and a work in progress, but here's what I came up with...

First you take a set of core rules, add a setting, then a supplement or two, or three, and an odd game mechanic or two.  Add spices to taste.  Here's what I have so far..

I decided on a setting first, and picked the Riverworld, from the series of science fiction books written by Philip Jose Farmer.  If you are unfamiliar with the series the premise is that everyone who was ever alive on Earth gets resurrected on a planet that consists of one VERY long river valley.  The great thing is that if you die you get resurrected again somewhere else on the river.  It's a great series, and this setting has many adventuring options.  My initial decision is to use either Gamma World or Mutant Future as the core rules.  This would add something different.  Now, no one would start with mutations, but if they died, there is a chance they will be resurrected with one or more mutations.  There would be no mutant animals. There's a great Riverworld sourcebook that was published by Steve Jackson Games, so that would come in handy. 

I haven't decided on the odd game mechanic, but I'll think of something.  Perhaps a die roll to determine the number of mutations that you then draw from a Deck of Mutations.  I'm thinking that would be good, because the player keeps the card,  because if the character dies again, then they have to reroll for the chance at new mutations, and they could return without mutations.  Such is the nature of this version of the Riverworld.

I like this concept because it's weird, and would be fun to play a historical character with mutations.  Say perhaps, George Armstrong Custer with wings?  Or a two headed George Washington with a Life Leech field?  A 20' tall Pee-wee Herman?  Okay, maybe not that, but you get the idea.

Okay enough fun for now.  Keep rolling those dice!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the Mutagenic Zone

I've been thinking about creating a more genre specific blog, and decided on a science fiction/post apocolyptic/futuristic theme.  Then I thought, do I really want to start a new blog, even if I only post infrequently?  Heck yes!  If only to design a cool logo/masthead!  Check it out!  The Mutagenic Zone!
I'm using waaaaay too many exclamation points!!!

I tried to post the picture here, but it got all squished.  Oh well, let me know what you think.  Ovadimp had already packed his bags, and is ready to move.  I'm going to go work on my mega-dungeon now...  ...or sleep...

Textual Mapping

A different way to map?

I've been exploring all the different computer mapping programs there are, and while I finally decided on the one I like best, I like to keep my creative options open.  I've been exploring all the different ways to map, i.e., analog, digital, and combinations of the two. Then I thought of a fourth way to map, and I wondered if anyone else has tried it?

Anyway, my idea was, as a creative exercise, was to 'map' a dungeon using words. Describe it, instead of drawing it. I called it textual mapping.  Something like this:

The Caverns of Klon

The entrance to the Caverns of Klon is a natural sinkhole. The kobolds keep it hidden with dead brush and debris, and move the cameoflage when they need to enter. To descend to the main cavern they use a crudely built wooden ladder. The shaft is about three feet in diameter, and would be a tight fit for a very large human. Anything larger would not fit. An average sized human could not climb down wearing a heavily laden pack. That's one of the reasons the kobold use the caverns. The distance from the top of the sinkhole to the floor of the main cavern is about 30'. The shaft opens up about 10' down, and the cavern is roughly the shape of a dome. If a human uses the ladder there is a chance 20% chance it will break, every humanoid that climbs down after that increases the chance by five percent.

At the bottom of the ladder there are usually a few kobolds on guard. Roll 1d6 to determine the number present.

The main cavern is about forty feet in diameter. The outer edges are mostly unreachable because the stalactite covered ceiling slopes downward. The main cavern is the kobold living area. The floor has been leveled with dirt and flat rocks. The area has crude furniture and sleeping areas.

In the center is a clear pool of water. The water in the pool is very fresh and feed by a small magical bottle on the bottom that was long ago covered with flowstone. A detect magic spell will reveal the source of the water, but any attempt to remove it will break the bottle, and the water will stop flowing. The pool is only about three feet deep and about 8' in diameter. Also on the bottom of the pool is a small invisible chest, that contains a Ring of Fireballs, and one other random, small magic item, and a couple of 10 GP gems. Around the perimeter of the pool are a variety clay jugs and gourds the kobolds use to carry water in.

To the southwest is a tunnel leading to a smaller cavern where the kobolds keep their meager possesions and treasure. The tunnel is only about five feet wide, and five to six feet high. Very tall humanoids would have to stoop or run the risk of banging their heads. The kobolds have knocked most of the stalactites and stalagmites down, and moved them into the main chamber.

The cavern is filled with empty crates, baskets, sacks, and assorted debris. There is a basket with some rations of hard tack,dried meat and fish. There is also a small barrel of ale, and one of wine. If the players search long enough they will find a small chest with 10 GP, 20 SP, and 40 CP. In one crate there is a dagger, and two crude clubs. There is also a chest of rudimentery tools, i.e hammers, hatchets, pry bars, etc. If the players are looking for a specific tool there is a small chance 1 to 6% that the chest may contain it, unless it is something very esoteric, like a jewelers hammer.

To the north is a large tunnel which leads to a dead end caused by a cave in. The tunnel is about 8' high, and roughly 10' wide, and goes on for about 50' before you reach the dead end. There is nothing of interest in the tunnel.

Okay, this was a total of 675 words, and I think it's all I would need to run this short adventure.


It's been 39 days since I started this blog, and 31 posts, so I guess I've "missed" eight days of posts, but some of those days I posted late at night, so technically to me it was the same day.  Then there were the days I posted twice, so I think I've been good about posting frequently.

The reason I missed posting yesterday was because I spent a large amount of time creating a couple of maps for someone to use in a module they will be running at either North Texas RPG Con, or GenCon. ( Two different scenarios. )  I read a post on one of the Dragonsfoot forums, and later the Cartographers Guild, that someone needed some maps for the module they were going to run at the conventions I mentioned.  Anyway, I answered, not knowing who the poster was, ( I won't mention who it is, but he's about as old school as they come. )  Later I replied to the post on the Cartographers Guild, and uploaded the sample dungeon that I posted on here a couple of days ago, so he could see what I could do.

He eventually sent me a message, and said to email him, so that's what I did.  After reading the email, I thought his name sounded familiar so I googled him, and was a little surprised.  Oh well, this should be interesting.  I emailed him jpegs of the first drafts of the maps, and I'm waiting for his reply.  They may not actually be what he's looking for, and I think he has a few people submitting maps, so I'm not holding my breath.  All in all, it's been another good learning experience.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's Worse Than Writers Block!

Somedays, I just can't decide what I want to write about.  I may read someone else's blog, and think, "What a great idea!", and I will want to explore their ideas further.  I've also been wanting to give my perspective on the OSR and gaming in general, since I have decided to return to this great hobby.  Then there are the campaign ideas I have, the house rules I'm contemplating, and well, you get the idea. 

If it was writers block there are tricks to get around that, but when you have TOO much to write about what do you?  Prioritize I guess.  Sometimes I think that the bloggers that follow a very specific theme have the right idea, and I enjoy them, but I also like the freedom of being able to cover what topics I want to cover, even if it's only remotely connected to gaming.

Oh before I forget again, I received my stuff from ze bulette, blogger of Dungeon and Digressions , for being the 100th follower.  I received a nice hard-back copy of Fantasy Wargaming, ( which actually replaces my copy that I lost in one of my "Great Cataclysms" ), some Pig-faced Orcs from Otherworld Miniatures, and a bonus!  A copy of christians, ( of Destination Unknown fame, and video blogger extraordinaire ), fan supplement for World of Darkness, Faces in the Crowd, Volume 1.  Now I don't play WoD, but after reading it a bit, I know I can plug these characters into a modern day campaign using just about any core rules.  This 'zine has some very interesting character descriptions, and the stat block will help if you want to convert them to another rule set.  I don't know if he has any left, but if he does, and you like WoD, you should get a copy, and no, you can't have mine. Woot!  Great stuff!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Old School Dungeon"

Created with Paint.NET.

This is the first "dungeon" I've created in a long, long, time.  I'm not sure, now that I think about it that it can be considered an old school dungeon?  Oh well, it's really not for anything, it's just an exercise to help learn the program.  It's on a canvas that is 8.5" x 11".  I used three layers to make this map.  One for the grid, another for the map, and the third one for the text.  There are a couple of functions I wish it had, like snap to grid, but it's not a deal breaker.  This program has so much going for it I can deal with that.

I'm really happy with Paint.NET.  I think it's more functional than most of the free/shareware dungeon or world mapping programs available.  Plus, it can be used for so many other things as well, like for instance, creating a new blog logo, creating a webcomic, or touching up photographs.  Want to design your own card game?  You can do it with Paint.NET.  Gee, it's almost starting to sound like I'm being paid by them, but that's not the case.  It's just a great program, and only a little more difficult to learn than MS Paint.  Trust me I tried GIMP, but I didn't like it.  I tried the trial version of Campaign Cartographer, and didn't think much of it.  So if I haven't said it before, Paint.NET is a keeper!

Dora the Adventurer Caption Contest, Over at I See Lead People

Okay, so Eli Arndt is having a contest over on his blog, I See Lead People .  He drew a cartoon of Dora the Explorer and some of her friends after his daughter was describing how they were leaving the dungeon, and he mentioned it reminded him of Dora, hence the cartoon.

The other night while we were playing Labyrinth Lord, one of the girls was naming off the route they had taken through the dungeon and it reminded me of Dora The Explorer when she names off the way they get someplace. Inspired by that conversation I whipped up this little drawing of the characters as typical D&D adventurers. It's a quicky and left pretty much to lines in case somebody wanted to colorize it.

I'd like to propose that you readers throw out your best captions for the cartoon. There is no prize other than being the winner. The winner will be the person who's caption makes me snort and laugh the most. Have fun!
So I took up the challenge, and here's what I did...

Well, Eli I did have fun, and I also learned a little more, actually, a lot more about using Paint.NET.  At one point I had cool blood splatters all over the wall and floor, but I decided it was a bit too much, so I removed them.  I really like the purple viking helmet, and the pink pommel of her sword.  Adds a nice touch I think...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Random Generators ~ Loads of Fun!

Today, I discovered a great website that has a ton of generators.  It's the Seventh Sanctum , and it has just about anything you might need in the way of a generator.  I've only tried out about three ( so far ), Weird Name Generator, Bookspinner, and Magic Items.

The generators can be set to generate a variable number anywhere from 1 to 10 for the books, and 5, 10, 15, or 20 for others.  I haven't tried them all, so keep in mind some may be different.

My favorite so far has been Bookspinner.  Here's one I had generated:

A Treatise of Invocation

This book is easily understandable thanks to incredibly well-done and helpful illustrations. The book's well-done nature allows one to easily find that it has little useful information. Though flawed, one can definitely see that the concepts in the book do show a lot of original thought.

Examining the book, one will find: Folded-down pages marking informative information A list of scolars in a recognizable, but foreign language can be found secreted in the binding.

The site also has information, and advice, as well as code for writing your own generators!  Plus, to top it all off, it has a list of other generator sites as well!

So to close this post I will include one of the three Super Ninjas that I had generated...

This pure kunoichi is short and has a wide-hipped build. Her hooded eyes are ash-gray. She has jade-colored hair worn in a style that resembles a flowing stream. Her outfits are odd. She uses an elegant form of martial arts that emphasizes headbutting. Her preferred weapon is a crossbow (which has holy powers). She is skilled in snowboarding, boating, and impersonation. She can read the psychic impressions off of objects.

I can think of nothing worse that getting elegantly headbutted by an oddly dressed ninja.  I should turn her into a mutated human for Mutant Futures, and have her team up with Ovadimp .

So if you've hit a creative dry spell, or just need a little creative boost, or an odd name, a strange book, or just want a bit of entertainment, Seventh Sanctum is the website to visit. 

Okay, here is one more for the road!

Evil Animal Minion Generator: Release the enormous shape-shifting chihuahuas that spew deadly parasites!

These chihuahua's sound just like something the Super head-butting Ninja and Ovadimp would face in the radioactive wastelands in Mutant Futures.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Steven Savage wrote the Source Code for the generators, and is the creator of the Seventh Sanctum website.

A Fine Day

Nothing amazing on the blog agenda today.  I've been busy learning how to use Paint.NET, and I really like it's functionality.  I downloaded a bunch of plugins, and man, this program rocks!  If you need a good graphics program, and don't want to spend a boatload of money, this is the ONE YOU WANT!  Forget GIMP.  Paint.NET has a fairly easy learning curve, and there are plenty of tutorials for the difficult stuff.  Two of the plugins let me make hex and square grids, which makes it perfect for cartography.  Here's a minor sample:

The map above was just something I did while learning how to use the different plugins.  I am very happy with the way it works.  So, all in all, I think this is the program I'll be mainly using for mapping.  By using different layers I can easily make player maps, and put propriatary GM info on a different layer.  Woot!  This thing will work great for dungeons and system maps for Traveller!  It's also great for other art work as well.  Okay, I've got to stop now.  Busy with so many projects...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

the Monsters of Mayhem

Learning How to Use a Graphics Program

After an afternoon of yard work, then making dinner, I surfed the net while eating, and then decided to work on learning how to use Paint.NET .  I wasn't really in a map making mood so I played around with it, and then decided to see if it could be used to design a collectible card game.  Yeah, I know, many gamers despise CCGs, but I don't.  ( I actually sold my Magic the Gathering cards ages ago. ) Anyway, I thought it would be a good way to learn the program, instead of just messing around.  Here's what I did:

©2010 Frank Anderson, Jr.

Now, this was about an hours worth of work, but now that I know what I am doing it will go quicker.  Also, I'm not at my best drawing with a mouse, and plan on doing most of the work with pen and ink, and scanning it.  The game mechanics are just made up on the fly, but I do want this to be a simple, fun, and quick game.  The working title is, the Monsters of Mayhem, but I will probably change it.

I learned quite a bit from working on this one card.  One, that 2.5" x 3.5" is NOT a lot of room to work with.  I learned layers are your friends, and that there are no worries when you make a mistake.  Undo is a miracle!

Now, I could probably do so much more with one of the more expensive graphic programs out there, but it's just not in the budget right now, and Paint.NET does what I need it to do, and at the right price!  FREE!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Old West Roleplaying Games

Well, after only about 3 hours of sleep, I'm awake again.  I feel more rested than I probably should, due to the fact that I had been awake for nearly 32 hours before I took my oh so brief nap.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll be ready for a nap later.

Edited:  After I wrote this I crashed again, and slept about 8 hours.  Now I have yard work to do.  UGH.  I need a Zombie Apocalypse right about now.

Western RPGs

After I discussed wanting to run a Weird West campaign in my last post, I did some research and discovered there are many Western RPGs, some of which are still in print.  There's also a lot of skirmish level miniature rules for western style combat as well.  Plus, there are a few wargames set during that time period.  Check out White Wash City's Wild West Game Rules Link Page!  They've also got some great card-stock PDF models of a typical western town in 28mm scale for sale that looks great.

I have seen Deadlands before, and I knew they covered the Weird West genre.  I was slightly interested, but I was already "invested" into so many other games, I knew I probably would never play it.  I don't know anything about the rules, but it's still in print so they can't be that bad.  Deadlands also seem to have a boatland of modules, and supplements.  Eventually, I'll pick up a copy, and maybe even run a game, but right now I've got a hankering to write my own weird west rules.  In fact, I'll probably put my other RPG rules on the backburner for now so I can work on this.

In fact, I've got a lot already brewing in the space between my ears.  ( I think there's a brain in there, but I  don't know for sure.  I've never seen it. )  I've got a name, Kinship: Weird Meets the Old West, and a lot of basic ideas for NPCs, and scenarios.  I want the game mechanics to be simple, combat fast and fun, with a lot of flavor to enhance the role-playing, and chances for character development.  I don't want a "shoot em up' cowboy game.  Although, gunfights and battles are going to happen, I want it to be a bit more than that.  The primary setting will be Kinship, a struggling town, and it's neighbor, Death Gulch, a town mostly full of the undead, and not just your garden variety undead either.  These zombies will have a more than a passing resemblance to their prior humanity.  They just want to eat your flesh, before they have to tend to the chickens.

It just seems to me it would be fun to play or even run a Weird Old West RPG.  Something different anyway...

A Little of This and a Little of That...

If it seems like I'm jumping around a bit, it's because I'm jumping around a bit.  I've been awake close to 30 hours now, and still don't feel sleepy, but I know the crash is coming.  Gotta love caffeine...

The Featured Blog, ( Until it changes... ) is now Trollsmyth.  I really liked what Trollsmyth wrote in his latest post.  One of these days I will write an in-depth article on my views of the OSR, and role-playing games in general.

I downloaded Paint.Net and so far I'm happy with what it can do.  It's much better than MS Paint, and has quite a few nice features.  Looks like I found a good graphics program for mapping.  Check it out!  I even found a tutorial for making maps with it, over on the Cartographer's Guild.  I was trying to download TerraJ, a fractal mapping program, but I had problems, and the download went all wonky.  I may try again later.

Of course, before I get all "techno-mappy", I still want to make a few maps "old school style" with graphite and colored pencils, graph paper, gold and silver glitter...  wait, I've said too much.  Colored pencils may be a bit too fancy.

I'm still struggling with Scribus, but I've made much progress the last couple of days.  One problem I'm having is that I can make the PDFs fine, but when I check it out, I can't seem to highlight any of the text to copy it to the clipboard?  I'm stumped.  I sure I've got the security setting correct.  I've scoured the Scribus Wiki site looking for an answer, but have had no luck.  UGH.  Maybe, I'm just to wired and tired.

I've been working on Crunchmaster, my homegrown RPG rules, but still have a long way to go.  Crunchy as crunchy can be!

I've also been wondering if there's a Boot Hill retro-clone?  I've had this itch for a long time to run a Weird West campaign.  You know, nothing too revolutionary or even new,  a cross between Wild, Wild, West, old westerns, and that old series from Heavy Metal Magazine called Tex Arcana.  You can read the entire series here

It would be great!   A mix of horror, westerns, and perhaps a bit of steam punk.  Were-coyotes, wicked snake oil salesmen, masked vigilantes,  "Hi ho Electrum, away!"  I could even throw a bit of Kung Fu in as well.  "Yah know Sherriff them der Rowdy boy's are gettin' well... rowdy agin. Watcha gonna do bouddit?" ( Can yah tell I'm a Native Texan? )  High Plains Drifter meets Frankenstein's Monster.  Oh, and the Sherriff!  Wait, I can't spill all the beans... So what's not to like?

See that's a big problem.  My mind NEVER stops thinking, or creating.  I don't have time for it all, but I do try.  Some things I do forget about, but it eventually gets dredged back up, and now I keep copious amounts of notes.  I've even been working on a CCG based on my cartoons that were published in Japan.  These would be self-published, and I've already found a place that does POD collectible card games.  It's really not that expensive either.

Okay enough rambling I think I'm fading fast.  When you read this I'll probably be fast asleep.  Let's see going on close to 31 hours now... but I kinda feel like I could go on for 10 more.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Skull of Xectopax

Late last night I was deleting files from my hard drive, and found something I had forgotten I had downloaded.  I was about to delete it, but decided to see what it could do.  It's a little Windows application called Ruins Generate, and it's really not that spectacular.  Here's a screenshot of one I did last night.

Well, what can I do with this?  Hhhmmm? A Partially Operational giant skull? In a Crevice? Guarded by Lycanthropes? Whaaaaat?  Hhhhmmmm... whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Okay, I can work with this. First things first... it's in a desert region, in a crevice, which would have to be a big crevice, because it's a giant skull. Now about that skull, hhmmmm... why is it Partially Operational? Oh yeah! It's a magical artifact! Plus, it's not just a giant skull, it's a GIANT SKULL. The skull belonged to a member of a race of super-giants that are long since extinct. It's the Skull of Xectopax, and even though it's only Partially Operational, it's still cool.

A Bit of History and Information About the Skull of Xectopax

Untold ages ago, a Mad Wizard found the Skull of Xectopax, and created an Artifact. Using magic long since forgotten, the Mad Wizard created a magical contrivance for flying through the air. No wimpy flying carpet for the Mad Wizard! This was the Skull of Xectopax! The skull was so enormous that the Mad Wizard constructed a chamber inside the cranial cavity for a pilot, and a passenger, with plenty of room left over for cargo.

The entrance is a circular hatch on the top of the skull, and is made of metal. The Skull of Xectopax requires a special key to open and operate, and only one exists. Once open, there's a ladder that allows easy access to the inner chamber.

The controls to operate the Skull of Xectopax look very technological, with levers, switches, and glowing crystals, etc, and when a character enters with the key, a hazy magical screen appears showing the view in front of the skull. ( You don't see out of the eyes. ) Inside and outside of the skull, there are many small "gadgets" and crystals that are attached to the skull, and probably have something to do with it's various functions. Most of which are now, non-operational. However, a magic-user with the right spells and knowledge, MIGHT be able to repair the skull. There are also glyphs and runes of various types carved on the outside, and some of these are also made of metal. The skull also appears to have been repaired many times, with patches, bars, and strips of metal.   There may even be an arrow or two stuck in the skull.  The eye sockets are covered in a clear crystal, and if activated from the control panel will glow with a bright light.

The only power that remains operational is flight, that is, aside from the glowing eyes, and eerie green glow, but that's more for effect than anything else.  Nothing hurts an army's morale worse than a flying green skull breathing fire!

Fortunately, ( or unfortunately ), the key is in the possession of one of the lycanthropes. A werebear who leads the Guardians of the Skull of Xectopax. ( Well, they don't actually know it's the Skull of Xectopax, but it does sound good... ) The lycanthropic guardians are of all types, and have banded together and formed a religion based on the skull.  Yes, there are conficts and in-fighting, but for the most part they work together.

The skull is in a large crevice that is in the side of a mountain. The lycanthropes have built a crude stone wall with a stout wooden door, to guard the entry way, but access can be found by climbing up the mountain, and then down inside the crevice, but they would still need the key.  Or the characters could fight their way to the skull, and hopefully find the key.

Once the characters gain the skull they can fly it over the wall.

Okay, that was fun.  I think I'm going to make this into a module.  There's much more I want to add, and it needs some work.  This was a quick first draft, and it's kind of disjointed, but I like the concept, and to think it was inspired by a little Window's application.  Ruins Generate indeed!  I almost deleted it!  Now it's a keeper.

Here's another one, it appears to favor Partially Operational Skulls guarded by lycanthropes.

And finally, one so bizzare, that it might take me a bit to come up with something for this!
Okay, enough fun for now.  Remember keep rolling those dice! And keep clear of those Dangerously Operational animated entertainments!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Woot!  I was in for a surprize today when I was reading comments left on my blog post that I wrote yesterday.  ze bulette, blogger of Dungeons and Digressions , left a comment saying I should check out his post about followers, because I had mentioned that I had 12 followers, and that it was 12 more than I thought I would ever have.  So I go and check it out, and discover that I was Dungeons and Digressions 100th follower, and there was a contest, and I had WON.

What did I win?  Well, I won the following:  A copy of Bruce Galloway’s “The Highest Level of All Fantasy Wargaming”, and a box of Otherworld Miniatures’ Pig Faced Orcs.  So today I am a happy camper.

So, not much else on the blog agenda for today.  I hope everyone has a good Easter!  Now, I will do my Happy Dance, because I won something!  Trust me, it's a rare occasion.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


April 1st came and went, and I didn't post anything.  I had this great idea for an April Fool's Dungeon, but it just didn't motivate me that much.  Then I thought of something else, but meh...  I decided to take the day off from blogging.

So far I'm really happy with what I've done here on HDWT.  I have 12 followers, and that's 12 more than I thought I would have.  This is the 21st post.  I think the next milestone should be 50.  If I make it to 50, that will be good.  I don't have an accurate hit count, because I accidently deleted my original counter, but I think I may have had around 500 hits.

When I first started this blog, I considered writing a mission statement, a statement of purpose, but the more I think about it, it would, or might, limit me in what I want to do with HDWT.  However, here's a brief statement of purpose:  I want to promote gaming in all it's manifestations, whether it's role-playing, wargaming, or board games, and as a adjunct to that, to encourage and foster creativity, and utilizing it in gaming. Have Dice ~ Dice Will Travel is also a journal of my return to gaming after a long hiatus.

So I have a fairly simple "mission statement", and covers what I want to do with HDWT.

On another subject, I like old school, but I'm not dogmatic about it. I like to think of myself as "cool school".  Hah!  Maybe that will catch on, I need to define it better.  Some of the blogs I've read seem to come from the "cruel school", but hey, to each his own.  Okay,  enough digressing...

As I said before, I like old school, but I'm not married to it.  I haven't played D&D 4E, but I wouldn't be opposed to it.  I really doubt I would buy the books, they seem way too expensive to me.  I could go buy used copies of 3.5 for less than the price of an 4E D&D book!  Oh, and I haven't played 3.5 either, remember?  I took a long hiatus from gaming.  A looooooooooong hiatus. 

I think the last RPG I played was Rolemaster.  In fact, I remember what happened to my character.  He received a mortal wound, and was gushing blood.  He had 10 rounds to live, if I recall correctly.  He made some amazing rolls, and took revenge on the beast that was responsible.  While I was fighting the beaast, the other players were chatting about how they needed my magic items, and planned on looting me.  I wasn't really happy with this, and in the cavern we were in, there was a lava flow.  So to thwart their greedy plans I ran and leaped into the lava.  The GM laughed, and the other players were, to say the least, ticked off at me.  Ah, good times...

It looks like I won't be able to attend the North Texas RPG Con.  I had forgotten about a prior commitment, and since it was largely my idea I can't back out. However, I'm still working on attending Texicon, so that's still up in the air.

Okay, enough rambling.  Everybody have a great weekend, and hopefully you will get a chance to game, and roll some dice.