Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

2022 Character Creation Challenge Day 20: Dungeons and Dragons B/X Edition

So in the 2022 Character Creation Challenge, I’ve made characters for the Dungeons and Dragons-Holmes Basic edition. In the 2021 challenge I had created a character for the Dungeons and Dragons BECMI edition. Today I am creating a character for Dungeons and Dragons B/X edition. Back when I first started playing any role playing games, I don’t know if my first character was a Holmes Basic or a Dungeons and Dragons B/X edition. I just know it was one of those two because I didn’t get my own BECMI basic book until a few months later.

As with the Holmes entry, I’m going to create the character by the rules as written and let fate decide what we end up with. (makes clacking sounds with the dice). OK, the highest is Charisma at 15 (not a prime requisite for any class in this edition) and the next is Wisdom at 13. Everything was OK except for a Dex of 8 (yikes). Constitution and Charisma are the attributes that cannot be raised or lowered. No attribute can be lowered past 9, so I can’t make any adjustments to what I rolled. STR- 9, INT- 10, WIS- 13, DEX- 8, CON- 10, CHA-15. Sounds like this character will be a Cleric with some good looks but is slightly clumsy. Rolled a 4 for hit points (not bad for a d6) and this guy is going to have a Lawful alignment.

Staring with 120 GP to select equipment. Because of the character’s negative Dex adjustment, I elected to buy plate armor. Yea I had to sacrifice a few other things that I could have picked up at the beginning (Holy Water), but if the character survives by not getting hit, he’ll be able to pick up more equipment later.

Brother Alexander was a young novice at the Church of Karameikos in the town of Dravin. He became quite popular amongst his fellow priests and the congregation in general. After a year of service, the head of the church in Dravin informed him that he had been called to travel the roads of the Grand Duchy. He was to spread the word, assist church members and rid the land of evil that was threatening the faithful. Despite his friends warnings, Alexander accepted the calling. After several weeks of weapons training, he was given a suit of plate armor, a shield and some equipment and was instructed to find others that could assist in his quest.

Afterthoughts:

Oh man, I had so many memories opening up this book again. It always puts a smile on my face when I see the artwork and text. There were so many possibilities when we were playing the game. If a rule didn’t fit, we made adjustments and kept on playing. That was the way it needed to be.

Not once, or twice, but three times they have you a summary of how to create a character. Plus they showed you a sample character sheet that was already filled out. Game designers, this is how you do it. I think it took me longer to look up religions in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos and come up with a backstory than it did to create the character.

Additional Notes:

There haven’t been any new blogs discovered that are participating in the #CharacterCreationChallenge. I am still re-tweeting any twitter posts that use the official hashtag. I’m also liking Facebook posts as I find them. Facebook’s hashtag search isn’t as good as Twitters.

Coming Up Next:

Prime Directive 1st Edition

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

2022 Character Creation Challenge Day 3: Dungeons and Dragons-Holmes Basic

As I mentioned in my Day 1 entry in the 2021 Character Creation Challenge, I never owned the blue covered Basic Dungeons and Dragons rulebook by Eric Holmes when I first started playing D&D. A friend had a copy, another had the Basic/Expert version of the rules and I owned the first Basic set from BECMI. We all compared notes and basically picked what we liked the best for our games. That all changed on December 18, 2004 when I found a copy at a local thrift store. How do I know? When I opened this book for today’s challenge, I found the receipt for the purchase. After tax, I only paid 52 cents for this book that was in very good shape. It even still had the chits attached for those players who did not have dice (this was early in the gaming industry and not a lot of people had the different shaped dice). I actually remember the trip well. I had no cash on me at the time so I had to use a card to pay for the book. Not wanting to run my card for half a buck, I looked all over the store to see if I could find anything else to buy. I even tried to look for some article of clothing for my wife. But with no luck, I tried to buy the book with my card and prayed that the store wouldn’t state that there had to be a minimum purchase. Luckily for me they were just fine running a card for such a small amount. Whew.

For this character, I’m going to use the oldest dice I own and let them decide what type of character this is. Just a straight 3d6 down the line. The dice rolled the following: Str- 16, Int- 10, Wis- 12, Con- 8, Dex-11, Cha- 6. He’s not to good looking and not of the best of health, but he’s pretty strong. So fighting man it is. No ability score can be lowered below nine, so I can’t take away anything from Intelligence to put towards Strength, but I can lower Wisdom by 3 to raise Str by 1. So Wisdom now equals 9 and Strength equals 17. Had Intelligence been higher, I might have considered an Elf character, but I’m happy with a strong, but slightly ugly fighting man (not fighter in this rule book). There were bonuses for high Dexterity and Constitution in the RAW, but nothing for a high Strength.

I ended up with 4 hit points. So Cylath will have to be careful until he gains additional levels. Next it stated I should roll for my gold and pick my equipment. 3d6x10 later I’ve started out with 110 GP. I outfitted Cylath with pretty standard equipment that a fighting man would need. I really wanted a horse but I didn’t have enough money to get one. For an alignment, It had the nine standard. I elected to go with just Neutral. I found the section on Savings Throws and wrote them down.

Cylath was the first son of one of the town guards in his small village. When he became the age of 20, his father could see that Cylath was not into the life of a farming village. The father revealed that he had once been an adventurer before settling down and felt that Cylath should set out to find his fortune and see where fate would take him. If he couldn’t make it as an adventurer, there would always be a place for him back at the village. If he could make it and find riches, he could return and help the family. Cylath jumped at the chance to get out of the sleepy village that held no interest for him. His father provided some of his old adventuring equipment and set his son off into the world.

Now I want to find some friends and go on a dungeon crawl. Here is a scan of the character sheet.

Afterthoughts:

The rule book actually referred the reader to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition Player’s Handbook for the higher levels. I can also see where a lot of items were changed for the B/X version of the game. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve enjoyed the #CharacterCreationChallenge. It reminds me of the differences when you see the rules as written (RAW).

There was no official character sheet for the Holmes-Basic edition. I even checked with a Holmes centric Facebook group. (Note to self: Holmes-Basic and Blueholme are not the same book) Luckily the internet came through and I found a character sheet for Holmes-Basic here.

Additional Notes:

I found two more blogs of participants that have been posting characters and added them to the Character Creation Challenge page. The It’s Mister Wilson entries because of his reviews. Besides posting a character, he also talked about what he liked about a game and what he would consider changing.

Coming Up Next:

The Men In Black Role Playing Game by West End Games

Posted in: Archer, Character Creation Challenge, Comic Books, Conventions, Cosplay, Doctor Who, Dune, Fan Club, Horror, Horror Hosts, Humor, James Bond, Movies, MST3K, Music, No One Lives Forever, Reviews, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, TV Review, Video Game, Website

2021 is in the rear view, now onto 2022

So another year has come and gone and I am glad. While 2021 was not as bad as the year that shall not be named, it wasn’t the easiest. There are still some challenges in this world that I really hope that our society can come together to get past. I’m still trying to focus on the positives of the past year.

==Role Playing Games==

2021 started out with the first #CharacterCreationChallenge. Amazingly enough I was able to knock out 31 characters in 31 days. I loved reading all of the different responses that the other participants and even made a few new friends along the way. I’m looking forward to the 2022 Character Creation Challenge.

There was also the #RPGaDAY2021 Challenge during the month of August. I really had a struggle with this one, but I was glad that I had participated in it.

I also had a chance to finally play an online Star Trek Adventures game. We have a second session in our “one-shot” planned very soon. The kewl thing is, the game was announced with less than a 24 hour start time. I was able to use my Star Trek Adventures entry in the Character Creation Challenge to quickly drop into the game. Playing on just Zoom is difficult, but doable.

I also had some friends get me into an online Starfinder game that lasted several months (with 1-2 sessions per month). It was interesting, but it really turned me off using Fantasy Grounds as an online platform. It’s an app instead of a browser based system and it is a resource hog like nothing else. Even the players with high end computers were having issues. Unfortunately real life caused the game to end after a few months. The Starfinder system is ok, but a bit crunchy to what I’m use to. The Pathfinder in space mentality didn’t really appeal to me either. I know I was gaming more for the company than I was for the system and universe.

I still want to get into a D&D 5th edition game or a regular Star Trek Adventure game. I’d also prefer to get back together with gaming in person, but with the way the variants are running wild, I’m not certain that will happen any time soon. I’m open to an online game if the schedules can be worked out (the same old problems).

There were several new additions to my role-playing game collection. Between purchases and donations from friends I’ve been able to add to my gaming shelf. I also took advantage of several PDF sales. Instead of listing them all here, I’m planning to save them for my Character Creation Challenge entries. I also added to my dice collection including a special die.

==Video Games==

I’m still playing my old standbys of No One Lives Forever and Tron 2.0. However thanks to a gift card for GameStop (actually ThinkGeek) I was able to pick up a few other video games that I’m looking forward to trying out. I’ve been playing Balder’s Gate and it’s been… interesting. I think I might be playing it wrong.

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order has been good so far, but I think my daughter is enjoying it more than I am.

==Movies==

Even though it came out the year before, I had the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 and I enjoyed it. I wished I could have seen it in the theater. 2021 was also the 25th Anniversary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie.

Through streaming I was able to enjoy Black Widow and Godzilla vs Kong (wish I could have seen this in the theater).

Finally getting back into the theater I was able to enjoy watching the latest James Bond movie. We finally saw the sci-fi epic Dune and loved watching the new Ghostbusters film. I still want to watch the latest Matrix movie, Spiderman movie and The King’s Man while they are in the theaters.

I’ve also watched a ton of cheesy sci-fi, fantasy and horror films on streaming services. Some were good, some were not so good.

==Television==

Creature Features held it’s 50th Anniversary. During the summer I had my photo aired on a segment of Svengoolie and my kid’s artwork promoted on Creature Features.

Netflix’s Army of the Dead was a good adventure. Amazon’s The Tomorrow War was interesting to watch. Ice Road was also interesting, but probably not a repeat watch. The Wheel of Time didn’t catch my attention at first, but slowly got a little better. I never read the books so I don’t know how it compares. I really enjoyed Foundation after I was worried how the books were going to translate to the screen. Invasion was an interesting concept, but starts out really slow. I’m glad I stuck with it. I need to finish Y: The Last Man and I’m really disappointed that we will only get one season of Cowboy Bebop.

Thank you What We Do In The Shadows, Archer and South Park for being funny. Crossed Swords was a challenge, but I was able to get into it. I’ve really enjoyed the animated Disenchantment series on Netflix. It was also good to see Animaniacs again.

On the Star Trek front, Star Trek: Prodigy has been interesting. I’ve also been enjoying Star Trek: Discovery as well. I really think that Star Trek: Lower Decks has knocked it out of the park. I am really looking forward to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I wish there was more Short Treks. Wil Wheaton’s after show “The Ready Room” has been very enjoyable and informative.

Disney+ brought us several good entries for 2021. The Muppet’s Haunted Mansion was really, really good. I really wish that they would give us more Muppets Now. WandaVision and Loki were really good from the Marvel entries. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was ok. I haven’t seen the Hawkeye series yet but plan to sit down and watch it. I really liked the What If!?! series. On the Star Wars side, The Mandalorian continued to be great. Visions was ok, but I wish I hadn’t binged it since it probably would have been better in smaller doses. The Bad Batch was also enjoyable. There has only been one episode of The Book of Boba Fett so I’ll be watching to see where this goes.

Because I missed a lot of Doctor Who episodes while I was studying for college, I spent part of the year catching up. Not only was I able to complete this task, I was able to watch the latest season as it aired. I’m looking forward to the New Years Day special.

2022 will finally get us the third season of The Orville and I’m really looking forward to the next season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

==Books and Comics==

I really enjoyed the Star Trek: Picard novel, Last Best Hope. There are several other books that I’ve been reading on my kindle and in dead tree format. I’ve been trying to read The Dying Earth series by Jack Vance as well but I haven’t completed them.

The War of the Bounty Hunters in the Star Wars comic series was good, but frustrating. I really wish that they had a better system to follow the flow of the story that spans across several publications. I felt like a few times I was re-treading over the same ground.

The Mirror Universe stories and Star Trek Year Five was really good from IDW Publishing. I’m looking forward to reading more of these stories.

Doctor Who, James Bond and The Orville was other comics I had been pulling from my local store.

==Cosplay and Conventions==

I was able to add the Admiral Picard uniform to my collection. I had a chance to wear this at FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention. It was the only con I attended in the year. Hopefully 2022 will be better convention wise. I’d love to get an Admiral Vance uniform from Star Trek: Discovery or a Monster Maroon from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However those are long term goals.

==Live Events==

Thanks to 103.1 The Wave, we were able to take the family to Lagoon. With the vaccines helping out, we’ve been able to attend the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance and the live Mystery Science Theater 3000: Time Bubble Tour. I’ve already got several concerts and events planned for 2022. The Beyond Van Gogh experience was probably the closest I’ll ever get to a holodeck experience. The Egyptian exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah was very enjoyable.

I was also interviewed on the radio for the Star Trek Day 2021. That was an interesting experience. But also not the first time I’ve been interviewed on the TV, Radio or even print.

Our Seventh Fleet and USS Ticonderoga meetings and events have been able to get back in person. This was a very good thing as we are a close knit Star Trek family. We’ve been able to grow and succeed because we get together and see each other’s smiling faces.

==Website==

I was able to get some photo albums online and I’ve added to them as I’ve found more photos. I’ve been able to keep to a regular schedule of several blog posts per week (counting the Star Trek Quotes listings). I should do more gaming articles and reviews of things I’ve watched/read/enjoyed. However, I still need to get some of the other sections of my website filled out. I’m a little upset with myself that I haven’t gotten more of the website completed. This will be a goal for 2022.

It’s good to have goals. I think I’m going to spend 2022 trying to achieve more of them.

Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Collecting, Dune, Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Spy-Fi, Star Trek, Star Wars

Prepping for the 2022 Character Creation Challenge

Some of the games that I plan to use in the 2022 #CharacterCreationChallenge

When participating in a month long challenge, like the Character Creation Challenge, it is always a good idea to put a little prep work in ahead of time. I took some of the preparation and after action lessons from the 2021 challenge and I am putting them into use here.

I’ve once again took advantage of one of my online spreadsheets and created a schedule for the month of January. I’ve tried to place the games that I’m not very familiar with on my days off so I can dedicate more time to them. I’ve heard from some participants stating that they would also be doing prep work before the challenge starts.

Speaking of participants, I’ve had several people email me at Carl (at) TardisCaptain.com stating that they would be partaking of the challenge. Good for you. A lot of people have also been posting on the Character Creation Challenge post at RPG.net stating that they would be releasing their entries there. Several blogs will also be posting entries and others will just post them on social media. If you use social media, please use the hashtag #CharacterCreationChallenge so that others can find them and enjoy them.

If you are reading this after January 1st and you still want to jump into the challenge, please do. A few participants last year either did a quick catch up or just made sure they ran a full 31 days. The choice is yours. This challenge is just for fun with our gaming systems.

I’ve re-read some of my past entries and entries from other participants. In fact, while I was researching one of my games that I selected for the start of the challenge, I found a blog that had participated in 2021. The World of Philosopherzeus had several good entries that were also written like game reviews. I’m going to have to look more into the Low Fantasy Gaming system that the blog recommended. If you participated in 2021 and I did not link your blog to the Character Creation Challenge page, please email me and I’ll add it. If you are participating in 2022, also shoot me the link so I can promote it.

The image above is some of the physical books that I plan to use for the 2022 challenge. Several of them were purchases that I’ve made over the past year or gifts from friends who were looking to unload books. I made sure they had a good home to go to. I’ve also got several games in PDF format that I’ve purchased from DriveThruRPG or on one of the various bundle sales that are out there. One of the PDFs that I’m looking forward to trying out is the original Traveller little black book editions. Another PDF game is the Wendy’s Feast of Legends marketing game that was put out a few years ago. A participant used it in the 2021 challenge and I smacked my head not thinking about it then. So I’ve added it to the list for 2022.

Another interesting tidbit recently came up that the 2021 challenge helped me with. I’ve been wanting to play Star Trek Adventures for quite some time (a lot of local groups are still unable to get together). On one of the STA facebook groups a GM announced a game with a day warning that it would start. I sent him the link from my 2021 STA entry and asked if I could play. The GM accepted it because it was actually rolled up and not created with one of the quick generation websites. So I’ve had at least one session with the game and we hope to wrap up the adventure in a follow up game.

Remember to have fun with this. That was one of the primary goals of the challenge.

You can also use this graphic to help promote the #CharacterCreationChallenge.

31 Day Character Creation Challenge
Feel free to share this image on social media to spread the word.
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Horror, Role Playing Games

More power of gaming

I love the feel and weight of a RPG book in my hands.

I’ve been a participant on the RPG.net forums for quite some time now. It is a very good place where you can go and talk about almost any role playing game (alive or dead) or any other geeky subjects. Last year I participated in a Secret Satan (a play on words for Secret Santa) where I received a copy of Mutant Crawl Classics and several general books about RPG playing.

This year I signed up to participate again and my Secret Satan gift arrived. It was Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. I flipped through it briefly before sitting down to write this post and I’m already starting to get ideas for a homebrewed campaign. I’ve never had a chance to play in a Ravenloft campaign yet, but I know a group of friends who have been playing for quite some time.

My contribution to the gift exchange has been sent and the elves at Amazon have reported that it was delivered. I haven’t received any confirmation from my victim that they have received it. In this day an age of porch pirates (!@#$%^&) I hope it was picked up by it’s intended recipient.

I love how this online community has been a great place for gamers. I’m looking forward to participating in this program again next season. Thank you for my copy of Van Ricnten’s Guide to Ravenloft.

Update: A second book arrived the next day from the Secret Satan. The Curse of Strahd is what I found in the box. I’ve attached the photo below. Thank you again Secret Satan.

Good evening…
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, James Bond, No One Lives Forever, Role Playing Games, Spy-Fi

The secret is out… on secret tunnels

I’m sure that no one will talk about this project outside of work.

So I love watching YouTube videos. Primarily because they can cover a wide variety of interesting subjects that you won’t usually find in regular educational (or semi-educational) channels. I’ve been able to find interesting looks at how common people lived and ate not only in medieval times, but in the 1920’s and 30’s (which make for interesting game fodder for gangster type role playing games). We all have a general idea how Mob leaders and the royalty lived by the various movies and glamorous stories. But informative videos talking about the other side of the coin for various eras can help when adding atmosphere to different RPGs in different eras.

YouTube has an interesting algorithm on suggesting other possible videos that may be of interest. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t (I won’t go into details but I wish that the YT apps on my TV had a way to give a “not interested” without having to go to the video itself).

One recent suggestion from YouTube was “Digging a Secret Tunnel” by a British content provider using the handle “colinfurze”. Apparently he’s been digging a secret tunnel that connects his house to his workshop and then to a backyard underground bunker for the past three years. Note: The video linked above is part six of the series, but it was the first one I had watched and inspired me to create this blog post. Also a warning, Colin comes across a little like a used car salesman in his enthusiasm. But don’t let that bug you, the video was quite interesting despite his almost game show host like quality.

The first reason that I clicked on the video was because I was one of the many young boys growing up who had the idea of making a secret tunnel in his basement as a means to covertly get out of the house. Luckily my parents never found out about me trying to cut through the walls in our home. And I didn’t get very far because the house was very well built. Colin’s video showed the amount of preparation and effort that was being put into the tunnel project. It was being built under his house, driveway and workshop before it made it to the bunker. You don’t want the ground sinking underneath those items. So it had to be re-enforced to hold the weight above them. They had to get the large amount of dirt and rocks hauled out through a 5×5 hatch that was built into the workshop. Colin claimed in the video that he is making the tunnel without the knowledge of his neighbors. Reading the comments was interesting (avoid the spambots) with posts from mining engineers and other interested parties.

The second thing that caught my attention wasn’t with the tunnel itself, but my thoughts that came up while watching the video. How many times have we seen a villain’s secret tunnel in an espionage movie? The image I used at the top of this blog came from the spy-fi video game “No One Lives Forever” and I remember seeing this scene thinking “who built this?” and “How did they keep it a secret?” As a gamer, I also thought about the various dungeons that our Dungeons and Dragons characters have crawled through. Quite a few times they were 10×10 tunnels underground occupied by various Orcs, Gelatinous Cubes and other dangerous creatures. While someone may have drawn the straight line on grid paper, in the game world someone would have had to dig it out, build supports and haul away the rock. Why was this built this way?

I eventually had a bunch of thoughts in my head that I knew I had to put it down as a blog post. I watched a really good video about creating a dungeon for D&D which went briefly into the whys and hows (and I learned quite a bit from the video). But it didn’t really get to the nitty gritty for me.

So why would a tunnel (secret or not) be built with the cost and effort involved? I think it comes down to several reasons. The first one that comes to mind is wealth. The tunnels are built as part of a mine trying to extract various ores and precious gems. While these may not be secret at the start (unless the digger wanted to keep others from getting to his prize) they could easily become forgotten. Just finding out which mine a highly prized gem used in an ancient crown came from could be the start of a quest all on it’s own. These mines could have been built by dwarves or other subterranean races. Mines were featured quite a bit in several westerns. Every once in a while the news reports about another soul lost while trying to explore a closed up mine or a murder victim being thrown down a mine shaft.

Another reason that a tunnel could be built is for transportation. Going over a mountain or across the English Channel represents a physical barrier. If you could tunnel under that barrier, you can make transportation much easier. Again, most of these would be known (at the start). However there have been smuggling tunnels built to avoid border patrols. The movie “The Great Escape” detailed the efforts of prisoners attempting to tunnel their way to freedom from a Nazi POW camp. This movie would also be inspirational about how to hide the tunnel and dispose of the debris needing to be dispersed all while trying to keep the tunnel from collapsing on them. When I visited the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in 2019, I learned about the railways and water tunnels and how they were built. They were built in a time before OSHA and safety guidelines. So corporations could hire workers to quickly dig, and if a worker was injured, they would hire the next guy to step up and replace them. This allowed them to build these tunnels quickly at the cost of human lives.

Housing and storage is another reason to build tunnels. I recall watching documentaries about World War II and how residents of some towns escaped into tunnels under the city to escape bombing raids. Repurposing tunnels from another use has allowed underground survival dwellings to be built. In Utah, the LDS Church stores massive amounts of genealogical records in an underground vault in the Wasatch mountains. In Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves over a million seed samples underground in a former coal mine. Both locations could make for interesting modern day missions in an RPG. On the fantasy side, how many times have we heard about massive underground cities used by the Dwarves and the Drow. Tunnels would connect them all to each other and to the surface.

The last reason may sound weird, but I think is valid. Tunnels could be built for a sense of vanity. A cult, probably using cultists or slaves to dig, could build secret tunnels in order to hide their temples of worship. The image that I used above is a tunnel under a Swiss Alp chalet as seen in the video game No One Lives Forever. In the second video game of this series a very interesting quote came up. “Why do you think we have our headquarters in underground caverns? It’d be a lot cheaper and more convenient to lease an office building, but then you get potential clients who don’t think you’re evil enough for the really high profile operations.” If you look at movies like the various James Bond entries, the Flint and the Matt Helm movies all the way up to the Austin Powers series, they all made the secret underground lair look cool.

So Game Masters, think about the tunnels that you use in your games. Sure they are easy to draw on graph paper, but how did they get there? What was the cost to build these tunnels? How did they become secret? A king killing the slaves that built the secret tunnels may become the avenging undead monsters encountered by the players. A missing handyman may lead to the clue that the agents are needing to find the bad guy’s underground lair. Those lines on the map may look cool, but they hide much more than the treasure the adventurers are trying to find. They hide a possible story.

(looking at the wall on the side of my office) “I wonder if the wife would notice if I put in a secret tunnel?”

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Video Game

New Video Games to play

New PS4 video games I just picked up.

So last month was my birthday. One of the gifts I received from my from my wonderful wife was several gift cards for ThinkGeek. In the past she had given me the same gift and I was able to pick up several interesting items off of their website. So with a lot of excitement I pulled up the ThinkGeek website… only to be sorely disappointed. It had been several years since I had been to the site and it was a shell of what it use to be. Only a handful of items and none of them interesting. The really off the wall geek items use to be available on ThinkGeek. However once it was taken over by GameStop, the number of items was cut back to nothing.

Luckily for me, the local GameStop would take the gift cards for any purchases. So the next question was, what would I pick up. They had the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition starter set, but no other books. I would have picked up anything if it had been available. A bunch of Funko Pop stuff, which I don’t collect. Some other nick-nacks, which again were uninteresting or too expensive. And of course a lot of video games. I’ve been more of a computer gamer than a console gamer. I’ve played a few games that I’ve enjoyed on the Nintendo systems. I had yet to find an XBox 360 game that has kept my attention. My college age kid loves several PS4 games and there were a lot of them in the store. But again, how do I make sure I get a game that I’ll actually enjoy. I left the store and started doing some different searches on PS4 games. And I thought I had found one.

As it turns out, Blizzard has released a re-master of the Diablo II game. I loved this game on my PC several years ago since no two gaming sessions were the same. The first Diablo game had also been very enjoyable, but Diablo III on the XBox 360 was… well just there. It didn’t grip me like Diablo II had. I haven’t had a chance to play Diablo II recently as my laptop is still a hold-over from school. The advertisements stated that the game was available for the PS4. So that was going to be my choice. I had some back up ideas based off of several video game articles I had read, but the re-mastered D2 is what I wanted.

So a few days ago I went back into my local GameStop and talked with the employee. She looked up the game and discovered that they did not have it at all. They didn’t even have any “coming soon” options. So I looked around for some of the backup ideas.

I had read some good reviews on the Dishonored series and a game called Prey. It had been recommended in an article for fans of stealth type games like the No One Lives Forever series. Luckily all of the games were in one collection. I had been looking at a few other options such as Wolfenstein and other titles I had recognized. But then the Baldur’s Gate series jumped out. This was a game based off of 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It was enough that I pulled the trigger on both sets.

Since the Dishonored set was brand new, I elected to wait on that game. Baldur’s Gate was used so I wanted to check it out first just in case it didn’t work. So far I’ve actually been impressed. It feels like I’m playing a 2nd edition game. There have been several THAC0 references and some familiar spells. As I was going through the tutorial, I kept looking to the left where my gaming shelf was and wondered if I should pull out the 2nd edition AD&D player’s handbook for reference. I just might do that in future gaming sessions.

So I’ve found a game that I can hop on and play for a few hours. This should help distract me when I want to stop thinking about things for a while. I’ll report on the other games as I get a chance to play them.

Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

#RPGaDay2021 Day 29: System

Day 29: System

So when it comes to selecting a role playing system to play, which is better? Learning something new or going with a system you are already familiar with that has been adapted for the universe you want to play in?

For me, it’s sixes. Recently I had the option to play in an online game and the game master gave us the option of a D20 system (Starfinder) or something else. I don’t even really recall what the second option was because I was more worried about trying to learn how to use the online virtual table top application (another post for another day). While I was happy for the easy of the D20 system, I also discovered that Starfinder (and I later found out that Pathfinder was the same way) was just a little too crunchy for me. It seems like it has taken the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 book and added way to many additional rules to the system.

On the other hand, the D20 based Star Wars RPG released in the early 2000’s didn’t really attract me at the time. I’m a big Star Wars fan, but I remember thinking that “Seeing Luke and company with D&D stats just seemed off.” I don’t know if it’s because of all the D6 Star Wars games that I had played, or that I just didn’t have the money at the time to buy another set of books. So I never got into the game at the time it was being published. If someone were to invite me to a game now, I’d take them up on the offer.

There are generic systems out there. I had played GURPS back in the early 90’s. It seemed ok at the time, but a lot of math. So it’s not one of my first choices. I just received Dune: Adventures in the Imperium for a birthday gift which is a 2d20 system like Star Trek Adventures. It’s been interesting to see the tweaks between the two rulebooks. (again another blog post will go into further details on this) The D6 system that was used in the WEG Star Wars system has been ported over to a series of generic RPG books. I could see myself using the D6 system for a classic Battlestar Galactica game.

I haven’t even scratched the surface on which systems have stood out to me or failed to grab my attention. There are just way to many out there. But I have tried a few. When I was going through my three-ringed binder of old characters, I noticed I had sheets for some games that I don’t even remember playing. I must not have been very impressed with the system if I can’t remember them now.

Final Thoughts:

All of the remaining dates in the challenge only have one suggestion for each day. It almost seemed like the list just sputtered out of ideas.

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The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 26: Origin

Day 26: Origin

Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark.

Dr. Evil- Austin Powers (1997)

When creating an origin for a character, how much backstory is too much backstory? I believe that should depend upon what level you are starting that character out with. If a character is starting out at first level, then the backstory shouldn’t be more than a few sentences. Perhaps a half-a-page at the most. Where did you grow up at and why did you take off for your life of adventure? Is there anyone from your past that is notable? Not a ton of detail, but at least one or two ideas for the GM to use in the game if needed.

If the character has a higher level when starting, then yes create a longer backstory. I’ve heard of players who have written up an 18-page backstory for a peasant that is out seeking his fortune. That much detail may be too much for the GM to read and why would a newbie character be that detailed.

I’ve heard from some players that they have enjoyed making up the origin of their character as they play the game. A creative process between party members and game master. Sometimes these could turn out to be the most interesting stories of all.

I did have one Dungeon Master who had me give him a series of 10-20 random dice rolls before starting a campaign. From those dice rolls he sent back information on my character. Are one or both parents still alive? Any siblings? Occupation of family members (or my character) before he left for adventure. I need to see where he got that table from so I can use it in future games. I recall early characters seemed to be orphaned loners (thus the bad guy, i.e. GM, couldn’t use the family against the character later in the game. Unless you murdered your family like Elric the Kinslayer, they would probably still be around.

I’ve always thought that session zero was a perfect opportunity to talk about the origin of characters as they are being rolled up. This could also explain how the party members came to be together. If someone wrote up a reasonable backstory, I could see myself giving that player experience points for the effort.

Final Thoughts:

These last minute decisions on entries are becoming easier. I’m not certain why. I couldn’t think of anything for “Theory”. “Play” seemed very generic and could go almost anywhere. Every time I thought about “Renew”, I kept thinking of Logan’s Run.

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The RPGaDay 2021 chart
Posted in: Dungeons and Dragons, Role Playing Games

#RPGaDay2021 Day 23: Memory

Day 23: Memory

I have a memory of my first time trying to be a Dungeon Master back in the early 80’s. I had the Basic Dungeons and Dragons set which included Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands. My regular gaming buddies at my junior high school already had read through this book and knew of the dangers contained within. But I really wanted to DM, so who could I get to play?

My younger brothers. This could be their introduction to the game. Perhaps they would want to play more of this afterwards. I was able to talk them into trying out the game. We made some characters and they headed up to the Caves of Chaos.

And promptly got slaughtered in the first encounter they came up to. Total (but unintentional) party kill.

Needless to say, my brothers were not impressed. They never played again (however one of them did ask me to DM an introductory session to show the game to his kids just a few years ago).

When I thought about the session afterwards, I realized I had ran the game completely wrong. We were all so excited to get into a dungeon and start swinging some swords that we missed some opportunities. I could have explained the rules a little bit better. Not just the actual mechanics, but the additional items as well such as tactics. They were very young teenagers so they didn’t know about the option to run away (insert Monty Python and the Holy Grail joke here). I could have run a little role playing at the keep itself to give the players some rumors and allow them the opportunity to bring along some hirelings. As a DM, I also could have fudged the dice for newbie players. The dice were very savage in that particular session.

I had learned my lesson and tried to implement them in a game the next time I ran one (which wasn’t for quite some time after watching a few other GMs). When my brother asked me to run an introductory adventure I came prepared. I gave my niece and nephew their own set of RPG dice that I had just picked up from a local store. I had pre-made characters created before hand and allowed the two players to take first pick. My wife also played as a cleric in the party. As a veteran player, she would know when to step in and help and heal. I had the party get into role playing by having them approach a small village at the same time that a band of low powered orc raiders showed up. The raiders were quickly driven off, but the players found out (again through role play) that the raid was a distraction. While the town and party was trying to fend off the raiders, someone had broken into the village church and stole a sacred statue. A statue that the village believed they needed to keep themselves safe and was willing to pay the party to retrieve. They were able to quickly track down the orcs and enter the caverns that they were using as a base.

Long story short, my niece and nephew had fun. My brother loved watching them have fun. I heard later that my nephew had joined a gaming club at his school which allowed him to get involved with some social interaction.

So I guess things turned out all right in the end. But every once in a while, I wonder; what would have happened if I could have turned my siblings into participants of the RPG hobby? Think of the memories we could have made.

Final Thoughts:

I was kind of lukewarm on the other suggestions for this date. “Innovation”, “Quick” and “Surprise” all had items that could have been talked about. But nothing was really coming to the surface on these three topics.

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