Friday, April 30, 2010

Play by Post Maps - c/o EnWorld's Hussar

Finally found a great post explaining the best possible way to manage maps in Play by Post games, care of's member, Hussar. Thanks!

For PBP? Maptools is a virtual tabletop program, and it's meant for real time play.

Might I suggest a combo of two things: DungeonForge (a token based mapping program found here - you need to register to download) and something like or Gimp (both free art programs) to do the individual pictures with tokens.

Simply place each token on it's own layer and place the battle map on the lowest level, and you can move the tokens around, round by round, and save the maps to display.

En World allows you to attach the images, so, so long as you keep them fairly small, you shouldn't have any problems.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Post from EnWorld about Call of Cthulhu

Over on EnWorld, I posted a response to questions regarding good Call of Cthulhu scenarios:

More recommendations
For those just getting into Call of Cthulhu, the scenarios in any of the core books/sets are good starting points. Blood Brothers is also pretty hip if you're trying to get players used to the mechanics but they don't have a background in H.P. Lovecraft's mythos - it has one-shots based on classic horror flicks.

Good books, once you're on your feet:
*Shadows of Azathoth - an epic globe/dimension trotting set of adventures
*Trail of Tsathoggua - another epic set of scenarios
*Tales of the Miskatonic Valley - an anthology of one-shots based on locations from the mythos universe
*Shadows of Yogsothoth - a series of linked scenarios built around an erudite secret society
*Mansions of Madness - classic one-shots featuring haunted houses and the like
*Secrets of New York - a campaign setting / sourcebook to New York in the 20s. In my opinion, the best of the lot of geographically oriented CoC sourcebooks I've read, with a couple of good scenarios in the back of the book.
*There are tons of small print run "Monographs" in the Chaosium online store that serve to illustrate more esoteric periods and regions. Their annual halloween run of adventures is generally a good starting point for a theme-night of gaming.

A tip to folks getting going - get a CD or some mp3s of music from the 20s, and print out a few wikipedia pages about the 20s for your players. For those of us who may not have read much about the Roaring 20s since high school history, this will help serve as a refresher and get you in the spirit of the default time line for the game.

I'm really glad to see so many folks taking an interest in this great game.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Renewed my membership

Last year, I signed on as a Community Supporter at I just renewed my membership (after gasping upon seeing that I'd become "INACTIVE" and could no longer search the forum archives, today, while trying to find posts about Google Droid applications). For $3/month, I get access to a lot of premium PDF gaming content including Ordo Draconis, search capability, and the knowledge that I'm helping support a thriving online community for gaming. Yes, I may have canceled my World of WarCraft subscription, but for a fraction of that I get a lot more info about the pen and paper community, and get to participate with gamers that share my interests.

And just for giggles, here's a strip from "Bring Dice and Chips" that was forwarded around in this month's newsletter. Archetypes from many a game I've run are here, in just two panels:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Glorantha...drooool...iPhone apps for gaming...drooool...

While I devour my copy of the RuneQuest II edition of Glorantha: The Second Age (which is awesome!), I wanted to share the below link to a massively brilliant effort by Morrus at EnWorld, indexing the iPhone gaming apps available:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Starter Traveller for free Download on

CT-ST-Starter TravellerAs spotted on The Sandbox of Doom and RPG Blog II, is offering a free download of the Classic Starter Traveller set. This holds a soft spot in my heart, as it was one of the games that turned me on to RPGs. The common phrase about this game is, "It's the only RPG where you can die during character generation." A flexible sci-fi system, it let you play out Niven-esque sci-fi, space opera like Star Wars, Star Trek style "planet of the week" games, and more.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The end of Plinky

In my inbox, this morning, I found a note from micro-blogging David to Twitter's Goliath, Plinky. (Note follows.) In short, Plinky was a great platform that turned micro-blog posts from "I'm having tea with jam,"or "Rain sucks," into brief posts on prompts/topics of their recommendation. ("What landmark did you find disappointing when you saw it in person?" and "Could you live without a car for a year?" are two examples.) I was always pulling for Plinky because I found that by doing the Cawfee Tawk thing and saying "Here's a topic. Discuss." the tweets/posts/micro-blogs would be less navel-gazing and more open to discussion, perhaps with folks you didn't know. That, to me, was the real win for social networking sites, a few years ago - create groups around common topics. The concern for me, now, is that due to privacy concerns and such (many of which are quite reasonable), that aspect of the social web is being replaced by a virtual attendee list for any party you were going to have anyway. Interestingly, gaming seems to be one of those great open vistas for the social web, still. Playing games against people you don't know on XBox live, participating in discussions on All of these things speak to a level of comfort that our community have of (in a cautious and appropriate way) getting to know others.

Plinky's note follows:

Dear Plinky user,
For the last few months, Thing Labs (formerly Plinky, Inc.) has been focused on development of Brizzly, and we couldn't be happier with how things are going. As such, we've been able to spend very little time on our first product, Plinky. We've made the difficult decision to stop publishing new prompts altogether.
The last new prompt will be published Tues., April 6. We're not yet shutting down the site, so you can still answer any of the 400+ prompts we've published to date, or read other Plinky users' answers.
Whether you've answered all of our prompts, just one, or simply checked out other people's answers, we want to thank you for visiting and supporting Plinky. We put a lot of work into it, and we think it's a great site. At the same time, we feel we have much more to offer with Brizzly than we ever could have with Plinky.
If you haven't already checked out Brizzly, our social media reader that works with Twitter and Facebook, please visit and create an account today at Also check out the Brizzly Guide, our user-edited resource for learning about current trends and news.
The Thing Labs team

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Compelling thread at about Friendly Local Gaming Shops

4e / GSL WotC and brick and mortar retail stores - Greg Leeds weighs in - EN World D&D / RPG News

See the above thread. I pretty regularly DM at a Friendly Local Gaming Store, but am kind of ignorant of many of the pressures in the gaming industry. The Battle Creek store owner's explanation of the changes in the Retailer-Distributor-Publisher flow is - arguably accurate or not, see the rest of the thread - well explained and rational.

I posted the following in response to the point about Friendly Local Gaming shops.

Accurate or not, the posts that started this thread did get me thinking about something. I'm all for technology in gaming, and see DDI as a great tool for folks who want an online version of their materials (especially since PDFs are so verboten right now in WotC land). The issue I have though is as it relates to in-store gaming. Periodically, I run a game at a local shop. The owner is gracious enough to let us use tables, occupy his store for hours at a clip, provides a trash can that he ends up emptying full of our pizza detritus and soda cups, and is the best host you can ask for. He does not charge a dime for us to play at his shop, and the players' assumption is that he just hopes we'll do the right thing and buy our gaming supplies there - and many of us do. That said, when a player shows up with a character that was created with the online generator, and they hold forth about how print is dead and they don't need to buy books due to DDI, it brings to mind a phrase my Father-in-Law shared with me once. He referred to the act of stopping at a McDonald's or whatnot while on a road trip, using the rest room, and then being sure to buy a soda or snack from the store as a responsibility of thanks he referred to as "paying the rent." While it's great that players use DDI, the fact that for many it replaces the books - and in turn replaces their interest or need in purchasing books from the store that's hosting their game - has an edge of not "paying the rent" to me. I see no policy shift at the store coming, nor think one would be appropriate. It's about doing the right thing. My longwinded point being - if you play at a Friendly Local Gaming Shop, throw them your business.

Any thoughts on this?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Examiner: Miskatonic River Press panel: It's a Small World After All

Neat article in about a session at I-CON on how Miskatonic River Press uses technology and organization to handle cross-continent collaboration: