Friday, December 30, 2011

The Escapist's Musings on The Past, Present and Future of Dungeons and Dragons

Those of you into gaming may well be aware of The Escapist online magazine, which profiles nerddom in all its stripes and obsessions.  A rather comprehensive end-of-the-year review of the history and trajectory of Dungeons and Dragons was just released.  Links to the Dickensian Past, Present and Future installments are here:


The interviews and much of the analysis is quite good, although I think there are some broad strokes with the knowledge base (assumptions about the reader's knowledge of certain game designers, primarily) and market influences (a bit more emphasis is placed on the Open Gaming License than I think a retrospective of all editions merited).  Still well worth the read. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Call of Cthulhu - Conversation on EnWorld

There's a good thread on right now about Call of Cthulhu.  A GM who will be running the game for some players is trying to wrap his head around Lovecraftian fiction and the best way to run the game.  Lots of great thought on their part, as well as the other posters. 

I added my two cents - nothing groundbreaking, but rules I try to live by when running the game for new players, which I often do around Halloween every year.  (ooo spooky)

Chime in on the thread over there and add your thoughts.

(my thoughts cross-posted, here)
Yeah, there are such a wide variety of authors of the mythos - even Stephen King, if you find some of his early stuff in his collections of short stories - that there's something for everyone. Chaosium has released tons of collections over the years that are worth browsing through in their online catalog, to see if something resonates more with you. A lot of folks like the August Derleth/Clark Ashton Smith stuff more, as it takes the stories and weaves together the mythos around them.

As to the game, I've been running it for about 20 years, and many of the published adventures have been handy for getting players who aren't terribly familiar with the Mythos into the game. The adventures in Mansions of Madness come from earlier collections and editions of the game, and many are good one-nighters to get folks used to the rules and feel. Secrets of New York and the New Orleans sourcebook are good for a sandbox game. If you get players into the idea of a long campaign, I still like Shadows of Yogsothoth a lot (although some veterans will say it's rather contrived - it works well for folks who don't necessarily eat sleep drink). Spawn of Azathoth, Return to Dunwich, Return to the Mountains of Madness - these campaigns work better with seasoned players who eat, sleep and drink Lovecraftian fiction.

For running the game, my biggest rules have been:
1) Make sure that the characters have appropriate skills to solve the tasks at hand - not to the level of it being a cakewalk, but if the only way to get off the glacier is the ability to pilot a plane, don't leave it to chance that no one took the character with the right skill to do that.
2) Make sure that players - going in - understand that they don't use their guns like swords in d&d.
3) Make sure they understand that years ago, when you needed info, you went to a library, not Google.
4) Role play. It sounds obvious, but CoC sets up some of the best opportunities for roleplaying I've ever seen. Take advantage of them!
5) Continuity - it's ok if the universe implodes on itself and ends in a game. You can play another another time and continuity doesn't matter - that last catastrophe didn't have to have happened. (There is a short story collection somewhere about what the world is like after the Cthupocalypse...)

Enjoy. It's a great Halloween game, if nothing else, for the party that would rather slay goblins and orcs.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Retro D&D for Dummies has a great overview of the various Old School retro D&D clones that are available, right now. Many are available for free as downloads (or for a cost in print format). If the current versions of D&D don't tickle your cookies as much as memories of the old boxed sets that required you ink in your own dice with a white crayon, then check this article out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who's up for some Google+ Call of Cthulhu?

I got a golden ticket!

Sure, before I've posted about playing pen-and-paper RPGs via Skype and via Google Wave (or as Reverend Jim would have said, "Gooooooooooooooglllllle Waaaaaave..."

But Google+ seems to have some opportunity to it - integrating workspaces with video chat, it seems ideal for gaming.

Drop me a message via my profile if you want to try some Call of Cthulhu or D&D if I get a group together for some gaming.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Death of the Miniature Dragon?

It's been well discussed elsewhere, but if you haven't heard the news, Wizards of the Coast is discontinuing miniatures for Dungeons & Dragons, as well as the monthly compilations of Dragon and Dungeon content, which in essence means the death of Dragon and Dungeon as magazines (online or off).

To put on my Abe Simpson hat, "I remember back in Nineteen Eight One or so when TSR - that stood for The Senile Roleplayer - put out the last set of lead miniatures for the original AD&D game came out - yep, they were lead then, in case the Russkies invaded, we could melt 'em down and turn 'em into ammo. Anyhoo, the last set was of a wizard's lair, and featured a large snake. My brother painted the snake bright red, and we lost the wizard, so it basically looked like a rather intelligent snake had a wizard's lair. And since we didn't cotton much to plotlines then, we just pretended that's what it was..."

So, we've seen Dragon and Dungeon die and be reborn before. We've seen official and unofficial minis. We've seen multiple edition wars. At the end of the day, we've all got lots of rules sets, great minis from Citadel and others still in production, and plenty of free content on the web in case things get worse. It's actually a good time to be a gamer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Great interview with Marc Miller on DiceCast

How did Traveller come about? Was it something built rapidly after D&D came out, or in parallel? Why all the editions? Why did GDW fold?

All these - and more - are answered in a great podcast on DiceCast's blog containing an interview with Traveller's creator Marc Miller. Fascinating stuff!!!

The whole thing is great, but the piece with Marc Miller starts shortly after the 10 minute mark. Other interviews cover WEG's D6 system, BESM and more.