Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Google maps arrives for the Solar System

Google Maps now covers many planets and moons in the Solar System. Before they had Mars and the Moon and now it been greatly expanded. Pretty good especially for those who run near future Expanse style science fiction campaigns.

They even have the International Space Station.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Is your D&D 5e Character Rare?

Five Thirty Eight niche is using statistics to analyze sports and politics. But occasionally they turn their attention other topics. This time was the different type of DnD 5e character made with DnD Beyond, the online tool officially licensed by Wizards of the Coast. Recently Curse, the company beyond DnD Beyond supplied Gus Wezerek of FiveThirtyEight with a breakdown of the combination of class and race people were making on the service.

Looks like there quite a few folks using the tool numbering in the tens of thousands. Below is the data presented in chart form. It look like the winner is the good old Human Fighter followed by the Elven Ranger.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How much is having Initiative worth?

So here is an interesting combat question how much initiative is worth to the side having it in various editions of Dungeons and Dragons?

When I was mucking around with Fudge, I wrote a program that simulated two guys whacking the other with swords. I did this to see how the number worked out over thousands of fight. I coded up GURPS Basic Combat and classic DnD Combat to use as comparison.

One of the things I did was randomized starting initiative at the beginning of combat. Then alternated sides from that point on. So I was playing around with it today and I noticed something interesting. When two combatant have equal stats with random starting imitative the odds look like this for 10,000 fights.

Alex Wins 5060
Brian Wins 4940
Average Rds 4.1268


So when I gave Alex starting Initiative all the time. The result was this

Alex Wins 5575
Brian Wins 4425
Average Rds 4.08065
Then switched to Brian

Alex Wins 4512
Brian Wins 5488
Average Rds 4.0986


The implication is that having initiative all the time increases your odds of winning combat by 4.5%. This is especially relevant to DnD 5th edition where the default is to roll initiative once.

Note: Both Alex and Brian had AC 12, +1 to Hit, 1d8 damage, and had 10 hit points.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Lost Hall of Tyr

People who write and create RPG material have varied interests. One +Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic is focused a wee bit on grappling. First he came out with Dungeon Grappling a supplement to add easy to use grappling rules to various editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Now he has started a kickstarter to fund the art and final production of the Lost Hall of Tyr, an adventure showing off his setting and focused on, you guessed it, grappling.

The Kickstarter page is here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

City State of the World Emperor

Right now I am running two campaigns, the first is on Wednesdays and is using Adventures in Middle Earth with +Tim Shorts and +Chris C.. The second is on Thursday nights and involves several friends I made back when I running boffer LARP events; Josh, Mark, Adam, and Jeremy. The second campaign is using Swords and Wizardry and my Majestic Wilderlands Rules.

It centered around the City State of the World Emperor or the City of Spices or Viridistan. Currently the year 4475 BCCC, (Judges Guild stuff was set in 4433 BCCC) the last Viridian Emperor is long dead, the civil war that broke out in the wake of his death had wound down a decade ago (in game time) thanks to the decisive action of the PCs in an earlier campaign. Viridistan is ruled by a council (formed by yet another PC group back in the mid 80s) and is basically a powerful merchant republic.

Our cast of character for the current campaign is


  • Tamaril Lenore - an aspiring merchant (Merchant Adventurer from the MW Supplement) and gifted singer and player of the lute. 
  • Alexander Hexation - one of the few surviving full Viridians (in hiding) and trained as a Artificer (can only cast ritual but can make magic items like scrolls for battle magic). 
  • Valgard Neuroth - a cleric of Hamakhis the god and judge of the dead. The party is damn lucky to have this guy as one of the possible adventure sites I seeded was +Greg Gillespie excellent Barrowmaze. The party just managed to shut down the Pit of Chaos so he even more potent in the megadungeon.
  • Rodney a Halfling trained as a knight and uses his stable of warboars as his steeds.
Right now the party averages about 5th level and just aquired a small merchant ship. It is because of this that I adapted the trade rules from Adventurer Conqueror King for the particulars of my Majestic Wilderlands. Once I get the kinks out I will be posting them for people to use. 

One of the prep I did for the campaign is started work on the Majestic Wilderlands version of Viridistan. 

The original map.

In the early 90s just before I started using CorelDRAW I worked on a hand drawn map of the above. The below is as far as I got.


One of the main differences is that due to how I presented the Viridian as a demonic race there were no temples in Viridistan when it was under control of the Emperor. The various temple in the present of 4475 are basically the equivalent of a storefront church that you see in the downtown of various communities.

Currently this is the status of the new map I been working.


Now that all the city blocks are in place next is to draw in the coastlines and transfer the numbered buildings from my original. Unlike many RPG cities, CSWE had the referee place all the building themselves. There was a little underscore where the assigned number could be written.

Once I transfer the number, I can start dividing up the various city blocks into individual buildings. The main difference between my take on the City State Invincible Overlord and the original CSIO is how each CSIO city block is divided up. The building sizes are more realistic and there are lot more alleys.

Hope you enjoy this little peek into what I do to run my campaigns. 


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dungeons Fantasy RPG for GURPS has arrived at the Attic!

As long time readers of this blog know I been a fan of GURPS for thirty years. Believe it or not there was a time when GURPS was the fourth or fifth most popular RPG on the market back in 2004.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is designed to make it easy for people to get into playing and using GURPS for their campaigns. It does this by being presented as a traditional fantasy RPG. It tells you how to make characters, how to handle encounters and combat, gives you spells, monsters, and treasures to use. Plus there is an adventure included called I Smell a Rat!

It not a new edition of GURPS. Everything here works with the core books as is. But gone are things not relevant to the Dungeon Fantasy genre. Added are things that are useful for fantasy campaigns with GURPS.

So what do you get?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bat in the Attic replies to Frank Mentzer

For those of you who haven't heard Frank Mentzer is hard at work organizing things to publish material for the Empyrea setting that is part of Oerth the world where Greyhawk can be found. Mr. Mentzer is the primary author of the BECMI edition of Dungeon and Dragons as well the author of numerous other works for TSR and Dungeons and Dragons.

Over on Tenkar's Tavern, Erik Tenker shares this interesting bit from a conversation he had with Frank Mentzer.
A common characteristic of most Old-School sites is adherence to one specific point in the Past, generally out-of-print game systems. Very cool. Nothing wrong with that, most systems have value to many. But of all the tabletop RPG fans, the OSR buys the fewest New Products. This is fine I want to give things away... strongly preferred in these circles of course. Culturally the OSR is unique and priceless, and I applaud it. But they have chosen to be irrelevant to the current market.
I am sure there are lot of people in this industry that would agree with Mr. Mentzer especially the last sentence. I am not one of them. Why? For several reasons.

The first thing that people need to keep in mind about what the Old School Renaissance is the reason why it exists. It is the interaction of several things. First a continuing interest in the classic editions of Dungeons and Dragons from the 1974 Boxed set to the ADnD 2nd Edition. Second the ability to leverage open content to support these classic editions with new works that can be shared or sold commercially. Third, a radical reduction in the cost of creating, and distributing written works and graphics (like maps).

These three facts are the foundation of everything that we see in the OSR today.

Of the three it is the use of open content that caused the diversity of the OSR to explode. Once Matt Finch, Stuart Marshall, and Chris Gonnerman demonstrated how the d20 SRD could be used to create near clones of classic D&D in the form of OSRIC and Basic Fantasy. The gates were flung open for anybody to realize their particular vision of what classic DnD can be.

Just as important this use of open content wasn't limited to specific editions of classic DnD. It also enabled the creation of hybrids or the adaptions of classic DnD mechanics to new genres. Freed from the artificial constraints on creativity imposed by intellectual property the use of open content flowered into full bloom in the publishing world of the OSR. Resulting in the bewildering range of works we see being shared and published.

What drives all this are the whims of the individuals involved. So in a sense Mr. Mentzer is right that there is a choice involved. A choice that for some doesn't take into account what is marketable but rather what one individual or a small group thinks ought to be published. And let the market be damned!

But note my use of some, because it not true for all. Many OSR publishers, including myself do take a hard look at what we think people and the market want. People like Kevin Crawford, James Raggi,  have put a lot of hours in publishing works that are not only have great content but a great presentation. And from conversations I had with both, they put considerable thought into how to make this happen. In short they each have a business plan for realizing their vision. And they both adjust things as circumstances change. There are others like Frog God Games, and Goodman Games. Some are individuals like my friend Tim Shorts at Gothridge Manor.

Doesn't sound much different than what traditional publishers do.

Keep in mind that the freedom of open content doesn't just mean that you get to realize your vision. It means that everybody gets to realize their vision. For some that means preservation. Places like Knights and Knaves, Aceaum, Piazza, Ruins of Mirkhill, ODnD Discussion Forum, and Dragonsfoot are devoted to preserving specific editions of classic DnD.

And while some criticism of these sites have merit, the one I find unfair is that they are backwards or resistant to new things. It easy to make material for these groups. You just have to target the exact editions they are interested in. Not something close, not some hybrid, but the exact edition as close as you legally can with whatever quirks and nuances it possesses. And if you are not willing or unable to do that then they are not your audience.

Last there been some recent drama associated with one of these sites in particular and Mr. Mentzer. It sad that it occurred but I am not interested in who is right or wrong. I will say that if you ever want to "win" an argument in the OSR the best reply is always to write your idea up, do the work to make it usable by others and release either to share or for sale.