The Question This Geek Dad Has Been Waiting to Hear

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So Dad, when can I play D&D with you?

I leave the table up the entire two weeks with the guys' maps, dice, pencils, and the module I am running. He plays a lot near the table, but has only recently asked me about it. I think part of this was prompted by the raucous laughter that woke him up last Saturday.

For those that do not know, my son is hard of hearing. It takes a very loud sound to wake him up normally, much less when he is recovering from ear surgery with packing, stitches, and cotton plugging up one of his ears. His bedroom is a floor up and in the opposite side of the house. He sleeps in a loft six foot from the floor. For all intents and purposes, he should not have heard us.

Anyway, he came downstairs and asked me what was so funny. I explained to him the following scene:

In a cave, there is a giant punching a bunch of noisy statues. Each statue is shouting "THIS IS THE WRONG WAY, TURN BACK!" There are 1000 bats in the cave swirling around the giant.

He (pointing to one of the players) is pretending to be a 7 foot tall orc-like creature on a huge horse. They are charging down a flight of stairs into the cave. Behind him is a bear running as fast as he can. Behind the bear is a suit of armor (pointing at a second player) that can walk and talk on its own. Behind the suit of armor is a priest kind of guy (pointing at a third player) that is not sure why he is running in.

He started laughing and that struck me so funny that I was in tears from laughing so hard. After a moment to collect myself, I turn to the guys and ask, "You've charged into this maelstrom, guns blazing. What do you do?"

The character on the horse says, "Can we sneak past the giant?"

My son laughs again.

It was a week later when he asked me the question. He was looking at the table full of dice and maps. I'm sure he remembers me laughing so hard.

I ask, "Was it funny when the guy charged in on a horse with a bear running behind him?"

"Yes," he said, "but it was funnier when he wanted to sneak past the giant thing."

I think I've got a future DM on my hands.

Updates, 200-word RPGs, and Other Fun Stuff

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My last post was about Warrior, Rouge, & Mage. I have a draft I plan to finish about my bi-weekly Dungeon World group.

All in good time. RL first, then game stuff. Feel free to skip down to the game stuff.

For those that know, my son's surgery will be May 11th. Thanks to so many that have been so generous, especially Spes Magna Games that bought my 1e DMG and gave it back to me under the condition that I never sell it. Mark has also posted about my son's creations including the starfish dragon. Many many thanks.

Yes, he and I went down to our friendly comic book store for Free Comic Day. Good father-son bonding time. 🙂

We have gotten a lot of offline donations to help us out. The fundraiser doesn't reflect it yet, but we are only $300 short at this point. I can deal with that. Most of all, I am glad that neither my or my wife's family had to contribute any money at all. They bought my son's hearing aid many years ago and they have given so much to support us through the years. Okay, on to the game stuff.

Two Hundred Words Can Say So Much

You must have heard about the 200 word RPG challenge by now. At the link, David Schirduan has the entrants. My favorite is The Raver and the Bear. I will play this with my friends complete with making the appropriate noises (as the raver or the bear). The whole premise is delightful. I want to make cool stuff like this.

The Fantasy Heartbreaker

My entry turned into something larger. If you follow me on G+ or ts?, you've probably seen my latest idea for an rpg ruleset. I wanted to use items that non-gamers who likely have around their houses like regular d6s and a deck of cards.

Since that idea, I find myself writing in notebooks like I did in my 20s. Will it play? We'll see. My DW group is going to test it for me, I'm sure of it. The basic idea is that you have four stats. Three are determined by 1d6 or distributing 10 points. The fourth stat is determined by drawing a card, called your Chi card. Health represents how much punishment you can take. Mana represents your ability to use magic. Rolling 2d6 + Stat greater than or equal to 10 is a success. To use your special ability, draw a card from a deck. There are six rules to follow to determine success. It sounds more complicated than it is. My kids got it pretty quickly.

  • If you draw your chi card, the spell is a success.
  • If you draw a card that equals your chi card's rank, the spell is a success, but deduct the spell's Magic Rating from your Mana.
  • If you draw a card that matches your chi card's suit, the spell is a failure, but do not deduct Mana.
  • If you the drawn card's rank + Magic stat is 10 or more, the spell is a success.
  • If you draw a face card, the spell is a success.
  • All other results, the spell fails and deduct the spell's magic rating from your Mana.

I have since discovered that this fourth stat, special ability, and resource pool need not be related to wizardry magic. A priest could have faith instead of Mana. A rogue would have Confidence. An alchemist could have Lore and a warrior could have Courage. There are lots of possibilities that I am exploring and hope to write about soon.

Dungeon World for the 18 to 24 Group

As always, there is Dungeon World afoot. I am running my group through the venerable Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. I have enjoyed my DW version of the troll (one of his moves is to regenerate the last wound he received).

"I rolled a NINE! Awesome! I hit him for 17 damage! I'm ready to take my lumps behind my armor."
"The troll's wound begins to close up before your eyes. Just like that, the wound is gone!"
"Crap!"

Wait until they get to the entrance of the caves. Bwa ha ha. (Yes, they are having a lot of fun. No one has died yet, although one character came close.)

Didn't you used to be an old-school guy?

Why yes, I am still that guy. Swords&Wizardry stuff is coming down the pike soon as well. I hope to provide more details about what this stuff is and how it will come about, but I think it will be fun for everyone.

I am convinced that I will get the DW group into an OSR game if it kills me. If not, maybe I'll run a game at a local store.

I am still trying to get a game to work on my Kindle Paperwhite. I have decided, however, that I'm just going to have to get EPUB formatted modules to work first, because that is easier.

That's all for now. Next post should be more polished rules about my heartbreaker.

Committed, Participating, or Watching from the Sidelines

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Regardless of how one defines the OSR (or defines what is not the OSR), there are certain levels of involvement. I don’t say that to judge, it’s what comes to mind when I think about me and the OSR.

I love to fiddle with Swords & Wizardry. It is the closest thing to my preferred way of DMing and playing. It’s fairly easy to bolt-on subsystems from other games and everything a player needs to know can fit on the character sheet.

I’ve stalled on my year of Magic project because my big spell building system had a fundamental flaw that I couldn’t fix without starting over. If it was in any state of publishing, I’d post it and let others see if they can fix it. So much of it is scattered hand-written notes, I wouldn’t know how to best put that stuff out there.

For the curious, the fundamental flaw was that every spell effectively came out as a 4th or 5th level spell, even weak ones. I made a math error when I was making 1st and 2nd level spells. When I re-checked the math, lo and behold, they were really 4th level spells. Bleh.

As much as I love Swords & Wizardry, I play in a Dungeon World group. Most of the players in my group are half my age. I am older than the referee. I see these guys one or two times a week outside of the game and they love their characters. Believe it or not, we’ve even had character deaths and a near TPK.

The group won’t be able to meet this entire month and I suggested that I run a game in the interim. Everyone to whom I mentioned it to seemed enthusiastic. One player in particular has wanted me to run a separate game for a long time. Then that same player said

Let’s do Marvel Super Heroes this time.

They did not mean FASERIP. They weren't born yet when TSR made my favorite supers game.

Could I get them to do Swords & Wizardry? Yes, I could. But my inner bard keeps saying that I need to give them what they want. We would all have a bunch of fun and I’d enjoy the challenge of learning a new system. This isn't coming from a place of weakness: I enjoy playing just about any RPG. (RPGs I do not like include diceless, narrative only based games, and games similar to Vampire the Masquerade.) The point of the group is spending time together and I know that they will eventually come back around to my S&W game.

What’s the point of all this?

I want to do more than participate and chime in from time to time.

I'm determined to get this younger group of men and women to at least try Swords & Wizardry. Heck, if 5e is as OSR Friendly as the math appears to be, I'll be happy with Basic D&D. I'm sure once Basic is posted, I'll create a conversion kit from 5e to pure S&W. (I doubt that I'll be able to post it, but that's another story for a later time.)

I read about all things Swords & Wizardry, make house rules, and generally create stuff. I'm on and off posting. I get into non-OSR games like Dungeon World because I can find those games available at the right times and places. I even make stuff for Dungeon World. I conceive of great projects and get overwhelmed by them in any system, I guess. Bleh.

I would be happy to play a game on online, but the times seem to be just an hour too early or in the middle of the day. What I want to do is run a game on Google Hangouts. I plan on running a Swords & Wizardry game at Nuke Con here in Omaha, if I don't chicken out. The fear comes from committing a bunch of money that my family might otherwise need due to an emergency. That's life when you live hand-to-mouth.

I also want to add some new things to the OSR:

I use Sign Language at home. I think ASL is awesome. I think using ASL in-game is more awesome. The game takes on a different flavor when the characters (and the players) use the language. For spellcasters, it makes gestures for spellcasting more fun, especially in-game. More than that, a deaf Thief will not Hear Noise, but will have a better chance of seeing through a magical illusion.

Quick Aside: People who are deaf do not see better to compensate for a lack of hearing. Some do not see better at all. Some folks I know have developed an enhanced peripheral vision to be more aware of so many things that most folks totally miss. My son, for example, has tremendous peripheral vision. His hearing has changed over time and he prefers to speak (for now), but his early years taught him to be aware of so much visually that it still surprises me sometimes.

The key here is not to set up a "deaf race" and define racial abilities like being deaf was the fifth racial option. The point is not to stress the deafness, but to present variations of traditional classes. Truth is, when I play a bard, I think of Robert DeMayo, Shakespeare, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Terry Foy. I've seen Terry do Shakespeare serious and not-so-serious. I'd really love to see Robert do the same.

I want to add conversions to all sorts of systems. Give me the Alternity races in S&W (there was a Dragon magazine article that did that). Give me the hovertanks from FASA Centurion Legion. Give me a d% character from Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying.

I want to add monsters and creatures that are not related to horror. I am not a fan of horror. After a while, I just run out of synonyms for gruesome or horrifying. I'll admit, it's much harder to come up with creatures that aren't the stuff of nightmares. Despite that, it's still worth it.

I want to figure out how to make RPG material for a Kindle much easier than it is. I figured out how to make alternating shaded rows on tables. I figured out an fairly easy way to go from TiddlyWiki to HTML to MOBI formatted eBooks, but there are still a few quirks. I hope to make more things for a Kindle, even while I'm ironing out the kinks.

Anyway, I've rambled long enough, I think you get the idea. I hope to update more often now that real life has calmed down. I hope to contribute more than just an occasional emo post.

Wish me luck.