Making Stuff, Charging Nothing

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I have been working on assembling my notebooks (paper and virtual) to provide gaming stuff to share. Some of the material needs a larger format than the blog, some of it is too short to post about. It will be a lot of work to translate it from Scribblese to English, but it is a lot of fun.

To that end, I created the layout for Odd Duk, an occasional 'zine about Swords & Wizardry, one-off games, and anything else I can find in my years of stuff. You may or may not find it useful, but I enjoy sharing whatever I have. It will be available in PDF and Mobi formats for certain. I will try epub, but I don't have a good way to test that format.

Don't worry, there won't be a dead tree version for sale, it will always be free. I don't have the long stapler to assemble them, nor the budget to print them. I will, however, post separate pdfs of the cover and the content so that you can make your own.

I also finished the game I had originally planned to make for the Ptolemaic Dice contest. It won't require a Ptolemaic Die to play, but it should work with other alphabet dice out there. It's based on Microlite20 (legacy rules), so it won't be rules heavy.

Unlike a lot of things, I have all the fiddly bits worked out. No endless fussing over fonts or layout. Add content and pictures, process, publish. Wish me luck!

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.

M20 on My Mind

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I have a lot to catch up on over at Nevermet Press. Many, many wiki entries and posts are just bursting to get out of my mind. Alas, energy and concentration are not my friends.

So a quick brain dump here in an attempt to get going:

Odd Retroclone Idea One:

Wanted to be successful with M20 Odd Duck inspired by this post. Basically, the spell list would be substituted with the spells from The Fantasy Trip. Conversion of the spells has been problematic. I finally figured out that IQ level =! M20 spell level. ST cost also doesn't seem to translate as some spells have 50, 60 or 100 ST cost while many others range from 1 to 10.

I created a spreadsheet to rank them relatively to each other. An IQ 14 spell that cost 1 ST would be a higher level than an IQ 8 spell that cost 2 ST. The formula is not that complicated as I opted out of trying to determine a normalized distribution. Besides, I'm not that good at normalization (in math or databases) anyway.

I may never finish it. Ugh. It's a good idea that I just cannot implement.

Odd Retroclone Idea Two:

I also have some bizarre deathwish to create my own retro-clone. It would be a complete vanity project that 'feels' like the amalgam of B/X, 1st and 2nd edition AD&D with some new found love for BAB and other d20 conventions. The other oddity would be how everything is inspired by Paul M. Crabaugh. I will include a class generator (which only needs options for illusionists) and a monster generator. I am about 33% done with the generator - it only generates non-magical beasts at the moment.

What compels me on this idea is a mystery to me.