Monday, April 30, 2012

Pik's Scrapbook

My original goal was to create blog entries in the style of my cleric's personal journal.  Sadly, Pik's intelligence of 3 means the poor bastard can't read and write.  Instead of giving you a thrilling account of how our first adventure got started, the tricky battle of the kitchen and the epic surrender and re-fight of the poker room, the best I can do is off you descriptions of Pik's scrapbooking of the adventure.

Page One:  A sign written by someone else "Adventuer for Hire!"

Page Two: A smashed kobold tooth, some kobold hair and a crude picture of a playing card.

Page Three: A crudely drawn picture of pots and pans.  Also another kobold tooth carefully pulled out of his mace.

Page Four: Seventy-seven ink slashes.  These represent the 77 copper pieces they found but since math is beyond him, he had to mark each coin separately. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More D&D Inspiration of Old

As mentioned before by Mark, fantasy books were not necessarily my D&D inspiration when I was young. I was not much of a reader to be honest. What did inspire we was the beautifully bizarre world of Heavy Metal magazine.

Heavy Metal was still fairly new when I started playing D&D, and while my house was far too conservative for me to have copies around I did have friends with more lenient parents. Besides pouring over the images in the great old modules, I could gaze at Heavy Metal for hours on end. Sure, the Monster Manual and Deities & Demigods had their share of naked ladies, Heavy Metal was a treasure trove of my two great loves.

Aside from Heavy Metal was the equally inspiring art of Boris Vallejo. While Boris is no longer my favorite fantasy artist, there were always collections of his work around. A great thing about them, and perhaps something I never gave Boris credit for until right now, is how the paintings have a narrative to them. You may not make a story that Boris was perhaps thinking of, but their is more to it than the "naked chick with sword" factor. There is always something going on beyond a show of boobies, and you can easily see how different painting would fit into your game.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Guess I Should Get A Post in Here Too?

I mentioned earlier this week that I went into Basic expecting to hate it. Thinking it was just nostalgia people pined for. I have to say, though, that I am really digging it so far. I was thinking a bit about how to proceed last night and it came to me. Star Trek.

No, I don't want to play in space, but if we are going this far back in time we can look at Star Trek and its various incarnations as a allegory for D&D. Hear me out.

O/B/E D&D and ST:TOS - Cast of characters that sail from island to island. A group of them (typically four) get off, often with a hireling, get into some trouble and save the day.

AD&D 1st/2nd and ST:TNG - So similar to the the original that it does not confuse, but has a great deal of aesthetic change. More options, more races, bigger pool of resources. You still go island to island, but also have more opportunity for a campaign.

3e/3.5 and ST:DS9/ST:VOY - Very campaign oriented. Characters start with a goal and spend the remainder of their career pursuing it. Far greater pool of resources, even more races. The real birth of power-gaming comes in here.

4e and ST:ENT - An attempt to return to the roots of the franchise that ultimately fails despite being worthy. Campaigns are available, but lends itself to island hopping. Character advancement is the goal. Even though it recalls the original, time has taken its toll and it is impossible to go back. Too slick and polished to truly relate to the old.

And just to add another, Pathfinder is probably Stargate...

So, with that in mind, and knowing that ST:TOS is the king of all Star Treks, and with the fortunate setting I chose to base us in, we shall go island hopping if there are no objections.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

OD&D is Fucking Metal!

Hey, can we swear on this blog?

This little gem in koboldstyle's post really got me to thinking about why I love OD&D (or BX D&D, if you will) after all these years:
I love this idea where you're playing in a D&D world that's a heavy metal album cover of oversexed barbarians fighting sinister wizards...
The part that sums it up nicely is his "heavy metal album cover" sentiment. I don't know about others, but for me, it wasn't the works of Tolkien, Vance, Howard, or Morcock that fueled my imagination as a young DM, it was classic metal acts like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Angel Witch, Demon, Savatage, Witchfinder General, et al. NWOBHM cover art and song lyrics were just ripe with setting and scenario inspiration. I even mined those albums for good names for a cult or two, a few evil wizards, and a mercenary company. And I'll never forget about one particular character I created for a year-long AD&D campaign I played in during the mid-80s — Grim Quakeslayer

So, koboldstyle, that hoary old bastard thanks you for the trip down nostalgia lane. Your guttural roar has awoken the dwarf fighter from his battle-induced slumber so that he may one day heft his dual-bladed battle axes and cut a bloody swath across the Forgotten Demense of Necromantic Blasphemy!

I'll leave you with this video from The Sword, a contemporary heavy metal band from Austin, Texas. If this doesn't scream OD&D then I don't know what does.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Urist, the Handsomely Clueless

As a gamer guy with gamer opinions on the gamer internet, I tend to identify with the old-school gaming crowd who wax nostalgic about rolling your ability scores 3d6-in-order and failing saving throws and dying in spectacularly hilarious ways (rolled over by a giant slug, accidentally drinking corrosive slime instead of a healing potion, etc). I love this idea where you're playing in a D&D world that's a heavy metal album cover of oversexed barbarbarians fighting sinister wizards but your actual party of characters is more like the Keystone Kops who just keep accidentally falling down stairs into horribly monster-filled dungeons. So when the awesome Darius Whiteplume of the intensely culturally valuable Adventures in Nerdliness blog offered to run some old-school D&D I found myself chewing on the keyboard in anticipation.

I'm playing a dwarf. His name is Urist Diggerbollox and we're playing Basic/Expert so being a dwarf is not just his genetics but also his job description.

First things first, I bought myself a warhammer because hitting things seemed like a likely eventuality and then I bought a shield because getting hit seemed even more likely.

A number you might find yourself Caring About A Lot in D&D is your armor class, because it is the number that bad guys (or good guys, depending on what sort of trouble you're getting into) have to shoot for to hit you. In delightfully esoteric old-school D&D you're trying to get that number as low as possible and the best way to do this is to buy expensive armor and it turns out once you've bought a big expensive warhammer and a few other things you can't really afford the cool stuff, like that chainmail that Pik is wearing.

I opted for "Padded Armor" which apparently was a totally legit real thing but brings to mind the kind of puffy jacket rap stars used to like to wear, or taken to an absurd extreme might be one of those sumo wrestling suits they make you wear for funny sumofights at the company picnic.

Urist has a pretty high charisma for a dwarf so we decided he was just busting out in some slick denim threads and I think that's a good look for him. Our team's rather embarrassingly clueless but if the whole dying horribly in a deathtrap-laden dungeon gig doesn't totally work out for us we might try a secondary career as medieval male models. How you doin'?

A Cleric is Born

I wanted to play a cleric. After years of running D&D games where I had to create and manage semi realistic religions and deities, I wanted to play a cleric where I could make up my religion as I went along.  Since we were playing Basic D&D where they refuse to even name a deity for fear of offending Christians, I felt like I had free license to just have fun with it.

Since I wanted to play a cleric, I also decided that no matter what stats  I rolled, that bugger was going to be a cleric. Think about real life. If someone is good with numbers, he doesn't automatically become an accountant.  Heck, think about your coworkers.  Are they the best suited people for their jobs?   How many people get jobs because that was what their dads wanted them to do or because it was the only one available?  This boy is gonna be a cleric.

So here we go.

Pik the Acolyte

Strength - 9

Well poop.  Nothing special but at least it is not a handicap.

Intelligence - 3

Oh boy.   According to the rulebook, a 3 Intelligence can't read or write.  In fact, you have to have a 4 Intelligence to read and write Common.  We can extrapolate that I can't even read my own mentally handicapped scribblings.

Pik wasn't dropped on his head, he was dribbled.  Oddly, his inability to read and write is the only in-game restriction he has for his low intelligence.  There is nothing about handling math, chewing rocks or walking into walls.

Right now I am thinking this guy is Sloth from Goonies, just not as strong.

Dexterity - 8

I am not surprised that he is clumsy.  Pik has probably ran into a lot of corners.

Wisdom -12

Ummm.  That is still average but it is high average.  He is wise for a mentally damaged person.  So he knows to avoid fire.

Constitution - 10

Nothing special.

Charisma - 16

Of course.  In Basic D&D you don't get much for charisma.  It does mean that this guy is a likable idiot.  He is a very likable idiot religious figure.  He is proof of concept to most atheists.

Instead of Sloth, I am picturing a handsome idiot, like Rick Perry.

To finish off my character I roll my points.  I am hoping for one hit point so I he can die and I can reroll but nope, got a 6.

With a low roll of 80 gold pieces, I spend every single peice for the following equipment.

Chain mail, mace, backpack and Holy Symbol.

That's it.   With his low intelligence, I am guessing his backpack was tied onto him by others.

I also decided that Pik is a follower of the Blue Oyster Cult.  Obviously his charisma helped him get accepted into the order.  I assume his friends did his homework and got him in.  I mean, the guy can't even read the holy texts.  He's handsome though and people like hm.

So why is he adventuring?  I am guessing that adventuring is what low level acolytes do to prove their faith.   I am guessing that his fellow priests gave him a sign that said "Adventurer For Hire" and took him to the nearest tavern.  They told him not to come back until his backpack is full of treasure. 

Blue Oyster help us all.

The Riders of Lohan!

Many weeks ago, a group of brave adventurers decided to take a crack at playing Basic Dungeons and Dragons.  This small band of heroes, though hoary with age, kids and wives, decided to risk it all and return to the depths of terrible dungeons.  With only their dice and a shaky skype connection, they were known as The Riders of Lohan!