D&D Resources

UPDATE: Flag Framing and The Conflict Web— two tools to make improvising in any game system easier (and more powerful).

Dragon Generator Makes dragons in two picks and one click! (Works in IE only).

Links for GMs Lots of general GM resources.

EN World’s Online Gaming Toolbox, requires login to see them, but they’re pretty extensive. Unfortunately, some links are broken.

A guide to creating detailed cultures and fantasy races.

Handy PDFs for D&D; mostly variants and interesting house rules.

Too chilly for lunch outside

Since I’m cooped up inside, I thought I might as well post about some of my recent discoveries.

Central Valley Gamers is a blog run by local enthusiasts who are trying to increase our exposure to each other in town. Their forums are a good place to find people– they’re especially heavy on CCGs and collectible games. If you’re looking for opponents, I suspect this is a good place to go.

In completely unrelated news, Fudge Deyrni was finally released. I suspect I’d rather play it in FATE, but it should be a good reference even so.

This thread is a good read about how some games and people around the table enjoy (and reward) specific behaviors.

OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show is a new online fiction magazine. It looks interesting, but I haven’t bought an issue yet.

Next Game: Friday February 3rd

Dad’s off to Chuck’s to be with him before surgery and during recovery. We’re off for the next two weeks– right now, it looks like we’ll return Friday, February 3rd. That’s quite a hiatus– if there’s anything we need to solve in downtime, we’ve got plenty of time to discuss it.

If you have any problems with making the session– or even suspect that you might– let everyone know as soon as possible.

Random RPG links

Treasure Tables forum General and DnD specific; friendly and informal.

Mo talks about context, asking how much context do you need to make a good character?

Kirk like PCs, from Johnathon Tweet’s site. I get sent here every so often. I’m always sent somewhere new; there’s always a bit of pleasant surprise to find myself following a link to his site again.

Notes on setting up a campaign

Joshua BishopRoby, a roleplaying theory blog.

Battlestar Galactica style adventures

My Roleplaying History

I don’t know if I’ve ever written out my roleplaying history– in terms of number of systems, it’s quite extensive. I am such a system monkey.

The early years (5th through 8th grade): It started at lunch hour in classrooms. With a fun, random, wildly silly Dungeon Crawl. Over time it led to lots of late night, often incoherent gaming. A few times around Zoran’s pool at night. Many good times.

  • AD&D (1e) [both player and GM; started both in 5th grade]
  • Various “Game Simulations” for history and english classes.
  • Car Wars [player v. player]

High School: A whole new crowd. I got in to gaming quickly, using my mad AD&D skillz. (And happening to share the same first name as a player in German I). I got labeled as a dwarven cleric from the get go.

  • Battletech (3025 mostly) [Mostly PvP, but some GMed linked scenarios.]
  • Shadowrun (1 & 2e) [Mostly as a player.]
  • Some Car Wars [though mostly design, with little play]
  • Champions [GMed it. Wow it was time consuming to make villians by the rules!]
  • Freeform [played]: Dad GMed some cool freeform games, usually because he didn’t want to bother with learning a system.
  • More AD&D, by far the dominant game. [GMed a year+ campaign, played in many others]
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and other miscellaneous Pallidium games.)
  • One-shots of other systems.

College: I joined an ongoing game on my Dorm floor pretty early in my first semester. Other games (and new gaming passions) began here too…

  • AD&D. (I played Sython, who wandered from a homebrew world, into a Spell Jammer ship, was later dumped in the Forgotten Realms, and was drawn into (and finished in) Ravenloft. This was a rotating GM game.
  • Amber Diceless as GM. (My memories of it are pretty vague, though it went reasonably well.)
  • Amber Diceless, played with my roommate Pat and (some guy as GM) who had the two of us wander around and get nearly killed by Shadow Dwellers every week. Interesting characterization came out of it… but it was a frustating campaign.
  • Mage: the Ascension (1st edition). [GM]. A short campaign, filled with a lot of fun episodes. Ender Peskins was a great, ghostbusters style, Son of Ether who still comes to mind quickly.
  • Amber PbeM, [co-GMed]. Fell apart due to poor posting rate matches in the first few months. The campaign was going to be “The Path to Conflict”, with “the Path” as Corwin’s pattern, which manifested more in mental states and domination. Didn’t get far.
  • Amber PbeMs [as a player]. While they weren’t long lasting, I got to try on lots of different hats. Tarayon was a twisted, chaosian blood sorcerer; others were less shocking but quite significant departures for me.

Post College: I returned home, where Magic: the Gathering was the rage. Lots of one-shots and character building for campaigns, but nothing really took off. I tried making & extensively tweaking a few systems, but they rarely lasted. I was casually exposed to other systems, and started reading RPGs as reading material. (Most other people were getting their gaming fix elsewhere, played Magic enough to scratch the roleplaying itch, or had pushed gaming to the background.)

  • Mage: The Ascension [GM]. Very short. Played it with high school friend, who created extremist PCs that didn’t group very well.
  • Mage: The Ascension [player]. I met Chris through this game he ran. It was mostly set after a trip through a portal to a Horizon Realm established by some Order of Hermes (and a few others), many many years before. Kind of a dark-parallel universe and a lot of fun. I played a lay-Chorister, who was attracted paradox by championing Charity in a world where the idea didn’t exist. Lots of complex, good character development.
  • A few short successor games with largely the same mix of people. Settlers of Catan (the boardgame) also started around here.
  • Some online roleplaying on the Compuserve boards. [Champions and MERP]
  • I also tried out a local Vampire larp for a few sessions.

On my own: After I moved into an apartment with Chris, we became game space central. I also met Will and Jen, who introduced me to lots of White Wolf, especially Vampire. I later met Zack through Will & Jen, and Dave and Dusty through Chris. Our gaming grew more regular, with a few long campaigns in parallel.

  • Vampire: the Masquerade [player]. The Fresno Chronicles. Will’s game about the politics and capers of various vampire coteries. Lots of short series, with cool off the cuff plotting.
  • Mage: The Ascension [GM]. To Sway the Stones chronicle; a very successful long running game. Jimmy and Ethan’s rivalry is classic.
  • AD&D, Skellwoods Campaign [player]: I played Alanora, a bard originally modeled on Rune from Lackey’s Free Bard’s books. She deviated quickly given that she was sent to boot camp and then into a lengthy fight against undead. She was an interesting character, totally out of her depth– comic relief as often as anything else. (This was the campaign when I met Wes.)

The Lull: After the Mage and AD&D games dried up, there was a lull. I wanted to play right away, so I went to the game store and played with new people. While it wasn’t the best campaign ever, I did meet people, learn the new d20 system, and made it through the rough spot. When my games per week load climbed to three, the gamestore game was the first to go… but I’m happy it was there when I needed it. Board games have blossomed and compete for gaming time.

  • D&D 3.0 [player]: The gameshop Nesme campaign. Characters were old school roll-in-order and keep the results; the GM keeps your sheets to prevent cheating. There were lots of cross-game sessions for big battles and the like. Mission oriented, with the goal being a return to base at the end of each session.
  • D&D 3.5 [player]. Strife and Pride. Dad’s GMing debut in our group– tough, since we started a bit before 3.5 came out. We didn’t want to waste money on soon-to-be obsolete books, so he GMed by SRD and player’s handbook for a couple of months, before I bought all the new 3.5 stuff for the game. I was the “local expert”, so I helped out with monsters and systems wonkery, but never really rose to co-GM. My character, Hrsai, tended to fade into the background– initially valuable, when I was helping run monsters, later it was somewhat sad.
  • Lots of shorter games: Ben and Wes each ran Star Wars. Wes ran Traitors to Empire, a game about turncoats that didn’t work out because the characters we made weren’t the characters the game demanded. Our Smugglers and Criminals game had good characterization, but fell apart due to distraction.
  • I ran an educational “3-shot” to teach Mage, then launched In the Face of Darkness, where I fell victim to the geek fallacies and burned out on GMing for a long time.
  • In parallel, Will’s games were going strong with a different dynamic. I tended to play in his games, and we played a lot of different systems: lots of Vampire, Shadowrun (as Graal, a racist Orc), and our Wheel of Time homebrew as Takender Wholesbane.
  • I ran two games for this group: My Life With Master, and Dogs in the Vineyard.
  • Online, I was playing a series of Universalis games.

That brings us up to now. I’m currently playing in Dad’s D&D3.5 campaign. Our group has slimmed down– there are four players plus the GM. This campaign has been going strong for just over a year. Friday January 7th, 2005 was the day we started our current campaign.

This game’s faster paced; we’ve quickly pushed to the low teen levels. The situation was developed to develop characters in play– we started out with vague thoughts of a Mercenary company and came together pretty quickly. I had burned out on keeping logs, so there aren’t coherent tales of our exploits. I still keep resource links and do game coordination by blog and phone. Jennifer and I are currently reading through Burning Wheel, deciding if we’re interested in running it. (So far, I think we are.)

Because I’m foolish

I understand that there’s some interest in how the In the Face of Darkness campaign ended, where I lay the blame, and the like.

Quite simply, I put most of the blame on me. I should have noticed that two characters had very similar core competencies: Hand-to-Hand butt kicking, and should have encouraged differentiation– or at least discussion– about that overlap. I was also pissed by Mike’s willful slanting of every action to try to harm/ kill/ distrust Wes’s PC based on real world player conflicts.

Over the years I’ve babbled on many sites about the experience.
Defining moments as a GM (see points F&G), Gm’s responsibility in Player v. Player conflict, Breaking Characters, and Character Death. My earliest reaction was here, where Ginger asked “Name one lesson you learned in gaming that you will (hopefully) never have to learn again.”

Plus, I answered a GameWISH abou my opinion on bitching in general, which is a different pet peeve I had.

Hilzoy appreciation

I greatly appreciate Hilzoy’s writings at Obisidan Wings. Her posts are bracing– the make me think about issues in ways I’ve never considered before.

The Blame Game was my favorite Hilzoy post of the year. About real contrition; the key to living a moral life.

Hared is a Poison is a classic, brilliant, Hilzoy post that springboards from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christiaity.

The responsibility to get it right, an upbraiding of those who refuse to take responsiblities for the wrongs they encourage.

Together with Katherine, they tackled torture this year. Her posts cut to the heart of the matter; in general, her call to examine torture clearly is a great introduction to complex thought on the topic. Working with Katherine she details our abuses and shady dealings. Maher Arar is the category that deals with torture– it has far too many posts for a shining city on the hill.

Next Game: Friday Jan 6th

As far as I know, the stars have aligned for a January 6th game night. Let me know if I need to brush up on my astrology.

If I remember correctly, we left off in the basement of ther tower, shortly after Erisorn laid the smack down on the Blood Mother. Oh yeah, something about Kelmvor being pleased– maybe a vision.

So, any idea what we’re up to next?

UPDATE: (from another post) — WotC cross book Indexes
Prestige Class Index, Class Index, Feat Index, Spell Index

Yay, my computer survived

This was a messy weekend for the computer– I logged on Friday night to find that I’d been invaded by a combination of viruses and a pair of nasty spyware programs. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t wipe out the infestation, even using several programs in series. So I created a new windows installation and managed to burn much of my old data off to CD.

Yesterday, I thought I’d continue the reinstallation, since most programs require the Windows directory to work. The first reinstallation of WoW didn’t work… probably a conflict with the old version. So I’m looking at reinstalling it again… and running many, many MB of patches to get up to current.

On the other hand, upgrading to Movable Type 3.2 didn’t go too badly at all. Each step of the way there was a little problem, but the documentation was good enough that I could debug it and move on. It’s working very well so far– let me know if you see any problems. (I’m really looking forward to the improved comment and trackback control– even trackbacks were getting badly spammed before the update.)