Friday, January 25, 2008

Wrath of the Dragon God

I watched the second D&D movie the other day (well, kinda watched it while I did the dishes and cooked). Wasn't so bad. Had the essential elements, bad guy gets his hand on evil artifact, party of adventurers formed to fight him, solve some puzzles, go to a dungeon, deal with a dracolich.

A few things I liked. Mentioned the barrier peaks, shrine of the Kuo-toa, ghost tower of Inverness when the adventurers talked about their past career. The dungeon had a chessboard style trap. The adventurers had to go find a tribe of goblins who worship Jubilex. The cleric of the party gets eaten. The rogue fails a save and goes negative. The wizard botches a teleport and gets her arm stuck in a pillar.

Things I didn't like. Everyone talked in Ren-Faire British. The party tangled with a huge white dragon, a lich, and about sixty bandits, but when faced with about six darkmantles, they ran like sissies. The Black dracolich spewed fire, not acid. When the villain got the artifact taken from him, fairly, he shows up later to just snatch it out of the adventurers hands, to complete his evil plan. From a gamer perspective, that is friggen cheap, and a good way to piss off your players. Especially after killing off the cleric and having the wizard lose an arm. The tribe of goblins who worship Jubilex were all dead, so they just searched an empty village.

Still, liked it a little more than I though I would, worth seeing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Got bored at work, started thinking about building a campaign world. This has been in the back of my brain since I downloaded When the Sky Falls from Rpgnow. It's a supplement detailing what would happen to a fantasy world if meteors started raining down on it. I guess you could do it to an existing world, but what's the fun in that? I'd rather carefully craft a world, then unleash a randomized series of cataclysms on it.

So, to do this I came up with shortcuts and vague ideas. The basic idea is to draw up a map on an erasable vinyl hex map, then drop a bunch of counters on it to see where the meteors hit. To name the places on it, I decided to come up with a half-assed fantasy language. Kinda like Tekumel, but lazier. My language only has twenty syllables. Figure I might make them sacred runes or something, or just make it part of the language. I did this because I like the random Chinese name table in palladium's Mystic China. Here's the table so far.
1. Ad
2. An
3. Ce
4. Do
5. Gil
6. Ift
7. Kru
8. La
9. Lee
10. Mi
11. Na
12. Nor
13. Ri
14. Ru
15. Sil
16. Shnu
17. Swi
18. Unk
19. Ute
20. Ver

To generate a name, roll twice. For a last name, roll twice and add -Dra for daughter of, -Gon for son of. Still working on suffixes to denote villages, towns, and cities. Something like our -burg, -ville, -opolis.

I intend on attaching meanings, colors, and runes to these at some point. For the planet itself, I used the system generation tables from Traveler book 6, scouts. It makes this world only 2,ooo miles in diameter, orbiting a binary star. No moons, only 20% water, with a thin tainted atmosphere. Right now I'm stuck on whether this is going to be DnD, or D20 future/modern set during a pre renaissance era.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I just finished Canticle for Leibowitz. Took me awhile, a bit of a boring read. The premise is after the bomb, society will crumble and it's only salvation is the catholic church. Right after the balloon went up, an engineer and a bunch of scientists decided to get together with some monks and store all the information they could. Society decided to kill all men of learning and burn all books, because they were so pissed that technology had made their world into an irradiated waste land. So these monks became "bookleggers". After a hundred of years or so, of copying and recopying any text they could find, they had no idea what any of it meant. One guy made an illuminated gold leaf copy of an electronic schematic. Crazy stuff.

It goes on to detail three ages. A few generations after the bomb, few hundred years later when there is a new renaissance centered around the abbey of Leibowitz, and even farther in the future when space travel is possible. Nice to read a cold war era, pre Mad Max apocalypse story. I like Mad Max, but it seems like he turned the irradiated future into a place full of hard ass punks in muscle cars. Anyway, this book works as inspiration for Gamma World cryptic societies, and a less gonzo view of what happens when society crumbles.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Read more of Empire of the Petal throne, couple things jumped out at me. The first was about player dominions. It's stated that when a player buys a dominion, the referee may let them map it out, put a few underworlds in it, and run it as their own.

I know I've heard of this before, possibly a suggestion in the DMG or an issue of Dragon. I like the idea. Play long enough in my game to buy some land, and you can be a sub GM. You are still subject to my general rule, but still autonomous enough to control reality in your own hex.

Since families and clans are so important, it lays out rules for chances your concubines or wives will give birth. Only other time I've seen a game mechanic for that was Pendragon. Always wondered what the chance is that a player would knock up a bar wench. There is also a one percent chance that a relative of yours will show up once a month. Probably subject to a reaction roll, just like every other npc. So there is a good chance your long lost uncle will come looking for you. To kill you.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I just downloaded Empire of the Petal Throne from Rpgnow. The whole time I've known about this game, I assumed that it was a convoluted, obtuse exercise in linguistics. Not so, no it is seven kinds of awesome.

I can see why it gets lumped together with Talislanta and Skyrealms of Jorune, it is bizarre, no doubt. Seems to be easier to start in though. With Talislanta and Skyrealms you really need the prep the hell out of the players for them to "get" it. In Empire, you just have players show up on boats (which they can sell for extra cash) at the capital city. They are all foreigners, so they don't know the customs, and have no clan or family to rely on. They have to shack up in the flophouses designated for foreigners until a citizen comes by and gives them a job. This continues until third level, wherein they are trusted enough to leave the foreign quarter by them selves. Punishment involves getting impaled on the neighborhood stake.

Its flavor is kinda india/aztec/arabian, more along the lines of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsay than Tolkien and Moorcock.

The rules are pretty close to original d&d, they would have to be. They were both published by TSR. It even has a forward by Gygax. This was a heady time for gaming, the early years. This gem is written by Professor M.A.R. Barker. Rpg's had professors writing and editing them. Credibility!

The rules differences are pretty strange. Last person to hit a monster and make it die gets all the xp. Rolls are referred to as "shakes", as in shake a twenty sided to hit. Using eyes, which are like wands, causes you to only get half the xp for the monster defeated. As you gain levels, you gain less of a percentage of xp, untill you reach tenth level when you only get 5% of the normal experience, but you still need a quarter of a million to advance. Every time you level up, you reroll your hit points, and take the better of your original score or new roll.

I got so fired up about it I printed the whole thing up, put it in a binder, and made a screen for it outta orange cardstock.