Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hand Drawn Character Sheet for Engines & Empires

Mapping for NaCaCreMo continues apace; I'll write my next post when I have the region and area maps all done.  For now, a little something else I whipped up:

I can't remember where I found it now, but there's a D&D 5th ed. character sheet floating around the internet which was done in the style of one of Dyson Logos's dungeon maps.  (I don't know if it was actually Dyson's work or not.)  I never used it, but I never forgot about it either.  Then, today, I decided to slap together something similar for E&E.  (I purposefully omitted the Dyson cross-hatching background, though.  I don't have the patience for Dyson cross-hatching.)

But, hey, how I have a nifty-looking sheet that matches up with all my house rules and everything!

(…It looks nicer in print than it does on the screen.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's High Time 90s D&D Got Some Love

Has any old-school D&D blogger out there taken the time to review all of the Challenger Series adventures?  Thunder Rift and the Adventure Packs?  The two versions of the five-level introductory set?  If so, I'm not aware of it.  In fact, going by OSR blogs and forums alone, you could be forgiven for supposing that the Rules Cyclopedia was the only 90s D&D book worth discussing.

But it ain't so!  The Cyclopedia lived alongside boxed sets and adventure modules!  1992 and 1993 were especially prolific years for old D&D, just before its twilight—after 1993, the only two old D&D products to be printed at all were two iterations of the Classic D&D Game, in 1994 and 1996.

I think I need to do this.  It will be interesting to look at these adventures through fresh eyes, seasoned by a few years of tabletop-focused old-school play.  The Challenger Series adventures were board-gamey and rail-roady, but they have a unique charm.  (I probably won't get around to this until after I've finished up with National Campaign Creation Month, but look for it eventually.  This must happen.  Classic D&D needs to get the attention it deserves.)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I'm Not a Grognard, I'm a Post-Munchkinist

I should have liked to continue my NaCaCreMo posts today, but I left my hex paper at home when I left for work this morning.  That means no mapping, at least not until this evening.  But I have had a related subject (of sorts) on my mind. Fair warning: this post is going to get ├╝berly navel-gazey.

When I first got into role-playing as a kid, I didn't really know what I was doing, and neither did the friends who introduced me to D&D.  This is a common story; you even hear it a lot from within the OSR.  "I got a Basic Set for Christmas and didn't really understand how it worked until older gamers showed me how to play!"  An old chestnut, right?  And we've all learned to laugh at our past selves, who made amateur mistakes interpreting the rules ("percent liar", anyone?) or who just plain didn't grok the concept of the role-playing game.  Our early, flailing attempts at adventures and campaigns are a source of comedy, not tragedy—because we eventually came to know better, and everything turned out all right in the end.

That's the likely story, anyway.  But is it a true story?

My contention, oft-argued of late, is that mainstream role-playing (RPG) and my preferred style of strict-sandbox old-school gaming (which I've given the intentionally-generic label "tabletop", TTG, purely as a matter of convenience for when I have occasion to blog about it) are two different but related hobbies.  I believe that this distinction has its origin in the grognard–munchkin generation gap.  And explaining this will require an intrusive digression on what these words mean and where they came from—which happens with surprising frequency whenever I want to discuss topics such as this.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express isn't my favorite Agatha Christie novel (that would be The Mysterious Affair at Styles), but it does seem to be the most frequently adapted into film.  It's been a long time since I've seen the 1974 movie, but I do remember enjoying it a great deal; and now that I've just seen the new Kenneth Branagh version, I have to gush.  This movie was good.  Damned good.  It was a hell of a lot more faithful than the Poirot episode from 2010.  (That series never failed to take annoying liberties with its adaptations).  Good screenplay, excellent music, plenty of fun little Easter eggs for Christie fans to notice, beautiful cinematography, and it's fun to see the all-star cast playing off each other (with Branagh and Pfeiffer being the highlights).

NaCaCreMo #2: Maps Within Maps

National Campaign Creation Month continues. In post #0, I came up with an idea. In post #1, I picked a setting. This short interlude will explain how I like to go about mapping the campaign. It's a primer on getting organized before starting to map and brainstorm.

Mapping the Wilderness: A Matter of Scale

In old D&D, a party moves through the wilderness at a pace derived from the slowest character's Full Move—namely, Movement Rate (in feet per turn) divided by five equals miles per day.  In practical terms, this will usually be 120', 90', or 60' per turn, which equates to 24, 18, or 12 miles per day; or, in leagues, 8, 6, or 4 leagues per day.  Just from these numbers, you can see that a scale of about a league per hex is ideal for when the party actually travels through the wilderness.  (I wouldn't use two leagues per hex, because that makes it harder to account for terrain and other scaling factors that can alter travel speeds by thirds as well as halves.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaCaCreMo #1: Setting the Game

Since I've dubbed this post "#1", I guess that retroactively makes my previous post on National Campaign Creation Month into "#0".  The last essay was all about spitballing for an idea; this one is about situating the idea within a setting.

Before I can go any further, I have to select a world in which to set the campaign.  For this one fleeting, joyous moment, the possibilities are truly endless: shall I fall back onto one of my already established settings?  Or do I invent an entirely new one?  When I was a kid, it wouldn't have even been a question: world-building for the sake of a new campaign was just something you did.  (My friends and I were too heavily influenced by JRPGs back then to ever consider carrying on multiple campaigns within the same setting!)  But now, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and constraints on my time dictate that I have to use a setting that I've already created.  I can take the opportunity to flesh out some small part of one of my pre-existing campaign worlds—but which one?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaCaCreMo #0: The Spitballing Phase

The Greyhawk Grognard has declared November to be "National Campaign Creation Month" (which doesn't quite roll off the tongue like NaNoWriMo, but it's close enough)—and since I said a few posts back that I needed to start working on a new campaign in order to demonstrate my process, I'll consider it a fortuitous coincidence.  Plus, it just so happens that I'm too busy with school right now to either write a novel or actually run a campaign—but if I can lay the foundations for a new campaign and have it it ready to go by the end of the year, well, that would really be something.

It's also been a good long while since I've been inspired to do this, and I really need to shake the rust off.

Okay, so what does a campaign need?  An idea, a theme, a timeline, several maps, and the contents of said maps (this includes NPCs and so forth).