Loot from the 25th Sublevel of the Dungeon

A Happy Birthday For Me!

I recently crossed into a new age category. My Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma all now suffer from a -2 penalty. This sucks, but there are a few upsides. For one, my Wisdom and Intelligence each gained +1. They were on even numbers before, so my modifiers didn’t actually increase, but it’s still cool. I also acquired some nifty loot, pictured above. Some of it is from my very friendly ladyfriend, and the rest is just from allowing myself to be a little less thrifty than normal. Given that it is all at least tangentially related to tabletop gaming, I thought I’d take the time to share.

Pictured at the top of the image are three board games: Small World, Tsuro, and the Order of the Stick Adventure Game (Deluxe Edition). The first two of those I’ve been interested in since seeing them featured on Wil Wheaton’s “Tabletop” series of YouTube videos. He’s already done a very thorough job of explaining both games, so I would simply recommend checking out what he’s posted. Small World was the focus of episode one, while Tsuro was the first of three games in episode two.

I’ve mentioned in the past (a no doubt annoying number of times) that I’m a huge fan of Rich Berlew’s Order of the Stick webcomic. It’s funny, clever, involved, and surprisingly emotionally compelling for a comic about stick figures. So when I drove into the city to have a nice dinner and visit Card Kingdom, I was delighted to find a copy of the Order of the Stick board game on display there. It even includes a thoroughly amusing comic to explain the rules. I won’t go into too much detail, since I’ll probably write a review of it once I have a chance to play it properly. Essentially, it’s a cooperative dungeon crawling game where only one of the players can actually be the ‘winner.’ If you’ve ever played Munchkin by Steve Jackson Games, think of this as Advanced Munchkin. It’s also much funnier, which is saying something, because Munchkin is pretty funny.

Moving on, in the center of the picture are three of the old Van Richten’s Guides. Ravenloft is easily my favorite campaign setting. I love the macabre style, I love undead creatures, and I all around love the land of mists. I first encountered Van Richten’s guides when I visited a local book store and picked up Van Richten’s Guide to Vampires. The books are written from an in-universe perspective. The ‘author’ is legendary undead hunter Dr. Rudolph van Richten, who writes these books to help novice undead hunters understand the dangers they’ll face. There were tons of these guides, and they’re absolutely timeless. It doesn’t matter what game or campaign setting you’re running, because they’re structured more like a work of fiction than a sourcebook. It’s only at the end of each chapter that the various elements are explained within the structure of AD&D’s rules. Pictured are the guides for Ghosts, Flesh Golems (“The Created”), and Mummies (“The Ancient Dead.”)

On the center left is “Tales of The Dying Earth” by Jack Vance. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already well aware of why this is significant. If not, all you really need to know is that when we talk about “Vancian” magic in D&D, Jack Vance is the guy it was named after. On page 40 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Gygax directs anyone curious about the background for D&D’s magic system to read three books. Two of which (“The Eyes of the Overworld” and “The Dying Earth”) are both included in this volume. I’m a little curious as to why the cover looks quite so science-fiction-y, but I’m sure the meaning for that will become apparent once I get a chance to read it. Now I just need to power through the significantly less interesting book I’m currently reading.

On the center right is the sourcebook for Dungeon Crawl Classic. It’s a unique kind of retro clone which has integrated some aspects from modern gaming, and has some very interesting ideas in it. It’s also the first game I’ve encountered which will require me to find some of the more obscure Zocchi dice, such as the three, five, and seven sided dice. There are already a lot of things here I like, and a lot of things I don’t like. I’m sure this game will be getting a few of its own posts in the future, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

Finally, I got an oversized D12. Each side has a body part listed on it: Right Hand, Left Hand, Right Arm, Left Arm, Right Foot, Left Foot, Right Leg, Left Leg, Stomach, Chest, Head, and Full Body. I’m not completely sure what I want to do with it yet, but I just like the idea of it. I’m thinking it might work best in a game like West End Game’s Star Wars RPG. That’s a game where combat is supposed to be extremely lethal. So, instead of using their system of “wounds,” you could instead use this die to determine whether a shot is lethal or not. I’m not completely sure what to do with “Full Body” though. Perhaps it’ll just mean you have to re-roll twice.

Now it looks like I’ve got some serious reading to do, so if you’ll excuse me, I want to see if Van Richten has any tips which will help me with my Mummy problem.

By the way, if you did enjoy this post, it’s Garage Sailing season. Which means my seasonal Garage Sailing site will have a post like this every week.

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2 thoughts on “Loot from the 25th Sublevel of the Dungeon”

  1. The Dying Earth is almost it’s own solitary genre (it might be argued that most literary masterworks are, I suppose). I suspect that the publisher didn’t really know how to portray it in a way that they though might appeal to modern genre audiences. There is a lot of what we would now call science fiction in there, so it’s not totally out of place, but it’s definitely odd.

    Just look at the variety of imagery that has been used to represent The Dying Earth:


    I have come to Vance relatively recently, so the contents book you show there (I have the same one) is the only writings by him that I have read so far, but I have The Demon Princes (two volumes) and Showboat World waiting for me on my shelves.

    Vance as a stylist is amazing too.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on DCC. It’s one of the more entertaining gaming books that I have read in a while (I should do a post on it soon too, I guess).

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