Tag Archives: Large Haul

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.

Half Price Books Haul

What I Got at Half Price BooksIf you have a Half Price Books location near you, you need to go there. Just make sure you have some spare cash, because you’re not going to get out of there without buying a veritable library. Not only is everything fantastically cheap, but they’ve got more variety in their stock than I would have thought possible for a brick-and-mortar book store. They somehow combine a mom & pop bookstore atmosphere, with the square footage & numerous locations of a national chain like Barnes & Noble. I’ve got two locations near me, and both of them have more tabletop gaming material than I could read in a year.

Pictured above are the RPG books I got from my most recent haul. I got a number of other items as well (including a brand new 10-DVD set of Stanley Kubrick’s films for $24 which made my heart flutter), but this is a tabletop RPG blog, so I figure this is what my readers would actually be interested in.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide by Gary Gygax is the biggest find, for me. This is, as I’ve said before, a seminal work in RPGs. This text was so groundbreaking, and remains so relevant even to modern gamers, that WIRED magazine listed it first among their “9 Essential Geek Books You Must Read Right Now,” which came out a staggering 32 years after the book was originally released. I’ve been reading a PDF of it recently, which has inspired a number of my recent posts, but there’s nothing quite like having a physical copy. The book has been out of print for decades, though Wizards of the Coast is planning to do a limited reprint. So if you can’t find an original, your chance to possess this wisdom is coming up. Plus it supports the Gygax Memorial Fund!

The Dark Force Rising Sourcebook is for the West End Games Star Wars RPG, which is among my favorite games. Back when this RPG was still in print, new Star Wars novels would often be accompanied by a sourcebook, which took elements from that novel, such as ships, locations, characters, or events, and gave them game-rules. I don’t know if that kind of synergy has ever existed between media & gaming anywhere else, but I like it. And Dark Force Rising still reigns as one of the greatest Star Wars novels ever written, so I’m eager to dive into reading this. Plus there are numerous fantastic illustrations for scenes from the book, which is always fun.

Ever since reading Vecna Reborn, I’ve been really aching to get my hands on some Ravenloft materials. Being a fan of undead, and grimdark settings, it just seems like my kinda thing. I picked up three. Ravenloft: Realm of Terror, which is the basic campaign setting for second edition. Van Richten’s Guide to Vampires, which is a detailed 95 page booklet on–you guessed it–vampires. It seems to be written from an in-game perspective, which should be really fun to read. The Shadow Rift is a massive adventure module, filling almost 160 pages. I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to read & run this, but it looks exciting. And I gotta give some massive props to the artist who passed up on an opportunity to sexualize the female adventurer on the cover. Bravo, Todd Lockwood!

Shadowrun is a game I’ve wanted to play for a long time. Cyberpunk has always intrigued me, and throwing magic in the mix makes for a fun time. Apparently the sourcebook I found is actually 1st edition as well. So the vision of future technology is crazy out of date, which kinda works for me. There’s something charming about a world where we all have cybernetic implants, but computers are still bulky and require wired connections.

The last two books are The Fright at Tristor, and the D&D Player’s Companion: Book One. Fright at Tristor is a 3.5 module. I haven’t had much time to look into it yet, but I’ve become very interested in acquiring Pathfinder compatible modules in recent months. I still prefer to design my own adventures, but running modules now and again has proven educational and fun. The Players Companion is a 1st edition supplement which includes more detailed combat rules, information on strongholds, classes, and new weapons. It should be informative to see how a player supplement was handled in 1984.

Now if I could only find more time to read!

Critical Christmas

My lady-friend will be working over the Christmas weekend, so she and I decided to celebrate the holiday today. Fancy dinner and gift giving, followed by hours of watching the Batman: Beyond DVDs I got her. Not exactly related to the content of the blog, but as it turns out, my lady-friend knows that I like:

Morrie's RP Related Gifts to LS for Christmas 2011

Click to Enlarge

There’s a lot of great RPG stuff here. So lets tackle it in order.

Goblins of Golarion is a small Pathfinder supplement which serves to aid people who wish to play as Pathfinder’s iconic goblins. Not too long ago I ran a one-shot game called We Be Goblins! which was offered by Paizo as free promotional material for the release of this little supplement. And I must confess, the idea of playing as a goblin really got my group excited, and everyone had a lot of fun. Goblins of Golarion is only slightly over 30 pages long, which is about how many pages were allocated to each race in the old D&D 3.5 ‘Races of…’ series of books. It’s even structured similarly to those books. It begins with “Life as a Goblin,” and goes on to cover numerous elements of goblin culture, specific goblin tribes, as well as a few player options at the end. Goblin specific feats, spells, and so on. Based on my cursory perusal, it seems like a solid supplement.

Moving on is a more full-bodied Pathfinder supplement, Ultimate Magic. I haven’t had time to meaningfully look over the options presented here, but I suspect I’ll feel about it the same way I felt about Ultimate Combat. Which is to say: lots of good stuff there, glad to have it in my collection, but way too much filler content. I really like the class archetypes system Pathfinder introduced. I think it’s a great deal better than using prestige classes. Personally, I rather wish Pathfinder had gotten rid of prestige classes altogether, rather than nerfing them and de facto replacing them with archetypes. That being said, does every supplement need 70+ pages of archetypes? Surely you’re not that desperate to fill pages, Paizo.

The rest of the book seems much better. Spell duels can be difficult, so having some advice on running them would be good. Spell blights sound extremely interesting, and I always love to get more detail on classic wizard tasks such as binding outsiders and crafting constructs. So overall, the “Mastering Magic” chapter seems cool. There’s also a sizable chapter on feats. I’m somewhat dubious, due to my aforementioned problems with feats, but at the same time I readily acknowledge that the core game lacks feat variety for casters. Hopefully Pathfinder solved the problem better than D&D 3.5 did. I’m not really sure what to expect from the Words of Power chapter, and of course, there has to be several dozen new spells for some reason. I look forward to delving further into the book. I’m sure I’ll eventually post about anything particularly interesting.

All I really wanted for Christmas was the Mouse Guard RPG. And I got it. I’ve been in love with the concept ever since I first read about it on /tg/ a few months back. After reading a few of the comics, I can confirm what I heard then. It’s a story (or game) about the creatures at the absolute bottom of the food chain trying to survive in a world where everything is a giant monster. I have no doubt there will be one, or several, posts dedicated tot his book in the future.

The ladyfriend also picked up a number of items from our game store’s “old stuff” bins. All very interesting, but the stand-out win here is a copy of Gang Busters. Classic 1980s TSR game about being a mobster or a copper back during America’s roaring twenties. The game was pretty popular in its day, enough to eventually get a third edition (though no second edition). What I got is first edition though, which is killer. I’ve really been wanting to sample some of TSR’s earlier work. I will absolutely be forcing this game on my players at some point in the future, and doubtless I’ll be posting about the experience.

I also received three issues of an independent British role playing magazine (says so right at the top) called “The Last Province.” I haven’t had a chance to peruse these much, but they look like they have some good information in them. And I always like old RPG materials, if for no other reason than collector’s value.

Lastly, there’s issue 17 of White Wolf Magazine. Truth be told, I don’t know if I’ve ever played with a White Wolf product. However, the cover says that this issue covers AD&D 2nd edition, Shadowrun, and contains 3 adventures. Those are all things which interest me. One of these days I really must get around to trying Shadowrun! Also, the woman on the cover has the boob. Like, woah, lady.

Overall, a very merry Christmas for me!

Friday’s normal colorful characters post will be pushed back to Saturday or Sunday, and will replace the regularly scheduled weekend post.

A Treasure Trove of Classic Gaming

I’ve been a little quieter lately than normal. There are two reasons for that, neither of which is a slow down of my ideas.

1) As much energy as I have for the kind of writing I’ve been doing, I’m bad at maintaining that energy after a long and draining day at work. After my last post (which I don’t think reflects my best work) I decided I needed to take some time to rest and relax, so I can bring my full energy to this.

2) Is…well:

Oldschool Dungeons And Dragons ModulesClick to enlarge and check out the awesome cover art!

I recently began delving into classic D&D modules with the intent of updating the best ones for Pathfinder. My local gaming store, Fantasium, had a ton of them! The updating process will be a pain, but it would be worth it to be able to take groups through these classic adventures. And it’s certainly blog-worthy content as well.

For the curious, here are the adventure modules I’ve got, from top left to bottom right:

Vecna Lives! By David “Zeb” Cook, published in 1990
I’ve always been a huge fan of Vecna as a villain. He brings depth, and an imposing presence to both cults and to the undead. Unfortunately, since I started playing after the release of 3rd edition, most of the classic Vecna stuff was already out of print. I found a PDF of this online, and have been devouring the printout I made at work. (As it turns out, I’ve made a few mistakes in The Girl and the Granite Throne…I think most can be explained way though.) This is also the only second edition module I have. All the rest are serious, oldschool, first edition awesomeness.

Vault of the Drow By Gary Gygax, published in 1978
Aside from Vecna Lives!, this is the only one I got in printout. I really prefer to have the actual copy, but these things are damned difficult to find and Vault of the Drow is supposed to be the adventure which made the Drow into one of the most terrifying enemies out there…at least until The Crystal Shard made them into cool loners who doesn’t afraid of anything.

Earthshaker! By David “Zeb” Cook, published in 1985
I’m not the biggest fan of juxtaposing classic sword & sorcery with technology. I’ve nothing against it, I just never see it done in a way which appeals to me. Then again, Final Fantasy IV had a pretty awesome giant robot in it, and this was written by the same badass who wrote Vecna Lives, so I’m more than willing to give it a try. It includes maps detailing the inside of the robot. I imagine there will be fighting in there.

Adventures in Blackmoor By Dave L. Arneson and David J Ritchie, published in 1986
I haven’t had much time to look at this one. However, contrary to what I said above, that mechanized horror on the front looks awesome. Less like technology and more like advanced siege weaponry. And with Dave Arneson behind it, I’m sure it’s a fantastic adventure.

The Endless Stair By Ed Greenwood, published in 1987
I bought this one a week before I got the rest, so I’ve had the most time to peruse it. First off, Ed Greenwood, which is awesome. The adventure follows a group of adventurers as they work to unravel the mysteries of a stairway leading up into the sky, while two rival wizards watch and wait for the party to unseal the secrets of their former teacher. I really can’t wait to get this one updated and run it for my group. It’s a great one-off kind of game.

The Savage Coast By Merle and Jackie Rasmussen, and Anne C. Gray, published in 1985
Haven’t had time to read this much at all, but it’s got knights riding on horsies on the cover. Plus, “The Savage Coast” sounds crazily awesome, doesn’t it?

Five Coins For A Kingdom By Allen Varney, published in 1987
Is it just me, or is “Five Coins for a Kingdom” a fantastic title? It’s really high level too. Granted, I don’t know much about first edition, but 3rd ed maxes out at level 20, and this adventure is for characters of level 28-32. I don’t know much about it, but it comes with five cards, each representing one of the five coins. Each coin grants a special power, and causes a certain shift in personality. I’m assuming that the module calls for five players, and each gets a coin.

The War Rafts of Kron by Bruce Nesmith, published 1984
I haven’t even taken this one out of the bag yet. Nautical adventures are not my greatest strength as a GM, but who cares? It looks awesome.

Death’s Ride by Garry Spiegle, published 1984
Again, no idea what this is about, but the picture on the front is awesome. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it somewhere before, just can’t think of where.

Legacy of Blood by Steve Perrin and Katherine Kerr, published in 1987
Also haven’t had a chance to open this yet, but I did lul over the stereotypically impractically immodest garb worn by the woman on the cover.

Where Chaos Reigns by Graeme Morris, published in 1985
Two things about this one have struck me. First, there is a British flag in the corner for no reason I can determine. (Perhaps the module isn’t compatible with my Region 1 D&D rulebooks.) Secondly, and maybe I’m being silly here, but the pictures of the fellows atop the mammoth seem like racist caricatures of black people.

So yeah, that’s what I’m up to.

Expect normal posts to resume in the coming week.

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