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Monday, May 28, 2012

2nd edition Monstrous Compendiums

If you play old school games, I really recommend you find and buy the Monstrous Compendiums for 2nd edition, particularly Planescape vol. 1 and Ravenloft vol. 1 & 2 (combined). There are just a ton of great monsters in each book. They concentrate on stuff like planar monsters and Halloween/horror monsters. Even if you only use a few monsters from each book, you'll be able to liven up a campaign that just uses the standard Monster Manual.

Particular favorites for me:
Doll Golems.
Ravenloft Scarecrow.


Saturday, May 26, 2012


I've been rereading The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer lately. I have to say, using this book with a few of the Moore era supplements (Giants and Scarlet Brotherhood) is easily the best version of the setting. I know that will piss off the grognards, but I find just tons of cool things in these books, many of them geared right at players.

I do think the 1e box set was ok for its time, but the books were largely just lists of numbers and a paragraph or two of information for each entry. It provided a nice springboard for do-it-yourselfers that didn't want to make a completely original world, too. But compared to the later stuff, it's kind of dull.

Things I really like in Moore/Living Greyhawk:
1. The split of the Great Kingdom into multiple, antagonistic entities (and seriously, the Great Kingdom? That's the best name Gary could come up with?).
2. The Scarlet Brotherhood is exposed. It's still tough, but has suffered some setbacks.
3. Iuz is more powerful, as a demigod should be. But even he is facing rebellions.
4.  Plot hooks everywhere. Seriously. Every kingdom has a list of current issues that any PC group can tackle.
5. I have the 4 poster maps published in Dragon, and they show all the published module locations, which is awesome. And those maps combined blow away the Darlene map.
6. Pictures of each race, which while seemingly minor, is very important for showing players and giving them a very quick idea of what each race is about.
7. Mayaheine. I like the Joan of Arc-style demigoddess.

Stuff I think it missed out on:
1. Busting up the Circle of Eight. This felt contrived to me. The newer members are nothing special, either.
2. The adventures actually published (Doomgrinder, etc), were underwhelming, except for the Giants redo, which was half sourcebook and very well done.
3. I LIKED Ivid as a bad guy. Trapping him in Rel Astra (and basically removing that city from the world for most campaigns) just sucks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

DC Comics New 52 - What I'm still reading

Months ago, when DC did its big relaunch, I reviewed a number of Issue #1s (click HERE to read them). I've largely dropped most of the comic series, but there are still a few I enjoy.

I currently only subscribe to Aquaman and Suicide Squad. Both have been consistently excellent. The writing is good, and the artwork is good to great (depending on the artist). I still wish Harley had kept her old outfit, though. Her new one pretty much sucks.

I've also recently gotten Issue #1 of Earth-2. It's easily the best first issue DC has done in this relaunch. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it yet. I won't post spoilers, but I suspect most comics fans will love this issue. I'm also subscribing to this, and I really hope they can maintain it.

D&D 5e Playtest


If you're interested in seeing the latest version of the 5e playtest document, click the link.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Forgotten Realms: my favored starting areas

I used to play a LOT of Forgotten Realms games. Almost all of them started in one of two areas: Boareskyr Bridge and near the Vast Swamp between Sembia and Cormyr.

The games in Boareskyr Bridge featured a very strong Western vibe, but instead of six-shooters, the characters had swords. We had one group that ended up being the actual sheriff and deputies of the area. It was a lot of fun, as the region is largely unsettled. Many Zhentarim and Amnish plots were foiled, as well as one halfling in the group becoming an extremely wealthy merchant. There were also a number of demons in the area, thanks to Dragonspear Castle.

The Vast Swamp region is pretty much perfect for adventuring, as well. There's the swamp, the Inner Sea, a monster-infested mountain range, and the borderlands between two countries that didn't always get along with each other (at least in my version of the Realms). It's more than enough stuff to keep a campaign going for years.

Of course, a few games were in the Thay region, just because they were such evil bastards, and a few more were in Waterdeep (especially after the release of the 2nd edition Waterdeep box). But the Bridge and the Vast Swamp still have the best memories for me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I wish there was an rpg for the Belgariad

I read Pawn of Prophecy and I'm starting Queen of Sorcery. I really love the world Eddings created. It's too bad a good setting book was never published. A well-done rpg aimed specifically at the Belgariad would be amazing, as well.

Things I like:

Belgarath and Polgara. Just well-done NPC's, without being overbearing.
The Grolim. Kind of like Nazgul, but not really. I think they are cool.
Silk. He's just cool. In fact, the whole fantasy spy subtext to the series is really fun.
The Secret Language. I confess, I've had some kind of variant on this in every game I've run ever since I read the Belgariad back in the 80's.
The Bear Cult. Also really cool. I wonder if it influenced how Malar's religion was portrayed in the Forgotten Realms sets.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Avengers Movie

I won't post spoilers, but I will say this movie is fantastic! Easily the best supers movie I've seen (and that's saying something, compared to Captain America last year). If you have not seen it yet, you really need to go watch it.

9/10 (I'd rate it a 10 but for some very minor things I didn't care for. If you're not a comics nerd, it's probably a 10/10).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Flying Swordsmen OSR wuxia game

I never knew this game existed until today, when it was mentioned on RPGSite. Lord Gwydion apparently created an old school rpg, but one focused on martial arts, Taoist magicians, ghost hunters, and tons of other awesome kung fu movie tropes. I HIGHLY recommend you check it out, if you have not already done so.

Flying Swordsmen RPG

Friday, May 4, 2012

Solo D&D: Thieves are awesome

Just a thought I had. Maybe ten years ago, I was running a D&D campaign for a friend of mine. At that time, it was just us. He ran a thief. We had a blast.

He planned out missions and even recruited a few NPC hirelings, that he used as look-outs. The game involved some heists and a few murders for hire. Politics started featuring later on, as well.

It was kind of like a Shadowrun game, but without guns or cybernetics. I had set the campaign in the kingdom of Mieres in the Birthright setting. The PC was not blooded, which worked out well. Mieres was the kingdom on the southwest corner of the map on the other continent, and was famed for thieves.

In any case, if you are running a game for only one player, I think thieves are a really good fit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The games I started with

I started playing rpg's back in 1983. The very first games I played were Marvel Superheroes, Star Frontiers,  and Moldvay's Basic/Expert games. I mainly played D&D, but the other two games definitely saw time at the table. I kind of miss those days. I had lots of free time, and basically memorized the books, I read them so many times.

I remember using The Isle of Dread and the Known World a lot, based purely upon what was in that module. I look at the giant hardcovers for gaming worlds that I read now, and it's kind of funny how much I just made up based upon a map and a couple pages of descriptions.

I also did a lot of stuff with Star Frontiers, especially making up stuff like bug aliens and playing a military game fighting them. It was a heck of a lot of fun.

I kind of moved on from Marvel Superheroes pretty quickly, as I found that at the time, I didn't really like playing superheroes.

The next big game I got was Middle Earth Roleplaying, from ICE. Gods, I had a lot of fun with that game. I only had a few of the adventures (Tharbad sticks out in my mind), but I loved that game. My friends and I played several awesome campaigns using that book.

I guess it's part of getting older, but I don't get that thrill from modern games any more. Maybe I've just seen too many variants of rpg's, but while I find them interesting, I don't find new stuff exciting. More of a "That's kind of neat." reaction than a "Wow! This is so cool!" reaction.