Saturday, April 21, 2007

Paizo's Goblins

So now there's a Pathfinder blog. The second entry is all about goblins. These goblins are a touch... odd. There's an obvious cute-and-sinister vibe going here that reminds me a bit of "Nightmare Before Christmas". And this song is way too trolly:

The Goblin Song

Goblins chew and goblins bite,
Goblins cut and goblins fight,
Stab the dog and cut the horse,
Goblins eat and take by force!

Goblins race and goblins jump,
Goblins slash and goblins bump,
Burn the skin and mash the head,
Goblins here and you be dead!

Chase the baby, catch the pup,
Bonk the head to shut it up!
Bones be cracked, flesh be stewed,
We the goblins—you the food!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gungir Comics and D&D Stuff

From Joseph Rossow (I think) comes a new gaming and art blog, Gungir Comics. The author is also an artist, and has included origional sketches and drawings with most of his entries. But unlike most artist blogs, almost all the original art is there to support original gaming content. He has a D&D adventure posted, and some character concept sketches.

My favorite part, however, is "
The Magical Shop of Fiddeus Crackpot":

When adventurers stop at Crackpot’s Shop, they are often in need of specific things. A wizard browses for a scroll of Detect Invisibility, a rogue looks for a pair of Slippers of Spiderclimbing, but never in Crackpot’s shop do they find quite what they are looking for.

What follows is a description of four non-standard magical items that might, or might not, work like your players expect them too. Much fun!

A Sad Day

Tis a sad day at the Troll Cave. News came yesterday of two passings. The first, and certainly less tragic, is the news that the magazines Dungeon and Dragon will soon no longer be published. The first issue of Dragon I ever read was a present to me from my brother. I loved it. I still have the poor, battered, thing. Among other goodness inside, it had an article by Ed “Forgotten Realms” Greenwood called “Seven Swords” that rocked my world, and changed the way I play RPGs. The Trollwife is currently earning her DM’s spurs by running me through an adventure in an old issue of Dungeon.

Apparently, WotC will be featuring Dragon and Dungeon-like content on their web page, possibly behind a for-pay gate. It’s a bold move for them, and it’ll be interesting to see if the possible benefits outweigh the loss of a presence on magazine stands.

Paizo, for their part, are replacing the magazines with a monthly book. That’s right, a perfect-bound, softcover book weighing in at 96 pages. The book, called Pathfinder, focuses in on their biggest success from their five years of running the D&D magazines: the Adventure Path. Adventure Paths are like those series of modules that were released in the heady early days of 1st edition AD&D. Things like the Temple of Elemental Evil series, or the Giants, Underearth, Drow series, adventures that could take your PCs from lowly neophytes to seasoned heroes ready to save the world. Pathfinder will be published every month, and six issues will constitute a complete “path”, taking PCs from 1st to 15th level. They’ve got heavy-hitters like Wolfgang Bauer (who gave the Trollsmyth his first professional game-writing rejection letter) and Wayne Reynolds (who is quickly becoming 3rd edition’s Larry Elmore) to work on the first six books. I think this is the ultimate expression of the subscription model of RPG publishing. Its success or failure could be significant for the RPG industry.

(And click on the pics on the main Paizo page. Each expands into a larger picture. I am especially intrigued by the fighter, the middle piece. Yeah, the sword is still too heavy, but both of his blades look functional, as does the armour. His hair is mussed, and his face looks dirt-smeared and maybe even scarred. In short, while there are clear “dungeonpunk” elements to the piece, there’s also a very strong “old school” vibe. Very interesting…)

The sadder news came via RPGnet. Apparently, Tom Moldvay, the man who wrote the Basic D&D book that started the Trollsmyth in RPGs, passed away last March 8th. I got the boxed set (I think most folks refer to it as the purple one) with the Erol Otis cover for Christmas many years ago now. He’d also written many adventure modules that are now considered classics.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Powered Armour in Betatesting

Well, sorta. Much of this I’d seen before, like the helmet with the heads-up displays and translation capability. The four-barreled gun, however, is new to me. The work on artificial muscles is real (in spite of the somewhat cheesy-looking web page) and absolutely fascinating. It’s the real deal, and promises the artificial limbs of our dystopian cyberpunk games, as well as a huge leap forward in robotics. The War on Terror may be the best thing that’s happened to nanotech, as it promises to solve all sorts of problems, from sniffing out and neutralizing bombs to more comfortable, full-body body armour.

Even if you don’t believe in the Singularity, the next decade promises to be pretty exciting.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Maps and Cabbals

Jürgen Hubert, author of the exceptional D&D campaign setting Urbis, has started a thread on EN World to be a cartography workshop. It’s really taken off, with many amateurs and professionals chiming in with neat techniques and step-by-step instructions on how to use various graphics software to make striking and useable maps. Not only that, but you may also learn the well-guarded secrets of the mysterious society of Photoshop users:

I just wanted to tell you THANKS for this thread. I've been begging someone to show me how to use Photoshop for years and all I've ever gotten was a suggestion to just start playing around with it and figure it out for myself. You've taught me more about photoshop in one night than dating four animators and two years of film school ever did.


- Dykstrav

Be sure also to peek at the still rather tiny stub Mr. Hubert has created on RPGnet dealing with the same topic.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


The RPG Blog is on hiatus, so I've removed it from my list of active links on the left side of your screen. However, I've replaced it with a new one, of Dice and Dragons. Scot Newbury is the proprieter,and, unlike a certain troll, he appears to update daily. He's got a lot of interesting topics on the most recent page, like a discussion of climate and a link to a neat world-building climatology page, and using OpenOffice for tracking character info. Be sure to check it out.

Vogel Reviews the Magic Item Compendium

Over at Kill the Wizard First, Mr. Vogel's given us a very brief review of D&D 3.5's latest official book out of Wizards:

D&D 3.5’s recent Magic Item Compendium is a useful book, mostly for compiling and updating the six hojillion magic items and weapon/armor properties, as well as introducing a bunch of new ones, with the primary aim of making utility magic more accessible, particularly to lower-level characters. I have a few balance complaints, particularly weapons that land a no-save dimensional anchor on hit for a +1 equivalent bonus. But overall, good book.

What follows is an interesting comment on the trend of D&D towards MMOG conventions. Can't say I'm really comfortable with that, but I also can't say I'm really surprised, either.

The IRS Wants Your Phat Lewtz!

"Dude, I'm sorry, but if I go on one more raid, it'll bump me into a higher tax bracket..."

(By way of Instapundit.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Romancing Mars

Adamant Entertainment has finally today released their long awaited Mars: The Roleplaying Game of Planetary Romance.

Not Mars as it is – airless, most likely lifeless, with only the faintest hints of what might have once been a damp, if not necessarily lush and living, world billions of years in the past. No, this is Mars as it should be and as it was once imagined to be – an ancient, dying, but not yet dead world, a world where a vast canal network reaches from pole to pole, bringing water and life to vast and fantastic cities. A Mars where albino apes run a vast empire in the last surviving jungle, a world where warrior tribes of Green Martians raid the outlying cities of the canal dwellers, a world where, in places dark and quiet and forgotten beneath the surface, ancient and terrible intellects plan dark and dire deeds.

Looks like fun to me. And a perfect match for these cool miniatures.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

101 Uses for a Space Opera Campaign

Neat thread at on alternate ways to run a space opera campaign. Just ignore my incessant whining about the lack of Alternity being played in the Trollcave.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Personal Subplots

You are reading Treasure Tables every day, right? If you aren't, you probably should be. It's not always earth-shaking, but it is chock full of good advice for GMs of just about any game system.

Today, in the comments of a post about avoiding boring your players with "chores", WeaveWarden says:

Two words: Personal Subplots.

Pay attention to making certain that every session, or at least every story arc, ties into some aspect of each character personally. This may come at the expense of a little plausibility if you overdo it, but generally speaking, if there’s a little something extra going on for every player to consider their angle on in relation to the main plot, they have something to burn that excess mental energy on when things are slow. Naturally, these subplots shouldn’t be time-consuming, or the momentum of the central story may be lost.

With personal subplots, the players know that if sit back and stack dice, no-one else is particularly incentivized to pick up the slack for them, so they’d better stay involved to get the most benefit (and fun) for their character.

Subplots are a great way to make the game personal for your players. They focus the attention, and make the game feel more responsive to player actions. The importance of this cannot be understated; the one area where table-top gaming still whips computer gaming of all sorts hollow is in how the game can respond, react, and adapt to the actions of the PCs, and the desires of the players.

If you’re a player, you can seize the initiative here not by just providing your GM with possible hooks when you create your character, but also by building relationships between your PC and your fellow players’ PCs. There’s no rule that says you can’t collaborate with another player during character creation. One question you can answer while you make your characters together is why these particular heroes will have each others backs through thick and thin. Are they blood brothers? Did they save each others lives at the Battle of Serenity? Are they siblings, like Caramon and Raistlin? Lovers? Under a curse that threatens to kill them both if they should ever be separated by any distance greater than a mile? Have fun, let your imagination run wild, bounce ideas off each other, and see what you can come up with. If your GM approves it, you don’t have to wait for her or him to create subplots for you. You and the other player can riff off each other, based on this pre-existing relationship you have. And you can drag the other PCs into it as well. Can the cleric break the curse? Was the pilot on the other side during the war? Maybe it looks like the paladin is spending a bit too much time with your little sister. ‘bout time you and he had a talk, huh?

And while you're surfing the web, you might check out Myth-Weavers, linked from WeaveWarden's name. If you're interested in play-by-post, that might be the place to find a good game. If you try it out, and want to right a review of the place, I'd be happy to post it on Trollsmyth.

RPG in a Box

Old Geezer, one of my favorite posters over at, recently said this about a c-note burning a hole in his pocket:

I would gladly pay $100 for a "campaign on the hoof" for Star Wars. Give me EVERYTHING I need. Much like Ptolus, maybe, but not so narrowly focused. I would gladly pay $100, no questions asked, for something that I could skim and then start to GM.

He later explains his thinking:

And to be fair, I'm stealing an idea from a different hobby (which I've ranted at length about).

Model railroading manufacturers hit this realization about 15 years ago.

There are still some people who build an engine out of brass sheet metal and patience. But they do it because they want to, not because it's the only way to get an engine.

You can buy a model that cannot be told from the real thing in a photo for under $100. You can buy just about everything you want.

So, people who wouldn't otherwise be in the hobby are spending money, and people who ARE in the hobby are able to go broader and deeper.

I hope this marketing strategy drifts into RPGs.

If I could buy out of the box RPGs I'd run at least once a week.

Frankly, I think this is a workable model. It would require either grafting on to a well-known system (like maybe d20, but I think Old Geezer would prefer something a tad more user friendly) or a very simple system that’s traditional in its design and easy to pick up. You might be able to get most of what OG wants in PDFs as well, though I imagine he’d rather buy a real, physical box.

I think this is the direction Ptolus is pointing us. As gamers age, time becomes a serious factor in our gaming. Spending time working on our campaigns starts to cost you real money when you really start to hit your professional stride. Everything you need to start, run, and end a long-term campaign in a single box would mean you could still indulge your yen for good gaming, without sacrificing time with your family or spent on your profession.

Others in the thread discuss selling a complete campaign under a magazine model. Frankly, as a designer, I’d much rather create and sell a single box, but I can understand as a publisher you’re assuming a lot more of the risk up-front that way.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fett's Vette

I'm just on a video roll today, for some reason.

In an essay about what hard core really means in MMOGs, Damion Schubert links to this music video made by hard core dancers in SWG. Much fun.

Looking for a Few Good Dralasites

CleanCutRogue over at is looking for characters to include in a rogue's gallery publication. He's got an artist signed on, he just needs characters. Here's what he's looking for:

For Each of the Four Core Races:
  • 4 starting-level characters, made with Alpha Dawn core rules
  • 3 mid-level characters, made by making a normal starting-level character then improved by spending 50 experience points and 5,000 Cr.
  • 2 elite-level characters, made by making a normal starting-level character then improved by spending 100 experience points and 10,000 Cr.
  • 1 legendary character, made by making a normal starting-level character, then improved by spending 200 experience points and 20,000 Cr.

That's 40 characters! Each character will be 2 pages in size. On the left-hand-page will be a picture and three topical sections: Background, Personality, and Appearance. Below is an example:

The page on the right-hand-side will be a printable fully-functional character sheet, able to be printed and played as either a PC or an NPC. This particular example was rolled up then I made the background/personality/appearance. His DEX/RS was rolled as 70/70, then I shifted 10 points from RS to DEX, then added my Human's 5 points to DEX, resulting in an amazing starting DEX score!! Fun.

If you're willing to lend a hand, be sure to drop a post in this thread and let him know.


Not safe for work. But amusing, if you're familiar with the Mentzer, red-box version of D&D.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Record of Lodoss War: the RPG

While browsing the True20 forums, I came across this. It's a PDF of a Record of Lodoss War RPG done for the Fuzion system. I've only glanced through it briefly, but it seems surprisingly complete. However, a few things don't look quite right to me. I think the elves, for instance, don't get a large enough boost to their dexterity. The elves in the OVA, at least, seemed to have kung-fu levels of agility and speed, dancing from treebranch to treebranch, parrying arrows and thrown daggers, and just generally being so fast that few mortal men could ever hope to even touch one in combat.

I've toyed a few times with this idea, having races with a default statistic in the superheroic range. Balance, of course, becomes a serious issue. If elves are super fast, dwarves are super tough, and orks are super strong, why would anyone play a human? Still, it's a fun idea to kick around.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


This is simply too precious for words.

How Mr. Ralya Lost his Virginity

Er, his play-by-post virginity, that is. (Yeah, I know you have your minds in the gutter. I see how many of you find me via a Google search for "succubus porn". ;) ) Play-by-post, where you publish your actions to a message board, is quickly becoming a standard method of playing RPGs. It fits very well in our heavily scheduled world. A few minutes a day, every day, can give you a shot of your RPG fix, keep you in touch with friends no matter where they might be, and allow you to practice your writing skills. It does, however, move very, very slowly.

If PbP, as it's often abbreviated, is something you're interested in, be sure to check out Mr. Ralya's two posts about it. In the first, he describes how he set up the game, and why. In the second, he gives a brief post mortem, describing what went well, and what didn't.