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Messages - RobJN

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General Discussion / Re: Writing Adventures
« on: April 29, 2019, 04:37:19 PM »
"No module ever survives contact with the PCs." :P

WotC D&D / Re: Off To An Awkward Start! (Good Start to a session)
« on: December 29, 2018, 04:07:16 PM »
Awesome-sauce! (With extra fudge!)

Love it when the cliche'd expectations are subverted :D

Other Games / Re: ENWorld RPG System
« on: April 28, 2018, 10:56:14 AM »
Old topic is old....

So, ENWorld has a trio of systems mechanically related, in the What's O.L.D. is N.E.W. engine. Fantasy/medieval (O.L.D), sci-fi (N.E.W.) and modern (N.O.W. which just came out and should be compiled into a full gamebook any day now). It's about as sandbox-y as a system can get, each has a distinct flavor (sorry. It's author is from the UK, so "flavour"). Lots of crunchy bits to play with, as open an open gaming license as you can get.

Some things I like:
- magic and psionics aren't simply rehashed between OLD and NEW. Each system is mechanically different. No palette swapping, here. I haven't had a chance to see how NOW's "chi" works, just yet.
- the bones of the system are free: you can try before you buy, by visiting the site and scrolling/clicking through the various bits and bobs. There's even a bestiary.

Some things I'm not terribly fond of:
- open game is open. ANYTHING can be a skill.
- if you build it.... Well, you'll have to build it. A lot of it. Some of it, from the ground up. If you like a tinker-y, mess-with-the-system-under-the-hood approach, or like to get hip-deep in the world building, then it's a great system to sink your teeth into. But it's not exactly something you can just pull off the shelf and play cold.

- there are no classes. You build your character layer by layer, and what they do shapes them into what they become at the start of the game.

There are some freebie adventures available at ENWorld and the DriveThru W.O.I.N. storefront. More are available through the Patreon-supported magazine, EONS (though many of these lately, I think, have been made available through the DriveThru site)

Full disclosure: I wrote the adventure for EONS #56, "Incident at ICEREACH-1"

Other Games / Re: I am fed up with the limited availability of 5E
« on: April 28, 2018, 10:38:27 AM »
I'm not sure what these are, but in case you hadn't seen them (though I suspect you already thought about DriveThru):

Haven't ready any of them, but the Adventurer's League is the organized play program. I don't do organized play, so I'm not sure if these are "slices" of adventures related to the various "storylines" that WizBro has been putting out, if they're directly or indirectly related to said Big Book adventures... ???

Classic D&D / Re: New campaigns and adventure paths?
« on: March 13, 2018, 05:01:14 PM »
Thank you for the incredibly detailed response (also, I had never heard of Thunder Rift, which is intriguing)! I'm wondering if picking up some of the gazetteers (and/or maybe Thunder Rift) would give me enough environmental information to pull together ways to link some of the modules together into some sort of path via the hook options you mention.

Of course, it also sounds like maybe I shouldn't worry about it so much and just starting playing  ;D
You can get a taste for the Gazetteers through the Newbie Guide at the Vaults of Pandius.

Thunder Rift is its own "mini setting," a self-contained valley with just enough history, culture and mysteries to give DMs something to pick up and run with. It was meant to nurture new DMs and players coming to the game through the Big Black Box (the RC's "Basic Set"). The DM's screen came with a "bridge" adventure "Escape from Thunder Rift," which plopped PCs down in the middle of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, thus introducing the world developed around BECMI/Gazetteers/RC D&D to the "latest generation."

Speaking of the RC, it has an appendix for converting to and from 2nd edition (which is still "close enough" you could use it for 1st edition, too), so if you do want to use those AD&D modules, it can help file off the rougher corners.

Classic D&D / Re: New campaigns and adventure paths?
« on: March 12, 2018, 07:18:09 AM »
For the most part, Dungeons & Dragons* modules weren't meant to play more than a couple in a row, and most of those were restricted to a couple modules within a given tier of play: Basic had B11 & B12, Expert had X4 & X5 (and, nominally, X10). Most of the modules could be used as one-off, isolated, episodic adventures.

This is more than likely due to the fact that the D&D game world didn't really coalesce until after most of the modules had been written ('81-'85), with the launch of the Gazetteer line of products ('87). Thus, there wasn't much cohesive material from which to devise any sort of meta-plot. Add to this the fact that advancement wasn't cut-and-dried, everybody-follows-the-same-chart of later editions.

XP/adventure ratios really weren't even discussed until the Companion Set ("After reaching “Name” level, characters should gain a new level of experience for every 3 to 8 successful adventures... If your games are once a week or less often, 3 to 5 adventures per level are recommended."DM's Companion, p. 2) Three to five adventures, each of which could last several sessions. (Just try to clear all the Caves of Chaos in one session. I dare ya ;) ) Levels were not something you blew through, one right after the other. And in D&D, there were 36 of 'em!

Still, most of the D&D adventures were written with plenty of hooks, and an enterprising DM could either  cobble his own campaign together, or write bridging adventures to either fill plot or XP gaps.

The closest we ever got to a solid "Adventure Path" was the B1-9 compilation, which had a couple different "paths" to follow through the Basic level modules (most of which were edited for brevity). And even then, there wasn't so much "meta-plot" leading up to a grand finale as it was a "here's a way to string these adventures together in a way that gets you ready to tackle the Isle of Dread"

The emphasis of the game changes with the advent of mid-to-late Expert level and Companion level play. Whereas the modern adventure paths seem to be all about GO GO GO SAVE THE WORLD!, the D&D game actually took that notion that "at Name level, you can build a stronghold and attract followers" and expanded on it. The tempo of the game changes, if you choose to go that route. Rather than days and weeks, adventures could stretch months, years or even decades: Rules for building your castle/tower/dungeon were included in the Expert Set. Rules for ruling your dominion came with the Companion rules. And what good is a dominion without an army? The War Machine mass combat was abstract enough that you didn't have to be a tactical genius (but it could help!). and with the Master Set, the Siege Machine.

This isn't to say that adventuring stopped happening. Just look at the CM and M-series modules. The stakes are perhaps a little higher when its your kingdom that needs saving.

Is it possible to build an adventure path that stretches from lowly first level all the way up to Immortality? I'm sure it is, but that could take years of play, if not decades, if you can manage to hold your players' attention for that long (and congratulations if you can and do!). I'm not sure the game was really meant to be played non-stop all the way through. Mentzer himself has advocated the "buffet" approach, on various message board posts: pick and choose your adventures or levels,  there's nothing to stop you from rolling up Expert, Companion, Master or even Immortal level PCs to take for a spin through a one-off module or module series.

*when I say "Dungeons & Dragons," I'm referring to the "Classic" game. Mentzer's BECMI, later compiled into the Rules Cyclopedia. I'm not mixing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons modules in, just focusing on the B, DDA, Thunder Rift, X, HW, DA, CM, M, and IM-series that followed the boxed set progression.

General Discussion / Re: Looking for a clone
« on: March 12, 2018, 05:52:44 AM »
Dark Dungeons is the d20-ized version of BECMI/RC

Hold on to your sombrero, here are some links:

You can find the Odyssey line in PDF format at the Vaults of Pandius. These were released online through the file libraries at TSR's AOL site. Thankfully, they've been made into nicely readable PDFs by the fandom. This was basically a rehash of the material in the 2e Red Steel and Savage Baronies boxed sets, with additional material added on but never previously published. (Monster Manual, and Orc's Head Peninsula)

There is also a sub-forum at the Piazza. Havard's sticky post at the top includes a nicely compiled a list of sites and downloads.

If you have access to Dragon Magazines, Bruce Heard's Voyages of the Princess Ark series expanded on the material in the original X9 module in  issues 174 onward. It's been a while since I cracked open the big box, but much of this material may be reproduced in the Champions of Mystara boxed set.

Thorf has remastered the maps into a beautiful Trail Map

Classic D&D / Re: Dm Screen
« on: February 14, 2018, 09:15:44 AM »
Aside from the usual (monster/PC "to hit" charts, saving throw tables, cleric's turning), I'd probably have the "Order of Events" tables: per wilderness exploration's "per day", per adventure turn, and  per combat round. Weapon Mastery might be something to include on the "player's side;" the DM's side could contain "special effect" or other WM notes for at-a-glance effect adjudication.

Think about the things you always have to look up -- if it's a chart, you could either include it, or an RC/BECMI booklet page number for ease of reference (with accompanying Post-it/sticky tabs in the book(let))

Classic D&D / Re: Rules Cyclopedia is back in print
« on: February 10, 2018, 07:01:40 AM »
POD is my new, best friend!  Just wish they would offer POD's of all of the older edition books.  Can't imagine it is that much more work to tweak the PDF for POD.  Of course, it works best when the document is entirely digital, and not a simple scan.  Still hopeful...  Cheers!
At least they OCR'd it, and linked up the Table of Contents and Indices. Some purely-digital products don't even bother to do that.

General Discussion / Re: Control undead?
« on: January 30, 2018, 06:35:02 PM »
Wrath of the Immortals allows for clerics of Hel to control undead as a liege of 3HD higher than their clerical level.

Edit: Ah ha! Found the "control rather than turn undead" reference. It comes from the Avenger description, on RC page 18.

General Discussion / Re: Wow (Dragon #120)
« on: August 30, 2017, 10:58:41 AM »
I seem to remember seeing that ad all the time, in Dragon Magazine. Heck, they advertised it on TV. (The catalog, not Dragon mag). It's the whole reason I know the ZIP code for Pueblo, CO (81009) (The TV commercials, not Dragon Magazine)

DM(Good at parentheses) Rob

WotC D&D / Re: D&D Beyond
« on: August 03, 2017, 06:22:35 AM »
Subscription pricing isn't totally out of this world, either, I think something like $3 or $6/month.  :D
Quote from: D&DBeyond
The Hero Tier is intended primarily for players. It removes ads on the site, allows players to create an unlimited number of characters, and add publicly-shared homebrew content to your collection to use within the toolset. This subscription will cost $2.99 a month.

The Master Tier is intended primarily for Dungeon Masters and full groups. It grants all the benefits of the Hero Tier, and also allows a DM to share all her unlocked official content with other players within a campaign - so content does not have to be unlocked by every player. This subscription will cost $5.99 a month.
The good news is, once you add something through the subscription, it is yours to keep even if your subscription should lapse.

I don't know that I'd be paying the $30-something to buy the books/adventures again, though. ::)
Quote from: D&DBeyond
Digital sourcebooks (such as the Player's Handbook or Volo's Guide to Monsters) will be available for $29.99, while adventure modules (such as Curse of Strahd or Storm King's Thunder) will be available for $24.99.

For the first week after launch, the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual will be on sale for $19.99!
Fortunately, some sort of a la carte option is available:
Quote from: D&DBeyond
Players can also purchase individual game elements or bundled content within any official source. Like to play barbarians? You can unlock that class and all of its options only. Want to run "Tomb of Horrors" from Tales From the Yawning Portal? Unlock that single adventure.

Classic D&D / Re: Finally got a Rules Cyclopedia
« on: July 22, 2017, 06:38:55 AM »
Moar shelves!  ;D

I use my RC primarily if I want to look something up quickly, or look for something very specific. Or roll up magic items. But the boxed sets are nice to leaf through at a more leisurely pace.

The only advantage the PDF really has is that the OCR makes it infinitely faster to search.... provided I can remember the term I'm looking for...! :-[

General Discussion / Re: Biting the sour apple
« on: January 29, 2017, 10:45:15 PM »
Prior to WotC's conversion guidelines coming out, Stan Shin cooked up some "on the fly" conversions that are close-enough-for-government-work at the gaming table:

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