Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tales of a Failing Empire- Part 2 (Interlude)

Yolsan the 3rd 447, Third Imperial Reckoning (12 years earlier)

The tomb was found by a lamb. The shepherd's son wept as Grijolhd lifted the animal's corpse from the cleft, the dwarf using his levitation magic. The lamb had fallen in, breaking three legs, the boy heard its bleating cries and went to get his father. Eventually, word got out to the village hall, where, in turn, the 'adjutant marshals' received the summons.

Tamith was one of the fortunate villages that could afford adjutant marshals. The concept had taken root in Anfekor's wilder, outlying provinces. Some villages needed extra manpower and muscle to keep the peace. Such assistance proved difficult to find until an enterprising adventurer's guild offered to hire out their members. Since then, over a dozen guilds have provided such services to three of the Bright Empire's provinces.

Tamith assigned tours to their adjutants, the tour usually lasting no longer than a month. Tours were entirely dependent on how much of the village coffers were willing to be given out for maintaining order. The guild informed Grijolhd and Nefydd Foulkes that if they wished to extend their tour, some hobnobbing with the mayor and the village council would be necessary. Knowing the overall disposition of himself and his partner, Grijolhd surmised that they would be employed for two weeks.

Nefydd watched as the dwarf deftly grabbed the lamb and quietly slid the corpse into the boy's waiting arms. The father, a man named Udy, stood a few paces from his son, leaning wearily on his staff. Nefydd gazed into the cleft. It dropped forty armspans before it gave way to rock and mud. The mud was fresh in places, recently upturned. The cleft itself was about 8 paces long and only 4 wide. At its northern edge, some old masonry could be seen rising from the bottom, grey and archaic. Nefydd placed his eyepiece over his ears, the bridge of the device finally coming to rest on his nose. Taking a glance at the cleft, he turned and walked to the boy, who was now on his knees, still holding the lamb.

“Ah, if only all of Anfekor's sheperds were like you and your da.” Nefydd gently ruffled the boy's hair. “May your ewes have more lambs with spunk that gifts your family in smiles. Listen, I want you and your da to go home and see that the lamb gets buried proper yeah?”

The boy smiled through his sobs. Nefydd helped him up and tenderly nudged him toward Udy.

“Udy, make sure you keep your family and herds well away from this drop until Grijolhd and I can... ah, fence this off.” Nefydd flicked a silverfish to the shepherd, who grabbed the coin, nodded and led his son towards their home.

Nefydd and Grijolhd watched Udy and his son until they were out of earshot. Even then, they spoke only in whispers.

“Bloody, bloody hammer of Ganim!” Grijolhd spat at the ground.

“I think Aeremas is pissing on us right now,” Nefydd grimaced and removed his eyepiece. “Wish it was a damned tremor that did this.”

“A bloody gods damned bulette!” Grijolhd spat again.

“I wonder what brought it up this far Grij? And why in the infernal hells didn't it take that lamb?”

“Aye, weird. Only a week out on the Trim, and we've already got more excitement than a few lads in a brothel for their first plucking.”

“Speak for yourself Grij.”

Both man and dwarf laughed, breaking their whispered nervousness.

“We'll go back to the village and come up with a gods damned plan.”

“Yeah Grij. I'll have to send a pigeon to Anthin. We need help with this one.”

“Help? More like a gods damned divine intervention.”

“Lets not bring the gods and damnation into this.”

“Damnation!? We may already be there lad, bathed in the acid of five stomachs!”

“Six Grij, the bastards have six.”


Aeremas- god of travel and luck, and sometimes... protection

Bulette- a horrid monstrosity that burrows through the earth, having a beak shaped head and strong jaws, four strong legs with claws, specimens can grow up to 20 feet long, standing 12 feet tall

armspan- a length of measure, approximately 2 feet

Trim- term for the outlying provinces of Anfekor, also known as The Fringe

Ganim- a god of the dwarves

silverfish- one of the currencies of Anfekor, a silver coin

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tales of a Failing Empire

Humanity does not live long enough to grasp the import of history. Your boundless optimism continues to drive you to new heights, which is impressive. But it blinds you to the far-reaching consequences of your quest for greatness. Perhaps you view the past as shackles to your amibitions, as the one foul smelling wastrel that can ruin your great revelry in living. Ware the past, and use it to guide the future. Can you not see the patterns of atrophy and extirpation that plague us all?
-Eruirdyn, elven scholar and explorer

Nefydd Foulkes watched as the town burned, the wooden walls finally catching fire as the outer buildings collapsed. His vantage point from the hill was uncontested, the corpses of several men lay about him. The crows circled above the conflagration, their patterns of ascent occasionally molested by a plains hawk. Some had left the aerial congregation and were now picking at some of the corpses. Nefydd's most recent employer, the merchant Cormac, was among them.

That's what comes of a swing at peaceful negotiations, Nefydd mused. It was a crossbow bolt that took the merchant in the throat. Definitely an ex-soldier or disgruntled militia. Cormac, you should've taken my advice and run.

Nefydd was a man of average build with dirty blonde hair that was just growing out of the close cropped stage. His nose was large, and broken at least once. It was his helm that really made him stand out, the visor had built in lenses made from one of the glassworks at Kelmaranse. Nefydd's vision was, he reckoned, one of his many shortfalls. But his swordsmanship was better than average, which, he thought, was one of the reasons why he was still standing and the others, alas, were not.

Another crucial factor to Nefydd's survival was standing 50 paces to his right. The dwarf Grijolhd, was a natural bender of magicks, known in the professional schools of magery as a sorcerer. His hair was black as a raven, and his beard was cut shorter than most dwarves, with striking streaks of grey. Despite his heritage, Grijolhd's physique was not impressive; a lanky upper body disproportionate to his muscular, stocky legs.

“If we were thriving 'adventurers,' we would loot these bastards and be done with it. But since the entire economy of the Bright Empire has taken a dive down a cracked garderobe, we may as well bugger that option,” Grijolhd spat on the scorched ground beside him, “Not to mention looting men who were driven to desparation sours my luminous disposition.”

“Grij, we never really looted, not even on our tomb runs. No sense in starting now,” Nefydd's smile was gone, his head turning back to observe the growing inferno. “It's finally coming apart. Even though I had the sickly anticipation, I couldn't quite grasp the dissolution.”

“Aye Nefydd, the breakdown boggled your charming pessimism eh? Let's get marching, before more pissed off townsfolk, er, former townsfolk show up.”

“I wonder if the 'enthusiasm' has spread.”

“Neffer, I wouldn't be surprised. I think anarchy on this level is its own special kind of madness. The kind that breeds plague.”

“Grij, let me pay my respects to Cormac before we go.”

“Aye lad, there is that.” Grijolhd spat again, this time hitting the forehead of a corpse. “While I pay mine,” he whispered.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Half-Baked Campaign- Dragon Tales of Abviok

Arsi 4th cycle, 3279, The Archer's Draw

'Our mages routed the great wyrm, driving it into the mountains. We lost two cohorts of archers to the thing. Our cavalry was useless. It took to the air. The sage Vadrensil's tome was nigh worthless. Our archmage, Cheniel, will endeavor to draw the creature back down the valley into an enfilade from our fortlets. She departs tomorrow and insists that no one is to accompany her. I will have some of our best scouts shadow her at the very least.'

Arsi 4th cycle, 3279, The Owl's Lament

'Cheniel is gone. Our hearts are troubled that she goes alone. The skies were clear. I thank Thelinar for such small blessings. Yet every sentry squinted at the blue expanse, expecting the dread creature to materialize out of the aether. I will see the elder one more time, he is delirious I think, some of the guard wish him to be euthanised, but perhaps through the delirium I can discern something.'

Arsi 4th cycle, 3279, The Lynx Track

'The old one is gone, he departed for the Vale as is the way of things when the cycles draw to their close. I will miss the strange elnisari.* But his last words to me leave my mien troubled. 'Only in devastation will you see the maw open. The mother grieves even in bloodshed.' I have arranged for the acolytes to sing the song of farewell and send him to the Valediction Aerie.

3279, The Wind's Embrace

'Our patrol found Cheniel's remains along with two of our scouts I sent to watch her. She was mostly bones, the forearms remained, as did the hands. Vantar, one of our eldest scouts said the beast is toying with us. He believes in the old superstitions, but we saw the monster bleed on the field did we not? Our mages astride their mighty gryphons burned its flesh, and it fled! I have relieved Vantar of his duty and sent him elsewhere.'

3279, The Crag's Breath

Our northern fortlets are decimated. It was a slaughter. It appears the garrisons were massacred in the early hours before sunrise. Every male, every female. Throats slit, necks broken. There was a certain economy in the butchery. Every blow was meant to be fatal. The mages are all unaccounted for. I fear their fate is as Cheniel's.  Does this beast control demons?

3279, The Moon's Shadow

The beast has returned. It attacked our remaining mages with a wizardry of its own. Something I have not seen before. Themselves, their mounts, turned to dust in the air. The forward elements were covered in their remains as they fell from the sky. Ashen, pale, covering helms, cloaks, and armor. Some fled in fear. A great green mist arose among our archers, they died gasping, asphyxiated by foul magicks. It unleashed its fearsome breath, and entire cohorts fell under its blistering steam. Not once did it touch the ground. Never have I seen its like.

3279, The Moon's Shadow

The remaining fortlets have fallen, despite the double guards and extra vigilance. I shall sound the retreat. We must leave this valley, or face annihilation.

-Excerpt from an elven journal, author unknown, it's age is a guess, but I would think it predates any elvish literature we have translated or stored in the Logist Archives.

I believe this is an accounting of a dragon attack upon one of the mountain holdings, perhaps even before the rise of Elende'. Of course, my colleagues scoff at this notion, since a dragon has not been sighted since Anfekor's inception, and are believed to be extinct. The elven ambassador has taken it up with our magistrate, stating that we have no right to hold such a valuable artifact of their culture.  I have hired the Klangeshi to guard the elven wing of the archives. While I believe the decree will lean in our favor, I know how persnickety these elves can be when it comes to humans holding some of their writings.

- Angus Thermost, Sage of Blackwood University, City of Perhgath, Anfekor.

*elnisari- elvish, means 'elder kin,' denoting one of their kind who is considerably advanced in age

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Half Baked Campaign- A treatise on dwarves- Part 3

Well, that is a general overview of dwarven history. I will now discuss some of the social behaviors of dwarves.

Deep dwarves will never come even 100 feet near the surface. They rely on the surface dwarves to negotiate prices and hire them as diplomats with the other races when possible. If a race needs to speak to the deep dwarves directly, they will send a surface dwarf guide to lead them to a prearranged meeting place in a cave complex or, should the petitioner be bold enough to enter Rootstone, to a consulate in the deep dwarf city (that is, if the city even has a consulate).

Deep dwarves are mistrustful of everyone outside of their city, and I mean everyone. This may have been a factor in the collapse and desolation of a few of the cities in Rootstone. I myself have only recently been accepted into a couple of their cities after engaging in two grueling quests on behalf of the cities countesses. It is my guess, that deep dwarf trust can only be gained by spilling the blood of deep dwarf enemies and predators (multiple times I might add) or aiding the higher city officials in some endeavor. Due to confidentiality, I cannot disclose what I have done on behalf of the countesses.

A deep dwarves loyalty lies with his/her city. Everything is done for the greater good of the city. It could be the crafting of a sculpture, it could be forging armor, sometimes even marriages; every task, large or small is weighed in regards to how it benefits the city. The deep dwarf city is broken down into clans, with the clans arranged by family or blood ties.

Both deep and surface dwarf societies are matriarchal. Females, especially females who have several children are highly respected and are given political offices in both cultures. Every deep dwarf city is run by a countess and her staff, which are for the most part, all female, with each of these females all have at least 3 or more children.

The deep dwarves recognize the dangers of Rootstone, and there is always the stress to keep procreating to keep the city vibrant and alive. Marriages are few, being viewed as only a necessity when it helps keeping the city whole or united in purpose (for example, uniting two fueding clans).

Children are viewed as one of the biggest priorities in the deep dwarf culture. This urgency is cemented by the fact that deep dwarves have a low birth rate. Deep dwarf females can have only 4 children during their lifetime, with special cases being around 5 or 6 children. Usually it takes around 20 years for a female to become pregnant again after having a previous child. However, many females die during their fifth or sixth childbirth, regardless of age. Thus a deep dwarf female who has survived birthing 6 children is held in high esteem by most, if not all dwarves in the city. Since marriages are held in low regard, it's not uncommon for a female to have a different father for each of her children. I am awed at how many of the city scribes can keep track of who belongs to which clan, and who is the mother and father of whom. It is not unusual to hear of a male deep dwarf claiming to have 50 children and being related to 8 clans.

Childbearing is also a sign of selflessness and responsibility in dwarven culture. The more children a female has, the more responsibility she has, so the deep dwarves reason that she has gained more wisdom, more patience, more understanding, in the raising of these children and this is why the females are often put in positions of leadership, whether its the clan or in the city government.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Half Baked Campaign- A treatise on the dwarves (Part 2)

Before reaching the surface, the dwarves encountered the goblins. A few of these encounters were bloody, but these escalations were short lived. The goblins took note of the superior arms and armor of the dwarves and sued for peace accompanied with trade agreements. The dwarves, seeing that they were getting a great deal (after all the goblins were completely ignorant that the dwarves were outcasts of their deeper brethren, who forged incredible, quality arms and armors in Rootstone) accepted. Of course, the dwarves had never tasted goblin cuisine, the foodstuffs received from the goblins were harsh to the palette. To this day, both races still wonder who got the upper hand in those trade agreements.

The goblins warned the dwarves that some of their tunneling operations would eventually run afoul of the elven mountain kingdoms. The dwarves, curious and stubborn (it also might be noted that they were feeling confident after their cessation of hostilities with the goblins) ignored the goblins warnings and continued upwards through the earth, yearning to breach to the surface.

The dwarves tunneled straight into the mountain citadels of the elves. The elves, viewing this a violation of their sovereignty, insisted that the dwarves either turn around and go back the way they came or become vassals of the elves. The dwarves, affronted by what they viewed as elven obstinancy, began a brawl that would turn into a series of wars that would last a century. It should be noted that this is where the saying, “Time to beat the elf out of you,” originated. But I digress. Apologies. Both races became weary of fighting, treaties were signed, and the dwarves collapsed the tunnels that wormed into elvish cities.

The dwarves eventually became accustomed to the sunlight. During this time, some dwarves left their brothers to become citizens of the elven kingdoms, but the majority left the elves alone and settled elsewhere in the surrounding mountains. 500 years later after the last exodus from the Eadh-Deash, several surface dwarves decided to send expeditions back to Rootstone to see how their deeper kin fared.

Those expeditions that made it back to the deep dwarf cities created quite a stir. The deep dwarfs were shocked to see their former brethren with darker, sun touched skin, using torches and lanterns to help guide their way through Rootstone. The majority of deep dwarf cities abolished Eadh-Deash, instead sending their dissidents and failed Echoes of Earth candidates to the surface dwarves. Trade was soon established with the surface dwarves. Rootstone caravans began making regular routes to the mountain and highland realms. Many deep dwarf cities decided to give their surface kin a measure of respect and they're not shunned as they were when under the laws of the Eadh-Deash.

Though they trade and interact with their sun loving kin, many deep dwarves hold that the surface dwarves are the weaker subrace. The sunlit lands have softened their minds and bodies, corrupting their respect for the deep dwarf laws and traditions. Add to the fact these were individuals who descended from dwarves who failed Gharas-akhdrat, the disdain only deepens. The more hospitable cities in Rootstone allow a surface dwarf to stay as a 'guest' in their city for a maximum of a week unless special circumstances merit otherwise. Despite this prejudice, many deep dwarves appreciate the wood from the forests above and the tasty foodstuffs that come with the caravans (which by the way, are not goblin, or so I've been told).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Half Baked Campaign- A treatise on the dwarves- Part 1

An accounting of the dwarves, as explained by half elven scholar Vrenirin Gant.

I apologize for the dry tone of this lecture, and pity the scribe endeavoring to write this.

First off, when we speak of dwarves, we are really speaking of two subraces, the surface dwarves and the deep dwarves. The surface dwarves are accustomed to life in the sunshine, and are the emissaries of their dark delving brethren. The dwarves that humanity and elvenkind interacts with are almost entirely surface dwarves. This interaction has created a misconception that the dwarves look and behaves like surface dwarf culture.

Deep dwarves shun the surface, spending their entire lifetime below the mountain peaks in the dark recesses of the earth. Deep dwarves as you have already surmised, despise the sun. They commonly refer to their surface kin as 'capstones.' Though they try to supress it, deep dwarves have the belief that their surface kin are the weaker of the two subraces. This brings us to the rite of passage known as 'Gharas-akhdrat,' loosely translated this means 'Echoes of the Earth.'

Once a deep dwarf reaches the age of maturity, (40 years of age) they are sent on a series of tests in the deeps to see how well they can mine, craft and fight. This is Gharas-akhdrat. The candidates are divided into groups of five or six dwarves and are accompanied by a judge and mentor (called Dranhds). Sometimes the group can have 2 Dranhds accompanying the group. Gharas-akhdrat lasts up to a month, but can be cut short if the Dranhds see a candidate has exhibited exceptional abilities during the rite, or in the most of unfortunate of circumstances, death or injury befalls the candidates.

If the Dranhds find the candidates worthy of Gharas-akhdrat, they are accepted into deep dwarf society in an event of celebration. This festival is known as The Crystal Song (or Vah-Andha). The Crystal Song entails a lot of singing, drinking and the occasional fornicating. At the end of the festival, the elders determine what occupation the deep dwarf will have. If the dwarf does not like his chosen occupation, he/she can raise an objection with the elders. The objection is then discussed with the candidate and the elders behind closed doors.

If candidates do not pass Gharas-akhdrat, this means exile into the 'Eadh-Deash' (loosely translated, 'The Empty Halls'). Every deep dwarf city has a zone on the outskirts set aside as Eadh-Deash. In addition to those candidates who have failed Gharas-akhdrat, any dissidents or deep dwarves who are deemed 'unhappy' in society are moved (sometimes forcibly) to Eadh-Deash. There have been records of Eadh-Deash housing some 3,000 dwarves.

The deep dwarves only interaction with any residents of an Eadh-Deash is when they arrive to bring more exiles to the zone. Some Eadh-Deash have been known to be periodically wiped out, either by predators, hostile denizens of Rootstone*, disease, or geologic upheavels.

However, about 1,000 years ago, some Eadh-Deash communities banded together and through courage and persistence eventually mined their way to the surface. The particulars of this trend are not outlined here as I'm trying to be as general as I can. What must be known is that these former deep dwarves of an Eadh-Deash became the surface dwarves.

*Rootstone- the deep dwarf general term for all realms underground

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Half Baked Campaign- A Brief Treatise on Elves (by a human scholar)

“Where was I? Ah yes, elves. To put it simply, elves as a whole, are some of the most arrogant sons of bitches on the continent of Abviok or as they like to say, Asinadiniel. Doesn't roll off the tongue very well does it? Asinadiniel! The elves think everything they do is superior, from their language to how they shit. Oh and they're entitled to their prejudice aren't they? They've been on Abviok for at least three thousand years. You'd think they would've developed at least a measure of humility wouldn't you, being here all this time? No, it's only made them more entrenched and stubborn in how they view the other races.

Yes, the relatively new (by elven standards anyway) Palm Concordants have forced them, in some measure, to at least learn how to get along better with humanity, but they're still secretive, smug and damn self-righteous.

I think humanity should take a lesson from the dwarves, who really don't give a shit about what the elves think. Oh the dwarves will certainly give an elf a beating when they've been pushed too hard, but other than that, there's this strange aspect of coexistence between those two peoples. It certainly helps that the dwarves like to live under the mountains while the elves like to live on top of them. You know, that should've given the delegates an indication of elven disposition, when they knew they had to trek a few miles up to the top of Glinnegown Peaks just to talk to the cheeky bastards during the High Peaks Accords. But I digress.

Then there are those handful of elves who just break the mold completely. Like those in Yethers. These buggers don't mind living with humans. Rather than coming off as arrogant, these fellows are distant shall we say? They've picked up some of humanity's better qualities (thank the gods); compassion, honor, loyalty but sometimes, they have that far off look, and if you ask them what's the matter they'll answer, 'just meditating upon a thought,' or some such thing. These type of elves are just damn frustrating, but at least I don't get the urge to throw a haymaker at them like I do with their spoiled brethren.

So lad, do you still want to make a go of courting that elven female? Take my advice, leave this manse and try to find a living dragonling, trust me, you'll have more success, even if you fail! The experience will be worth it. That elvish lass will just lead you to pain and disaster. Quite possibly, she will sacrifice your manhood to an abattoir. But such is the folly of youth hey?”

-from the Sage Cedifor Maddock, as he attempted to dissuade young Master Kearins from fawning over the daughter of an elven consulate

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Got Gug?

Just experimenting with artwork on the blog. This is a poor rendition of a TPK by a Gug. The Gug can be found on pg. 151 of the Pathfinder RPG product Bestiary 2.
Link: http://paizo.com/products/btpy8hif?Pathfinder-Roleplaying-Game-Bestiary-2

The Half Baked Campaign: written from an NPC's POV

'Spire of Bones, Mageslayer, Dread Tower, all of these are names given to this wondrous, murderous construct I see before me as I leave the North Gate of Goshen. Sages and scholars have argued with me that it is not so. The older sergeants of the watch whisper in their pubs and their patrol routes along the northwest river tower, “It's a bloody weapon.” I look to this elegant, ancient edifice and I feel fear, and humility.

The spire is thousands of years old. The goblins, who have settled this area well before the first Sulkiri fished the Cefron's banks, call it, 'Poegshi,' roughly translated 'Fire's Cliff.' The dwarves don't talk about it. The elves, smug as always, only grin at us when we ask their emissaries of this place. Yet still I pressed them whenever I could. “You humans were foolish to build a city near it, now your accountability has come to roost in one of your squalid nests,” this rebuke is what I received from their most recent consular to our city.

This festival we hold every year is folly, as is our meager attempts to gain knowledge of what this spire truly is. It is anathema and it is a strong testament to the age of its fabrication. But make no mistake, no one, and I say again, no one, has ever coaxed its secrets from its unfractured, timeless stonework.'

-Egron Rooke, mage of the Garnet Cooperative, addressing 'adventurers' who participated in The Festival of Knock, 458 TR

'I'll be back in three bells time with a trinket from that tower old fart.'
-Adlar Gepidae, self styled captain of The Savage Sables adventuring company, responding to Egron's caution, 458 TR

The Sables were obliterated before they even set foot on the isle, and 6 score men and women lost their lives or disappeared that day. The onlookers of the city were happy, if only for a few days, despite the bloodshed. It was a welcome escape for the darker times to come, as Anfekor's economy continued to plummet like a stone in the deeps of the Cefron.

All excerpts taken from 'Chronicles of Modern Goshen,' written in the Third Imperial Reckoning, in the year four hundred and fifty nine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gygax Memorial Fund and Dave Arneson

The Gygax Memorial Fund is dedicated to the work and legacy of one of the founders of D&D, Gary Gygax. In gaming stores around the US you may be able to pick up Limited Edition, Premium Cover Copies of the original 3 books of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons; The Player's Handbook, The Dungeon Master's Guide, and the Monster Manual. The books are quite nice with gilded pages. A portion of each purchase of these books goes to the GMF. Or if you want to donate and learn more about the GMF you can follow this link here:

Personally, I think this is a something to consider if you're a gamer, especially if you're an older gamer, and really appreciate the history of D&D and RPGs. Gary Gygax brought a lot of joy and inspiration to generations of gamers, not just to D&D, but to other genres of RPGs as well. Please think about whether or not you want to make a donation and show gratitude to the legacy of this creative genius.

That being said, a measure respect should be paid to Dave Arneson, who was the co-founder of D&D. Dave was a creative genius in his own right, and helped Gary with the original edition of the game in 1974. Apparently, Dave and Gary had a falling out. Events transpired to the point where Dave relinquished any profits he would receive from D&D altogether.

For more information on this sad story see this link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Arneson

These Limited Edition Premium Covers do not credit Dave Arneson as being a co-author of the book. However, Gary does acknowledge Dave in the preface of the DMG and the PHB.  In the MM's preface, Gary also admits that the Monster Manual is based on the original work that he and Dave published 3 years previous. Perhaps not enough credit is given to Dave Arneson. If so, it's up to us to give Dave the accolades and credit he deserves when we talk about the 'old days' of RPGs.

It's sad that both Gary and Dave are gone, and I don't know if anybody in the gaming industry is going to fill either of these guys shoes.

Tower of the Lonely GM

This is a short post. If there are any readers who like Pathfinder and Steven Erikson's series Malazan Book of Fallen, I urge you to check out the blog Tower of the Lonely GM by Belo Horizonte! This fellow from Brazil has created stat blocks and descriptions of three of the intriguing races from the series, the T'lan Imass, the Jaghut, and the Forkrul Assail. They're well done and Belo brings his own slant to each race in the Pathfinder system.

Linkie: http://lonelygm.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DM or GM, which do you prefer?

The word GM is more preferable to me than DM, as the term DM infers that the only responsibilities in the game are to run a group of players through a dungeon. Some players and GM/DMs prefer an entire campaign around one mega-dungeon. In a way, this makes things a little easier for everybody, there is one locale you as a GM/DM prepare for... Wandering Monster tables, check! Maps, check! Room descriptions check! For the player, the combat prep is basically close quarters, although there are a few dungeons that throw a curve ball in the mix. For example, fighting on multiple levitating platforms. A DM may also prepare a town or city where the players can offload their loot and engage in a little r&r. When I think of the term DM, all of the above applies. The Dungeon Master, the creator of dungeons, populator of the labyrinth. And hey, if that's your gig, that's great!

But does a GM/DM just run a dungeon every game? This brings us to the next title the GM, or Game Master.

 A Game Master infers so much more, you have entire worlds you create, or at least the part where the players adventure in. Players can go anywhere! (And often do, much to the GM's chagrin) There are continents, kingdoms and/or countries, geographical wonders, and yes, ruined civilizations and eventually a dungeon or two (or three). There are the alternate planes of reality and existence you have to worry about. Then there's monster placement, what critters inhabit them there hills? In a country you need to think about the culture and the people/NPCs the players interact with (although technically you could have a dungeon inhabited with nothing but NPCs). And that's not all! Languages, seasons, earthquakes, flooding, bird migrations, (Well maybe not, unless you're running a Holy Grail RPG) coinage, national economies, bartering, social upheavals, etc. etc.

If you're playing a sci-fi RPG it gets more complicated! You have entire galaxies to plan, then solar systems, then planets, then nations, and on down the line. Galactic civilizations! Alien races... and monsters (really just a new alien species of critter). Technological advancements, do they have laser rifles or sling shots? Teleportation devices or gas powered vehicles? Or a 9 legged oxen?? And the list goes on and on.

Ah yes, all of these responsibilities are the in the lap of a GM or Game Master! Not a Dungeon Master!

However, which one sounds cooler!? DM of course, hands down! GM also implies that you're a corporate SOB, taking away a 50k plus salary running a store, getting cussed at by your fellow employees or underlings in General Manager speak. You get stressed out because 2 of your not so reliable employees called in sick on the same day, so who is going to pick up the slack!? Huh? So GM definitely does not sound cool, not cool by a long shot!

DM just sounds so much better. Not to mention it's almost like saying a shortened version of 'DAMN!' Like as in 'damn' that girl is hot! Or 'damn' when you realize your GM (you know which type of GM I'm talking about, or do you??) just caught you spray painting his desk because this week he was being a really obnoxious prick.

So really, while GM is a more accurate term for running a game, it still sounds obnoxious. DM is more on the side 'Dude, I don't just run dungeons damn you!' On the other hand, 'Damn yo! (Or DM yo!) That sounds bitchin!' rolls off the tongue so much smoother.

It's all a matter of semantics really. Damn!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Edition Wars.... NOT!

I know this may be old hat for all of you, if not most of you. But it's official, Wizards of the Coast is coming out with another edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I'm not here to tout which edition is better, I'm not going to compare rules and say, this is where this edition went wrong. I look at the edition wars through two lenses, one as a player and the other, as a DM/GM.

As a player, quite frankly, I will play any edition of D&D just as long as I get to play. D&D is a social game. You're there to perform deeds of heroism, or.. dastardly deeds of ill repute with people of like minded interest. The point is to have a fun.

D&D is an interactive story. Both the DM and the players can contribute to an incredible playing experience. I don't really care what edition my fellow players choose to decide to play, because this a 'team sport', I need to check my ego at the door and cooperate with the group, not be a bastard and refuse to play a particular edition because I'm uncomfortable with it.

However, I do draw the line if I'm in a group that is playing a particular edition on a continous basis and I begun losing joy in playing the game, it's time to go. It may not be the edition, it may be the group. The premise is simple, if I start not having fun anymore, then that's a sign for me to leave. I'm not doing anybody any favors by trying to stick it out, because in the end my misery will rob my fellow players of the fun they may be having with the game.

So as a player, I have no qualms about playing any edition of D&D.

As a GM/DM, it's different, not only because I have a bias to a particular edition that I feel comfortable in running, but also there's the matter of finances and shelf space.

I don't necessarily hate any edition, what I do hate is the business model, marketing strategy of the company that is making a new edition. Yes, I'm speaking specifically of Wizards of the Coast.

Every few years, WOTC seems compelled to make a new edition of D&D, which means, that as a GM/DM, if I want to run the game I have to fork out another few hundred bucks and shelf space. I simply do not have the time, the patience, the money and yes, the shelf-space to put up with these shenanigans any longer.

I realize that these guys have to find some way to stay in business, but I don't agree with making a new edition every few years is the right way to go about it. I would think that a lot of it would have to do with being more involved in the gaming community. Why not instead of making other editions, why not continue to support the older editions?

But really a lot of the onus rests on us as gamers, we need to spread our love of the game to younger generations, to show these kids why this game is so magical, regardless of the edition we use. If we argue about which edition is better, we're taking away that magic and lessening the value of the game that we cherish so much.

Monday, April 8, 2013

This is a first time attempt at blogging on a regular basis.

Please be aware that much of the blog is only my opinion, which is most certainly fallible, and in the vast, intricate web of life, amounts to nothing less than a hill of beans... A lesser hill of beans for that matter. So should I garner any type of readership whatsoever, I would hope that any discourses will be kind and courteous, or at the very least civil. Aye, I have repeated myself and for this, I apologize.

My interests lie primarily in the aspects of 'nerdery.'  To be more specific, science fiction and fantasy, which I believe is collectively known as speculative fiction (spec fic). I also enjoy some RPGs (role-playing games), though as will be evident in later posts, my biases lean towards the Pathfinder RPG by Paizo Publishing and some of the older editions of Dungeons and Dragons (3.5 mostly).

I will try to veer away from discussing politics and religion, as those two topics are incendiary, and both depress me on a daily basis.  I should really stay away from dating too, but I may slip regarding that topic from time to time.

For now, as it is getting late here on the East Coast, I will cease my ramblings. However, I will leave you with a link to a podcast, produced by two incredibly decent and talented fellows, Ed Healy and Rone Barton. If you like tabletop games and RPGs, I strongly suggest you check these guys out!

The linkage is as thus: Atomic Array