Sunday, August 03, 2008


I've run a few adventures in 4E now, and I am still working on the rules. I've been running in a kind of parallel worlds: the D&D Points of Light generic campaign world, and my long running and non-running Malaan Game. I love Malaan, so I wasn't going to abandon it, but every game rule shift causes a bit of turmoil. Since we were all beginning a new game system, I wanted to leave all the "flavor text" available to the players, and kept the core rules for that.

There is term in the philosphy of religion called "Syncretism." Basically, this means when one culture meets another, they tend to adopt bits of culture and religion here and there. The Greeks taking on the mystery cults of Isis and Dionysus from Egypt and Asia. The Romans taking on the Aryan cult of Mithra. The Mayans adopting a Christian faced to the their pantheon in the forms of the Santos religion. Frequently it involves adopting elements of the one religion but incorporating it into the existing pantheon (Mithras becomes a version of Jupiter, St. Peter is Quetzalcoatl etc.).

So far, I haven't done much. I made it clear that the Core D&D Gods are those recognized by the natives of the lands they live in . However, their worship is somewhat new (100 years or so, very vague), and the world had many other religions before that.

One player recently expressed an interest in playing a Cleric of the Raven Queen (generic death goddess of the Core PHB). Of course, you my good readers know of the extensive dominant death cults of Malaan (the Deh'wheri). Some of you are privy to the more history where the worship of Velrey dominated that cult, and gained control of the holy lands. So... here is the syncretism.

The Raven Queen is named for a mysterious death goddess who sent a Raven to a local woman to counsel her on the anniversary of her husband's death. In my mind, this an attempt by Auteil (former head of the Deh'wheri) to reach out to a new audience under cover as it were.
So everyone can use the core gods, but slowly they will be revelaed to have this much richer, deeper connection with my world.

(I remember when Ben slowly converted from the D&D gods Donblass, Arioch, etc.. to his own with variant names and following). Same thing here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Malaan: The Next Generation?

It looks like we might be running some 4E D&D in the summer. I am hoping to run a series in Malaan. Probably in the abandoned, conquered, and semi-destroyed former capital of Ghetti.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gang Damage

Trackback from Ars Ludi arsludi
For damage purposes how might we approach a "gang"
One possible solution.. give the gang a single amount of resistance to attack. (Hitpoints, Toughness etc.)

This could be the sum of their hitpoints (D&D) or a combination of their Toughness modifiers (constrained in some way).

For D&D - giving the gang a set pool of hitpoints means that very effective characters can damage the 'gang' beyond damage to an individual. So if a gang of 10 kobolds has 30 hps (3x10) and my ranger does d8+6 damage an attack, he would slice up the gang in a few hits (3 on average) rather than needing to kill each kobold directly. You could rule that "gang kills" this way are actually just disrupting the gang (which could reform outside of the combat) unless the number of hits equals the number of creatures in the gang.

For M&M - The system has lots of ways to accomplish this with Hero Points (spend a point to get a rank of takedown)(make an alternate power with area of effect).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is it wrong to enjoy tricking my players?

So last night's game involved the party facing off against two opponents.. a 12th level Mage Priest (Simulacrum of Chakolece) and 11th level Undead Mageblade. But rather than a straight up fight, it began with the two of the invisible (heightened) and the Simulacrum making an Illusion of the two of them plus an undead minion.
The PCs had tactics down well. Targeted Dispel on the spell caster (they learned that one!) Move the fighters into melee with them both quickly.
I had the illusionary magepriest cast an Eldritch Wall splitting the party.
I was pretty good about giving the PCs will saves every time they physically interacted with an illusion. The Illusions never did any damage to the PCs. They missed, they themselves were missed most of the time. They seemed to miraculously evade attacks and damage from the PCs (at one point even getting hit but taking no damage). Then that stopped (the Magepriest was busy with other things) and no one seemed to notice. Granted, in the heat of battle those sorts of things can be attributed to DM overload, and every now and the one of the PCs kept saying "I disbelieve" but since he hadn't really done anything to interact with the Illusions that was sort of a moot point (not to mention he says that every session).
The net results were (a) the PC magister got left vulnerable to the real enemies and killed (although he was able to spend a hero point to recover), (b) the party blew alot of spells dealing with the illusions... I can't help but feel a little pride.
It was a challenging encounter... incidentally as soon as the illusion dropped and the invisibility was purged, the fight turned quickly against the badguys, which I think was good. It made the illusion the real challenge. And that worked out well.
We shall see if I can wrap up this adventure before I leave for X-mas. That is my goal, we shall see. I am notoriously bad at that.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Business of Gaming

There are old stories about the Tolkien family trying to prevent TSR from using Hobbits and Elves, and Magic Rings. Even though the game no doubt encouraged people like me to read and reread the books. Even the crappy extra books.
There are old stories about TSR tracking down publishers who wrote about hit points, and had magic-users and rangers in their adventures. Even though the existence of those materials no doubt help perpetuate the game.
There are stories of WOTC lawyers using web-searches to track down the words D&D and other 'trademarks' for possible violations.
I made the mistake once of trying to contact Paramount Pictures about an online Fan-based non-profit game based on Star Trek. They were very hostile to the idea, that didn't stop us, and by themselves Paramount succeeded in killing off what was once Paramount's cash cow.
At GenCon we saw people who ought to be like us, gamers. You could sense that they were gamers. That they got into this field becase they loved gaming. But, at some point the game became a business. And everything changed. It may have made them into hucksters trying to lure you into their booth to buy something. Or slick PR machines, introducing brand names and the latest products, into every talk they gave. Or they became rabid paranoids worried that any news, or ideas that THEY came up with, might fall into the wrong hands. A copy might get ditributed without them seeing any money. Imagine if a million people were playing YOUR game, and you didn't make a dime from it!

Hmmm. Would that be so bad?
Is gaming really about making a buck? Every possible buck?

I see those old guys. Zoochi, Wesley, Arneson. They don't look rich, not monetarily rich any way. They should be rich, given the pleasure they've given us all. But they do look like people with rich lives. Ironic, since no doubt their ideas were all stolen by others. I've had fantasies about making a living with gaming. I never imagine making a fortune doing it, but making a living with it. But when I see that sort of thing. Knowing the stresses that people have to make a living. Knowing that when I see someone using a PDF they downloaded off Kazaa or something, and feeling...if only they had paid, then this would be so much better so much easier. Maybe this one would have made enough money. Maybe.

When I was 14 years old, I wrote Mark Miller, a game designer, with a question I had regarding designing ships for Traveller. I wondered, did you need a special skill to do so, or what? I never heard from him. A year or so later, I saw a new book come out from him with "Naval Architect" as a skill. Part of me thought, that jerk stole my idea. But, another part of my thought, Wow he might have taken my idea!

My wife and parents often ask if I will ever venture into the gaming business. I would not object to making stuff for others to play, but I hope I am never in the Business of Gaming.

Monday, August 22, 2005

GenCon 2005

Well, I didn't think I would find myself 37 and at this event. In my teenage/college mind it was something I would do while young and unattached. And yet, there I was.
1. Meeting and Listening to the real old timers" Dave Arneson, Dave Wesely, Louis Zocchi (the creators of D&D, modern Role Playing Games, and Polyhedral Dice respectively). That was really fun and interesting. The evolution of a new idea, especially one I am so familiar with, was truly fascinating.
2. Hanging with the Homies...It was a Weaselfest unto itself. Happy to meet some of the Century City gang as well. Very cool people.
3. The wonder of 20,000 Gamers. I will try to explain this in a future blog entry, not enough time today.
4. Gaming: Kudos to Mike for his quick one shot. Aquan kicked some serious butt. That Quebecois miniatures game was pretty fun as well.
5. Fuzzy Dice! The kids are happy.
Low Lights:
1. Airline Strike: Add eight hours onto my travel time. Most of which was spent sitting in a crowded tiny air terminal.
2. Fatigue: Maybe teenage or college years would have been better for the 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I am tired, and have some odd mystery bruises.
3. Watching people game. Same reason I don't watch professional sports. I'd rather have the fun myself.
4. Mastubatory Sessions: People, all people, should not be given forums (fora?) for their impromptu, unrehearsed, silly, and ill conceived jokes, anecdotes or ideas. In rare occasions this results in something inspirational or interesting or even amusing. Most of the time, it results in something boring, embarrassing, or offensive. I am now a new fan of order. I guess I am lawful after all.
5. Hotel Connectivity. Aren't modern hotels, especially those that host huge conventions, supposed to have high speed internet connections in every room: free or inexpensive?

More to come.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


So we are about to wrap up the Arsenal Adventures, since we are losing almost all the players, maybe all of the players, I have heard from Braden yet. Luckily it is because they are moving on to bigger and better things, and not simply because they hate me (though that might help)

So I am thinking about the next campaign. In theory some time this summer the kids will be getting to the sleeping through the night schedule again. That means, I will be more free to spend an evening gaming now and then. Lately exhaustion and parental duties have curtailed that somewhat.

So the question is, what to do? I could try to join someone else's group and play for a while. That could be fun, and less taxing than trying to run my own game. Also it would be nice not having to go through the attrition of gather a new group from scratch, never an easy proposal. I hate playing with people I am not real friendly with, and prefer to play with people that get along both in the game and out.

However, part of me wants to run another campaign on Malaan. More to the point, part of me wants to run a game in the main parts of Malaan, using characters of decent level who can interact in the politics and culture of the game. Of course, no new players would be experienced in Malaan (which is not necessarily a bad thing), but I am nervous about expecting entirely new players to grasp the politics that, even I have yet to make decisions about. I've made a couple stabs at rewriting the Summa de Malaanica, but it is such a huge document, I never get very far. Still, I could probably write up some somewhat more elaborate version of the post apotheosis page, which might be enough.
I've considered running a game in the Holy Lands, serving the gods.
A game in the Empire serving the Witchqueen.
A game in one of the Low Kingdoms of Uruhr.
I still haven't decided.

Questions about a new game
Will I continue to use Arcana Evolved? Or integrate that with the 3.5 D&D classes?
If I do, how shall I incorporate the Giants, and other new races into Malaan?
If I do, how shall I incorporate the old races into the AE system?

What style game would I run? Epic Quest? Courtly Intrigue? PC initiated adventures?

any advice from the peanut gallery?