Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why not

This survey took a lot longer than I thought it would http://www.easydamus.com/character.html

Neutral Good Human Ranger/Sorcerer (3rd/3rd Level)



Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 15
Constitution- 14
Intelligence- 17
Wisdom- 18
Charisma- 14

Alignment:
Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers- Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Chance of Discovery

In the original rules, travel through the wilderness calls for a check for wandering monsters once “at the end of each day”, with the odd caveat that seaborne encounters will occur in the middle of the day.   
So you roll the dice.  If you get a monster you check the % in Lair to see if our intrepid adventurers have stumbled on a lair or encountered some non lair or out of lair troublemakers.
That’s a workable method.  The trouble is that it lacks any granularity with regards to the map.  What I mean is that characters may be traveling 3, 4 or more hexes in a day.  So where does this encounter take place?
If it is truly at the end of the day, presumably as characters prepare to camp or lodge for the night, then it will obviously be in the last hex traveled in.  If on the other hand the encounter occurs at midday, then one of the other hexes must be picked and travel halted at that point.
Referee’s can do this.  They can pick a hex, either randomly or deliberately for the encounter, and again this is a workable method; But it is not a very sharp method.
When I first started to work on the “evasion” table, it was less than clear to me what exactly it was intended to do.  One description of it – I think it was in AiF – said it was “the chance to avoid an encounter”.  This set me to thinking, as they say.  While I think the major intent of the evasion table was originally for hexcrawl chases in the Wilderness, there was a flexibility there (as with almost everything in OD&D) to apply it to other “surprise” situations.
Now if the chance of party A to avoid party B is 70%, then conversely, the chance of Party B to find party A is 30%.
Viola! The Chance of Discovery.  Rather than rolling once a day regardless of how far a group has traveled and backtracking to figure out where an encounter may be, Champions of ZED gives the Referee the option of checking each hex as the PC’s pass through.  For each new hex entered, a roll is first made to check for lair encounters using % in Lair, followed by roll(s) on the Chance of Discovery column made for all “wandering” groups in the area.  If an encounter is indicated, the Referee then check surprise.
Using the method is optional, of course, but it is an example of how the original rules can be stretched a bit when needed to cover more than the obvious situation and give a little more granularity to hex travel.   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Designers and Dragons - only $49.95!

Note: Since I take the subject very seriously, I've decided to replace my original post with a fuller and expanded review.  The contenets are much the same however and the original can be viewed as my post on enworld.

Earlier today on the OD&D forum, and then again on Enworld here http://www.enworld.org/forum/press-releases-announcements/312556-mongoose-designers-dragons-history-rpg-industry.html

was posted an exciting announcement from Mongoose.  A new history of the RPG industry has been published.  Immediately I wondered if Dr. Rob Macdougall had finally published.  Of course, that wasn't a very logical thought given the publisher in question.  But honestly I've always thought pretty well of Mongoose; at least they seem to be an aggressive success story in the industry and while I only have two of thier Conan books (Betrayer of Asgard and the Stygia sourcebook) I think they are pretty cool.  Unfortunetly it's dead obvious they are out of their depth with this attemp at history.


The book, Designers and Dragons, has available a 7 page preview. I am actually only discussing the prieview here, it was enough for me to see the character of the book.

A history book, in the modern sense, will contain the fruits of carefull scholarship. It will have many references and footnotes in an appendix discussing sources and details. In other words the author will "show the work", behind it. It will also be fact checked. This is when a publisher sends the book to credible readers who will double check, to the extent that they can, the assertions of the book.

Mr. Appelcline and Mongoose Publishing have very obviously done none of these things.

The preview contains several pages discussing the Origin of the Dungeons & Dragons game. As it happens, I'm an archaeologist with an avid interest in that subject and have researched it extensively, including talking with a number of the people involved. So I'm pretty well versed.

There's no question that RPG history owes a great deal to a man named David Wesely, and Appelcline does indeed mention him, or I think it must be him, but Wesely's name is repeatedly misspelled (something a fact checker would have noticead right off)

Imagine a History of the United States starting with Georg Washingtown.

Wesely ran - and still runs from time to time - a game set in a fictional town of Braunstein. Appelcline labels Braunstein as Napoleonic, but then says Dave Arneson - Co Creator of D&D - started running Braunstein and changed it to many types of settings. While Dave did run a Braunstien - he called it Blackmoor - it was Wesely himself who started changing the setting to different locals and set most of his games in a fictional, modern day Banana Republic, not the Napoleonic period.

This may seem like a minor fauxpaux but since nothing is referenced, the reader is left to assume that Appelcline is relaying accurate information.

It gets worse, much worse.

"Various sources describe Arneson visiting Gygax, Gygax visiting Arneson, or the two meeting at GenCon IV (1971)."

This is pure non-sense. All the people directly involved who have said anything about it have told exactly the same story - including, Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz, and Megarry. Megarry and Arneson went to Lake Geneva in late fall of 1972. (November, according to Mr. Kuntz). Megarry went to showcase his Dungeon boardgame and Mr. Arneson went to help him and run "a Blackmoor" for Mr. Gygax. "Other sources", meaning fan speculation and half forgotten comments from third parties, have no credibility in the matter.

This is really basic reasearch 101 stuff. The correct information can be gotten directly by asking the surviving participants or can be found without much trouble using a search engine.

Next we have this lovely sttement:

"Whatever the case, in that 1971 meeting Gygax and Arneson decided to jointly design a game that incorporated their ideas of fantasy realms and individual player characters. They called it ... `The Fantasy Game'."

There is exactly nothing true in any of the above. Gygax asked Arneson for his rules so they could "jointly design" Dungeons and Dragons in the tail end of 1972 after experiencing a delve into Blackmoor Dungeon as a player. They did not put their head together and decide to jointly design a fantasy game in 1971. Far from it, Arneson had been running his RPG for nearly two years before Gygax got involved with the game.


Further - in an interview on the very website that Mr. Appelcline founded and manages
http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/lynch01may01.html - Gygax emphatically denied that "The Fantasy Game" was ever an actual name for the game. Here's the quote "As an aside, I must laugh at some comment I saw about the name for the game being "The Fantasy Game" until someone "wised me up". Having been employed as an Editor-in-Chief, selecting what game rules and games would be published by Guidon Games since the beginning of 1971, I was well aware of the need to use a working title, the need for some caution in regards using the actual name for a a projected game release. So that's the reason for that bland one on the draft works."

Appelcline seems to cavalierly ignore the information on his own website! "They" never called it "The Fantasy Game" Gygax merely put that on an early draft as a placeholder. Arneson, as it happens, had an entirely different title in mind, but that is another story.

Here's yet another unchecked and unsited "fact": We all know - at least those who have seen the circa 90 page reformatted versions of the 3 LBB's - that Gygax's figure of 150 typewritten pages (or 300 !! as claimed in his Dragon #7 article) for the final playtest manuscript of D&D is an um... overestimate - yet Appelcline states it as simple fact without citing any source or giving any hint it might be otherwise.

That nearly ends the preview and its enough for me to shake my head in wonder at what can be published as history with a straight face and a less than inexpensive pricetag. This book doesn't even meet the most basic standards of journalism, let alone historical inquiry.

I imagine there might be a lot of good information in the book, particularly as it gets closer to the present, but with such sloppy scholarship and lack of decent references, who's to know what parts can be trusted?