Friday, February 28, 2014

Medieval drinking water myth debunked

The peasants didn't avoid water in favor of booze after all, and even had rough methods to assess water quality...  Dammit.  Oh well, our characters can still quaff whatever the hell they want to...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Page Dungeon

One of the challenges for any writer is brevity.  I've always considered the short story to be one of the more challenging narrative forms - build a world, create characters with strengths, weaknesses, backstories, put them in a challenging environment or against a problem - mix thoroughly.  And do it in 5000 words or less.

Likewise, adventure creation can be complex verbose, or compact and sparse, yet with depth and detail.

Enter the One-Page Dungeon Contest.  For the sixth year - create a fully fleshed out adventure, and make it fit on a single-sided piece of paper (without too much trickery).  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old gems...

Pretty crystal, eh?  Pretty OLD crystal, actually - this zircon from Australia has been identified as the oldest known thing on Earth, clocking in at 4.4 billion years old (vs. 4.56 billion years for the Earth's formation). Analysis of the atoms within the zircon indicate that the planet cooled earlier than previously suspected, therefore allowing for earlier development of a life-friendly environment.

Oh, and before you plan on having it set as a crown jewel in a tiara, this gem is a massive 200 x 400 microns.  Or about twice the diameter of a human hair.  That's about 0.02 carats there, big spender.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Divine 'Stacking'

Delta recently discovered an interesting detail in the original Greyhawk Supplement regarding cooperation between magic users to access spell of higher levels or to counter a high-level MU's spell. 

To quote:
" Permanent Spell (p. 27): "Dispell Magic which are are least twice the level of the caster of the Permanent Spell will negate it, so three Warlocks could negate the spell of a 12th level Wizard...". Notice that the three Warlocks (level 8) are taking the sum of their levels for this consideration (3×8 = 24). "

Never saw that detail - and I don't have my AD&D books with me right now so I can't recall if it survived editions.

Anyway, I do think where this level-stacking may be applicable is not with the arcane casters, but with the divine.  Specifically with the turn undead skill, where two clerics working in concert, calling down their god's favors to banish the undead.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why Are The Orcs Pissed Off?

With apologies to Jasoin Sholtis' Dungeon Dozen lists...

1. Flower arranging class cancelled.
2. Gnolls horning in on lucrative human-skin wallet trade.
3. Elves taste funny this season.  Some blame new organic lembas.
4. Goblin sit-in and the whole "Occupy Dungeon" movement.
5. Kobold practical jokes wearing thin.
6. Dungeon overlord cutting back on health care benefits.
7. Adventurers tricked them, promised that they would be back with pie.
8. Other orc tribe just got this year's newest model of riding wolves.
9. Shriekers kept them up all night with false alarms.
10. Ogre mage is being a total prima dona about the freshness of spell components that they are to collect.
11. Mad wizard showing favoritism to bugbears.
12. Pet otyugh has gas.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More contesting

As a born-again noob to gaming, I'm astounded at the creativity out there.  Actually, no, I'm not - I'm fully aware that there are wonderfully creative people in all endeavors - some professionally, some simply laboring in their garrets, creating content for their own satisfaction or to share.  That said, I AM impressed by the creativity out there.  And of course, I'd like to hone my own creativity.  I used to write, years ago, and found one of the ways to focus was through contest entries - usually crafted around some sort of theme, and most importantly, around a deadline for entries. So when I've found a gaming contest, I've taken the effort to enter - even if my current efforts are fairly rudimentary, it's good to have the structure, and we'll see if something comes of it.

So... The prolific Dyson Logos is sponsoring the Dungeon of Lost Coppers, wherein he provided a 'seed' map:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Travel Times and D&D

I just picked up a used copy of World Lit Only By Fire, a history of the beginning of the Renaissance.  I haven't begun reading it yet, but was thumbing through the book this morning when I came upon this figure...

...which denotes travel times from Venice to a number of other European cities.  What is interesting is the difference in time to reach a few of the destinations (e.g. 10 days to Augsburg, vs 16 to Brussels vs 20 to Nuremberg). Part of these differences are likely due to the physical geography of Europe - Even though it is a relatively compact region, it is still bisected by numerous mountain ranges and rivers:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

OSR Superstar contest

Erik Tenkar is running a multiple-round "OSR Superstar" contest  - Round One: Magic Items

Rustled through the notebooks for the first two, and came up with the third in a fit of creativity, because I like the idea that a great boon should come at a cost...

Skin Horse

A construct developed as a beast of burden in areas that are either resource-starved or inappropriate for a living creature.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Horse tails

From, during the Middle Ages, cutting off the tail of a rival's horse was considered an insult and affront to manliness.  So, the next time your PC wants to piss of that uppity paladin - you now know what to do...
Master Francke, The Mocking of Saint Thomas Becket, ca. 1424.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


So here it goes:

About a year ago, I wandered back into a game store, after a brief (30-year) hiatus from RPGs.  I came out with a Pathfinder Beginner Box, tore it apart, and said, "Hmm, this is what gaming is now..."  

About that time, a friend mentioned that they still played 1st-gen D&D, and I found the thing that is the OSR.  So I've been reading the blogs of the community, studying, and filling a couple of notebooks with a few of my own crackpot ideas.  

True confession - I haven't played much more than a couple of sessions in that time - not a lot of time to campaign with work and life and all.  So I'm just going to be throwing my content and ideas and observations out there - some lists, notes, poorly-drawn maps, a few cobbled-together scenarios.   Please feel free to comment, and if you find anything useful, this work, such as it is, is produced under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0. So you can use, hack, share, retool, but not sell.

So this will likely be primarily a gaming blog, with digressions into climbing, working out, motorcycling, the travails of being a stepdad, creative writing, science, art...

Oh, and this is Leicester:
My furry bastard buddy for 11 years.  He passed on last year, yet still protects the house from the Corner Demons.