The clocktower tolled 12 times and it was Friday

Reading: I am still making my way through Diaspora. I hope to set up a blog post where me and a few buddies make up a cluster in public.

Inspired by the hard sci-fi RPG, I’m reading my first novel in the Culture series by Ian M. Banks, Use of Weapons. It is splendid, really neat stuff.

Planning: Off to see the ladyfriend this weekend, barring flat tires and catastrophe.

Wearing: Button down short sleeves and jeans.

Writing: Banged on a paper that should have taken me a few hours and just ended up taking a whole lot longer. Some day I’ll start writing early.

And you?

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Game of Thrones casting pic and the Chivalry Disconnect

Gaze upon the faces:

gotcasting

Looks splendid.

This is a good time for a gaming story.

Midway through an old D&D 3.0 campaign, just before Fellowship of the Ring came out, I was hip deep in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and it was rocking my head. The players, in a sans-alignment D&D setting, were forging a pact with the Drow whose cities were underneath their forest home. They hired a Drow assassin to go take care of an agent who was giving them intense trouble. The disconnect began as they escorted their newly paid for assassin to the border of the Golden Empire and the Jade Forest.

They ran across a paladin, from the holy city-state of Ulula, ruled by paladins and priests who rode giant owls and hunted all manner of evil creatures in the night for their owl god. The Paladin was not thrilled with this drow alliance and assumed that the Drow had the players under some sort of underdark enchantment or mind control.

He waited until the players were asleep and jumped the party.

The players went ballistic. Keep in mind, I am reading A Game of Thrones and they were not. So, my ideas about chivalry were entirely taken apart. I saw knights as killers with blade and harness and holy knights as killers who were also zealots. I remember one of my players saying, “A knight would never behave in this manner!”

The point here, isn’t how knights really behaved or whether or not it is historically accurate that a holy warrior who rides a giant owl while worshiping an owl totem and fighting monsters in the night would really do any such thing. The point is that there was a disconnect and the players were feeling shitty about how it went down. It could be because the Paladin rolled really well and kicked seven kinds of shit out of the surprised party.

In the end, they challenged the knight to a duel and the half-orc fighter killed him, thus deciding the matter, both legally and in the eyes of holy Ulula. But there was a while, before they realized that they could seek some sort of legal action, where the frustration was intense. I wonder if that just made the victory all the more sweet.

Daydreaming at Night

This week’s gaming was all thrown for a loop when my work went night-shift due to a co-worker’s family emergency. I’m working a late night again, school-work’s done and just kind of musing about the games, thinking about what is to come.

In the 13 Cities, Storn’s character has taken control of Baal since the Sorcerer-King declared martial law. Next game should be about him trying out his newly learned Strategy skill as winter breaks and the army of Baal and the surrounding Lake Country knights bring their arms against the hordes from the steppe.

In MoBu City Rifkin is just getting his feet under him. There’s only one of his old crew he hasn’t met with yet, the old goblin lockpick who surprised everyone and went back to work for his dad after things fell apart. He’s got work to do to earn some coin, spying on a wizard who has a taste for expensive prostitutes and he has some word on who sent him to the gaol.

We meet at awesome places. Storn and I will meet up in a tense city built under the boughs of a tree-god. Pete and I will meet this Friday night in a filthy city whose rivers turn red with the blood of a demi-god who is chained under the water somewhere up-stream.

It isn’t gaming and could not ever replace the act of getting together with friends and making shit up but when things get lean and some games get missed, I like that ability to just kind of daydream, drift away to the fictional meeting place where I’ll meet up with friends soon.

Where are you daydreaming lately?

Tunnels &Trolls links – for my own thread storage

Here are some threads I’ve tracked down, mostly Ron Edwards’ Tunnels and Trolls Actual Play so far but I’ll poke around hither and yon. I’m storing them here for my own perusal and sharing, as this review prompted me to pick up the T&T boxed set from Amazon.

If anyone has any other pertinent T&T links, please do post them to the comments section.
[Tunnels & Trolls] Killed me a player-character (spit)

We played Tunnels & Trolls, fulfilling a (h’mm, umm) 24-year-old dream of mine. Yup, I bought the Fifth Edition in 1979 and read it to pieces; I even still find my notes from back then stuffed into the book. It took a little hunting, but I even found my old mapping paper.

Tunnels & Trolls] Second level characters

I thus came to realize that good long-term dungeon play is dynamic for the GM from session to session; it’s not like setting up a tournament module in which once you’ve been in room 22, there ain’t no reason for GM or player ever to return to it.

[Tunnels & Trolls] Half-elves are poncy nancy-boys

I’ve taken a fairly classic approach to the dungeon in that (a) someone built it, (b) stuff has happened since then, and (c) some degree of “dungeon management” is going on. Without getting too involved in the back-story (or physics or economics), I have at least some justification in my mind for every level and every room. So why there are “easy things” on the first level and “meaner things” on the lower ones is … well, it’s justified, if not entirely logical or nailed-down.

[Tunnels & Trolls] Gamism ain’t for the faint of heart

They’re finally getting it straight that there are two major NPCs more-or-less vying for divine status (one’s an ancient necromancer and one’s a kind of snake-woman sort), and control over the dungeon is the deciding factor.

What I Mean When I say Dungeonrawl (this blog, Playing D&D with Porn Stars, is probably NSFW.)

I tend to think of a dungeon as somehow metaphorically like the inside of your brain. Running a party through a dungeon is kind of like running them through the DM’s head. If there’s a shard of black glass in someone’s pack is that automatically a clue or is it possibly just for atmosphere? Can the traps be turned against the monsters in the dungeon? Can the monsters be turned against each other? Is there a “right way” and a “wrong way” or are there many right ways? Depends on what’s in the DM’s head.

Interview with Liz Danforth Part I

I’m conducting some academic research, a byproduct of getting my masters degree, looking at what are called the 21st Century learning skills acquired in WoW that may transfer to real life. The core data isn’t coming together as strongly as I expected — it is excellent but not emphatic — but the anecdotal stories accompanying the survey put me in awe, frankly. People are getting a very great deal more out of the game than mindless entertainment, that’s for darn sure.

Interview with Liz Danforth Part II

Twenty, twenty-five years ago, libraries and schools met gamers at the gates with pitchforks and torches. D&D was castigated as the devil’s work, Magic cards made kids into thieves and muggers, and the nascent video games were destroying children’s minds and morals — if you believed all the bad press.

Flash forward to the present, and the gamer generation grew up to become good citizens, attentive parents, desirable employees and respected entrepreneurs.”

A Visit to Trollhalla: An Interview with Ken St. Andre

I don’t know about “better.” When I created T&T, I just wanted this kind of game that I could play with my friends. None of us owned D&D or had any idea of where to get it. None of us had the miniatures, the multi-sided dice — heck, we had never even seen dice that didn’t have 6 sides.

[Tunnels & Trolls] Ellurian Skywatcher, Minotaur Diplomat

“With 18 Int (after adjusting for being a Minotaur), Ellurian starts with 6 additional languages that he knows beyond Khaz’ni (the common tongue). I’ll have to dig through the book and figure out which to pick. This is looking good for our bull-headed diplomat. He’s also going to need a weapon, something that can look imposing on his 7′5″ frame, but also look somewhat ornamental (so not an axe or polearm) so I go looking into swords and settle on a broadsword because his low Dexterity doesn’t allow him a lot of choice, but then am scared off by the pricetag, finally having to settle on a sledge hammer… not the most “diplomatic” of tools.”

Random Dungeon Generator

Could be handy.

Thread on Dragonsfoot

“The Mythical Sixth Edition is wonderful. To be brutally honest I think it’s the far superior version of T&T. To me, it’s an almost perfect mix of 5th and 7th (which really means it’s a heavily pre-houseruled 5th). I love it! Outlaw Press puts out a lot of great stuff!
http://www.geocities.com/hobbit_lands/index.html

Trollbridge, T&T forum

Welcome, fellow Trolls. This message board is designed to allow free discussion of all things Tunnels & Trolls.

T&T is a fantasy RPG written by Ken St. Andre.. It is the second oldest RPG ever, being designed in 1975. It is designed to be a simple and flexible game, and allows for a GM to customize his or her own world with ease.”

Blood Feud: A world torn between the Demon Prince of the Gnolls and the Ghoul King

“His “holy” sites are bloodstained rocks in dark corners of the wilderness. Some include a single, jagged chunk of rock thrusting from the ground and scrawled with crude paintings and blistering curses smeared in blood and feces.”

Demonomicon of Iggwilv: Yeenoghu, Demon Prince of the Gnolls by Rocert J. Schwalb, art by JAson A. Engle and Brian Hagan

To the east, murderous blood cults have been on the rise in many of the cities, one lord and lady ate their children in bloody rites to a hyena headed murder god. In the country, long dormant rocks that were once altars are once again covered in blood.

The gnolls stormed through the gates soon after the 666th altar was used in a ritual murder.

“The mightiest of Orcus’s servants are his exarchs, undead demons imbued with shards of his semidivine power. Dorsaine, the Ghoul King, is foremost among these servitors.”

– Dungeons and Dragons: Monster Manual by Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert and James Wyatt

To the west, several caravan of merchants became lost in an off-season storm and each had to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. Anyone who travels, knights errant, merchants, messengers and tax-collectors have had run-ins with the ghouls, all smelling of the sea’s salt.

The ghouls rose out of the sea, as if they had walked on the bottom of the ocean from a far-away continent over the horizon or lost gates hidden deep under the ocean.

The barons of the east and the city-states of the west had no idea, no inkling that they were caught in the midst of an inter-planar blood feud between the Ghoul King, exarch of Orcus and the Demon Prince of the Gnolls, Yeenoghu.

Once, long ago, Yeenoghu had held reign over the ghouls but Orcus took the hungry throne for his own exarch, taking the Hungry Legions for his own Abyssal Layers. The only ghouls left in Yeenoghu’s realm are pitiful rabble, masterless rogue packs.

The gnolls invaded the east through gates directly linked to Yeenoghu’s Realm in the abyss. They pour through, hoping to link the gates together and allow one of the rolling fortresses, a rolling city-fort built on blood and murder, into the prime continent.

The ghouls invaded through the White Kingdom, Doresain’s domain in Thanatos, an abyssal kingdom where the cities are all made of white bone and is peopled only with beasts that eat raw flesh.

Player Characters could be:

  • A crack troop of soldiers sent across the worlds by the Raven Queen to oppose Orcus’s exarch and weaken the Demon Lord of the Dead’s hold on the world.
  • A pack of gnolls who have rebelled against their Demon Prince and wish to see him fall.
  • Adventurers from a town directly in the middle of the conflict, a flickering Point of Light in real danger of being snuffed out by these demonic invaders and their petty feud that is being waged on an epic scale.

Originally posted on ENworld

When I woke up it was Friday and I was disoriented

Reading: I’m still plodding through Ghengis Khan and the making of the modern world but I constantly forget it hither and yon. Also re-reading the retro sci-fi noir graphic novel, Terminal City, which is just splendid, will post a review once I’m done.

At about 70-odd pages into Diaspora and still really enjoying it.  I’m just coming up on the sub-systems or mini-games that deal with specific types of conflicts and I cannot wait.  There is a sense of waiting for a cozy time on the couch without worries so I can dig on in.

Always the hum of school-school-school.

Planning: Seeing my lady-friend as long as snow storms do not deny me passage.  Also, returning to MoBu City tomorrow.

Wearing: Still the gray t-shirt and jeans from yesterday.  Ugh.  I need to go home and change.

Creating: Got some solid work done on some things this week and I’m flirting with some papers that will need sold foundational work this weekend so they can be written early in the coming week.

Inspired by Diaspora‘s Economy system, I broke through a block on a FATE hack and I am excited enough that I now really want to playtest it.  I might have to do that.

And you?