Saturday, 25 January 2014

Peeking into The Manor, issue #2

Sleazy, greasy Hugo. I mean, you have to wonder at your own sanity if you're thinking about buying Healing Potions from this guy. Still, if he's the only game in town, what do you do? I mean, it's not like you were in the great metropolis, you know?

Yes, Tim Shorts -- of Gothridge Manor -- scored another hit! Hugo is definitely a character every campaign needs. I've never been one for “adventuring” ten feet outside the gates of a large city. My adventures take place in lonely, out of the way places and a town with a population of 500 is “big” out there.

Yes, just the size town where “Hugo's Potion Shop” can be found. A town where a Cleric might be hard to find, they'e not everywhere you know! And even if there is one, Hugo's prices are hard to beat for down-on-their-luck Adventurers; shopping there might be their only option.
It's only natural that Hugo should surround himself – that is, fill his shop – with the most unsavory people in town . . . or anywhere else, for that matter. Are you really going to drink of a potion created by an Alchemist goblin? Yes, goblin, not gnome.

A floor plan of the business accompanies the article, along with a well written description. The potential DM is even supplied with a random d20 table of customers who might be in the shop when the adventurers visit and seven adventure hooks to get something going. Absolutely great stuff!
“The Smuggler's Inn” is located in the same area, at least, in my game it is! Trust me, Hugo knows where this place is! These two just go hand in hand, although Tim allows for you to place it in a separate setting. Of course this place is really a cave. Tim borrows from several old tales with this one, such as Robber's Cave, but what's wrong with that? I like it! Naturally the place is run by a disquised Night Hag . . . Mwahahahahahaha!
Smuggler's Inn is located up a canyon and across Ten Killer Lake . . . swimming is not recommended! Of course there 's a map, Tim wouldn't leave us hanging without a map! We even have Charon! Okay, so he's not really Charon, but he is a blind ferryman and he's in the "employ" of the Hag! There's a trail that continues past the Inn and leads “down into darkness.” Entrance to the Underdark? That's for you to decide.
A whole boat load of magic items rest on the bottom of the lake . . . you just need to figure out how to get past “Lord John.” Lord John? Nope, I'm not going to give away everything! You need to read it. Of course Tim gives us a short list of prepared magic items, but encourages us to make our own. Oh! And remember, Tim's economy is based upon Silver, not Gold; so the value of everything breaks down into Silver Pieces.

There's a hidden room at the Inn, where the Night Hag keeps her “offerings” for her demonic “Lord.” And she's no pushover, so Adventurers beware! Tim gives a random treasure list for this one too.
All in all, two great little inserts for any game. Yes, Tim Shorts doesn't fail to satisfy. I've thoroughly enjoyed both issues in this series.
Can't wait to see what he's got in Manor #3!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Looking at Gygax Magazine, Issue #2

Sorry folks; first there was the "crud," then there were the doctor's visits, now a tooth is bothering me. The never ending cycle.
Gygax Magazine #2 contains just a little more Sci-fi this time around and Luke and Ernie both make contributions again.
Luke Gygax presents us with an Adventure Module – "The Blighted Lands" – on page 40. He informs us that it is a new fantasy setting that he is developing called Okkorim (Oh-kor-em). It's a desert setting with a few new humanoid and monster types. The setting is taken from Arabic and Middle Eastern cultures. Having read it, it sounds like a nice little adventure to add to an existing campaign.
Ernie Gygax takes us for another walk down Memory Lane, talking about how the game shifted from War Gaming to Role Playing and the role played by Jeff Perren and Chainmail. Jeff thought "fantasy" was a four letter word, until Gary Sr. brought him 'round.
Tim Kask discusses "Tactics in Samurai Battles," a game with which I am unfamiliar. Apparently it is a game of Dueling and the article is written in a way to give advice to those who play that game.
Jay Libby presents an article featuring the Dr. Who universe. I've never been that interested in Science Fiction and am unfamiliar with Dr. Who – never having seen an episode – but Jay sounds as though he knows what he's talking about.
Leonard Lakofka regales us with another "Leomund's Secure Shelter" piece, in which he revised the way he looks at Death in the game.
Jon Peterson revisits the past with a look at an early document of the game known as the Dulluhn Manuscript. Such early erratum never ceases to fascinate me and I encourage all who would to check out this article, page 20.
Jess Hartley offers etiquette advice for people meeting new gamers for the first time, of those who are being introduced into a new group for the first time. The advice is sound for either situation.
Bryan Pope helps build a spell book for those playing in the Mage Wars game. This is a game with which I am unfamiliar, but I read the article with interest. It is advice for those seeking a deep, tactical battle scenario.
Ken St. Andre presents us with an article comparing the Adventures of Heroes, Kings and Champions with those of ordinary people. His article makes you think about the type of adventure you want to play.
Vincent Florio talks about the Old School Renaissance and its influence on modern gaming and particularly modern gamers, looking for that Old School experience. A very nice read, on page 30.
Jeffery Talanian then takes us on a trip of the macabre nature. Drawing from H.P. Lovecraft's "The Music of Erich Zann" we are visited by creatures of an alternate universe, or perhaps an alternate reality. You decide.
Gordon Dritschilo introduces us to a new monster for Savage Worlds rule system. It'll make you rethink those tattoos.
Shane Ivey takes us back to the Dale-lands, post Smaug. This adventure involves trolls – that can withstand sunlight – and takes place between the time of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Even Dol Guldur has a place in this one, not to mention Laketown and the Lonely Mountain.
Eric Hindley offers advice on how to introduce Super-Science into your game. Not really my thing, but I'm sure that many would/will find it interesting all the same.
Rodrigo Garcia Carmona discusses "Dueling through the Ages" and how such fights might fit into your campaign, not to mention how you might adjudicate such a fight and rules by which such a fight might be handled.
Brian Liberge visits yet another game with which I am unfamiliar, with his article "Lost Wonders of Caelmarath" in the lands of Midgard. This is something I still have to Google.
Rich Burlew presents us with another excellent "Order of the Stick" comic; I really like these.

Alas, we don't get "Marvin the Mage," or "What's New? With Phil and Dixie" this time around. Instead, we're presented with "Full Frontal Nerdity," by Aaron Williams. I have no idea why the switch, but Aaron does a nice job of entertaining us, so . . .
Well, that does it for this edition. Next Post? "The Manor," issue #2. Can't wait to see what Tim Shorts did with this one!
See you in a day or so!



Monday, 6 January 2014

Peeking into The Manor, issue #1

I know, I know, I promised a look at "Gygax Magazine," issue #2, but I received a first-rate Birthday present . . . "The Manor!" Yes, Tim Shorts, that crazy, nut of a guy – of Gothridge Manor fame – sent me a collection of his e-zine, "The Manor," for my birthday. How do you respond to something like that?

Why, by talking about it, of course!

Okay, my first – and as far as I can tell, only – complaint with "The Manor," issue #1 is that, on page 3, Tim made this promise: "There will be naked women if I can sneak them past Ivy." Then what does he go and do? He not only dedicates the issue to Ivy, but he makes her a Proof Reader! Yes, you heard me, a Proof Reader!

So much for ever seeing naked women in "The Manor!" Humph!

Tim gives us a nice little first level encounter with "The Salt Pit." (pages 4-8) Given my recent post about Salt, however, I would have to say that no salt mine is "too small for the local nobility to take notice," Tim. When salt was once used for money? Hell, they'd notice alright! But that's just nit-picking, because it's an excellent little "one off" adventure.

Jason Sholtis does need to learn to distinguish between a Lizardman and a Troglodyte, but his artwork is very nice otherwise, I wish I could draw like that! Hey, if I don’t find some fault, you guys are going to think I was bribed to write this! LOL

Jason also comes up with some interesting "finds" in the beastie's lair! Roll a d12! (page 9) I won't swear to it, but I think Jason must be the author of The Dungeon Dozen, another blog I enjoy. I'll have to ask . . . unless he shows up here to claim credit, of course!

The "Ghoul House," set in modern day rural Pennsylvania, is suitably "horror," I just need to set it a little further back in time. Like Science Fiction isn't my genre, "modern day" isn't my "when," but the setting is well presented and the story is one I can easily "get into;" A Necromancer seeking Lichdom! Woo-hoo!

Then there's the Poem for the Umber Hulk, by "Rusty Battle Axe." (page 13) If Tim supports inter-species Romance Poetry, then perhaps I could submit a short story! I mean, just recently a dwarf was grappling a darkmantle in one of my campaigns and, well, I couldn't be sure just what they were doing! So don't call me xenophobic!

Then we come to "20 Random Forest Encounters," real "drop ins." I mean these things will fit into any campaign, any setting, anywhere. Well done, Tim! Of course, the encounter "Round Bread and Stew" I credit to Ivy, after all, she's been on bread making roll lately . . . although I haven't heard Tim talking very much about her stew. Hmm. I'll have to see if she post anything about stew over at The Happy Whisk

(Did you know that in nearly every list of sexiest comic heroines Wonder Woman ranks in the top five? And in most, she's #1! Ever seen The Whisk's avatar?) Hehehehehe!

Then we have our insert-able "odd character" in "Oren's Boots." I know Tim intends it to be an Adventure – and it serves that purpose very well – but I can see plopping Oren, Laura and Gerald into any village in my campaign world. This simple Adventure Path could easily become something major to involve my PCs in. Tim provides a marvelous foundation for the construction of a much larger Adventure.

After reading "The Manor," I began to think; "Hey! I can do this!" I mean, if Tim can do it, then surely I can do it. That's when I remembered, Tim has Ivy. I don't have anyone to encourage me like that. Think of all that motivation! I can hear Ivy now: "Are you finished with that thing yet!? We're expected at my mother's in an hour!"

Nope, no one to encourage me like that around here. Then there's the reward for a job well done . . . all that wonderful homemade bread! I don't have Tim's problem in that regard. You see, no one's going to notice an extra ten pounds around my middle!

Not in this lifetime, anyway.

Overall, "The Manor" is a superb little e-zine and I can't wait to dig into the rest of them, while eagerly awaiting issue #6!

Okay, next time, "Gygax Magazine," issue #2.

Then "The Manor," issue #2.


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Looking at Gygax Magazine Issue #1

One of the things I promised myself I would do this year is get caught up on my reading. So I spent my birthday – January 2nd – doing just that. I started with Gygax Magazine issue #01.

Now issue #1 did come out in February of 2013, so it may seem that I'm a bit late with this, but here's the thing: For my escapism, I turn to Sword & Sorcery, not Science Fiction. So, as with other magazines, I skipped over the Science Fiction portions of the magazine.

Well, I went back and re-read the Sword & Sorcery parts and then squeezed in the Science Fiction parts.

Lenoard Lakofka wrote one of my favorite pieces – because I'm biased, of course. I'm biased because he agrees with me! Surprise! LOL

In his article, "Leomund's Secure Shelter," he gives a reminder to DMs, he states: “The DM, whether old or new, just has to create a mindset that the books are only guides. The DM has the final ability to rule and conduct the game.”

How many times have you guys – those who know me apart from my Blog – heard me say; “They're not rules, they're guidelines!”? The only difference it that Len is writing this for those DMs who have forgotten this important point. I, on the other hand, have to keep reminding my Players of this fact.

I do like Len's suggestion that, if the Player wants to try something “outlandish,” let him! As the DM, simply assign a percentage to the possibility and let the Player roll the dice. That's a good way to look at it and it's good advice.

Thanks Len!

James Ward tells of his experience gaming with Gary Gygax -- "Playing in the Science Fiction Way" -- and how Gary suddenly threw a Sword & Sorcery group onto a Space Ship, leaving them to figure out how to get back to their world of magic. It sounds as though they had a good time with it, so I won't disrespect that. It's not my place to do so. I simply say that – for me – I wouldn't enjoy it.

Sure, I grew up with Star Trek, I was there for the originals, not the re-runs of the original. I enjoyed Star Trek and The Next Generation too. But, I didn't like Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise. At the urging of my friend Maldin – whom some of you know – I watched Babylon 5 . . . and liked it! I didn't care for the follow up, Crusader. And yes, I watched all of the Star Wars movies, but not the animated versions.

Except for the shows I've named, no Science Fiction for me. For books, games and movies, give me Sword & Sorcery. Not Epic Fantasy, because that can be anything. My generation called it Sword & Sorcery and it wasn't a sub-genre of anything. For me, it still isn't.

There are two nice pieces by Luke Gygax -- "Bridging Generations" -- and Ernie Gygax -- "The Gygax Family Storyteller" -- about their dad and the things he did when they were young, things that they wish to emulate; Luke with his own children. I found those two articles a joy to read. Not that I agree with everything E.G.G. did, like I said, I don't mix my Science Fiction with my Sword & Sorcery. Gary did. It was just nice to see how the whole thing began to be formulated in the beginning.

James Carpio has a piece showing how the gaming worlds are coming full circle, "The Cosmology of Role-Playing Games." I had never looked at it like that. I saw the games as “spreading out” and going in new and different directions. Of course, the OSR is a return to the games that "were," so Mr. Carpio brought home an excellent point. I enjoyed the article and his take very much.

Ethan Gilsdorf's piece about “The Future of Tabletop Gaming” really struck home. I was never the shy, geeky type, but much of what he spoke about touched home. I think many of you would feel the same way, should you give his article a read.

Ethan “set the way-back machine to the 1970's a.k.a., the hangover from the Sixties” and let fly! It was quite a ride and brought back many a memory. Yep, January 2nd, 1961 is my "day," so I was there and saw it, and it happened just the way Ethan said it did. Don't look for me to talk about it though, I'm here to encourage you to read it for yourself!

I can't touch on every article, but I won't close this out without mentioning the return of “The Order of the Stick!” I love that comic and Rich Burlew did not disappoint. Our intrepid heroes are trying to determine how to make their triumphant return in a new magazine. They decide to take on an “oldie but goodie” adventure . . . and rid a farmer of the giant rat infestation in his basement! LOL

There's also Phil Foglio's “What's New? With Phil and Dixie” and Jim Wampler's “Marvin the Mage,” two more excellent comics.

So, after taking on issue #1, I can say that Gygax Magazine is off to a good start and I hope for it's success. We can't have too many magazine supporting the Game(s) we all love! So, if you haven't given Gygax Magazine a try yet, hunt down your own copy and do so, you won't be disappointed.

Next Post, look for me to talk about Gygax Magazine's issue #2.

Until then, keep on Gaming and don't let anyone put down our hobby. They ridicule our hobby blind to the fact that others are ridiculing theirs.