Here’s the PDF. Enjoy.
Archive for August, 2012
Maybe you’ve heard of an old RPG from the late 70’s called Heroes. It’s set in a fictional Dark Ages setting, but is otherwise historically accurate, or at least more so than your typical fantasy RPG setting. I first heard about it a few months ago and have been quite curious, though old copies of the game are very expensive (thankfully they’re working on a new edition, here, coming out this October).
It did, however, get me thinking about a grittier, fantasy-lite version of D&D (or, more likely, one of the clones such as Swords & Wizardry). A game that keeps many of D&D’s tropes, but removes all the magic items and spells. Some of the fantasy elements might be retained, such as fantasical races and monsters, though they’d have to be rare and live in isolated or well hidden areas…you couldn’t have an orc jumping out from behind every tree and rock.
The PCs would be fighters, rangers, thieves, barbarians and such. There’d be warrior priests/clerics as well, though they wouldn’t perform divine miracles. At best, they might give ‘believers’ a psychological morale bonus. Scholars would replace wizards, using their extensive education and honed intellect to help the party. Perhaps some kind of ‘magician’ class that used parlor tricks to frighten superstious peasants, or swindle the gullible. And bards, though again no spells or ‘magic music.’
In most D&D campaigns I’ve played in, literacy was pretty much assumed for all PCs, even barbarians and ranger-types. No so in this game. Scholars would be literate, and know advanced mathematics; priests/clerics have a higher chance of literacy, but most characters would not be able to read or write and would probably only know simple math. There’d be a lot of ignorance and superstition…and discrimination, too.
This would be a much dirtier world, with greater instances of disease and famine. Infection would be a very real risk. And it would be a far more oppressed and corrupt world than your typical fantasy campaign, with lots of douche bag nobles running around being dicks to everyone (think Game of Thrones). And lots of taxes, something rarely dealt with in D&D: road taxes, bridge taxes, gate taxes, treasure taxes, you’re-walking-on-my-land taxes.
Living in the modern world, we’re used to having lots of stuff. This, however, would be a materially poorer world, for not only does it not benefit from industrialization, it doesn’t even enjoy the benefits of magic (not to mention the depressing effects of greater taxes, oppression and corruption). You wouldn’t be able to walk into just any village and buy some rope and a horse (possibly their only horse)…though maybe someone could make some rope for you, in a few days. If you needed a lot of gear you’d probably have to go to a city, or at least a large town on a major trade route.
Most of the PCs probably wouldn’t be able to get plate mail and swords, these being way too expensive and probably legally restricted to the nobility. Most PCs might have to make do with leather armor and simple peasant weapons, like spears, axes, clubs, flails, hammers, slings and the like, though a lot would depend on the setting.
So, I’m just tossing ideas around here. I’m not trying to create a historically accurate RPG. Just a game that uses many of the generic convetions of D&D, covering ground that’s usually ignored or glossed over in D&D, where you can’t rely on magic to save your ass when you’re in a tight spot.
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1Fun is entirely subjective and not in any way guaranteed. There is a small but real possibility of death from explosive decompression, asphyxiation, radiation poisoning, xenological encounters, laser burn, coworker violence or other unforeseeable events; a reasonable person might not consider such events to be “fun.”
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A few months ago I posted on a movie called Osombie: The Axis of Evil Dead, about Osama bin Laden coming back as a zombie. Well, I got my Kickstarter copy of the movie a couple of weeks ago and finally had a chance to watch it. It was about what I expected it to be: roughly SyFy channel level of quality (maybe a little better), filled with the usual zombie movie imponderables like the group splitting up in the face of overwhelming numbers of zombies and zombies coming out of nowhere and then disappearing again.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. This is what I expected, and it delivered wonderfully. And at least the hot chick with the sword survived (Tom Boy, played by Danielle Chuchran). However, I wish the scene with the gunship blowing away zombies at the end had been a bit longer, but I guess you can stretch the FX budget just so far.
If you like cheesy zombie movies you should check it out. And if you don’t feel like dropping $15 for the DVD (or whatever it costs) don’t worry, I’m sure it will be a SyFy Channel original in the not too distant future.
I recently finished John Scalzi’s new book, Redshirts. It’s basically a satire of Star Trek and pokes some good fun at many of the narrative convetions of sci-fi television shows.
While I enjoyed the book (and finished it in just half a day), I was still a bit disappointed in it. You see, about half-way through the book it becomes very ‘meta.’ I don’t want to drop any spoilers, so that’s all I’ll say about it, except that I think I would have enjoyed the book more had it just been a straight forward satire of cheesy sci-fi television shows (similar to Galaxy Quest), though I realize Mr. Scalzi was going for something a little deeper than just poking fun at Star Trek. By comparison, however, Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigades were more interesting books, in my opinion.
One other thing, I thought the first half of the book would make for a fun, dark humor Paranoia-style rpg. The PCs are redshirt ‘extras’ who go on dangerous away missions and try to avoid dying in horribly spectacular ways…possibly by sacrificing other redshirts in order to save themselves. Or maybe it’s more like OD&D, where the redshirts are level 1 nobodies who die easily and have to work their way up to bridge crew status, thus increasing their longevity.
My posting has dropped off the last couple of months, but the last week was especially slow because I was visiting old high school buddies in California. But I’m back and hoping to post more frequently.
In other news…
The Reaper Miniatures Bones Kickstarter project keeps on truckin’, beating its stretch goals almost daily. A $100 Vampire level contribution nets around 140 miniatures now, and there are plenty of optional packages you can add as well. The project ends this Saturday (Aug 25). If you’ve got a $100 you can spare this is probably one of the best deals for miniatures you’ll ever find.
Saw this last night. The events of Legacy unfold concurrently with the events of Bourne Ultimatum, though Jason Bourne doesn’t really make an appearance. I thought Renner, Norton and Weisz all did great jobs. Plenty of action and violence, comparable to the third movie (though some people may think that’s a bad thing).
My only complaint, I thought the ending was kind of abrupt. One minute they’re in an epic chase, the next they’re sailing off into the sunset (that’s a bit of a simplification, but only a bit). I would have liked for there to have been more closure, but I guess they need to save something for the sequal.
If you enjoyed the other Bourne movies, you should enjoy this one as well.
Many of you may have already heard about the Kick Starter project Reaper Miniatures is doing for their Bones line of plastic minis, but I’m going to flog it anyways if only for my own selfish purposes. You see, they’ve blown all their stretch goals out of the water, and each time they do they add a few more minis, or options for minis, to the project. If you’ve got a hundred bucks you can spare, Vampire level nets you around 93 miniatures (so far). They’ve got 20 days to go, so it’s conceivable it could be 100 minis or more for Vampire level by then…that’s a dollar a mini, a great price even for plastic.
So head on over and make a pledge so we can all get some great, inexpensive minis. 🙂 Cheers!
Just wanted to point out a cool blog I’ve been reading for a while now, called Swords & Stichery. Space Nazis on Carcosa, cybernetic dinsoaurs and all kinds of very evocative, imaginative setting material. Needles does the kind of gaming I wish my group liked to do. If, like me, you like gonzo style old school gaming, you should check it out.