Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blogging from A to Z: A is for Adventure Awaits

Well, it might not be April where you live, but here in Japan, I am right now dead smack in the middle of April 1st.  It's April Fool Day here, though nobody knows what the hell that is.  In Japan April 1st is actually the first day of the Economic Year.  It is the day of the year that all new Jobs begin - today, all the new teachers joined my school and we are gradually finding out who will be teaching what and where we will all be moving our desks too (I got moved next to the couch :P  ).  In Japan, April 1st i a day of beginning.  Oh... wait.  I forget, April 1st is also the first day of the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge which has been kicked off by Tossing it Out.

Today, is the first day of the challenge; for some of you it hasn't yet started, but like some other people have mentioned, here in Japan, April is already well under way.  So, that means that it's time for me to start; I really don't want to get left behind, that would be like being late for school on the first day and we can't have that now can we.

When I was mind-storming all the different ways that I could possibly attack the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I tried to think up some fun, unique ideas which would set me apart from the other folks Blogging this challenge.  At one point, I had considered doing some new Homebrew every day, earlier this week I had even gone as far as to consider writing an entire campaign starting off with an Encounter on an Airship...

Well, now that the day has finally come, I decided that what I want to talk about is...


It's really kind of a coincidence that Adventure just happens to start with the letter A... I wasn't really planning that.  Adventure is pretty much the spirit of every RPG out there.  Whether you're a Superhero, Crime-Fighter, Cyber Hacker, Warrior, Rogue, or Mage, you are living the Adventure lifestyle.  You don't play RPG's to have your character sit on a farm and watch the grass grow! You play RPG's to experience things that you wouldn't experience in real life, things you couldn't experience in real life, because if you did, you would probably get tossed in Jail for acting like a bloody loony.

Adventures are the stories that every RPG character and player experiences over the life of the game.  Whether that experience is 90% role-playing, or 90% roll-playing, your adventure is your story.  You want to get the best out of that experience right?

This month, I am going to focus about RPG's and adventures.  Basically, I am going to be writing about how to make your character's story, your group's adventure, the best that it can be.  I decided that I want to tackle this subject from a variety of angles:  I might add make an encounter or two, I might write some advice columns, I might develop some tables, or I might just write about my personal experiences.  You never know what's going to come up this month, but I can guarantee that it'll be interesting.  I hope you stay tuned and enjoy!


XDMC 26: Racial Feature - Entry In! - Bionic Man!!

Yay! I made it on time.  My Entry, the 6,000,000 GP Man is up on the Wizards Forums for XDMC 26.  It took a while to get the Paragon Path finished, but a lot of the other stuff is really just things that I wanted to see in my current game world.  It kind of steals the thunder from one of the other Paragon Paths out there, but I never really liked that one (mainly because its use was so severely limited).  This one was a lot of fun to homebrew.  Go check out XDMC 26: Racial Feature - The 6,000,000 GP Man by Shinobicow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gearing up for A to Z in April the madness begins on Friday

Well, the Title for this Post pretty much says it all.  April 1st is quickly approaching and that means that the A to Z in April Blogging Challenge will be starting soon.  It's not too late to sign up if you're interested in challenging yourself to this task.  I recommend it.  I think it is going to be a hoot.  Apparently there are over 700 people signed up for the challenge now and it's looking like they might even make it to 800 before the month starts off.  There are quite a few RPG Bloggers out there who have decided to give it a try and I'm really happy to be one of them.

Now, starting later today, I'm going to be knee deep in notes for this; I went through a bit of a change in strategy.  I don't want to say exactly what I'm going to do yet because: 1) I want to keep it a surprise and 2) I might change my mind again and that would just be poor form.

To all those participating.  GL HF.  Let the Marathon of Blogging Commence on Friday.

Warhammer 40,000 Retrospective - Developing through Tournament Play

40K was a lot of fun starting out, but it quickly got pretty tired.  Playing a game like 40K requires that you really have a good group of people to consistently play it with, or else, you're likely to get burned out pretty fast.  I happened to start the game playing with only one other person - we were never really able to turn any of our other friends to the hobby, which meant that we were constantly running the same armies against each other. After you run the 20th game of Space Marines vs. Necrons, you're also pretty likely to get burned out.  So, we were pretty much forced to find better, more interesting opponents to play against outside of our circle of gamer buddies who refused to join the miniature game revolution.  

That's pretty much how I started playing in 40K Tournaments.  Our FLGS held Tournaments, like I mentioned earlier in this series, on most weekends.  The cost was only $5 to enter, but you had to field a significant number of points in order to play.  After a few months of saving up the cash, buying the minis, painting and basing them, I finally had enough Tournament-ready models to bring my Space Marine army down to the local tournament.  

My first experience with 40K tournament play was pretty bad.  Having only played against one other person who was interested in the game/hobby I had become incapable of fighting off anything other than Necrons :P  I found myself getting destroyed pretty quickly most of the time, but after several months of play, I start developing as a player.  I never won a single 40K Tournament, but I came close a few times.  Playing against other, more skilled players, who had interesting and distinct armies, was reward enough - though I did pull down a few solid victories during my time playing the game on a competitive level.

Going to one of the Games Workshop Games Days clinched it for me.  After that I would become hopelessly enthralled with the game and would end up building a number of different armies to play around with.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Art of RPG

Here is my long due first blog post, and I though I should give a little introduction about myself and my relationship with RPGs.

I am a french Ballroom Dance Teacher living and working in the fantastic city of New York, USA. I grew up a big fan of the Star Wars universe and when I was introduced to the Star Wars RPG in 1992 I discovered the joy of being part of that beloved universe. I also was lucky enough to have a group of good friend sharing the same passion and together we made the Star Wars universe a part of our teenage and later life. No toys, costumes or conventions for us; just our imagination and some good old pens, paper and six-sided dice.

An attribute of mine, I tend to go overboard once I set my mind and dedication on something, so it wasn't long before I own almost every rulebooks, handbooks, complements and journals from the Star Wars D6 line. The best in my opinion. I, or should I say we -my friend and I- only strayed away from this game on the occasion, having a try at Dungeon and Dragon of course, 2ed, and I discovered a great interest in other genres, particularly the universe of Shadowrun, being more on the sci-fi side, but we never got to develop more than a curious eye in these different games.

I left France in 2000, and to fulfill my interest in RPG I turned toward Pbp games. It was much later, in 2008 that I started doing artwork, inspired by my years of gaming, by my imagination and maybe desire to hang to it.

You see, for me RPGs are more about storytelling than stats and rolls. Though I wouldn't do without the former two, for it brings a sense of scale and randomness, and helps at the identification of a character, what I love is the creativity of a group put together to build a story, with its drama, action, twists, laughs, loses and victories in a given universe.

And in my case it usually starts with a picture. I see a piece of artwork -a character, a landscape, a scenery- and let my imagination run its course. I let the story begin. And I found myself frustrated when I was lacking this image that would start it all. Whether it's a character I would not find any interest in, or a place where a tentative description only would not inspire me to act in it.

In a sense I could say I was frustrated at my own lack of imagination. And it's a funny thought process to realize that lack of imagination lead to the creation of artwork, perfect medium for expressing what is in one's mind. So instead of surfing the web to find the perfect picture that would inspire me for the development of a character I though, why not make it yourself?
But I am to this day still a lousy drawer, so digital art has pretty much been my only option. I discovered in 2008 the tools that would help me create my art, and fell in love with the result.

So since RPG brought art to me, I am happy to help other gamers spring their imagination by bringing art to them. And if my specialty has been more sci-fi related, mostly Star Wars, I'm open to put my skills to different genre, and make characters and games come more alive with a simple piece of art.

Warhammer 40,000 Retrospective - Birth of an Addiction

Ah, the memories.  Today, I continue my 40K Retrospective and move on to actually getting into how I got into the game and where I started in the hobby.

I got into the game during 3rd Edition (think that 6th edition should be coming down the pipeline soon now).  After playing Mage Knights for a while, Warhammer 40K was a big step up, and it was going to take some serious cash to get involved in.  I picked up the rulebook and the Starter Set (the one with the Space Marines and the Dark Elder) and convinced my buddy Exist to get in on it with me.  We played a few games using the stuff in the box and we were both hooked in really fast.

Every once in a long while, Exist and I would make a trip down to the semi-local Games Workshop store and check out all the cool minis and all the awesomely painted new stuff coming in.  We were still very unsure about what armies we wanted to play, but after seeing a couple of their game nights and watching people game, we started to get more sure of ourselves and each developed an idea of what we were interested in playing.  The same FLGS where we picked up all of our Mage Knights was also a Games Workshop retailer and held 40K tournaments on Sundays every week. Usually the tourney's were about 1500 points or so, and managed to pull in the requisite 8 people every week.  We checked out those games pretty frequently before finally settling on our individual armies; seeing people play 40K tournament style only further accelerated us into the hobby.  We soon finally settled on our armies.

My Army - Space Marines

His Army -

When we first started playing, battles were heated and bitter.  Neither of us wanted to lose and we were pretty much willing to exploit any and all cheese we could to win.  A lot of our minis were not what they looked like.  I definitely remember playing a game, at least once, with a group of Space Marines as Terminators and a Rhino was actually a Land Raider (Crusader).  My bud, the slow guy that he was, took quite the long time to get all of his guys painted, but once he did, they looked quite nice in their black and shiny silver.  I went with Codex Astartes (most of the time), but occasionaly, my custom painted Purple and Grey Space Marines would show up with a different Codex and some cool new rules to exploit.  I often preferred to play with the Dark Angel Rules, but some times they showed up as Black Templar or even as Blood Angels.  But, for some reason, my luck always seemed to get pounded by those cheesy terminator wannabes... but, our love of the hobby only got bigger and badder from there.


One Page Dungeon Contest - My Attempt: Abandoned Prison for the Mystically Insane

Yay! I finally finished my entry for the 2011 One Page Dungeon Contest!

Download my One Page Dungeon Contest Entry Here! Click!!

This was my first attempt at doing something like this.  You can see the map over there to the right.  I tried to make it pretty big, but ended up shrinking the size down to fit the smallish one page format.

The idea for the dungeon was a seemingly normal set of caves, set in a small hill, but within the cave, secret passage lead to a heavily fortified prison, encased in rune-inscribed Iron, which is used to hold some of the worst mystical criminals in the kingdom.  Something about crazy, serial killer, Hannibal-inspired Wizards gives me a very pleasant chill.  It sounds like a really creepy place to make a side-trip on an adventure.

I went a bit old-school with the creation of the dungeon itself.  I've been really enjoying all the OSR PDF's and free content out there for old-school games lately, especially all the wonderful random tables.  I used two random encounter / wandering monster tables in the Dungeon.  One of them is used for the upper levels, where various people/creatures from the area around have come to use the caverns for their own purposes.  The lower, secret levels, are swarming with zombies, mad wizards, starving vampires, and other fowl creatures of darkness, magic, and insanity.  I did my best on it, but I admit, it's really hard to get all that info onto one page.  My eyes may have been too big for my word processor on this one.  Regardless, It was a hell of a lot of fun to put together and I hope you enjoy my entry!

Monday, March 28, 2011

XDMC 25: Create a Mount - Kaboomer Dragon

I forget to post this up here, but for the sake of completion, and having all of my XDMC entries up on the blog, I wanted to make sure that this goes up at some point.  My XDMC 25 Entry - The Kaboomer Dragon, didn't go over so well with the judges, but I had a lot of fun with it and it is going to go great in my steampunkish 4e Setting.  So, here you go...


The Kaboomer Dragon

Explosionwerkz Rocket Dragon 5000

Description: Appearance
The Kaboomer Dragon appears to be made out of rusty metal, scraps of broken armor, and tidbits of broken goblin Klockwork machines. The general shape of the dragon is that of a newborn red dragon, however the resemblance is slim at best. Underneath the Kaboomer Dragon’s tail is a small vent, from which fire continuously pours out, also emitting a foul, aroma of sulfur which is totally repulsive to the any individual with a sense of smell. Each of this dragon’s claws are forged using rusted and often broken blades, which albeit don’t look like much, are incredibly sharp. The Kaboomer Dragon is also fairly… talky; sometimes it’s fairly hard to get it to shut up. See below for more.

Description: Personality
Although the Kaboomer Dragon is an animate construct, it is not completely unintelligent; though the amount of intelligence it does possess is left much up for debate. The Goblin artificers who engineered and manufactured all of the Kaboomer Dragon’s were possessed of a very wicked sense of humor. They enchanted all of the Kaboomer Dragon’s with a very “goblin” personality. The Kaboomer Dragon is cruel, and particularly ill willed. It also has a very suicidal train of thought. It requires a very strong, heavy handed master to keep a Kaboomer Dragon under control, verbally at least. The Dragon likes to bad mouth others, even its owner. The Kaboomer Dragon can be a very bad magical mount to keep around out in the open. It has the bad habit of ruining any attempts at Bluffs or Diplomacy with its big mouth. It has also been known to start numerous fights even among comrades. In general, the Kaboomer Dragon is not a very nice companion to have around.

Description: Behavior
The Kaboomer Dragon makes a severely troublesome traveling companion. The dragon does not have the ability to “act” on its own – it was not designed for that purpose. When it is not mounted, the Kaboomer Dragon cannot attack or do anything but talk, which it does to know end. It can be commanded to move somewhere nearby, but refuses to move into any area where it does not have eye contact with its maste. The dragon cannot carry messages (or perhaps simply refuses to out of obstinacy). However, the dragon has a wicked forked tongue. It likes to ode on virtually anybody, trying to convince someone to attack it. If it does so successfully, its unstable nature results in a very large bang.

Virtually anyone can ride a Kaboomer Dragon; whether or not that individual survives the process is a much different matter. The people, who in the past, have been most likely to buy and delight in the Kaboomer Dragon have all been slightly bent toward either the demented, or the ingenious. Many artificers enjoy these mounts and sometimes keep them as pets. They also serve as cheap flying mounts for many goblin armies; the goblins also sometimes give them away to Orcs (but never teach them how to use the new gift safely). Mad Wizards, dying to fly, have been known to buy a Kaboomer Dragon in that pursuit. Also, some very industrious Rogues have been known to use them for their non-mount related practical points, i.e. the Kaboomer Dragon’s big bang.

Acquiring a Kaboomer Dragon
Kaboomer Dragons can be acquired in one of several ways. “The Manual” which contains the ritual to rebuild and thus summon the Kaboomer Dragon can be bought on several black markets for 1000 GP (or 2000 if the Tome is of a greater magical nature – see “The Manual” section later on). However this method is somewhat hit and miss. Finding one of these tomes is not very easy; they aren’t particularly rare, just very, very mundane in appearance. “The Manual” is more often traded to a player by someone else who has grown completely tired of having the Kaboomer Dragon around. Sometimes this previous owner will explain how the dragon works, but most often, they will try to bluff that the dragon is far more useful and fun to be around than it is. The other, less common, but easier way is to actually get the dragon from one of the original makers. Contacting Explosionwerkz is somewhat difficult, but they have bases for their guilds all around the world; most of these locations have one or two Kaboomer Dragons on hand and the Goblins are more than willing to sell them off (for the same price as listed above). If the players do go this route, the Goblins add in a special bag of holding to the deal; this bag of holding can only contain the Kaboomer Dragon and “The Manual”, but the bag itself does not block sound or odor from the inside; the Dragon continues to babble and reek from inside the bag and does both of these things much better in fact, as if the bag acts as an amplifier for the dragon’s odious nature. While inside the bag, the dragon cannot receive orders and thus refuses completely to be quiet.

The Explosion Encounter Power should target all creatures in the burst not enemies. That was simply a mistake in the actual creation process for this. It has been called to my attention in another post. As it may be too late to make edits on this, please feel free to judge as written, but if you have mercy, please read this as intended not as written above.

The following information can be discerned through a successful Arcana or History Check (though history checks are made at a -2 penalty). However, if the characters are actually in possession of a copy of “The Manual” they gain several different bonuses to these Lore checks.

The Character gains a +2 Bonus to these checks if they speak Goblin.
The Character gains a +2 Bonus to these checks if they are a Goblin or Hobgoblin.
The Character gains a +2 Bonus to this check if he or she is an Artificer.
The Character gains a +2 Bonus to this check if he or she has the Ritual Caster Feat.
The Character gains a +2 Bonus to this check if they have read “The Manual” and have already discerned anything about it above a DC 20.

DC 15
This mount, the Explosionwerkz Rocket Dragon 5000, more often referred to by its short name, Kaboomer Dragon, or its even shorter (Kaboomerang) is a particularly odious device. The Kaboomer Dragon is a medium sized mechanical construct, manufactured in the form of a baby red dragon. However, the Kaboomer Dragon is not only obviously mechanical, but looks as though it were always on the verge of breaking down… even freshly produced mounts look and feel like they are on the verge of falling apart. Structural integrity was not a priority in their design and enchantment; any individual Kaboomer Dragon’s life expectancy was simply not long enough for that. The official name of the mount is drawn from its makers, what it does, and possibly the total number of units which were initially created (though the 5000 really remains a bit of a mystery).

DC 20
The Kaboomer Dragon is legendary for one thing – they fly, really, really fast and then explode. When a Kaboomer Dragon detonates, they send fire flying in all directions; this has had the very unfortunate side effect of usually killing, or at least seriously injuring, its rider. However, there are individuals who have discovered ways to use that property successfully and to their own personal advantage. These individuals however are much rarer than the number of riders who have perished at the hands of their own Kaboomer Dragon.

DC 25
The Explosionwerkz Rocket Dragon 5000 has been around for a very long time, but very few people like to talk about it. These magical mounts were originally crafted by a Guild of Goblin Artificers known as the Explosionwerkz. These Goblin Tinkerers and Mages were experts in crafting odd, somewhat dangerous, magical constructs, weapons, and trinkets; the one common element through all of these magical clockwork contraptions was their tendency to have highly “explosive” components. Many of these “works of art” were just complex bombs masquerading as something else. However most of these explosive items came with a “life-time guarantee” of some kind; as long as the “owner” of the item lives, the Guild insists on replace any of their devices that happened to blow up with a new one.

DC 30
Originally, these Klockwork mounts were made and sold en-masse. The Explosionwerkz were excellent businessmen; they had a plan and made a lot of money. The Explosionwerkz Rocket Dragon 5000 was marketed at a very cheap price and was sold on a massive scale. Each dragon comes with a specially coded magical tome known as the “Manual”. The “Manual” is written in Goblin and encoded with arcane runes. Deciphering anything from the “Manual” requires significant Arcane skills. Once deciphered, actually understanding what to do with the knowledge gained from the tome is another matter altogether.

“The Manual,” when deciphered, contains everything needed to control, safely use, and even remake the dragon once it explodes. The owner of a Kaboomer Dragon writes his name on the inside cover of “The Manual” which constitutes a contract, certifying his or her ownership of any single Kaboomer Dragon. That user may, at a later point, scratch out his name and write down a new one, passing ownership of the Dragon to the individual named. A Kaboomer Dragon can never be without a master. If the master dies, the Kaboomer Dragon explodes and is lost until a new individual writes his name on the cover; at that point, the new owner can use the rituals contained within the tome to bring back the Dragon. The Dragon can only every truly be destroyed by first burning “The Manual” and then letting the The Kaboomer Dragon blow up.

The Manual
“The Manual” is a magical tome which contains all the essential blueprints and instructions for owning a Kaboomer Dragon. The book is incredibly hard to understand, but to those who understand the ways of Goblins, it can be made much clearer.

As a Magic Item
The Book is a magic item of its own right. It functions as a +1 Magic Tome (see ARCANE POWER, however, at the DM’s discretion, “The Manual” may also function as a “Book of Undeniable Fire”, also see ARCANE POWER). It is functions as an implement for any Artificer, even those who do not possess the proficiency to use it.

The Book also has one additional power, described below:

Power (Encounter): Free Action. Trigger: The Kaboomer Dragon uses its Explosion Power. Effect: The owner of the Kaboomer Dragon is immune to this attack.

Special Ritual of “The Manual”
In addition to functioning as a Magic Tome, the book also contains one important ritual which is found below:

Rebuild Kaboomer Dragon
This ritual functions exactly as the “Raise Dead” Ritual (Found in THE PLAYER’S HANDBOOK) except for the following information. This ritual can only be used on the Kaboomer Dragon associated with “The Manual”. It costs only 250 GP (the Goblins that created the Kaboomer Dragon would have considered this an essential “cost of ownership and expediancy” ). The Ritual can only be cast from “the Manual” itself and on its own has no Market Value. The Ritual is also reduced to level 5. The Ritual takes only 1 hour to cast. Also, when the Kaboomer Dragon is returned to life, it does not suffer any of the penalties associated with the spell.

Accessing the Book’s Powers
Using a successful Arcana check, the book’s power can be fully unlocked (a character not trained in Arcana can make a simple intelligence check). The user gets a +2 to this check if he or she speaks and reads Goblin. All of this can be explained if the user inherits “The Manual” and the Kaboomer Dragon from a living owner who explains it.

DC 10 – The user can use “The Manual” as a magic item, see above.
DC 15 – The user understands that “The Manual” is used to control the Kaboomer Dragon. The user also understand the process used to gain ownership of the Dragon itself.
DC 20 – The user understands how to use the special power associated with the tome which keeps the user free from harm when the Kaboomer Dragon detonates.
DC 25 – The user understands how to use the Rebuild Kaboomer Dragon ritual contained within “The Manual”. (If the DM chose to allow the book to function as “The Book of Undeniable Fire” the powers of that magic item should be unlocked at this level rather than at DC 10).
DC 30 – The user discerns the curse of the Manual as explained below.

The “Curse” of the Kaboomer Dragon
One of the things which is particularly odious about owning a Kaboomer Dragon is that it simply will not stay dead. Whenever the owner of the Manual takes an Extended Rest, the Manual automatically casts the Rebuild Kaboomer Dragon ritual without consuming any GP or any effort from the owner. The Kaboomer Dragon is rebuilt in existence in a square adjacent to the owner (often where they are sleeping). If the Kaboomer Dragon is summoned in this way, it has a nasty habit of bad mouthing the owner and everyone nearby, refusing orders to be quiet, causing anyone in the immediate vicinity to lose the benefit of that particular extended Rest.

In addition to the nasty ability of the Kaboomer Dragon to keep coming back alive, the Kaboomer Dragon also has a very nasty Curse as well. If anyone, other than the owner of the Dragon attempts to ride the Kaboomer Dragon, it immediately uses its Explosion Power. Also, if the owner of the Kaboomer Dragon attempts to ride the Kaboomer Dragon without first reading “The Manual” and achieving a DC 15 on the associated Arcana check with the book, the Kaboomer Dragon immediately uses its Explosion Power as well.

Summary of Optional Elements Used
Headstrong – The Kaboomer Dragon is a blasphemous little cur. It uses its evil little metal tongue to a great and evil purpose – causing as much trouble for its owner as mechanically possible, Goblin style.
Key – The Kaboomer Dragon cannot be ridden or used safely without owning or possessing “The Manual”, but that alone does not guarantee the rider’s safety. He or she must also discern how to use the Power associated with the tome or they may go up in smoke.
Odious – The Kaboomer Dragon is a horrible creature to have around. It looks awful, reeks of horrid filth and sulfur, and has a terrible, terrible mouth which opens for virtually no purpose other than to hurl insults and taunt enemies of the mount’s owner into battle.
Speed – As indicated in the Stat Block, if the Kaboomer Dragon does not move at least 5 squares in any turn it was mounted, it explodes. It may very well also explode in several other circumstances as well. DO NOT TAMPER WITH THE KABOOMER DRAGON!

Warhammer 40,000 Retrospective - Mage Knights... huh?

OK, so you might be a bit confused by the title of this post, but it'll all make sense once you read over this post.

After the Pokemon phase faded away, back in elementary school, I got started in miniatures gaming with Mage Knights.  I was about 10 or 11 at the time, and being the trend setter in my little group of friends, I managed to convince my best bud (Exist, who we are still waiting on for some Warmachine related posts) that Mage Knight sounded fun and would be a worthy way to spend our allowance and time.  Neither of us had really gotten into miniatures gaming yet, we had seen a lot of 40K being played, but our little elementary school hands (and wallets) weren't quite ready to handle a game of that nature.  So, we started out with Mage Knights.

We both got into Mage Knights on the ground floor.  We used to have our parents take us down to the FLGS to pick up Pokemon cards or used video games, and check out all the cool 40K stuff.  When Mage Knights came out, the store owner was nice enough to set up some demo mini's for people to try the game out with.  That turned out to be a great sales technique and sold us both on the game.  We got one of the Starter Packs and a couple boosters and went back to his house, and his kitchen table, to give our minis a go round.

We played the game through most of the starting editions.  I can't remember exactly when we stopped playing the game, but I think it must have been right around the time that the Polar Ice Dragon came out.  That was a great mini, but I somehow recall that neither Exist, nor I, was at all interested in picking it up.  That was probably when our fun with the game began running out.  But, that wouldn't be the end of the miniatures hobby for either of us.  Around the end of middle school, we both started moving into other hobbies, and other games.  We got into some CCG's and some MMO's, but our miniatures experience continued in our first years of High School when we finally got into Warhammer 40K, the game that we were probably meant to play from the beginning, but never had the guts to try.  Our love for that game goes on.  Next time, I'll talk about our first experience with Warhammer 40K and how I got into that game.

On a very interesting side note, I am informed by the folks on Twitter that Mage Knight's will be making its comeback in board game form sometime in the not so distant future.  That sounds awesome.  I'll probably pick it up out of pure Nostalgia.  I can't wait to see how they interpret the game on a Board Game basis.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

XDMC 26: Create a Racial Feature

I have been a little slow in putting this up, since there has been so much going on here in Japan, but XDMC 26 is now well under way.  It ends this Friday, April 1st, so if you're thinking about putting an entry together for this round of the competition, you best get on that!!  This month's competition is - Create a Racial Feature!!

The topic for this competition is Racial Features. Sometimes a player will approach the DM with a race-based character concept that is consistent with the description of the race, but doesn't have sufficient mechanical support. In times like that, an expert DM can fill in the gaps. You are challenged to create a group of backgrounds, feats, powers, or other mechanics that share a common racial prerequisite and a theme of your choosing.
Required Elements
In order to enter this competition, your entry must fulfill the following required elements:
Name: Name your entry.
Race: Identify the race to which the entry pertains. The race must be currently supported for player characters.
Mechanics: Describe three or more features (such as feats, powers, or backgrounds) for that race.
Theme: Describe the common theme that all of the features share.
If you do not meet each of these required elements, you will receive a score of zero in Themes.
Optional Elements
You must meet at least three of the following optional elements:
Ability: At least one feature uses an Ability score, Ability modifier, and/or a Skill in which the race otherwise receives no benefit or bonus.
Distancing: At least one feature penalizes adjacent allies.
Geographic: All the features relate to a specific geographical or planar location.
Keyword: At least one feature grants a benefit with respect to one or more keywords and a penalty with respect to at least the same number of different keywords.
Language: At least one feature is available to characters of any race who speak a language named after the race identified in the required element called "Race".
Multiracial: At least one feature causes the character to be treated mechanically as a different race in addition to their original race.
Organization: All the features require membership in an organization described in the entry.
Ritual: At least one feature allows the character to cast one or more rituals without the Ritual Caster feat.
Solidarity: At least one feature grants a benefit to allies of the same race.
Swap: At least one feature replaces an existing racial feature.
Transformative: At least one feature changes the character's origin and/or size.
Unrecognizable: At least one feature renders the character's race unrecognizable to, at a minimum, others of its race.
List the optional elements you intend to include. If you do not, the judges will credit you only for the optional elements they happen to notice.
General Rules
Following are some general rules of the Expert DM Competition. The complete list of rules is in the Expert Dungeon Master Competition Group Wiki.
Code of Conduct. All entries must comply with the forum's Code of Conduct.
Contest Duration. Contests usually run for two weeks, beginning with the post announcing the competition. The Coordinator may extend the duration of the contest at his discretion after consulting the other judges for that competition. However, such extensions should be done very rarely.
Edits Made at Entrants' Own Risk. A judge may download your entry any time after it is submitted. So any edits you make might not be considered by a judge. For this reason, you should submit your entry in as complete a form as possible. Use the preview function liberally. Once winners have been announced, entrants may edit their entries.
Images Allowed. If you want to use an image in your entry, you must first post it to your profile gallery.
Multiple Entries Prohibited. Each applicant may only submit one entry during the period in which entries may be submitted. Submitting multiple entries disqualifies all entries. Additional entries may be submitted after the competition closes, but they will not be judged.
Multi-Post Entries Prohibited. Each entry must be contained within a single post. The judges must ignore any subsequent posts.
Outside Links Prohibited. Entries may not include material hosted on a website other than the post on which the entry appears.
Plagiarism and Peer Reviewing Prohibited. All entries must be the original, exclusive work of the applicant. Entries found to be copying the work of another, or that have been posted for review prior to the close of the competition, will be disqualified.
Judges And Schedule
The contest will run from today through Friday, April 1, 2011. All entries must be submitted no later than 12:00 midnight at the end of that day (Eastern Standard Time). The judges of this contest are ChimericPhase, Johnathan_Vagabond, and Pluisjen, and the coordinator of this contest is wrecan. Good luck and have fun!!

Sounds like a lot of fun right? I know, I thought so too.  There aren't any prizes for winning, but people will give you feedback and comments regarding your entry and you get a bunch of forum cred, though I guess they stopped giving out the forum titles a while ago.  Get over to the Wizard's forum and give this one a try!

Warhammer 40,000 Retrospective - 40K Radio Review

I've been very much a fan of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe since I was in Middle School.  My experience with miniatures gaming predates my RPG experience by several years, but I haven't played much since High School.  However, recently, I've been listening to the 40K Radio Podcast and my 40 K memories have come flooding back yet again.

40K Radio is a pretty good podcast in my podcast listening opinion.  I listen to a lot of podcasts (I'm going to start doing some podcast reviews pretty soon) and this is the first 40 K related podcast that I've listened to.  The guys that do the podcast are entertaining and they get into the gritty strategic details of the game in most of their shows.  They also bring in some great interviews with folks like Dan Abnett and Graham McNiell, some of the biggest names that come out of the Black Library.

The show can run really, really long sometimes, but honestly, I don't find that to be a bad thing.  Some folks dislike longer podcasts, but I love them.  As long as what's going on in the podcast is not BS random off topic nonsense, than I'm a very happy puppy.  Some of the 40K Radio Podcasts can be almost 3 hours long, but they don't stray off topic very much - instead they provide very in depth analysis of the 40K Game and Hobby and also manage to talk about the 40K RPG's once in a while (One of their recent podcasts features one of the 40K RPG Producers from Fantasy Flight Games).

If you're not really into 40K then you obviously won't find much in this podcast for you.  The show is fairly specific to the 40K game, especially the miniatures version, so if that isn't really your thing, you might not find much there for you.  However, if you are a current player, or even a former player looking to get back into the hobby and are looking for some news and discussion of the current edition of the game, you can be pretty sure to find a good start with 40K Radio.

Listening to them talk about 40K and some of the new armies that are coming out has gotten me into a very "Warhammer" type of mood, so I thought I'd take some time this week to talk about how I got started in miniatures gaming and how that entrance eventually led me to 40K and now into the 40K Universe RPG's.  I hope you enjoy it.


OO! I'm on a Podcast !! - Gamer Traveler Podcast

A while back, Daniel Perez ( @Highmoon ), got in touch with me on Twitter.  He's a friend of a friend of mine from Stargazer's World and let me know that his significant other was doing her best at learning Japanese and he was interested in getting some tips from someone living in Japan and who had already studied the language (though I am pretty much the last person who should be giving lessons).  After that initial discussion, we talked pretty frequently over twitter and recently, he was nice enough to ask me to come onto his podcast, the Gamer Traveler, to talk to me about being a Gamer in Japan.

The discussion about making the podcast appearance happened a few weeks before the quake hit, but it wasn't until a week or so ago, that we were able to make the podcast happen.  Now, the much anticipated podcast is available for your listening pleasure.  You can hear me talk a bit (actually a lot) about the Japan quake, my experience growing up in a Japanese Museum (one of the reasons why I came to study, work, and make a family here), and my experience so far as a Gamer living in Japan.  Daniel's an awesome guy and he has a great podcast so I hope you all enjoy it.  Please listen to World Gamers: Greg Schuster in Japan!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nevermet's Call for Submission - Stories in the Ether

If you hadn't heard, Nevermet Press is now accepting submissions for their fantasy anthology which will showcase Short and Flash Fiction:

This new anthology will represent a compelling collection of short stories and flash fiction that were first published online in the fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk genres. Stories In The Ether will be published individually through Nevermet Press as a blog series, and later as a collected print, PDF, ePub and audio anthology for fans to enjoy offline or through other means.
Now Accepting Submissions
Starting today we are accepting submissions of short stories (i.e. stories that can be read in one sitting, about 25,000 words or less) and flash fiction (i.e. stories that can be read over a cup of coffee, about 3,000 words or less) for inclusion into the Stories in the Ether blog series and anthology. The published anthology, titled “Stories In The Ether: Volume 1“, will be published in early 2012.

This is a very compelling project and I may already be working on a submission of my own.  Maybe.  Not saying either way.  If you are interested, I encourage you to give them a visit and maybe try your hand at a Submission.   I have added a little banner over to the right in the sidebar where you can find a direct link to their submissions page and the announcement.

OSR - A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming

I have started to delve pretty deeply into Old School Gaming over the last few months, partly in response to the January RPG Blog Carnival, but party just out of my desire to better understand where our wonderful hobby came from.  I tend to get this way about a lot of things; I consider myself as somewhat of a Renaissance Nerd, so not knowing why we are the way we are is a Philosophical Questions which wracks my dice-centric brain.

About a week or two ago I made a post talking about how much I like reading The Underdark Gazette and how much I appreciated his guide to free OSR Resources.  Trying to understand a new game is one thing, but going from D&D 3.0 or 4e to Old School D&D is no easy task; however, he does a great job of collecting tons of OSR knowledge all into one place.

One of the items in his laundry list of OSR related stuff is: A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming - by Matthew J. Finch.  Today, I wanted to do a little review of this PDF, which is free to download and about 13 pages.  If you haven't checked it out yet, i'd navigate over to the Primer using the link above, download, and then read this post as I go over what I really liked about the Primer.

OK.  Did you finish downloading it yet?  Good.  Let's begin.

First of all, I'd like to say that I think that this primer provided a great, brief overview of what Old School Gaming is all about.  It certainly seems to be well accepted by the OSR community, so, if you're trying to understand Old School Gaming, it seems like it is actually a fairly reliable source of information.  I feel kind of like a college student borrowing a friends test to study... if his answers are right, I'm going to be very well prepared, but if they're wrong, I'm going to be even worse off.  Well, I've looked around the web a bit and all of the points he makes in this Primer seem to be pretty true wherever I look.  So, what exactly are the points that he makes?

Well - he divides his primer into four different Zen Moments which indicate major differences between D&D in 3.x/4e and Old School Games like 0e and 1e.  The Four Moments are:  1) Rulings, Not Rules 2) Player Skill, Not Character Abilities 3) Heroic, Not Superhero  4) Forget Game Balance. Rather than debate whether or not these are accurate, or argue about whether or not I think OSR is better than new editions, etc.  I want to take some time to talk about how I think I can, or cannot, transition from being a New School DM into an Old School DM.

I really think that his first Zen moment is fairly easy to transition into from 3x/4e.  I find myself doing this most of the time right now anyway to be honest.  Most of the time, this is out of laziness really - I dislike having to thumb through rulebooks and break up a game session in order to understand how to do things.  I usually just make a ruling on something and then later do a little research to see how accurate my ruling was up against some established criteria or rule.  I usually ban rules discussion at the table and try to keep my players from learning the rules too heavily.  So, I think transitioning into a rules light, rulings heavy game might not be so bad.

His second Zen Moment of gaming is a bit more difficult, but on a weird situation based level.  I think that some groups my be much better at transitioning into a Player Skill mindset more easily than others.  It might be just me, but I would imagine that some players who are new to the hobby might have a hard time with this, mainly because they aren't skilled.  I don't want to say that old school gaming isn't for stupid people, but I have friends who have played genius rogues that didn't graduate from high school.  I worry that some of these type of players would just be ill suited for Old School Gaming.

I want my fantasy character to be on a Superheroic level - but that is really just my personal taste.  I think this is the point of old school gaming that I have the most problems with.  I want my characters and creatures to do just crazy-insane-insane-crazy stuff in my games.  So, I feel like I might have some issues transitioning into a much lower power level game.

I think forgetting game balance is something I could do with a bit more.  As a GM I feel like it could be pretty nice to take a nice little break from careful encounter balancing and let things go the way things go.  Bust out some Random Encounter Tables and just see what happens...

So.  Basically, that is where I am at in my OSR head-space.  I continue to be very interested in getting into this style of play and I'll be looking for some OSR games next time I head to a con.  I might even try to convince my wife to use that Red Box I picked up over Xmas and play a few games.

Casting for Akira Leads to White Washing... and Old Washing...

I've been a big fan of the Akira anime since I was a kid.  It was one of the first anime I ever watched and It has been a film that I have constantly revisited over the last decade.  I own some of the 6 Volume Manga for which the series was based (in Japanese) and I have been looking forward to Warner Brothers and their film adaptation of the anime for quite a while now.  But, where are they going with this?

On the blog, Racebending, I saw today that they had announced a "short list of actors for the film and well, they are all white...

From his blog -
For the role of Tetsuo: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy.
For the role of Kaneda: Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.

GOOD GOD!!!  NOOO!!! I'm not so firmly entrenched in my Akira ways to say that only Asian actors should be playing these roles, but honestly, if they are going to keep the names the same, for GOD'S SAKE PLEASE CAST SOME JAPANESE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!  If they want to change the names, just like they are going to change the setting (from neo-Tokyo to neo-Manhattan) then fine.  I'll live with white actors being cast in the lead roles under that set of circumstances.  But, the above is just wrong on so many levels.

The Characters in Akira are high school age.  Akira is a coming of age film in many respects and having a bunch of middle-aged actors vying for these lead roles seems ridiculous to me.  As much as I AM NOT a fan of all the Justin Bieber types, he would be a waaaayyyyy better choice than freaking Justin Timberlake for the movie.  Of all the people above, I could really only see James McAvoy and Chris Pine as suited for the roles; they are the closet to the right age, and James McAvoy can do pretty good dramatic stuff, especially in war stories (which Akira pretty much is).  I could also see Chris Pine sporting the Red Leather Jacket, jumping on his Red Superbike and then fighting Tetsuo in the climax with a massive laser cannon.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Update - The Situation in Japan

So, as I think a lot of you know from some earlier posts of mine last week, and from following me on Twitter, I live in Japan, and as I know you all are aware, Japan has been recently devastated by a massive 9.0 Earthquake and accompanying tsunamis. I wanted to take some time right now to talk about the situation in Japan and the latest updates on our situation.

Just so you have a little bit of information on my perspective on things, I thought I should talk a bit about where I live and how I have been taking this all in. I am an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). I live in Yamanashi Japan, which is in the Mountains, west of Tokyo and north of Mt. Fuji. The Earthquake hit in Northern Japan, near Miyagi prefecture; I am hundreds of miles away from where the worst of this hit, but I was not unaffected. We felt the quake here in Yamanashi – I was at the Train Station when it hit and it tossed me off my feet (and almost onto the train tracks). It was exponentially larger than the most intense quake I’ve felt until now.

But, the quake’s direct shaking was not the primary cause of the huge disaster here in Japan. Japan has some of the most advanced earthquake readiness plans. Many of the buildings here in Japan are actually built on large balls, which allows them to move with an earthquake, thus preventing them from collapsing, but even Japan is not immune or capable of defending against a tsunami the likes of which hit Miyagi-ken. The Tsunami measured nearly 50 feet in some areas; in some locations there was only about 5 minutes of warning between the time of the quake and the tsunami.

Although the first day that the quake hit, reports showed that about 200 or so had been confirmed dead, now, the death toll has reached almost 10,000. There are still another 10,000-15,000 reported missing; the number of people who have been displaced because of the quake and Tsunami is now reaching almost half a million (around 460,000 is the most current number). People have been relocated from Miyagi-ken as far south as Saitama, not far from my wife’s home, to the Saitama Convention Center.

My family has been very lucky through all of this. As of now, I don’t believe that my wife’s family suffered any losses, though many of her relatives live in Miyagi prefecture near Sendai. However, other people I know were not so lucky. One ALT, who I met a couple of years ago has been missing since the time of the Quake, and is believed to have passed away in the Tsunami. Another friend of mine, who used to work in the area, teaching English at both Elementary and Middle Schools, told me yesterday that about half of his former students perished in the Tsunami. His girlfriend’s family home was destroyed, as was her work, and many of her students were lost as well.

This is a huge tragedy, the likes of which the world has not seen in a long, long time. Though the worst might be over, Japan is still very much having trouble. There are massive gasoline shortages and rationing on gasoline is limiting people’s mobility within the country. Last weekend, while in Tokyo, we observed lines some miles long trying to get into open gas stations. All last week, food was very scarce. For the first time, I saw supermarkets and malls which had been almost completely cleaned out on virtually any food items with preservatives. In my area, Yamanashi, we weren’t affected quite as badly, but even yesterday, we still are having shortages on many items and my fellow teachers tell me that gasoline shortages are still very much a problem.

Probably the biggest problem now is the Nuclear power plant in Fukushima. The tsunami hit the power plant at about 15 meters tall; it wrecked the plant and since then, the plant’s situation has been very much in question. Several explosions and the leakage of radioactive material were observed – some of this radioactive material has been detected even in Tokyo and where I live in the mountains (though the measurements of this material are virtually nothing and are no threat to humans). Still, now that the Fukushima plant has been updated to a Level 5 Nuclear Disaster, until the plant is completely brought under control, people in Japan will continue to tensely await any news regarding the situation there. Many governments are evacuating their citizens here, including America and the UK; these evacuations are spreading a great deal of panic and unease here, which is certainly not helping the situation at all.

So, if you want to help, find somewhere accepting donations and give your money to help people here. RPGNow has a donation service, as do several of the publishers on the site. I have a link to one of those, by Highmoon Games, here on the right on my blog. You can also simply donate to the Red Cross via their direct site. Please help the people of Japan. They still really need you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Relief Event, March 17th, Meltdown Comics

Please see the flyer below and check out WE <3 Japan -

2 Year Anniversary... Completely Missed It!

WoW with all that is going on here in Japan right now and at work I totally forgot the fact that the Dump Stat has officially turned 2 years old.  My first post on this blog was on March 6th of 2009.  Have definitely come a long way since then.  Thanks everyone for reading and commenting.  Going to keep making this site better in the years ahead.  Lots of Love everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post about The RPG Blogger Community @ Tossing it Out

I was recently contacted by Arlee, the writer of the Blog Tossing It Out, the host for the A to Z Blogging Challenge.  He let me know that there were a lot of folks from the RPG Blogger Community which have been showing up for the challenge this year, I being among them.  He let me know that there was a spot open on his blog and was wondering if I would put together a little blog post about my experiences in gaming, but also, about the RPG Blogger community and our world.  I jumped at the chance and was happy to do it.  So, today, If you go over and check out Arlee's blog, Tossing it Out, you will find my Guest Post: Intro to the RPG Blogger Community.  I hope I did a good job representing as much of our community as possible.  I tried to keep it universal.  If you have something you'd like to add, I urge you to comment on the post and throw in your 2 cents.   Thanks everyone who provided me with some ideas for the post and helped me put it together.  Hopefully, this might bring some new readers and a new audience to our community of gamers.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ronin -Japan Relief Edition from Highmoon Games at RPG Now

Most of you should know now had bad thing are here in Japan.  We got hit by a massive earthquake, tsunami, and are still in a state of chaos around the country.  I happen to be in one of the safest areas in Japan and have not been directly impacted by the Earthquake for the most part.  I'm fine and my family is fine, but a lot of people here are suffering.  I know that this comes right on the tails of the New Zealand Earthquake disaster, but any aid you can manage is appreciated.  To that effect, the RPG community is organizing again...

Highmoon games was nice enough to put together a relief pack which contains Ronin; Oriental Adventures, the RPG set in Tokogawa era Japan.  It uses the 3.5 Edition rules of the world's most popular roleplaying game.  It also contains a full playtest of Ronin for Pathfinder and is Pathfinder compatible.  You'll also get a 30% off coupon for Geeky Clean with the pack.  I urge you to go over and donate to this cause.  Highmoon games was nice enough to send me one of these.  Thank you very much.  I definitely don't need aid myself, but having Japanese RPG's to read right now is definitely taking my mind off of all the chaos.  I'll put together a longer post retelling a lot of what happened later, but for now, please help the cause.  Japan needs you.

L5R Spotlight - Full Review @ Stargazer's World

The timing of this post is pretty ridiculous, considering that Japan is pertty much falling apart around me, but time to continue my review of L5R.  I'm not sure if I'm done with my L5R spotlight because I have a lot that I still want to talk about regarding the system, the setting, and the 4th Edition Core book in general, but I am at the point where I have put out my Full Review of the Game.  You can read that review over at Stargazer's World.  To put it briefly, aside from a few criticisms I really, really liked the book and this iteration of the game in general.  Check out my Full Review!

Gaming with Chopsticks #2 - Why I'll Never Tire of Sequels

My latest article in my "Gaming with Chopsticks" series has been published over at Eye of the Vortex.  This time I talk about the overwhelming quantity of video game sequels that are filling our game store shelves, but at the same time, I try to find the golden lining.  Read:  Gaming with Chopsticks - Why I'll Never Tire of Sequels at Eye of the Vortex. 

Where the Hell Are We? - Fallout 3, One Page Dungeons, Sandbox World Design

Yesterday, in my post regarding the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011, I mentioned the fact that to me, One Page Dungeons can be used for a very important purpose – filling a sandbox world. Now, I guess I should probably elaborate a little bit regarding my thinking on that.

I should preface all of this by saying that recently I have been playing a LOT of Fallout 3. I never played Fallout 1 or 2 (though I’m planning on getting them on my netbook, since they are playable with very little software requirements), but I am sure that they were great. Fallout 3 is probably one of my favorite games that I have never had enough time to play. I bought it when I picked up my PS3 a couple years back, but because of school, family, and other stuff, never had a chance to play it very much. This last week, I beat the living crap out of Bioshock 2 in a couple days and picked up Fallout 3 to play again. A couple hundred hours later, I’m almost done with the campaign, but have yet to explore the entire world, or even touch the downloadable content. I will touch it though. Trust me. It will be touched. New Vegas will also be touched… a lot.

So, I really like Fallout. It’s a lot of fun. Why do I like it? The reason I love the game and love the world is because it is huge and there are just so many interesting places to explore. This sandbox works, and it works very, very well.

The reason I find this world interesting is because it is literally filled to the brim with random, almost totally non-consequential locations which may or may not add anything to the story of the game, but do add a great deal to the atmosphere of the universe. In real terms, if you go walking around the Fallout 3 wastelands, you will find dozens of random spots to explore. Some of these locations may have something to do with a major quest line, but others, they really have little to do with anything.

In an RPG sense, a lot of us try and build those huge campaign settings filled to the brim with cool spots to explore. I just finished doing a series on World Building over at Stargazer’s World so this whole campaign setting construction mindset is still very much stuck in my head. One of the things that has always daunted me is the level of detail you have to go into with a world in order to really get the feeling that you get out of Fallout 3. But, if you take a bit more random approach to it, you can easily flesh out your world with random locations for your players to explore.

Take for example some of the random unimportant vaults that you find in the Fallout 3 world. These Vaults are really nothing more than little dungeons. Some of them might have a few monsters in them, but more often then not, they just have some interesting quirk to enjoy and a lot of random loot to plunder.

Now, switch over to the Pen and Paper RPG Mindset. Go grab some One Page Dungeons. Next time your players are traveling from one major location in your world to another major location, roll some dice, and figure out if perhaps they come across a location of note; now, grab one of those One Page Dungeons and describe what it looks like from the outside. How did they find this location? Does it stand out visually? Now, give your players the option of taking a break and exploring it. For a totally minor location, try to keep things down to one or two encounters, nothing more than a single sessions.

Now, the above is a good idea, but I think an equally good idea is to grasp one of the most interesting elements of Fallout 3 which I think is represented extremely well in the comic below.

Your players are probably pretty strong. At level 1, maybe this isn’t quite as true, but chances are once your players get to level 4 or 5, there are going to be enough lower level, completely powerless (in comparison to your players) creatures out there that your players can completely massacre very, very quickly. If you’re going to have some interesting, random locations in your world, don’t be afraid to scale down the power level and make the encounters appropriate to the people living near the location, rather than the heroic players who happen to stumble across it. Let your players run wild with that. Let them go through the dungeon in less than an hour and wipe out all the goblins who inhabit the subterranean ruins. Then, when your players end up in town the next day, they can say that they purged the local threat without breaking a sweat and now the helpless farmers and housewives have something to thank your heroes for. Good stuff. Everybody’s happy.

You could flip this situation and have the encounters be brutally hard, but hard encounters, that your players don’t have a chance of completing, can be a problem for locations like this because you run the risk of derailing the campaign over nothing. If you have them look into some minor location, but fill that location with equal level, or higher level challenges, you are probably going to be spending several game sessions getting through it (unless you just have one solo creature of moderately high level).

So, go download some of 2009 or 2010’s One Page Dungeons and put yourself together a little book of random locations.  If you can, try to throw some random locations in there that actually don't have encounters.  Those can be just as, or even more, rewarding than combat locales.  When you’re players are travelling, pull out a dungeon appropriate to the area and go from there. You won’t be disappointed if your players decide not to explore the location, but they might just have a really good time doing something that both you, and they, had never thought about doing.

One Step Closer to Understanding Old School Gaming - Thank You Underdark Gazette

What you may not have realized is that all this Hot Elf Chick stuff happening on the RPGBN has actually helped and "welcomed" me into old school gaming quite a bit.  James over at the Underdark Gazette, sparked the whole Hot Elf Chick craze with his post here, but in that post, he actually provided some great links to some cool stuff, which I am going to repost here as well (I would imagine that a lot of my readers aren't familiar with these, so, I hope that is all right).

I'm really new to old school D&D, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to know and learn more about it.  But, the links above aren't nearly as comprehensive as all the other stuff James has over at the Underdark Gazette.  He also offers a great Guide to Free OSR Resources, which collects a significant amount of old school gaming related content all into one place.  This is now bookmarked for me and I'll be revisiting it in the future.  If I could give a "Old School Gaming Guide" award to somebody out there, I would be giving it to him!  Thanks so much for being such a great OSR Guide James!  Keep it up!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 Begins, Ends April 1st

Well, If you weren't aware, the One Page Dungeon Contest 2011 has begun.  The Contest starts now and will go until April 1st.  If you haven't seen any of the entries for the last couple of years, you're missing out.  I almost tried to put together one for the contest in 2009, but getting married kind of rained on my One Page Dungeon parade.  Then, in 2010, having my son squashed any chance of trying for that one too.  But, this time around, I will not be defeated.  I am determined to give this one a try. These One Page Dungeons fill the role of something I've been looking for in RPG's for a long time - the cool random places that you find in an open world.  I could totally see myself filling a sandbox world with many of these locations.  Would you do the same?  Have you run one of the past dungeons?  What was your experience?  How did you do it??

If you actually need to be incentivized by prizes rather than by just the joy of entering and having fun in a contest like this, you might want to take a look at the loot list.  It's pretty crazy long.

Hot Zombie Chicks welcome you to the OSNSR (NSFW?? kinda...)

So... Elf Chicks are cool too, but since I did that post on Zombies this week, guess I have a little bit of a one-track mind.  So, hot Zombie Chicks welcome you to the RPG Bloggers Network -

It's remarkable to me how fast this trend kicked in and what an impact it has had on google image search.  Type in Hot Elf Chicks now and you get the pictures of some of the bloggers posting pics of Hot Elf Girls...  hate to say it folks, but those pics are not of Hot Elf Chicks.

I'd just like to say, let's use our power for good here folks.  Whether you be a Hot Elf Chick, a Hot Drow Chick, or a Hot Zombie Chick, we're all nerds and we all play RPG's, so welcome to polyhedral paradise.

I propose we make a new organization, the Old School New School Reunion (OSNSR)- bringing old school gamers and new school gamers together in perfect polyhedral harmony.  We have been divided for too long and it's starting to suck.  Remember, the Civil War was the bloodiest war in American History and was the war that the most Americans died in!  Edition wars are stupid - let's all be friends and enjoy our nerdiness together. Are you with me folks?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A New Author Approaches - Obidancer Joins the Dump Stat

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you all know that we have a new author here on The Dump Stat.  Obidancer, a player in my current Shadowrun Play by Post game, has graciously accepted an invitation I sent him to join the site as an author and artist.  We can all expect some interesting stuff coming from him in the future.  If you hadn't noticed, I have been posting his artwork up here on the blog over the last few weeks; I'm a pretty big fan, so I'm really glad to be bringing him on board.

In addition to being a fantastic Digital Artist, Obidancer is also a big fan of the Star Wars RPG, something which I have actually never even touched. So, hopefully, we'll be hearing some interesting tales of the Star Wars RPG in the future too!  Hope everyone enjoys his artwork and RPG commentary.

More Shadowrun Campaign Art by Obidancer Pt.2

So, more campaign art up today.  Pretty cool images this time around.  This round is all contacts and such, so very cool.  You can check out all of his other artwork at his home page!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fightfest: Supernatural Zombies vs. Biological Zombies

Recently, I have been on a very Zombie minded train of thought. I’m not exactly sure what brought this all on, but the combination of listening to lots of old episodes of The Drunk Tank (the podcast by the Rooster Teeth guys) where the subject of Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising come up repeatedly, and me watching the anime High School of the Dead, has got to have something to do with it.

So, my mind has wandered onto some very interesting subjects; chief among these is the two-fold variation of the zombie in popular culture. Zombies have always been an integral part of D&D and RPG’s in general, so I think this subject is highly relevant to our collective interests. The variation I speak of here is this: supernatural or biological. If you put these two types of zombies into a boxing ring, who would come out the victor… I wonder.

So, in the red corner, we have the Supernatural Zombie. This one is the classic. Whether raised by black magic, or through a twisted ritual of the Necronomicon, the Supernatural Zombie has the power of pure evil on its side. In Fantasy RPG’s, the Supernatural Zombie has been the enemy of more adventuring parties than I can imagine. With their incredibly low level, they make great enemies for most early adventuring parties. They make great enemies to throw into a dungeon and with some skeletons on their side, they can make for a great undead encounter. If you haven’t seen films like “The Evil Dead”, or “Night of the Living Dead”… I’m not even going to finish that sentence; you have seen these movies and you know your supernatural, flesh-eating, undead friends.

In the blue corner, we have the Biological Zombie. Biological Zombies are a bit different in terms of their origin stories, but the flesh-eating fun remains the same. We see a lot more Biological Zombies in TV and movies now than we did 50 years ago. The Biological Zombie has been created through some type of horrible virus or man-made apocalypse. The Biological Zombie is quite the nasty little threat. We have seen in “Resident Evil”, “Shaun of the Dead”, and “Zombieland” (by no means an exhaustive, or necessarily even best of list of biological zombie films – these are just some of my favorites) that the Biological Zombie spreads its “undead plague” through the world when they bite. If you get bitten, don’t count on staying as part of the living.

So, who wins? Enter Zombie Pin-Up girl to declare that round 1 begins!  -  FIGHT!!!

Unfortunately, the fight quickly becomes a stalemate since neither side recognizes the other. The lack of living flesh and brains has resulted in both the Supernatural Zombie and the Biological Zombie ignoring each-other and turning against the audience!! AAAH!!!

Really, I’m not sure which zombie is stronger, but I know I’m a lot more afraid of the Biological Zombie in the real world; but, in my D&D game I am definitely not looking forward to fighting any necromancers and their zombie hoards – those zombies always dull my dwarven battle axe.

But, a 3rd Challenger enters the ring… the biological/supernatural zombie. Raised through a supernatural plague, Bio-Evil Zombies have the power of black magic on their side and spread their biological sickness just as fast. Nothing worse than a Bio-Evil Zombie plague (check these Zombies out in Brother Ptolemy & The Hidden Kingdom by Nevermet Press).

Fightfest one is over. The fight is a draw. Sorry folks, stay tuned for match two wear we dangle a living human over the zombies and see if we can’t get some unlife out of them.

L5R Spotlight - System

L5R uses a very simple system for most situation in the game. The Roll and Keep system, as used in L5R, requires the player to roll a number of ten sided die, and keep a certain number of those die rolls; the total of all of the “kept” dice is added together and then compared to a Target Number (TN). If the total of all the kept ice meets or beats the TN, then the roll succeeds. This system is used for everything in the game, including attacks, skill rolls, damage, spells, etc. It is a very easy system to understand and is also very simple to use. You always know exactly what die you’re rolling, since you only need d10’s to play the game.

One of the other awesome things about the system is that all dice “explode”. Whenever you roll a 10 on a die, you roll the die again and add the next result as well. L5R is one system, among many, that uses exploding dice and I really like most all of them. Exploding dice certainly adds a lot of excitement to the game and means that virtually any character can do anything. With the right amount of luck, even the lowliest commoner can bring down the greatest samurai (well, you might need a LOT of luck for that actually).

In my last post in this L5R spotlight, I showed one of the characters that I made for a theoretical game. If I ever get a chance to play L5R, I will definitely be interested in using a couple of the characters that I have rolled up. The Character creation system is pretty simple, so I’ll walk you through the basics.

L5R is a quasi class based game. Although your character class isn’t as strict and confining as it would be in games such as D&D 4e, you do have a pretty clear cut idea of what your role is based on the “class” you’re taking. Of course, they don’t really refer to them as classes, but Bushi, Courtier, Shugenja, Ninja, and Monk are pretty much classes in L5R.

After you pick your class, you next pick your clan/family/school. This combination determines your character’s basic starting package and gives you a bunch of mechanical powers all at once; in addition, your clan/family/school combination gives you some awesome fluffy background to help start generating a story for your character. I think that this combination is really great. A Crab clan Bushi does not feel the same as a Lion Clan Bushi from a fluff or mechanic perspective. In fact, playing as a Bushi from the same clan, but from a different school, can also be a very different experience from both a story and game point of view.

After you pick your starting package, the rest of character generation is based on a point buy system where you can pick a number of attributes, skills, spells, advantages, and disadvantages (which refund points back to you). The disadvantages and advantages in particular stand out as giving your character a lot of story – the mechanics and fluff here are very heavily bonded. Some advantage/disadvantages give you point discounts (bonuses in the case of disadvantages) which make a particular mechanic more appealing to take based on what type of character you are playing. For example, Crab clan Bushi can be “Large” more easily than other character.

The game system and the character system in this game combine to make for a very easy game to handle. Though the game could be called “rules heavy” it doesn’t really feel so cumbersome. Give the system a try and you’ll probably feel the same way.