Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Holmes, Strike Force, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Red Box, and Advanced Melee

Dungeon Mastering (Havard’s Blackmoor Blog) Quotes by Arneson, Gygax and Barker — “The worthy GM never purposely kills players’ PCs. He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own.”

Dungeon Design (Semper Initiativus Unam) World Building: The Look and Feel — “It’s a Holmes thing I guess – sticking that city under the dungeon is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, an explorable high-level ruined metropolis.”

Rest In Peace (Jeff’s Gameblog) Aaron Allston’s Strike Force — “In short, at the time Strike Force came out Aaron Allston was the most forward thinking mind in the hobby.  I can count on one hand the number of RPG authors I consider as on-the-ball as him.”

Campaign Settings (Tenkar’s Tavern) Why Greyhawk is “Better” than the Forgotten Realms — “The more canon one has built into a setting, the more restricted the paths of the players and the greater the chance they will be overshadowed by the setting’s named NPCs. Also, the more canon there is built into a setting, the greater the chance the players will know more than the DM about the setting, and that can never lead to a good ending. Going off the ‘canon tracks’ can lead to push back.”

Game Mastering (Dungeon Fantastic) Greyhawk vs. the Forgotten Realms – my play experience — “I’d hear with amusement about Drzzt and Blackstaff and Elminster in the books, but they mattered to me as much as stories about Gord and Mordenkainen and Tenser did in Greyhawk – not at all. They were just other people’s war stories, nothing more, and they were superseded by things that had already happened in my own gaming there. No new canon made what I did wrong, but not the other way around.”

Copyrights Matter (Game On) Why did David A. Trampier disappear from the gaming industry?  — “Part of the falling out Trampier had (and this is fairly common info so I’m not trying to lord anything over) came from the fact that he wanted to self-publish Wormy compilations. TSR said no, that they belonged to them; he essentially sold each strip to TSR/Dragon Magazine. So his last effort regarding Wormy involved selling ‘shares’ of profits of a future Wormy compilation to fans and then using that money to hire a lawyer and take TSR to court. He lost, case closed. IIRC he repaid most if not all ‘investors’ over a short period of time, tho.”

COIN Series (Board Game Geek) Fire in the Lake Forums — “In the world of wargames, the bees don’t get much busier or louder than this.”

Total Party Kill (Blog of Holding) WTF, Mentzer Red Box fighter? — “OK, so you might beat the dragon. If you have 18 Str, Con, and Dex; a +3 magic sword; you make your saving throw vs breath weapon; and you never miss an attack over five rounds. AND IF YOU’RE LEVEL 11. In which case… what are you doing on the D&D box for characters level 1-3?”

The Fantasy Trip (A Paladin in Citadel) Old School Illustrations: Advanced Melee —  “The Advanced Melee rulebook included only a handful of illustrations, all in black and white, drawn exclusively by Robert Phillips.  His Advanced Melee illustrations had a strong sword & sorcery flavour, in contrast to the later, second generation, colorized heroic fantasy artwork that would be introduced to role-playing games by such artists as Elmore, Parkinson, Easley and Caldwell.”

Game Design (Board Game Geek) BGG Wargame Designer of the Month: Jim Krohn — “Adding rules, in my opinion, is lazy designing. It is obviously unavoidable at times, but I would rather try to come up with a simple system than to keep adding rules.”

Game Design (Lewis Pulsipher) How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish — “Reality is too complicated to comprehend in a game. Game Design requires idealism, the ability to pick out what’s important and depict that rather than try to depict all of a situation.”

Dungeon Mastering (Google+) Greg Christopher originally shared — “The encounter roll that randomly gives you a reaction from NPCs/Monsters encountered in the dungeon is not just some ‘well, we don’t feel like writing content so just randomly decide how they feel’, but a way to let the Dungeon Master kind of read the tea leaves and build implied story. These orcs are friendly…. why? Make up something on the spot for that….. maybe they are here looking for something and trying to avoid combat, maybe they are running away from something, etc. It becomes a fresh, unexpected thing. It’s not an accident. It’s not bad design.”

Dungeon Design (Hack & Slash) On a Megadungeon Checklist –“Each zone of the megadungeon is themed. Make sure you have all of these levels!”

3 responses to “Blog Watch: Holmes, Strike Force, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, Red Box, and Advanced Melee

  1. Radpert April 20, 2014 at 11:46 am

    In my experience setting canon is something fanboy DMs bring to the gaming table and the players ignore, because they are there to glorify themselves or their characters. I’m a rules lawyer, though, so it sucks when I try to metagame the conflict between devils & demons and the DM doesn’t know the difference. To complete my segue into game canon, I believe Third Edition introduced the concept of negative energy such as a Cause Light Wounds spell healing undead, but I think there was such a houserule in older editions. What do you think, and what’s with the vole?

    • jeffro April 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      With regards to Cause Light Wounds, I think causing it to heal undead goes a bit too far. (See also, “foolish consistency.”)

      Also… the “vole” is an o’possum my son randomly encountered in its lair. It can happen! Though he was probably moving a searching rates and not at the typical march movement.

      • Radpert April 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        At one point I had a necromancer who used her skills as an undertaker to make her undead minions as convincingly lifelike as possible, but eventually I succumbed to the gross extension of everything in Third Edition to ridiculous levels. I had forgotten that it wasn’t even a thing when I commented on, but I do think they should be allowed to patch up a favored fiend, perhaps with another casting of Animate Dead.

        I’ve been reading the rules to Labyrinth Lord, and that’s what prompted me to look at my AD&D Players Handbook and discover that what I “knew” about Cause Light Wounds isn’t in there. Back in the day, of course, you would just have to wing it if you wanted to play a bad guy.

        [Jeffro: While I don’t go in for a lot of fancy custom classes, I do think the necromancer types are better served with a totally new class rather than having them hack existing classes and spells.]

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