Thursday, July 21, 2011

A September of Short Adventures: Game on!

I'm taking the plunge! I signed up for A September of Short Adventures, which was a challenge issued to the OSR blogosphere a few days ago by Matt over at Asshat Paladins.

So, starting on Friday, September 2, I'm planning to post 25 bare-bones scenarios for old-school fantasy role-playing games, one a day except on Thursdays. Since I've never been an unending fount of creative gaming ideas, I'm going to work out some randomization aids to help spur my creativity. In fact, I think developing those tools may be half of the fun of this project! Still, the final scenarios won't just be the haphazard results of die rolls or my computer's random number generators... I'm also looking forward to gelling the ingredients into interesting situations for players and DMs!

I'll post more later about methods, unifying themes (if any), and the game system(s) that I'll be writing the posts to be compatible with.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thorin Oakenshield

I just wanted to post a picture from the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of the The Hobbit. It's actually from the back cover of the illustrated book based on the animated version. (Note: amazon's "look inside" feature points to the original novel.) I was never sure what Thorin was supposed to be doing in this picture, but I couldn't find it anywhere else on the web, so why not give it a digital home...?
Much cyber-ink has been spilled over the last day or two over Thorin's appearance in the new Peter Jackson version of The Hobbit. I can't say I'm in love with the Gowron look, but his voice has to be better than that of Wrong-Way Feldman. :-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day of the Dwarf: A Retrospective

I'm not sure why, but today I thought about the short story "The Day of the Dwarf," by Roger Moore, from Dragon #42 (October 1980). A copy of the story was transcribed on the WOTC website here, but I think I saw a few typos; find the original if you can. This story had a big impact on me back in the day, and upon rereading it I noticed a few noteworthy things...

First, as brief as it was, it was the first narrative example of high-level "domain game" play that I was exposed to. This was clearly free-wheeling OD&D back in the day of experience levels exceeding 20th, or 30th! They had henchdragons, artifacts, superpowers inspired by both Marvel and DC, and Melnibonean swords. And they lived up in the sky on the "Battlecloud Galactica!"

Second, it showed that player characters were often highly portable from campaign to campaign. I don't know if that's notably an "old school" phenomenon that's no longer so widespread, but it shows a level of trust between players and DMs that I suspect has diminished in the community.

Third, the "big reveal" at the end of the story (which I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't read it) was something that I should have picked up on, but didn't. When I read "dwarf" in a D&D context, my mind went right to the Tolkienesqe archetype, but those aren't the only ones!

Fourth, the story showed male and female players at the same table. To 13-year-old me in 1980, that was a mind blowing idea!  :-)  As fate would have it, I was only a year and a half from beginning a long-term AD&D campaign that would involve me DMing a group that included several college-age girls, but that's another story....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New PDF: Travel Guide to Neverness

As promised in a post back in May, I've finished my so-called "Neverness FAQ." This is a 10-page guide to David Zindell's fictional universe from the Neverness stories published between 1985 and 1998. I hope it's useful as a spoiler-free way to introduce new readers to the awesome, but possibly bewildering, array of ideas that come pouring out of the pages when one picks up one of these books. The PDF is on Google Docs, which you can link to directly HERE or by clicking the cover image below:

The four main parts of the document are:
  1. The Geography of Neverness (island and city)
  2. The Calendar of Neverness
  3. The Professions of the Order (not all 118 of them, alas, but all 30 or so that were described in the books)
  4. Glossary of Miscellaneous Neologisms
This document may even contain enough inspirational detail to serve as a bare-bones setting guide for a GM running a science fiction RPG like Traveller or Stars Without Number. If anyone decides to give that a whirl, I'd be curious how it turns out.

I should also clarify, as it does in the document, that my FAQ is a not-for-profit, non-commercial fan work that mentions characters, names, and concepts from the original stories in ways that are believed to reside within the bounds of fair use. "Shanidar," Neverness, The Broken God, The Wild, and War in Heaven remain fully copyrighted by their author, David Zindell. No challenge or claim to the ownership of this or any other copyright or trademark is intended or implied.