Browsing articles from "May, 2011"

Up yours, Google.

May 31, 2011
Mark

I love Google. I really do. I really hate some of the assumptions they make… Take commenting on a Blogger blog with a Google ID:

I'm going to comment....

Then you get crap like this:

Huh? Sorry, no, don't need a blog

Like many, I don’t need 417 different identities I need to track. I certainly don’t need another blog when all I want to do is comment on yours. So I wanted to comment but failed. Such is life. I don’t need another identity, yet another blog.


Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book Cover Contest

May 29, 2011
Mark

Introduction

I’m proud of my Labyrinth Lord Treasure Book Utility. Based on the feedback I’ve gotten directly and indirectly, others have found it useful as well. Both the online generator and nightly generated books have found an audience.

The contents are fine but it needs an identity. Such an identity can only come from artwork. So, I have decided to hold an open artwork contest for art to adorn the free utility as cover art. I do not require exclusive license to the artwork, just the right to reproduce it on demand on the cover of the treasure book. The artist is free to use the work for other purposes. Artist will be credited within the book including contact information, website info, etc.

Contest Details

Entries are for artwork to adorn the cover of the book but need not be a full cover. Full covers including title, artwork and layout are encouraged but not required.

The Prize Pool

  • 1st: Prize: $100.00 (USD)
  • 2nd Prize: $50.00
  • 3rd Prize: $25.00

Prizes will be paid either through PayPal, via gift certificate at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow or via gift card at Amazon.com. The winners must select a preferred payment upon notification of a prize.

Entries & Judging

Entries must be posted to on the Goblinoid Games forums by June 30, 2011. All members of the Goblinoid Games’ forums can vote for up to three entries. Voting ends July 8th, 2011.

I will down select from the top five entries, based on forum votes, and announce the prize winners the week of July 10th, 2011. Winners will be notified via private message on the forum site to coordinate payout.

Questions?

Post them on the Goblinoid Games forum thread.


Raw Data: Fantasy Occupations

May 27, 2011
Mark
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While working on a software project, I needed a decent list of occupations for non-player characters in a fantasy setting. After searching around, I discovered most of the lists available are relatively sparse. Most are quite focused on playable options rather than common careers. Other lists are condensed with only gross categories.

Finally, I just set about combining a variety of sources. The raw list contains over 200 occupations. The list contains numerous synonyms for the the same job. The list also contains a number of titles and fantasy rpg class names.

Before I consolidate it for my needs, I decided to publish the unedited list to save others the same work. Here’s a sampling of the data. The raw file and table differ slightly.

Raw Fantasy/Medieval Occupations and Titles
Actor
Advocate
Alchemist
Animal Handler
Apothecary
Architect
Archer
Aristocrat
Armorer
Artisan
Artist
Astrologer
Baker
Banker
Barbarian
Barber
Bard
Barkeep
Barmaid
Beekeeper
Beer Seller
Beggar
Blacksmith
Boatman
Boatswain
Bookbinder
Bookseller
Bowman
Bowyer
Brewer
Brothel Keeper
Buckle Maker
Builder
Butcher
Caravan Leader
Carpenter
Cartographer
Chandler
Charioteer
Chatelaine
Chef
Chieftain
Chirurgeon
Clergy
Clerk
Clock Maker
Cloth Worker
Commander
Concubine
Cook
Cooper
Copyist
Counselor
Courtesan
Courtier
Cowherd
Crossbowman
Cutler
Daimyo
Dairymaid
Diplomat
Distiller
Diver
Diviner
Domestic Servant
Emperor/Empress
Eunuch
Explorer
Farmer
Fighter
Fisherman
Fishmonger
Fletcher
Footman
Forester
Freighter
Furrier
Galley Slave
Gambler
Gardener
Geisha
Gladiator
Glove Maker
Groom
Guild Master
Harness Maker
Hat Maker
Hay Merchant
Healer
Hearthwitch
Herald
Herbalist
Herder
Hermit
Highwayman
Hunter
Illuminator
Innkeeper
Interpreter
Inventor
Jailer
Jester
Jeweler
Jongleur
Judge
King
Knight
Laborer
Lady
Lady in Waiting
Leather Worker
Limner
Locksmith
Lord
Maidservant
Majordomo
Man at Arms
Mason
Masseur
Mercer
Merchant
Messenger
Midwife
Miller
Miner
Minstrel
Monk
Mortician
Mourner
Navigator
Necromancer
Noble
Nun
Nurse
Page
Painter
Pariah
Pastry Cook
Peasant
Perfumer
Philosopher
Physician
Pigkeeper
Pilgrim
Plasterer
Potter
Priest/ess
Prince/ss
Professor
Purse Maker
Quartermaster
Queen
Ranger
Ratcatcher
Rigger
Ronin
Roofer
Rope Maker
Royal Adviser
Rug Maker
Ruler
Sailor
Samurai
Scabbard Maker
Scribe
Sculptor
Saddler
Scavenger
Scholar
Scrivener
Servant
Shaman
Shepherd
Ship’s Captain
Ship’s Mate
Shipwright
Shoemaker
Silversmith
Slave
Slaver
Smith
Soldier
Sorcerer/Sorceress
Spice Merchant
Squire
Stable Hand
Storyteller
Steward
Street Kid
Surveyor
Swineherd
Swordsman
Sycophant
Tailor
Tanner
Tavern Keeper
Tax Collector
Teamster
Thatcher
Thief
Tinker
Torturer
Town Crier
Trader
Trapper
Vendor
Vermin Catcher
Village Chief
Vintner
Viking
Warlock
Warrior
Water Carrier
Weaponsmith
Weaver
Wet Nurse
Wine Seller
Witch
Wizard
Woodcarver
Woodcutter
Wood Seller

Feel free to add anything I’ve overlooked.


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Encounter Space: Jackalwere

May 26, 2011
Mark
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Jackalwere’s are an excellent choice as an encounter for a lower level party. The creature occurs in low (1-4) numbers but has powerful special abilities. The creatures can shape shift at will into three different forms: a jackal, a human or as a half-human/half jackal. They also possess a sleep gaze and can only be hit my magical or iron* weapons.

Unlike lyncanthropes, the jackalwere doesn’t transmit a disease. They are very intelligent and will use the sleep gaze if possible on unsuspecting victims. Their hatred for humanoids should be tempered by intelligent tactics. Given a choice, the jackalwere will only attack if they believe they can prevail. If possible, they will utilize the sleep gaze to incapacitate prey rather than engaging in outright combat. The jackalwere is a master of deceit and will only reveal itself if forced.

Last Encounter

Initially, I was going to use Jackalweres as a encounter on a roadway. Instead, the party chose to stay in town and undertake a mission from the local thieves guild. The ‘weres were stalking unsuspecting merchants after closing. They would approach the residence of the shopkeeper acting as if they needed items urgently. If the unsuspecting merchant fell to the sleep gaze, they would drag the disabled merchant back into the residence and slaughter/feast upon the corpse.

The party was already alerted to the deaths early and staked out the area where the killings had taken place. The jackalweres were in human form but were not aware of the party staking out the street. After targeting a merchant, the party engaged forcing the jackalweres into a fight.

Tweaks to Better the Encounter

I was flying by the seat of my pants so I didn’t play it as well as I could have. I ignored the intelligence and morale of the monsters once the combat was in full swing. The jackalweres should have likely tried to flee and fight another day once they were significantly injured. One did escape but would not have chosen to re-engage a party member later unless it was at an advantage.

I underplayed the menace of the jackalweres. The creatures are prone to feasting upon their prey. The horror could have been upped if the original deaths were reported as partially eaten corpses. Toss in full families rather than individual merchants and I may have gotten a more energetic response from my group. Still, it was a brutal encounter, which fit the setting requested.

Other Encounters

1 Jackalwere

Should you choose to be evil, have a single ‘were in human form, act injured on the roadside. If the party aids the injured, the ‘were will wait until night and attempt to disable those on watch and then slaughter the rest of the party in its sleep. The tactic is brutal but aligns with the mentality of the creature. If discovered, it will attempt to flee rather than fighting a pitched battled.

Pack of Jackals / Wilderness Encounter

The jackalweres will mix with a pack of normal jackals in jackal form Within the pack, they will engage the party briefly overnight to test the strength of the party. As the alpha members of the pack, the jackalwere’s will not sacrifice any member of the pack in combat. Its a feint. If the party appears weak enough to be killed, one jackalwere, bruised and bleeding, will approach the camp at dawn in attempt to use its sleep gaze. If ineffective, the jackalwere will later try to slink off. If successful, the rest of the pack will engage.

Final Thoughts

I don’t understand the magical and iron(*) only weapon restriction. Magical only? Sure. Iron? I’ve never distinguished materials for weapons in my game. I’d play it as +1 or better magical weapons and ignore the “iron” weapon option unless you classify metal types of weapons in your game. The iron weapon component must have a following since its survived several fantasy editions and been included in retro-clone games.

Jackalweres are tough creatures. The fantastic abilities of shape shifing and sleep gaze make for a far more interesting encounter than wandering band of humanoids. Played correctly, they could become an early nemesis of the party.


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Blackberry Mead

May 25, 2011
Mark

Yet another batch of mead. Pretty much the same as the grocery store mead except I used White Labs Sweet Mead yeast rather than Fleischmans and I added around a pound of blackberries. Additionally, the orange went in with the peel unlike the prior batch.

Blackberry Mead

The blackberries were from the freezer section of the grocery store. I let them nearly thaw then tossed them in the blender. If I had a small brewing pail, I may have placed them in a cheesecloth bag rather than adding them directly. I plan to add a second round of berries when I rack into the secondary to augment the fruit flavor.

I’m also giving the balloon method a try for an airlock. I should know how well its going to work within a day or so.

Happy Balloon (Airlock)


On post-apocalypse games

May 24, 2011
Mark
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Apocalyptic settings were one of many topics at Convergence. Randall made the comment that every post-apocalypse game we’ve played are essentially the same. As usual, he’s correct and made me consider the topic. Every PA game we’ve played with the exception of Cyberpunk have been temporally set directly at or right after the apocalypse.

Fixing a game at the outset of civilizations downfall forces the similarity of the games. No matter if it is a military invasion, a nuclear war, aliens or zombies, at the outset everyone is focused on immediate survival. Additionally, every game master has chosen to make the players play themselves as characters. Except the player’s families have been expunged from the game to lessen obvious choice to go save each family.

The time frame of the setting is a primary contributor to similarity. Doing so forces an immediacy of action onto the players. Failure to act results in an increment to the casualty counter. The downside is that the world around the players is complete chaos. Loot to survive, make questionable moral choices, and repeat. The availability of actions is quite constrained.

Playing yourself is an old idea. I pulled that card at least a half dozen times in the past. Cool to do a few times but grows tiresome quickly. We don’t play games to play ourselves. Players want to be something different. Not necessarily larger than life at all times but creating a persona is key to role playing. Self-play is definitely #2 on similarity contributor list. Expunging history is only meaningful if you want to eliminate the obvious. Allowing players to play something other than themselves reopens the history space without the detriment of the widely known player actions.

Shifting the time frame would encourage a different style game. Letting the dust settle on the PA environment would allow a new sense of ‘normalcy’ to settle in. Characters wouldn’t have to worry about the immediacy of surviving but would already know how to acquire food, water, and shelter. The focal point of the game could then shift from survival to other topics. Perhaps eradicating the source of the zombie infection; leading a tipping-point revolt against the invading army; re-establishing the rule of man in a mutant future or many other ideas.

Over arching play is hard to achieve in PA settings. The ideas are too easily imagined. Realism has its limits when you cannot decouple entirely. There are games to play in the PA realm but mostly I think they are a few sessions at best. Fillers. Nothing wrong with that.


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You Aren’t Doing it Wrong

May 23, 2011
Mark
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Role-playing games are unlike any other game. RPG systems provide a framework defining suggested abilities and limits. The framework is commonly referred to as rules. Most non-RPG games provide a fixed number of rules that must be followed to play the game. RPG’s encourage the user to be creative and to change the mechanics, if desired. No matter how a RPG is implemented, the goal remains the same: have fun.

When you build your campaign you will tailor it to suit your personal tastes. In the heat of play it will slowly evolve into a compound of your personality and those of your better participants, a superior alloy. – E. Gary Gygax, 1979

A random selection of six groups all playing the same system is likely to reveal one thing: the implementation of the system would be different in each group. The differences might be slight. One group could be playing a game with in-depth story arcs involving political intrigue amid the nobility in-fighting after the death of a king. The next might be delving through dozens of levels of an underground labyrinth filled with traps, twists and a bevy of monsters. A third may be solely undertaking adventures all within the confines of a large, walled city. The fourth, fifth and sixth may be well be venturing to the stars, ambling amid the planes or even leading a fleet of pirate ships. All different but still playing a common system and having fun.

Those same groups likely vary as much on rules as setting and plot. Some may allow only only the core mechanics of the original system books. Others will permit any expansion published for the system. Still others could have modified the original system to the point it barely resembles the initial offering. One implementation may be a blending of two or more systems into something entirely new. The groups have chosen an implementation which works for the people in the game.

According to a few, five of the six groups must be playing the system wrong. To the majority of gamers, each and every group is entirely correct. The campaign or mechanics may not be of interest to the naysayer but no egregious violation has occurred. Egregious violations are impossible if the group present at the table agrees on the game at hand. Even if not everyone at the table agrees, many players will agree to disagree and still play. The individuals know that its just a game and in the coming weeks, something more akin to their interpretation is likely to be played. Alternatively, the player can seek other like minded gamers to start a new game based on his or her preferred implementation.

As a participant in the game, I would not care to have anyone telling me exactly what must go into a campaign and how it must be handled; if so, why not play some game like chess? — E. Gary Gygax

No matter how you choose to play, I say go forth and do so. Cruise through the chaos of randomness then saunter through significant stories. Slay the dragon or be killed by a street urchin. Flip things around as you see fit. Play for fun. Self-proclaimed pundits be damned.

[poll id=”2″]


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