Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sight-Seeing Highlight "A Hamsterish Hoard"

I found Hamsterish Hoard thanks to The Rusty Battleaxe tonight. Before I talk about Hamsterish Hoard let me recommend the Rusty Battleaxe. Great stuff, you can find worse ways to waste your time, that's for sure. Check it out.

Now, on to Hamsterish Hoard.

I love sites that demonstrate just how great old-school gaming is. One of the main things I prefer about it is what I feel is a greater sense of freedom to be truly creative, to open your mind and let your thoughts hit the paper without actually even thinking about the rules or how you have to follow a system to build the item. Start with the end point, describe it, then decide how much you think its worth. I just don't have the time anymore to work through elaborate calculations of per charge cost, is it a command activation item or a use activated item, what is its caster level? Anyway, while checking it out I found several great things I am going to steal for my Castles & Crusades campaign. I'll list a few and what I like about them...

Monster: Least Shade Spirit
"...least shade spirits are delicate creeping membranes of sooty black lace, or masses of velvet-soft darkness that coil and climb"
-- that's f'n cool.

"their deceptively soft touch dissolves the physical form, causing a -2 penalty to Armour Class for two rounds and a one-hour loss of 1 point of Constitution if a save vs. spell is failed."
-- nasty AND interesting. Awesome.

Monster: Spectrum
"A spectrum is a strange little creature of prismatic light; seven small softly-glowing orbs that orbit around each other or float about in an orderly string of bobbing lights. An uninjured spectrum displays all seven colours of the rainbow, one to each orb, and as damage is taken the glowing spheres wink out one by one in sequential order."
-- how cool is that?

Magic Item: Scarlet Pearl Whisper
"When Scarlet Pearl Whisper is slicked with blood, the donor may call a pearl messenger from the depths of the gem. This wisp of fluid energy may take any physical shape, but always has the appearance of nacreous blood"
-- ewww, but cool.

Magic Item: Snow Cross
"These strange crystalline gems, also known as white crosses, are aberrant growths found in the hips of stone roses, pure white and translucent, they are composed of four prisms of crystal joined in the shape of an equal-armed cross. As a prepared charm a snowcross is carefully and delicately bound with silken threads, gold wire or thin leather thongs and hung about the neck to rest over the heart. A white cross must be so worn for twelve hours before it will function."
-- incredibly interesting and appealing.

Anyway, head over to A Hamsterish Hoard for the full deal. You'll like what you find.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Organized Chaos

The site is an interesting experiment in community-based cooperative projects.  When I started it many months ago I didn't really know what or how it would proceed, only that I wanted a better Pathfinder rules resource and figured I could do it myself. Many months later the site has come a very long way. There are now over 30 (approaching 40) collaborators.

However, there are some unfortunately observations...

Nobody wants to do the boring crap. There's a lot of tedious, manual, grunt work that needs to be done. In the last month, out of 30-40 collaborators, only about 6 have logged on and done anything. Those 6 have done a combination of things but mostly importing new things (new spells from Pathfinder setting materials), importing new creatures (converting previously released creatures). A few people have actually fixed problems with the site (which is extremely cool and appreciated) but the majority of people prefer to add new cool things instead of fix existing broken things.

Does anyone have experience running collaborative projects like this? I set up a messageboard to wrangle all collaborator conversation into one area but I get very few responses from other contributors. I'm dreaming of a core group of 5-10 people who actively tackle very specific tasks instead of going off on their own and doing random (though cool) things.


Issues with Pathfinder/3.x

Greater/Improved/Better/More/Lesser/Superior You Name It
I really hate how everything in Pathfinder/3.x scales by adding various words to the title. For criminies sake just name the ability Weapon Focus 1, Weapon Focus 2, Invisibilty 1, Invisibility 2, etc.

Combat Feats/General Feats
I wish there were just "Feats".

Saving Throws
3 Saving Throws is too few. I really like how Castles & Crusades does saving throws.

The Development Method
  1. I may be completely wrong, but my perspective says that Pathfinder was basically completely developed by Jason with a bit of input from a few people. I would have preferred a much, much, more team-based development phase.
  2. The "Open" Playtest - While I applaud the idea my general opinion is that it was a cluster-bleep. X-thousands of people randomly playing with no focus or direction and then randomly posting their half-ass opinions on dozens of forum threads that the developers (ie Jason) had to keep track of somehow. What a mess. That should have been MUCH more organized with some much more "directed" or "organized" testing groups.
  3. Going through X amount of playtesting in Beta and then randomly coming up with stuff for final that had never even been quasi-tested. Who adds new features between the last test phase and the final production phase that get no testing at all?
  4. Errata and Editing... This is just a side-effect of the "industry" but there were X-thousands of people beta testing the product. Why not identify a couple hundred specialty groups who sign NDA's and help find typos or errors? Artifice domain does not grant Arcane Mark yet multiple things in the domain depend on Arcane Mark? WTF?
  5. The Fans... OMG. Now considering I started and am the primary driving force behind perhaps the largest non-Paizo rules source site, and considering that I am actually a fan, I have to say that there are some real psychos out there sucking down the kool-aid like crazy.  To these people Pathfinder is a literary artifact on the level of the United States Constitution or a work of art on the level of a Michelangelo. People need to relax a little.
Ok that may all sound harsh, but consider it comes from someone who plays in a Pathfinder campaign every other weekend and can't wait for the next session. Not to mention, I ran a Pathfinder Beta campaign with characters in the low-teens levels so I have some experience with it and do like many (most) of the changes.

Issues with Castles & Crusades

I have found that the 12/18 system, while nice, is too difficult on the high end, meaning the 18 is too hard to hit. If you are attempting to do something against someone with the same HD as your level (or less) you are almost guaranteed to succeed (or fail, depending on the situation). I am changing this to bases of 12 and 15.

Redundant Class Abilities
  1. One class has Scale. One class has Climb. They both do the same thing. Why are they called something different?
  2. One class has Birthright Mount. One has Divine Mount. They're basically the same thing. Why are they called something different?
  3. Many classes have multiple dead levels and then get several things all at the same level. Why not spread those things out a bit?
  4. C&C seems to use several 3.5 basic ideas but some have been greatly improved in Pathfinder. I will be using the more modern versions.
The "N" System
In my Castles & Crusades site I am rewriting basically all class abilities and one thing you will see a lot of is references to " N". What this means is that the N is a replaceable number that usually scales at various levels. For example, the Archer class gets an ability called Deadly Aim N. At various levels N is 1, then 2, then 3, etc. In the case of the Archer, the bonus from Deadly Aim is whatever N is at that time. The Knight also has an N ability, Fealty/Tithe. Knights have to give fealty to their Lord equal to 10% of all treasure earned/gained. In the case of Fealty, N scales from 1 to 5 and reduces they amount they are expected to pay by a percentage equal to N. Paladins have the same class "ability" but in their case it is due to tithing to their church.  Archers also have "Extra Attack (ranged) N" and in that case N is a number of extra attacks they get. If N is 3, they get 3 extra attacks.

More later...

Joining RPG Bloggers

Gonna try to sign up for RPG Bloggers today. The site is blocked from work so I have to hit it from my phone :(

Ugh.. Power outtage :( good thing i have my iphone!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prizes for a Convention?

I am running three separate Castles & Crusades sessions at this falls U-Con gaming convention in Ann Arbor Michigan. I want to give prizes to the player in each session with the most X at the end of the session. The questions I have are,

1) What should X be? Meaning, the most what? The most creatures killed? The most "cool" points (a random name for some token I would give to a player when they do something cool)? Should I have the players vote on who was the best roleplayer? The best hacker-n-slasher?

2) Once I've determined what X is, I need to determine what the prize will be. I originally thought that since I was going with an "old-school" theme I could give away some new GameScience Zocci dice. Maybe one complete set per top player, which means I buy three sets, or about 20-30$ depending on where I get them from. Does anyone have any better suggestions?

Not Bad, Not Good

Well I'm back from the gym and I'm neither up nor down in weight. I'm calling that a good thing since I basically ate like a pig last week and only went to the gym once. Yay for me. Will do better this week.

Off to the Gym

Well I'm off for my workout and weekly weigh-in. Most of you probably don't know it but I'm down about 90lbs from my grossest pinnacle of beastliness. The last few months have been very slow going, not that I'm working just as hard as ever and not seeing progress, no, more like I just don't feel like working as hard. Its hard to get as motivated now that I'm so much closer to my goal weight. Its almost like the motivation factor drops in direct proportion with the proximity to the goal weight.



I don't know how people tolerate this piece of crap. The UI is horribly designed and its slow as crap. I just don't get it. This thing sucks.

Community Game Design

So I have this dream that a dedicated group of individuals can come together and either perfect an existing system, or create a new one, which is then released free to the world. The open community would continue to work on and perfect this system until there are no grammatical or spelling errors, all logic is consistent, and people genuinely enjoy the way the system works.

I am currently working on a few different endeavors, some more grandiose than others.

This is probably the largest project. I have started an entirely new game system with the goals of it being cross genre, class-less, and level-less. I've gotten a few bites from people willing to help work on it but haven't really gotten any substantial amount of help with it. If you'd like to get involved let me know.

Castles & Crusades
I'm, in many ways, gutting the system. I'm keeping some core concepts but even they are up for review. For example, the Prime/Secondary system... I plan to go with bases of 12 and 15 instead of 12 and 18, for various reasons. I'm rewriting pretty much every class, adding some new classes, and cleaning up various inconsistencies in the rules. If you'd like to help with this, please let me know.

I started (and am still the largest contributor to it by far). The site now has over 30 separate collaborators registered to edit it and various people are working on different areas. However, the site needs basic, non-glamorous, boring, grunt-level work, such as fixing broken links and correcting typos and errata. If you'd like to get involved in, please let me know.

What it is!

So I decided to start a blog dedicated just to my gaming related activities and for posting things I find online of any interest.

Why Hardcore Grognard?
While I am certainly a grognard, I am not JUST into old-school games. I'm a big proponent of Pathfinder as well as other old-school games, most specifically Castles & Crusades.

I'll post some more in a bit, specifically news on the status of as well as info about Orlandia (my Castles & Crusades world and current game design project).