Monday, December 19, 2011

Heads of State: 9 games about tyrants on th REVS' SHOW, TONITE @ 6 on

Please join us HTTP://WWW.KILLRADIO.ORG for the REV'S SHOW. Our special guest is the creator of Heads of State, nine games about dictators.

He's a super cool guy, a fellow gamer, cyclist and advocate for green city living. If you can, make a pledge and support the Kickstarter!

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Friday, December 16, 2011

Converting to DCC: Part 1, Enchanted Items

This is the first in a series converting old D&D modules to Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

Converting to DCC: Part 1, Enchanted Items

In my ongoing Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG beta campaign I’ve used primarily pre-made adventures made for older editions of D&D, some OSR adventures and the Free RPG Day DCC adventure, The Portal Under the Stars.  When running pre-made adventures you come across tons of magic items as treasures.  I ignored any mundane +1 items and potions and gave the gold-piece equivalent for most things. With the story specific items, I decided to convert them to be as dynamic and dangerous as spells are in the DCC game.

I stuck with the following principles:
  • Magic is dangerous. It throws off the natural balance of all existence. It’s fickle and unpredictable. The more powerful the magic, the more dangerous it is to wield it. There is  nothing mundane about magic, including magic items.
  • A 1-level Enchanted Item should be no more powerful than a 1-level spell.
  • Each time it is activated, there will be an activation check, typically a d20 roll modified by class level and/or appropriate ability modifier.
  • It should have at-least 3 levels of effects: A misfire (typically a natural 1), usually resulting in a corruption, disapproval or fumble. A failure (typically 10 or less), usually resulting in lesser or no effect. And a successful activation (usually 11 or more.) Modifiers to the activation roll and restrictions can depend on the nature of the item, and related to abilities, class and/or alignment.
  • Any spell-caster can identify a magic item on a successful Spell Check, modified by caster level. DC = 15+Item Level.
  • A standardized format.
These are a couple that I came up with. They’re both items found in pre-made adventures as noted at the end.

The Shadowgem, 3-level arcane enchanted item.

DC 18 to identify: The shadowgem is a large black jewel the size of a small child’s fist. It can only be used by Chaotic elf or wizards.  When activated a shadow emerges from the gem to the wielder’s bidding.

Shadow: Init +4; Atk +2 melee (dmg 1d4+special); AC 13; HD 2D8+2; SP incorporeal (non magical damage inflicts only 1 hp damage); SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +0; AL C; XP 35.

Activation: Chaotic Elf & Wizards only, d20+caster level.
3 or lessUh oh, misfire! Roll 1d6 modified by luck: (1 or less) Shadow is angry and attacks the wielder and their allies until destroyed.  (2-3) Shadow is angry and attacks the wielder and their allies for 1d4 rounds before returning to gem.  (4-5) Shadow is annoyed and attacks the wielder once before returning to the gem.  (6 or more) Shadow is busy and can't be summoned for another turn.
4-14 You’re doing it wrong. No effect.
15-23“Who do I need to kill?”  Summon one shadow for 1 turn. The shadow attacks the wielder’s opponents to the best of its abilities until commanded, the gem is destroyed or shadow is slain.
24+“I brought some friends.”  Summons 1d3 shadows for 1 turn.

Scrying Ball, 3-level arcane enchanted item.

DC 18 to identify: This crystal globe emits an ongoing light. When activated, a wizard or elf can view the location he has seen or has reference to (e.g., can view a creature whose lock of hair he possesses).

Activation: Elf & wizards, d20+caster level. Other classes, d16+Intelligence modifier. All, -2 penalty for each consecutive use in a day.
3 or lessOutlook not so good. Roll 1d6 modified by luck: (1 or less) The wielder and their surroundings are visible before the subject or in the location being viewed. Spell check, DC 15, to turn it off.  (2-3) An alien countenance looks back at the wielder! The extraplanar being casts a geas or minor curse upon the wielder. (4-5) The extraplanar being says and does nothing. (6 or more) Subject, or subjects at a location, has feeling that they’re being watch.
4-14Reply hazy, try again.
15-23You may rely on it. Viewing effect lasts for 1d6 rounds.
24+It is certain. Viewing effect lasts for 1d6 turns.


The Shadowgem is from Out of the Shadows by Jesse Walker from Encounter Magazine No.2.

The Scrying Ball is from The Portal Under the Stars by Joseph Goodman from Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG Free RPG Day 2011 Adventure Starter.

I’m open for suggestions, comments and ideas. Let me know what you think. I’ve also attached a PDF version of the items somewhere in this entry.

EnchantedItems.pdf Download this file

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jury Independance

I totally understand that in order for our justice system to work, there has to be a jury of impartial community peers. While most people will find any excuse to get out of jury duty, I actually have been anxiously waiting for my time to come around. The last time I had to report, I was put on the bench immediately. I got drilled by the judge about my feelings towards cops; or as I like to call them, pigs. Also came out my libertarian feelings about the prosecution of drugs use. Instead of being kicked off the jury, they waited until the next Monday to give me the boot. Back then I would have appreciated it if they let me off the Friday after my questions. 

About a year ago I was laughing, along with a zillion others, about a book called Go The Fuck To Sleep. A book written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. What usually happens to me is I find myself obsessing over little details. Which lead me to the artist and the other books he has done. The one that really caught my eye was called Jury Independance Illustrated. It blew my mind. It taught me about a little known right called Jury Nullification. Basically if you're the jury of a court case and you believe or feel that the law in violation is unjust, you are well within your rights to reject that law, and declare the defendant, "NOT GUILTY". Armed with this knowledge I found myself itching to be on a jury and exercising this right.

Last week I got a jury summons. I actually didn't recieve the original notice, but instead got a nasty-gram from the court--threatening to fine me $1200. What? No way. I called in, and told them I could report after Thanksgiving. So I did. Today I went through the whole process and orientation, and waited to get assigned. And so I did. I got the nicest bailiff and the sweetest Judge, totally different than the Lich-judge I got the last time that drilled me about my past. I was totally hoping to get a Drug related case, but nervous about exercising my rights. I had thoughts of arguing with fellow jurors, and the possibility of caving in to pressure. While waiting to get questioned it was obvious what kind of world we live in. If a jury sample is a general example of the pupulation at large, we're fucked. I was the only juror to ever get arrested. I was one of three or four of around 30 that didn't support drug laws (and inherently the war on the drugs.) I was probably the only one with a general distrust of cops. The questions came up, and I answered them honestly. But this time the judge didn't make me feel like a criminal. He was a totally sweet old judge.

I was Jury #16. When #7 was excused by the defence, I was next in line to fill that seat. I got up to take that seat which was literally 5 steps away. Before I even sat down I was excused by the Prosecution. No lie. Everyone laughed. 

It seems unfair, honestly. It's supposed to be a jury of peers, not a hand-picked crowd of potentially safe bets. It's totally true that if I was selected and if the defendant didn't commit any violent crimes, I would have probably dead-locked the jury. 

I recommend everyone read Jury Independance, and other Ricardo Cortés books

It's good shit.

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

The courthouse thinks they block twitter. #censorship #fail


It's just a tool to communicate, what are you scared about?

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The worst thing about waking up with Careless Whispers in your head... not George Michaels. It's that the only way to get the song out of your head is to listen to it in its entirety... but the only version worth listening to is the 30 minute extended version.

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dak Ultimak @ Google+

Why am I having such a hard time connecting Google+ with existing sites, like Twitter, Blogger and Google Reader!

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Death and Dying, Revisited!

(keep death simple, stupid.)

Within days of writing these extensive set of rules (On Death and Dying), I realised they were just too much. So much that it defeated some of the tenets of OSR--fast & simple rules. It solved the problems, but replaced them with different problems. I over-thought it. I'll keep them posted for reference, but I decided to refine them even further. I'm keeping the basic principles, that death doesn't always happen from the initial blow (it does sometimes!) it comes from bleeding, shock and eventually infection. I want to reflect Constitution, Character Level, and a bit of luck. I didn’t want to change standard HP rules. I skipped infection because that's not what this game is about. These rules can be amended to Save or Die effects with a little work.

Instant Death

If a character takes their constitution score, plus level, in damage from a single attack, and it drops them below 0, they make a Saving Throw (vs Death) or die instantly. If they make their save, they're fallen.

Dying or possibly Dead

A character that is dropped below 1 hp has fallen, is considered dying and possibly dead. Every round that the character is not healed or treated increases the possibility of the character's death. The fallen PC keeps track of how many rounds pass while they are in this state.

Checking the Fallen

If another PC can get to the fallen PC during combat, the fallen PC can make a saving throw negatively modified by the number of rounds they have been fallen plus their constitution modifier. If the Saving Throw is successful, the character is still alive, but unconscious with 0 hp, and can be healed or treated.

Gaining Consciousness

Once per combat, a dying PC can try to make one last effort. They must first make a Saving Throw (vs Death). If they succeed, they can attempt one action at -4 then they fall unconscious with 0 hp. If they fail, the character is dead.

After the Battle

If a fallen character, that hasn't already been checked during combat, is checked after the battle is over, has a slight chance to be alive. The fallen PC makes a Saving Throw (vs. Death) with a -10 modifier. If they succeed, they're unconscious with 0 hp. If they fail, the fallen PC is found dead.

Natural Healing

If the PC makes their saving throws, and survives the night, natural healing occurs.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On Death and Dying (or It Ain't Over Until It's Over.) #OSR #ODND #SNW

One of the biggest complaints in OSR is there aren't enough Hit Points at first level to accurately reflect that even the average man won't die from a single sword wound, much less a knife. Another infamous complaint are Save or Die effects from spells, poisons and traps. The most popular method to solve the hp problem is to give more hps at first level. But I don't think bumping-up hps accurately reflects that most people die of their wounds after the battle. Typically they die from bleeding out, shock, or in some cases, infection. A better way of reflecting this is to incorporate some sort of dying mechanism. Negative hps are one way of representing this effect, saving throws are another. Constitution is also a factor that should be included to simulate general stamina and health. While higher levels express experience and battle hardiness. Occasionally the dying can do last ditch efforts, like one final kill or crawl to safety. Only rarely does a person die instantly, and typically only after taking a massive amount of damage from a critical hit (such as a sneak attack) or a lethal trap.

The following is a series of rules that emulates death occurring after injury while allowing small heroic efforts before dying. It takes in consideration all of these factors without changing starting hp. It uses what every character can benefit from; Levels, Hit Dice and Constitution. It makes use of several Saving Throws and can be amended to any Save or Die effects.

Instant Death

Any damage that results in losing more Hit Points below zero, equal to their Constitution, must make a Saving Throw or it results in the character's immediate death. If the Save is successful, the character is still dying. For example, a Thief with 4 hp, with a Constitution of 10, springs a trap that does over 14 points of damage will need to make a Saving Throw or be immediately killed.


If a character fails a Save against instant death, or when they are struck down to less than 1 hp, they are immediately dying. They can't move or take any actions. The dying character immediately rolls one Hit Dice (1HD) and adds their constitution modifier. They will die in this many rounds if they are not treated or healed. This is rolled anew each and every time the character fails a Save or Die or drops below 1 hp. For example, a Fighter with a d8 Hit Die would roll 1d8+Con Modifier. The Fighter will die in this many rounds if not healed.

Gaining Consciousness

Dying characters are effectively unconscious, although a Saving Throw can be made to determine if they're awake and lucid. When that's the case, they can cry for help, as the moans of the dying are typical on a battlefield. If they are conscious they can also attempt single actions. Each check or attack that the dying character attempts will be at a -4 penalty, will then require a Saving Throw. Failure of the Saving Throw results in the character falling unconscious and 1d4 rounds closer dying. Which will result in death if they don't have any rounds left. For example, a Mage that is conscious but dying in 3 rounds decides to cast one last spell. The Mage would cast the spell at -4, then make a Saving Throw. If the character fails, he would fall unconscious, roll a 1d4 and be that many rounds closer to death. If the d4 results in a 3 or more, he would immediately die.

Stabilizing The Dying

During combat, another character can attempt to stabilize a dying character as their action. But it's not foolproof. The dying PC gets a Saving Throw, +2 if the aiding character has healing class abilities. A successful save results in the character no longer dying but is still unconscious. They can attempt to regain consciousness and perform any single action as per Gaining Consciousness above. A failed save means the PC continues dying. Any healing, magical or otherwise, returns hps starting at 0. The character will be conscious and no longer dying. A conscious but dying character can attempt to stabilize themselves, but they still suffer a -4 penalty for the attempt and risk falling unconscious and begin dying again, as above.


Outside of combat a stabilized character can still die if they don't receive proper healing or treatment. The character must make a Saving Throw every hour or risk infection until properly healed. If aided by another character, this Saving Throw can modified by +2 if the aiding character has healing class abilities. If they fail any of these Saving Throws, the character suffers from sepsis. The infected character immediately rolls one Hit Die and adds their constitution modifier. They will die in this many turns if they are not finally treated or healed. No Saving Throws.

Natural Healing

If the character makes all their Saving Throws and survives a night, natural healing occurs per standard rest and healing rules.

Notes & Assumptions

These house rules were designed with Sword & Wizardry's single Saving Throw in mind. For other games, the Saving Throws would typically be versus Death or Poison, depending on the rules. Not all OSR systems have Save or Die effects, so some of these rules may not work or apply. Typically these rules only apply to Player Characters, since the DM has discretion when it comes to NPC survival.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ability Checks, revised.

Ability Checks, revised.

After more testing, I'm finding that my original dice numbers were too low. To keep them inline with the static numbers (the checks with no die rolling) I had to bump up the dice by one, oops.

  • Easy 2d6
  • Routine: 3d6
  • Moderate: 4d6
  • Hard: 5d6
  • Impossible: 6d6

Some players insist on rolling. So you can have them roll a d20, add their modifier (which is negligible at this point) and have them beat either the static numbers (easiest, just like OGL) or have them beat a variable number (more rolling, but more fun.)

For example. If they are trying to kick down a random door they come across. The stronger player kicks it, rolls a d20+str mod, and then I'd determine that it's a common door, so I'd make it routine and roll 3d6. Tie would go to the PC, since he's doing the attempt. 

It's not perfect, but it's quick! 

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Really Hate Cilantro

I'm OK with the fact that lots of people like disgusting things, like onions. I've pretty much figured out that I'm a Super Taster because I can definitely taste things that no one else can. Onions are the worst. They typically make me puke, especially when they're fresh. When they're stewed down to a cellulous blob, they're practically not onions any more. So I'm OK with that. But cilantro, fuck you. One little speck ruins my food. I really don't get what you're "loving" about cilantro. The best I can describe is it tastes like what I imagine alkaline in batteries taste like. It's metallic and overpowering. It doesn't make me puke, like onions, but it still ruins my food. People chop it up like parsley, so it's pretty much impossible to get every bit. But it only takes a tiny bit to ruin my food. 

What the hell are you tasting when you eat cilantro? I taste corroded metal dipped in sulfuric acid.

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Google Plus...

So I finally got a Google+ account. Typically I'm an early adopter or beta tester, I got crap  like Gmail, Google Wave, and a bunch of other Google crap before most people. I was kind of bugged when others were getting Plus before I did, but when everyone started saying that "it's like Eff-book", I stopped being too annoyed. I ditched Eff-book and My_what's-its_Space for a reason. 

Now I never did have a problem with Blogs, I have a ton. I had blogs when they were called Personal Websites, and I had to rewrite (i.e. cut & paste) code everytime I wanted to update the page. I did that until I was able to get some cgi-bin access, and then I was able to use some scripts to do the very same shit that *diaryland* and *livejournal* did when they first came out, and what Blogger/Blogspot and Wordpress do now. So I wonder how effective this Google+ will be as a Blog engine replacement. As much as people are addicted and trapped in Eff-book, people still blog. I know some people were using Myspace for blogging, and I'm sure people were starting to use Eff-book for blogging too. But Blogs never died. I bet you can thank RSS feeders for adding new life to that segment of the internet worlds.

So I'm wondering if Google+ will pull in my RSS feeds and mix it in with Buzz and/or Twitter and throw in Stream Posts on top of it. Or is that not the point? At this moment I don't see the point of Google+'s Stream. Especially if it's just _another_ Google Buzz. I'd rather keep that shit separate.

Posted via email from Th' Reverend Dak Post

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quick and Dirty Ability Checks (D&D house-rule) #OSR #ODND #DCCRPG

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of skill checks. It's crunch in my ice-cream that I don't like. One of the things that differentiate, to me, "modern" and "old-school" is how a simple thing like a search is attempted. A d20 roll is just not engaging or interesting to me. It created a bad habit in gaming, "I search the room," rolls a d20. It encourages impatient players, who just want to cut to the chase (or Encounters with a capital E.) That is not D&D that I want to play. So I had to figure out what to do when it comes to what most players habitually do, search this, climb that, open this, get around that. In my attempt to engage the players. I have been encouraging my players to be deliberate about their actions, how they do it and how long they are willing to try it. I've been trying out My Quick and Dirty Ability Checks for S&W and DCC and it's been working really well. The first trick is to determine if a roll is necessary at all. Then if it is, then determine the difficulty. Then determine if an element of luck (or fate?!) is involved.
It works like this. The Players describe how and what their character are doing. If it's not life or death, or at the very least dangerous for someone, then go ahead let them do it. Pretty simple. But if there is a chance of failure, I use these magic numbers based on difficulty and compare it to an appropriate Ability Score:
  • EASY: LESS than 6 fails.
  • ROUTINE: LESS than 9 fails.
  • MODERATE: LESS than 13 fails.
  • HARD: LESS than 16 fails.
  • IMPOSSIBLE: LESS than 19 fails.
You'll notice there is direct correlation with those numbers and ability modifiers, but I wanted to use actual scores for the checks. So if a character wants to pry open a standard door, I'll deem it being HARD and ask for their strength. If they're strong enough, it opens. No rolling, just deliberate actions from the players and outcomes based solely on GM's discretion.
If there is an element of luck and/or danger, only then do some dice come in play. I roll an appropriate number of d6s, and compare the totals to ability scores:
  • EASY: 1d6
  • ROUTINE: 2d6
  • MODERATE: 3d6
  • HARD: 4d6
The bell curve is intentional. If the total is equal-to or more than their ability score, it is a failure. (Higher the better for the DM!) This works excellently for group checks. If the group is sneaking past some Unamed Spawn from Hell's Ending (Hard!) I'd roll 4d6 (only once!) and compare it to the PCs Ability Scores. Let's say I roll a 15, I'd then ask if anyone has a Dex (or Agility) of 15 or less? If someone does, they get spotted.
Another example came into play last week when a group of PCs were climbing out of a steep tunnel that had been greased but had knotted ropes. Since there was an element of danger (Routine), I rolled 2d6. I rolled a 6. Everyone with 6 or less slips, those that failed their save fell. Two died from the damage, one didn't. Quick and Dirty.
Putting the dice in the hands of DM does two things, it forces the players to be creative and role-play and the DM has more discretion on success or failure. Don't add or subtract ability modifiers, they're already factored in. Do factor in circumstances and Class/Monster Abilites by increasing or decreasing the difficulty. Sneaking past some sleepy Gate Guard would be ROUTINE, while sneaking past The Multi-eyed Crawling Eye of Oblivion would be HARD if not IMPOSSIBLE.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics (Gamers Wanted)! Tonight!


Dungeon Crawl Classics is a new game that is inspired by Pulp-era Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery. It's a Fantasy Roleplaying, like Dungeons & Dragons, but truer to its roots. It plays like 70's era OD&D, but uses a streamlined version of 3e D&D.

My weekly group is going to play-test the recently released BETA rules TONIGHT. Unfortunately a few players can't make it, so there are a couple seats for tonight's game if anyone is interested. 

Our weekly group meets every Thursday, from 7pm to 10:30-ish.

This game is for you if:

You're new and interested in D&D in general.
A fan of Moorcock, Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, R.E. Howard or Lovecraft.
If you prefer Sword & Sorcery over High Fantasy.

Contact me directly or reply to this if you're interested.

rev. dak

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's Old-School Roleplaying?


What's Old-School Roleplaying?

The answer is, "It depends." Let me start by acknowledging that there is a difference between OSR (Old-School Renaissance) and Old-school Roleplaying. What I'm going to talk about is the style of role-playing, not specifically the resurgence of old-school games. 

This is about what I consider old-school roleplaying. Basically the GM has more authority. Player knowledge is limited and they can only do what the GM says they can do. The only authority a player has is what they think their character can do based on their character. They can try and do things, and the GM says whether they succeed or fail. Sometimes the GM will ask them to roll some dice. And maybe add or subtract a modifier. Knowing thy character helps. Knowing the rules, not so much. What makes this work is that the unspoken pact between Player and GM. A pact based on trust that says the that GM will adjucate the rules fairly, responsibly and objectively.

"Modern" gaming is different. The games are so complicated that you're expected to know the rules. If you don't, other players get impatient, and it slows the game down considerably. Over the past few years, playing all kinds of games as GM and player, I noticed this trend. Players were "expected" to know the rules, therefore they "know" the rules. When they "know" the rules, they're more inclined to question the GM's authority over the rules. The number one cause of conflict at a gaming table are arguing over the rules. Oh the irony.

I'm familiar with this because I was a shitty player. I was a shitty player not only because I am poor at strategy and tactics, but because I considered myself a good GM. A good GM has to know the rules. So I could tell a GM wasn't playing "right". I was that guy. See where I'm going with this? Mr. Know-It-All, the rules lawyer. I learned, after having enough shitty players telling me how to GM, how NOT to be a shitty player. I didn't want to be that guy. So from then on what the GM says are the rules! Period.

That's what Old-school means to me. It doesn't matter when the rules were written. It's matters on how it's played. Plain and simple. It just happens that some games lend to this better than others. Those are the games I prefer.

So what makes a game Old-school? Basically the game should be simple enough that players don't really have to know every rule. That's what I think, anyway. I'm sure Old-school means something entirely different to others. 

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Old School at Pasadena D&D Meetup Returns...

...July 2, 2011!

If you're part of my weekly home-game or a member of the S&W Creative Guild, please contact me directly if you want me to save you a seat. 

0e: Swords & Wizardry--Old-School Dungeon Crawl (Original D&D)
DM: The Reverend Dak
Level: 1 (Continuing Adventure)
Start Time: 2:30PM
Length: 4 hours
Players: Guild Member, Guild Member
Open seats: 4

A day's travel outside of the town of Torches are the punished remains of a monastery. Several months ago the skies over the temple were filled with the wrath of a god. All the building were destroyed by hundreds of bolts of lightening. The peasants believe the Iron God destroyed his own monks as punishment for their greed. Rumors are that heretical monks have accumulated great treasures in their catacombs instead of living the frugal life required by their god. 

The monk's ill-gotten treasures must still be there!

A few weeks ago a small group of adventures returned from the first known foray. One member was dead, and another caught in a hypnotic trance. After some recovery, the members of this group are ready to return to the Tomb of the Iron God!


Using the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules. Bring your own characters, or request a pre-gen. The adventure continues from the May meet-up.  For more info see these pages:

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Magical Calender Thingie

The Magical Calendar is inspired by the dates referenced in Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series and Zak S's amazing Vornheim-The Complete City Kit. This is my attempt at a hack some of these ideas and make a random calendar date generator. (In fact I'm entering it in Zak's Hack Vornheim Contest.)

Click the above PNG or get the PDF.

Yes, the calendar has 45 possible days, but you don't have to use every "day". The goal is to produce a random day with a fantasy theme. The animals can also represent weeks, while the rows and columns can represent gods, decades or eras (i.e. ages).

How to use: Roll a d4 on the chart (a physical printed copy, if it isn't obvious!) Re-roll anything you don't like.
  • The die value determines the time of day and season (or both.) This sub-chart is also located in the corners of the main chart (i.e 1=Summer/Day, 2=Autumn/Dusk.)
  • Where the die lands determines the Day or Week (represented by an animal.) 
  • If the die is high (3 or 4) look up to determine the Month or Year, etc.
  • If the die is low (1 or 2) look down to determine the Month or Year, etc.
  • If the die is odd (1 or 3) look left to determine the Week or Month, etc.
  • If the die is even (2 or 4) look right to determine the Week or Month, etc.
For example, a roll of 3 landing on the Spider could be The Year of Tyranny, the Month of the Giant, the Day of the Spider, on a Winter's Night. Or, a 2 landing on the Snail could be the The Year of God of War in the Age of Dragons, at Dusk in Autumn. To determine the next day, don't completely re-roll, just pick the next animal on the chart (keeping the same month, year, etc.) or just re-roll the animal. You don't need me, or this chart, to determine how many days in a week, or months in a year-make it up, roll some dice or use the conventional 30-ish days, 12 months (or moons!) a year.

If you like your days numbered (although I don't see the point) roll a d30 instead (if you don't have one of these old dice, then you can roll a d6 divide by 2 and a d10 like you're rolling d100) and the animal it lands on can be the week or month, etc., using the same as results as above. For the time of day or season it is basically the same; Odd/Low=Summer/Day, Odd/High=Winter/Night, Even/High=Dawn/Spring, Even/Low=Autumn/Dusk. Again re-roll anything you don't like.

The animal silhouettes are from Arthur's Clip art:

The font is Requiem, free:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Matt Finch's Four Zen Moments

Matt Finch's "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming" is something I read a couple years ago, and it ultimately struck a cord and helped me remember why I played the game to begin with. They say that if you can't describe something in more than two ways, you really don't understand it. So I will paraphrase Matt's Four Zen Moments, and focus on what it means to me.

Rulings, not Rules: One of the principles of Old-School D&D is that it is fast and furious, and a lot of trust is given to DM and his decisions. Good DMs were always in demand because of the rulings that a good DM makes. Arguing the rules, whether they're written or not, official or not, just slows down the game and creates grief. Stumbling over specific rules slows things down and just isn't fun. I realised this playing home games of 3x, and it got worst with 4e that really got granualar with what you could or couldn't do. Trust in the DM used to be a given and unwritten rule. But with 3x/4e, things changed. It also bred or fed into min/max, powergaming, level-questing nature of computer games--not fun. Trust that the DM will make rulings based on common sense, a bit of logic and with the intent to keep the game fun.

Player Skill, not player abilities: I'm not completely convinced with this one. But I totally I agree the burden is on the players to ask the right question, say the right words, and look in the right places. This is a given, but not when playing 3x/4e. Although personally the game I want to play is somewhere between the modern and old-school style. I want my character to not be hindered by my lack of skill as a player, but I want players to play their characters as they were rolled up. So if they're low in intelligence, they should be played as they are. I do agree with the statement, "Know when to run." A good GM IS impartial, I want to be a good GM AND a good player. A good player should be able to play a crappy character successfully. The principles are the same.

Heroic, not Superhero: I'm with this all the way. The analogy Matt uses is Batman vs Superman. The characters, in old-school style play, can definitly reach the power levels of Batman. Superman was born like that, and there are games that cover it. This also falls into pit that some modern players have, the entitlement to be super. They're not special. Deeds and Actions make the characters special. Which goes with the fourth Zen moment.

Forget "Game Balance.": There would be no sense of fear, mystery or dread if every enounter was "balanced." Part of the challenge is to overcome overwhelming obstacles. One of the problems I had with "modern" D&D was the sense of entitlement some players had, and that some DMs had to accomodate. "That enounter was too hard" or "That encounter was too easy", were words that made me cringe as a DM. Challenge is part of the game. Game balance shouldn't be a concern. Mistakes happen and you deal with them accordingly. If the party decides to enter the dragon's cave, and they die... well, that's what is probably supposed to happen. The emphasis on balance is what broke most of the modern versions of classes that used to be special. I understand the philosophy behind certain game rule decisions. But I think those philosophies are misguided and are based on a sense of entitlement a lot of "modern" gamers have. For example, race/class level limits are a sticky subject. They seem arbitrary, but you can't deny that it makes for an effective way to restrict access to certain race/class combinations. The debate against them are reasonable on both sides, but they come from different points of view with different goals. Class balance is also a difference between Old and New. But it comes from the sense of entitlement that a wizard has the right to be toe to toe with a fighter at first level. I find it silly, but that's me and why I am personally bothered by the modern game.

Those are are the Zen Moments as I understand them. They clicked the moment I read them, and almost immediately rekindled the feelings and memories I had when I first started playing D&D, with a good DM. My first sessions were rough, that's for sure. I might touch on the Tao of the GM on another post if I have time. They're good, and they must be read by all DMs.


primer.pdf Download this file

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

The Intro Adventure

May 7th is coming up faster than I expect. I'm somewhat prepared. I know the rules. I have an adventure that I've read and think I'm prepared for. But there are few things I have not done. I need a character sheet. None of the ones I've found do it for me, so I might have to start from scratch. There are also a few things I'm not sure how I want to do. Pre-made characters? Or create new ones on the spot. There are also a few rules things I want to iron out, but I want to see what the group wants to do about it. I want the game to be very cooperative, but at the same time I want to make sure we play the game I want to play. I AM the DM! 

I recently picked up a copy of OSRIC, man it is good. The afterword was very inspiring. Stuart Marshal had five pieces of advice that I want to share here (I'll be paraphrasing) 

  1. Play it FAST. Roll handfulls of dice. 
  2. Skip the boring bits. Fudge to make things faster. Place the appropriate burden on the appropriate side of the screen.
  3. Making Characters is FAST. Fights are Furious. Characters will die, make a new one! Players aren't entitled to be hero, they can be heroes if they desire, it's not a right. What that also means to me is that characters aren't automatically Super Heroes but they can be if they play smart and desire it.
  4. Don't tolerate dithering! Act, deliberately and quickly.
  5. The DM creates the world. The players create the characters that want something from it. The characters have to go out and get it, the burden of a good story is on everyone, not just the DM.

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

0e D&D in Pasadena, CA. May 7th, 2011

I'll be running a 0e game of Dungeons & Dragons on Saturday, the 7th of May. It will be an introductory adventure. I don't know if I'll be running something homebrew, or if it will be a pre-made adventure. If it's a pre-made, it might be Matt Finch's Tomb of the Iron God. It might be a 0e module I dig out of my ancient trove of games I have buried at parents house. I'm not really sure yet but I AM open for suggestions. I hope to make this an ongoing campaign, but we'll see. 

I will be getting my feet wet as a 0e player too, but as the DM of course. (As I've always been the GM 99% of the time, and I always take responsibility of learning and teaching games.)

Contact me directly if your interested in playing. If you're part of my weekly "homegame" or a member of the S&W Creative Guild, I can reserve you a seat. Spaces are limited, and open registration begins on the 30th. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions or questions.


I'll be putting together a perma-link or page when I have more information, such as a campaign name, house rules, etc. Yes, this is a work in progress!

Pasadena D&D Meet-up Info

Sign-up (Begins Apr 30)

S&W Core Rules (Free Version, Mythmere Games)

S&W Complete Rulebook (Retail Version, Frog God Games)


Posted via email from Dak, D.M.