Bringing Community Together Part 4.

Imagine how awesome it would be if we were all one big #ttrpg community working to support one another, lift each other up, and prosper together? I think that would be cool beyond words

Today we have questions we shouldn’t even be asking in the #ttrpg space.

He went where with it?

Why are all “Grognards” so bitter and jaded? Good question. The answer is: We’re not all that bitter. Many of us enjoy more games that just D&D. Most of us are even cool with having players of other races, ethnicities, genders, and LGBTQIA++ at our table. We’re here to game, not hate.

Why are y’all so hung up on old editions of D&D? Again, an unfortunate stereotype. Yes, many of us are heavy into older editions of the world’s foremost RPG. Sure. But personally I embrace anything and everything RPG related. Life is too short not to experience as much as possible.

Yes, OSR is cool. there’s a lot you can do with those RPGs. There is also a lot to be said for newer games and different sets of rules. Who cares about the politics of whoever wrote the new system. I’m here to game.

Are you MAGA or Ultra MAGA? Hmm… How about NO? Again, politics from the real world have no place at my gaming table. Gaming groups are a lot like coffee shops in Iowa- they tend to attract two specific groups of people that don’t tend to get along: The Bible-thumping religious right and the hardcore LGBTQIA++ gamers. Sometimes it’s a loud argument waiting to happen. Please leave politics and religion at the door.

It takes too much energy to hate. Think of what you love.

Imagine how awesome it would be if we were all one big #ttrpg community working to support one another, lift each other up, and prosper together? I think that would be cool beyond words. If we could ALL learn to accept each other, differences and all, we would be probably the coolest community on the Internet today.

I’m an old cishet white guy from a small town in Iowa. I’m married with four kids. I can’t change the circumstances I was born into any more than the next person. All I can do is change for the better. I love all things RolePlaying Game. If you love games, we have common ground.

There’s nothing in the rulebook that says we have to hate on Orcs or that two male characters can’t have an intense love scene together. Please do what’s fun at your table. If people have intense issues with what’s going on at the table then we either need to talk or the objecting player(s) need to leave.

Have a great week. Thank you for being here. I appreciate you!

Please be kind to one another.

Getting Communities Together Pt 3.

We have what are two separate communities under one banner. I’d love to think the RPG crowd on Twitter or really anywhere is one big, happy family. Some things happened recently to remind me that even though we might be family, we still have plenty of duality and separation to go around.

I promise I am going somewhere with all this.

I’m speaking from my own experiences as an OG (Old Gamer.) All of the opinions are mine. I’m not the world’s expert on all things Old Grognard, but I do sort of identify with that label. Labels are a lot of what this all boils down-to in the end.

We have what are two separate communities under one banner. I’d love to think the RPG crowd on Twitter or really anywhere is one big, happy family. Some things happened recently to remind me that even though we might be family, we still have plenty of duality and separation to go around.

“Those darn kids…”

Those “kids” are pretty great, actually.

I think that’s pretty much the battle cry of the Old Grognard online. “Those darn kids” or whatever synonyms are used, is usually the start of some real polarizing arguments. It’s not always wrong, but it’s an attitude that usually leads to trouble of some kind. It’s not fair to the younger generation and quite often speaks poorly of the older person saying it.

We have this up-and-coming crowd of young gamers. Many of them were brought into the hobby through an interest in Critical Role or some other actual play podcast. Many of them got with a group and discovered they like D&D as a hobby. Great!

They learn to make characters. They play their characters with zeal in many cases. They roll dice and eat snacks, too. Many times they breathe new life into old campaigns or allow us to start new ones. We should be celebrating this! “Those darn kids” are keeping the hobby alive. Screw what edition they’re playing!

Some of us old guys are figuring out that if we want new players, we have to change up the paradigm a bit.

This newer crowd/rpg subculture comes with some new and different rules, however. Not necessarily RPG rules, but socio-cultural rules. It’s similar to trying to understand today’s teenagers. In fact, my own kids fall into this category. It requires a lot of patience and understanding to get to know these “kids.”

Session Zero is a great example of this. Prior to a few years ago, I don’t remember it ever actually coming up much. Sometimes we ran a game session where we made new characters and introduced ourselves, but no one ever discussed “red flags” or “X cards.” Most of the time we discovered one another’s sensitivities after someone got offended. Turns out I actually like Session Zero discussions. They’re useful in so many ways!

“Back in my day…” redux.

Pretty sad that some people were like this back then.

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, we had a much different political, social, and cultural climate here in the United States. The AIDS scare had people paranoid about sexual relations (ironically it turns out the heterosexual community was most affected.) The Satanic Panic had people extra jumpy about RPGs. The religious right was consistently bombarding America with their often pretentious “values.” Cocaine had half of Hollywood, the music industry, government officials, and corporate executives stoned off their asses and making sketchy decisions. (New Coke, anyone? Reaganomics maybe?)

A lot of us growing up back then were taught to shame gay and trans folk. Gamers got “The lecture” about burning their books and throwing away their “evil” dice. Women were still fighting the glass ceiling and trying to be treated as equals in the workplace. Being sensitive to the needs of others was relegated to “political correctness.” Conservatives ruled the US for over a decade. Eesh.

This is not to excuse the bad behaviour of some of the older generations of gamers. There’s never a good excuse for hate, intolerance, or even really bad behaviour. But it does signal a need for change in some of us as people, and should serve as a wake up call for those engaging in such radical nonsense. If you’re old enough to become bitter and jaded toward someone, you’re old enough to figure out how to get your shit straightened out.

These “new” kids…

Respect will get you success!

Learning is an ongoing experience at any age. Change is inevitable at any age. Cultures and societies change mores and values all the time. It’s not always an instant change. For us “old” guys, some of us wonder how change occurred overnight.

If we “Old Grognards” can put our edition differences aside and sit down with these fresh-faced younger players and DM/GMs, we can accomplish so much together. Gaming is supposed to be fun! For crying out loud, have fun with it.

We should all be rolling dice together and yelling “huzzah!” not bickering over whose edition is best or whether we should be concerned over someone’s pronouns. Yes, we should be sensitive toward one another’s feelings, don’t get me wrong. But pronouns should have been agreed upon probably during Session Zero if they weren’t already established.

Please do everyone at your gaming table a huge favor- leave politics, real world religion, and all of your old baggage at the door. There’s plenty of time to find things to argue about on the Internet. If you’re playing a virtual game, it works much the same way when you sit down for Session ONE onward. The bottom line is play nice. RPGs are a cooperative experience, so uh, please cooperate okay?

There may yet be a Part 4 to this discussion.

I feel like Old Grognards still have a bad rep in the RPG community. Maybe some of us have earned it on an individual basis. Unfortunately, the labels and/or stereotypes run both ways. Sometimes we older players and DM/GMs have a hard time finding a pickup game online, at a convention or even at our local FLGS. Sometimes the discrimination runs both ways. Labels, good or bad, run both ways.

I can’t say I entirely blame the younger crowd for not wanting grandpa or grandma at the table. Sometimes we do tend to bog the conversation down with tales of the days of yore. Yesteryear was a very long time ago for some younger gamers. Some of these younger folks don’t quite get the difference between beer-n-pretzels gaming vs a serious campaign, either.

Thanks for stopping by today. I have a ton of good stuff for Power Rangers RPG, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Monster of the Week , and maybe even good old 5E in the works. This topic of the generation gap in gamers and my friend’s battle with “old cishet white guys” has been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately.

Regardless of what edition you play or who is at your regular table, please have fun. Please treat one another with kindness and compassion in real life. I appreciate you for being here. Thank you!

Community Part 2.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of.

We “old grogs” have gotten a bad reputation.

If I ask someone on RPG Twitter to describe the term, “Old Grognard,” I’m likely to hear some things none of us are very fond-of. I’m going to say terms like “cynical, racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist,” and “transphobic.” Many of us are characterized as cishet, narrow-minded right wing old fart conservatives. Apparently the MAGA crowd is now big on OSR gaming? Heck, I even saw the term “Nazi” flung around at one point. (*Not naming anyone specifically, because ouch.)

This is what one “Old Grognard” looks like.

I don’t think anyone likes being referred to that way? I sure as heck don’t. Then again, I would like to think I espouse peace, understanding, tolerance, democracy, freedom, and love? Sorry, I’m really big on my “New Age” spiritual beliefs that don’t leave room for hate. Hate is a huge waste of time and energy.

I’m trying to leave politics out of this. Truthfully, I voted my conscience last time and pretty much everyone I voted for didn’t even get mentioned in the final results. Some of them never got nominated officially. (LOL?😅)

Old Grognard gamer stereotypes.

Yeah… some of this stuff is painful to hear.

OSR or nothing! Nothing new is good! D&D 5E is the worst thing since D&D 3rd edition! These darn kids today don’t appreciate anything! These darn kids don’t understand what homebrew really is. Matt Mercer is leading these kids astray. Critical Role is terrible. Blah blah blah. <OG grouchy noises>

I’ve heard people online saying things like this and worse. Way worse. See also, “Back in my day.” I could legit do an entire series of memes just on stuff some of us “old grogs” have said online and irl. We veterans of gaming for 20+ years have a lot of history and a lot of baggage.

The really tragic part is, I know people who are harsh on new editions of almost any game, especially D&D. I know people spouting bigoted, hateful, terrible things online and in the real world. It truly saddens me.

I could say it’s a sign of the times and a pattern of behaviour learned in a different era. We said the same thing back in the day. I used to get on my dad’s case for using the term, “negro” to refer to African Americans. Guess what? He grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s and that’s the word they used.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of. I mean, yeah some of the older editions of D&D included some pretty racist, homophobic and transphobic content. We didn’t see it as a bad thing at the time. Now? I hope older generations of gamers are catching on that terms and times are changing.

Modern cancel culture would have it in for some of my all time favorite AD&D books.

Unearthed Arcana Alt Cover.

My favorite example of racism in AD&D First Edition is the racial enmity table that appeared in the Unearthed Arcana. The original UA is one of my all time favorite books because it revolutionized AD&D. I can point to so many other things in UA that are so amazing. But the whole table of X race hates on Y race but tolerates Z race really makes it look bad nowadays.

This only one example. Some have said the entirety of Oriental Adventures is one bad racial slur against Asians and other POC. In a way it really was. Again, I’d love to see some of the content from that book (classes, weapons, and spells) get revived today, but not in a way that’s going to offend people. The RPG industry let a lot of stuff fly back then that we wouldn’t dream of accepting today.

Standing up for Old School Revival gaming LOOKS like standing up for the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic junk that was rampant in gaming and Western culture at the time. That’s pretty not okay.

Some parts of this book are among the most amazing RPG content ever. Some aspects of this book have also become quite infamous, sadly.

This is not to say we should ban either of these two books. The classes, items and spells make them a worthwhile read. OA covers a really nice do-it-yourself martial arts system that has never been replicated in another official D&D product to my knowledge. Even the artwork in both of the books I’ve mentioned is pretty phenomenal.

Unfortunately some of the stuff contained in both books probably warrants skipping over. Some people may wish to not partake in games using these two books or maybe skipping the entire edition of the game in favor of friendlier content.

T$R should not be confused with OSR, however. We’ll get more into that in the next installment. There’s a lot of old school stuff out there that doesn’t carry the junk with it and I’ll get more into that later as well. Just because something has that old school D&D look and feel doesn’t mean it carries all of the negative crap with it. As with gaming, as with gamers on all counts.

To be continued again…

It looks pretty dark for the “old grogs” right now. Yeah, some of us really are that, uh… messed up? Backwards? Old fashioned?

As my dear old dad used to say, “It never gets any easier.”

Sometimes that is the truth. Thanks for being here. Hope you’re having a good week. Please keep gaming regardless of the edition or game. Life might not always get easier, but it can get better. Game on!

Getting Communities Together.

Seriously, I really do have a lot of love and respect for Critical Role. I’m sorry if it ever looks like I’m dissing on them. Not only has it grown its own popularity, but it really does draw a lot of new players into the game.

I didn’t realize OSR Grognardia was a separate island unto itself until recently.

Things got spiritual in a hurry…

I see it on YouTube and RPG Twitter quite often. We’ve got the Old Grognards on one side of the proverbial fence and all the young Critical Role D&D fans on the other. I find it perplexing that a lot of the channels I watch never discuss the various OSR games, or on other channels that’s all we ever hear.

I get that we live in a Universe built on separation and duality. Technically we’re all one big happy family under the stars, but we inhabit different frames here on 3D Earth and we see a myriad of differing concepts go by so we can learn. There are seemingly two sides to everything. For example: you and me, light and dark, raw and cooked, liberal and conservative, dice and diceless.

Then, what really bends the noodle even further is when we get into continuums of things. Yes, Neo, I’m talking about various shades of gray. (Not the book, either.) For example, in D&D we have the early days of White Box all the way to Morrus’ Advanced 5E or WotC’s 5.5/6.0 that’s coming. We have fans of roleplaying games strewn all the way from one edition clear back to the original. And this is without getting into the infamous “Edition Wars” from various internet platforms.

“Back in my day…”

I have lots of memories.

If you listen hard enough, you can probably hear all of my kids and my wife cringing at that phrase. It is guaranteed if I start a sentence with that, they’re in for a history lesson. I love history. I’m an Old Grognard. It’s what I do. I almost became a History teacher at one time. (Ha!)

Back in the 1980’s, when the Satanic Panic was in full bloom, players were few and far between especially in small town Iowa where I grew up. We were literally playing D&D in our parents basements. Gaming was often spoken of in hushed tones outside of the group for fear that the good reverend and pack of well-meaning wackadoos would drop “the lecture” on you again.

The lecture. You know, the one that started with “Those games are dangerous…” and ended with “…burn all those books and go to church.” Truthfully, I don’t know a single gamer that ever burned all of his books and threw his dice away as a result, but maybe it happened somewhere. Who knows?

My point behind this story is that we would have given just about anything back then to have a show like Critical Role that could actually show what D&D actually looked like. It would have been amazeballs to have someone- anyone, standing up for the hobby and bringing new people in.

Matt Mercer, if you happen across this, I’m sorry I ever gave you grief! Please forgive me!

Seriously, I really do have a lot of love and respect for Critical Role. I’m sorry if it ever looks like I’m dissing on them. Not only has it grown its own popularity, but it really does draw a lot of new players into the game. It really does fall on us as DMs to keep players into the game once they’ve started. At least Matt and the CR crew got us the foot in the door.

Would it have worked with any other game? Well, there are hundreds of actual play podcasts floating around on the internet. Covid kept us locked down and inside for months on end. I guess maybe there are a few other, even OSR games out there in actual play format.

Sadly, a lot of us “old grogs” as I’ve heard us called now, don’t make videos of our sessions. Maybe we should start? I’ve literally had people ask me if I would. Geez, from there we could start running VTT sessions of old school games. From there, anything could happen… LOL!

To be continued…

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com



Big Day Yesterday

I love that some of the older playable races are once again featured and revised. We see the presence of the Aasimar, Eladrin, Genasi, Goliaths, and Shifters. Yay!
We also get to play around with several anthropomorphic races such as the Tabaxi (Cat people,) Harengon, (Bunny folk,) and Tortles (Turtle folk.)

Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse dropped finally.

Unless you picked it up as part of the holiday gift set or acquired it digitally from D&D Beyond, the book finally made an appearance on the 17th. I’m excited to do more of a detailed review later. Right now I’m excited by what I’ve seen at first glance.

Big changes to the way we create characters on the horizon from what I can see here.

Gone are the days of ability score bonuses or penalties for different races. You may either increase a single attribute by +2 and another by +1 OR do +1, +1, +1 across three different attributes. There are still no penalties. Long gone are the days of the frail elf or puny halfling. Why shouldn’t a fairy have an 18 STR? Seems really logical.

I really like the included racial traits. It’s a grab and go as opposed to an ala carte situation as was originally rumored. (*People who’ve had the book since January are mocking me right now.) I’m happy for that because it takes some of the confusion out of character creation.

Bunnies and turtles and Gith, oh my!

I know most of the races presented are from other books, but I wanted to call attention to a couple of things. I am absolutely thrilled to see certain races which I’ll get into in just a moment. Not to sound racist irl, but I think there are also some very questionable choices in their selection of in-game PC races.

I love that some of the older playable races are once again featured and revised. We see the presence of the Aasimar, Eladrin, Genasi, Goliaths, and Shifters. Yay!

We also get to play around with several anthropomorphic races such as the Tabaxi (Cat people,) Harengon, (Bunny folk,) and Tortles (Turtle folk.) Of course everyone’s favorite bird races are represented as well with the Aaracokra and the Kenku. That’s all well and good. I love cat girls and bunnies. (I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit of a furry sometimes. Lol!)

That’s where my love affair with the various races pretty much ends. Minotaurs are in Dragonlance and are kind of a tip of the hat to WoW’s Tauren. Okay. We get Orcs and Goblins in other games, sure. Why not?

But then we get into territory that I think is going to be omitted or at least discussed heavily in my campaign. Bugbears? Hobgoblins? Lizard Folk are known in my campaign for being involved in a lot of very bad stuff. Yuan-Ti are likewise considered bad news if encountered.

And the Gith?!? Even if they weren’t overpowered, are considered “monsters” in the classic sense of the word in my world. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe every monster race in the books should be welcome in every civilized fantasy society. Not every inn in the game has to look like the famous Mos Eisley cantina from Star Wars.

I don’t know about other DMs and what they allow necessarily. I’ve been in games where certain races are pretty much TOS (Terminate On Sight. Thanks G-Unit.) Duergar, Kobolds, Bugbears, Hobgoblins and anything reptilian would be shot on sight or chased away from human, elf, or halfling settlements. No, it doesn’t have to be that way in every campaign and there certainly could be a rare outcast from Gith or Bugbear society, but in most games I’ve been in, it would be hella rare.

*DISCLAIMER* Please note! It is NOT okay to treat people like crap in the real world for any reason. Please be kind and understanding when it comes to race, gender, sexual preference, age, and any other form of diversity in the real world! It’s okay to explore some concepts in fantasy, but keep it on the table. The real world is tough enough without us making life harder on ourselves.

Please do whatever you want in your campaign. My opinion is just that- an opinion. What I do in my games may vary dramatically from what others allow/disallow. Whatever is most fun for you and your group? Do THAT!

The rest of the book, the monsters- are phenomenal!

What makes Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse stand out are the particularly nasty creatures contained therein. I’m not going to list off all the monsters here. I’m sure there’s a Table of Contents posted online somewhere.

What I will say is that I’m stoked to see some of the things from older supplements find their way into 5E. We get a huge spread of demons, devils and fiends to torment the PCs with. A lot of the undead types are throwbacks to other editions. Elementals play a huge role in the Multiverse.

I’m most impressed with the interplanar monsters from the Fiend Folio making a comeback. I used to use some of these creatures back when and I’m excited they’re officially back. Bodak, Draegloth, Froghemoth, Howlers, Leucrotta, Quicklings, and Rutterkin are statted out and ready to go again. I couldn’t be happier about it.

It’s also nice having some of the quick reference blocks like Bard and Warlord as examples. Being able to insert an Archdruid or any other premade NPC stat block at a glance is a nice touch. We can always go back and alter specifics later. I like having things like this handy when players put me on the spot.

I’m hoping Planescape or something similar is on the horizon.

I would really like to see WotC do more with the various planes and planar travel now that this book is in hand. I’m happy to see many of my old favorites such as the Astral Dreadnought and the Giff back again. IIRC the Giff were actually first featured in Spelljammer, but I might be wrong? I don’t normally do a lot of plane-hopping in my games, but this really does bring back that Manual of the Planes feel.

This also makes me question whether Spelljammer may actually be worth a look now. Originally I said, “No” when I saw Spelljammer. If the delivery on the Spelljammer books are this excellent in quality, I might reconsider at least enough to pick up the monster book.

So much going on here and elsewhere. So much goodness!

Thank you for stopping by. I had more I wanted to discuss, but the new Mordenkainen book really stood out today. Heck, I’m probably not getting back to 5E until summer, but now I’m excited to DM again. Have a great week!

I appreciate you!

RPG Twitter Be Like…

As much as I want to be love and light, I can’t abide by racist, homophobic, transphobic, pedophilic, abusive, hateful individuals in my life. I’m on a spiritual path and I’m very willing to forgive (*except on one specific thing I mentioned.) I abide by the Wiccan principle of DO NO HARM. If someone can’t follow that one simple rule, we’re going to part ways.

Not the KYBO fire UFO Twitter is. LOL!

So, I delved back into social media today on both Instagram and Twitter after a period of inactivity other than the occasional story post, retweet and blog notification. I liken being away to a social media detox.

(*I grew up in Iowa and live in Des Moines, btw.)

I actually recommend everyone take a break from time to time. It’s healthy. You’ll find time and mental health benefits you never imagined were there. I have my share of mental health issues. Trust me, it was a good cleanse to take a break.

Walked into kind of a mess on Twitter, though.

Photo by Mudassir Ali on Pexels.com

I make mistakes every day. Trust me. No need for a reminder.

I don’t look my followers over on Twitter as well as I should. Turns out my well-meaning desire to be a friend to all sometimes gets me backing some, uh, unscrupulous folks. Anyone can change for better or worse. I unfollowed some people today that need to work on the ‘better.’ It makes me sad because a couple of these bad actors put out some really good content, too.

But, as much as I want to be love and light, I can’t abide by racist, homophobic, transphobic, pedophilic, abusive, hateful individuals in my life. I’m on a spiritual path and I’m very willing to forgive (*except on one specific thing I mentioned.) I abide by the Wiccan principle of DO NO HARM. If someone can’t follow that one simple rule, we’re going to part ways.

People make mistakes. So do I. It happens.

We can correct. We can atone. All it takes is open dialogue. People can change.

I might be an Old Grognard, but I’m far from a grouch most days.

Curmudgeonly Grognard is NOT the same as hateful and intolerant.

Someone who I genuinely look up to posted something on Twitter that I took issue with. I immediately unfollowed him. Much to my surprise, (more like dismay,) he gave me a big, unsolicited, unprompted, very kind shout-out. Holy buckets! Needless to say I promptly followed again. Mistakes were made.

My mood was somewhere between “Back off!” and “Don’t make me become the center of a national headline.” Then the whole thing on Twitter happened and suddenly I wasn’t done with humanity any more. I can be curmudgeonly when I’m tired, in pain, and hungry, which I was at the time. I’m not always a grouch.

That’s where the Old Grognards of the RPG community get a bad rep. A lot of us grew up in a different generation. Back in our day racism, sexism, paranoia and -phobias were commonplace. (*Not excusable.) Some of us have learned/changed to be tolerant, accepting, patient, and more open to new ideas. Others have yet to come around, unfortunately.

It’s easy to lump all of us old, white, cishet guys together into one category. Most days, I fit into some or all of those descriptors. However, it doesn’t mean I fall into that category all the time. Yes, I get that many people have been dealing with discrimination, hate, and bias their whole lives. It hurt then and it hurts now. Treating people like shit is NOT okay.

In the end, I’m here to eat pizza and roll dice. Fun might even be had. 😁

Sure, we play all kinds of RPGs, minis games, board games, etc where violence is commonplace as long as it’s IN GAME! Hate and violence have no real place out in the real world. Kindness and understanding should be universal. If not love, then neutral understanding, please? We can do better as a species.

Whether it’s social media, gaming, or even here on my blog, I strive to be kind to people. I always try to state it’s my opinion. If someone doesn’t agree, it’s okay. Mine is not the only opinion. I’m cool with it. I never go online with the intent of rammining my opinion down others’ throats. We can always discuss.

Please be the change you want to see.

Please be kind to one another.

Above all, please be kind to one another. Be compassionate. Try to forgive.

I’m lucky. The Source/Universe/God got involved in my life. Yes, I’m a “New Ager.” It doesn’t make me more right or wrong on any given day than I was before. However, it did wake me up to many things. For example: love, compassion, and kindness go a lot farther than fear, hate or intolerance.

Every journey begins with the first step. I doesn’t matter who takes the first step. Let’s walk together, okay? If we can’t do that, can we at least walk quietly and go separate ways for now?

I’m not asking for world peace (but it would be nice.) If people want to disagree, that’s cool. I am open to discourse as I hope everyone is. But violence and hate are unnecessary in many cases. All it takes is one person asking, “How can we work this out?”

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being here. I appreciate you. Namaste.

DCC Catacomb of the Wolf Lord 1-5: The Long Hallway.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

So far, it hasn’t been so bad.

The group will have to put in some effort to find these doors, but they aren’t as difficult because of their size. They are still covered in mud, but if the group takes a little time to excavate, these doors are gorgeous and telling.

Read aloud:

It took some effort, but you’ve uncovered two large, ornately carved, bronze bound doors. They are heavy and rounded at the top, probably to match the hallway beyond. You feel a slight chill go up your spine when you touch the door, as if touching the lid to an occupied coffin. The doors themselves give off a somber energy, as though one were taking their final walk after a life well lived. The two old, bronze rings are heavy with age and mud.

If the players clean the doors off, the left door has an ornate, lovingly carved picture of a wolf, standing on a cliff, howling. On the right door is a moon over a forest. The moon is faintly glowing. The doors are magically locked.

This was the Wolf Lord’s one last chance to howl at the moon. If the players read through the journal, it chronicles the Wolf Lord’s final journey to his resting place. The coven gave him one last chance to howl.

Unless the characters have a way to magically unlock the doors, they may howl at the moon and the doors will magically unlock. They are extremely heavy and require a DC 15 Strength Check to open.
Read aloud:

Your mighty howls seem to activate the magic in the lock and you pull the doors open with a stout heave. What lies beyond may not have been for mortal eyes. You see a painstakingly carved round stone hallway. There is a faint glow of magic in the doorway. The hall is round and tall, except for the floor, which is squeaky clean and flat. Magic globes faintly light the wall.

The Hallway seems normal for the first 20′ or so.

After the first 40′ it becomes apparent they are no longer in the dungeon they entered, but have walked through a portal into a densely forested realm. The sun is perpetually dimmed by cloud cover and there is some patchy fog around the trees in every direction. From behind, it just looks like the group kept going down the hallway. After the last PC steps in, a kodama spirit appears.

The diminutive creature rattles its head to sort of communicate. It walks among the PCs and checks them over. It stops and waves its arm. Suddenly 36 kodama appear and begin wandering through the party. They appear to be looking everyone over, but are harmless. If the group attempts to harm them, remind them that the little spirits are ethereal and mean no harm. They’re just studying the group for what comes next.

They will climb onto the PCs, inspect their gear, maybe even try to interact a little. The little spirits are trying to determine alignment. Check their alignments. This will determine which wolves they will face.

IF the group tries to turn around, all they see is forest and fog.
MAP:
Since the encounter takes place on the spiritual plane of The Happy Hunting Grounds, the Judge is free to produce any large forested area desired or throw down trees randomly. There should rarely be unbroken line of sight for more than 20′-30′ aside from the 20′ wide path the characters are travelling along.

The kodama scamper off after a few minutes except the first one. It motions them forward. As the group walks forward into the dense forest, wisps of fog surround them. It becomes readily apparent that they are not alone in the forest. Wolves are moving among the trees, yipping and growling.

There are three wolves per PC. The wolves are all the same pack, but each PC will be “tested” by the wolves matching their alignment.

The Lawful Spirit Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18hp ea); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL L.

The Neutral Wolves:
Init +3; Atk bite +2 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 2d6 (12 hp ea.); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1; AL N.

The Chaotic Dire Wolves:
Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d6+2); AC 14; HD 3d6 (18 hp); MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +3; AL C.

Tests:
The Lawful Wolves will approach and insist the characters follow. They will ask telepathically why the characters wish to see him. As long as the Lawful characters are pure of motive, no one will be attacked and they will be permitted to move on. It will be a pleasant conversation.

The Neutral Wolves will surround the group. They will circle cautiously and sniff out an alpha to challenge. Then, a Large wolf with a scar over its left eye will approach. It has AC 16 and 4d6 HD (24hp) and will only fight until significantly injured or the group’s alpha is injured.

The Chaotic Wolves will single out the Chaotic characters and fight to the near-death. They may even drag the weakest looking character off into the woods until the battle is decided.

The character who rescued the large tooth from Room 1-3 may show it, if he remembers and be automatically chosen as alpha/party leader/representative of the whole group as an emissary.

IF the group becomes frightened and attack anything but the Chaotic Wolves, ALL of the wolves in the encounter will work together to fight the group. They will surround, pull, and double team the group as much as they reasonably can. They will attack weak-looking characters, spellcasters, and Halflings first.

However, the wolves will not intentionally kill any of the party. The goal is to test the group’s resolve and pure intentions for wanting to see the Wolf Lord. If accidents happen the slain party member will discover they are already in the heavenly realm of The Happy Hunting Grounds. They may choose an afterlife destination or remain has ghosts where they are.

After the encounter, the group will be led, escorted, or dragged out into the long, sloping hallway that leads to Room 2-1.

Looking Out for the Players a Bit.

All of the above are just recommendations. I’m sure there are plenty of games/systems I’ve missed. There’s just something about having your own book.

As GMs/DMs, we’re regularly faced with the challenge of picking the game system we want to run.

I love Basic D&D. Ya know, the one from back in the day? The original? The Rules Cyclopedia? Many good times were had with that game.

Would I run a campaign out of it tomorrow? Probably not. The books aren’t what you’d call, “regularly available” to most players. That’s the first thing I look at.

If I have the only copy at the table, there’s a problem.

D&D editions 3-5 have a common problem. There are tons upon tons of books out for these games. Third and Fourth editions have been out of print for ages. DMSGuild and Half Price books still have most of the stuff still available if players are willing to shell out for whatever character options they want to invest in.

Fifth Edition is what some of us call, “bloated.” Third suffered from this problem as well. There are so many options for players to choose from. Where do you even begin? And what is the DM going to do?

Sure, the PHB is cool. You’re going to want one for the basic rules, anyway. But then what’s next? Tasha’s? Xanathar’s? DMSGuild guide to X class/race variant? The amount of source material out there is staggering.

Some DMs ban homebrew or third party material outright. Others say PHB only. Still others stick to PHB and anything officially printed by WotC. But some players always want that extra edge, the unique advantage or something completely different than what we’d consider canon.

I want the players to have access to everything the game has to offer without having to take out a second mortgage.

I have gone so far as to buy table copies of rulebooks for some games. I have extra copies of a lot of 4th Ed D&D books for my players. Unfortunately, I haven’t run 4E for a long time, but it was there when I needed it. Werewolf the Apocalypse was another game where I kept a spare core book for the table. It was just easier and cheaper back then for my group.

Nowadays, I really appreciate my players having their own physical copy of the rules handy because my copy is bookmarked to hell and gone. Many times I have both the physical book and at least one digital copy open at any given time for monster stats on one and rules lookup on the other.

If my copies are tied up and I’m going to ask the players to acquire their own, I don’t want a system that will break the bank. In most cases, I don’t think a pdf copy or even a single, physical copy per player is too much to ask for an ongoing campaign. I know there are plenty of games that are expanded to the nines and practically require a winning lottery ticket to keep up with.

One thing to avoid.

Okay, let’s be honest. How many of us frequented a certain website that offered free download pdf copies of all of our favorite games? Most of these sites eventually get shut down and for good reason. Those sites aren’t just socking it to the corporations, but hurting smaller creators as well.

Tempting though it might be, printing or copying pdfs for players is really something to steer clear-of except in the most dire of circumstances because it tends to rob creators of their money. I might print off just enough for someone to play their character or get by for a few weeks until they can acquire their own copy. I’ve found on many occasions a little taste of the book is enough to sell a full copy to a lot of players.

I am loathe to admit there are still free pdf copies of some things out there. I won’t ever link any of them. IF you acquire a book this way, I strongly urge you to track down and pay for an official copy. Be kind to designers. They have to eat, too.

Here are five alternatives to D&D and Pathfinder that are easy on the wallet.

I love Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games for this exact reason. My core rulebook cost me $25.00 at my FLGS and the pdf was free. I’ve rarely seen a better deal.

Another example is Runehammer’s Index Card Roleplaying Game Master Edition which just recently went on DriveThruRPG in Print on Demand with pdf for almost half what the hardcover cost. Heck yeah! Thanks Hankerin!

ICRPG is easy to learn, affordable, and fun! A lot of time and effort went into this game. It’s easy to GM and rules lite for the players. Plus it has tons of homebrew potential. More on that some other time.

FUDGE is good, as I have said before. The FATE dice are easily substituted or faked using regular d6s. FATE is another good recommendation for a single book as the Condensed version retails for around $8.00. I tend to lump these two rulesets together as they are similar.

I’ll also give another shout out to Open Legends RPG for being rules lite and all in one book for the most part. If I had to steer a first time gamer to something other than D&D, this would be close to the top of the list. Free is good last I checked and the whole group can have access to the book on their various mobile devices or GM printouts if they wish.

Another thing I look at is Open Licensing.

OGL games have become a mainstay in my book collection. My overall goal in life is to get something published on DriveThruRPG. I find that OGL games with only a few core books are far easier to work with because there isn’t as much competition and it’s easier for players to get behind. If I can put out one $4.99 sourcebook with quality material to go with a mostly free or inexpensive core book, is it worth the investment?

I’m starting to think it’s the best way to go in terms of publishing. True, it’s harder to find an audience for than D&D 5E. Many of the games I really get behind are fairly obscure in comparison. But sometimes a dedicated niche audience is more willing to invest a little to help the game grow.

All of the above are just recommendations. I’m sure there are plenty of games/systems I’ve missed. There’s just something about having your own book.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you. Stay hydrated. Stay safe. Have fun!

It’s Friday the 13th!

What happens if Buffy Summers and her crew runs into a guy wearing a hockey mask and carrying a machete?

I think we all know what that means.
Monster of the Week RPG!

Monster of the Week by Michael Sands, Evil Hat Studios.

MotW Cover.

What? No, I promise I’ll behave this time and not get all gory and violent. My new trigger warning graphic is posted at the end of the article. I’ve tried to make the warning as obvious and broad-reaching as possible, but I’m still not 200% sure about the wording.

How much is too much in Monster of the Week? I think serious Session Zero conversations need to be had and the players most assuredly need to know where the Keeper stands on certain topics. Obviously it’s best to make sure things aren’t too gory, too many jump scares, or too disturbing for sensitive players. I’ve seen plenty of horror games fall apart because it just plain got too dark for one or more players. Nobody wants to show up every week just to get more depressed or creeped-out. Most of us can probably relate.

I think MotW is more geared for the high-flyin’, butt-kickin’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer style game. At least, that’s sort of what I imagine running as opposed to the dreary World of Darkness style game. No, not all Storytellers run a dreary game, but WoD has that tone sorta built into it IMO.

Knocking down “scary” vampires and kicking monster butt is great, but what happens if they run into that one guy?

I think we all know which guy I’m talking about. Yeah… Michael Meyers. Ha! No, Freddy Krueger. Wait, Chucky? Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? No…

How was this guy not going to come up?

Most of us get the idea of the iconic Urban Legend serial stalker. That guy with the kitchen knife, machete or weed eater that literally tries to go after the whole cheerleading squad. I think it makes for awesomesauce bad guy material in MotW. Others may not. As a player I might be a bit unnerved by getting chased by our favorite hockey mask wearing psycho.

Guys like Michael Meyers and Jason Vorhees just keep coming in the standard issue slasher flick. There’s no stake through the heart or tranq dart that’s going to stop them for long. Some are far worse than others, having their own dimension to hide in when things get rough (Freddy, Pinhead.)

Buffy Summers- Jason Voorhees. Jason- Buffy. There, now we’re all introduced.

The heck with Freddy vs Jason. I want to see Buffy vs Jason. Some guy that’s short of needing locked and chained in a locker and drowned. In game terms, hes seemingly unkillable. Or at least permanently unkillable. MotW even mentions letting baddies come back if the group fails to use the monster’s weakness.

Personally, I think it’s frustrating for players to get their butts handed to them every week by the same bad guy. On the other hand, most Keepers love having a recurring villain that literally everyone dreads. The Keeper starts hinting that we might be dealing with a situation similar to one we’ve seen several episodes back.
Jack: It- it can’t be. We killed him. We literally watched him burn.
Keeper: What if he wasn’t human?
Serena: Copycat crime, maybe?
Keeper: Maybe. Some supernatural beings can come back, though.
Bob: He did eat three bullets, a shotgun blast, a sickle, two tranq darts, a katana, and got pushed off a cliff before the fire. Maybe he survived? Somehow?
Keeper: Bwah ha-ha. Did anyone actually find his body?
Group: <gulp!> Uh-oh. (In unison.)

Sometimes the best way to get rid of it is to change campaigns before the next session.

I hope it never comes to that. Jason is a villain that has survived any number of atrocities that should have killed a regular human being a few dozen times over. The MotW doesn’t have to be quite so durable. What if it’s a demon that can be cleansed? What if he actually has some sort of wolfsbane, cold wrought iron, garlic, or some other substance that can kill it. Has anyone tried a simple circle of salt? What about legit magic?

The point is, just because something seems unkillable, doesn’t mean it is unkillable. Personally, I like villains that have more lives than a Batman villain. But the players have to have a chance to come out ahead or break even. MotW villains mean business and not putting one down could spell disaster for the characters and innocents alike.

So, here’s to treading that fine line between safe and unsafe, sane and insane, here in the Twilight Zone…

Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend! Stay safe. Be back soon.

Too much or not enough?

Anime 5E Review.

Anime 5E is here! Due to hit the shelves of your FLGS sometime around June 1. I backed it on Kickstarter and it’s brilliant!

As JJ Walker would say, this book is, “Dyn-O-Mite!”

Anime 5E is here!

Back before my employment status changed, I invested in several Kickstarters. This one in particular was very worth the money. Tired of regular 5E D&D? Dyskami fixes that and then some with Anime 5E.
Here’s the link for DriveThruRPG

Here’s the link for Dyskami’s website

Just a brief rundown of some of the things you’ll find:

My oldest is going to freak when he finds out he can play a cat person in my game.
  • New character race options: Neko, Kodama, and even Greys!
  • New character class options: Ninja, Samurai, Magical Girl, Pet Monster Trainer and more!
  • New character size options. Play it small or huge. Either way, it’s covered.
  • So many new character options in and out of combat, I can’t list them all.
  • New magical and non-magical gear. What book would be complete without it?
  • New monsters. That’s what sold me along with some other concepts.
  • High-Flying, kick-butt anime/manga action from the minds that brought us the original Big Eyes, Small Mouth.
  • A solid mix of classic Tolkien-esque fantasy action combined with crazy anime fantasy action. Run a game in the style of Record of the Lodoss Wars, Naruto, Ninja Scroll, Afro Samurai, Samurai Champloo, Inu Yasha, Sailor Moon, Ranma, Pokemon and so many more.

I was a fan of this project way before it came about.

I’m a long, long time BESM fan. I’ve followed it since First Edition, no less. Third Ed was hard to get a hold of, but I finally did. I’ll write a broader BESM review in the future. I have a lot of wonderful memories and fond moments with BESM and it’s one of my favorite games to work with.

The same can be said of good old D20 BESM. Anime 5E took the raw Rules As Written and turned them into something phenomenal as only the creators of BESM could. I understand anime is as much styles as rules sets, but they added to D&D 5E in new and intriguing ways.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this from early in the book.
This is pretty cool.

I love the attitude. The look of the product throughout is phenomenal. Really, I don’t know much else they could have added.

Old fans of my previous blog know I don’t use the term “alien” because it is offensive to many beings. I’m a friend to any being from another world who wishes to visit Earth. Now, if you’re wondering why I mention it in the gaming review of Anime 5E, it’s because one of the player races included is the Greys.

If I make one character to play this game, it’s going to be one of these guys. I think they’re pretty cool. I mean, not Magical Cat Girl cool, maybe, but still pretty friggin sweet!

I may not put out any material for this game any time soon, being entangled in three solid projects and possibly adding a fourth. This book really takes the frustration out of 5E and makes it fast, loose, and playable again. Hiyah!

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. I hope you’ll give Anime 5E a chance.

%d bloggers like this: