The way we view a Bag of Holding…d20m

The great web comic d20 Monkey has a cartoon up on the Bag of Scolding which reminds me exactly how we treated the bags of holding in the old days.

i.e. Stuff all the things in that thing noaw!!!! Bags of Holding were fantastic little toys in the game world, not only because it meant we had somewhere to put the wheelbarrows pull of gold coins, but also because we could threaten to stuff NPCs into them.

Or stuff the portable hole into the bag of holding and tear time-space in half with a divide by zero error.

It makes me miss the silly and irreverent way we played roleplaying games. We were not critically interested in story, or character progression, or continuity; it was all about silly fun. Even better when other players were the butt of a joke.

Another I remember well was one character wishing that another character had never owned anything in his life. Ever. (boom, wish granted) The game world re-wrote itself instantaneously so that the wish was true. All the gear was borrowed, all the meals were charity, all the achievements were all on someone’s stolen nickle.

That would cause hell to the mental state of the poor character who now has nothing to their name, must have borrowed or stolen all they have. It sucked for the player but oh how we laughed. What bastards.

Keep only 10 RPG books

Distractingly good blog questions: If you could only keep ten of your printed RPG books, which would you pick? Well darn it, that is hard.

Not so much picking 10 systems, that is easy. But 10 books is hard. Consider too that I’d also say none, as I am getting happier every season with using digital versions of RPG books.

I feel like the guys in the film High Fidelity – top 10 songs to ……

  1. Ars 5e core book.
  2. DeathWatch core book.
  3. An ArM5e source book, but I cannot choose which as yet. Probably the Bestiary.
  4. Ars 4e Grimoire, as it contains a stack of stuff that was great for its time, but failing that then probably the Ars 4e core book.
  5. DnD 4e DMG. To be frank I think I’ll be able to buy a copy of any edition cheaply, so keeping a 3.x or any of the expansion books is probably a waste.
  6. DnD 4e PHB.
  7. Shadowrun core book. I have an edition from the late 90s and am keeping it for the flavour.
  8. Cthulhu core rules.
  9. GURPS core rules (I don’t care what edition).
  10. Rifts core rules. Many folks hate Rifts, and in some part I understand that the system is a bit janky. That said it contains as much lore and fluff to make 10 great games in every book.

Vampire core rules almost made it except it would have been only because of the fun history, not the actual value of the system. Heroes Unlimited is darn good too, but there are many hero systems out there that can compete. I have an old Earthdawn copy somewhere, and a copy of Rus too – both read but never played.

via Untimately: Only Ten.

Thinking about gaming while away from the dice

It’s been a very slow period in tabletop gaming around my house. With the dnd regulars pausing while we have lives, families, and wonderful distractions – the gaming posts here have dried up proportionally too. It is hard to write about something when the creativity button is not getting pressed.

The dice are a great source of direct inspiration.

It got me thinking … that perhaps a side project is needed to tinker with. Create something odd, off side, or some such, so that I can keep my hand in as a tabletop gamer, and also to keep the creative part of my brain flowing.

I did find some old stuff that I could publish here as a view of what has come before:

  • old NPCs and setting material from my last Ars Magica game I was trying to run. Now that the game is really dead, perhaps that might be sharable.
  • a draft of a Death Watch based rpg game. It was the skeleton plot for an adhoc game, might be useful for somebody.
  • the new character I’m pondering for another play-by-post game of Ars running on the Atlas Games forums. This is a little harder, as the character is unfinished, and I have some thoughts on directions, and contradictions with core rules. Hmm, perhaps that in itself.

Ok, now that I write it, I’ll scatter some punctuation into those things and post them – Ironboundtome ain’t dead yet.

Ars Magica Computer Game Kickstarter

Its no secret that I’m a huge fan of Ars Magica and also of computer games, and  now an agreement between Atlas Games and Black Chicken Studios is seeking to combine those two wonderful hobbies.

Black Chicken Studios, working under license from Atlas Games, is delighted to present a new simulation role-playing game for the PC. After 25 years and 5 editions, Ars Magica will at long last be paid tribute in a single-player, turn-based video game.

Authentic to the original, this is a faithful, beautiful, and accurate depiction of covenant gameplay and the RPG’s legendary magic system during a dangerous century in the Stonehenge Tribunal. With your help, we’ll bring Ars Magica: Years of Conquest and its tapestry of wars, intrigue, invasion and, above all, magic to life!

The Ars Magica – Years of Conquest game is seeking backing via a kickstarter campaign.

I can only rave about how passionate Atlas Games are about Ars magica, and really hope this concept gets through to reality.

If you are a fan of either, spread the word.

Thoughts after listening to the dnd next podcast

Wizards of the Coast

I recently listened to the DnD podcast from Wizards of the Coast, which was released around the same time as the dnd Next playtest (around 24 May) was made available online to the public.

Some observations:

  1. They have a ton of work to do, but are loving it. The game has been in development for over a year. That probably means in a closed/secret playtest for all that time.
  2. Wizards are looking forward to the community feedback, and anticipating a lot of positive reaction from their work. I’m dubious about this, and think that the real story is that they are going forward with a positive and strong presence, as anything else would be counterproductive. The devs would have to expect push back from parts of the community.
  3. The playtest is a staged release of content and rules, where month by month new material will be released. This so that feedback can be elicited in a series of smaller segments, rather than a huge chunk of rules.
As a primer on what feedback the devs expect it was actually useful to hear. A cynical person might say this was standard marketing fluff, but as I am an equally cynical person I’d counter that to say that Wizards could have done far less in this process. The energy in rhetoric alone has been substantial, and at some point it is the same amount of work to actually listen to feedback as appear to do so.
The point was made about giving descriptive feedback in terms of good and bad features/aspects, but also that they wish the reviewers to be unforgiving and straight to the point in giving negative feedback. The speakers made a point to ask for bad feedback. That takes some guts.

What was most valuable in the podcast was point one – knowing that they are going to come out of the gate all guns blazing. That is the dedication they need for Next to get up as a product.

I think it would be a shame for RPGs if DnD-5e was a whimper, and would impact the hobbie substantially because of how much of a hook DnD is for rpgs in general. Dnd was the gateway game which started me on roleplaying, and despite years of effort, new systems, and all sorts of considerations – it still has a place, and may still provide a source of entertainment. One of the podcasters (I can’t recall which now) really did seem honest in their enthusiasm for the product. Bravo.

I still stand by the idea that dnd should be given a fair play, and also expect it to not be my style of game. Yes, that is a healthy contradiction, and a stance which could change given play. The introduction of “backgrounds” and “side features” into the character generation is a first for dnd, and something which is a huge positive. If they added a sample of small negative quirks then they’re really getting into a style of game that I could accept.

I’m watching with reserved interest.

Related articles

An aside about the DnD edition rants and wars


The ruleset has always been trivial when compared to the influence the playstyle the team brings to the table has on gameplay. A bunch of tabletop war-gamers could railroad 1st ed just as well as a bunch of roleplayers could chatter happily in 4th ed.

I made this comment on an article over at GeekoSystem about getting into the dnd playtest. Its not that I don’t respect the debate, or even that the ruleset affects the players – I just feel that getting hung up on the mechanic resolutions is a detractor to why I roleplay. I ply rpgs for entertainment, and that entertainment is based around acting in character; the mechanics are secondary. Continue reading

Sub Rosa Issue 10 Review

The next issue of the Ars Magica magazine Sub Rosa was  released on June 6, and like last issues there is a lot worth considering for Ars Magica players.

This issue has a heavy focus on the mystery of ships with new ways to incorporate maritime elements and themes into games.

“A mild winter has left us busy but issue #10 is now here, full of stormy skies and unfamiliar magic, with a dash of mystery and a ship to sail it by.

Accented with lavish art, you’ll find pieces from Ars Magica veterans like Jeff Menges and Angela Taylor alongside Sub Rosa regulars like Vincent Belmont, Alexandra Dopp, Barrie James and Jason Tseng.

Weighing in at 60 pages, the Storyguide’s handbook considers the Dramatic Journey, Mark Lawford gives you the blueprints for a Hermetic Shipwright, and there are mystery cults and twilight scars to go around.

Vulcanis Argens returns and there’s a thundering scenario sure to keep your saga engaged, no matter what Tribunal your troupe calls home.” (cont)

Quick Review – Another excellent issue. My first impression was that it contains material which I can use in any Ars Magica game, but also some great new ideas for odd encounters and scenarios.

I have a love for boats and ships in roleplaying games as I think they were a fundamental part of the world, but are largely ignored in most settings. This issue provides magical backdrops and ideas, complete with stats, and a small scenario.This builds from material already published in the Hermetic projects book, but is provided stand alone for use as well.

One part of a story reminds me of a SpellJammer touch – which is all I needed to see to know I’d be reading the article a few times at least. Continue reading